Hayward Lakes Outdoor Report 8-22-23

Steve Suman

Steve Suman

Forecasters predict the week begins with a bit of rough weather, clears to warm/hot for a couple days, turns to a cooling trend, and mostly sunshine through the weekend. That’s their story and they’re (probably not) sticking to it! Enjoy these summer days ‑ we are less than two weeks from the start of September!

Quiet Lakes’ water levels came up nicely from rains in the last few weeks,” says Greg at Happy Hooker, “and lake water temperatures are holding in the low 70s. Fishing, however, is all over the place.

“Musky action remains good, we have listed nearly 70 fish since the opener, and only two empty spots remain on our second musky chart. Muskies are chasing bucktails and faster moving baits, with some anglers are doing well with bigger rubber baits such as Bull Dawgs and Medussas. The fish relate to shallow weeds and structure.

“Walleye fishing is tough, though anglers find a few fish in deep basins. Trolling crankbaits is a good way to find active fish. If that does not work, slow troll or drift with bottom bouncers, crawler harnesses, or Lindy Rigs.

“Northern pike action slowed, but anglers still see fish. Most anglers catch pike on bass and musky baits such as small bucktails, spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, and topwater frogs. For the most part, pike relate to shallow, weedy bays.

“Largemouth bass fishing is still hot and anglers catch bass on just about anything, including spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, and topwaters, with walleye suckers catching the bigger bass for live bait. Most anglers find bass relating to weeds, whether weed beds in bays, lily pads along the shorelines, or pockets of bulrushes.

“Smallmouth bass action is excellent, with fish hitting everything from small jigs to topwaters. Fish seem to hold deep, but do move shallow to feed. Look for rock and sand shorelines that drop off into deep water.

“Crappie fishing is probably the toughest bite lately. Many anglers struggle to find decent crappies, and those who do are not having much success catching more than just a couple. The fish are schooling and moving quite a bit in basins. Cast and work jigs with plastics or minnows, or small Beetle Spins, down into the schools to pick them apart.

“Bluegill and perch are still easy to catch in shallow weeds and off piers and docks, with crawlers and leaf worms doing the job for both species. We do not hear much on great sizes, but they are consistent and provide a nice fish fry after a day on the water.”

Jarrett at Hayward Bait says most musky anglers are throwing smaller bucktails, with some now throwing bigger plastics, gliders, and topwaters.

“Fish are on deeper weed flats holding baitfish. Most anglers target muskies during daylight, but the first hour into dark can be amazing. We need some cooling before thinking about musky suckers or trolling.

“Walleye fishing slowed as usual for this time of year and most fish are roaming deep water basins, weedlines, and rock structure, moving shallower in the evening to feed. Try trolling crankbaits and crawler harnesses to target these widespread fish. Once you find them, pitch crawlers on jigs or walleye suckers on slip bobbers.

“Northern pike are on deep weed flats and areas adjacent to structure. Spinnerbaits, spoons, plastics, and live bait are working well. If you have not tried pike, it is a flakey, white meat that many diners find preferable to walleye!

“Largemouth bass are in or near shallow timber, lily pads, and docks, or on or near deep weeds, rock, or other structure, depending on the waterbody. For shallow fish, pitch frogs and other topwaters near shorelines and work them back with differing retrieves. For deep fish, drag jigs with creature baits or Texas rigged worms slowly across the bottom.

“Smallmouth bass are on deep rocks or weeds. Plastics on Ned and drop-shot rigs work well, but Berkley PowerBait MaxScent baits are the go-to this summer.

“Crappies are roaming deep weed edges or holding to cribs and submerged timber, and hitting plastics under slip bobbers or on jigs rolled slowly across areas holding fish.

“Bluegills are on deep weed edges and live bait on small jigs dragged across bottom or fished under floats work really well. Downsizing drop-shot rigs to smaller plastics in bluegill patterns can be phenomenal.”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses the very weird Brook Silverside.

“The Brook Silverside does not look like a species of fish one would expect to see in Wisconsin. Its long, slender, and ultra-silvery appearance resembles a fish you would expect to see in the ocean. In fact, the Brook Silverside is one of only two freshwater species of silversides, with the remainder residing in saltwater.

“Silversides spend a lot of their time in the uppermost portion of the water column, especially at night. Biologists consider silversides ‘positively phototropic,’ meaning that light draws them. Some reports say that at night one can lead them across the surface of a lake with a flashlight. These fish also become very active during a full moon.

“Silversides eat insects and zooplankton and grow rapidly. The species is skilled at catching insects flying just above the water’s surface. Interestingly, brook silversides spawn only once in their lifetime, during the spring after hatching. The eggs they lay in current have a unique adhesive filament that anchors them individually to nearby vegetation or debris until hatching.

“Various fish eat silversides, especially those that feed in the upper portion of the water column such as bass, panfish, and pike. Silversides have a tendency to sit just below the surface of the water, making them a favorite target of birds such as terns and herons.

“Brook silversides are common in some parts of Wisconsin, including the lower Wisconsin River and parts of the Mississippi and Black rivers. They are considerably rarer in northern lakes. The only population of brook silversides in Sawyer County is in Big Chetac Lake, where we see them frequently during our electrofishing surveys.”

Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies Inc. welcomes the public to its club meeting Tuesday, September 5, at Flat Creek Lodge. Admission is free. A business meeting starts at 6:30 p.m. to discuss the fall tournament, followed by a general meeting at 7 p.m. with a guest speaker TBA. Anyone interested in becoming a new member of Muskies, Inc. can purchase a half-price membership at the meeting. For more information, call Mike Persson (715) 634-4543.

On August 27, Hayward Bass Club, Hayward Area High School Bass Team, and NorthWoods Bass Anglers will host the Tom Turner High School Benefit Tourney on the Tiger Cat Chain, from 8 a.m.-4 p.m., headquartering at Blackiron Grill on Hwy 77. The entry fee is $110/boat, with participation open to anglers as two-person teams. An individual may compete alone as a team. For more information, visit the Hayward Bass Club website or text Wayne at (405) 227-1789.

Fishing Report

Fishing is good overall, with action better for some species than for others (surprise, surprise!) There are some hot temperatures arriving for the next few days, so be quick with releasing fish and take care of any live bait ‑ preferably while the bait is still alive! As always, check with your favorite bait shop personnel for the most current fishing trends.


Musky anglers are seeing ‑ and catching ‑ decent numbers of fish and fishing is good. Find the fish on shallow weeds and structure, as well on deep weed flats. Bucktails, plastics, gliders, rubber baits such as Medussas and Bull Dawgs, and topwaters are all working at this time.


Walleye fishing is currently best suited for patient and persistent anglers. During the day, concentrate on deep basins, weeds, weedlines, rock, and similar structure. In the evening into after dark, fish move shallower to feed. Top producing presentations include walleye suckers on slip bobbers; trolled and drifted crankbaits; and crawlers on jigs, harnesses, bottom bouncers, and Lindy Rigs.

Northern Pike:

Northern pike action is good, though somewhat slower. Look for fish in and around shallow to deep weeds, weed edges and flats, bays, and baitfish and panfish concentrations. Northern suckers, minnows, bucktails, spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, chatterbaits, plastics, and topwaters all produce. Go deeper with bigger baits for trophy pike.

Largemouth Bass:

Largemouth bass fishing is very good to excellent in shallow shorelines, weeds, weed edges, wood, bays, brush, bulrushes, lily pads, rocks, and docks. Some fish are on mid-depth to deeper similar structure. Locations vary from lake to lake. Baits of choice include walleye suckers, spinnerbaits, swimbaits, chatterbaits, crankbaits, plastics in various configurations, and topwaters.

Smallmouth Bass:

Smallmouth bass fishing is also very good to excellent. Fish are on deep weeds and rocks, with some along sandy shorelines adjacent to deep water, and all move shallower to feed. Take your pick on baits, though some work better than others, from jigs to plastics, to Ned and drop-shot rigs, to various Berkley PowerBait MaxScent baits, to topwaters.


Crappies of decent size are apparently challenging anglers to a game of hide-and-seek, though some are finding the moving schools. The fish can be suspending over deep basins, as well as holding on deep weed edges, wood, and cribs, or on floating bogs in the evening. Preferred baits include crappie minnows, plastics, and Gulp! baits on jigs and/or under bobbers, and Beetle Spins and small spoons.


Bluegill fishing is good to very good for smaller fish, and so-so for bigger bluegills. Fish are around shallow weeds, wood, and docks, with the larger ones on deep weed edges and brush. Best baits include leaf worms, crawler chunks, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs, teardrops, and plain hooks fished under bobbers or on drop-shot rigs.

Upcoming Events

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

Sept. 1-3: 31st Annual Exeland Trout Festival (715-943-2242).

Sept. 2: Lake sturgeon hook and line season opens (see regs).

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

Sept. 6: Bear season opens (see regs).

Sept. 6-9: 24th Annual Lake Chippewa Flowage Musky Hunt (715-462-3874).

Sept. 9: Early teal season closes.

Sept. 15: Early goose season closes.

Sept. 15: Application deadline for hunters to sign with a sponsor for hunters with disabilities gun deer hunt.

Sept. 16: Seasons open: Deer (archery/crossbow); Turkey; Ruffed grouse (Zone A); Cottontail; Squirrel; Crow.

Sept. 16: Regular goose season opens in Northern Zone.

Sept. 16: Youth Waterfowl Hunt.

Sept. 16: Hayward Lions Club Oktoberfest, Sawyer County Fairgrounds, 11 .am.-7 p.m.

Sept. 16: 40th Chequamegon MTB Festival.

Sept. 23: Seasons open: Duck in Northern Zone; Woodcock.

Sept. 23: Hayward Fall Festival (715-634-8662).

Sept. 29: Full Harvest 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.