by: Steve Suman
The 70th Annual Musky Festival and Hayward Lions Catch and Release Fishing Contest are this week and weekend so it is no surprise the forecast is full of rain “chances” after Wednesday. This actually might be a good thing, as recent forecasts show a poor track record! Pack rain gear, watch the sky, join the celebration, and have fun!
“Water temperatures are warming,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “and great fishing opportunities continue.
“Musky action shows improvement with reports of big fish follows, but rare hook-ups. Most catches are 30 inchers by walleye anglers. Musky anglers are using various baits, but smaller baits and slow retrieves work best.
“Some walleyes remain in spawning areas, but are moving toward deeper water. Fish rock and gravel areas and the edges of deep holes. Best fishing is late afternoon into dark. Drifting and jigging live bait work well, with some anglers reporting success on crawlers and leeches.
“Northern pike are in the shallows chasing panfish. Use spinnerbaits, swimbaits, and live bait.
“Largemouth bass are also chasing shallow panfish and anglers are taking fish on smaller crankbaits, wacky worms, and live bait. For smallmouth, look for rock and gravel areas.
“Crappies are moving deeper and electronics will help you locate the fish faster. Use crappie minnows, small plastics, and tube jigs under bobbers. Target shallow vegetation to catch some nice sized pre-spawn bluegills.”
Erik at Hayward Bait says lake water temperatures are peaking in the mid 60s to low 70s, depending on the lake.
“Muskies are fairly active, holding just off the weed beds and using mid-lake structure. There is some bucktail action as water warms, but the go-to baits are plastics such as Bull Dawgs, Lake-X Toads, paddle-tails, and glide baits.
“Walleyes are on the deeper edges of green cabbage. Minnows and leeches on slip bobbers do the job, but aggressive plastics and jerkbaits can be very productive.
“For northern pike, work spoons, spinnerbaits, and jerkbaits off weeds and mid-lake structure.
“Crappie and bluegill are using the inside and edges of some of the first weed growth. Plastics on jigs and live bait on shallow bobber setups are ideal for fast panfish action.”
Jim at Minnow Jim’s says Nelson Lake walleye anglers should use leeches and fatheads on jigs and slip bobbers, or troll and cast shorelines with plugs early and late in the day.
“Northern pike are cruising panfish spawning areas. With the shortage of larger baitfish, use buzz baits, shallow divers, and surface baits.
“For largemouth bass, fish spinnerbaits in and along developing weed beds or try swim jigs and spoons tipped with single and double Twister Tails or scented worms such as Yum baits.
“Some panfish are yet to spawn, so hit shallow, warm water with live bait and Gulp! Alive on small jigs and hooks.”
Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage is at full pool, with high 60s water temperatures.
“The musky bite is solid on Cranes and other shallow crankbaits. Stay deep and cast in shallow. If water temperatures warm, trolling could be an option.
“The walleye bite is solid and guides report more legal fish recently, but still many short fish. One guide suggests fishing milfoil. Work weed edges in 6-12 feet in early morning and late evening. Fish cover in 18-25 feet during daytime. Minnows, leeches, and crawlers are popular.
“Northern pike are in the weeds, hitting Tinsel Tails, spinnerbaits, and weedless spoons. Target the west side for numbers and size. Register your pike in the Pike Improvement Project!
“Smallmouth bass action is excellent for east side anglers fishing shallow wood and rock with crawlers, crankbaits, and plastic craws.
“Crappies remain a mystery. Try crappie minnows, Scrubs, Stinger Shads, and Gulp! baits in various depths and cover. Never stay in one spot longer than five minutes unless you are catching fish.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses perch family members you might not know about.
“Walleye, a top target for anglers in Wisconsin, need no introduction, and yellow perch are not far behind walleye as far as angler awareness. Did you know there are as many as 16 other members of the perch (Percidae) family to which yellow perch and walleye belong? The reason many of these species fly under anglers’ radar is that they are tiny!
“Known collectively as ‘darters,’ these fish effectively sit on the bottom of the stream and ‘dart’ out to grab food as it drifts past. Quite a few members of the perch family never get longer than 3 inches, including species such as the fantail darter, rainbow darter, and Johnny darter. The rare crystal darter grows a little longer, but not by much.
“One of the only ‘other’ perch family species that anglers might be able to catch (if they really tried) would be the logperch, which in some cases can grow up to 5-6 inches long.
“Most of these species are stream-dwellers, but a few, including the Iowa darter, are known to inhabit lakes.”
This Sunday, June 23, from 8 a.m.-4 p.m., Hayward Bass Club will host its Round Lakes Open Tournament, headquartering out of Prop’s Landing on Round Lake. The entry fee is $100/per boat (one or two anglers), with entry limited to 50 boats. The tournament offers a 90 percent payback and payout to the top five places, with 10 percent held to fund the HBC free youth bass tournament in August. For more information, visit the HBC Facebook page, stop at Hayward Bait, or call (715) 699-1015.
The 70th Annual Musky Festival starts this week, June 20, and continues through Sunday June 23! The annual event includes sidewalk/street sales, craft shows, various food venues, carnival, watermelon eating contest, live entertainment, dairy breakfast at the Fairgrounds, a Saturday Learn to Fish event at Shue’s Pond, Musky Fest Run, and more. For additional information, visit www.muskyfest.com or call (715) 634-8662.
Coinciding with Musky Festival is the Hayward Lions Catch and Release Fishing Contest, running June 21-23, that includes a photo contest and raffle drawing for entrants. For more information, visit www.haywardlions.com or call (715) 558-6251.
Muskies are starting to show more activity, but the bite is still mostly for smaller fish. Good reports of big fish following, but they are not “committing” to the baits. Look for fish on shallower weeds, weed edges, and mid-lake structure. Presentations showing the most promise include small to mid-size minnow baits, bucktails, Bull Dawgs, gliders, and paddle-tails, all fished with slow to medium retrieves.
Walleye fishing is good, with best success in early morning and late afternoon into dark. While some fish are still in shallower areas, they are moving deeper and scattering. As such, you could find fish on rock and gravel, weed edges, along shorelines, and in and on deep hole edges. Depths vary from 4-30 feet. Fish deeper during the day and shallower during early and late low-light periods. Fatheads, leeches, and crawlers on jigs, slip bobbers, and split shot rigs, plastics, and crankbaits can all tempt walleyes.
Northern pike action is good to very good on nearly all lakes where they are present. Work in, over, and along shallow to mid-depth weed bed edges and any place you find panfish concentrations. Pike are aggressive and will at times hit nearly any bait. The most productive presentations include live bait, spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, swim baits, buzz baits, jerkbaits, and topwaters.
Largemouth bass are in and around shallow weeds and near spawning panfish. The most productive baits include wacky worms, small crankbaits, spinnerbaits, swim jigs, spoons tipped with Twister Tails, and live bait.
Smallmouth bass action is good to very good on and around wood, rock, gravel, and other hard bottom areas and structure in various depths. Top baits include assorted plastics (tubes, crawfish, worms, etc.), and live bait such as minnows and crawlers.
Crappie fishing continues its challenging ways this spring and fish are starting a move back to deeper water. Start around shallow weeds and other cover, moving deeper until you find fish. Then move with them, if you can. Baits of choice include crappie minnows, tube jigs, small plastics, and Gulp! baits fished on small jigs and plain hooks, with or without bobbers.
The bluegill spawn is in various stages of “progress” so continue to look for them in shallow, warmer water areas – look for the “elephant tracks” on the bottom. Waxies, worms, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs and hooks are all working.
June 20-23: 70th Annual Musky Festival (715-634-8662).
June 21-23: Hayward Lions Fishing Contest (715-558-6251).
June 22: Hayward Outfitters Demo Day on Lake Hayward (877-220-1041).
June 23: Hayward Bass Club Round Lake Open; 8 a.m.-4 p.m. (715-699-1015).
July 11-13: Heart of the North Rodeo – Washburn County Fairgrounds in Spooner (800-367-3306).
Through July 31: Illegal to allow unleashed dogs to run on DNR lands and FWPAs (see regs).
Aug. 1-3: 60th Annual Lumberjack World Championships (715-634-2484).
Aug. 1-4: Jack Pine Savage Days in Spooner (800-367-3306).