Hayward Lakes Outdoor Report 8-28-23

Steve Suman

Steve Suman

The past week brought some cooler temperatures, with one nighttime low 37 degrees. This week starts a bit warmer, cools, and then returns to mid to low 80-degree highs. The current forecast shows no rain chances after Monday!

Quiet Lakes’ water levels are near normal,” says Greg at Happy Hooker, “with low 70s water temperatures. Fishing is hit or miss, but stable weather should improve it.

“Muskies are around shallow weeds and still prefer smaller baits, though some anglers report success on bigger baits such as Medussas and Bull Dawgs.

“Walleyes are deep and anglers trolling crankbaits around suspending balls of baitfish do well. Slow-trolling bottom bouncers, crawler harnesses, or Lindy Rigs along the bottom works well, too.

“Northern pike catches are mostly by anglers fishing for muskies and bass around shallow weed beds.

“Largemouth bass fishing is good on shallow weeds, weed beds, and lily pads along shorelines. Spinnerbaits, plastic worms, frogs, and poppers are working great. For suspending fish, try small spinnerbaits, inline spinners, and chatterbaits.

“Smallmouth bass are on deep rock bottoms, humps, and points that extend into the deep basins. Deep running crankbaits should do well at this time, though anglers might find some good action on topwaters.

“Crappie fishing is good, with anglers finding fish in deep basins and suspending over deep water. Working small jigs close to the bottom is effective at this time.

“Bluegill and perch are still shallow, with leaf worms and crawlers the most popular live baits to catch them, but waxies are not far behind. Small jigs under bobbers worked in and around weed beds are the best way to go.”

Jarrett at Hayward Bait says musky anglers are catching fish on a regular basis, most often in 5-15 feet.

“Bucktails, Warlocks, creepers, gliders, and topwaters work well, and anglers can soon use suckers while casting to cover water.

“Walleye fishing is quiet, but offers opportunities. Most anglers use crawlers and some use minnows. Troll crawler harnesses to find scattered fish on weedlines, flats, and lake basins.

“Northern pike fishing is solid in 5-30 feet. Small pike hang in shallow weeds; bigger fish are on deep points and weed edges. Northern and walleye suckers on jigs or slip bobbers, Rattle Traps, spoons, and swimbaits work well.

“Largemouth bass are near shallow timber, lilies, and docks, or on weedlines chasing bluegills. Frog baits are hoppin’ (pun intended!) as are Whopper Ploppers/topwaters. Deep fish find slow-moving 7- to 10-inch Texas-rigged worms irresistible.

“Smallmouth bass fishing is excellent in 10-25 feet with Ned and Texas rigs dragged across the bottom. Topwaters and drop-shot rigs are good options.

“Crappies are all over, with fish suspending over flats and basins, and on cribs and weedlines. Finicky fish in open water require long, accurate casts. Jigs and plastics are effective, with live bait the go-to for stubborn fish.

“Bluegills are also all over, but downsize the presentations. With larger hooks, you will whiff more fish than catch. Live bait and slip bobber combinations are prime set-ups to search for fish.”

Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage is down 2.5-3 feet, with water temperatures in the low to mid 70s.

“Musky fishing is quieter than in past weeks Trolling will produce moderate success during the day, as will casting rubber baits and swimbaits into deeper water and counting them down a few seconds. At night, topwaters, particularly Creepers, Hawg Wobblers, and Flap Tails, are the go-to baits.

“Walleye fishing is improving, with anglers and guides reporting various crankbaits trolled 14-18 feet down in the water column the way to go. Mark clouds of baitfish, note their depth, and adjust bait depths accordingly. Night fishing is okay on crawlers, though some anglers are switching to minnows.

“Northern pike are active in weed beds, crushing Tinsel Tail spinnerbaits. Anglers report many smaller fish, with a few bigger ones here and there.

“Smallmouth bass action is good on Ned Rigs, Whopper Ploppers, poppers, and frogs fished near rocks and stumps.

“Crappie fishing is best with Garland Mayflies, though minnows and other plastics work well. Work deeper cribs, brush piles, and sunken bogs during the day. At night, fish floating bogs at multiple depths to learn where the fish are in the water column.”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses the Lake Loretta fishery and its road to recovery.

“In fall/winter of 2022-23, we lowered the water level of Lake Loretta, near Winter, to the creek channel to facilitate dam repairs. This was a very significant drawdown and we expected major impacts on the fishery. Last fall, staff from the DNR and Sawyer County worked with local volunteers to move fish out of the channel to give them better chances of surviving winter.

“This summer, the DNR Hayward Fish Team returned to Lake Loretta to check on the recovery of the fishery. The team set mini fyke nets for one night and checked them the following day. These nets are effective for young panfish and minnows, but also capture other species. The results of the survey were surprising and impressive.

“Juvenile panfish were abundant, with all species represented in the catch of bluegill, crappie, perch, and pumpkinseed. It was apparent that at least some adult panfish survived in the system and reproduced at a high level in spring 2023. We also captured a juvenile muskellunge, which was an exciting finding.

“Sawyer County developed and was ready to implement a restocking plan for Lake Loretta following the drawdown. The survey results, however, made it clear that stocking is not necessary for many species that are already abundant less than a year after the drawdown and dam repair, though it will take some time for these fish to reach catchable sizes.

“The DNR made the decision to not stock panfish, though it might stock muskellunge despite some observed natural reproduction. We will monitor largemouth bass and might stock them in the future if determined necessary.

“Natural systems and fisheries can be very sensitive to some disturbances, but examples such as this also demonstrate how resilient they can be. Complete recovery of the Loretta fishery will still take some time, but it is well underway!”

Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies Inc. invites 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., followed at 7:30 p.m. by a general meeting with guest speaker DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter. Anyone interested in becoming a Muskies, Inc. member can purchase a half-price membership at the meeting. For more information, call Mike Persson (715) 634-4543.

The 31st Annual Exeland Trout Festival, sponsored by Exeland Rod & Gun Club, is this weekend, Friday through Sunday, September 1-3. Admission requires a Trout Fest button ($3) good for all three days. The event begins at the Sports Center at 5 p.m. Friday. For more information, visit the Trout Fest website or call Jim Gerber (715) 943-2242.

Hook and line season for lake sturgeon opens September 2 on certain waters. Check regulations before fishing. The minimum length limit is 60 inches and the bag limit one fish per season. Anglers must have a fishing license to fish for sturgeon; those intending to harvest a sturgeon must purchase a harvest tag ($20/resident; $50/nonresident).

Early Canada goose, early teal, and mourning dove hunting seasons open Sunday September 1. Check regulations for legal hunting hours, locations, and daily bag limits.

Fishing Report

Fall is in the air and fishing action is fair to good, but most species are starting to show slight behavior changes relative to food and locations. You can maybe learn the details on the water, OR you can check with trusted bait shop personnel to get the most current preferred baits, presentations, and locations. (Hint: Save yourself some time!)


Musky action is good, consistent (for musky fishing), and getting better, with fish around weed cover in 4-18 feet. Preferred baits at this time include small to mid-size bucktails, gliders, some larger rubber baits, and topwaters in the evening. Trolling anglers report some success during the day.


Walleyes are scattered and fishing is fair to somewhat slow. Most anglers are trolling or drift-fishing crawler harnesses, bottom bouncers, Lindy Rigs, crankbaits, or stickbaits near the bottom around weedlines, flats, and basins, and/or searching for suspending balls of baitfish. Slip bobbers with sucker minnows are also producing.

Northern Pike:

Northern pike are active, with many anglers targeting other species making catches. Fish in and on both shallow and deep weeds, weed beds, and weed edges, points, and panfish and baitfish concentrations. Work bigger baits deeper for trophy pike. Northern and walleye suckers on jigs or slip bobbers, spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, and swimbaits all work.

Largemouth Bass:

Largemouth bass action is good and steady. Focus on shallow to mid-depth weeds, weed beds, weedlines, wood, lily pads, and docks. Live bait, spinners, spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, plastics in various configurations and presentations, and assorted topwaters including Whopper Ploppers, frogs, and poppers all get the attention of largemouth.

Smallmouth Bass:

Smallmouth bass fishing is very good to excellent in 8-28 feet on rock and hard bottom humps, stumps, points, and basins. Best baits include sucker minnows, Ned, Texas, and drop-shot rigs, deep crankbaits, and topwaters such as Whopper Ploppers, frogs, and poppers.


Crappie fishing is good with fish in many locations. Deep basins, brush, bogs, flats, weedlines, wood, and cribs can all hold fish, with some suspending over deep water. Crappie minnows, plastics, Gulp! baits, and Garland Mayflies on small jigs fished near the bottom are all effective.


Bluegill and perch fishing is good to very good in and around shallow weeds, brush, and docks. Waxies, leaf worms, crawler chunks, plastics, and Gulp! baits on jigs and plain hooks fished under slip bobbers are working well. For bigger bluegills, downsize presentations.

Upcoming Events

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

Sept. 1: Seasons open: Early Canada goose; Early teal; Mourning dove (see regs).

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

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

Sept. 4: Labor Day.

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 Canada 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. 16-17: 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.