Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report 7-21-2020

By: Steve Suman

The forecast indicates Wednesday and Thursday as the high points this week. Rain and thunderstorms are possible for the other days, but highs in the low 70s to mid 80s offer a short respite from the extreme heat. Enjoy some outdoor recreation these days – hot temperatures return this weekend and next week!


“In this summer heat on the Quiet Lakes, it is very important that anglers care for the fish they catch,” says Pat at Happy Hooker. “Make sure that you work quickly to release the fish as soon as possible.

“Musky action remains slow, with anglers seeing fish, but it is a different story on fish taking lures. Some anglers are catching a few smaller fish, a good sign that muskies are reproducing.

“Walleyes are on mid-lake structure. In the evening, fish weedlines, rock, and gravel areas in 6-12 feet. For the next several weeks, trolling crankbaits will be a productive tactic. The early morning and late evening into night windows are good times to fish leeches under slip bobbers in mid-lake depths adjacent to deeper water.

“Largemouth bass fishing is very good on topwater baits resembling frogs. Vary your retrieval speed, weaving baits in and out of weed patches. It is exciting to see bass blow up on topwater baits!

“Northern pike are also in the weeds, with spinnerbaits and topwaters working well for them.

“Panfish fishing is good in the deeper vegetation on most lakes. Concentrate your efforts on weed areas in 10-16 feet. Soft plastics and crappie minnows under bobbers are producing fish.”


Trent at Hayward Bait says that with the hot weather, anglers are finding fish deeper than normal.

“Most musky anglers are leaving muskies alone due to the warm water.

“Walleyes are in 20-25 feet, with the night bite showing success in 7-10 feet. Fish weed edges and cribs with leeches and crawlers on Lindy Rigs, walleye size Tattle-Tails, and deep diving crankbaits.

“Bigger northern pike are in deep, cool water, near bottom, and most anglers start at about 20 feet. Kwikfish K14s are good at getting down in that deeper water, with larger flukes and swimbaits also effective. During the first and last hour of daylight, look for pike feeding along shallow shorelines.

“Largemouth bass are under docks and near spawning areas and secondary points. Even largemouths want access to deeper/cooler water now. Wacky worms, drop-shot rigs, and Tokyo rigs are good options when fish are not hitting topwaters or weighted lures, and slow presentations work well.

“Crappies are in basins and on cribs and weedlines in 15-20 feet. Crappie minnows, Crappie Scrubs, and Slab Daddies are working well.

“Bluegills are around cribs and weed beds 6-10 feet and will hit almost anything that fits in their mouth. Favorites include poppers, Bimbo Bugs, and Tattle-Tails.”


Jim and Cathy at Minnow Jim’s say Nelson Lake walleye anglers should fish the deep river channel with leeches, minnows, and deep diving crankbaits.

“Largemouth bass are in weed beds and around shaded areas such as over-hanging trees, docks, and swim platforms. Use spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, and buzzbaits to get their attention.

“Due to the warm water, panfish anglers should fish around deeper bogs and fish cribs. Bobber-fish and jig with waxies, worms, crawlers, and leeches. Use small jigs with Twister Tails, Gulp! Alive Minnows, Mini-Mites, and chicken jigs.”


Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage is full and the water temperature 78-81 degrees.

“Muskies are sitting in deeper basins during the day, despite cooling water temperatures. At night, some fish move to shallower weed beds. Trolling deep basins during the day and casting surface baits during low light hours is effective. Though these cooler surface temperatures are not instantly lethal to muskies, they remain harmful. Practice quick and safe catch and release techniques. If you have questions regarding safe handling, ask any guide or stop at the shop.

“Walleye action is somewhat better and there is a very good bite on leeches, with jumbos outperforming mediums. When water temperatures warm during mid-day, troll deep cover with Shad Raps and Flicker Shads. When the water cools at night, fish weed bars and breaklines in 6-12 feet.

“Smaller northern pike are active on spinnerbaits and spoons in and around weeds on the west side.

“Smallmouth bass fishing is very good on stumps and rock piles with Ned Rigs and Whopper Ploppers.

“Crappies are still hanging around bogs and brush piles, with nighttime best, around 8 .pm. on the floating bogs. During the day, try deeper cribs and brush piles, but the bulk of action will likely come from the bogs.”


This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses ‘broken streaks.’

“Frank Pratt, the previous DNR biologist in Hayward, and I, take considerable pride in the outreach programs our office has provided over the years. This year, however, virus health concerns forced cancellation of two of our biggest events.

“The first event was our youth fishing program that occurs at Shue’s Pond during Musky Fest. Cancellation of Musky Fest included cancellation of our event as well, breaking a two-decade streak of hosting the event. We were also not able to transfer bluegills into Shue’s Pond. There might be some fish present from previous years or fish that made their way in naturally, but Shue’s Pond fishing success will likely be lower for anglers this summer. Consider the city park on Lake Hayward, behind the Fishing Hall of Fame, which offers a pier and boardwalk for angler use.

“The second event we had to cancel is ‘River Rats,’ a day of aquatic exploration with grade-school age kids, hosted by Cable Natural History Museum. Between the two of us, Frank and I have held this fun event for more than 30 years.

“It is sad to see these streaks broken, and we certainly miss the events and working with the kids. It was the right call for the safety of everyone, but the spirit of these events can still thrive this summer. If you have young people in your life, take them fishing or out to explore nature.

“Recently, I took my kids to the Namekagon River for our own ‘River Rats’ experience, taking just a minnow net and bucket. We had so much fun catching crayfish, minnows, frogs, and aquatic bugs that we were late for supper!”


Due to issues concerning the COVID virus, Hayward Chapter-Muskies Inc. has canceled its Kids Fishing Day scheduled for Aug. 2 and the 43rd annual fall tournament scheduled for Oct. 2-4.



Fishing should improve as temperatures moderate. If you use live bait, give it proper care – a bag of ice in the livewell can make a big difference. If you keep fish for a meal, get them on ice quickly, too. Stop at your favorite bait shop on the way to the lake and ask about fish locations and preferences that day. Get out and have fun!



Musky fishing is fair. During the day, troll crankbaits on and over deep lake basins. In the evening and nighttime hours, when it is cooler, work surface baits on shallow weedlines. Many anglers are giving muskies a pass during this extremely hot weather. If you go, make any catch a very quick catch and release to protect the fish.



Walleye fishing is fair to good, with best success in early morning and late evening into dark. During the day, work deeper weeds, rock, gravel, other structure, and flats out to 25 feet and deeper. Cribs, river channels, and brush can also hold fish. In the evening, target shallower weedline edges, shorelines, breaklines, rock, and gravel out to about 12 feet. Jumbo leeches on jigs and under slip bobbers work best at this time, but crawlers, minnows, and plastics catch fish, as do trolled crankbaits and stickbaits.


Northern Pike:

Northern pike fishing is good to very good and can be a trip saver. Look for fish in and around weeds, weedlines, and anywhere baitfish and other food sources are available. Smaller fish are in shallower water, so go deep with bigger baits for trophy pike. Top offerings include swimbaits, spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, Kwikfish, flukes, and live bait.


Largemouth Bass:

Largemouth fishing is good to excellent in and around weeds and protected/shaded areas such as lily pads and slop, but go for deeper, cooler water if necessary. The most productive baits include wacky worms, buzzbaits, spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, drop-shot and Tokyo rigs, and topwaters.


Smallmouth Bass:

Smallmouth fishing is good to very good on hard bottoms, rock, gravel, humps, and drop-offs in depths out to 20 feet. Wacky worms and various other plastics, Ned Rigs, Whopper Ploppers, crankbaits, and live bait are all producing action.



Crappie fishing is good, but fish are in depths from 8-22 feet. You will find them around weeds and weedlines, cribs, deep basins, brush, and bogs. Best bite is in the later evening hours. Baits of choice include crappie minnows, waxies, worms, crawlers, leeches, Crappie Scrubs, Slab Daddies, Twister Tails, Mini-Mites, chicken jigs, plastics, and Gulp! Alive Minnows, with or without bobbers.



Bluegill fishing is good to very good around weeds, weed beds, bogs, and cribs. Depths vary from 4-18 feet, with bigger fish deeper. Best live baits include waxies, worms, crawler chunks, small minnows, and panfish leeches on small jigs, teardrops, and plain hooks, with/without bobbers. Artificial choices include poppers, chicken jigs, Bimbo Jigs, Twister Tails, Tattle-Tails, Mini-Mites, and Gulp! baits.


Upcoming Events

Through July 31: Illegal to allow unleashed dogs to run on DNR lands and FWPAs (see regs).

Aug. 1: Application deadline for bobcat, fisher, otter, and Upriver Winnebago system sturgeon spearing.

Aug. 2: Hayward Chapter-Muskies Inc. Kids Fishing Day – Canceled – (715-634-4543).

Aug. 7-8: Jack Pine Savage Days in Spooner (canceled) (715-635-2168).

Aug. 8: Northwoods Bass Anglers Big Chip Open Tournament, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. (715-762-1833).

Aug. 15: Fall bonus wild turkey harvest authorizations go on sale at 10 a.m.

Aug. 17-20: Bonus antlerless harvest authorizations on sale where available (see DNR website for details).

Aug. 25: Deadline to transfer Class A Bear License (see DNR website for restrictions).

Aug. 28-30: Musky Tale ResortPoor Man’s Fishing Event (715-462-3838).

Aug. 31: Bear dog training by pursuing bear closes (see regs).

Sept. 1: Seasons open: Mourning dove; Teal; Early goose in designated areas; Wild ginseng.

Sept. 4-6: 28th Annual Exeland Trout Fest (715-943-2242).

Sept. 5: Hook-and-line lake sturgeon season opens on designated waters (see regs).

Sept. 9: Black bear hunting season opens (see regs).

Sept. 9-12: Lake Chippewa Flowage Musky Hunt (filled).

Sept. 12: Seasons open: Archery and crossbow deer; Fall turkey; Ruffed grouse in Zone A; Cottontail rabbit in Northern Zone; Gray and fox squirrel; Fall crow (see regs).

Sept. 19-20: Youth Waterfowl Hunt (see regs).

Oct. 2-4: Hayward Chapter-Muskies Inc. 43rd annual fall tournament – Canceled – (715-634-4543).

Oct. 3-4: Musky Tale ResortCrappie Quest (715-462-3838).

Oct. 8-10: Treeland’s 5th Annual Muskie Fly Fishing Championship. Limited to first 100 entries (715-462-3874).


For more information on area events and activities, visit the Hayward Lakes Visitor and Convention Bureau website, view the Calendar of Events, or call 800-724-2992.