Hayward Lakes Outdoor Report 8-31-2021

Steve Suman


The forecast says sunshine and cooler temperatures through much of Thursday, and then showers into the weekend. However, heavy rains predicted last week never materialized, so enjoy any sunny days and 70-degree temperatures!


“Though it is hard to believe September is almost here,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “fall fishing on the Quiet Lakes can be some of the best fishing of the year. Angling pressure starts to dwindle at this time, which is great for targeting fish that experienced heavy pressure over the summer. The jig bite is hard to beat as temperatures continue to cool, and this will hold true through fall and up to first ice.

“Most anglers report good success for walleye, northern pike, bass, and perch. Right now, the graph is the most important tool on the boat. Using it to locate structure will help find fish. Focus on anything that sticks out, such as rock piles, lumber, submerged points, humps, and shallow vegetation.

“Musky action remains slow, with anglers reporting many follows, but only a few takers. Action will pick up as water temperatures move lower into later fall.

“Walleye anglers long-lining trolled crawlers on crawler rigs and crankbaits over basins in back bays are catching fish during daylight hours. During late afternoon into after dark, use minnows and crawlers on jigs. Since jig bites are coming back, do not be afraid to try spring patterns.

“Northern pike and bass fishing is good with spinnerbaits, spoons, and drop-shot rigs near shorelines.

“Crappie action is decent in deep water adjacent to vegetation in 12-16 feet. Soft plastics and minnows on jigs are the way to go.”


Jarrett and Tyler at Hayward Bait say muskies are still biting on bucktails in deeper water, but they will move shallow as water temperatures start to drop.

“As these fish become more aggressive, anglers can have success throwing topwaters, and musky suckers are extremely effective in the fall.

“Walleye anglers report success trolling on deep weed edges and deeper flats with crawlers and crankbaits.

“Northern pike in the clear water lakes are on breaks and deeper vegetation. In dark water lakes, the fish are in thick, shallow vegetation.

“Largemouth bass are roaming shallow lily pads and weeds, though some fish are suspending in weeds in 12-16 feet.

“Smallmouth are feeding primarily on baitfish this time of year. They avoid warmer water and retreat to offshore humps because these spots receive less fishing pressure. Finesse applications and slow presentations, including tubes, drop-shot rigs, and walleye suckers on Carolina rigs, are very effective.

“Crappie schools are suspending on deeper structure and offshore humps on most waterbodies, while others are suspending and moving across lake basins.

“Bluegills are on cribs and cruising deep weed edges looking for baitfish. Crappie minnows and even fatheads are a good choice this time of year.”


Jim and Cathy at Minnow Jim’s say the Nelson Lake walleye bite is steady.

“Walleye anglers are trolling rattling stickbaits and fishing near weedlines with minnows and crawlers on jigs.

“Northern pike and largemouth bass anglers are fishing weed beds with splashing and flashing spinnerbaits and buzzbaits, weedless frogs and spoons, and floating sucker minnows under bobbers.

“Panfish anglers report success drift-fishing waxies, worms, and crawlers in more than 8 feet, and casting small Beetle Spins and Twister tails. Bluegill catches outnumbered crappie catches last week.”


This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses fishing for trout in Hayward area spring ponds.

“Spring ponds provide a unique trout angling experience. The creation of spring ponds occur when upwelling groundwater creates a lake or small pond with cold water capable of supporting trout.

“In the Hayward area, spring ponds range in size from several acres down to just a few hundred square feet. Most spring ponds have some sort of cold-water outflow that will also support trout.

“Spring ponds offer anglers the opportunity to target trout outside the usual stream environments where they commonly find them. Spring ponds with enough size and depth can offer some trophy fishing opportunities, particularly for brook trout.

“Several spring ponds in the Hayward area are worth exploring, though some are difficult to access.

“Stress Springs are the most easily accessed ponds and they are very close to Hayward, off Stress Road south of town. Parking is right next to the ponds, with fishing trails established on the DNR-owned land surrounding the ponds. Stress Springs is catch and release only, and anglers must use artificial baits.

“Porcupine and Hauer Springs offer walk-in access and are both on DNR-owned lands with maintained trails. Ambitious anglers, with some effort, could get canoes or kayaks into either one. Porcupine is accessible from a trail off Hwy 63 near Seeley, and Hauer from a parking area on County Road F.

“Though more difficult to access, there are numerous other ponds that could be fruitful for those willing to take on the adventure. For example, the Hayward Fish Team surveyed Osgood Springs in 2021 and found a nice abundance of good-sized native brook trout ‑ after a very challenging journey to the site!

“Anglers must have a trout stamp to fish for trout, even if they do not plan to harvest any fish. Trout season remains open through October 15.”


The Wilderness Wings Chapter of the Ruffed Grouse Society will host its 13th Annual Hunt, Shoot, and Conservation Banquet Saturday, September 18, at Summit Lake Game Farm south of Stone Lake. The hunt starts at the legal shooting hour. To be eligible for prizes, you must register before you begin to hunt. Prizes go to the top two teams.

Membership and dinner ticket cost $60/each; Membership, shoot, and dinner ticket $85/each; Junior membership (17 and younger) and dinner ticket $35/each.

For more information, and to order tickets, visit the Ruffed Grouse Society website, call David Johnson at (715) 492-5858, or email davej@ruffedgrousesociety.org.


Wisconsin’s hook and line lake sturgeon season opens on specified waters this Saturday, September 4, and runs through September 30. Based on surveys conducted this year, fisheries biologists predict a strong overall hook and line lake sturgeon season.

Anglers harvesting a sturgeon must possess a valid fishing license and an inland or boundary water sturgeon harvest tag. Licenses and tags are available through license agents and the Go Wild licensing service. Anglers harvesting a sturgeon must validate their tag immediately and register the fish at a registration station no later than 6 p.m. the next day.

Anglers should look for tags near the dorsal fin on lake sturgeon and provide to the DNR the catch date, location, and tag number, color, and composition (metal or plastic). The DNR uses this information to help monitor lake sturgeon movement, growth, and management.

Anglers fishing Yellow Lake in Burnett County should look on the dorsal fin for yellow dangler tags containing five-digit numbers. Leave the tag attached, scratch off any algae to read the number, and report the number to Craig Roberts (715-416-0351), or email craig.roberts@wisconsin.gov.

For more information, search “lake sturgeon season” on the DNR website.


This Wednesday, September 1, is the opening day of Wisconsin’s early teal, early goose, and mourning dove seasons. As Wisconsin’s fall hunting and trapping seasons open, the DNR offers its 2021 fall forecast with all the details one needs to plan for the seasons, including limit and zone changes. View the forecasts at the following links:

For more information, search “hunting” on the DNR website.


Eligible disabled hunters ‑ do not miss the September 1 application deadline if you are interested in participating in the gun deer hunt for hunters with disabilities October 2-10. Hunters should contact sponsors directly as soon as possible to determine if space is available. For more information, search “hunters with disabilities deer hunt” on the DNR website.



Fishing success remains good for most species and these early fall fishing conditions make fishing much more comfortable. With these changing conditions, fish are entering another transition period. Be sure to check with your favorite bait and tackle shop as you head to the lake for the most up-to-the-minute information on fish locations and bait preferences and presentations.



Musky fishing is fair to good and improving with the cooling temperatures. For now, concentrate on mid-depth to deeper weeds, weedlines, breaklines, humps, and points with musky suckers, bucktails, and topwaters.



Walleye fishing is consistent, with anglers targeting weedlines, weed edges, breaklines, flats, and basins. Trolling crawler rigs, crankbaits, and stickbaits during the day is producing success, as is jigging crawlers and minnows in the evening into dark hours.


Northern Pike:

Northern pike action is good to very good. Fish are in, on, and around thick weeds, weedlines, weed edges, breaklines, and near baitfish and panfish concentrations, from shallow to deep. Sucker minnows, spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, stickbaits, crankbaits, buzzbaits, and topwaters are working well. Go deeper with bigger baits for trophy pike.


Largemouth Bass:

Largemouth bass are in assorted depths, from shallow slop, weeds, and lily pads, to deep weeds, cribs, and other structure. Live bait, plastics, spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, swimbaits, buzzbaits, and topwaters, presented according to conditions and area fished, will get the attention of largemouth.


Smallmouth Bass:

Smallmouth bass anglers are doing well on deep hard bottom humps, points, weedlines, and breaklines, with some fish hovering near somewhat shallower weeds and structure. Walleye suckers, plastics, tubes, crankbaits, swimbaits, and drop-shot rigs are all producing good action.



Crappie fishing is fair to good, with timing important. Look for fish in deep water near shallower weeds, on humps, points, cribs, and moving and suspending in deep lake basins. Crappie minnows, fatheads, crawlers, plastics, Tattle-Tails, Mini-Mites, Gulp! baits, and Beetle Spins are all tempting the fish.



Bluegill fishing is good on weed edges, cribs, and other structure, from very shallow to deep water. Waxies, worms, crawler chunks, Beetle Spins, plastics, Tattle-Tails, Mini-Mites, and Gulp! baits are all catching fish. For bigger ‘gills, try small to medium size minnows.


Upcoming Events

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

Sept. 1: Applications deadline for October hunters with disabilities gun deer hunt.

Sept. 4: Hook and line lake sturgeon season opens (see regs).

Sept. 5: Cable Rod & Gun Club pig roast and cash raffle (715-798-3099).

Sept. 7: Hayward Chapter-Muskies, Inc. club meeting, tournament planning, Flat Creek Lodge, 8 p.m. (715-634-4543).

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

Sept. 8-11: Lake Chippewa Flowage Musky Hunt

Sept. 11: Namekagon River clean-up.

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

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

Sept. 18: Ruffed Grouse Society banquet/event (715-492-5858).

Sept. 18: Hayward Fall Festival (715-634-8662).

Sept. 18: Chequamegon MTB Festival (952-229-7330).

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

Sept. 25: Clam Lake Elk Festival (715-794-2781).

Sept. 25: 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.