Hayward Lakes Outdoor Report 8-15-23

Steve Suman

This week’s forecast looks good ‑ mild and dry, though with severe storms possible Wednesday night. Expect sunshine and mid-70s to mid-80s highs, but turning warm again (90s) next week! Enjoy!

Quiet Lakes’ water temperatures hover in the mid-70s,” says Greg at Happy Hooker, “with cool nights keeping them in check. Fishing slowed and many anglers are struggling to find species such as crappie and walleye.

“Musky action is consistent, with fish favoring weeds and smaller baits. Anglers are taking some nice fish on topwaters around shallow weeds, rock, and timber.

“Walleyes are in the summer doldrums. Leech season is done, so live bait is now walleye suckers, fatheads, and crawler harnesses, or deep running crankbaits for artificials. Look for deep weed transitioning into basins and keep baits near the bottom.

“Northern pike offer a good all-day bite, but mid-mornings and late afternoons are best. Look around weeds in bays or on weedy shorelines with spinnerbaits, small bucktails, and crankbaits.

“Largemouth bass fishing is good and it seems anything will catch them. Topwater Whopper Ploppers are hot right now, as are frogs and buzzbaits. Spinnerbaits and crawlers continue to catch fish suspending in deep water.

“Smallmouth bass usually relate to hard bottom structure, but anglers report catching good numbers of fish with topwaters on rocky and sandy shorelines. Do not be afraid to mix it up!

“Crappies are tough to find. Anglers are fishing from shallow to deep and coming up empty, but start in weed beds with crappie minnows, Gulp! Minnows, and similar baits.

“Bluegill and perch anglers are using leaf worms and crawlers, fishing chunks of worms on plain hooks, with split shot, under bobbers, and getting it done!”

Jarrett at Hayward Bait says cooler weather brought good musky fishing for anglers.

“Most throw smaller bucktails, but some throw plastics, gliders, and topwaters. Fish are on deeper weed flats holding baitfish. The first hour or so into dark offers amazing opportunities. We need some cooling water before musky suckers or trolling.

“Walleye fishing slowed with the water column full of food. Fish roam deep basins, weedlines, and rock structure, sliding shallower during evening hours to feed. Troll crankbaits and crawler harnesses to locate fish, then crawlers on jigs or walleye suckers on slip bobbers are effective.

“Northern pike are on deep weed flats and areas adjacent to structure. Plastics, spinnerbaits, spoons, and live bait work well. Given a taste of pike’s flaky, white meat, most diners will choose pike over walleye!

“Largemouth bass are on shallow timber, lily pads, and docks, or on deep weeds and rock. For shallow fish, pitch frogs and other topwaters near the shoreline and vary retrieves. For deep fish, slowly drag creature baits on jigs or Texas-rigged worms on bottom.

“Smallmouth bass are on deep rocks and weeds, hitting Ned rig and drop-shot plastics, but Berkley MaxScent PowerBait is the go-to for many anglers!

“Crappies roam deep weed edges, sometimes holding to cribs and timber. Use plastics under slip bobbers or on jigs rolled slowly.

“Bluegills are on deep weed edges. Live bait on jigs under floats or dragged across bottom work well, but downsizing drop-shots to smaller plastics is phenomenal for big bluegills!”

Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage is down 2.5 feet, with water temperatures in the mid to high 70s.

“Musky action is solid, with anglers seeing many fish, plus follows and short hits. During the day, cast swimbaits and rubber baits from shallow to deep water. Trolling can prove effective with water temperatures in the high 70s. At night, cast bucktails and slow moving surface baits from deep to shallow. Creepers are good choices for early morning and late evening fishing.

“Walleye fishing is a bit quiet. With water temperatures high, look for fish deeper during the day. Trolling is most effective during daylight hours. As nights cool, weed edges and drop-offs become more productive. Crawlers are the live bait of choice, followed by minnows, and Gulp! Leeches are a good alternative.

“Northern pike are in thick weed beds and Tinsel Tails are still the ticket. Ripping spinnerbaits and other weedless baits through the weeds is most effective.

“Smallmouth bass are very active, especially on Ned Rigs and 60s and 90s Whopper Ploppers. Target rock and wood structure.

“Crappies spread out to deeper cribs, sunken bogs, and other structure during the day, and all are capable of holding fish. If you find no action in 5-10 minutes, move to another location. It is much easier to pinpoint crappies at night, as they are around bogs. Crappie minnows are the go-to for live bait, while effective artificials include Garland Mayflies, Mini-Mites, Voodoo Flash Bang jigs, and one-inch Gulp! Minnows.”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses the ‘other’ sunfish of Sawyer County.

“Every angler knows bluegill, the most famous and common member of the sunfish family, but several other lesser-known sunfish swim in our local waters. To clarify, ‘sunfish’ is a term commonly used by anglers for fish in the ‘Lepomis’ genus of fish, a group that includes many different North American species, all roughly the same size and shape as bluegill.

“Pumpkinseed is the next most common sunfish in our area and is in virtually all of our lakes. Pumpkinseeds are rarer in rivers, as they specialize in eating snails and small insects from the lakebed. Pumpkinseed and bluegill often spawn with each other in our area, creating a unique looking hybrid that can sometimes reach bigger sizes than either parent species achieve in slower-growth lakes.

“Warmouth is another interesting sunfish found in a few local waters, getting its name from dark stripes on its face. Warmouth can have an almost purple completion and have a larger mouth similar to a rock bass. Warmouths are in certain parts of the Chippewa Flowage, and in Round, Little Round, and Osprey lakes.

“Northern Sunfish is the smallest and most rare sunfish with an established population in our area. These brightly colored little fish ‑ maximum size is about 5 inches ‑ are found in some of the headwater lakes of the West Fork of the Chippewa River, including Teal/Lost Land, Teal River Flowage, and Lower Clam Lake. At a quick glance, they might look like a small pumpkinseed, but with a few differences in body shape and coloration. I can count the number I have seen on one hand, and have never heard of an angler catching a Northern Sunfish in this area.

“Green sunfish are common in many parts of the state, but we are not aware of an established population in Sawyer County. However, this year we captured a green sunfish x bluegill hybrid in Teal Lake. We captured only one and do not know the origins of this fish. It is possible this fish was in a batch of minnows an angler released, as they are quite common in many ponds and streams around the state, including places where people harvest baitfish.

“Many sunfish species are small and do not offer much for table fare, but their brilliant colors and rarity can make them a unique catch for any angler!”

Hayward Bass Club hosts its Free Youth Bass Tourney for youth 10-17 year of age this Sunday, August 20, from Noon-4 p.m., at The Landing Resort on the Chippewa Flowage. Club members, guides, and youth anglers fish from noon-4 p.m., followed by a shore lunch and awards ceremony.

Participant must have reservations!

For more information, stop at Hayward Bait or text (405) 227-1789.

The 116th Annual Sawyer County Fair runs Thursday through Sunday, August 17-20.

For detailed information, a complete schedule of events, entertainment, Fair hours, ticket prices, and more, visit www.sawyercountyfair.org or call (715) 699-2022.

Sales of bonus antlerless deer tags began at 10 a.m. Monday, August 14, starting with the Northern and Central Forest zones. Bonus authorizations ($12/residents, $20/non-residents, and $5/age 11 and younger) are available online through GoWild and license vendors, one per person per day, until sold out or deer season ends. Hunters must know the DMU they will hunt and if on public or private land. Authorizations vary by DMU deer population levels. Each Farmland Zone deer license includes a minimum of one antlerless authorization.

For more information, search “deer hunting” on the DNR website.

Fishing Report

Fishing slowed somewhat, depending on the species. Bait shop personnel can tell you what is hot ‑and what is not ‑ regarding species, locations, baits, presentations, and bite windows that will improve your productive time on the water.


Musky fishing is good and anglers report they see many fish, with follows and short hits ‑ and even boat a few! Focus on shallow to deep weeds, weed flats, wood, rock, and baitfish and panfish concentrations. Effective baits include rubber baits, bucktails, swimbaits, gliders, and topwaters.


Walleye fishing is slower, but improving. During daylight, troll crankbaits and crawler harnesses over deep weeds, weed edges, basins, breaklines, drop-offs, and rock. In evening into dark, work shallow weeds, weed edges, and other structure with crawlers, walleye suckers, and fatheads on jigs, spinner rigs, slip bobbers, and harnesses.

Northern Pike:

Northern pike action is a very good all-day bite, with best success in morning and late afternoon. Search shallow to deep weeds, weed flats, bays, shorelines, and baitfish and panfish concentrations. Sucker minnows, spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, bucktails, and crankbaits all produce good action.

Largemouth Bass:

Largemouth bass fishing is very good to excellent. Search in and around shallow weeds, weed edges, wood, slop, shorelines, and docks, and mid-depth to deeper weeds, wood, and rock. Various plastics on jigs, drop-shot and Ned rigs, spinnerbaits, and topwaters such as Whopper Ploppers, frogs, and buzzbaits all catch fish.

Smallmouth Bass:

Smallmouth bass fishing is good to very good, with fish on deep rock, weeds, weed edges, and wood, and shallower weedlines, stumps, and sandy shorelines. Ned Rigs, drop-shot plastics, Berkley MaxScent PowerBait, and Whopper Ploppers and other topwaters are all productive.


Crappie fishing is fair to good. Fish are deep on weeds, weed edges, wood, cribs, and sunken bogs during the day, and floating bogs in late afternoon into dark. Best baits include crappie minnows, Mini-Mites, Garland Mayflies, Voodoo Flash Bang jigs, plastics, and one-inch Gulp! Minnows.

Bluegill and Perch:

Bluegill and perch fishing is good around shallow structure and on deep weed edges. Leaf worms, crawlers, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs, plain hooks, drop-shot rigs, and hook and split shot set-ups under bobbers all tempt panfish.

Upcoming Events

Aug. 14: Sale of bonus antlerless deer tags begins (tag availability by county).

Aug. 17-20: 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).

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.