Hayward Lakes Outdoor Report 8-9-2021

By: Steve Suman

If this week’s forecast holds (one can hope!) and we move past Tuesday’s possible rain and/or thunderstorms, it looks like mostly smooth sailing through the weekend. Summer recreational possibilities abound in the Hayward area AND we are quickly moving toward the fall season! The weather is mostly great, so get out outside and enjoy it!

Pat at Happy Hooker says the past week brought much-needed rain to help the Quiet Lakes’ water levels, but there is still a long way to go.

“Surface temperatures were in the high 70s on most lakes, with fish seeking cooler parts of the water column. It is best to concentrate your efforts in mid-depth to deep waters and time of day is a big variable. Fishing is good, depending on what you are fishing for and where.

“There are good multi-species bites on live bait rigs. Anglers fishing deep basins are catching fish by drift jigging and Lindy rigging minnows, worms, and plastics on mid-lake humps. For walleye, try fishing early morning and late afternoon into dark, which can produce some good fish.

“Northern pike and largemouth bass are on deep weed edges and hitting large baits. Bass are also in vegetation near docks, hitting leeches, worms, and topwater baits.

“Panfish anglers jigging small jigs tipped with crappie minnows, fatheads, and plastics are catching good-sized fish along deeper weed edges.”

Jarrett at Hayward Bait says muskies are active with the recent weather changes.

“Cooler temperatures and clouds allow fish to move higher in the water column. Anglers are seeing follows on bucktails, spinnerbaits, and hard baits. Live bait season is fast approaching and musky suckers are making their way into shops around town. It is never a bad idea to tempt a musky with a sucker off the back of the boat.

“Walleyes are still deep and most reports are from anglers trolling with crawler harnesses. Leeches still work, but leech season is ending and crawlers and fatheads are the next best option. Anglers are also taking fish on deep diving crankbaits and stickbaits. Work 20-25 feet during daylight hours, then move shallower towards dusk.

“Northern pike are active, hitting a variety of baits including live bait, spinners, and smaller Mepps. The fish roam deep weed flats looking for panfish ‑ find the bait; find the pike.

“Largemouth and smallmouth bass are on deep weedlines and flats. Drop-shot, Ned, and Texas rigs shine, but the key is moving baits slowly. For fish in shallow lilies and slop, use heavier rigs to punch through the top to reach fish below.”

“Crappie fishing is steady, with fish schooled along weedlines, flats, and on cribs. Plastics are working great, and with so many fish feeding, there is been no need to show them live bait.”

Jim and Cathy at Minnow Jim’s say Nelson Lake walleye anglers should fish shorelines, weedlines, and the river channel. They can encourage bites by using rattle baits, flashy spinners, scented baits, and wiggling jointed stickbaits.

“Northern pike and largemouth bass anglers should cast surface baits near weed beds and toss swim jigs and weedless spoons into weed beds.

“Panfish anglers are doing well near bogs and cribs. Bobber-fish or tip small dressed jigs with your favorite live bait. Vary your bait depth, as anglers are catching some larger bluegills on the bottom.”

Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage pool is down 1.5-2 feet, with the water temperature 72-76 degrees.

“Musky action is hot lately and one local guide caught a 50-incher on back-to-back days. Anglers report good action on both trolling and casting. Bigger bucktails are the way to go for casting, while Mattlocks and bigger crankbaits are the ticket or trolling.

“Walleye fishing remains strong in deep areas, but most fish come up short of the length limit. Anglers still favor leeches, but with live leeches not available, artificial leeches, crawlers, and trolled Flicker Shads should be effective until the fall cool-down.

“Northern pike action slowed, but people are catching many smaller fish on Tinsel Tail spinnerbaits in the weeds.

“Crappie anglers report reduced crappie success lately, with the east side definitely producing more than the west side. Anglers fishing crappie minnows, Crappie Scrubs, and Gulp! baits on the bogs are having the best success.”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses good news for Namekagon River trout fans.

“The Namekagon River upstream from Hayward supports one of the most popular and productive brown trout fisheries in northern Wisconsin. We survey a one-mile stretch near Seeley on an annual basis to track trends in the trout population. We could not complete the survey in 2020 and were excited to get out in 2021 to see how things had changed.

“On June 27, a team comprised of DNR and National Park Service employees and volunteers gathered to complete the survey. The area received a significant amount of rainfall the night before the survey, which created some challenges. Still, we were able to complete the survey and gathered data that will help us understand what is happening with the fishery.

“The abundance (number of fish captured per survey mile) of trout greater than 5 inches was right at the long-term average, as was the abundance of trout greater than 12 inches. High water might have impacted the capture rate of large trout.

Abundance of young-of-year trout ‑ those less than 5 inches ‑ was excellent, and represented the second largest year class recorded in the survey’s 13-year history. The largest year class recorded was in 2019, and between these two classes, we expect a high abundance of trout in the river over the next few years.

“This survey also showed that the health of the overall trout fishery remains strong, despite low water and several periods of intense heat earlier in the summer.

“This population has shown itself to be fairly resilient, but smart watershed land use practices are still critical to preserve this exceptional fishery.”

Eligible disabled hunters interested in participating in the 2021 gun deer hunt for hunters with disabilities October 2-10 should contact a hunt sponsor to sign up before the September 1 deadline. 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.

The DNR says antlerless harvest authorization selection for the 2021 deer season in the Zone 2 (Farmland) is now open. Hunters purchasing a deer hunting license can log into their Go Wild account to select Farmland (Zone 2) antlerless authorizations included with their license at no charge. For more information, search “deer hunting” on the DNR website.

Statewide, bonus antlerless harvest authorizations go on sale beginning August 16.

On August 15, the DNR will close lake trout season for sport and charter anglers in the Lake Superior Apostle Islands region (WI-2). Wisconsin’s Lake Superior waters have two management units and lake trout fishing will remain open in unit WI-1 through September 30. The DNR says anglers reached the recreational harvest limit due to increased fishing pressure and overall good fishing success.

The Lake Superior lake trout management system sets a catch quota for various groups including sport and charter fishers, state-licensed commercial fishers, and tribal home use and commercial fishers. Regulations in WI-2 include a trigger set at 75 percent of the total allowable lake trout harvest.

For more information, search “Lake Superior fisheries management” on the DNR website.

This Sunday, August 15, from 10 a.m.-5:30 p.m. Hayward Bass Club is hosting its annual free Youth Bass Tournament for youth 10-17 years of age. The event headquarters at The Landing Resort and Restaurant on the Chippewa Flowage. Bass Club members, local professional guides, and avid anglers take 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 REPORT

Fishing remains relatively good for most species, with mornings and evenings best, though bite windows vary. Where and when is as important as what you throw at them. As always, check with your favorite bait shop folks on your way to the water to get the most current information.

Musky:

Musky fishing is good to very good on shallow to mid-depth weeds, structure, humps, and points. The most productive presentations include large bucktails, spinnerbaits, and musky suckers, as well as cast and trolled Mattlocks and crankbaits.

Walleye:

Walleye action is fair to very good. During the day, work 18-30 feet; target shallower areas in early morning and late evening into dark. Concentrate on weeds, weedlines, mid-lake humps, deep basins, shorelines, and river channels. Leeches, crawlers, fatheads, crankbaits, stickbaits, and trolling/drift fishing crawler harnesses, Lindy rigs, and Flicker Shads work well.

Northern Pike:

Northern pike action is fair to good, with small fish most active. Target weeds, weed edges, flats, and panfish concentrations. Minnows, spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, swim jigs, and topwaters are all very effective.

Largemouth Bass:

Largemouth bass fishing is good to very good on deep weeds, weed edges, weedlines, flats, and docks, as well in shallow vegetation, lily pads, and slop. Leeches, crawlers, various plastic, swim jigs, weedless spoons, drop-shot, Texas, and Ned rigs, and topwaters are all working well.

Smallmouth Bass:

Smallmouth bass action is fair to good on deep weedlines and flats, with some fish in shallower weeds and vegetation. Live bait, plastics, spinners, drop-shot, Ned, and Texas rigs are all producing interest. Do not rush the retrieve.

Crappie:

Crappie fishing is fair to good, with schools moving on deep weed edges, weedlines, flats, cribs, and bogs. The most productive baits include crappie minnows, fatheads, leeches, Crappie Scrubs, plastics, and Gulp! baits fished on small jigs and/or fished under slip bobbers.

Bluegill:

Bluegill fishing is good to very good on shallow to deep weeds, weed edges, cribs, brush, and bogs. Go deeper for bigger bluegills. Baits of choice include waxies, worms, leeches, crawler chunks, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs.

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).

Aug. 15: Lake Superior lake trout season closes in Apostle Islands region (WI-2).

Aug. 16: DNR begins sale of bonus antlerless deer harvest tags.

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

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

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

Sept. 8: Bear hunting season opens (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).

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

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.