The forecast predicts beautiful mild and sunny weather for the first half of this week, but possibly switching to rainy from Wednesday night through the weekend. Daytime highs and nighttime lows are in line with the average and starting to reflect that we are almost halfway through September. Many activities are on the horizon, so get your outdoor calendar in order ‑ fall is often a very short season!
“Quiet Lakes’ fishing is solid overall,” says Greg at Happy Hooker, “with muskies very active, crappies deep as you would expect, and bass and northern pike still very cooperative.
“Musky action is good on small bucktails and fast moving baits. Mepps Musky killers and Mepps #5s worked over weeds remain solid, drawing many follows and a fair amount of catches. Start with fast moving baits over/around weed beds and edges and slow down if that does not work.
“Walleyes are deep and fishing is tough. Deep, rocky points leading to basins are good places to start. Use slip bobbers with jigs and live bait to target deep walleye. Aggressively working Jigging Raps and jigging live bait along bottom are producing in some lakes.
“Northern pike are active, hitting bucktails, spinnerbaits, Shad Raps, chatterbaits, and Beetle Spins worked on weed beds and edges.
“Largemouth bass fishing is good with spinnerbaits, swim jigs, and live bait worked around and through vegetation in shallow bays.
“Smallmouth bass are holding on deeper structure such as wood, rocks, and cribs, and most catches are coming on finesse plastics worked near bottom. Drop-shot rigs and wacky worms are working well, and you might run into a few walleyes fishing this way.
“Crappies moved to deeper water. They are more apt to take the bait when relating to bottom, and Mimic Minnows and Beetle Spins cast and worked towards bottom are working well. Crappie minnows on small jigs under slip bobbers are great for picking apart crappie schools.
“Panfish anglers are catching shallow bluegills and perch off piers and docks. Crawlers under bobbers and waxies on small hair jigs always work well.”
Jarrett at Hayward Bait says fall is on the way and that means it is musky time!
“Musky action continues to pick up with the cooling weather. Fish are in varied depths, with some in 10-15 feet and others tucked onto the shoreline. Small bucktails, spinnerbaits, glide baits, and jerkbaits are all producing success, but remember that baits will get bigger as the water cools!
“Walleyes are deep, but ‘deep’ depends on the waterbody. Fish could be in 25-40 feet in clear lakes, or as shallow as 10 feet in stained lakes, and somewhat clustered on the bottom. Use your graph to pick out packs of fish. Action is slow and many anglers are flatline and planer board trolling crawler harnesses and crankbaits. Other anglers are fishing live bait rigs or snap-jigging in deep water.
“Northern pike action is steady, with many anglers catching pike by accident while musky, walleye, or bass fishing. Look for areas concentrating other gamefish parallel to areas that hold good quantities of bluegills or baitfish. Live bait, spinners, jerkbaits, plastics, and others are working well.
“Largemouth and smallmouth bass are scattered, but will start to become very active and very aggressive with the cooler temperatures. Fish can be picky throughout the summer, but in fall, they eat first and question later. Fast moving crankbaits and jerkbaits will soon replace slower techniques such as Ned rigs, drop shot rigs, and slow-retrieve plastics.
“Crappies are holding on cribs and weed beds in 10-20 feet. Drifting small plastics and crappie minnows under bobbers across their face has worked well all summer.
“Bluegills and perch have been relatively quiet for a week or so.”
Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage pool is down 2-2.5 feet and the water temperatures is in the low 70s.
“Musky action is hot, with the cool-down sparking a fantastic bite. A variety of baits are working, from bucktails to trolled crankbaits to topwaters, with the topwater bite better in early and late hours. It is a great idea to hang a musky sucker off the boat while casting.
“Walleyes are a bit more active, but not yet in a fall pattern. Most action is on crankbaits trolled over deep cover and basins, but crawlers and minnows remain effective.
“Northern pike are actively hitting spinnerbaits in thick weeds in 3-5 feet.
“Crappie action improved and fish are around cribs and brush piles in about 14 feet. Crappie minnows are the bait of choice, though Mini-Mites and Gulp! Minnows are good choices for artificials.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses the presence of carp in Sawyer County.
“A reader recently asked if there are carp populations in Sawyer County and the answer is yes. Common carp are not native to North America, but were brought over by European settlers in the 19th century and widely distributed across the landscape. This ended up being one of the most consequential mistakes of early fish management in America.
“Common carp are now present in waterbodies across Wisconsin, often causing water-quality issues and competing with other native species. Carp never achieved the long-term popularity that they enjoy in Europe, and are now far less preferred by anglers than most species native to Wisconsin such as walleye, pike, muskellunge, etc.
“Several waterbodies in Sawyer County have common carp. The most notable is the Chippewa Flowage, with a carp population established for decades, though at a very low density. We see one in a survey maybe every other year, but the carp we do observe are often very large. In spring 2022, we captured a 36-inch, 30-plus pound butterball of a carp in the Pokegama area. We also see carp in the lakes along the East Fork of the Chippewa River and in the main stem of the Chippewa River downstream from the Chippewa Flowage, including in the Radisson Flowage.
“Still, seeing carp in any of these waterbodies is rare. We have recorded only 71 total carp in the history of our fisheries surveys in Sawyer County. Carp do well in disturbed environments, so it is likely the quality of our waterbodies, associated aquatic habitats, and intact fish communities are keeping carp in check. We would expect carp to become more common if these waters were to become degraded.
“The public should be aware that even though carp are present, Sawyer County does not allow bowfishing for rough fish. This is a long-standing rule more related to law enforcement concerns, and there is little indication that bowfishing is needed or useful for controlling carp abundance in these waters. Carp are also present in Stone Lake in Washburn County, which does allow bowfishing.”
The Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies Inc. will host its 44th Annual Fall Musky Tournament Friday, September 30 through Sunday October 2. The tournament offers more than $30,000 in prizes and each registered angler is in the Grand Prize drawing for a Lund boat, motor, and trailer (must be present to win).
The entry fee is $90 ($110 after Sept. 15) and $25 for ages 16 and younger. Enter in person at Jenk’s Bait or in person/by phone at Hayward Bait (715-634-2921) until 11 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 29.
For more information, visit www.muskiesinc-hayward.org or call (715) 634-2921 or 634-4543.
A number of hunting seasons open this Saturday, September 17, including deer (archery/crossbow), ruffed grouse, turkey, crow, cottontail, and squirrel.
The Wisconsin Youth Waterfowl Hunt takes place Saturday and Sunday September 17-18. For more information regarding the season and regulations affecting it, search “Youth Waterfowl Hunt” on the DNR website.
Fishing for nearly all species is fair to very good, with time on the water a contributing factor to success. The fall transition is just starting, so talk with those in the know at your favorite bait and tackle shop. Changes in fish location, bait preferences, and presentations can be week-to-week, day-to-day ‑ and sometimes hour-to-hour!
Musky action is good to very good with the cooling weather, and fish are lurking on weeds and weed edges from shallow to mid-depths and deeper. For now, smaller bucktails, spinnerbaits, crankbaits, gliders, jerkbaits, and topwaters are working well. Vary retrieve speeds and be sure to figure eight at the boat. As the fall cool-down proceeds, fish will begin to prefer bigger baits and musky suckers.
Walleye fishing is slow, but improving. Fish are near the bottom of the deepest areas of most lakes, in anywhere from 8-35 feet or deeper, on rocks, breaklines, points, and humps. Anglers are using crawlers and minnows on jigs, snap jigging Jigging Raps and similar baits along bottom, and trolling crankbaits, crawler harnesses, and live bait rigs with some success. Try shallower weedlines just before and into dark.
Northern pike action is good to very good in/on shallow to mid-depth thick weeds, weedlines, weed edges, and any areas holding concentrations of panfish and baitfish. Baits of choice include sucker minnows, spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, bucktails, Beetle Spins, Shad Raps, chatterbaits, jerkbaits, and plastics.
Largemouth bass fishing is good to very good on shallow weeds, weed edges, wood, lily pads, slop, and near panfish concentrations. Best baits include crankbaits, spinners, spinnerbaits, swim jigs, jerkbaits, plastics, drop-shot rigs, Ned rigs, and live bait.
Smallmouth bass fishing is good, with fish in deep, hard bottom areas on a variety of weeds, wood, rock, cribs, and other structure. Work crankbaits, jerkbaits, plastics, Ned rigs, drop-shot rigs, and wacky worms near the bottom.
Crappie fishing is fair to good and getting better. Look for fish in 8-22 feet in basins, on cribs, weeds, brush, and other structure, and suspending ‑ check the entire water column. Crappie minnows, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs and under slip bobbers, Mimic Minnows, Mini-Mites, and Beetle Spins are all catching fish.
Bluegill and perch:
Bluegill and perch fishing is good for numbers in shallow, weedy areas and off docks. For bigger fish, look for deeper weeds, brush, and structure. Waxies, worms, crawler chunks, and plastics on small jigs under bobbers are working.
Sept. 7: Bear season opened (see regs).
Sept. 3: Hook and line lake sturgeon season opened (see regs).
Sept. 15: Early goose season closes.
Sept. 16: Goose season opens (see regs).
Sept. 17: 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. 18: Fishing has no Boundaries fall fundraiser at Northland Lodge (800-243-3462).
Sept. 22: Autumnal Equinox ‑‑ first day of fall.
Sept. 24: Seasons open: Woodcock; Duck in Northern Zone (see regs).
Sept. 24: Hayward Fall Festival 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (715-634-8662).
Sept. 24: Cable Fall Fest 9 a.m.-7 p.m. (715-798-3833).
Sept. 30-Oct. 2: Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies Inc. ‑ 44th Annual Fall Musky Tournament (715-634-2921).
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.