By: Mindy Simons
The Hayward Lakes area of Northwestern Wisconsin is best known for its giant muskies, but let’s not overlook the other species swimming in our pristine northern waters. Both large- and smallmouth bass are prevalent in the rivers, lakes, and streams here in the Hayward area. Not only are these fish increasing in size and numbers, but they are also quickly becoming popular targets both for the serious angler and for families looking to have fun fishing with their kids.
July and August can be challenging times to fish, with high pressure dominating the weather pattern and bright, sunny skies with little wind; but it is certainly possible to get on a good bite–you just need to know when and where to look for the fish.
If you are an early riser and like to get out on the water before it gets busy, topwater baits are your best choice for the first part of the day. Walking baits are a great choice when focusing on lake points and edges. Bass will move up in the morning to grab an easy meal. Don’t be afraid to target open water just off points, as the fish will sit and wait to drive smaller baitfish into the point.
As the day progresses and the sun gets higher in the sky, both large- and smallmouth bass retreat to shaded areas or deeper water. Largemouth bass like to sit underneath the canopy of lily pads to find respite from the sun. Working a frog bait slowly over a field of lily pads is quite possibly one of the most exciting ways to catch a largemouth bass. When the water explodes and your bait is suddenly engulfed and pulled under the pads, adrenaline kicks in for a fight to land the fish.
Smallmouth prefer to go deep and hang around large boulders when the heat of the day hits. Targeting these fish requires some finesse, and a drop-shot rig is perfect for enticing these finicky swimmers. It’s best to have your net handy, as light line set-ups can prove challenging with these feisty fish. The fight of the smallmouth is one of the very best, and landing these gorgeous fish for a quick picture and ultimate release is some definite summer fun!