Hayward Lakes Outdoor Report 8-3-2021

Steve Suman


The current forecast does not indicate much for rain in the next week, but most days show haze and smoke from wildfires to the north and west of the North Woods. Expect high temperatures in the low 80s and upper-50 nighttime lows. There is an Air Quality Advisory in effect until 12 p.m. Tuesday.

Get out and have fun ‑ it is already August!


“Our unusual weather in the Quiet Lakes’ area continues,” says Pat at Happy Hooker. “The highs and lows and ups and downs passing over almost daily confuse both anglers and fish. Still, fishing conditions are very pleasant ‑ if only the fish would cooperate! Some lakes have low water due to lack of rain ‑ be careful when motoring through those areas.

“Musky and northern pike anglers should concentrate on mid-depths adjacent to vegetation. Musky action is slow, but anglers are catching pike. Casting spinnerbaits and swimbaits is a good way to attract fish.

“The walleye bite is a little difficult. Concentrating efforts around low light periods in early morning and late evening will bring success, and drifting live bait over deep basins is putting fish in the boat.

“Largemouth bass fishing is best in shady cover, thicker vegetation, and around docks. Spinnerbaits, Beetle Spins, Twister Tails, and plastic frogs/topwaters are the baits of choice.

“Crappies are near vegetation in 12-20 feet and moving. Most success is in late afternoon. Crappie minnows and small tube jigs under slip bobbers are producing fish ‑ and electronics help find them.

“Small bluegills and sunfish are plentiful in the shallows and around docks, and provide great action for children leaning to fish. A piece of leaf worm on a small hook, under a small bobber, will catch fish.”


Jarrett at Hayward Bait says musky fishing slowed over the past week.

“Anglers are seeing fish, and bucktails, glide baits, and plastics are pulling some, but fish pushed deep with the hot temperatures. Cloudy, cooler temperatures are on the way and peak times to be on the water. Return fish to the water quickly, with minimal stress, during the hot weather.

“Walleye fishing is solid, with many anglers pulling crawler harnesses on flats and weed edges, and snapping Jiggin’ Raps, Hyper-Rattles, and drop-shot rigs over flats. Some walleyes hold to cover and anglers are catching fish in weeds in 10-15 feet with leeches and slip bobbers.

“Northern pike are ‘deep’ ‑ but in lakes only 20 feet deep max, deep could be 10-20 feet. There is plenty of action once you find them. Jigs and minnows, spinnerbaits, and swimbaits are working well.

“Largemouth bass are shallow and deep. Find shallow fish in slop, lilies, weeds, and shoreline structure. It looks daunting, but it opens underneath and holds fish in the shade. Deep fish cruise weed edges picking off young bluegill and other small forage.

“Smallmouth bass relate in many ways as do largemouth. There is a population that sticks in shallow weeds with access to deep water. Another population roams deep rock flats and weed edges looking for small baitfish and crayfish.

“Panfish fishing is solid, with live bait and plastics putting many fish in the boat. Look for deeper cribs, weed edges, and other structure. Most fish scattered in the shallows are small.”


Jim and Cathy at Minnow Jim’s say Nelson Lake walleye anglers should use minnows and leeches on jigs, as well as cast and troll stickbaits, Rattle Traps, Rapalas, and Flicker Shads.

“There is plenty of northern pike action in weed beds, around docks, and in other shaded areas. Fish are hitting weedless spoons, spinnerbaits, large surface baits, buzzbaits, and Mepps bucktails.

“Fish largemouth bass in, over, and along weed beds with crawlers, weedless spoons, scented plastics, and frogs/topwaters. Toss swim jigs right into weeds, and disturb water along weed beds, docks, and other areas with buzzbaits and spinnerbaits.

“For panfish, drift around bogs and cribs, jig- and bobber-fishing minnows, waxies, worms, and crawler chunks.”


This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses well-timed surveys and variations.

“Long-time anglers almost certainly have a favorite memory of a day when they keyed on what the fish were doing, when the action was fast and it felt like they could do no wrong.

“Surveying fish is sometimes like that, too.

“On June 1, we surveyed smallmouth bass on Lac Courte Oreilles (LCO). It ended up being a perfectly timed survey on a night with the best possible conditions to conduct an electrofishing survey. The water was flat calm and the air was warm and still. This allows for great visibility and boat control and keeps fish solidly in the shallows where we can capture them.

“We ended up with a smallmouth catch rate that was not only the highest we had observed on LCO for some time, but in the 95th percentile of smallmouth surveys in the history of the state.

“This example highlights the importance of survey conditions as a source of variation. If it had been a windy night, we almost certainly would have caught fewer fish in our survey. However, that would not mean there are fewer fish in the lake, we would just not be as effective under those conditions.”

“A big part of planning and executing fisheries surveys is minimizing sources of variation that can make it hard to compare one survey to the next. Sometimes that means trying to control for weather, or by conducting our surveys only in pre-determined temperature ranges. Often, we try to control for variation from our gear or methods by having protocols that dictate everything from how much voltage we use to the size of mesh in our nets.

“We can never fully eliminate some of the external sources of variation, but we can do a lot to try to control or minimize them. Only after removing as much variation as possible can we make meaningful interpretations of our survey results.”


The DNR launched Operation Deer Watch August 1, a project in which volunteers across Wisconsin report deer sightings in their areas to provide crucial data for deer management. The data collected provides insights into the deer herd’s reproductive status and helps shape the state’s deer management. County Deer Advisory Councils also use the survey data to develop deer season framework, harvest quotas, and permit level recommendations.

Participation is simple, done on a computer or mobile device, and requires no registration. Participants report deer sightings that include bucks, does, and fawns, from August 1 through September 30, via an easy-to-use online form. Many participants carry a printable tally sheet with them in the car to record sightings, and then later enter their results online.

“The DNR encourages everyone interested in deer, from hunters and trappers to outdoor enthusiasts, to take part,” says DNR wildlife population and harvest assessment specialist Brian Dhuey.

For more information, search “Operation Deer Watch” on the DNR website.


In Wisconsin, kids 15 and under can fish without a license every day. So can anglers born before 1927. For everyone else, a variety of license options can get you on the water quickly and easily.

Getting your first license or just visiting? Discounted license options available include:

For more information, search “fishing license options” on the DNR website.


Hayward Bass Club is hosting its annual free Youth Bass Tournament for youth 10-17 years of age Sunday, August 15, from 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. The event will headquarter at The Landing Resort and Restaurant on the Chippewa Flowage. Bass Club members, local professional guides, and avid anglers will take the youth on the water for an afternoon of fun, friendly bass fishing, and competition. The day ends with a shore lunch from 4:45-5:30 p.m. For more information and to register (required, with signed permission slip), visit Hayward Bait or contact Wayne Balsavich at (405) 227-1789.



Fishing is fair to good for most species, but be there when the bite window opens ‑ it might not remain open long!

Chippewa Flowage anglers should check the Chippewa Flowage Pike Improvement Project 2.0 that began with the May 1 fishing opener. You could win many prizes!



Musky fishing slowed with the hot weather and fish moving to/near deeper weeds. Bucktails, gliders, spinnerbaits, swimbaits, and plastics are working, as is trolling large stickbaits over deeper water and structure.



Walleye fishing is fair on weeds, weed edges, flats, and deep basins, with best action in shallow to mid-depths in early morning and late evening into dark. Productive baits include leeches, crawlers, and minnows on jigs, harnesses, and slip bobbers; Jiggin’ Raps, Hyper-Rattles, and drop-shot rigs; and cast/trolled Rattle Traps, Rapalas, and Flicker Shads.


Northern Pike:

Northern pike fishing is good to very good in and on shallow to mid-depth weeds and weed edges, and wherever panfish are congregating. Sucker minnows, spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, swimbaits, buzzbaits, and bucktails will all catch fish. For trophy pike, go deeper with bigger baits.


Largemouth Bass:

Largemouth fishing is good from shallow to mid-depths and deeper. Shallow weeds and weed edges, lily pads, slop, docks, and brush hold fish. Fish are also on deeper weed beds, wood, brush, bogs, and cribs. Best baits include live bait, plastics, Beetle Spins, buzzbaits, spinnerbaits, weedless spoons, and topwaters.


Smallmouth Bass:

Smallmouth fishing is fair to good, with fish on deep hard bottom areas and shallow weeds near deeper water. Top baits include sucker minnows, crawlers, crawfish color plastics, Texas rigs, drop-shot rigs, and topwaters.



Crappie fishing is good, with best action in late afternoon hours. Work crappie minnows, waxies, worms, plastics, Mini-Mites, Tattle-Tails, and Gulp! baits on weeds, weed edges, bogs, cribs, and other structure in 10-22 feet.



Bluegill fishing is very good for small fish around shallow weeds, brush, and other structure. Larger fish are on deeper weeds, weed edges, cribs, and bogs. Traditional baits such as waxies, worms, leaf worms, crawler chunks, plastics, and Gulp! baits work well, fished with/without bobbers.


Upcoming Events

Aug. 13-15: Sawyer County Fair (715-296-9000).

Aug. 15: Hayward Bass Club free Youth Bass Tournament at The Landing Resort, 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. (405-227-1789).

Sept. 1: Seasons open: Early teal; Early goose; Mourning dove.

Sept. 8: Bear hunting season opens (split season ‑ see regs).

Sept. 18: Seasons open: Deer (archery and crossbow; Turkey; Cottontail; Squirrel; Ruffed grouse (Zone A); Crow.

Sept. 18: Hayward Chapter-FHNB event at Lake Chippewa Campground (715-634-3185).

Sept. 18-19: Youth waterfowl hunt (see regs).


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.