Hayward Lakes Outdoor Report 9-19-23

Steve Suman

This week’s forecast indicates highs in the 70s and lows in the 50s, with chances for showers Wednesday night and then Thursday night through the weekend.

The Fall Equinox and first day of fall is this Saturday, September 23. Celebrate the day at the Hayward Fall Festival in downtown Hayward!

Quiet Lakes’ water temperatures are in the mid to low 60s and good for fishing,” says Greg at Happy Hooker. “The bite is tough, but fish should put on the feed bag in the next week or so.

“Musky fishing slowed a bit. Work weed edges, rocks, and other structure. Sowing down and throwing bigger baits should trigger bites. Dragging suckers around weed beds, rocks, and bars should put fish in the boat.

“Walleye fishing is tough, as fish pushed deep during the Labor Day weekend heat wave and turned negative. Anglers are finding fish in 16-20 feet, but are not hitting baits. Try walleye suckers and fatheads on jigs and bottom bouncers, or slow trolling crankbaits.

“Northern pike are roaming weed beds, shallow flats, and shallow structure holding panfish. Spinnerbaits, bucktails, swimbaits, and musky and walleye suckers will all catch fish.

“Largemouth bass are hitting Texas rigged worms in and around weed beds, though most catches are on crappie minnows and fatheads by anglers fishing for other species.

“Smallmouth bass are on shallow rocks and other hard bottom areas. Target fish in afternoons after the rocks warm up a bit and fish push shallow.

“Crappies anglers are near bottom in 20 feet, hitting minnows and plastics on jigs and jigs under slip bobbers.

“Bluegill and perch are in shallow green weed beds. Waxies and crawlers on small jigs or bare hooks will catch fish.”

Jarrett at Hayward Bait says musky fishing slowed, but action should heat up with the cool temperatures.

“Now that water temperatures are cooler, anglers can deploy sucker rigs along with traditional cast and retrieve methods. Fish might be in a neutral mode, but many will follow baits to the boat, and a lively sucker might tempt fish that would not hit a spinner. Many anglers are currently favoring big bucktails, topwaters, gliders, and others.

“Walleye fishing remains slow as trolling is coming to a close. Most anglers will move to mid-depth weedlines and throw walleye suckers on slip bobbers. Fish will move shallower with the cooling water and turn their attention to faster moving crankbaits and jerkbaits in prime bite windows.

“Northern pike are on deeper structure, as their food is deep or suspending in mid-depths. Bigger spoons, spinnerbaits, and northern suckers on rigs or under slip bobbers will pull big pike from the depths.

“Largemouth bass reports are sparse at this time.

“Smallmouth bass anglers are having success fishing suspending fish or throwing slip bobber rigs with walleye suckers. Fish will put on the feedbag for winter and smallmouth will eat much bigger baits than you might think!

“Crappie and bluegill are schooled together or running the same cribs and weedlines. Casting small plastics or jigs with live bait to find fish are effective. Once you locate fish, camp on them with slip bobbers.”

Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage pool is down 2.5 feet, with the water temperature mid-60s and dropping.

“Musky fishing is solid, and with surface temperatures dropping, muskies should start moving shallower. Weed edges near deep drop-offs are the productive spots. Popular artificials are double-10 bucktails, paddletail swimbaits, flap tails, and creepers. Many anglers are starting to use suckers and it is a good idea to float a sucker while casting.

“Walleye fishing is best with trolled crankbaits. Jointed Flicker Shads, World Cranks, and Shad Raps are all effective. Crawlers and minnows are also pulling in fish, but with less frequency than trolled crankbaits. Target healthy green weeds, preferably bordering a drop-off into a river channel, and rock bars can be effective at this time, as well.

“Northern pike fishing is good for smaller fish chasing baitfish in weed beds, though most catches are incidental by musky anglers.

“Smallmouth bass are quiet after being on fire all season and fishing is much slower. It might be time to change up and target them in cribs with small suckers or crawlers.

“Crappies are sitting fairly deep on cribs and sunken bogs. While the transition is in progress, they have not yet made it into Moore’s Bay and Blueberry Flats in big numbers. Word is that many bluegills have mixed in with the crappies. Crappie minnows, one-inch Gulp! Minnows, Mini-Mites, and imitation mayflies are very effective.”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses Shues Pond fishing and habitat project planting day.

“Shoreline restoration efforts will take place September 29, from 2-5 p.m., to convert portions of the Shues Pond shoreline into a native plant community. We need volunteers for this next stage of the project.

“The expected benefits are various and include improved water quality, better fish and wildlife habitat, aesthetics, and even a boost to pollinators. In addition, the project’s design will minimize the impacts of geese and their feces on the park area.

“Restoring the shoreline will require a lot of hands, especially for planting, and we welcome all to come and help for all or part of the time from 2-5 p.m. Saturday, September 29. Bring gloves and a favorite trowel or shovel, though we will provide some equipment.

“There are also plans to construct fishing piers this fall, which will allow people to get right over the pond for fishing or just enjoying the water.

“The Terry Peterson Fishing Foundation, established this year to memorialize the local guide, is supporting both the native planting and piers. Additionally, Nelson Lumber has been incredibly generous in their support of the project, donating both materials and design expertise. Nate Yoder has donated his time to oversee the building of the fishing piers.

“Local DNR and City of Hayward staff assisted with coordinating the project.”

The Hayward Fall Festival in downtown Hayward is this Saturday, September 23, from 9 a.m.-5 p.m. The all-day event includes sidewalk sales, farmers market, arts and crafts booths, food trucks, live music, games and mini-pumpkin decorating for kids, beer and brat tent, scarecrow contest, hula hoop contest, musical chairs, and more! Visit Northern Lakes Co-op’s booth to enter drawings for free giveaways.

For more information, visit www.haywardareachamber.com/fall-festival or call (715) 634-8662.

The Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies Inc. 45th Annual Fall Muskie Tournament is Friday through Sunday Oct. 6-8, offering more than $30,000 in prizes and trophies. The first 10 places receive prizes and trophies that include a $1,500 gift certificate to Cabela’s, $1,000 gift certificate to Hayward Bait, trolling motors, depth finders, GPS units, rods, reels, cameras, and more. The angler releasing the largest musky receives a graphite replica, and every angler releasing a 34-inch or larger musky receives a plaque.

Each registered angler receives entry in the Grand Prize drawing for a 2023 Lund 1775 Pro Guide boat with a 60hp Mercury motor on a ShoreLand’r trailer (must be present at the Sunday drawing to win).

The open entry fee is $90 ($110 after Sept. 22) and $25 for ages 16 and younger. Enter in person at Jenk’s Bait or in person or by phone at Hayward Bait (715-634-2921) until 11 p.m. Thursday, October 5.

For more information, visit www.muskiesinc-hayward.org/Poster_23.pdf or call (715) 634-2921; 634-4543.

The opening day of woodcock season and duck season in the Northern Zone is this Saturday, September 23. Make sure to have all necessary licenses and migratory stamps, and know the legal shooting hours and bag limits.

Fishing Report

Fishing is fair to good, depending on the species, and improving with the cooling water. This is transition time, so check with your favorite bait shop for the most current information on fish locations, preferred baits and presentations, and bite windows.


Musky fishing is fair to good around shallower weed beds, weed edges, rock, points, breaklines, and bars adjacent to drop-offs into deeper water. Larger bucktails, gliders, paddletail swimbaits, and topwaters will all pull fish. While you are casting those baits, be sure to float a musky sucker on the side to entice indecisive fish.


Walleye fishing slowed and it is a difficult bite with fish scattered from mid-depths to deep and reluctant to bite. Look for green weeds and rock bars near drop-offs to deeper water. The most productive offerings include walleye suckers, fatheads, and crawlers on jigs, slip bobbers, or bottom bouncers, jerkbaits, jointed Flicker Shads, World Cranks, and Shad Raps, and trolled crankbaits.

Northern Pike:

Northern pike fishing is good for anglers who target them on shallow to mid-depth weed beds, flats, other structure, and areas holding panfish concentrations, with many incidental catches by anglers fishing for other species. Sucker and fathead minnows under slip bobbers, spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, swimbaits, and bucktails are all working for pike.

Largemouth Bass:

Largemouth bass fishing remains good, even with the change in weather. Find fish from shallow to mid-depth weeds, weedlines, wood, cribs, and other structure. The most productive baits include live bait such as minnows and crawlers under slip bobbers, Texas rigged worms and other plastics, spinners, spinnerbaits, swim jigs, crankbaits, and topwaters.

Smallmouth Bass:

Smallmouth bass fishing slowed recently, but anglers are still catching fish. Look for them on weedlines, rocks, and cribs in various depths, and suspending over deeper water. Best baits include Sucker minnows, fatheads, crawlers, drop-shot and Ned rigs, tubes, plastics, and crankbaits.


Crappie fishing is good and improving, with most fish near the bottom around weedlines, wood, brush, bogs, basins and cribs in mid-depths to about 20 feet. The most productive baits include crappie minnows, fatheads, plastics, mayfly imitations, Mini-Mites, and Gulp! baits on small jigs and/or fished under slip bobbers.

Bluegill/Perch: Bluegill and perch fishing is good around shallow green weeds, weedlines, and cribs, with some bluegills swimming with crappies. Larger bluegills are a bit deeper. Baits of choice include waxies, leaf worms, crawler chunks, and plastics on small jigs, plain hooks, and/or fished under slip bobbers

Upcoming Events

Sept. 15: Early Canada goose season closed.

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

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

Sept. 22: Shues Pond/Terry Peterson Fishing Foundation project ‑ dock building.

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

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

Sept. 23: Hayward Fall Festival 9 a.m.-5 p.m. (715-634-8662).

Sept. 29: Full Harvest Moon.

Sept. 29-30: Cable Fall Festival (715-798-3833).

Sept. 29: Shues Pond/Terry Peterson Fishing Foundation project ‑ planting day. Volunteers needed.

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).

Oct. 7: Stone Lake Cranberry Festival, 9 a.m.-5 p.m.

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.