By: Steve Suman

The forecast throws out a few chances for showers in the coming week or two, but there is also a “somewhat” consistent warming trend developing for the month (as one might expect in May!) Whatever develops, it will be difficult to beat the exceptional weather gamefish opener participants enjoyed this past weekend! Winter is done – get outdoors!

“Opening day anglers enjoyed a perfect day to be on the water,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “with bright, warm sunshine, calm winds, and temperatures up to 72 degrees. However, the water is still cold at 44 degrees, perhaps 50 in some back bays, and anglers will soon start searching the shallows for spawning panfish.

“Walleye anglers caught plenty of fish, though mostly undersize males that were still in spawn or some just post spawn. Jigs and minnows on weed edges in 8-12 feet should do the trick.

“Largemouth bass season is open and they will be in the weeds. Anglers may keep five fish of any size and we encourage harvest. Anglers are catching smallmouth bass, but remember that smallmouth fishing is catch and release only until June 15.

“Northern pike are active in 5-10 feet and taking jigs and minnows, the same presentation as walleyes.

“Crappies are staging in mid-depths, about 10 feet, waiting for the water to warm to begin spawn, and anglers reported some nice catches. Try soft plastics on small jigs, slip bobber and minnow rigs, and hair-jigs tipped with waxies, staying in deeper water and casting towards the shoreline. Late afternoon, the warmest part of the day, is best.”

Annie and Erik at Hayward Bait say walleye action is slow, with water temperatures in the 40s.

“Still, walleye anglers are catching some fish with fatheads on jigs and smaller – emphasis on smaller – crank and minnow baits.

“Northern pike action is fair to good for anglers fishing shallow to mid-depth weeds with northern suckers, fatheads, and spinnerbaits.

“Both largemouth and smallmouth bass are not yet all that active, but try working weeds in 8-12 feet.

“Crappie anglers are finding fish in mid-depth to deeper water and having some success with crappie minnows and plastics.

“Bluegills are in locations similar to crappie, though they sometimes move to shallower water on warmer days. Worms, waxies, and plastics on small jigs will get their attention.”

Carolyn at Anglers All in Ashland says the sun was shining on Chequamegon Bay this past Saturday – which did a lot for peoples’ attitudes – and until the wind picked up, fishing was excellent.

“Trolling remains outstanding for coho, brown trout, and splake for anglers fishing from Long Island out toward the Islands. Most trollers are flatlining stickbaits in shallower water (40 feet) or following the mudlines.

“Anglers on the Ashland side of the Bay are catching some trout and salmon in shallow as the fish follow the smelt, but smelting is winding down.

“Smallmouth bass are in their usual haunts of Sand Cut, Brush Point, and Oak Point. Water temperatures have reached the low 50s, but anglers should fish their baits very slowly.

“There are some good reports from anglers fishing steelhead on the Sioux river.”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses guides volunteering and assisting with tagging.

“Passive integrated transponder (PIT) tags have become an important part of muskellunge management in Wisconsin and elsewhere. These tags allow us to identify individual fish with a unique number and the programs enable us to collect more-detailed information on muskellunge growth, survival, and movement.

“The DNR fishery survey crews tag many captured muskellunge, but a Hayward area project has brought in anglers to help. Previously, DNR researchers and biologists partnered with Hayward Lakes ChapterMuskies, Inc. to outfit anglers with scanners to search fish for PIT tags. This program has been fruitful, with anglers increasing data on tagged muskellunge in Sawyer County by 13 percent in 2017 and 12 percent in 2018.

“Starting in 2018, a select group of anglers who had a record of several years of reliable data collection ‘graduated’ to the next stage – tagging fish they capture in addition to searching the fish for existing tags. Just five volunteer anglers tagging fish supplemented the total tagging efforts in Sawyer County by 48 percent in 2018!

“This project shows just one example of how partnerships between the DNR and anglers can lead to better management of important species such as muskellunge.

“Please note that the state requires a permit for anglers who wish to tag their own fish.”

Staudemayer’s Four Seasons Resort on Lake Namakagon is hosting its Spring Crappie and Northern Pike Fisherie Saturday, May 11, from 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Eligible lakes include Namakagon, Garden, and Jackson lakes, and there is a shotgun start from Four Seasons at 7 a.m. Anglers must register prior to fishing and must weigh and document their fish at Four Seasons no later than 5 p.m. Teams consist of two anglers in one boat. The $60/team entry fee includes lunch. Fish categories include northern pike and crappie, with the winning categories: single biggest crappie, single biggest northern pike, and the top three teams. For more information, visit or call (715) 798-2346.


The 35th Annual Treeland Challenge-Bass & Walleye Release Tournament is this weekend, May 10-12, on the Chippewa Flowage (a few limited openings remain). This catch and release fishing contest for the entire family offers the chance to win thousands of dollars in prizes in fishing prizes, door prizes, and raffles. Entry fees (post-April 15) are $95/single, $160/spouses, and $25/child w/parent. Every registered/released walleye and largemouth bass earns an angler another chance in the Grand Prize drawings for a $2,000 Cabela’s Gift Certificate (adult division) or G. Loomis rod w/Shimano reel (children’s division). For more information, visit or call (715) 462-3874.

Hayward Lakes ChapterMuskies, Inc. is holding a general meeting Tuesday, May 7, starting at 7 p.m., at Flat Creek Eatery in Hayward, and invites the public to attend. Featured guest Steve Genson, well-known local guide and seminar speaker, will offer his presentation “Oddball Muskie Tactics That Can Work.” Admission is free and anyone interested in becoming a new member of Muskies Inc. can purchase a half-price membership at the meeting. For more information, call Mike Persson (715) 634-4543.


Most anglers say weather during the gamefish opener was one of the best in recent memory. Water temperatures remain a bit cold, but anglers caught fish. Check with your favorite bait and tackle shop for the most current and productive locations and presentations, and make sure you have a current license. During a presentation this past weekend, a conservation warden reminded anglers to have a current license. One angler jokingly asked (three times) what if he did not have a license. Each time, the warden replied, “Have a license.” The final time the warden looked at the angler and quietly said, “Do what you can afford.” That ended the questioning!


Walleye fishing is fair to good, though with water temperatures in the 40s small fish are the most active. Depending on the waterbody, reports indicate fish are still spawning or now post-spawn. Suppose only the fish know! Try weeds and weed edges in 8-12 feet, but if you do not find fish, try other areas. Favored baits are jigs/fatheads, jigs/minnows, and small crank and stick baits.

Northern Pike:

Northern pike made the day for some anglers this past weekend. Look for fish in shallow to mid-depth weed cover and weed edges. The most productive baits include northern suckers, fatheads, jigs/minnows, and spinnerbaits.

Largemouth & Smallmouth Bass:

Action for both largemouth and smallmouth bass is slow with the cold water, with fish holding around weeds in 5-15 feet. Largemouth bass season opened with the gamefish season, but smallmouth bass fishing is catch and release only until June 15.


Crappies are in 8 feet and deeper depths and best action is in later afternoon hours. Fish are in transition, preparing for spawn, and can be in various locations. Best baits include crappie minnows, plastics, and waxies fished on small jigs, under slip bobber rigs, and on plain hooks.


Bluegill fishing is fair, with fish holding in mid-depths and deeper, though moving to shallower, warmer water on sunny days. The standard baits – worms, waxies, and plastics on small jigs – are working well.

Upcoming Events

May 4: Seasons opened: General inland gamefish (see regs); Musky south of Hwy 10; Frog.

May 7: Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies, Inc. meeting at Flat Creek Eatery, 7 p.m. (715-634-4543).

May 10-12: 35th Annual Treeland Challenge-Bass & Walleye Release Tournament; (715) 462-3874).

May 11: Staudemayer’s Four Seasons Resort Spring Crappie and Northern Pike Fisherie (715-798-2346).

May 17-18: Fishing Has No Boundaries Hayward Event at Lake Chippewa Campground (715-634-3185).

May 17-19: Musky Tale Resort’s Northern Encounter (715-462-3838).

May 22-23: Fishing Has No Boundaries Kid’s Event at Nelson Lake (715-634-3185).

May 24: Flambeau River State Forest open house (715-332-5271).

May 25: Callahan Lake Resort Northern Pike Challenge (715-462-3244).

May 25: Muskellunge season opens north of Hwy 10.

Through 31: DNR accepting elk tag applications ($10) for the 2019 fall hunting season.

June 1-2: Free Fishing Weekend – no fishing license required!

Through June 14: Smallmouth bass season catch and release only.

Through July 31: Illegal to allow unleashed dogs to run on DNR lands and FWPAs (see regs).

Spring turkey season dates

May 1-7: Period C.

May 8-14: Period D.

May 15-21: Period E.

May 22-28: Period F.

For more information on area events and activities, visit the Hayward Lakes Visitor and Convention Bureau website, view its Calendar of Events, or call 800-724-2992.