This week’s forecast shows a cooling trend after Tuesday, chances for rain showers Wednesday afternoon and evening, and then mostly sunshine through the weekend. We will see a few lows in the 20s in the coming week, and some highs in the 40s. Maybe the sun will extend some warmth as we try to acclimate to the cooling temperatures. So far, we have not had to adjust to overnight temperature changes from 70 degrees to 10 degrees. So far…
“We are now seeing cool morning temperatures, with warming in late afternoon. The range is warmer than usual, but changes are in the forecast. Fall foliage is past peak, though the shorelines remain beautiful.
“Fishing remains good and this is a great time to be outdoors. The lakes are good and have little traffic. For anglers looking for easy success, the best bet is fishing deep transitions off windblown points.
“Musky anglers report mixed success casting and trolling a plethora of baits near weed edges and on flats. Sticking near weed patches will pay off, though it is frustrating to continuously clean baits. Most musky anglers have switched to floating medium and large suckers while casting lures. Be sure to retrieve the lure past your bait rig.
“Northern pike and largemouth bass are hitting crankbaits and plastics, with wacky worms a great tactic. Smallmouth bass are on various types of rock and wood structure.
“Crappies are schooling near drop-offs, but getting them to bite is the challenge. As previously mentioned, you do not need to be up early to go after panfish. Give the water temperatures some time to rise, and do not be afraid to use ice fishing tackle with plastics. The best bite for crappies and bluegills is jigging in 8-18 feet. Most fish are on the shallow side, especially on overcast days.”
Ken at Hayward Bait says some lakes are at or near turnover, which makes catching fish more challenging.
“Turnover is the process of a lake’s water turning over from top (epilimnion layer) to bottom (hypolimnion layer). In fall, the surface water cools, becomes denser, and sinks. This forces the hypolimnion water to rise, ‘turning over’ the layers. Some smaller or shallow lakes do not experience a turnover. It takes a few days for the water column to settle, after which fishing is much better, as fish tend to school in specific areas.
“Fall musky fishing is greatly improved and this will continue until ice-up. Try dragging live sucker along weedlines while casting reaction baits along/on top of weeds to bring muskies to your live bait. After turnover, topwaters can be very productive, and try shallow, especially on sunny days.
“Northern pike are now mostly weed related. Anglers should cover lots of water with reaction baits. You can find fish by rattle-trapping and spinner-baiting weed tops, and crank-baiting deeper edges.
“Walleyes are on the move, usually in schools, and shallower than in summer. To locate them, start with green weeds on deep breaks. If no baitfish are present, keep looking. Jigs and minnow work well, jerkbaits and crankbaits fished deeper can work, and gold color baits can be magic.
“Largemouth bass are in back bays, taking advantage of frogs migrating to hibernate. Schools of largemouth will also relate to green coontail weeds, especially with sunfish present.
“Smallmouth bass are hitting swimbaits and topwaters, while drop-shot minnow imitators and live bait will work on deeper fish. Rock and weed combinations are good locations, as are shallow flats, rocks, and inside weedlines on sunny days. Try white/chartreuse spinnerbaits with silver and gold blades.
“Crappies are relating to cover, suspending at various levels in the water column on deep breaks along stair-stepping weedlines, and fish cribs can be very good. Live bait and slip bobbers work well. Sunfish are schooling on weedlines and structure such as cribs and deep stumps. Use plastics on jigs and live bait on slip bobbers.
“Deer hunters should be aware that older bucks have two breeder scrapes near their ‘bedrooms’ ‑ one to the north and one to the south ‑ and they guard them. Use caution when approaching these sites, usually on one-way doe trails leading to the bedroom areas. The bucks will bust you. The herd doe always goes to the buck during estrus. Find one of these scrapes and sit downwind. Do not cross these trails ‑ and leave the scents at home!”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses 2017 and 2021 LCO muskellunge stocking.
“During the week of October 4, 2021, staff from Governor Thompson Hatchery in Spooner stocked 2,562 muskellunge into Lake Lac Courte Oreilles (LCO). While this number of muskies is on par with previous stocking events, the size of these particular fish is exciting.
“The average length of these stocked muskies was 13.5 inches, with many greater than 15 inches. On average, this batch of fish was 1-3 inches bigger than previous DNR stockings into LCO. Based on that size, there are elevated expectations for this 2021 class of stocked muskellunge.
“This stocking follows a 2017 LCO musky stocking of fish averaging 12.6 inches in length that appears to have been very successful. We have captured dozens of the 2017 muskies, identified by the tags they carry, and anglers report catching quite a few as well. The 2017 class was the first in quite a while to show this level of abundance in the years after stocking, and growth has been excellent, with most 30-35 inches in their fourth year of life.
“We have always known about the strong growth potential of LCO muskies. The more recent challenge is maintaining an abundance that allows for good fishing action. We are hopeful a solid 2021 class will join the strong class of 2017.”
The DNR is reminding anglers that the inland trout fishing season closed Friday Oct. 15. Anglers can still fish for trout and salmon in most inland lakes and ponds. Anglers can use the Trout Regulations and Opportunities User Tool (T.R.O.U.T.) to find places to trout fish, and be sure to check the trout regulations for exceptions by county.
The DNR will begin sale of wolf harvest tags Monday, October 25, to successful drawing participants. The 2021 wolf harvest season runs November 6 through February 28 (or until all harvest zones close). The statewide quota is 130 wolves. The DNR will notify successful applicants Oct. 25, at which time licenses go on sale. The license fee is $49 for residents and $251 for non-residents. For more information, search “2021 wolf hunting season” on the DNR website.
Hayward Chapter-Fishing Has No Boundaries will host its annual all you can eat spaghetti dinner fall fundraiser this Saturday, October 23, from 4:30-8 p.m., at Flat Creek Inn and Suites. This all you can eat spaghetti dinner event includes live and silent auctions, door prizes, and raffles.
Tickets purchased in advance are $8/10 years and older, and $4/kids 2-9 years. Kids younger than 2 years dine free. Tickets purchased at the door cost $10/10 years and older and $5/kids 2-9 years. Kids younger than 2 years dine free.
For more information, visit www.haywardfhnb.org/events.html, or call (715) 634-3185.
Changing weather patterns will cause changing fish and fishing patterns. As such (surprise!), stop at your favorite bait and tackle shop to learn the most current fish locations, bait preferences, and presentations. The late fall to (ahem) later fall transitions will continue. Keep in mind that temperatures this year are running a few weeks behind “normal.”
Musky fishing is good and getting better as fall weather and temperatures finally make an appearance. Concentrate on weeds, weed edges, flats, points, breaklines, humps, and panfish concentrations. On days with sunshine, try shallow. Anglers are drifting suckers while casting large bucktails, jerkbaits, crankbaits ‑ currently, about anything in the box, including topwaters. Retrieve your lures near the suckers, as they are a major temptation to muskies this time of year!
Walleye fishing is good as the fish school somewhat shallower and move around the lakes. Good locations include deep breaks with green weeds, breaklines, points, transition areas, and near baitfish and panfish. Jigs and minnows, walleye suckers, fatheads, jerkbaits, and crankbaits are all bringing fish to the boat.
Northern pike fishing is very good as the fish prepare for winter. Target over, on, and along weeds, weed edges, and weedlines, wood, rock, and wherever you find schools of baitfish and panfish. Best baits include sucker minnows, fatheads, spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, stickbaits, swimbaits, crankbaits, and Rattle Traps.
Largemouth bass fishing is good on green weeds, weedlines, weed edges, and near schools of baitfish and panfish, from shallow to mid-depths. Live bait, assorted plastics, wacky worms, crankbaits, spinners, swimbaits, and stickbaits.
Smallmouth bass fishing is good to very good on weeds, weedlines, wood, flats, rock, and sand. Top baits include sucker minnows, crawlers, spinnerbaits, swimbaits, drop-shot rigs, and topwaters.
Crappie fishing is good to very good, though still somewhat behind compared to “normal” for this time of year. Look for schooling fish on weeds, weedlines, weed edges, breaklines, drop-offs, cribs, and other cover in depths to 20 feet. Be sure to check the entire water column for suspending fish. Crappie minnows, fatheads, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs and fished under slip bobbers are all working well.
Bluegill fishing is good around weeds, weedlines, wood, stumps, and cribs in depths to 20 feet. Traditional baits such as waxies, worms, crawler chunks, small minnows, plastics, and Gulp! baits fished on small jigs, teardrops, and plain hooks, with or without bobbers, are doing the job.
Oct. 15: Inland trout fishing season closed.
Oct. 16: Hunting seasons opened: Fox (red and gray); Bobcat (Period 1); Raccoon (resident). Pheasant; Bobwhite quail; Hungarian partridge (except Clark, Marathon, and Taylor counties.
Oct. 16: Trapping seasons opened: Bobcat (Period 1); Fisher; Coyote; Fox; Raccoon (resident).
Oct. 23: Trapping seasons open: Mink; Muskrat.
Oct. 25: Wolf harvest tags go on sale for successful drawing participants.
Nov. 6: Seasons open: Otter trapping (North Zone); Beaver trapping Zone A (Northwest); Wolf hunting and trapping.
Nov. 7: Daylight Saving Time ends at 2 a.m. ‑ turn clocks back one hour.
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.