Though the forecast for the past busy weekend was not encouraging, Saturday was dry and Sunday had only a few light, spotty showers. This week, the forecast predicts a few foggy mornings and evenings, sunshine through Thursday, lows in the mid-50s, and highs in the low 70s. Nearly perfect fall weather, so get out and enjoy it ‑ this is not going to last!
“Some lake-home owners might be regretting their decision to pull boats and docks early, but another option is shore fishing. There are plenty of shore spots on many of the lakes.
“Forest foliage color change progression is also different this year. A month ago, we thought color change would be farther along by now, but most leaves are holding on due to recent precipitation and warm days.
“Musky action is picking up and anglers are throwing big bucktails, crankbaits, and swimbaits, and even trolling medium and large suckers. We recorded several nice legal size fish last week and it will only get better as the water cools.
“There is a good weed bite going in 8-13 feet and anglers report a few walleyes. Water levels are still somewhat low, so be cautious.
“Northern pike and largemouth bass are active on shallow bars and weed areas. Frogs are well into winter migration, preparing for winter, and topwater lures will turn some action.
“Panfish are less active these last couple of weeks, except for an occasional crappie or perch. Keep trying with worm chunks and crappie minnows suspended under floats.”
Jarrett at Hayward Bait says the fishing did not disappoint the 100s of anglers who arrived to fish the Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies, Inc. tournament this past weekend.
“With a slight warm-up, most anglers are catching fish on bucktails, stickbaits, and topwaters on weed edges and/or structure in 10-15 feet.
“Walleye fishing is promising. This time of year, fish look for bigger profile baits and that usually means minnows. Walleye suckers on jigs or free-swimming under slip floats work well. Anglers are fishing as shallow as 10 feet to as deep as 40 feet. With fish loosely schooled, if you pick off one you might have to regroup to relocate the school.
“Northern pike action is steady, with fish adjacent to areas where other gamefish are feeding on bluegills, crappies, etc., and anglers targeting walleye and bass are catching many pike. Swimbaits, spoons, spinnerbaits, and stickbaits all put fish in the boat. Try deep weed edges with the warming water. On cool mornings after sunrise, check back bays in clear lakes for fish sunning themselves. You can often make a long pitch and pull it right past their face.
“Largemouth and smallmouth bass are still hanging on deep weeds and rock. Fish that moved shallow will hold near structure as things cool. For shore fishing, try any place with downed wood, as it retains the sun’s heat longer than metal docks or piers. For deep fish, Ned rigs work well, even producing an occasional walleye.
“Crappie action cooled, but anglers are still catching fish. Many crappies are roaming deep basins, constantly on the move, and waiting to make one last push onto weeds before ice-up. Small jigs and crappie minnows plain or under bobbers are working well.”
Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage pool is down two feet, with the water temperature 68 degrees.
“Muskies are all over, from shallow to deep and in-between. With water temperatures higher than common for this time of year, try different approaches. Throw surface and subsurface baits, troll over deep water, and/or float suckers. Use some trial and error techniques.
“Walleyes are also all over the place with this weather. Anglers are catching fish, though still on the small side. Some are shallow, some deep, and some in transition. Use electronics to spot baitfish and pinpoint the walleyes. Minnows and crawlers are the live bait choices. Trolling flicker Shads and Shad Raps over deep water could also be effective.
“Northern pike continue to hit spoons and Tinsel Tail spinners in the weeds. While casting, float a few northern suckers as well. As always, the west side is better than the east side for pike.
“Smallmouth bass reports are still scarce, but the fish are likely still on shallow structure such as stumps and rock. Crawlers and plastics are solid bait choices.
“Crappie angler reports suggest better action, with fish still on cribs in 18 feet and deeper. They have not yet schooled in Moore’s Bay, as the water is too warm. Minnows and plastics are still the way to go.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses 2021 walleye reproduction.
“We use fall electrofishing surveys to gauge the strength of walleye natural reproduction during that year and to check survival of walleye stocked in the previous year. In 2021, the DNR Hayward Fish Team completed these fall surveys on many area lakes and found interesting results.
“First, a few lakes that had seen close to zero walleye reproduction in recent years actually registered a small amount in 2021. Windfall, Big Sissabagama, Lower Clam, and Lac Courte Oreilles (LCO) all surprised us with small natural year classes. While these year classes may not be large enough to provide great opportunities for anglers down the road, we hope they are a sign of a rebound in these lakes, most of which have seen large declines in walleye reproduction.
“Lakes that are more consistent walleye producers, such as Round and Windigo, had natural reproduction this year, but at more modest levels than usual.
“The Chippewa Flowage turned out a very solid walleye year class, meeting or exceeding other good year classes from recent years, and continuing a positive trend for that population.
“Stocked walleye survival looked great in Big Chetac and Barber lakes, which are two of our more consistently successful stocked lakes in the area. Stocking survival was surprisingly strong in Island and Durphee lakes, especially when compared to past stocking success in these lakes.
“Walleye will continue to face challenges as climate change alters habitats that used to be better suited for the species. Data from these fall surveys will help inform management and guide strategies on how to maintain or improve natural reproduction, where possible, and how to stock effectively to provide walleye fishing opportunities in waters where reproduction has declined.”
The application period ($10 fee) was open March 1 through August 1. 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.
The DNR will authorize hunters and trappers to harvest 74 wolves within the six zones established in DNR regulations. The Ojibwe Tribe will receive 56 authorizations to honor Ceded Territory treaty rights.
Northwest Relic Riders Vintage Snowmobile Club will host its “Just For Fun” 13th Annual Vintage & Antique Snowmobile Show & Swap Meet this Saturday, October 9, at Flat Creek Lodge. Registration begins at 8 a.m., judging starts at 12 noon, and trophy presentations commence at 1:30 p.m. The event offers music, club clothing, raffles, trivia, and 24 classes. For more information, visit www.relicriders.com or call (715-634-8377).
The annual Wisconsin Youth Deer Hunt is open this weekend, October 9-10, offering young hunters the opportunity to hunt deer and gain valuable experience before the rush of the traditional gun deer season. Hunters 15 years and younger are eligible to participate, accompanied by a mentor, and do not need to complete hunter education to participate. For more information, search “Youth Deer Hunt” on the DNR website. Please note the Gun Deer Hunt for Hunters with Disabilities opened October 2 and remains open through this Sunday, Oct. 10.
Musky action is improving, even with unseasonably warm water temperatures and fish dispersed across a wide range of depths and habitat. Suckers, bucktails, swimbaits, stickbaits, crankbaits, topwaters, and trolling large baits are all producing fish.
Walleye fishing is good to very good, but fish are widely scattered in a wide range of depths and cover, as well as suspending over deep water. Though they are everywhere, they can be anywhere! Check weeds, weedlines, rock, points, bars, and flats in depths from 6 to more than 35 feet. Find baitfish and you will be close. Effective baits include walleye suckers, fatheads, crawlers, Ned rigs, and trolled Flicker Shads and Shad Raps.
Northern pike fishing is good to very good. You will find them in bays, on bars, on weeds and weed edges from shallow to mid-depths, and near concentrations of baitfish and panfish. The most productive baits include northern suckers and minnows under floats, spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, stickbaits, swimbaits, and some topwaters.
Largemouth bass fishing is fair to good. Find fish on/near weeds, weed edges, rock, brush, bars, and breaklines, from shallow to mid-depths and deeper. Best baits include live bait, spinners, spinnerbaits, plastics in various configurations, Ned rigs, and topwaters.
Smallmouth bass fishing is good, with fish on deep rock and weed cover, as well as on shallow stumps and rock. Top producing baits include sucker minnows, crawlers, plastics, and Ned rigs.
Crappie fishing is fair to good, though inconsistent. Fish are on weeds and cribs in mid-depths and deeper, in deep basins, and always moving. Once you find them, keep moving to stay with them. Bait choices include crappie minnows, fatheads, plastics, and Gulp! baits on jigs and plain hooks, fished with or without slip bobbers/floats.
Bluegill fishing is somewhat slow, though good at times. Look for fish on weed edges, brush, and cribs in a wide range of depths, from shallow to deep. Waxies, worms, crawlers pieces, plastics, and Gulp! baits are working well.
Oct. 2-10: Gun deer hunt for hunters with disabilities.
Oct. 7-9: Treeland Premier Musky Fly Fishing Championship (all slots filled).
Oct. 9-10: Youth deer hunt.
Oct. 12: Bear season closes.
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. 25: Wolf harvest tags go on sale.
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.