By: Steve Suman
This week’s forecasts predict clear and somewhat colder temperatures, with upper-teen lows a couple nights. With no chances of snow until late in the week, there is still time to complete any remaining house and yard projects!
Reminder: Daylight Saving Time ends at 2 a.m. Sunday, November 3, so be sure to turn back your clocks one hour! This is especially important for hunters engaging in seasons regulated by daily shooting hours.
“Quiet Lakes’ water temperatures are falling quickly,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “with some even diving down into the lower 40s. As open water season nears its end, consider slightly delaying your boat winterizing – some decent weather still might arrive. Dress warm, wear a life vest, and be safe!
“The few anglers on the lakes report some success, as fish are putting on a feed, especially predator fish such as musky, walleye, northern pike, and smallmouth bass.
“Musky anglers are boating some nice fish. Dragging suckers, if you can find some, is a good tactic that will continue to produce fish for the next few weeks. Anglers intending to use suckers should check ahead for availability. Due to a winterkill, the North Woods has a dire shortage of suckers this year.
“Anglers are finding success in various ways. Pitching jigs with live bait and/or plastics are solid options for catching walleye, northern pike, and crappie. The best baits are a mix of Mepps, spinnerbaits, swimbaits, and glide baits, but as always, finding the right color is the big challenge. Another good option is jigging hard-body baits such as Puppet Minnows and Jigging Raps.”
Trent at Hayward Bait says that as open water fishing is ending, musky anglers should concentrate on deeper water.
“A good place to start is 10-12 feet where breaks and drop-offs lead to deeper cover – and depending on the lake, you might even see musky in 20-30 feet. Jigging Fuzzy Duzzits and rubber baits on those breaks is a good strategy, anglers fishing Suicks are consistently boating fish this fall, and it is hard to beat a Mattlock for trolling.
“Walleyes are in about 40 feet during the day, but often as shallow as 10-15 feet in mornings and evenings when they come shallow to feed. Smallmouth bass are holding tight to hard bottoms. Look for sand and gravel bottoms, as well as rock piles for smallmouth and walleye. Walleye suckers on jigs are great for both species this time of year.
“Crappies are typically in 15-30 feet, depending on the lake and time of day. On calm, cool days, watch for crappies hitting on the surface. Jigs, small spoons, and Rapalas are a few good options to put fish in the livewell. Bluegills are in 10-20 feet and ice fishing tackle and live bait are good choices for late season panfish.”
Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage is down 1-1.5 feet, with water temperatures in the high 40s to low 50s.
“Musky fishing is solid, with anglers finding action on various tactics from live bait to casting to vertical jigging to trolling. Target those areas that your graph shows as having signs of life, preferably shallow areas bordering steep drop-offs. Suckers remain scarce, but we do at times have some in stock.
“Walleye reports are few, as most people are targeting muskies. However, with the cooling water of late October, look for larger walleyes around deeper holes and drop-offs. Walleye suckers and large fatheads are the top bait choices.
“Crappie fishing is decent on crappie minnows and Gulp! baits in and around deeper cribs.”
Carolyn at Anglers All in Ashland says Chequamegon Bay and Lake Superior fishing continues for anglers who have not yet stored their boats – and who can deal with continuous wind.
“Fishing is still good for coho, brown trout, and splake in 10-50 feet from the inner islands to the river mouths. Most anglers are flatlining stickbaits, while anglers fishing deeper water are still running spoons on leadcore line.
“Shoreline anglers report success casting spinners, spoons, and stickbaits off river mouths and a few docks.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses what is currently hot in the Chippewa Flowage.
“Due to habitat differences, fish community composition, and various management actions, some lakes deliver higher quality fishing experiences for certain species than do other lakes. In a recurring series highlighting individual Sawyer County lakes, we will examine some of those exceptional fishing opportunities and attempt to explain how they came to be. We wills start with the 15,300-acre Chippewa Flowage.
“Walleye fishing has been exceptional on the Chippewa Flowage, with walleye abundance steadily improving over the last five years due to increasing natural reproduction. Planned habitat drawdowns and more-protective regulations enacted in 2015 played a key role in this walleye comeback. Anglers report many days catching more than 10 walleyes, though often only a fraction of the fish are legal harvest size.
“Crappie and bluegill fishing have also been strong in recent years. Bluegill abundance dropped with more predators such as walleye in the system, and with winter drawdowns, but this was part of the plan. Due to lower abundance, bluegill size increased and led to a population with many 8-inch fish, though 9- to 10-inch fish are quite rare. Crappie fishing fluctuated to a greater extent, but the Flowage continues to produce many 9- to 11-inch fish that anglers target through the ice and in spring. By summer, as the crappies spread out, fishing becomes considerably more challenging.
“Lastly, you cannot mention the Chippewa Flowage without talking muskellunge. Though it has been quite some time since the days of Louis Spray, the Chippewa Flowage remains an excellent muskellunge fishing destination. The lake offers many high 40-inch fish and consistent production of fish in the 50-inch range, as expected for a lake of this size. The muskellunge fishery is supported by a combination of stocking and natural reproduction.”
Hayward Power Sports, approximately 10 miles northeast of Hayward on Hwy 77, will offer a DNR Snowmobile Safety Course November 11, 12, and 14, with classes running from 4:30-6:30 p.m. The course fee is $10. If you were born on or after Jan. 1, 1985, and at least age 12, you must complete a snowmobile safety course to operate a snowmobile on Wisconsin’s public snowmobile trails and areas. For more information, call Ashley at (715) 462-3674.
Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies, Inc. invites the public to attend its monthly meeting Tuesday, November 5, starting at 7 p.m., at Flat Creek Eatery. Admission is free. This is a general business meeting and gear swap meet. Bring your old lures, extra tackle, and various other fishing items to buy, sell, or trade. People interested in becoming a new Muskies Inc. member can purchase a half-price membership at the meeting. For more information, call Mike Persson (715) 634-4543.
Musky action is much improved this late fall. Look for fish in shallow to mid-depth areas adjacent to deeper breaklines, drop-offs, and other cover offering refuge. Suckers remain hot IF you can find them. In short supply this year, but bait shops have them on an inconsistent basis and it is best to call ahead for availability. Other options include jigging and casting Fuzzy Duzzits, assorted rubber baits, and trolling large stickbaits.
Walleye fishing is fair to good and improving. During the day, fish deep holes, rock, and drop-offs in depths to more than 30 feet. In low light early morning and late evening into dark, focus on weeds and weedlines in 6-18 feet. The most productive offerings include walleye suckers, large fatheads, plastics, crankbaits, spinners, Jigging Raps, Puppet Minnows, and jigging spoons.
Northern pike action is very good to excellent from shallow to mid-depth weeds and around panfish concentrations. Northern suckers/sucker minnows, spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, bucktails, and plastics work well. For trophy pike, fish deeper water with bigger baits.
Smallmouth fishing is also good to very good for fish holding on hard bottom areas such as sand, gravel, and rock. Walleye suckers on jigs, spinners, spinnerbaits, swimbaits, crankbaits, and assorted soft plastics are great enticements. Experiment with color combinations until you find what works – at least that day!
Crappie action is good on cribs, brush, and other structure out to 28 feet, and for fish suspending over deeper water. Top baits include crappie minnows, waxies, plastics, and Gulp! baits, as well as small spoons and Rapalas.
Bluegill fishing is fair to good around weeds, brush, bogs, and cribs out to about 22 feet. Waxies, leaf worms, crawler chunks, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs, teardrops, and plain hooks, with or without bobbers, work well.
Oct. 26: Trapping seasons opened: Muskrat statewide; Mink in north, south, and Winnebago zones.
Oct. 31: Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame closes for season (715-634-4440).
Nov. 1: Wild ginseng season closes.
Nov. 3: Daylight Saving Time ends at 2 a.m. – turn back clocks one hour.
Nov. 2: Seasons open: Beaver trapping; Otter trapping.
Nov. 4: Woodcock season closes.
Nov. 16-22: Sight-in days at Hayward Rod and Gun Club; $6/rifle. Public welcome (715-634-4912).
Nov. 23: Regular gun deer season opens.
Nov. 26: Duck season closes in North Zone.
Nov. 29: Mourning dove season closes.