Hayward Lakes Outdoor Report 7-25-23

Steve Suman

The forecast calls for high temperatures in the 90s through mid-week, with rain chances through the weekend. This is warmer than the July and August averages, but a cool-down is on the way. Do not allow the heat to deter you from your outdoor recreational activities. Summer is short ‑ get out and enjoy it!

“The Quiet Lakes’ area recently received a bit of rain that raised water levels a couple inches,” says Greg at Happy Hooker, “but most lakes are down 18 inches from normal. Stable weather should help fishing and raise water temperatures, currently around 70 degrees.

“Muskies are in and around weed beds and shallow structure with weeds nearby. We added a few more muskies to our board last week, including a healthy 48-incher caught on a Beetle Spin! Small baits are really producing this year, so mix it up if standard sizes are not working.

“Walleyes are hanging on deep weed edges, and using subtle approaches such as Lindy Rigs, crawler harnesses, and bottom bouncers keep baits in the strike zone.

“Northern pike catch reports are mostly by musky anglers, with most catches on small bucktails. Look for pike in 6-10 feet and use bucktails, spinnerbaits, and crankbaits to find fish.

“Largemouth bass are hanging around both submerged and emerging weeds, and on shallow, sandy shorelines, and still hammering topwaters such as buzzbaits and frogs. For deeper water, small crankbaits and spinnerbaits work well.

“Smallmouth bass anglers continue to catch some nice fish, as are anglers fishing leeches for walleyes, so look for fish in the same areas. Use Ned rigs, drop-shot rigs, and finesse baits.

“Crappies are on deep weed edges and structure such as cribs. Minnows work best, with small jigs and plastic combos also working.

“Bluegill anglers are finding some bigger fish, and the bite should remain good with hot, stable weather arriving. Anglers fishing off docks are catching most fish with crawler chunks on small jigs and plain hooks.”

Jarrett at Hayward Bait says fishing is solid and little changed over the past week.

“Muskies are in 10-20 feet on rock, weed edges, and areas where food congregates, with anglers throwing small bucktails, gliders, and topwaters. Peak moon phases during daylight hours can turn into an amazing two-hour window!

“Walleye anglers on big waters are trolling crawler harnesses and crankbaits near the bottom. In some areas, baitfish suspending over deep water attract fish to mid-depths. Pinpoint baitfish depths with electronics and use crankbaits that dive to that level. Shallower water trollers should use planer boards or long lines, as boat noise scatters the fish.

“Northern pike are in areas with concentrations of panfish or food, and near access to deep water. Pike are primarily daylight feeders and slide between these areas during peak feeding times. Live bait, small bucktails, spoons, and swimbaits are effective.

“Largemouth and smallmouth bass moved to deep structure, with some remaining in shallow weeds. For deep fish in 25 feet or more, drop-shot baits work well. When fishing shallow, use heavy jigs to punch through weed canopies or weedless frogs to glide over them.

“Crappies are deep, roaming or sitting on structure. Park on top of cribs and jig one-inch Gulp! Minnows or other plastics to pull fish from cover. When searching, pair plastics with plain jigs or Beetle Spins and cast as you would for bass. Once you find fish, slow down, and finesse them.

“Bluegills roam mid-depths or are on the same structure as crappies, but are more at home on the bottom of the water column. Leaf worms and leeches under slip bobbers, small plastics, tubes, worms, crickets, and hellgrammites work well.”

Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage pool is down two feet, with the water temperature mid-70s and rising.

“Musky action is good and reports suggest the night bite is improving, especially on topwaters. Rising temperatures could push muskies deeper and make night fishing even better, but trolling deeper during the day is the go-to move. This week will be very hot and surface temperatures might reach levels that can have critical or fatal effects on muskies. Many musky anglers stop fishing when surface temperatures hit 80 degrees. If temperatures get too hot, wait until evening when things cool a bit.

“Walleyes are sitting on humps in 10-15 feet. Leeches are a solid choice, but minnows produce some good fish as well. Rising temperatures will send walleyes deeper. If you see this occurring, troll Flicker Shads and other deep divers over deep basins with good bottom cover.

“Northern pike are scattered, but action is strong. Smaller pike are around weeds, while bigger fish are in deeper cover, likely chasing bluegills. Tinsel Tails and weedless spoons are very effective in weed beds, but for bigger pike, send some northern suckers into deeper brush.

“Smallmouth bass remain active on wood and rocks. Ned Rig plastics are the constant top bait this season, but Whopper Ploppers and frogs are also effective.

“Crappie action slowed, reports indicate a recent hatch, and imitation mayflies might be advantageous. The bite is sluggish, but target deep weed humps and cribs during the day and bogs at night.”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses how river muskies handle hot water temperatures.

“Fisheries biologists consider muskellunge a ‘coolwater’ species. Muskies do not have the poor tolerance for warm water that trout and salmon have, but they also are not comfortable in warm water, as are bass and panfish. The ideal temperature for muskellunge is in the neighborhood of 70F. However, what happens when the water becomes warmer?

“There are a handful of studies that look at this question from the angling side, and I will report on those in the future as results become available.

“Recently, a tagging study from Maryland shed some light on how river muskies behave when things get hot. The researchers tracked fish throughout the year, including times when the water got hotter than what muskellunge prefer.

“The researchers noted that when the main river reached 75F, about half the muskies fled to areas with cooler water, such as creek mouths and other areas with cooler water inputs. As muskies congregated in these areas, they also became less active. At water temperatures around 79F, about 90 percent of muskellunge in the study sought cooler refuges.

“This is a great look at what we in Wisconsin can expect in our river musky fisheries as the climate continues to warm, and there are several implications.

“First, protecting coolwater habitats is critically important. These areas will be necessary refuges for many different species, including muskellunge.

“Second, when muskies are forced to congregate in small areas, they might be more susceptible to exploitation or other stressors. Periods of very low water, another expected outcome of a changing climate, can drive this same phenomenon.

“Studies such as this one in Maryland give us a good idea of what we can expect in the near future. It will be up to biologists and partners to protect habitats and mitigate climate change to maintain the high-quality river muskellunge fisheries we currently enjoy.”

The Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies Inc. will host its FREE Kids Fishing Day Sunday, August 6, from 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m., at Blackiron Grill on Hwy 77. Experienced anglers guide 10-16-year-old anglers on the Tiger Cat Flowage from 9 a.m. to noon, finishing the day with a shore lunch and prize distribution.

Participation requires pre-registration at Hayward Bait, with a parent or guardian present to sign the form.

To volunteer, contact Mike Persson at (715) 634-4543.

For more information, call Hayward Bait at (715) 634-2921.

Application deadline: Hunters and trappers should note that the application deadline for bobcat and fisher harvest permits is Tuesday, August 1, with permit drawings taking place in mid-September. Applicants can check their drawing status at gowild.wi.gov.

Fishing Report

Fishing remains good in general for most species, though you might have to fine-tune your approach and timing for the best success. Some “warm” temperatures this week, for better or worse, could affect fish movement and locations, as well as feeding times. Check with your favorite bait shop!


Musky fishing is good and consistent, with fish around weeds, weed edges, rock and other structure, and baitfish and panfish concentrations in depths to 22 feet. Go deep or troll during daytime hours with warm water temperatures, but if too warm, avoid stressing fish and delay fishing to cooler periods. Use small bucktails, gliders, and topwaters for casting.


Walleye fishing is fair to good, but inconsistent. Deep weed edges, humps, and areas with suspending baitfish hold fish. Fish head deeper if water temperatures warm. Leeches, crawlers, and minnows work well, as do trolled crawler harnesses, Lindy Rigs, bottom bouncers, crankbaits, and stickbaits near the bottom.

Northern Pike:

Northern pike action is good to very good and an all-day bite. Smaller fish provide good action in and around shallower weeds in depths to 12 feet. For bigger pike, work bigger baits on deeper weeds and brush. Baits of choice include northern suckers, minnows, bucktails, spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, swimbaits, and crankbaits.

Largemouth Bass:

Largemouth bass fishing is good to very good around shallow weeds, wood, lily pads, slop, and sandy shorelines, with some fish holding on somewhat deeper structure. Best baits include drop-shot and Ned rigs, buzzbaits, spinnerbaits, swimbaits, crankbaits, and topwaters/weedless frogs.

Smallmouth Bass:

Smallmouth bass action is good to very good. Look for fish primarily on deep rock, wood, and other structure and hard bottoms. Sucker minnows, leeches, and crawlers work well for live bait. For artificials, use Ned and drop-shot rigs, finesse baits, plastics, tubes, swimbaits, and topwaters.


Crappies are less active, with fishing fair to good. Find fish on deep weed edges, humps, cribs, and other structure, and bogs in the evening. Crappie minnows, panfish plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs work well, as do Beetle Spins.


Bluegill fishing is good to very good for numbers around shallow weeds and docks. Bigger bluegills are near the bottom around deeper structure. Leaf worms, crawler chunks, leeches, various panfish plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs and plain hooks are all excellent offerings.

Upcoming Events

July 30: Northwoods Bass AnglersBig Chip Open Tournament (text 405-227-1789).

Aug. 1: Full Sturgeon Moon.

Aug. 1: Application deadline for bobcat and fisher permits.

Aug. 4-5: Jack Pine Savage Days in Spooner (715-635-2168).

Aug. 6: Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies Inc.Kids Fishing Day, Blackiron Grill, 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m. (715-634-4543).

Aug. 17-22: Sawyer County Fair (715-699-2022).

Aug. 19: Seeley Lions PreFat bike race, 9 a.m.-12 p.m.

Aug. 20: Hayward Bass Club ‑ Free Youth Bass Tourney, The Landing Resort, Noon-4 p.m. (text 405-227-1789).

Aug. 27: Hayward Bass Club ‑ Tom Turner Benefit Tourney, Tiger Cat, Blackiron Grill, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. (text 405-227-1789).

Aug. 30: Full Blue Moon.

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.