By: Steve Suman

Musky Fest weekend participants enjoyed nearly perfect weather, without a hint of rain or thunderstorms, which was quite a change from the previous weekend. This week, look for a mix of weather from wet to hot by the weekend, but with pleasant days intermixed.

“Thunderstorms a weekend ago raised lake levels more than six inches,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “but stable weather this week brought better fishing – and better fishing conditions.
“Musky action is improving, with small to medium size bucktails, swim baits, and crankbaits best and topwaters starting to work.
“Walleye anglers are trolling and wind drifting Lindy Rigs over shallow flats with soft to hard-bottom transition areas. Try pitching 3-inch plastics, jigs and minnows, and crawler harnesses near weed edges and drops-offs. The mayfly hatch should happen soon and if you spot hatching flies, the walleyes will be there.
“Northern pike and bass are hitting spinnerbaits, topwaters, and plastics cast in and over fresh lily pad areas.
“Panfish fishing is very good on most lakes. Some fish are still on the beds, so use selective harvest. Fish off weeds to open water transition points with jigs and small plastics, and minnows or worm pieces on slip bobbers.”

Erik at Hayward Bait says the water temperature is 70-74 degrees on most lakes and angling is great.
“Musky fishing is strong for anglers casting bucktails, gliders, paddle-tails, and topwaters around weed beds containing cabbage and coontail.
“Walleye fishing is best in early morning and late evening hours in 14-20 feet, but depths vary from lake to lake. Use crawlers, rigged or on slip bobbers, and leeches on red or glow hooks under slip bobbers on shallow weed edges.
“Largemouth bass fishing is very good on topwaters early and late. During daytime hours, use various plastics such as Texas-rigged Senkos in the weeds. With a light bite, work drop-shot rigs off shallow and deep structure. Smallmouth anglers are having success on Ned rigs, plastics, and live bait.
“Panfish action is consistent. Catch crappies near timber and weeds with jigs and live bait or plastics. For bluegills, fish shallow weed edges and around docks and other structure.”

Jim at Minnow Jim’s says that last week’s rain raised the Nelson Lake water level about a foot, but fishing is getting back to normal.
“Walleye anglers report success on fatheads, leeches, Lindy Rigs, and stickbaits fished along rocky shorelines, near the dam, and by trolling the river channel.
“Largemouth bass anglers are catching quite a few fish on spinnerbaits fished on and below the surface.
“Crappies are in 8-10 feet and hitting small minnows under bobbers and dressed jigs tipped with worms, waxies, and small leeches. Remember to adjust your bait depth. For bluegills, use worms and waxies, starting shallow and working your way to deeper water.”

Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage water level is above full and water temperatures are in the low to mid 70s.
“Muskies are fairly shallow, though this will not hold long, and surface baits and bucktails are very effective. Surface bait color does not matter, but black is the choice for subsurface baits.
“The walleye bite is shallower than usual due to heavy rains raising the water level. Target weeds in 4-6 feet with leeches, minnows, plastics, and Beetle Spins.
“Northern pike remain very active in the weeds, hitting just about anything that crosses their path, and most anglers are catching pike while targeting other species.
“Smallmouth bass action continues on the east and southeast ends of the Flowage, primarily around shorelines with good cover, particularly stumps. Wacky worms and various shallow/rattling crankbaits are all very effective.
“Crappie anglers are catching a few fish in the shallows on crappie minnows, Mini-Mites, plastics, and Gulp! baits.”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses crappie presence in northern Wisconsin lakes.
“It might surprise many Wisconsin anglers to learn that crappies, one of the most popular species in many northern Wisconsin lakes, are not actually native to those lakes. A 1935 study of the distribution of fish in Wisconsin documented that ‘black crappie originally did not range through the central and north-central portions of Wisconsin.’
“Very few lakes in this area contained crappies up until the 1920s when the state started a program to stock crappies into many northern lakes, largely taking place from 1920-25. The crappies used for those stockings were fish rescued from Mississippi River backwaters, fish that were likely destined for winterkill.
“In most of the lakes the state stocked, crappies are now considered ‘naturalized,’ meaning they reproduce on their own and do not require further stocking.”

Sawyer County Outdoor Projects and Education (SCOPE) is offering a DNR hunter education course July 10-13 in Stone Lake, with a July 14 class at Hayward Rod and Gun Club. The course covers hunter education, understanding firearms, firearms care, storage, marksmanship, hunter responsibilities, field care, handling outdoor emergencies, and more. Participants must attend all sessions and pass written and hands-on tests. Students completing the course receive a Wisconsin Hunter Education Graduate Certificate and an embroidered emblem. In addition, students 18 and younger receive a hunting vest from SCOPE. The course requires advanced registration and the $10 fee includes all materials. To register, visit For more information, contact Eric Wellauer (715) 699-0564.

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation will soon offer a license plate featuring a leaping musky painted by Tomahawk wildlife artist Rodd Umlauf. Funds go to the Musky Clubs Alliance of Wisconsin to use for stocking, research, and management projects statewide. Musky Clubs Alliance president Larry Slagoski credits Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies Inc. member Bob Reinert for pushing forward with the idea, a project in the works for two years. In addition to the regular plate fee, there is a $15 one-time charge and an annual $25 donation that goes to the Alliance. For more information, visit

Musky action is fair to good and getting better. Look for fish in and around shallower weed beds or holding over deeper structure and cover. Bucktails, gliders, paddle-tails, swim baits, crankbaits, and topwaters are all producing fish, as is trolling crankbaits and stickbaits.

Walleye fishing is good, particularly in shallower water in early morning and late evening into dark. Depths vary from shallow to deep and from lake to lake. Holding areas include shallow flats, weeds, weed edges, drop-offs, rocky shorelines, points, bars, and river channels. The most productive baits and presentations include cast, trolled, and drifted crawlers and leeches on spinner rigs/harnesses, Lindy Rigs, and under slip bobbers; jigs and fatheads/minnows; Beetle Spins, stickbaits, and plastics.

Northern Pike:
Northern pike action is very good to excellent around weeds, lily pads, and spawning panfish. Baits of choice include minnows/sucker minnows, spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, plastics, and topwaters.

Largemouth Bass:
Largemouth bass fishing is good to excellent in and around weeds, lily pads, brush, and other structure in shallow to mid-depths. During the day, work spinnerbaits, plastics, Texas rigged worms, and drop-shot rigs. In the very early morning and late afternoon/evening hours, use topwaters.

Smallmouth Bass:
Smallmouth bass fishing is good to very good around assorted cover such as lily pads and wood, both shallow and deep. The most productive baits include spinnerbaits, crankbaits, plastics (wacky worms, Ned rigs, etc.), and topwaters.

Crappie fishing is fair to very good on weeds, wood, bogs, points, and transition areas from shallow to deeper water. Best baits include crappie minnows, worms, waxies, leeches, Mini-Mites, plastics, and Gulp! baits. Tip them on small jigs and plain hooks, with or without slip bobbers set at various depths until you find the fish.

Bluegill fishing is good to excellent, with some still spawning. Look for fish from very shallow to mid-depths with weeds, brush, and other structure. Use waxies, worms, plastics, and Gulp! baits on jigs, teardrops, and plain hooks, with or without slip bobbers.

Upcoming Events
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 run unleashed dogs on DNR lands and FWPAs (see regs for exceptions).
August 1: Application deadline: Fall turkey; bobcat, fisher, and otter; Upriver Winnebago sturgeon spearing; Sharp-tailed grouse (season under review).
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 13-16: Antlerless deer tags (where available) for regular DMUs go on sale.
August 17: Universe in the Parks at Flambeau River State Forest, Connors Lake picnic area, 8 p.m. (715-332-5271).
August 18: Fall turkey permits remaining after drawing go on sale. Check availability.
August 21: Deadline to transfer Class A bear license.
August 31: Bear dog training by pursuing bear closes.

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.