Steve Suman

 

Should this week’s weather forecast hold true (hope so!), the North Woods is in for an outstanding week! Predictions include highs in the 60s or warmer, lows generally in the 40s, and sunshine through the weekend. Take advantage of these wonderful conditions while you can!

 

The Travel Wisconsin Fall Color Report shows Sawyer County is now at peak fall color. Visit the Hayward Lakes Visitor and Convention Bureau website and check out the six fall color tour drives that cover Sawyer County.

 

“We rode a weather roller coaster on the Quiet Lakes last week,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “with temperatures above average and then back to below average, rain, wind, frost, and even snow flurries, though no accumulation.

“Seasoned anglers know wind is an important factor when it comes to a fishing success. Wind is good when you use it to your advantage. Fishing wind-blown shorelines, drifting in the wind, and setting up on the backside of wind-blocked points and casting into the wind can all be beneficial uses.

“Last week, the best bite came just before the wind changed. For example, last weekend’s southwest winds were consistent for three days in a row. Then on Monday afternoon, it was calm. Right before the calm, the fish were very active – and we see this time and time again with weather patterns.

“The lakes are putting up some good catches, with the best fishing over mid-lake humps in the afternoon until after dark. Look for big depth changes on your graph and work the transitions.

“If you are after muskies, the bite on big suckers is coming alive, so look for musky success to pick up in the coming weeks. As the water temperature cools, fishing will even get better.

“Anglers are catching a good mix of walleye, northern pike, and largemouth bass on fatheads and walleye suckers under slip bobbers fished on mid-lake structure and weed drop-off areas in 10-18 feet. Use a red hook with split shot and light bobber.

“Smallmouth bass are on good bite, with fat females feeding aggressively over rock and other hard bottoms. Best tactics are slow-trolling big-bodied crankbaits, fan casting rattling baits, and jigging live bait and paddle-tail plastics.”

 

Trent at Hayward Bait says the weather is strange this fall and this week we should again see some warm weather.

“Musky fishing is quite productive, with most anglers doing best by fishing points, ledges, and vegetation in 10-15 feet – the areas holding the majority of fish. Swimbaits, bucktails, and suckers are the current angler favorites.

“Walleye fishing is still tough, but becoming increasingly better throughout the fall. Most walleyes are hanging very deep, 25-35 feet and deeper. On shallower waterbodies, work deep drop-offs, humps, and vegetation. Sucker minnows are the most popular bait, but lipless crankbaits and spoons are also working.

“Northern pike are very active and can make a slow day of musky fishing more exciting. Pike are staging in the same areas and depths as muskies and working those points, ledges, and vegetation in 10-15 feet is most effective. Most anglers are casting swimbaits, spoons, and crankbaits.

“Largemouth bass are spread from 5-15 feet and will continue to move deeper as fall progresses. It will pay off to work wacky worms, large jigs, and sucker minnows in and around vegetation, wood structure, and drop-offs.

“Smallmouth bass are staging in 20-25 feet and hitting sucker minnows, crawlers, and jigs.

“Crappies are difficult to find, scattered in smaller schools and cruising in and around bowls, humps, and vegetation in 20-30 feet. Fish are interested in colors different from the usual pink and white. Jigs and minnows, Tattle-Tails, and small plastics are all producing a good bite.

“Bluegills are in 15-20 feet and jigs and minnows, waxies, and crawlers are the go-to baits.”

 

Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage water level is down 2-3 feet, with the water temperature in the high 50s.

“Musky fishing is solid, with anglers catching several mid-40s fish in the past week. If you are casting, rubber baits, jerkbaits, glider baits, and big bucktails are the way to go – and make sure you float a sucker while you cast. Trolling deeper weedlines and breaklines can also be effective this time of year, and Mattlocks, Jakes, and Grandmas are all solid choices. Casting a sucker off the back of the boat on the same type of structure is also effective.

“Walleye success has picked up slightly, but overall the action is still slow. Anglers who are having the best luck are fishing walleye suckers on mud flats and rock in 16-18 feet, particularly around Cranberry Lake. Fatheads and crawlers can prove effective as well, but walleye suckers are definitely the bait of choice.

“Northern pike are again interested in live bait and it would be wise to fish them similar to how you fish for muskies. Dangle a few poles with suckers off the side of the boat while casting spinnerbaits (primarily) and spoons.

“Crappies are still scattered, but with water temperatures starting to drop into the high 50s, crappies should soon start to school. When they are schooling, be sure to check out Moore’s Bay and Blueberry Flats.”

 

The DNR has combined its hunting regulations into one document, printed on larger paper, with color photographs and graphics, and simplified language. The hunting regulations and season dates are available online and at license agents throughout the state. The DNR will continue to produce separate trapping regulations pamphlets. The DNR forecasts for the 2020 fall hunting and trapping seasons are also available online at the following links: Deer; Bear; Upland Game Bird; Migratory Birds; Furbearer Hunting and Trapping.

 

The Wisconsin DNR (with others) is conducting the final year of a three-year sampling study of West Nile virus (WNV) in ruffed grouse. Hunters have yet to submit more than half of the 1,000 self-sampling kits distributed in 2018 and 2019 and the DNR asks hunters to use their leftover kits to submit samples from grouse they harvest. Hunters who do not plan to fill leftover kits should pass them on to friends who will fill them this fall. Detailed kit instructions are available under the “disease sampling” tab on the ruffed grouse webpage.

 

Sales continue for bonus antlerless deer tags and fall turkey authorizations at one per person, per day, until the unit sells out or the seasons ends. Deer authorizations cost $12 for residents, $20 for nonresidents, and $5 for youth under age 12. Turkey authorizations cost $10 for residents and $15 for nonresidents.

 

The DNR reminds deer hunters that they must register their deer by 5 p.m. the day after recovering it. Hunters can register online at GameReg.WI.Gov; by phone at (844) 426-3734; and electronically at participating in-person registration stations. The system will ask a series of harvest questions such as adult or fawn, buck or doe, the DMU, and weapon type used. So far this year, Sawyer County hunters have harvested 149 deer, including 74 antlered and 75 antlerless.

 

The DNR is updating its walleye management plan for walleye populations across the state. Public input will come from mail/online surveys of fishing license holders to gauge angler attitudes about management options, and virtual meetings discussing management issues and partnership opportunities. The public can also provide comment on an online public input form. The first regional meeting, via Zoom, is Tuesday, Oct. 13, at 6:30 p.m., for Douglas, Bayfield, Ashland, and Iron counties. Individuals who would like to participate (pre-registration required) should contact Max Wolter.

 

Treeland’s 5th Annual Musky Fly Fishing Championship, one of only three musky fishing tournaments in the United States, is this Thursday through Saturday, October 8-10. The tournament gives away thousands of dollars in prizes every day, as well as team and individual prizes. Registration ($150/person) for the contest, limited to first 100 entries, closes at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, Oct 8. For more information, call (715) 462-3874.

 

FISHING REPORT

Musky:

Musky fishing is good and improving significantly as water temperatures cool. Target heavy weeds and other cover, points, humps, and drop-offs in depths out to about 15 feet. The most effective baits include live suckers, rubber baits such as Bull Dawgs, Lake X Toads, and Medussas, and bucktails, jerkbaits, gliders, and swimbaits. Trollers should work mid-depth to deep breaklines and weedlines with Grandmas, Jakes, and Mattlocks.

 

Walleye:

Walleye fishing remains slow and challenging, with success increasing as water temperatures decrease. Late afternoon into dark offers the best action. Fish are scattered, on weeds, weed edges, drop-offs, mid-lake humps, points, rock, mud flats, and transition areas in 8 feet to 30 feet and deeper. Start in 15-25 feet and if no success, try shallower and/or deeper. Walleye suckers, fatheads, crawlers, leeches, crankbaits, and jigging spoons are all producing catches.

 

Northern Pike:

Northern pike action is very good, with afternoons offering the best success. Fish are holding on weeds, points, drop-offs, and mid-lake humps and structure in 8-20 feet. Top offerings include walleye and northern suckers, fatheads, spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, swimbaits, crankbaits, and stickbaits.

 

Largemouth Bass:

Largemouth bass fishing is good, but anglers will need to fish on deeper weeds, wood, rock, other hard bottoms, and drop-offs in depths out to 20 feet. Wacky worms, Ned rigs, swim jigs, crankbaits, spinners, and sucker minnows are all working well for largemouth.

 

Smallmouth Bass:

Smallmouth bass action is very good, with fish on the feed on rock and other hard bottom areas in depths out to 25 feet. Anglers are finding success with live bait such as sucker minnows, paddle-tail plastics, rattle baits, and swim jigs, and cast and slow-trolled crankbaits.

 

Crappie:

Crappie fishing is good to very good once you locate the small, scattered schools. Find them in/on weeds, weed edges, humps, basins, and in/suspending over deeper water out the 30 feet. The schools are moving, so use electronics to keep on them. Best bait choices include crappie minnows, Tattle-Tails, Mini-Mites, plastics in various colors, and Gulp! baits.

 

Bluegill:

Bluegill fishing is good around weeds, brush, and other structure in depths out to 22 feet. Baits of choice include waxies, worms, crawler chunks, plastics, and Gulp! baits on jigs, teardrops, and plain hooks, fished under slip bobbers. Small minnows work well for bigger bluegills.

 

Upcoming Events

Oct. 3-11: Hunters with disabilities gun deer hunt.

Oct. 8-10: Treeland’s 5th Annual Musky Fly Fishing Championship. Limited to first 100 entries (715-462-3874).

Oct. 10: Hayward Chapter-FHNBall you can eat spaghetti feed fundraiserCanceled (715-634-3185).

Oct. 10-11: Youth deer hunt.

Oct. 13: DNR walleye management plan virtual meeting for Douglas, Bayfield, Ashland, and Iron counties. 6:30 p.m. (Pre-registration required – contact Max Wolter.)

Oct. 13: Bear hunting season ends (see regs).

Oct. 15: General inland trout season closes (see regs).

Oct. 17: Seasons open: Pheasant; Fox (red, gray) hunting/trapping; Bobcat Period 1 hunting/trapping; Fisher trapping; Raccoon hunting/trapping; Coyote trapping.

Oct. 31: Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame closes for the season; reopens April 15 (715-634-4440).

 

For more information on area events and activities, visit the Hayward Lakes Visitor and Convention Bureau website, view the Calendar of Events, or call 800-724-2992.