Hayward Lakes Outdoor Report 6-29-2021

Steve Suman


Monday’s and Tuesday’s weather could be wet, but the forecast for the remainder of the week through the July 4 weekend says mild/warm and sunny. We should have beautiful North Woods’ weather to celebrate the July 4, 1776 signing of the Declaration of Independence. Make it a safe one ‑ and have fun!


“Fishing in the Quiet Lakes is hit or miss lately,” says Pat at Happy Hooker. “Anglers are catching fish, but consistency took a step back. Surface water temperatures are 70-78 degrees, depending on the waterbody.

“Inlets and outlets are good places to target after a good rain. Waters now thrive with aquatic life, making fish choose what, when, and how they want to eat, and anglers have to figure out those variables. Some lakes are showing mayfly hatches, and if you can find the hatch, fish in that area.

“Musky fishing is relatively slow, but anglers are taking a few on midsize spinnerbaits, swimbaits, and topwater lures. Fall is a better time to use live musky suckers.

“Walleye fishing is definitely best at dawn and dusk, unless the wind makes for a good surface breakup. Lindy Rigs with leeches and crawlers are taking some fish, but trolling the outside weed edges in 8-20 feet is a more consistent bite each day. Fish are around shady rock, gravel, and lumber cover, so fishing structure is important on bright, sunny days.

“Northern pike and largemouth bass are in areas holding fresh schools of minnows. Cast spinnerbaits and topwater baits to shallow areas and you will find success.

“The panfish bite is good, with the bigger fish separated from the smaller fish. Go with bigger baits.”


Jarrett at Hayward Bait says there are many positive reports on the musky bite.

“Muskies are rolling on smaller bucktails and spinnerbaits fished on weed flats, with a lot of activity near areas with substantial panfish populations. Work weed flats and edges, watching your locator for schools of crappie, bluegill, and baitfish.

“Walleyes are active on many lakes. Jigs and leeches under slip bobbers work well during the day, and some anglers are trolling and catching fish. Focus on deep weedlines and adjacent areas during the day, and work shallower water in the evening.

“Northern pike action is good with flashy baits and those with razzle-dazzle. Live bait also works well, but with the aggressive feeding pattern, you might as well cast Mepps and Rapalas.

“Largemouth bass are feeding on young bluegill in 10-20 feet. Green weeds hold plenty of the bugs little bluegill feed on, so find them and you find the largemouth. In lakes without a prominent bluegill bite, drag crawfish presentations across the bottom or use jig and leech patterns.

“Smallmouth bass are roaming rock flats and holing up in weeds. Drop-shot rigs, Carolina rigs, and topwater baits are working well.

“Crappies are quiet and secretive, though anglers are finding smaller fish over deep weeds. Fish are in deep weeds during the day, but at twilight rise in the water column to feed.

“The bluegill bite is solid, with fish prowling weedlines adjacent to spawning areas. They will continue to drop deeper with the dog days of summer.”


Jim at Minnow Jim’s says Nelson Lake walleye angler should try casting Rapalas, Flicker Shads, and Rattle Traps along rocky shorelines early and late in day, as well as jig fatheads and leeches along weedlines.

“Northern pike are providing a good bite for anglers casting Mepps, spinnerbaits, and zigzag surface baits along weed beds, and floating sucker minnows under bobbers while panfish fishing.

“Largemouth bass action is picking up in and along weed beds on spinners, wacky worms, and weedless frogs.

“For crappies and bluegills, jig and bobber-fish live bait around structure, floating bogs, and cribs.”


This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses stocking small walleye fingerlings this year.

“The DNR determines where to stock fish based on biological data and public use. When stocking walleye, for example, we want to find lakes with suitable walleye habitat, insufficient natural reproduction that makes stocking necessary, and offering good public access.

“We use a quota request system to manage and prioritize stocking across the state. Lakes that regularly receive walleye are part of that quota system, and our hatchery staff is very good at raising the right number of fish to meet those quotas. However, sometimes we wind up with surpluses of hatchery fish. This occurs for a variety of reasons, usually because some stage of the fish rearing process went better than expected, such as higher hatching rates from eggs or great survival of fish in a pond.

“When surpluses occur, we try to put them to the best possible use. Sometimes that means ‘making up’ quotas that for some reason we could not stock in a previous year. Sometimes, we seek out other, appropriate waters for the stocking.

“Recently, the DNR Governor Thompson Hatchery in Spooner had a surplus of tens of thousands of small fingerling walleye about 1.5 inches long. We were able to coordinate with the hatchery to find suitable homes for many of these fingerlings in the Hayward area.

“Both Lake Hayward and the Tiger Cat Chain, waters that support ‘bonus’ walleye fisheries, received fish from this surplus. Occasional stocking in these lakes can provide some walleye fishing opportunities and the fish typically are able to reach very nice sizes.

“Some of the walleye stocked into Lake Hayward will likely end up in the Namekagon River, providing a nice bonus fishery there as well.

“In the fall, we will stock large walleye fingerlings 6-8 inches long in other area lakes that receive regular stocking.”


The DNR says preliminary totals show Wisconsin spring turkey hunters registered 17 percent fewer birds during the 2021 spring hunting season than during the 2020 season. The 2021 youth season registrations, included in the total, increased nearly 15 percent from 2020. Turkey harvest decreased across all zones and periods compared to 2020. Weather conditions through winter and early spring favored a healthy turkey population going into the hunting season, with mild temperatures and few long-lasting cold snaps. Weather conditions were optimal for hunters during most periods of the season and especially favorable for the youth hunt. The statewide success rate, not corrected for non-participation, was 16.9 percent. For more information, search “turkey” on the DNR website.


The DNR has released the latest results for a variety of wildlife surveys, now available on the DNR website. The reports are in surveys addressing five species groups: small game, big game, waterfowl, furbearers, and nongame. Interpretations of data in these reports are subject to changes that result from data verification and more extensive data analysis. According to Brian Dhuey, DNR wildlife population and harvest assessment specialist, wildlife program managers use the report results for information to help make species management decisions. Federal funding from the Wildlife Restoration Act (aka Pittman-Robertson Act), derived from an 11 percent excise tax on sporting arms and ammunition, make these reports possible. For more information, search “wildlife surveys” on the DNR website.


Big Fish Golf Club will offer free youth golf clinics from 10.a.m.-11:30 a.m. Friday July 9 and 16. These clinics are for age levels 6-8, 9-12, and 13-17 years. For more information and to sign up for the clinics, call (715) 934-4770.


There is an outstanding assortment of Hayward area fireworks events to choose from this year, with events slated from July 2-4. For more information on these events along, including descriptions and locations, check the events calendars on the Hayward Lakes Visitor and Convention Bureau and Hayward Area Chamber of Commerce websites.



Most fish species have completed their spring spawning attempts and are slowly moving into their regular summer areas. Inconsistent weather patterns are affecting this transition, however, which makes it more important than ever to check with your favorite bait and tackle shop folks as you head to the lake. These people spend time on the water and talk with local guides on a regular basis, and can steer you in the right direction ‑ they really do want you to catch fish!



Musky fishing is fair to okay, but certainly leaves room for improvement! You can find fish on shallow to mid-depth weeds, weed edges, flats, humps, points, and near panfish and baitfish concentrations. The most productive baits include small to medium bucktails, spinners, spinnerbaits, swimbaits, and topwaters.



Walleye fishing is good, with best success in very early morning and late evening into after dark. During the day, target weeds, weed edges, wood, and rock in depths to 25 feet. In low light hours, cast or troll on shallower weed edges and rock shorelines. Current baits of choice include leeches, crawlers, and fatheads on jigs, spinner harnesses, Lindy Rigs, and under slip bobbers, and Rapalas and crankbaits.


Northern Pike:

Northern pike action is good to very good around shallow to mid-depth weeds, weed edges, and wherever you find panfish and baitfish concentrations of. Top offerings include northern suckers under bobbers, spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, stickbaits, minnow baits, and topwaters.


Largemouth Bass:

Largemouth bass action is good and getting better. Look for fish from shallow to 20 feet in, on, and around weeds, wood, breaklines, bogs, and panfish concentrations. Spinners, spinnerbaits, crawlers, leeches, wacky worms, plastic frogs, and topwaters are all working well.


Smallmouth Bass:

Smallmouth bass fishing is good to very good on shallow to mid-depth weeds, rock, gravel, and around baitfish. Sucker minnows, crawlers, leeches, plastics, drop-shot and Carolina rigs, spinnerbaits, and topwaters are all very effective at this time. Crayfish colors are particularly productive.



Crappie fishing is fair to very good, depending on the lake, with evening hours offering the best success. Fish are near, in, and on deep weeds, wood, breaklines, bogs, and cribs. Crappie minnows, waxies, worms, leeches, plastics, and Gulp! baits under slip bobbers are all producing action.



Bluegill fishing is good to very good, with post-spawn fish on the feed. Look for fish in and along shallow to mid-depth weeds, weed edges, wood, drop-offs, bogs, cribs, and other structure. Use waxies, worms, crawler chunks, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs, teardrops, and plain hooks under slip bobbers. Try larger baits and even small minnows to avoid bait robbers.


Upcoming Events

July 2-4: Hayward area fireworks events.

July 8-11: Spooner Heart of the North Rodeo (715-635-9696).

July 9-16: Big Fish Golf Club free youth golf clinic 10-11:30 a.m. Call to register (715-934-4770).

July 16-18: LCO Honor the Earth Pow Wow (715-634-8934).

July 16-18: Birchwood Bluegill Festival (715-354-3411).

July 29-31; Lumberjack World Championships (715-634-2484).

Aug. 1: Hayward Muskies, Inc. ‑ Annual Kids Fishing Day at Black Iron Grill; 9 a.m.-1:30 p.m. (715-634-4543).

Aug. 10: Application deadline for wolf, fisher, bobcat tags.

Aug. 13-15: Sawyer County Fair (715-296-9000).

Aug. 15: Hayward Bass Club ‑ Free Youth Bass Tournament at The Landing Resort; Noon-4 p.m. (405-227-1789).


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.