Hayward Lakes Outdoor Report 5-18-2021

Steve Suman


The forecast indicates a warm week, but with rain showers possible from Tuesday evening through the weekend. However, if forecast history is an indicator (and it IS!), those showers might never reach fruition. Go forward with your outdoor recreation plans, but have a “Plan B” ‑ and keep an eye on the sky!


Quiet Lakes’ fishing is getting better with the warmer weather,” says Pat at Happy Hooker.

“With more anglers hitting the water, they are looking for new spots to fish. Be courteous to each other. The lakes are big enough that everyone can find a spot without impeding others.

“Look for walleyes between their early spring and early summer spots in 6-15 feet. Work shallow water in mornings and evenings, and deeper during afternoons. Fathead minnows on 1/8-oz. jigs are best for walleyes, and vertical jigging plastics and minnows also work.

“Northern pike and bass anglers report action in 5-6 feet on spinnerbaits and plastics cast towards shore.

“Panfish are moving toward the shallows and anglers report finding fish in 2-6 feet. Watch the water temperature, as the warmest temperature you can find is often the best panfish waters. Once the water warms, the fish will be easy to spot along shorelines. Crappie minnows, worm pieces, and small hair jigs under floats will take some fish.”


Trent at Hayward Bait says warming water this week should move fish shallow to spawn. Water temperatures are currently around 55 degrees on main lakes and 60 degrees in shallow bays.

“Walleyes are in 15 feet, with some mixed in with shallow crappies, and anglers report success with fatheads, soft swimbaits, and crankbaits.

“Northern pike spawned and bigger fish are moving deeper. Small hammer-handles in less than 10 feet are biting on everything. Use northern suckers on jigs to get deeper for bigger pike.

“Largemouth bass are along shorelines, around wood structure, and on hard bottoms. Wacky worms, crankbaits, and bass jigs work well. Topwaters should soon come into play.

“Smallmouth bass are in 5-10 feet on hard bottoms and rivers. Jerkbaits, swimbaits, and finesse jigs are producing. Both species should soon move shallow to spawn.

“Crappies are in 8-10 feet and hitting jigs/crappie minnows and panfish jigs.

“Bluegills are in 10 feet, but moving shallow. Bimbo Skunk Bugs, chicken jigs, and Tattle-Tales work well.”


Jim at Minnow Jim’s says Nelson Lake walleye anglers should jig fatheads and leeches, or cast and troll stickbaits and Beetle Spins on shoreline points to deeper water.

“Northern pike are hanging around panfish ‑ so be prepared ‑ but bass success is spotty.

“Crappies and bluegills are very active near shorelines. Fish with live bait such as minnows, waxies, worms, and leeches on hooks and bobbers or dressed jigs. The water needs to warm a bit for spawning.”


Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage is at full pool, with water temperatures in the low 60s.

“The walleye bite is good, but most catches are 12-14 inches and short of legal size. If you want action, work areas in 16-18 feet holding plentiful baitfish. For bigger walleyes, target floating bogs and weeds in 5-8 feet. Minnows and jumbo leeches are best for live bait, with Rapalas and shad-style crankbaits for artificials.

“Northern pike action is good with suckers and chubs, particularly in west side bays.

“One chokecherry tree bloomed, indicating crappies are close to spawning. Crappie minnows, Crappie Scrubs, Gulp! Minnows, and plastics are solid choices.”


Carolyn at Anglers All in Ashland says fishing on Chequamegon Bay and the ‘big lake’ is excellent this spring.

“Trout and salmon trolling is exceptional from Houghton Point to Outer Island. Fish shallow in early morning and deeper water as the fish follow out the baitfish.

“Walleyes are active in the sloughs and will soon move into the lake. Use jigs and plastics, as well as live bait.

“Smallmouth bass are in their pre-spawn haunts of Sand Cut, Brush Point, Oak Point, and the head of the Bay. Fish the shallows with light jigs and plastics, moving them slowly along the bottom.”


This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses the “globalization” of fishing information.

“While this space is usually about science and the results of fisheries surveys, this time I am going to venture into observations on human behavior.

“The angling community might be suffering from what I refer to as the ‘globalization’ of fishing information brought about by social media. There are many benefits of modern information sharing, including connecting anglers to more information, groups, and opportunities ‑ but might it also be dampening our own perceptions of success?

“Imagine it is 1950 and you just caught a 52-inch musky. You and your fish will be the talk of the town for the entire summer ‑ maybe for years ‑ and it is likely the biggest fish anyone around you has heard about in quite some time.

“In 2021, catching a similar fish should be no less of an achievement. However, if you are a serious musky angler who tracks social media, you are very likely to find that someone, in some corner of the world now sitting at your digital fingertips, caught an even bigger fish on that very same day!

“Social media’s almost immediate awareness of fishing success anywhere on the planet could really change our perception of success, as scrolling through posts can give a distorted view on how frequently others experience success.

“Anglers seldom post photos of bad fishing days, so virtually all of what you consume online is ‘glory shots’ of full bag limits and ‘hawgs.’ Inundation of these types of images might give the impression that ‘everyone’ is limiting out, or that the amount of harvest on our waters is unsustainable.

“I fall prey to this personally, despite having access to vast amounts of DNR creel data, a much more scientific way to track angling success. The data shows conclusively that the majority of anglers are nowhere near as successful as social media might lead you to believe.

“Life online has changed many aspects of our existence and society ‑ and fishing is no exception!”


Spring is the most critical fire season in Wisconsin and DNR fire experts remind the public to remain vigilant. The most critical fire danger is now in northern Wisconsin, particularly in the northwest, which needs significant rainfall to improve the situation. May 14 marked the 8th anniversary of the Germann Road Fire in Douglas County that burned 7,442 acres and 100 buildings, homes and cabins.

During the past week, the DNR responded to nearly 50 wildfires caused primarily by equipment and debris burning. Exercise caution with anything that could start a wildfire. Keep campfires small and contained and delay having them until evening hours. Report fires early by calling 911. To check daily fire danger and burning restrictions, search “wildfire danger” on the DNR website, or visit www.dnr.wi.gov/topic/forestfire/restrictions.asp.


Southern Sawyer County Sports Club will host its 10th Annual Veterans Fish Fest June 4-6 at Doc Smith Park in Winter. Festivities include fishing, raffles, live music, helicopter rides, chicken dinner, fish dinner, brats, and beer. Proceeds go to help area veterans. If you are a veteran and would like to fish, or you would like to take a vet fishing or donate, please call (715) 492-6407 for more information.


The Hayward Chapter of Fishing Has No Boundaries is hosting a Senior Citizen Event on Nelson Lake for small groups of senior citizens June 7-11. 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. Officials will draw one ticket for $100 from orange Pike Improvement Project 2.0 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.



Bass and panfish are on their way to the shallows for spawning, though movement varies from lake to lake, and fishing reports indicate good success for most all species. That said, continue to check with your favorite bait shop before hitting the water so you know locations, times, and “baits du jour.”



Walleye fishing is good and improving, with fish spread from shallow to 20 feet. Fish shallow in morning and evening, going deeper during mid-day. Weeds, bogs, bars, brush, and points can all hold fish. Productive baits include walleye suckers, fatheads, leeches, and crawlers, as well as cast and trolled Rapalas, Beetle Spins, stickbaits, swimbaits, and crankbaits.


Northern Pike:

Northern pike action is good to excellent, particularly for smaller fish. Search for shallow concentrations of panfish in depths to 12 feet, but go deeper with bigger baits for trophy pike. Baits of choice include chubs, northern suckers, spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, and plastics.


Largemouth Bass:

Largemouth fishing is fair to good as the fish near spawning time. Work shallow to mid-depth shorelines, wood, and hard bottom areas with bass jigs, plastics, wacky worms, spinnerbaits, crankbaits, and live bait.


Smallmouth Bass:

Smallmouth will soon spawn and you can find them in shallow to mid-depth hard-bottom areas. Assorted plastics, spinnerbaits, swimbaits, jerkbaits, and live bait all work well.



Crappies are moving toward or are already in the shallows for spawning, with timing lake dependent. Target depths from shallow shorelines to 12 feet. Best bait choices include crappie minnows, waxies, worms, and leeches on small plain and dressed jigs, as well as assorted panfish plastics with/without slip bobbers.



Bluegills, too, should be in the shallows and spawning sometime this week, if not already in the process. Look for fish from very shallow to 12 feet ‑ and look for “elephant tracks” on the bottom. Traditional baits work well, including waxies, worms, leeches, small minnows, and plastics on jigs, teardrops, and plain hooks, with/without bobbers.


Upcoming Events

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).

May 29: Musky season opens in Northern Musky Zone.

June 4-6: Vets Fish Fest in Winter (715-492-6407).

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 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.