By: Steve Suman
The current forecast indicates a relatively mild week, with some rain possible (likely). From Friday through Sunday, the highs drop to the very low 40s and the “possible” rain turns into a different form. Might want do any outside work before the end of the week!
“Musky anglers using suckers on quick-strike rigs are having some success and as the water cools fishing will only get better. Anglers casting and trolling a variety of lures are also reporting success. The sucker supply remains uncertain, so check ahead if you intend to use suckers for bait.
“The lakes continue to offer good mixed bags of walleye, northern pike, smallmouth bass, and panfish. Crappie anglers are catching walleyes while fishing around cribs, with most catches on live bait rigs. Fish are scattered throughout the entire system and anglers putting in the time will find it rewarding.
“Smallmouth bass are starting to show their fall temper and hitting lures, and anglers aggressively jigging soft plastics near rock and timber are catching some nice fish.
“Crappie schools continue to roam in, off, and around weeds breaklines, and cribs.”
Trent at Hayward Bait says water temperatures dropping and predatory fish are following baitfish to the shallows.
“Live bait is always a good option this time of year, when eating habits favor minnows and lures mimicking baitfish.
“Musky and northern pike typically hit bigger lures and feed on suckers in the shallows this time of year and there are many good lure choices for both species. Local favorites include Lake X Toads, Lake X topwaters, and bucktails, all good baits to have in the arsenal.
“Walleyes moved to hard sand and gravel bottoms outside weedlines and skirted jigs with trailers and jigs and minnows are very effective at this time.
“Largemouth bass are in 2-5 feet and spinnerbaits, jigs, spoons, and square-bill crankbaits are all effective. Smallmouth bass are in the same areas as walleyes and hitting the same baits.
“Crappies are staging in deeper water, but often suspending high in the water column. Crappie minnows on jigs, Kastmaster spoons, and Jigging Raps, can make for some fun fishing.
“Bluegills are in 4-10 feet, depending on the lake, and usually not too picky, hitting waxies, crawlers, and small jigs.”
Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage water level is down about 2 feet, with water temperatures in the mid 50s.
“Musky action is good for anglers using a variety of tactics and live bait, when available, is productive. There is considerable action on late fall baits such as glides, rubber baits, twitch baits, etc., and lately Vexers and Hellhounds are seeing the most action. With sucker availability in question, do not be afraid to vertical jig Bondy Baits.
“Walleye fishing has improved with the cooling water temperatures, but still with many reports of smaller fish, including 10- and 11-inchers caught primarily by crappie anglers. There are also reports of good number of walleyes suspending in Moore’s Bay and the fish are on the move. Minnows and crawlers, in that order, are the baits of choice.
“Northern pike are more aggressive as of late, and some bigger pike at that. The key seems to be fishing larger sucker minnows in the weeds.
“Crappies are in Moore’s Bay and suspending over deeper water, according to recent reports. Minnows and Crappie Scrubs are the baits of choice there, as well as on Blueberry Flats.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses 2019 fall shocking survey results.
“At the time of this writing, the Hayward Fish Team has completed 20 of 21 planned fall electrofishing surveys on Hayward area lakes. We can draw some general conclusions from these surveys about how the fish populations fared.
“Naturally reproduced walleye showed up in some surprising places in 2019, including several lakes that have seen almost zero reproduction for many consecutive years.
“Lakes such as Durphee, Black Dan, Island, Barber, and Blueberry turned up modest numbers of natural born walleye. These stronger-than-expected results on some of the smaller lakes led to higher hopes for large lakes such as Lac Courte Oreilles, Teal, and Chetac. However, yet again, recruitment appears to have been poor in these lakes.
“Results from some of the usual powerhouse walleye producers such as Grindstone, Sand, and Round are yet to come in, as other crews, DNR or GLIFWC, surveyed some of these lakes.
“We observed natural born muskies in several area lakes, including Ghost, Black Dan, Barber, Big Spider, and Lower Clam. The commonality among these lakes that still support decent amounts of natural musky reproduction is generally darker water and lower abundances of northern pike.
“Seeing some natural born walleye and muskellunge is very encouraging. However, many area lakes, including many mentioned previously, will receive walleye and/or muskellunge stocking to supplement their low or non-existent natural reproduction.”
Anglers fishing the Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies Inc. 42nd Annual Fall Musky Tournament had reasonable weather Friday and Sunday. Saturday’s fishing conditions were far from ideal, however, and anglers battling the wind and rain earned their fish! Of the 495 entrants, 58 anglers caught/registered 66 fish. Kyle Sorensen, Winneconne, WI, took first place with three Teal Lake fish totaling 119 inches. Nick Zimmelman, Dubuque, IA, caught the largest musky, a 49-inch Lake Namakagon fish. In the Grand Prize drawing, Randy Campbell, Eau Claire, WI, won the 2019 Lund 1725 Pro Guide tiller boat, ShoreLand’r trailer, and 60 hp Mercury motor.
Deerfoot Lodge and Resort will host a Ladies Musky Fishing School October 18-20 that welcomes and encourages female anglers of all skill levels. Instruction includes gear selection, baitcasting, fly fishing for muskies, tips, techniques, handling northern pike, kayak fishing, a DNR musky fishery update, and more. The $75 registration fee includes a goodies bag and entry in the Grand Prize drawing for a $250 Cabela’s gift card. For more information, call (608) 215-7397; (715) 462-3328, email firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.deerfootlodge.com.
Crex Meadows State Wildlife Area, near Grantsburg, is hosting its annual Fall Wildlife Festival Saturday, October 12, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. and 5:30 p.m.-7:30 p.m. Event activities include sandhill crane tours, property tours, mucking in the education pond, an archery range, live animals, and more. For more information, and to register for some events (required), visit www.crexmeadows.org/programs-events or call (715) 463-2739.
This Saturday, October 12, the Hayward Chapter of Fishing Has No Boundaries is hosting its annual fall “all you can eat spaghetti feed” fundraiser from 4:30-8 p.m. at Flat Creek Inn and Suites. The non-profit Fishing Has No Boundaries provides recreational fishing opportunities for all anglers with disabilities, taking them out to fish and enjoy the great outdoors. Dinner events include a live auction, silent auctions, raffles, door prizes, and more. Tickets purchased in advance are $8/adults and $4/kids 2-9 years. Tickets at the door cost $10/adults and $5/kids 2-9 years. There is no charge for kids 2 years and younger. For more information and to purchase tickets, call Sabrina at (715) 634-3185 or email email@example.com.
Musky fishing is good and fish are more aggressive with the cooling water temperatures. Baitfish and panfish are moving towards shallower water and the muskies are right behind them. Top bait options include bucktails, gliders, plastics, rubber baits, twitch baits, jerkbaits, topwaters, and suckers – if you can find them – on quick-strike rigs.
Walleye action is fair to good and getting better, with fish active and biting when you find them. Concentrate on hard bottom sand and gravel areas near weedlines, cribs, and wood, with some fish suspending. The most effective baits include walleye suckers, minnows, crawlers, jigs with trailers, crankbaits, and Jigging Raps.
Northern pike fishing is good to very good. Look for fish in/around shallower weeds, cribs, and panfish and baitfish concentrations. Spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, bucktails, mid-size rubber baits, and northern suckers will get action.
Largemouth bass action is surprisingly good for this time of year and the fish are shallow around weeds, brush, and baitfish. Best baits include spinnerbaits, spoons, jigs and plastics, and crankbaits.
Smallmouth bass are on hard bottom areas with sand, rock, gravel, and wood in mid-depths near weedlines. Skirted jigs with trailers, soft plastics, and sucker minnows will all get the interest of smallmouth.
Crappies are schooling and on the move. Look for deeper water breaklines, weedlines, brush, and cribs. Make sure to check the entire water column, as some fish are suspending at various depths over deep water. Crappie minnows, Crappie Scrubs, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs, as well as Jigging Raps and spoons, are all productive baits.
Bluegill fishing is good to very good, with fish active in/around weed in depths out to about 12 feet. Baits of choice include waxies, worms, crawler chunks, plastics, and Gulp! baits fished on small jigs, teardrops, and plain hooks. Use slip bobbers once you find the “right” depth.
Oct. 8: Black bear season closes.
Oct. 12: Crex Meadows Fall Wildlife Festival (715-463-2739).
Oct. 12: Namekagon River Gobblers 11th Annual Grouse Challenge (715-580-0792).
Oct. 15: Inland trout season closes.
Oct. 19: Seasons open: Pheasant; Ruffed grouse in Zone B; Bobwhite quail; Hungarian partridge; Raccoon gun/trapping for residents; Red and gray fox hunting/trapping; Bobcat hunting/trapping Period 1, north of Hwy. 64; Coyote trapping; Fisher trapping.
Oct. 26: Seasons open: Muskrat statewide; Mink in north, south, and Winnebago zones.
Oct. 31: Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame closes for season (715-634-4440).