Hayward Lakes Outdoor Report 8-1-23

Steve Suman

Temperatures in the 80s return this week, with the current forecast showing a few days with rain chances of less than 30 percent into the weekend. Overall looks like a very good week for any outdoor recreation you choose! Make good use of each day, as one might consider Tuesday, August 1, as the beginning of the summer wind-down!

“A Thursday evening storm in the Quiet Lakes’ area delivered about 3.5 inches of rain,” says Greg at Happy Hooker. “We did need the rain, but 3 inches in 45 minutes was a bit much! This should cool the lakes, which were around 80 degrees, and raise water levels, which were down about 18 inches. This is a good sign for fishing, as are this week’s temperatures in the 80s and little chance of rain.

“Musky action remains good, with most fish relating to shallow weeds, rock, timber, and other structure. Fish still favor smaller baits and anglers are taking some nice fish on topwaters.

“Walleyes are scattered, but anglers are finding fish, though it takes some patience. Most are using live bait such as leeches and suckers. Look for deep weeds that transition into basins, and get your baits close to the bottom.

“Northern pike action slowed a bit. Anglers still catch fish, but not in the previous numbers or size. Look for fish in and around weedy bays or shorelines with small bucktails, spinnerbaits, and crankbaits.

“Largemouth bass anglers are doing well on various topwater baits. Whopper Ploppers, buzzbaits, and frogs are hot right now, but spinnerbaits and live bait such as crawlers are still catching fish suspending in deeper water.

“Smallmouth bass are hitting deep running crankbaits on deep rocky points and hard to soft bottom transitions. Leeches worked for a while, but reports are quiet lately. Deep is relative to the lake, and fish in some lakes fish might be in 12-15 feet, while in other lakes in 18-22 feet.

“Crappies are offering two different crappie bites right now. Some anglers are doing well casting small jig and spinner combos such as Beetle Spins in cabbage. Other anglers are finding fish suspending over the basins and doing well with crappie minnows on jigs or hooks under slip bobbers.

“Bluegills and perch are taking leaf worms and crawler chunks on plain hooks and split shot fished under bobbers.”

Jarrett at Hayward Bait says warm temperatures slowed musky fishing, but catching is steady.

“Work small bucktails, spinnerbaits, gliders, and northern suckers on deep weed flats and baitfish attracting structure in 10-15 feet. In warm water, fish easily stress, so snap a quick photo, and limit the fish’s out-of-water time.

“Walleyes are deep and fishing is tough with the abundance food, from young-of-year baitfish to insect hatches. Anglers pulling crankbaits and crawler harnesses rely on reaction strikes, rather than letting fish inspect baits. Slip bobbers and leeches still work, but the key is finding the fish ‑ and trolling is great for locating them!

“Northern pike anglers seeking big pike will find many sitting on deep ledges with shallow water and food nearby. In many lakes, 15-25 feet is typical for big fish, but in shallower lakes, look for deep structure. Live bait, jerkbaits, swimbaits, and spoons work well for big fish. Find smaller fish for a meal on shallow weed flats. Small spinners, Mimic Minnows, other plastics, and jigs and minnows are good for action.

“Largemouth and smallmouth bass moved to deep weeds and rocks, and fishing is good for numbers and size on many lakes. Anglers report success with various plastics on drop-shot rigs, while others drag Ned and Texas rigs across the bottom. Fish often run together in schools. If you pull a fish from an area, cast back to it for other fish in the school.

“Crappies are over deep weeds or on deep structure such as timber and cribs. During daylight hours, fish hold close to cover. During twilight hours, they rise to feed, making them easier to target. Plastics or minnows on 1/16- to 1/64-oz. jigs popped back to the boat work well for slab crappies. Slip bobbers can work well for spooky fish.

“Bluegills often roam the same areas as crappies and even school with them during summer. They cruise deep weed alleyways eating small insects and minnows, and hitting live bait and plastics.”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses Round Lake’s continuing high quality fishery.

“We usually consider it a treat to survey Round Lake near Hayward, as we know we will see a fishery with quality across several different species.

“The DNR Hayward Fish Team conducted a survey in 2023 that found a continuation of the quality that anglers have come to expect from this lake. Our main survey efforts targeted crappie, muskellunge, bass, and bluegill, though we also captured other species such as walleye and northern pike.

“Crappie size in our previous survey (2019) was excellent, and the 2023 survey saw no drop-off. Nearly 70 percent of the crappies we captured were greater than 10 inches, and we captured some crappies greater than 14 inches. We currently manage Round Lake panfish with an experimental regulation in which anglers can harvest no more than 10 panfish of one species as a part of the 25 fish daily bag limit.

“Muskellunge proved somewhat difficult to capture due to fluctuating water temperatures. Still, about one of every three muskies was greater than 42 inches.

“Bluegill size was slightly lower than in 2019, but we still observed nice-sized bluegills in some parts of the lake.

“Smallmouth bass are a standout species in Round Lake and the 2023 survey showed no indications of that changing. Of the smallmouth captured, two-thirds were greater than 14 inches and many were 18- to 21-inch fish. Season regulations protect smallmouth from harvest into mid-June, and with an 18-inch minimum length limit and 1-fish daily bag limit throughout the harvest season.

“Northern pike size was good, with 20 percent greater than 28 inches, and 89 percent of captured walleyes greater than 15 inches.

“Most lakes have at least one ‘featured’ species with better size than other lakes. Round Lake is unique in that almost all species achieve that level of quality. Still, the lake can be challenging to fish due to ultra-clear water, fish moving to depth during summer, and many recreational activities.”

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, east on Hwy 77. Experienced anglers guide 8- to 16-year-old anglers (openings remain!) 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 as a guide, or help with the shore lunch and prize distribution, contact Mike Persson at (715) 634-4543.

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

Fishing Report

Fishing is generally good, though at this time a few species are acting a bit temperamental. Cannot catch them from the couch, however, so get out there ‑ after checking with your favorite bait shop for the most current information.


Musky fishing is consistent and good, though action slowed somewhat during the hot temperatures. Give them a break when water temperatures warm, and delay fishing until cooler times, if at all. If you catch a fish, minimize the time you have it out of the water (also if at all). Look for fish on shallow weeds, weed flats, wood, rock, and structure and baitfish concentrations in 8-18 feet. Small live bait, glide baits, bucktails, spinnerbaits, and topwaters are all catching fish.


Walleye fishing is fair, with most fish scattered deep, in summer patterns, difficult to find, and plenty of natural food competing with angler offerings. Otherwise, things are peachy. Baits of choice include leeches, crawlers, and walleye suckers, with presentations on jigs, harnesses, and slip bobbers all viable. Trolled crankbaits and stickbaits also work well, with trolling a good method for locating fish.

Northern Pike:

Northern pike action is fair to good. Smaller pike are good for action fishing around shallow weeds, weed flats, weedy shorelines, and panfish and baitfish concentrations. Bigger pike are on deeper structure and ledges in 12 to more than 20 feet adjacent to the shallow water holding food sources. Northern suckers and minnows, spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, swimbaits, crankbaits, jerkbaits, and plastics are all effective. Present bigger baits deeper for trophy pike.

Largemouth Bass:

Largemouth bass fishing is good to very good, with anglers finding fish in shallow weeds, wood, slop, lily pads, and along sandy shorelines, with some fish around deeper weeds and other structure. Crawlers, minnows, and leeches, spinnerbaits, plastics on drop-shot rigs, and topwaters such as buzzbaits, Whopper Ploppers, and frogs all produce action.

Smallmouth Bass:

Smallmouth bass fishing is good to very good. Find fish on deep weeds, rock, points, and hard to soft bottom transition areas in 10-25 feet, depending on the lake. The most productive baits include plastics on drop-shot rigs, Ned and Texas rigs, deep crankbaits, leeches, and sucker minnows.


Crappie action is good when you locate them. Fish are in and around cabbage, suspending over deep basins, or tight to deep weeds, wood, cribs, and other structure. In the evening, fish move higher in the water column to feed, and try the bogs at that time. Crappie minnows and plastics on small jigs fished under slip bobbers, and Beetle Spins all work well.

Bluegill: Bluegill fishing is very good for smaller fish around shallow weeds and structure, and good for larger fish around deep weeds and wood. Some fish are running with the crappies. Best baits include leaf worms, crawler chunks, small plastics, and Gulp! baits fished on small jigs and plain hooks under bobbers.

Upcoming Events

Aug. 1: Full Sturgeon Moon.

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

Aug. 4-5: Jack Pine Savage Days, Railroad Park Pavilion 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 High School Benefit Tourney, Tiger Cat Chain, Blackiron Grill, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. (text 405-227-1789).

Aug. 30: Full Blue Moon (second full moon in August).

Sept. 5: Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies Inc. meeting at Flat Creek Lodge, 7 p.m. (715-634-4543).

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.