Hayward Lakes Outdoor Report 10-12-2021

Steve Suman


The forecast calls for a chance of rain and storms Wednesday through Wednesday night, possibly with strong winds and lightning. In addition, temperatures are starting to slide downward. Still some mild, sunny days ahead, but we knew a change was coming… eventually. That said, we certainly enjoyed a good run of beautiful weather this fall!


“On the Quiet Lakes, fishing has been mostly positive for the past several weeks,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “and we anticipate more of the same until ice-up. Most lakes now have little to no traffic, so it is a good time to travel to favorite fishing areas.

“Mild weather continues and the only thing negative is the amount of daylight we lose each day! Someone remarked that we had snow and cold in October last year; I kindly reminded that person not to remind me.

“Musky action remains consistent, but with the mild weather ‑ water temperatures are currently 62-65 degrees ‑ it is not at peak. We need cooler water temperatures to spark the action. Anglers caught fish on a variety of baits last week, so use whatever baits in which you have confidence.

“Anglers concentrating efforts near shorelines are catching some good walleye and smallmouth bass. Jigs and minnows are the best choice, but casting 3- to 5-inch stickbaits work, too. Mid-lake humps are also productive and anglers report success using Puppet Minnows and Jigging Raps with snap-jigging cadences. This time of year, plan on running into some nice smallmouth ‑ and do not be surprised to catch a northern pike.

“Northern pike and largemouth bass are roaming weedlines in 6-10 feet, and live bait rigs, spinnerbaits, and plastics will take some fish.”


Ken at Hayward Bait says it is likely muskies will soon become more active.

“Many anglers are dragging sucker rigs with some success, and topwater action should improve. Use your electronics to find bait activity on weedlines and crank up some weeds to find the greenest weeds within an area. This time of year, muskies are moody, so throw ‘everything’ at them to find what is working on that particular lake.”

“Walleyes will be on weedlines, especially during low light periods. Try crankbaits and Lindy Rigs in the coming days. Water temperatures are warmer than average for this time of year, so as they cool, watch for baitfish migration from deep to shallow. Ciscoes, in lakes containing them, have contacted hard bottom rock structure and sand bottoms, with walleyes in pursuit. Sucker minnows and large fatheads on jigs are good presentations.

“Crappies are suspending along weeds, with cribs and other structures holding schools of fish. Humps with stumps, rock, and weeds can be very good at this time, and crappie minnows and plastics work very well.

“Panfish anglers catch some of the biggest sunfish during this time, as fish migrate from their muck bottom food source to weedlines. They often suspend in or next to weeds, as deeper weeds start to die. Worms, crawlers, and artificials on bobbers can be very productive.”

“If you do not see baitfish activity on your electronics, keep moving, paying attention to the thermocline, and check shallower structure that contacts it. Until turn-over, baitfish will be on the move just above the thermocline.”


Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage pool is down two feet, with mid- to high-60s water temperatures.

“Muskies are spread out and you cannot use previous fall patterns to pinpoint their locations. Some might be deep and others might be shallow. Use your electronics to find the baitfish. Trolling is definitely a viable option and will aid in locating the baitfish. Anglers are casting the entire spectrum, from surface to rubber baits, and you should float a sucker, too. Everyone has their favorite sucker size preference, and while anglers report action on small and large suckers, larger suckers seem to get more success.

“Walleye fishing is about the same and we expect this until a good cold snap comes through. Walleyes, too, are scattered, with some deep and some shallow. It is hard to pinpoint spots to find walleye consistently, and you have to use your electronics. Locate the baitfish and do not get hung up on any particular spots ‑ where the baitfish are today, they might not be tomorrow. Anglers are primarily using minnows, particularly large fatheads and sucker minnows, but crawlers remain a viable option.

“Northern pike reports are a bit quiet this week, but likely because not many people are fishing for pike. With the current water temperatures, Tinsel Tail spinners are still a good choice.

“Crappie fishing is better, but the fish are not yet schooled in Moore’s Bay, as the water temperature is still too warm. Most anglers report success when fishing crappie minnows, Mini-Mites, and Gulp! Minnows in 25-30 feet.”


This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses trout streams in the Exeland area.

“Our crew always enjoys surveying streams in the Exeland area because we know we will get a pile of trout ‑ and trout numbers are increasing in many of these already fantastic streams!

“In 2015, we surveyed Swan Creek (right at the park in Exeland) and captured 581 brook trout and 21 brown trout per mile surveyed. In 2021, the same site produced 2,316 brook trout and 84 brown trout per mile. All of the trout in Swan are natural; no stocking has occurred there for many years.

“Just a little ways north, on Beaver Creek, we have seen the same thing. In 2015, we captured 2,360 brook trout per mile (there are no brown trout in this area), which is a very high rate. In 2021, we found even more trout, with the same site producing 3,780 brookies per mile! That included a very large number of ‘young of year’ or trout born over the last winter that are currently less than 3 inches long.

“Another stream we are keeping an eye on is the Little Weirgor River, a relatively big trout water for this part of the world, with the potential to grow some nice fish.

“In 2017, we surveyed an entire mile of the Little Weirgor and captured just two trout. Undeterred, we returned in 2021 to see if more trout had moved into the Little Weirgor. In the same stretch, we found 63 trout per mile, with about a third greater than 10 inches, and the biggest a 14.5-inch brook trout. In 2021, at another site lower on the Little Weirgor, we found 140 trout per mile, also with a 14-inch brookie. That illustrates why we are excited about the Little Weirgor and its ability to produce big trout.

“The trout waters in the Exeland area complement each other nicely. The small streams crank out the young trout, and the trout that move into bigger water such as the Little Weirgor or lower reaches of Swan and Maple creeks, can reach an impressive size.”


A Ladies Musky Fishing School, hosted by Deerfoot Lodge on the Chippewa Flowage, takes place this weekend, October 15-17. The school, open to female anglers of all skill levels, still has some openings available. The course fee is $75. For more information and/or to sign up for the school, call (715-462-3328) or visit www.deerfootlodge.com/news.



The summer-to-fall fish transition this year is happening slowly and behind the normal schedule. Would not say fish are confused, however, as they adjust to whatever the current conditions… which is good advice for anglers. As my friend, Mark, used to say, “The fish don’t go by the calendar!” On the way to the lake, stop at your favorite bait and tackle shop to get the most up-to-date information on fish locations, baits, and presentation. Open water season will not last forever!



Musky action is good and improving. Fish weeds (greener the better), weedlines, and near concentrations of baitfish and panfish. Depths vary by the water and the day. Musky suckers and, it appears, just about any lure you might want to try could work on any given day. Great time to air out some dusty lures ‑ because you just never know!



Walleye fishing can be fair to extremely good, but is lake and conditions dependent. With fish dispersed throughout lake systems, you could find them on weeds, weedlines, rock, humps, and hard bottoms at various depths and at different times of the day! Locating baitfish is a good first step. Bait choices include walleye suckers, fatheads, crawlers, jigs, Lindy Rigs, stickbaits, and jigging baits.


Northern Pike:

Northern pike action is fair to good, with fish hanging in 4-18 feet on weeds, weedlines, weed edges, and anywhere you find concentrations of panfish and baitfish. Northern suckers, minnows, spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, stickbaits, and swimbaits all attract pike. Go big and deep for trophy fish.


Largemouth Bass:

Largemouth bass fishing remains good with the warmer than normal water (and air) temperatures. Look for fish on weeds, weed edges, brush, breaklines, and near baitfish in mid-depths and deeper, with some fish still shallow. Top baits include live bait, spinnerbaits, plastics, and topwaters.


Smallmouth Bass:

Smallmouth bass anglers continue to have good success fishing shoreline structure, hard bottoms, and mid-lake humps. Jigs and sucker minnows, stickbaits, crankbaits, plastics, Ned Rigs, and jigging baits are all producing fish.



Crappie fishing is fair to good, though improving. Fish are on weeds, cribs, rock, humps, and stumps in 12-30 feet. As the water (eventually!) cools, they will head to shallower locations. Baits of choice include crappie minnows, fatheads, plastics, Mini-Mites, Tattle-Tails, and Gulp! Minnows.



Bluegill fishing is fair to good once you find the fish. Concentrate on weeds and weed edges from deep to mid-depths and shallower, depending on the lake. Waxies, worms, crawler chunks, plastics, small minnows, and Gulp! baits on small jigs, plain hooks, and/or fished under bobbers, are all effective.


Upcoming Events

Oct. 12: Bear season closes.

Oct. 15-17: Ladies Musky Fishing SchoolDeerfoot Lodge (715-462-3328).

Oct. 16: Hunting seasons open: Fox (red and gray); Bobcat (Period 1); Raccoon (resident).

Oct. 16: Hunting seasons open at 9 a.m. statewide: Pheasant; Bobwhite quail; Hungarian partridge (except Clark, Marathon, and Taylor counties.

Oct. 16: Trapping seasons open: Bobcat (Period 1); Fisher; Coyote; Fox; Raccoon (resident).

Oct. 23: Trapping seasons open: Mink; Muskrat.

Oct. 23: Hayward Chapter-FHNB annual all you can eat spaghetti dinner fall fundraiser, 4:30-8 p.m. (715-634-3185).

Oct. 25: Wolf harvest tags go on sale for successful drawing participants.

Oct. 30: Non-resident raccoon hunting/trapping season opens.

Nov. 6: Seasons open: Otter trapping (North Zone); Beaver trapping Zone A (Northwest); Wolf hunting and trapping.

Oct. 30: Non-resident raccoon hunting/trapping season opens.

Nov. 6: Seasons open: Otter trapping (North Zone); Beaver trapping Zone A (Northwest); Wolf hunting and trapping.

Nov. 20-28: Gun deer hunt (see regs).

Nov. 29-Dec. 8: Muzzleloader deer season (see regs).

Dec. 9-12: Four-day antlerless deer 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.