Hayward Lakes Outdoor Report 8-2-22

Steve Suman

The forecast calls for chances of showers Tuesday, but mostly sunny and bright from Wednesday into the weekend, though with minimal shower possibilities. Look for highs in the mid-80s and lows in the50s/60s for most of the week.

Quiet Lakes’ fishing is in the summer doldrums and locating fish is the key,” says Greg at Happy Hooker. “You can’t catch them from the couch, so get out there and fish!

“Musky action is heating up for numbers and size. Anglers are taking most fish on bright bucktails and spinnerbaits. Dawn and dusk is best, with a few daytime bites. Fish are on deep weed edges and deeper structure.

“Walleye fishing is a bit tough, but the catches are good quality fish. They hold on deep structure off main lake humps and points, and minnows and leeches on jigs are producing.

“Northern pike are incidental catches for bass and musky anglers, with fast moving spinnerbaits and crankbaits the ticket. Focus on weeds where prey fish hide. Weed edges, both shallow and deep, are holding fish.

“Largemouth bass fishing is good on both artificials and live bait. Fishing crawlers off docks and running spinnerbaits through weeds are working well, as are working weedless worms and jigs with trailers through shallow, heavy weeds.

“Smallmouth bass and walleye anglers are catching fish in the same locations with the same techniques. Jigging leeches and minnows on deep rocks and structure does the trick.

“Crappie fishing is tough, with fish holding tight to cover near bottom and just inside deep weed edges. Minnows on small jigs under bobbers are most productive.

“Bluegills are near docks and tight against shoreline weeds and structure. Use waxies on jigs, crawlers on plain hooks, and panfish leeches on both jigs and hooks.

“Perch are mixing in with crappies and the preferred technique is minnows on jigs under bobbers.”

Levi at Hayward Bait says musky action is picking up, with an increasing number of catch reports.

“Anglers are catching fish on both shallow and deeper points, breaks, and rocks, with most using suckers, bucktails, crankbaits, and plastics.

“Walleye fishing is decent in 15-25 feet, with trolled crawler harnesses and deep Shad Raps to cover as much water as possible. Some anglers do well with leeches and fatheads on slip bobbers. Best times are early morning and late evening.

“Northern pike fishing is good with walleye and northern suckers, bucktails, and spinnerbaits fished on weedlines and thicker weeds in 8-10 feet.

“Largemouth bass action is good shallow for small bass, with bigger bass on weed patches and grasses in 8-12 feet. Anglers are fishing different types of plastics on the bottom, as well as crankbaits and spinnerbaits.

“Smallmouth bass are a tough bite, but you can find fish on rock piles and steep breaks in 20-25 feet. Most anglers are using drop-shot rigs and deep jerkbaits; others have success with leeches on slip bobbers and drop-shot rigs.

“Crappie fishing is good on weedlines and in basins in 15-20 feet, and in 6-8 feet in the evenings. Most anglers use crappie minnows and fatheads, though others use plastics and small crankbaits with success.

“Bluegill fishing is very good any time of the day, both shallow and deep, but with weedline edges in 6-8 feet best. Anglers are using waxies, leaf worms, and crawlers on small jigs.”

Cathy at Minnow Jim’s says most Nelson Lake walleye catches are coming from deep water.

“Jig minnows and leeches and fish the river channel with bottom bouncers and deep divers.

“Northern pike are attracted to the noise and splash of spinnerbaits and buzzbaits.

“Largemouth bass are in deeper weeds and under docks, swim platforms, and tree overhangs. Toss weedless soft baits, rigged worms, and spoons.

“Crappies are finicky, but jigging and bobber fishing minnows, leeches, and Gulp! Alive are catching some fish.

“Bluegills are very active, a little deeper than normal, and close to the bottom. Use small dressed jigs plain if they have tail action, or tip with a waxie, worm, or chunk of crawler.”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses first-time musky stockings in two Sawyer County lakes.

“Stocking is always a popular fish management activity, but often anglers are not fully aware of the underlying issues that result in the need for fish stocking in the first place.

“In an ideal world, fish would reproduce and survive at acceptable levels and stocking would not be necessary except in rare circumstances. However, we know that is often not the case, and many waters require some amount of stocking to address fisheries limitations. Two recent ‘new’ muskellunge stocking events in Sawyer County tell different stories of why stocking is sometimes necessary.

“In 2021, Osprey Lake received muskellunge stocking for the first time ever, or at least in modern history. Osprey is in the native range of muskellunge and there are established muskellunge populations in the connected lakes both upstream and downstream. However, only rarely are muskellunge observed in Osprey, and those reported over the years are likely migrants from Round Lake. The goal of this stocking was to establish a more consistent muskellunge fishery in a lake where their reproduction appears to be limited.

“A stocking planned for fall of 2022 will see musky stocking return to the Tiger Cat Chain for the first time in more than 50 years. The Tiger Cat Chain is a native musky lake that historically had high muskellunge reproduction and adult musky density. Stocking events that occurred in the past (1940s-1960s) were likely driven more by stocking popularity than true need, since muskies were reproducing at a high level during that time.

“In the 2020s, however, the situation has changed dramatically and stocking might now play an important role in the continuation of the muskellunge fishery. Northern pike are not native to the Tiger Cat Chain, but are now well established and appear to be reducing muskellunge reproduction and overall abundance. Stocking is one of several tools we are using to offset that shift in the fishery.

“These two stocking events are new and will undergo evaluation. If successful, they could join other local stocked muskellunge lakes that receive fingerlings at regular 2- or 3-year intervals.”

The DNR is again reminding boaters to boat sober and wear life jackets. So far this year, 11 people have died from boating incidents. The four leading causes of watercraft crashes are operator inexperience, inattention, recklessness, and speeding. Alcohol use is a leading factor in recreational boating fatalities. If alcohol is involved in your boating, have a designated operator. Nearly 80 percent of fatal boating incidents involve drowning. Most people who drown in boating accidents know how to swim, but are incapacitated by injuries, unconsciousness, exhaustion, or weighed down by clothing. For more information, search “boating safety” on the DNR website.

Eligible disabled hunters interested in the 2022 deer hunt for hunters with disabilities should contact a hunt sponsor directly before Sept. 1 to confirm a hunting location. Sponsors enrolled nearly 70,000 acres of land across 40 counties for the Oct. 1-9 hunt and some properties can accommodate more hunters than others. Hunters must provide their name, contact information, and DNR customer ID number, and possess a valid Class A, C, or D disabled permit or qualifying Class B permit. For more information, search “deer hunting for hunters with disabilities” on the DNR website.

Fishing Report

Fishing action is fair to good for most species, but “being there” during the best bite windows certainly improves the odds for success! The fish are there ‑ anglers just need to first find them and then figure out what they want. They will tell you if you will listen (but sometimes they speak very softly!)


Musky action is good and getting better for catching and for bigger fish as fall approaches. Best fishing is in early morning and late evening, though anglers are also finding fish during the day. Muskies are hanging on both shallow and deep weed edges, rocks, points, bars, and near structure. Baits working best at this time include suckers, spinnerbaits, stickbaits, bucktails, crankbaits, plastics, and topwaters.


Walleye fishing is mostly fair to somewhat good, though anglers are catching some nice fish. Best success is in very early morning and late evening into after dark. Look for fish on deeper weeds, points, humps, and other structure in 12-30 feet, with fish moving shallower in low light feeding hours. Leeches, crawlers, fatheads, and minnows on slip bobber rigs, jigs, harnesses, spinner rigs, bottom bouncers, and crankbaits and stickbaits are all hooking fish.

Northern Pike:

Northern pike are active and continue to be trip savers for some anglers. The fish are in weeds, on weed edges and weedlines, and wherever there are panfish and baitfish concentrations in 6-18 feet. The most effective baits include sucker minnows, spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, bucktails, and buzzbaits. Go deeper with bigger baits for trophy pike.

Largemouth Bass:

Largemouth bass fishing is very good for anglers fishing shallow heavy weeds, lily pads, slop, stumps, docks, and other structure providing overhead cover, as well as mid-depth cribs, brush, wood, and rock out to about 15 feet. Baits of choice include crawlers, leeches, various plastic configurations, spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, crankbaits, and topwaters.

Smallmouth Bass:

Smallmouth bass fishing is fair to good on rock, steep breaklines, and structure in 18-26 feet. Sucker minnows, leeches, and crawlers on drop-shot rigs and on jigs under slip bobbers, and soft plastics and jerkbaits in crayfish colors are all tempting smallmouth.


Crappie fishing is fair to good on weeds, weedlines, weed edges, and basins in 12-22 feet, and in 4-10 feet in the evening hours. Top producers include crappie minnows, fatheads, leeches, plastics, and Gulp! Alive baits on small jigs under bobbers, and small crankbaits and Beetle Spins.


Bluegill action is very good to excellent for fish on weeds and weed edges, docks, and shoreline structure in 4-12 feet. Best baits include waxies, leaf worms, crawler chunks, panfish leeches, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs and plain hooks fished with/without bobbers and/or near the bottom.


Perch fishing is good to very good around weeds and areas holding crappies. Crappie minnows, fatheads, crawler chunks, and Gulp! baits fished on jigs under bobbers are working well.

Upcoming Events

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 RaceOjibwa 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. 15: DNR begins sale of bonus antlerless deer harvest tags.

Aug. 23: DNR virtual public meeting on Sand Lake fisheries management plan; 7-9 p.m. (715-634-7429).

Sept. 1: Seasons open: Early teal; Early goose; Mourning dove.

Sept. 1: Application deadline for hunters with disabilities gun deer hunt.

Sept. 3: Hook and line lake sturgeon season opens (see regs).

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.