Hayward Lakes Outdoor Report 9-12-23

Steve Suman

Monday and Tuesday offer less than stellar weather, but Tuesday night through Thursday look good in the current forecast. From then into next Monday, it is a toss-up (though seriously, is that not always the case?) High temperatures should be in the 60s-70s, with a chance of frost Wednesday morning. Fall weather has arrived, so keep a jacket handy!

“Hot weather Labor Day weekend raised the Quiet Lakes’ water temperatures a bit,” says Greg at Happy Hooker, “but they are back to around 70 degrees. Some rain should keep them in check and help lake levels as well.

“Fishing is tough for all species since the cold front arrived. The bite is tough, in transition between the good summer bite and fall feed bag season.

“Musky action slowed, but anglers are catching fish around shallow weeds, rocks, and timber. Fish bucktails to cover water and if you get no action, use slower glide baits, jerkbaits, or rubber baits. Live bait fishing will heat up with cooler weather. Dragging suckers while casting is great for putting big fish in the boat.

“Walleyes pushed into deep basins and anglers trolling crankbaits, crawler harnesses, and bottom bouncers are catching fish. Jigging live bait will come into play as water temperatures cool.

“Northern pike are on shallow structure and spinnerbaits, small bucktails, and live bait will produce.

“Largemouth bass anglers are doing well with minnows and crawlers, and some musky anglers are catching bass on smaller artificials. The bass are relating to shallow weed beds and other structure.

“Smallmouth bass are off deep rocky points and shorelines and anglers are doing well with live bait. Many walleye anglers report catching some very nice smallmouth while walleye fishing, with most catches on walleye suckers or fatheads under slip bobbers.

“Crappie anglers are finding fish in basins, on cribs, or deep structure. Crappie minnows and plastics on jigs, vertically jigged, are working well. Slip bobbers with jigs getting deep will work, too.

“Bluegills and perch are in shallow weeds, with waxies, leaf worms, and crawlers still the baits of choice.”

Jarrett at Hayward Bait says musky anglers continue to catch fish on a regular basis.

“Most fish are coming from 5-15 feet. Bucktails are the go-to for many anglers. Warlocks, creepers, other topwaters, and gliders work, and sucker season begins shortly. Fish will be more active and move shallower with the cooling water.

“Walleye fishing is quiet, normal for this time. Most anglers use crawlers and minnows, trolling crawler harnesses to find scattered fish throughout weedlines, flats, and basins. Suckers on slip bobbers and dead-sticks come into play with cooler water temperatures.

“Northern pike fishing is solid, with fish in 5-30 feet. Smaller pike are in shallower weeds to avoid predation from bigger musky and pike. Larger fish locate on deep points and weed edges chasing panfish. Northern and walleye suckers on jigs or slip bobbers work well, as do Rattle Traps, swimbaits, and spoons.

“Largemouth bass fishing is good, with some fish around shallow timber, lilies, and close to docks, and others are on weedlines. Topwaters such as Whopper Ploppers and frog baits are producing, and slow moving Texas rigs with 7- to 10-inch worms are irresistible to deeper fish.

“Smallmouth bass fishing is excellent in 10-25 feet for anglers dragging Ned and Texas rigs across the bottom. Drop-shots and topwaters are good in certain areas, and with cooler water, the live bait bite will soon begin.

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

“Bluegills are in the same areas as crappies, but downsize presentations. Slip bobbers with live bait work well and a great option to search for fish.”

Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage is down 2.5 feet, with water temperatures in the high 60s to low 70s.

“Musky action is solid on a variety of baits, from slow moving surface baits such as Hawg Wobblers, creepers, and flap tails, etc., to double-10 bucktails. The fish are hanging off deeper weed edges. The sucker bite should get better with the cool-down. While throwing baits, float a sucker off the side of the boat.

“Walleyes are a bit quiet, but once things stabilize, look for increased action around weed beds and shallower areas. Cool water and less sunlight will reduce weeds, and remaining decent weeds and shallow structure should attract an abundance of walleye. Use your graph ‑ if you are not marking baitfish, you are not in the right spot. Flicker Shads and similar jointed crankbaits are effective, with crawlers the live bait of choice, and minnows the way to go as temperatures cool. As always, night fishing is usually more productive than day fishing.

“Northern pike are active in and around weed beds. Many musky anglers report accidental pike catches. Keep throwing Tinsel Tail spinners, and with cooling water, float suckers off the side of the boat.

“Smallmouth bass action slowed, possibly due to cooling water. Fish in the rocks with crawlers, small suckers, Ned Rigs, and paddletail swimbaits with swim jigs.

“Crappie action slowed, and if cooling continues, fish might start transitioning to fall patterns, which can make crappie fishing a bit tricky. Hot spots can change daily and using electronics is the key to spot fish between their summer spots and deeper late fall spots. Plastics are working, but as conditions cool, live bait becomes more effective.”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses fall survey plans.

“As usual, the DNR Hayward Fish Team will be out on local waterbodies to conduct fall electrofishing surveys. These are some of our most regularly conducted surveys and we conduct them annually on most of our important walleye fisheries.

“The target of these fall surveys is juvenile walleye and muskellunge, and with these data we are able to make some determinations about the strength of natural reproduction and stocking success for the two species.

“This fall, we will conduct our electrofishing surveys on the Chippewa Flowage, Lac Courte Oreilles (LCO), Whitefish, Windigo, Spider Chain, Tiger Cat Chain, Round, Big Chetac, Black Dan, Barber, and Big Sissabagama. Other crews might conduct additional surveys on other local waters, including Sand, Grindstone, and Windfall.

“People living on these lakes might notice the electrofishing boat lights or hear the generator running. We advise everyone to watch from shore at a safe distance.

“If you are interested in specific survey results, contact biologist Max Wolter at Max.Wolter@wisconsin.gov a day or two after the survey. We should have all surveys completed by mid-October.”

Wisconsin hunters have a big weekend ahead, with the opening (and closing) of a number of seasons. Early Canada goose season closes September 15, with the regular goose season opening September 16. Wisconsin’s Youth Waterfowl Hunt is this weekend, September 16-17.

Saturday, September 16, marks the opening day of archery and crossbow deer season, as well as the opener for wild turkey, ruffed grouse in Zone A, cottontail rabbit, squirrel, and crow seasons. As always, check the regulations!

The deadline for hunters to sign with a sponsor for the October 7-15 hunters with disabilities gun deer hunt is Friday, September 15. The sponsor list is available on the DNR website.

Fishing Report

Fishing is fair to good overall, with some species more cooperative than other species. Fall weather is beginning and fish will start their seasonal transitions, if not already starting. It sounds a bit cliché, but checking with your favorite bait shop personnel for the most current trends can save considerable time on the water when you could be catching fish!


Musky action ranges from fair to very good. Look for fish from shallow weeds, wood, and rock, to deep weed edges. Bucktails, jerkbaits, gliders, rubber baits, flap tails, and topwaters such as Hawg Wobblers, Warlocks, creepers, and others are working well. Anglers casting baits should drag a sucker, but check the regulations!


Walleye fishing is fair, with best success from late evening into dark. Fish are scattered from shallow weeds and structure to deep weedlines, flats, and basins. Hit shallower weedlines in the evening. Walleye suckers, fatheads, and crawlers on jigs and slip bobbers work well, as do trolled/drifted crawler harnesses, bottom bouncers, and crankbaits.

Northern Pike:

Northern pike fishing is good to very good, particularly for small fish around shallow weeds and other structure. Find bigger pike on deep weeds, weed edges, points, and near panfish concentrations. Northern and walleye suckers on jigs and/or slip bobbers, spinners, spinnerbaits, swimbaits, spoons, Rattle Traps, and bucktails all work for pike!

Largemouth Bass:

Largemouth bass fishing is good to very good around shallow weeds, weedlines, weed beds, wood, lilies, docks, and other structure, and areas holding panfish. Baits of choice include plastics in various configurations on swim jigs, Ned, Texas, and drop-shot rigs, crawlers, minnows, and topwaters such as Whopper Ploppers and frogs.

Smallmouth Bass:

Smallmouth bass fishing is fair to very good depending on the day and location. Fish are on deep rock and rocky points and shorelines in depths to 23 feet. Sucker and fathead minnows, crawlers, plastics, swimbaits and swim jigs, Ned, Texas, and drop-shot rigs all work well, and topwaters are good in some areas.


Crappie fishing is inconsistent, from fair to very good, again depending on the day and location, as well their transition to fall patterns. Look for fish on cribs, bogs, deep weeds, weedlines, and structure, and suspending over flats and basins. Most productive are crappie minnows and plastics on jigs fished vertically or under slip bobbers.

Bluegill and Perch:

Bluegill and perch fishing is good in shallow weeds, as well as on cribs, deep structure, and basins. Waxies, leaf worms, and crawler chunks on small jigs and/or under slip bobbers work well. Go smaller if fish are reluctant to bite.

Upcoming Events

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

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

Sept. 9: Early teal season closed.

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 (sponsor list).

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 a.m.-7 p.m.

Sept. 16: 40th Chequamegon MTB Festival.

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

Sept. 23: First day of fall (Fall Equinox).

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

Sept. 29: Full Harvest Moon.

Sept. 30: Tommy G. Thompson State Fish Hatchery Open House 10 a.m.-2 p.m. (715-635-4147).

Sept. 30: Lake sturgeon hook and line season closes (see regs).

Oct. 6-8: Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies Inc. 45th Annual Fall Muskie Tournament (715-634-2921; 634-4543).

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.