The forecast for this week indicates somewhat stable temperatures, with daytime highs in the low 50s, nighttime lows in the 30s ‑ and chances for rain Wednesday and Thursday. A slide to cooler weather continues the following week as daily temperatures run about five degrees cooler than this week. On the up side, however, this weekend and into next week should offer sunshine and blue skies. As a side note and early reminder, Daylight Saving time ends November 7!
“The Quiet Lakes are seeing less and less traffic each day,” says Pat at Happy Hooker. “You might run into a few other boats on the weekends, but from here on out, it will be somewhat surprising to see other anglers fishing during the week. There is still time to get on the water to explore your favorite spots and look for new places that could hold some fish during ice fishing season.
“The real action is coming from musky anglers, with most success by anglers floating medium to large suckers on quick-strike rigs. Anglers casting big lures report moderate success, but all report some follows and misses. As the weather keeps cooling, musky fishing will get even better.
“Walleye reports are sparse, but some anglers report success by slow trolling minnows and crawlers along drop-offs along vegetation. Some anglers continue to catch fish on minnow rigs when fishing outside the perimeter of vegetation. Do not be afraid to explore shallow, soft bottom mud basins.
“Fishing for northern pike and largemouth bass is good for anglers casting spinnerbaits toward shorelines and into areas that held docks this summer.
“Crappie action has yet to materialize this fall. Anglers are finding fish in 10-18 feet, but getting those fish to bite is another thing. Still, anglers occasionally catch some fish, which also holds true with bluegills. There are plenty of smaller fish hanging along the shorelines and the remaining weeds.
“Hunters are in search of game, but we have heard few reports. Be careful walking the trails and make sure to wear something orange or another bright color.”
Jarrett at Hayward Bait says musky fishing has been slow with the unseasonably warm weather and water temperatures hesitant to cool.
“Now that we have a few cool days starting to show, we can count on water temperatures to start cooling and turnover on some of the smaller lakes. Musky action will heat up as temperatures cool down. Anglers are taking a few muskies on bucktails, but most action is on live suckers. Until the waters cool, look for deeper weed edges in 10-20 feet.
“Walleyes are still deep with the warmer water temperatures and many anglers are targeting fish on deep humps, weed edges, and rock in more than 30 feet. Due to lack of sunlight penetration, murky lakes will have fish shallower. Fishing is consistent, with most anglers bouncing jigs off the bottom and dragging walleye suckers through schools of fish.
“Northern pike are still deep as well, often among the walleyes on deep humps and weed edges. Big pike are suckers for suckers, so do not look past picking out the biggest walleye sucker in your bucket!
“Both largemouth and smallmouth bass should again be deep. Whether on weed edges or in deep weeds, fish are feeding on small baitfish and crayfish. Jigs, Ned rigs, and live bait work well for fish putting on the feedbag for winter.
“Crappies still roam the basins, on or suspending above deep weeds. As soon as the water cools, these fish will move into weeds to feed on insects and small minnows before moving back over lake basins for the winter. Though they are probably a few weeks away from that move, cold temperatures are finally here!”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses the 4th annual Ladies Musky fishing School.
“The DNR’s Hayward Fish Team was pleased to participate in Deerfoot Resort’s 4th annual Ladies Musky fishing School October 15-17. This year we took advantage of some mild weather and did a netting demonstration for the participants.
“Technically, this was a crappie survey, but our team and the dozens of female anglers who came to help were all hoping to see a bonus musky ‑ or two! We were lucky enough to capture two 40-inch range muskies in our nets, along with lots of crappie, smallmouth bass, northern pike, walleye, redhorse, and even a burbot.
“We captured one of the two muskies right off the point at Deerfoot marina. This fish carried a PIT tag from when our crew first captured it in the Toutant area of the Chippewa Flowage in 2018. The fish, a male, did not exactly fit with the female-centric theme for the weekend, but the participants still seemed happy to see him. We released all fish so the anglers could chase them throughout the weekend.
“The Deerfoot Ladies Musky School is a well-organized event that seems to be growing in popularity and we are excited to have been a part of it over the years. Angling events geared towards kids grab a lot of attention ‑ and rightly so ‑ but events geared towards adults can be equally valuable to recruiting new anglers and promoting conservation ethics. The success Deerfoot’s Amanda Wilson has produced with this event certainly shows there is plenty of demand for these kinds of opportunities!”
The DNR reminds deer hunters to “know their target” before shooting and to know the difference between elk and whitetail deer. People commonly confuse antlerless elk with large does, and young bull elk can look similar to large bucks. Adult elk stand about 1-2 feet taller at the shoulders than adult deer. Elk calves are similar in size to adult whitetail does, but have coloration similar to adult elk. Elk have a tan rump patch, black legs, and dark brown mane. Deer have legs the same color as their bodies, a white throat patch, and fluffy white tail.
The two elk herds in Wisconsin total more than 400 elk. The herd in the north includes the counties of Ashland, Bayfield, Price, Rusk, and Sawyer, and elk occasionally roam beyond these areas. For more information, search “how to identify elk” on the DNR website.
The Wisconsin DNR will accept public comment through November 4 on a proposed plan to designate a .9-mile span of existing forest road within Flambeau River State Forest as part of a larger county snowmobile trail re-route to improve Rusk County snowmobile trails planned through the Flambeau River State Forest Master Plan variance process.
Flambeau River State Forest, located in Price, Rusk, and Sawyer counties, contains 90,147 acres and 55 miles of snowmobile trails providing access to the Tuscobia State Trail and Sawyer County trail system to the north, and Price and Rusk county trail systems to the south. For more information, search “Flambeau River State Forest master plan variance” on the DNR website.
The Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies Inc. will host a meeting Tuesday, November 2, starting at 7 p.m., at Flat Creek Lodge on Hwy 27 South in Hayward. Meetings are open to the public and the club welcomes visitors. For more information, call Mike Persson at (715) 634-4543.
The transition from late fall to the “next” season continues, albeit somewhat slowly. Fish live their lives according to current conditions, not the calendar, and water temperature fluctuations this fall are keeping fish moving. As such, it is very important to check with your favorite bait shop personnel to learn the “bait du jour” ‑ the most effective bait and presentations for that day, and most importantly, where you will most likely find the fish species you intend to target. Since live bait is usually preferred at this time, a bait shop stop is probably on the schedule anyway!
Musky action is fair, but recent temperature changes should be a wake-up call for them to get busy feeding in preparation for winter and fishing should show significant improvement. Target weeds, weedlines, and weed edges in 8-12 feet, as well as points, humps, flats, and wherever you find concentrations of panfish. Look for muskies in shallower locations on sunny days. Top baits include large musky suckers on quick-strike rigs, bucktails, crankbaits, and jerkbaits. A sucker off the side of the boat while casting can make a difference in your catch rate.
Walleye fishing is fair to good, with warmish water temperatures keeping many fish on deep weeds, weed edges, breaklines, humps, points, mud flats, and rock ‑ and near baitfish. On small, shallow, darker water lakes, fish will be somewhat shallower. Best baits and presentations include walleye suckers, fatheads, jigs and minnows, and crankbaits. Trolling crawlers, stickbaits, and crankbaits along weedlines, weed edges, and drop-offs is also effective.
Northern pike action is good to very good on mid-depth and deeper weeds, weed edges, humps, and near schools of baitfish and panfish. Northern suckers, walleye suckers, fatheads, spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, and swimbaits will all entice pike. For trophy fish, work bigger baits in deeper water.
Largemouth bass fishing remains good on weeds, weedlines, weed edges, and wood, from shallow to mid-depths to deep cover. Minnows, crawlers, spinnerbaits, stickbaits, swimbaits, Ned rigs, drop-shot rigs, wacky worms, and plastics are all working, but favored presentations can vary day-to-day.
Smallmouth bass fishing is very good for anglers fishing deep weeds, weed edges, weedlines, rock, and other hard bottom areas. Sucker minnows, crawlers, plastics, swimbaits, Ned rigs, and drop-shot rigs are all catching fish.
Crappie fishing is fair to good once you locate actively feeding fish. Keep moving until you find them, looking in deep lake basins, in 8-20 feet, with fish on weeds and weed edges and suspending over deeper weeds and water. Crappie minnows, fatheads, plastics, Mini-Mites, Tattle-Tails, and Gulp! baits can all do the job on any given day.
Bluegill fishing is good to very good, and again, once you find active fish. Small fish are plentiful in shallow cover, but the bigger ‘gills are in mid-depths to deep water on weeds, weed edges, wood, and cribs. Waxies, worms, crawler pieces, minnows, plastics, and Gulp! baits are all effective offerings, fished on small jigs with/without floats.
Oct. 23: Trapping seasons opened: Mink; Muskrat.
Oct. 25: Wolf harvest tags on sale for successful drawing participants (tentative).
Nov. 7: Daylight Saving Time ends at 2 a.m. ‑ turn clocks back one hour.
Nov. 19: Wild turkey season closes in zones 6, 7.
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.