By: Steve Suman
Severe weather in the North Woods made for a rough weekend. This week’s forecast (should it hold true) shows a reprieve and some very pleasant weather, at least until possible showers Friday. If you plan to travel in the area this week, particularly north of Hayward, check ahead for road closures and detours.
“The transition to summer is taking shape,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “with fish completing their spring routines and switching to early-summer patterns.
“Musky action remains slow. Anglers report some lazy follows, but fish are not aggressive. Medium size bucktails, swim baits, and crankbaits produce some action.
“Walleye anglers are catching fish, but it is important to hunt down fish and stay with them. Walleyes will seek deeper vegetation on the flats and in mid-lake areas. Trolling spinner rigs with minnows is good, as is jigging minnows, and brightly colored spinner rigs with crawlers are taking a few fish.
“Northern pike action is good on crankbaits and spinnerbaits near shorelines.
“Largemouth bass will soon follow with their spawning. These fish are very vulnerable and it is important to think conservation. Smallmouth bass are active and anglers casting crankbaits are catching fish on shorelines. Smallmouth are on spawning beds on some waters and we encourage anglers not to disrupt this spawning activity.
“Panfish are moving towards deeper water, with some late spawning fish the exception. Try 5-7 feet with crappie minnows on slip bobbers and Gulp! one-inch minnows.
“Turtles are on the move – be careful not to run over them on your way to the boat launch.”
Bob at Hayward Bait says fishing is decent despite all the changing weather.
“Musky action is hit or miss, with good action some days, though there are slow days. Focus on points and bars near deeper water with spinners and topwaters, but try jerkbaits as well.
“The walleye bite is good for fish in the weeds and over deeper water. Slip bobbers and leeches work well and trolling will get good as more fish move deeper.
“Largemouth bass action is consistent and a variety of tactics are working, but wacky worms and topwaters are good bets. Smallmouth bass are finishing their spawning and a little moody, but should fire up for a topwater bite.
“Crappies are setting up on deep weed edges and over deeper water. Bluegills are in and spawning on some lakes, done spawning on other lakes, and leaf worms and leeches will work.”
Jim at Minnow Jim’s says Nelson Lake anglers are getting on the water despite the turbulent weather.
“For walleyes, work leeches or jigs and minnows along rocky shorelines, points, and sandbars, and cast or troll stickbaits near the river channel.
“Fish northern pike and largemouth bass with surface baits, poppers, buzz baits, spinnerbaits, and frogs in and along weeds and lily pads. In addition, try sucker minnows under bobbers for northern.
“Panfish action is still steady on live bait and small dressed jigs. If the fish are not shallow, try farther from shore near cribs and bogs.”
Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage is full and the water temperature is in the high 60s to low 70s.
“Musky action is solid, though with no particular bait pattern other than success on a variety from rubber baits to surface baits to bucktails. Summer patterns are starting to take hold and it will probably not be long before we move into trolling season.
“Walleyes are active and during daylight hours, work brush and sunken bogs in 18-20 feet. In the evening, fish along weedy breaklines in 6-12 feet. Use minnows and leeches, with leeches the primary choice, or troll Rapala Countdowns and shad baits along those breaklines.
“Northern pike are concentrated around heavy cover and weeds and active on just about everything, with spinnerbaits and weedless spoons the best bait choices.
“Smallmouth bass fishing is very good on the east and southeast ends. Target shallower rock and stump areas with imitation craws and frogs.
“Crappie anglers report some action around bogs in later evening hours. Minnows are a solid choice, but Crappie Scrubs, Mini-Mites, and Gulp! are also good bets.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses nutrition contained in panfish.
“It is widely known that wild fish can be a great source of nutritious food, following consumption advice, of course. Unlike food at the grocery store, however, a fish you pull from the lake does not have nutritional facts printed on its side – so what is the specific nutritional content of a meal of Wisconsin-caught fish?
“Fortunately, nutritionists have reported facts on some wild fish and a good example is crappie, a popularly harvested fish in Wisconsin.
“Nutritionists consider a serving size of crappie is 3.5 ounces. This serving contains an estimated 79 calories and 10 grams of protein, but less than 1 percent of the daily fat allowance. There is a considerable amount of cholesterol (27 percent of daily value), but no carbs. Wild fish can also be a source of Vitamin A, Vitamin C, Calcium, and Iron.
“Preparation makes a difference in the nutritional value as well, of course, and fried fish are considerably higher in fat content than baked fish.”
Sawyer County Outdoor Projects and Education (SCOPE) is offering a DNR hunter education course with classes July 10-13 in Stone Lake and a July 14 class at Hayward Rod and Gun Club. The course covers hunter education, understanding firearms, proper firearms care and storage, marksmanship fundamentals, hunter responsibilities, field care, handling outdoor emergencies, plus more. Students successfully completing this course receive a Wisconsin Hunter Education Graduate Certificate and embroidered emblem. Students 18 and younger receive a hunting vest complements of SCOPE. The course fee is $10, which includes all materials. Limited to 20 students, the course requires advanced registration. To register, visit gowild.wi.gov. For more information, contact Eric Wellauer (715) 699-0564.
Musky fishing is fair to good, though inconsistent. Concentrate on bars, breaklines, points, and other structure adjacent to deeper water. Top producers include small to medium size bucktails, jerkbaits, stickbaits, spinnerbaits, swim baits, crankbaits, rubber baits, and topwaters.
Walleye fishing is improving and the fish offer a good bite once you locate them. This can be a bit of challenge, as the fish have scattered to various locations that include weeds, rock, bars, breaklines, points, flats, and river channels. Work depths out to 22 feet during the day and 15 feet and in during the evening hours. Leeches, crawlers, and minnows on jigs and spinner rigs are producing fish, as are Rapalas and stickbaits, trolled or cast.
Northern pike are on the feed around shallow to mid-depth weeds and other cover, hitting nearly whatever you want to throw at them. Try northern suckers, crankbaits, stickbaits, spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, buzz baits, and topwaters. Reports indicate most anglers fishing for other species are having difficulty NOT hooking pike!
Largemouth bass are in shallow near weeds, wood, brush, lily pads, and other structure. Most bass baits are working at this time, including plastics (worms in various configurations and presentations, grubs, swim baits, frogs, etc.), assorted topwaters, buzz baits, and spinnerbaits. Use weedless baits to extract them from the thick stuff!
Smallmouth bass are spawning/finishing spawning on shallow rocks, gravel, and other hard surface areas, providing very good action, though the preference is to avoid fishing them on their beds. Crankbaits, plastics such as worms, craws, and frogs, and topwaters are all productive baits.
Crappie action is fair to good and a bit more challenging as the fish move toward deeper water. Find fish in varied depths around weeds, cribs, and bogs, particularly in the evening hours. Crappie minnows, plastics, Mini-Mites, Crappie Scrubs, and Gulp! baits, with or without slip bobbers, are all catching fish.
Bluegill fishing is good to very good, with spawning ranging from in progress to complete, depending on the lake. Look for fish from very shallow out to about 8 feet on weedlines, wood, bogs, and cribs. Bait preferences include waxies, worms, leeches, small minnows, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs and plain hooks fished under slip bobbers.
June 16: Northern zone smallmouth bass season opened (check regs).
June 20: Crex Meadows State Wildlife Area tour 5-6:30 p.m. (715-463-2739).
June 22-24: 69th Annual Musky Festival (715-634-8662).
June 22-24: Hayward Lions Fishing Contest (715-634-8662).
June 24: Hayward Bass Club’s Round Lakes Open, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. at Props Landing Waterfront Grille (715-699-1015).
June 24-26: Musky Tale Resort – Stumpmaster’s Annual Invitational Bass Tournament (715-462-3838).
June 29: Universe in The Parks at Flambeau River State Forest, Connors Lake picnic area, 9 p.m. (715-332-5271).
June 29: Crex Meadows State Wildlife Area bird watching Friday, 8-10:30 a.m. (715-463-2739).
July 1: Training dogs by pursuing bear allowed through August 31 (see regs).
July 10-14: SCOPE DNR hunter education course (715-699-0564).
July 15: Turtle season opens statewide (see regs).
July 20-22: Birchwood Lions Club Bluegill Festival (800-236-2252).
July 28: Campfire Cookout at Flambeau River State Forest, Connors Lake picnic area, noon (715-332-5271).
Through July 31: Illegal to allow unleashed dogs to run on DNR lands and FWPAs (see regs for exceptions).
August 5: Hayward Chapter-Muskies Inc. – Annual Kids Fishing Day (715-634-4543).
August 11: Smokey Bear’s 75th birthday party, Flambeau River State Forest, Connors Lake picnic area, noon (715-332-5271).
August 17: Universe in The Parks at Flambeau River State Forest, Connors Lake picnic area, 8 p.m. (715-332-5271).
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.