Hayward Lakes Outdoor Report 5-11-2021

Steve Suman


This should be a mild and sunny week until… the weekend, when chances for rain make an appearance. Otherwise, look for sunshine, highs in the mid to upper 60s, and nighttime lows from the upper 20s to low 40s. Nice ‑ take advantage and get outdoors!


“This is such a fun time of year,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “with Quiet Lakes’ anglers full of optimism as the fishing season gets going.

“This year’s opener was different than years past. Opening day temperatures pushed into the 80s, with day two in the 50s, but it did not seem to affect the fish all that much. The only thing slowing the bite was increased fishing pressure. Lake water temperatures averaged 52-55 degrees and most fish stayed deeper and have not yet moved to shallower waters.

“Most walleyes have moved from the usual spawning areas and are making their way to deeper water of 10-20 feet. Best baits are slow rolled plastics on jigs and live bait. Large fatheads seem to work better than smaller baits.

“Northern pike and largemouth bass action is steady in shallow, weedy areas. Largemouth harvest season is open and smallmouth bass are catch-and-release only until June 19. Be sure to check individual lakes for special regulations.

“Panfish fishing is starting to take shape and will get better as water temperatures rise. Check the regular spawning spots for activity. The best tactics are live bait on floats and fan-casting small plastics and Beetle Spins.”


Trent at Hayward Bait says air temperatures could get into the 60s this week and maybe spur the shallow water bite.

“Walleye anglers report fish in 15-20 feet on colder water bodies, but as shallow as 3 feet in lakes with water temperatures near 60 degrees. Leeches, hair jigs, Lindy Rigs, and plastics on jigs are all working.

“Northern pike are in 10 feet and shallower, hitting anything you put in front of them, with swimbaits, lipless crankbaits, jerkbaits, and others all producing.

“Largemouth bass are in 2-10 feet, preparing to spawn. Use swimbaits, crankbaits, jerkbaits, and soft plastics.

“Smallmouth bass are starting to move into 10 feet and shallower, usually on rocky bottoms. Leeches, crawlers, hair jigs, and jerkbaits will all work.

“Crappies are in vegetation in 5-10 feet, hitting under-spin jigs, plastics, and similar tackle.

“Bluegills are making their way towards the shallows on some lakes, but water temperatures remain fairly cold. Depths range from 5-15 feet, depending on the waterbody and daytime conditions. Slip bobbers and worms, Bimbo Skunk Bugs, and chicken jigs are all doing well.

“While perch fishing has taken a back seat to other species, fish are in about 6-10 feet and waxies, worms, and panfish jigs work quite well.”


Jim at Minnow Jim’s says frosty nights are slowing Nelson Lake’s warming ‑ make bait retrieves slower than normal.

“Walleye anglers should slow-troll open areas with Rapalas and large Mepps spinners.

“For northern pike, cast shorelines with spinners, buzz baits, and Beetle Spins.

“Find sheltered bays on sunny days where water temperatures are warmer to catch crappies and bluegills. Minnows, waxies, worms, and crawler chunks on dressed jigs or under bobbers are working great.”


Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage is at full pool, with water temperatures in the low to mid 50s.

“Walleye fishing is very good in terms of numbers. Many anglers report catching good numbers of walleye, but desire larger fish, as about one of every 10-12 walleye they catch is of legal size. Minnows and leeches are producing well, and crankbaits, specifically Husky Jerks, Countdown Rapalas, and original floaters, are productive.

“Northern pike fishing is decent on suckers and chubs under slip bobbers, with the west side most productive. Check out the Pike Improvement Project 2.0 for this year and make sure to keep the small northern you catch.

“Crappies are not yet spawning, but are moving in that direction. Some anglers report smaller males in shallow, but females are still deeper. Crappie minnows and panfish plastics are effective.”


This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses the idea of saving fish with soda.

“The internet can be a great tool for sharing information among anglers, and it certainly has the power to help people learn about new fishing techniques, lures, and fishing areas. Online information sharing is also useful for resource management agencies, allowing us to reach a huge audience at low expense.

“However, the internet can be a rumor mill or an amplifier of unproven or even outright false information.

“Recently, there has been an online movement to convince anglers that pouring carbonated soda on hook wounds increases the survival of fish by stopping bleeding from the gills. It is easy to see how such an idea, pushed through Facebook and YouTube videos, gains traction. All anglers want the fish they release to survive, and if there are easy things they can do to increase the survival of those fish, they will take an interest in hearing about and promoting it.

“Now, here is the issue: It does not work.

“Researchers from Canada and New England tested this method on 156 northern pike, which included a control group. These researchers even tested multiple kinds of popular soft drinks.

“In quick summary, they found no evidence that soft drinks help stop the bleeding of hooked fish. In the study, they cite several physiological reasons why pouring soda over fish gills could actually be quite damaging.

“Research such as this is necessary to provide a scientific basis to support or oppose certain practices. However, it is still up to individuals to promote the scientifically supported practices and to verify and check facts when a questionable piece of information begins to circulate online.

“If you see something that seems odd, it is never a bad idea to ask your local fish biologist!”


The Wisconsin Canoe Heritage Museum in Spooner will host its 11th Annual Canoe & Wooden Boat Show Saturday, May 29, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. The free event features more than 20 private exhibitors, museum open house and tours, canoe workshop activities, and live music, with food and beverages available in the beer garden. For more information, visit www.WisconsinCanoeHeritageMuseum.org or call (715) 635-2479.


Fishing Has No Boundaries Hayward Chapter will host a Kids Day on Nelson Lake May 18-19. For more information, visit www.haywardfhnb.org or call (715) 634-3185.


Deerfoot Lodge & Resort will host its Pike Pursuit pike harvest contest Friday and Saturday May 22-23. The entry fee is $25 per person. The event pays out for the top three shortest pike, shortest stringer, and “lucky” pike (100 percent payout). Anglers must register their fish with a judge before the end of fishing each day. Contest officials will draw one ticket for $100 from Pike Improvement Project 2.0 orange tickets entered during the contest. Those tickets also offer chances to win thousands of dollars in prizes and gift certificates in the fall drawing. For more information, visit www.deerfootlodge.com or call (715) 462-3328.


Musky Tale Resorts Northern Encounter 2021 is this weekend, May 14-16. Anglers compete in two-person teams (entry fee $90/team) for cash prizes paid to the top five places and largest fish. The 1st Place prize is $1,000 (based on 30 team entries). The event includes raffles and door prizes Saturday night. Fishing hours are 7 am.-5 p.m. Friday/Saturday, and 6 a.m.-12 p.m. noon Sunday. For more information, visit www.muskytale.com or call 715-462-3838.



Fishing is good overall, but this is the spring transition period and “where, what, and how” can change every day. As such, keep in close contact (i.e., daily) with your favorite bait shop for the most up-to-date trends.

Chippewa Flowage anglers should be aware of ‑ and participate in ‑ the Chippewa Flowage Pike Improvement Project 2.0 that began with the May 1 fishing opener. You could win many prizes!



Walleye fishing is good, though some anglers report difficulty catching legal size fish. The post-spawn fish are slowly dispersing and you might find them from shallow to 25 feet. Best offerings include walleye suckers, fatheads, leeches, crawlers, and plastics on jigs, spinner and Lindy rigs, and casting/trolling Rapalas, Husky Jerks, and minnow baits.


Northern Pike:

Northern pike action is very good along weedy shorelines and other shallow water out to about 12 feet. If they see your bait, whatever you toss, it is likely they will hit it. Good producers include spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, swimbaits, crankbaits, jerkbaits, and buzz baits, as well as northern suckers and chubs under floats.


Largemouth Bass:

Largemouth bass, on the move all winter, are becoming active again. Target shorelines, shallow weeds, and other cover in depths out to 12 feet as fish prepare to spawn. Top producing baits include live bait, spinners, swimbaits, crankbaits, Beetle Spins, buzz baits, and soft plastics. Do not rush the retrieves!


Smallmouth Bass:

Smallmouth bass are on rock and gravel hard bottoms in depths to 12 feet, hitting sucker minnows, crawlers, leeches, jigs, jerkbaits, and plastics. Smallmouth fishing is catch-and-release only until June 19.



Crappies are moving toward spawning locations as the water slowly warms to ideal conditions. Start around weeds outside of 12-15 feet and move shallower until you find fish. Baits of choice include crappie minnows, waxies, worms, and plastics on dressed and plain jigs and/or under slip bobbers, and spinners and Beetle Spins.



Bluegill fishing is fair to good and improving as water temperatures warm to spawning conditions. For now, look for fish in shallow, warmer water on sunny days, though fish can be in depths to 15 feet, with location lake dependent. Success is good on waxies, worms, crawler chunks, minnows, and plastics on jigs and/or bobbers, as well as Beetle Spins.



Anglers targeting perch are doing best around weeds and other cover in depths to 12 feet. Waxies, worms, minnows, and plastics on small jigs will get their attention.


Upcoming Events

May 1: General inland fishing season opened.

May 1: Chippewa Flowage Pike Improvement Project 2.0 began.

May 14-16: Musky Tale Resorts Northern Encounter 2021 (715-462-3838).

May 18-19: Fishing Has No Boundaries Hayward ChapterKids Day on Nelson Lake (715-634-3185).

May 22-23: Deerfoot Lodge & ResortPike Pursuit contest (715-462-3328).

May 29: Canoe Heritage Day at Wisconsin Canoe Heritage Museum in Spooner; 10 a.m.-4 p.m. (715-635-2479).

June 5-6: DNR Free Fishing and Free Fun Weekend ‑ No fishing license, state park admission, or trail passes required.

June 7-11: Fishing Has No Boundaries-Hayward Chapter ‑ Senior Citizen Event on Nelson Lake (715-634-3185).

June 19: Smallmouth bass season opens for harvest.

Jun 24-27: 71st Annual Musky Fest (715-634-8662).

June 27: Hayward Bass Club Round Lakes Open Tournament, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. (text 405-227-1789).


Spring Turkey Season

May 5-11: Period C spring turkey season.

May 12-18: Period D spring turkey season.

May 19-25: Period E spring turkey season.

May 26-June 1: Period F spring turkey season.


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.