If the Autumnal Equinox this past Thursday and the Hayward Fall Festival this past Saturday did not tip off that fall season is upon us, perhaps frost early this week will do the trick! Highs and lows return to nearly the annual average in the days following, however, and fall activities continue!
“Musky action was consistent until overnight lows started dropping the water temperature, currently in the mid-60s. Anglers continue to put fish on the musky board, with the last few on suckers and Suicks. Slow your presentations and work spots a little longer. Active fish still hit bucktails and it is always wise to throw them to cover water, but also use live bait, jerkbaits, gliders, and topwaters. Focus on weed beds, weed edges, and shallow structure.
“Walleye action is tough. Jigging fatheads on deep weed edges is a good place to start, and Jigging Raps are productive on rock and sand bottoms. Pitching jigs with live bait and working them back to the boat is usually best.
“Northern pike are hitting smaller floating crankbaits and twitch baits worked on deep weed edges and over weed tops. Live bait is always good for pike, and fatheads on jigs and smaller walleye suckers and chubs are getting attention.
“Largemouth bass are following schools of small baitfish into shallow water and bladed jig baits, crankbaits, jerkbaits, and topwater baits are good choices. Few anglers target largemouth this time of year and reports are sparse.
“Smallmouth bass are on deep transitions where shallow rock and sand go into basins. Crankbaits and jigs worked towards bottom, and drop-shot rigs suspended just off bottom, work great right now.
“Crappies are in transition and scattered throughout the water column. In some lakes, they relate to deep weed edges transitioning into basins. Work baits close to the bottom for schools hugging it. Minnows under slip bobbers and minnows and plastics on jigs are great for deep crappie.
“Bluegill and perch action is consistent with crawlers and bobbers and that will not change until we get hard water.”
Jarrett at Hayward Bait says musky action is solid and will get even better with the cooler temperatures, which is good news for this weekend’s Muskies Inc. tournament.
“Fish are starting to target big suckers on live bait rigs and also seeking larger baits such as big bucktails, glide baits, and plastics. As you watch the water temperatures continue to drop, increase the size of your baits!
“Walleye fishing is slow and the cooler temperatures will tempt fish to move back and forth between shallow and deep water. This time of the year, live bait shines for fussy fish and/or daytime bites. As fish start to feed aggressively preparing for winter, jerkbaits, crankbaits, and baits with some speed work well during the primetime bite.
“Northern pike are moving back and forth between feed flats, edges, and points and fishing is solid. Good baits for active fish include northern suckers, walleye suckers, spinnerbaits, spoons, and jerkbaits. Farther into fall, start focusing on bay mouths, as fish move shallower and chasing panfish into shallow bays and hidden areas.
“Largemouth and smallmouth bass are moving all over with the dropping temperatures and most bass should start quickly vacating shallow water. Cool temperatures will start killing off or cause many shallow weeds to recede. The loss of shallow shoreline cover will move smaller panfish and baitfish deeper and bass will follow. As temperatures fall, bigger spinnerbaits, swimbaits, and jerkbaits will work really well.
“Crappies are loosely bunched over deep weed edges and basins. Action is solid, but you have to work for them, which requires considerable moving and casting to find pods of fish. Most anglers pitch small plastics to locate schools, and once they find a few, use a slow live bait approach. Fish do not sit in one area long, so be ready to move.”
Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage water level is down 2-2.5 feet, with the water temperature in the high 60s.
“Musky action is solid, with fish looking for baitfish schools and following their food source. Casting and trolling are both effective at this time, and casting anglers should float a sucker off their boat side.
“Walleyes are transitioning from summer to fall patterns. As things cool and weeds die off, baitfish group in the shallows around shorelines. Use electronics to find schools of baitfish and walleyes should not be far behind.
“Northern pike continue to hit spinnerbaits and spoons, but with the cooler temperatures, throwing live bait would definitely improve your chances. Continue to target bays on the west end for maximum success.
“Crappies are getting into their fall pattern and many anglers are marking good numbers of fish in Moore’s Bay and on Blueberry Flats. Anglers also say fish are very reluctant to hit, but with that said, they could turn on at any time.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses the rarest catches in Wisconsin.
“If someone asked me to name the rarest fish to catch in Wisconsin, I would probably have to pause for a while before answering, as there are a few ways to look at this question.
“Some fish are truly rare, meaning there are not many of them, and some are somewhat common, but rare to catch. There is a host of species difficult to catch simply because they are very small. Here, I will focus on rare to catch and restrict the answer to species that typically get bigger than 10 inches.
“Of the larger species in Wisconsin, several stand out as very rare catches.
“Blue sucker inhabit many of our larger Wisconsin rivers, yet anglers rarely find one on the end of their line. This might be a result of where these fish spend their time: fast moving water with depth, areas that make it challenging to target them effectively.
“American eel would be another top candidate for a rare catch in Wisconsin. Yes, you read that right ‑ people occasionally catch eels in Wisconsin. Eels are a rare catch in large part because of their greatly diminished abundance and range. Eels historically swam up from the ocean into freshwater rivers, including several in Wisconsin.
“Damming and other habitat degradation means that far fewer eels now make it to the banks of our rivers, but a few still do. People capture eels on occasion in the Chippewa River, even as far up as Eau Claire, and eels would be present in the Mississippi and Lower Wisconsin as well.
“My last entry on this list is the paddlefish, but it comes with a very large asterisk. Paddlefish are present in large rivers and can reach immense sizes. Anglers sometimes ‘catch’ a paddlefish, but in almost all cases, these are foul-hooked fish. It is true anglers sometimes snag one in its wide, filter-feeding mouth, but the fish is not actively chasing and biting baits.”
Every registered person receives entry in the Grand Prize drawing for a 2022 Lund 1650 Angler boat with a 50hp Mercury motor and ShoreLand’r trailer. You do not have to catch a fish ‑ or even fish ‑ but you must be present at the drawing to win.
The entry fee is $110 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 http://www.muskiesinc-hayward.org or call (715) 634-2921.
The weather is changing, fish are transitioning, and anglers are on the search for them. Bait and tackle shop personnel WANT to help you ‑ help them do so by stopping to get the most current information on baits and locations!
Musky action is good and improving as water temperatures cool and fish are actively feeding. Concentrate on shallow to mid-depth weed beds, weed edges, structure, breaklines, drop-offs, and flats. Musky suckers on quick-strike rigs, big bucktails, swimbaits, jerkbaits, gliders, and topwaters work well, as do trolled large stickbaits, swimbaits, and crankbaits.
Walleye fishing is slow, though anglers continue to catch fish. Look for fish in 8-40 feet on flats, weeds, weed edges, rock, sand, and following schools of baitfish. Walleye suckers, fatheads, crawlers on spinner rigs, stickbaits, crankbaits, and Jigging Raps will all produce at certain times.
Northern pike action is good to very good, with fish in/on shallow to mid-depth weeds, weed edges, points, bays, and near panfish and baitfish concentrations. The fish are on the feed and northern suckers, walleye suckers, spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, stickbaits, twitch baits, and jerkbaits will all draw their interest.
Largemouth bass are still active, with fishing fair to good from day to day for the anglers still chasing them. Fish are scattered and on shallow to deep weeds, weed edges, weedlines, wood, and breaklines. The most productive baits include live bait, spinners, spinnerbaits, swim baits, plastics, crankbaits, jerkbaits, bladed jig baits, and topwaters.
Smallmouth bass fishing is good, with fish in varied depths and transitioning from shallow rock and sand to deep basins, breaklines, and structure. Baits of choice include sucker minnows, spinnerbaits, swimbaits, tubes, plastics, crankbaits, jerkbaits, Ned and drop-shot rigs.
Crappie fishing is good if you can find and follow them on deep basins and weed edges, cribs, breaklines, and drop-offs. Be sure to check the entire water column, from top to bottom. Best offerings include crappie minnows, fatheads, Mini-Mites, plastics, and Gulp! baits fished on jigs and/or under slip bobbers, and Beetle Spins.
Bluegill and Perch:
Bluegills and perch are on weeds, weed edges, brush, and cribs at varied depths, and fishing is fair to good. Waxies, worms, crawler chunks, plastics, and Gulp! baits all work well. Try small minnows for bigger bluegills on deep cover.
Sept. 17: Seasons opened: Deer (archery/crossbow); Ruffed grouse (Zone A); Turkey; Crow; Cottontail (Northern Zone); Squirrel.
Oct. 1: Stone Lake Cranberry Festival.
Oct. 1-9: Gun Deer Hunt for Hunters with Disabilities.
Oct. 8: 14th Annual Relic Riders Vintage snowmobile show & swap 8 a.m.-2 p.m., Flat Creek Lodge (715-634-8377).
Oct. 8-9: Youth Deer Hunt.
Oct. 9: Full Hunter’s Moon.
Oct. 11: Bear season closes.
Oct. 15: Seasons open: Pheasant; Bobwhite quail; Hungarian Partridge; Elk; Coyote trapping; Fox hunting/trapping; Bobcat hunting/trapping Period 1; Fisher hunting/trapping.
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.