The forecast shows a week of near-seasonal average temperatures ‑ 42-degree highs and 22-degree lows. This follows a snowfall of more than 4 inches this past weekend, halfway to the 8-inch November average. Though this current forecast indicates no snow during the week, if the predicted weather occurs, it should maintain tracking snow for hunters during Wisconsin’s gun deer season that opens this Saturday.
“A few anglers report successful fishing trips,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “but most Quiet Lakes’ waters are empty. If you go, you might have the entire lake to yourself. Water temperatures are in the 40s and no telling when first ice will appear, but it is coming.
“This time of year, most fishing is for walleyes and muskies, though several species put on a late season open water feed and the lakes are producing some decent live bait bites. Panfish go into a more sluggish phase until they adjust to the cold temperatures.
“Musky anglers report success with medium and large suckers on quick-strike rigs, but check ahead for sucker availability. Casting shorelines with large baits is producing many follows, but few hookups.
“Walleye and other predatory species are in shallower areas butted up to weed edges, which is especially true on clear lakes. If you have the ambition to get out after dark, choose a clear water lake that holds walleye and fish the shallow water. These areas continue to be productive all the way through first ice. Musky, walleye, northern pike, and smallmouth bass can be aggressive this time of year and you can often find success by casting crankbaits at shorelines.
“Panfish are tricky, but they will bite if you can get them to react. That means fishing very slowly or with floats rather than trying to get them to chase baits. As mentioned previously, panfish go into a sluggish phase until they adjust to the cold temperatures.
“Bowhunters are reporting some success and have taken several nice bucks. Most deer hunters say they are ready for the gun season opener this Saturday.
“Whatever occasion takes you into the outdoors this weekend, be safe and dress accordingly.”
Jarrett at Hayward Bait says muskies are roaming weed flats and structure in 10-20 feet, looking for food.
“Live bait, jerkbaits, and big plastics will produce at this time of the year, and some anglers who are trolling for the biggest fish will continue doing so through ice-up.
“Walleyes are in deep water just outside bays containing weeds and/or structure. Their characteristic nightly move shallow to feed has them prowling the remaining weed growth for small crappies, bluegills, and perch. Live bait, crankbaits, and jerkbaits worked slowly are producing action.
“Northern pike, similar to walleyes, are roaming the shallow bays. These bays cool the fastest and ice up first, but any warmth from the sun makes a difference in holding fish to the weed growth clinging to life. Big live bait and reaction baits are working well for pike.
“Few anglers target bass during this time of year, but those who do are fishing the deep, clear lakes and catching fish on small walleye suckers.
“Crappies and bluegills are headed to the bays to feed on what remains of the micro invertebrates holding to weeds before those food sources bury themselves in the mud and deep lake basins. Check weed flats and structure for fish. Working jigs, plastics, and small live bait slowly work well for producing fall panfish catches.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses a northern pike project on the Spider Lake Chain.
“Northern pike is a fine species for sport and eating, but introduced pike populations can change a fish community, and this is an issue on many musky lakes in the Hayward area.
“We have seen muskellunge abundance drop in many fisheries following the introduction of pike, including Lac Courte Oreilles, Tiger Cat Chain, and others. Fully eliminating pike from a waterbody is not a feasible goal, so we must determine what we want these fisheries to look like with pike as a part of the picture.
“The ideal state for pike in most of these circumstances is a lower-density population that offers better size and less competition with muskellunge and other native gamefish. Maintaining pike at a low-density state can be a challenge due to their prolific reproduction, flexible diet, and habitat use.
“Removals with nets or electrofishing are not an option on most waterbodies, purely for logistical reasons. However, angling control may have promise. Anglers catch huge numbers of pike in many lakes in the Hayward area, yet release a large majority of them.
“A project on the Spider Chain attempts to change that, making anglers a force for positive change in the fishery. The project is producing an outreach campaign, paired with organized fishing days and a website to track angler harvest, to try to boost angler harvest on the Spider Chain pike.
“Results to date have been promising.
“The website www.spiderlakepikeproject.com reports that as of October 26, 2021, anglers harvested 1,588 pike, which is about one pike per acre of water in the chain. Based on available population estimates for pike on similar waterbodies, we would consider this a significant amount of pike harvest.
“Our own electrofishing surveys on the Spider Chain support this assumption. Our pike catch rate in 2021 was the lowest since 2016, while musky catch rates have mostly held steady. We are very interested in the role anglers can play in maintaining balanced fisheries on the Spider Chain and elsewhere.
“Expect to hear more about similar projects in the future. In the meantime, consider harvesting some small pike on lakes such as Spider. Pike are great to eat, and anglers harvesting pike of any size must take them home. Killing fish without doing so is illegal and disrespectful to a sportfish that, when properly managed, offers value to our fisheries.”
The traditional gun deer season starts this Saturday, November 20, and hunters are gearing up to get in the field. If you have not already done so, you can avoid standing in line by purchasing your license online through Go Wild. If you have not already purchased ammunition, better start that hunt now ‑ it is not as available as in past seasons!
Hunters who might enjoy reminiscing about past seasons should visit “A chronology of Wisconsin deer hunting, 1834-2016,” covering deer seasons from closed seasons to record harvests. Wisconsin has a long, storied tradition of regulated gun deer hunting stretching back all the way to 1851. There have been many changes over the years, though few are as notable as during the late 1990s and early 21st century. Wisconsin is one of this country’s premier whitetail states, with an abundant herd and a nationwide reputation for producing large bucks. For more information, search “A chronology of Wisconsin deer hunting” on the DNR website.
The DNR encourages hunters to donate Wisconsin-harvested deer to the Deer Donation Program to help stock food pantries to support residents in need throughout the state. Hunters have donated more than 94,000 deer, providing more than 3.8 million pounds of ground venison, since the program began in 2000. Deer harvested in CWD-affected counties require testing for CWD before/at the time of donation. Processors hold the venison until learning test results.
Rifle sight-in days at Hayward Rod and Gun Club, located on County Road B three miles east of Hayward, will continue through 4 p.m. Friday, November 19, and the club welcomes the public. The daily sight-in hours run 9 a.m.-4 p.m. ‑ ending at 4 p.m. Experienced club members will be on hand to assist with the sight-in process. The fee is $6 per rifle. As a fundraiser, the club is offering drawing chances ($10/each or 3/$20) to win a Savage Axis XP .270 Winchester rifle package that includes the rifle, 3-9x50mm Simmons scope, and a box of ammunition. The drawing is Friday, Nov. 19, at 4 p.m. You do not have to be present to win, nor do you have to sight in a rifle. Just stop during the open sight-in hours and purchase the chances! For more information, visit www.haywardrodandgun.club.
Musky action is good as fish put on the feedbag and bulk up for winter. Look for fish along shorelines, on weed flats, and near structure in depths to 20 feet. Suckers on quick-strike rigs, as well as big plastics, jerkbaits, and bucktails, are all hooking fish, but be sure to drag a sucker while casting. Trolling big stickbaits and crankbaits also works well.
Walleye fishing is good once you locate them. Some fish are holding in deep water adjacent to weedy bays, but in the evening move into the shallower bays to feed on baitfish and panfish. Walleye suckers, fatheads, and small minnows, and slowly worked crankbaits and jerkbaits, are producing good catches.
Northern pike action is good to very good. Anglers can find fish on weeds and weedlines, in bays, and near concentrations of baitfish and panfish (i.e., food). Sucker minnows, crankbaits, and spinnerbaits all draw interest.
Bass angler interest tends to cool down with the weather as much as it heats up during the summer months, but some anglers are continuing to pursue both largemouth and smallmouth bass. Look for fish along shorelines and near weeds, wood, brush, cribs, and any areas holding panfish. Best bass baits include walleye suckers, minnows, and crankbaits.
Crappie fishing is fair to good, with fish on shallow to mid-depth weeds, weedlines, weed flats, wood, brush, and cribs, and suspending over deep water and/or weeds. Crappie minnows, fatheads, plastics, and Gulp! baits are productive, but fish the baits slowly in the cold water.
Bluegill fishing is fair to good, though fish are currently somewhat slow to respond with the new cold water. Target bay areas containing weeds and structure, weed flats, and mid-depth, cribs, brush, and stumps. Waxies, worms, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs, teardrops, and plain hooks ‑ whatever you choose, move them slowly!
Nov. 14: Elk season closed in Clam Lake Elk Management Zone (see regs).
Nov. 18: Crow season closes.
Nov. 23: Duck season closes in Northern Zone.
Nov. 29: Mourning dove season closes statewide.
Dec. 16: Goose season closes in Northern Zone.
Dec. 24-Jan 1: Antlerless-only Holiday Deer Hunt in select Farmland/Zone 2 counties (see regs).
Dec. 31: Musky season closes.
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.