Labor Day weekend weather was outstanding and the forecast calls for the same for most of this week! Unspecified chances for showers start Thursday evening and continue through the weekend (of course!), but then back to beautiful for Monday. Those warm days are growing fewer in number, so get out, enjoy the sunshine, and absorb that natural Vitamin D3 while it is available in quantity!
“Fish are on shallow weeds and structure and fast moving baits work best. If bucktails stop working, slow down and switch to Suicks, Warlocks, Phantoms, and similar baits that are excellent post-front choices.
“Walleye fishing is consistent, though anglers are catching some big fish in non-traditional ways, with three on Suicks this year and some good fish on Mepps #5s. Start with crankbaits on deep weed edges, rocky shorelines, and points. Find aggressive fish with big, loud baits. If you have no luck, switch to finesse approaches such as Lindy rigs, bottom bouncers, and slow-death rigs with crawlers.
“Northern pike are in weeds, looking for food, and crushing Mepps #5s and 1/2-oz. and 3/4-oz. size spinnerbaits. Work baits over and through any weed beds and vegetation that you find. There is no wrong way to fish for pike.
“Largemouth bass are hitting spinnerbaits and crawlers under floats. Work baits on weeds and weed bed edges and through cover where largemouth hide. On warm, calm nights, working frogs over lily pads is one of the most fun and exciting ways to catch largemouth.
“Smallmouth bass reports remain sparse. Work the same crankbaits and locations as you would for walleye. If no hits, slow down and finesse them with tube jigs, Ned rigs, drop-shot rigs, and live bait. Start on deep structure, and work points and humps with rock or submerged wood adjacent to deep water.
“Crappies are pushing into and suspending in basins and in weeds. Crappie minnows on plain hooks and small jigs under slip bobbers, and casting baits such as small Beetle Spins, work well.
“Bluegill and perch fishing are good with small jigs tipped with waxies or chunks of crawler. Anglers are catching fish in shallow weedy bays, on sandy shorelines, and off docks and piers.”
Jarrett at Hayward Bait says musky action remains solid.
“During cool temperatures in the evenings and throughout the night, fish feed shallow and then retreat with the peak of day. Anglers casting small bucktails, swimbaits, topwaters, and trolling are seeing fish, often in clumps. Musky sucker season is near when anglers will hang a sucker off the boat side while throwing big stickbaits. Musky season is good now, but it is only just beginning!
“Walleye fishing is slow and most anglers are trolling crankbaits, Lindy rigs, and crawler harnesses. Fish on clear, well-traveled waters might be in 25-40 feet. On stained waters, fish might be as shallow as 10 feet with these cooler temperatures. Trolling is the best approach to find these widespread fish. Once you find a school, slow down, and pitch fatheads under slip bobbers or slow-roll jigs and crawlers to tempt fish.
“Northern pike are on the feed with the cooling water, moving throughout all depths looking for food. Spinners, rattle baits, jerkbaits, and live bait all work well.
“Largemouth and smallmouth bass locations are diverse. Fish in clear water might be on deep weedlines or rock structure feeding on small minnows and crayfish; some might cruise the shallows searching for bluegills near piers or frogs near lily pads in thick cover. Dark water fish are freer to move between shallow and deep water, though most are in 10-20 feet. Senkos, Ned rigs, drop-shot rigs, and topwaters all effective.
“Crappies are in 15-25 feet, with some snuggled in weeds until the sun starts to set ‑ and when plastics and crappie minnows tempt fish away from weeds. Other fish sit near bottom structure such as cribs, logs, and downed trees. Most anglers are catching a few here and there, not big clumps of fish.
“Bluegills are aggressive and in multiple depths, but shallow as of late. Crawlers, plastics, and crankbaits are catching fish, and if you are looking for a meal, bluegills are the way to go!”
Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage pool is down about 2 feet and the water temperature in the low to mid 70s.
“Muskies are in both very weedy areas and deeper water. Action is on a variety of tactics, from trolling deep water with large crankbaits to casting small weedless baits through very thick weeds ‑ the thicker the better. Some anglers are using musky suckers and we have a limited supply in stock.
“Walleyes are in limbo between summer and fall patterns and not solidly in either pattern due to temperatures. They are outside of weed beds, but reluctant to hit. Give them multiple presentations and do some trial and error.
“Northern pike are in weed beds and active on spinners and spoons. Try fishing thick weeds holding small baitfish.
“Bass are very active in shallow weeds and structure. Ned Rigs and various surface baits such as Whopper Ploppers, Revolvers, and frogs are very effective.
“Crappies are not super active and fishing is slow, but some anglers report mild success on the cribs with minnows, Mini-Mites, and Gulp! baits.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses Namekagon River trout in 2022.
“In early August, the DNR Hayward Fish Team surveyed a stretch of the Namekagon River from Tag Alder Road to Larsen Road. This three-quarter-mile site, surveyed every summer since 2006, with the exception of 2020, has created a large dataset we can use to track trends in the brown trout population.
“Our 2022 survey results showed that a very healthy brown trout fishery currently exists in the Namekagon, with a total abundance of trout above average compared to past surveys. Abundance of large trout, greater than 12 inches, was right at the long-term average.
“In addition, we captured a 22.7-inch brown trout that ranks as the second-largest trout ever captured during one of these surveys and the largest since 2010. It is worth noting that these very large trout are likely present in most years, but their size makes them difficult to capture. Still, it is encouraging to see super-sized browns showing up in our surveys, and we expect very skilled anglers to catch them on occasion as well.
“We also look at the abundance of ‘young of year’ trout, which is a measure of the population’s reproductive strength. In 2022, we found another very strong brown trout year class that will rank as the third largest in the history of this survey. This comes after observing the first and second largest year classes in 2019 and 2021, respectively.
“This period of strong reproductive success points to a very bright near future for the Namekagon’s trout fishery and anglers should expect to see good numbers and size of fish in the coming years.
“Environmental conditions will continue to be an x-factor, of course. Extreme cold winters or extreme hot/dry summers could have negative impacts on the population, as we observed during the ‘polar-vortex’ winter of 2013-14, which severely reduced trout abundance.”
Wisconsin’s black bear hunting season opens Wednesday, Sept. 7, and runs through October 11. The DNR divides the season by zones and hunting methods. For more information, search “bear hunting” on the DNR website.
Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies Inc. invites the public to attend its club meeting Tuesday, September 6, at Flat Creek Lodge in Hayward. The meeting begins at 7 p.m. and admission is free. Anyone interested in becoming a new Muskies, Inc. member can purchase a half-price membership at the meeting. For more information, contact Mike Persson at (715) 634-4543.
Seasonal change is upon us and fish are slowly starting to transition, so to make the most of your time on the water, check with the bait shops to get a handle on those changes. They can vary from day to day!
Musky fishing is good to very good. Target inside and on the edges of shallow thick weeds and structure. Bucktails, spinnerbaits, swimbaits, jerkbaits, gliders, and topwaters are working, as is trolling crankbaits and stickbaits, and musky suckers will soon come into play.
Walleye fishing is fair, with fish dispersed in various locations, cover, and depths from 6-35 feet or deeper. Weeds, weed edges, rock, points, and humps can all hold fish. Best baits include fatheads and crawlers on slip bobbers, Lindy rigs, bottom bouncers, and crawler harnesses, and trolled crankbaits and stickbaits.
Northern pike action is very good. Fish thick weeds and near panfish and baitfish concentrations at varied depths. Top baits include minnows, spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, jerkbaits, rattle baits, and chatterbaits ‑ and pike put on an all-day bite.
Largemouth bass fishing is good to very good. Look for fish on weeds, weedlines, wood, and rock from shallow to deep, as well as in brush, lily pads, and near baitfish. Crawlers Senkos, Ned rigs, drop-shot rigs, spinnerbaits, and topwaters will all tempt the fish.
Smallmouth bass fishing is good when you find them. Depending on the lake and water clarity, fish can be in/on weeds, wood, rock, points, and humps in 8-25 feet. Live bait, Ned rigs, drop-shot rigs, tube jigs, Senkos, crankbaits, and various topwaters are all effective offerings.
Crappie fishing is fair to good, but fish are somewhat scattered. Look for them in weeds and near cribs, logs, bogs, and brush in 10 to more than 20 feet, with some suspending over deep water. Crappie minnows, fatheads, plastics, Mini-Mites, and Gulp! baits on small jigs and hooks under slip bobbers are working, as are Beetle Spins and similar baits.
Bluegill and perch:
Bluegill and perch fishing is good to very good in and on mid-depth and shallow weeds, bays, brush, and cribs. Bigger fish are deeper. Waxies, worms, crawler chunks, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs, teardrops, and plain hooks fished with/without bobbers work well.
Sept. 1: Seasons opened: Early teal; Early goose; Mourning dove.
Sept. 8-10: 23rd Annual Lake Chippewa Flowage Musky Hunt (715-462-3874).
Sept. 9: Early teal season closes.
Sept. 15: Early goose season closes.
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. 22: Autumnal Equinox ‑ first day of fall.
Sept. 24: Hayward Fall Festival (715-634-8662).
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.