Cooler temperatures in the North Woods this week started with Sunday night’s 44-degrees! This week’s forecast calls for low- to mid-70 highs, with rain chances a few days. It is late July ‑ do not procrastinate on summer jobs or activities!
“Musky action is good for some anglers, with big baits and slow presentations putting some fish in nets. Dive-and-rise and glide baits work well to pick apart spots, while fast baits such as bucktails find active fish. For fish that follow but do not commit, slow your pace and keep baits in their face.
“Walleye fishing is tough and you have to work to find them. Fish should be on deep humps and structure. Live bait on jigs under slip bobbers fished over weeds, wood, and rock work well. Trolled and cast crankbaits are effective, depending on lake structure.
“Largemouth bass reports are scarce. Focus on thick weeds and lily pads. Warm water dictates topwaters, and high riding buzzbaits, chatterbaits, and frogs are semi-weedless and excellent choices.
“Smallmouth bass reports are sparse, but deep rocks, main lakes humps with sand, rock, and wood will hold smallmouth. Working jigs, soft plastics, crankbaits, and live bait along those areas can be very effective.
“Crappie fishing is most consistent with crappie minnows on plain hooks under bobbers, and working through big weed beds adjacent to deep lake basins is a good place to start.
“Bluegill fishing is good, Crawlers under bobbers work every time, everywhere, and is the best way for kids and adults alike to catch bluegill.”
“Perch fishing is good with crappie minnows and chunks of crawlers in the same weeds as crappie, basins, and on shallow sandy shorelines.”
Jarrett at Hayward Bait says musky action is consistent and smaller bucktails, swimbaits, and topwaters work well.
“Most fish hang above deep weeds, near cribs, and cruise main lake points in 10-20 feet. In warm weather, it is crucial to take good care of fish. Secure it in the net and remove hooks, leaders, etc., with the photographer standing ready.
“Walleyes are cruising deep weeds, rocks, and flats. Many anglers troll, taking the most aggressive fish in the schools, and crawler harnesses and crankbaits at a fair speed tempt fish to hit. Leeches on slip bobbers work well, but that season is ending.
“Northern pike are in shallow, thick weeds and lily pads, feeding on small bluegills. Bigger fish cruise deep, cool areas and reaction baits such as spinnerbaits, crankbaits, and rattlebaits work well.
“Largemouth bass fishing is solid, and heavy jigs with trailers will pull them from thick shoreline weeds and lily pads. In deeper water, work the weedlines you normally try for bluegills. Swimbaits, drop-shot rigs, Texas rigs, wacky worms, and topwaters are outstanding.
“Smallmouth bass are on deep structure, cruising lake bottoms, or suspending halfway down, feeding on minnows. Catch deep fish on Ned rigs, drop-shot rigs, and live bait. The dog days of summer offer an exciting topwater bite!
“Crappies in dark water are in 8-12 feet. On deep, clear waterbodies, they are on cribs or hiding in weeds until prime-time morning and evening hours. Jigs and plastics worked slowly above the weeds will bring up fish hiding below. For fussy fish, crappie minnows and fatheads under slip bobbers are effective.”
Cathy at Minnow Jim’s says anglers timing outings to just before the many storms come through should catch fish.
“Walleye action is iffy. Cast shorelines early and late with stickbaits, still-fish with minnows and leeches, and troll deeper water midday.
“Largemouth bass and northern pike fishing are great on spinnerbaits, buzzbaits, rigged worms, wacky worms, and weedless swim jigs fished outside and over lily pads and weed beds.
“Crappie fishing improved for anglers fishing live and artificial minnows near weedlines and structure.
“Panfish anglers are drifting baits near the bottom. Use worms and panfish leeches on jigs or on plain hooks and dressed jigs under bobbers.”
Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage is down two feet, with the water temperature in the high 70s to low 80s.
“Musky fishing is mixed, with some anglers reporting success and others not so much. Most cast at night and very early morning, or troll during the day, with trolling the most productive ‑ and the bigger bait the better.
“Walleye fishing is slow due to high water temperatures and fish sitting deep. Using electronics over deep water is the key, particularly more than 15-18 feet. Trolled crankbaits such as Flicker Shads and Shad Raps are good for covering expanses of deep water.
“Northern pike are in shallow weeds, but bigger pike are hanging deep until water temperatures cool.
“Crappie fishing is best on bogs after 8-8:30 p.m., with crappie minnows, Gulp! Minnows, and Mini-Mites the baits of choice. The bog by CC Bridge and Kavanagh Bay are good places to start.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses what the DNR Hayward Fish Team learned from the Chippewa Flowage walleye population estimate.
“This past spring, the DNR Hayward Fish Team worked with a number of other DNR, tribal, and federal fish teams in the area to conduct a walleye population estimate on the Chippewa Flowage.
“A population estimate is an estimate of the total number of walleye in a lake, as opposed to other surveys that provide just a relative abundance (number caught per net). Our preliminary 2022 estimate for the total number of adult walleye in the Chippewa Flowage was 72,837, or 4.8 per acre. Please note that this estimate includes only mature adults ‑ there are considerably more juvenile walleye in the Flowage not represented in this figure.
“Our estimate for walleye in the desirable 15- to 20-inch harvest slot was 19,168. The overall estimate is about 50 percent greater than the abundance of walleye in 2011 (3.1 per acre) and comparable to where the population was in the early 1990s (5.2 per acre).
“We attribute the increase in walleye abundance directly to a string of increasingly large natural year classes produced since 2014. The estimate also puts us right on target with the goals and objectives of the Flowage fishery management plan. In that plan, we set an objective of 4-8 adult walleye in the Flowage, with 20-40 percent greater than 15 inches. This estimate puts us within the target abundance and meets the size objective, currently 31 percent greater than 15 inches.
“It is great to see these signs of health and resilience from one of the highest-profile walleye fisheries in our area!
“Future management will aim to maintain strong natural reproduction and continue to deliver a top-tier fishery for anglers and tribal harvesters.”
There is still time to register for the Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies Inc. FREE Kids Fishing Day Sunday, July 31, from 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m., at Black Iron Bar and Grill on Hwy 77. Pre-registration required at Hayward Bait, with parent or guardian present to sign the form. Experienced anglers guide 10-16-year-old anglers on the Tiger Cat Flowage from 9 a.m. to noon, ending the outing with a shore lunch and prize distribution. To volunteer, contact Mike Persson at (715) 634-4543. For more information, call Hayward Bait at (715) 634-2921.
Northwoods Bass Anglers’ (NBA) annual Chippewa Flowage open tournament is Saturday, July 30, from 8 a.m.-4 p.m., with headquarters at The Landing Resort on County Road CC. The entry fee is $100 per two-angler team, with a maximum of 40 teams. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org or text (405) 227-1789.
The Lumberjack World Championships are this week, July 28-30, at the Lumberjack Bowl on County Road B, where the world’s best lumberjack athletes compete for “best in the world!” Preliminaries are Thursday and Friday, with the finals Saturday. For more information, visit www.lumberjackworldchampionships.com or call (715) 634-2484.
Fishing action is generally good, depending on the lake, time, and species (those last two are especially important considerations!) Once again, your favorite bait shop personnel can point you in the right direction.
Musky anglers are catching fish and finding them on weeds, points, humps, and cribs in depths to 22 feet or so, and adjacent to deep water. Bucktails, swimbaits, gliders, and jerkbaits from small to large fished slowly in early morning and evening are producing results, as is trolling big crankbaits and stickbaits.
Walleye action is fair to good, and deep weeds, wood, rock, sand, humps, points, and other structure can all hold fish. Try shallow and mid-depths early and late in the day. Leeches, crawlers, and minnows on jigs, slip bobbers, and harnesses work well, as do trolled and cast crankbaits and stickbaits.
Northern pike action is good in shallow to mid-depth weeds and lily pads. Best producers include spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, crankbaits, rattlebaits, buzzbaits, and live bait. For trophy pike, work bigger baits in deeper water.
Largemouth bass fishing is good to very good on heavy weeds, weed beds, weedlines, lily pads, slop, and stumps from shallow to mid-depths. Best baits include swim jigs, Texas and drop-shot rigs, wacky worms, spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, buzzbaits, frogs, and topwaters.
Smallmouth bass fishing is good to very good with sucker minnows, crawlers, drop-shot and Ned rigs, plastics, crankbaits, swim jigs, and topwaters. Look for fish on deep rock, wood, cribs, humps, sand, and structure, and suspending.
Crappie fishing is good, steady, and best in early morning and late evening hours. Depending on the lake, fish are in 6-25 feet or deeper, in weeds and on weedlines, wood, cribs, brush, bogs, and other structure, and in deep basins. Crappie minnows, fatheads, plastics, Gulp! Minnows, and Mini-Mites all work.
Bluegill fishing is good to very good on weeds, wood, brush, bogs, and cribs in depths to 20 feet or so. Worms, leeches, crawlers, plastic, and Gulp! baits, fished on various jigs and plain hooks, with or without bobbers, will do the job.
Perch fishing is good in/on shallow to mid-depth weeds, basins, and sandy shorelines. Crappie minnows, fatheads, crawler chunks, waxies, worms, and plastics can all entice a bite.
July 28-30: Lumberjack World Championships (715-634-2484).
July 30: Northwoods Bass Anglers (NBA) Open Tournament on Chippewa Flowage (405-227-1789).
Aug. 5-6: Jack Pine Savage Days (715-635-2168).
Aug. 11-14: Sawyer County Fair (715-699-2022).
Aug. 13: Ojibwa Canoe and Kayak Race ‑ Ojibwa Community Park, 9:30 a.m. (877-220-1041).
Aug. 14: Hayward Bass Club ‑ free Youth Bass Tournament on Chippewa Flowage, noon-4 p.m. (405-227-1789).
Aug. 23: DNR virtual public meeting on Sand Lake fisheries management plan; 7-9 p.m. (715-634-7429).
For more information on area events and activities, visit the Hayward Lakes Visitor and Convention Bureau and Hayward Area Chamber of Commerce websites, view the Calendar of Events, or call (715) 634-8662 or 800-724-2992.