Hayward Lakes Outdoor Report 8-23-22

Steve Suman

The previous week was, fortunately, much better than predicted. Aside from possible mid-week rain, this week looks to be another nice one, so hoping the forecast for this week IS on the money! Highs in the 70s and lows in the 50s should suit nearly everyone’s needs for outdoor recreation. It is up to you take advantage of it!

Quiet Lakes’ fishing is good overall for all species,” says Greg at Happy Hooker. “Muskies are hitting smaller, fast moving bucktails, and the topwater bite is really coming on now. Anglers should focus on shallow weeds, rocks, and timber, working baits over or through cover at all times of the day, especially during twilight and peak lunar phases.

“Walleye fishing is best with crawlers and fatheads under slip bobbers. Some fish are in deep basins and others are using deep weed edges to hide from predators. Jigging is another great presentation to get baits down to active fish.

“Northern pike are all over and crushing all sorts of baits, with bass size spinnerbaits producing best, and live bait and small bucktails working well. Fish mainly relate to weeds, but also ambush from points and main lake humps.

“Largemouth bass have a strong topwater bite going, with Whopper Ploppers, buzzbaits, and frogs all working. Cast over thick weeds and run buzzbaits through shallow bulrushes. To find active fish when working deep weeds and structure, use spinnerbaits and crankbaits.

“Smallmouth bass are on deep rocks, cribs, timber, and hard to soft bottom transitions. Deep crankbaits and vertically jigging or slip bobber fishing live bait, plastics, and Gulp! baits can all be effective.

“Crappie fishing is good, with fish in the weeds and schooling in basins. Minnows under bobbers, hair jigs, and casting and retrieving small jigs with plastic grubs are all catching fish.

“Bluegill and perch fishing is consistent, with good numbers of fish in weed beds, shallow bays, and around docks and shorelines. Leaf worms and chunks of crawlers under bobbers are the favorite presentations.”

Jarrett at Hayward Bait says musky fishing is solid and many anglers are reporting success.

“Fish are in 5-20 feet with cooler temperatures and smaller bucktails, jerkbaits, and topwaters are producing. The musky sucker bite has not yet started, but we are fast approaching September so it is just around the corner.

“Walleyes scattered to deeper water and action slowed. Most anglers who are catching fish find trolling their most successful option. Spinner rigs and crankbaits trolled at a decent speed in deep water are boating some fish. There is a lot of food in the water now, so fish are more prone to reaction hits. Fish will turn down slow-moving baits they can inspect, but trolling baits fast by their faces offers them no option but to hit it. This is why ‘snap-jigging,’ featuring Rapala’s Jiggin Raps and Acme baits such as the Hyper Rattle & Hammers, has become so successful over the past few years.

“Northern pike are starting to move with the cooler water and large northern suckers, spinnerbaits, and swimbaits are working well. Anglers looking for fish to fry can catch small pike in the shallows by using the same presentations that they use for walleye, but with greater success.

“Largemouth bass are scattered, with some holding to shoreline structure and lily pads and others snuggled in deeper weeds. Plastics are king, with most fish coming on wacky rigs, drop-shot rigs, Texas rigs ‑ heck, just throw a plastic worm, let it sink slowly, and watch the fish arrive!

“Smallmouth bass are on deep rock bars and weedlines, depending on the waterbody. Drop-shot rigs, Texas rigs, and even topwaters are drawing fish from afar.

“Crappies are on deeper structure such as fish cribs and timber, but also suspending in deep water. Good electronics can help find clusters of fish. Small jigs tipped with plastics or crappie minnows work really well.

“Bluegills are in various areas, with some cruising shallow, some roaming weed flats and lilies, and bigger fish along deep weeds and structure. Big bulls wander like crappies, so watch for isolated schools of bigger bulls towards bottom in deep water. Long, accurate casts past them and retrieved through them are perfect to not disturb or spook them with your boat or shadow.”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses Sawyer County’s Thornapple River.

“The Thornapple River originates in eastern Sawyer County, near Winter, and flows southwest until it reaches the Chippewa River near Bruce. The river flows through some truly wild country, especially the Sawyer County portions, winding through expanses of undeveloped land in the County Forest. As a result, the river is not on the tip of many tongues in the angling community.

“However, a 2022 DNR fish team survey found some interesting characteristics of this wild river.

“We surveyed two sites on the Thornapple in Sawyer County with help from the DNR Park Falls Fish Team. The first site was where the river goes under Hwy W, east of Winter. Here the stream is 20-40 feet wide, sand bottomed, and lined with tag alder. We collected many of the minnow species we commonly encounter in warmwater streams, but were also surprised to find three brook trout. This wild trout population is sticking it out in a stream with only marginal thermal habitat.

“Next, we ventured down to where the river crosses Thornapple Grade. At this site, the river is considerably larger, 50-100 feet wide, having added much more water from the many small tributaries and seeps in the Winter block of the County Forest. The channel has scattered cobble and boulders that contribute some interesting fish habitat features.

“The water was low on the day we surveyed and generally less than 1 foot deep. Our electrofishing produced a handful of interesting captures, including smallmouth up to almost 17 inches, burbot, a legal walleye, and some of the largest logperch I have ever seen in any waterbody. Previous surveys found native muskellunge as well.

“Anglers interested in fishing the Thornapple will need to invest some time to get to the waterbody and find fish, but they will certainly find a lightly fished river.”

The 30th annual Exeland Trout Festival is September 2-4. Hosted by Exeland Rod and gun Club, the event includes sports tournaments, music, medallion hunt, fishing contests, parade, pancake breakfast, rummage sales, craft sales, youth games, Queen Coronation, giveaways, and more. Visit www.facebook.com/ExelandTroutFest for more information.

Hayward Bass Club is hosting a benefit bass tournament Sunday, August 28, from 8 a.m.-4 p.m., based at Black Iron Bar and Grill on Upper Twin Lake. There is a 30 team/boat limit, with payout to the top eight teams. The entry fee is $110 per two-angler teams/boat, with 20 percent of proceeds going to fund the Hayward High School Bass Team. For more information, email Wayne Balsavich at haywardbassclub@gmail.com or text (405) 227-1789.

The DNR is hosting a virtual public meeting Tuesday night, August 23, from 7-9 p.m., to discuss a Sand Lake fish management plan. The DNR encourages people who are interested in Sand Lake fish management or who are curious about how these plans work to join this meeting by doing a quick registration any time before the meeting by visiting https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/calendar/meeting/60416. For more information, contact Max Wolter at (715) 634-7429.

Fishing Report

Fishing remains good overall for most species, though some better than others, depending on time and water. A reminder to anglers fishing in the North District (actually in ALL districts!) to know the bag limits for the fish species they seek on the waters they are fishing. There were changes for 2022, so be sure to review those changes!


Musky fishing is good and consistent around weeds, wood, rock, points, and humps in depths to 18 feet. Small to medium bucktails, spinners, spinnerbaits, jerkbaits, and topwaters are doing the job throughout the day.


Walleye fishing is fair to good. Look for fish on deep weeds, weed edges, basins, brush, and flats during the day. Target shallower structure in early morning and evening hours. Favored presentations include crawlers and fatheads on jigs, harnesses, and slip bobbers, as well as trolling crankbaits and spinner rigs.

Northern Pike:

Northern pike action is fair to good and improving. Look for smaller fish and plenty of action along shallow weeds, weedlines, humps, and points. Live bait and small to medium size spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, stickbaits, and bucktails are all effective offerings. Go deeper with bigger baits for trophy pike.

Largemouth Bass:

Largemouth bass anglers are catching good numbers of fish in mid-depth to shallow slop, lily pads, weeds, wood, and other structure, particularly near panfish and baitfish areas. Bait choices include live bait, plastics in various riggings, spinners, spinnerbaits, crankbaits, buzzbaits, and assorted topwaters.

Smallmouth Bass:

Smallmouth bass fishing is good for anglers fishing deep weeds, weedlines, wood, rock, points, bars, cribs, and hard bottom transition areas. Best presentations include Texas rigs, drop-shot rigs, and crankbaits, as well as plastics and live bait fished on jigs and/or under slip bobbers.


Crappie fishing is good to very good on mid-depth to deep weeds, weedlines, wood, basins, brush, and cribs, with some fish suspending over deep water. Crappie minnows, waxies, plastics, Mini-Mites, Tattle Tails, and Gulp! baits on jigs and plain hooks, with/without a bobber, will entice the fish.


Bluegill fishing is good to very good in a variety of locations. Look for them near shallow to mid-depth weeds and weedlines, lily pads, docks, brush, and other structure. For bigger fish, work deep weeds and structure. Best baits include waxies, worms, leaf worms, crawler pieces, minnows, plastics, and Gulp! baits under bobbers.


Perch fishing is steady for anglers fishing in and near shallow to mid-depth weeds, docks, bays, and along shorelines. Waxies, worms, minnows, and crawler pieces on jigs and/or fished under bobbers all work for perch.

Upcoming Events

Aug. 15: Bonus antlerless deer harvest tags now on sale.

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

Aug. 28: Hayward Bass Club benefit open tournament for Hayward High School Bass Team (405-227-1789).

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

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

Sept. 2-4: Exeland Trout Festival (715-943-2242; 492-1073).

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

Sept. 5: Labor Day.

Sept. 7: Bear season opens (see regs).

Sept. 8-10: 23rd Annual Lake Chippewa Flowage Musky Hunt (715-462-3874).

Sept. 9: Early teal season closes.

Sept. 15: Early goose season closes.

Sept. 16: Goose season opens (see regs).

Sept. 17: Hunting seasons open: Deer (archery/crossbow); Ruffed grouse (Zone A); Turkey; Crow; Cottontail (Northern Zone); Squirrel.

Sept. 17: 39th Annual Chequamegon MTB Festival (612-518-8234).

Sept. 17-18: Youth Waterfowl Hunt.

Sept. 24: Hunting seasons open: Woodcock; Duck in Northern Zone (see regs).

Sept. 24: Hayward Fall Festival (715-634-8662).

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.