The forecast says there are chances for rain and thunderstorms midweek, after which we can expect(?) a return to sunshine, blue skies, and highs in the 80s. Since it is not duck season, these conditions are excellent for all outdoor recreation the North Woods offers! Days are getting shorter… just sayin’.
“Surface temperatures were nearing the high 80s degrees on some lakes, especially smaller, shallower waters. We are not quite to the dog days of summer, but getting close.
“Musky angler frustration continues with the slow action. No one can explain why, but I believe water temperatures were too high and fish were just not active. Anglers have caught only a few muskies thus far this year, most by walleye and panfish anglers. Just be patient and keep throwing ‑ fall is coming!
“Walleye action is best in the low light periods and in the evening, just before dark. Concentrate on mid-lake humps, rock piles, and expansive sand flats. Crawlers and leeches on Lindy Rigs are the best bet. Use a drift sock ‑ or just tie off a bucket ‑ to slow your drift, especial on windy days. Drifting sideways over flats with fishing poles spread out will pull up a few northern pike and perch as well. Trust your electronics.
“Northern pike and bass are active in and around the weeds all day.
“Panfish anglers report good fishing when jigging small plastics over vegetation in 8-15 feet. Crappies start around 4-5:30 p.m. in late afternoon, with the bigger fish on the deeper edges. Do not be surprised to find a few northern pike and bass as well. Small panfish are active around the docks all day long. Hair jigs, minnows, and leeches fished under a float will catch some fish.”
Jarrett at Hayward Bait says that with some hectic weekends behind us, the waters calmed and fish are again active.
“Musky action picked up as cooling surface temperatures allowed muskies to move shallower and/or rise higher in the water column. Anglers are taking fish on bucktails, spinners, live bait, and topwaters fished on deep weed flats, rock pilings, and around baitfish.
“Walleyes are active and anglers fishing the clear lakes are targeting 25 feet and deeper with Lindy Rigs, slip bobbers, crankbaits, and plastics. Stained waters allow fish to roam in 10-15 feet.
“Northern pike are also moving back into waters that have been either too busy or too hot, but they will move deeper again with hotter temperatures. Live bait, reaction baits, spinners, and smaller bucktails are all working.
“Largemouth and smallmouth bass are moving between shallow and deep water and dispersed through lilies, docks, and shoreline wood. Use leeches, plastics, and topwaters to pull fish from this cover. Anglers fishing deep are catching fish on crayfish imitations, drop-shot rigs, and slip bobbers.
“Crappies are in lake basins in 10-15 feet during the day, and then slowly rise to the surface during prime time hours when some will eat bugs directly on the surface. Live bait, spinners, and small plastics will work, but you have to stay mobile.
“Bluegills are both shallow and deep, looking for things to eat. A lot of bugs still draw them shallow to feed, but they will move deep to feed on small invertebrates once most bug hatches have passed. Use live bait, crappie minnows, small plastics, and flies.”
Jim at Minnow Jim’s says Nelson Lake walleye anglers are catching fish by trolling stickbaits, as well as crawlers and leeches on harnesses.
“For crappies and bluegills, jig and bobber-fish waxies, worms, leeches, and minnows under cover, near structure, and on weed edges. Gulp! Alive is available again and always works well.
“With the warm water, attach spinners to jigs for added noise and vibration when casting for all fish species.”
Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage is down 1-2 feet and the water temperature is 77-82 degrees.
“The musky bite is good and muskies are deeper with the warm temperatures. Be aware of warm surface temperatures ‑ morning temperatures are now safest for the fish. Trolling should be effective this week and Mattlocks and large crankbaits are solid choices.
“Walleyes also moved deeper with the increased water temperatures and anglers are still catching fish on jumbo leeches. The caught fish are primarily shorts, but with some keepers here and there.
“Northern pike continue to be active in the weeds and Tinsel Tail spinners are still the hot ticket.
“The bass bite slowed a bit and it is possible warmer temperatures pushed bass, particularly smallmouth, into deep cribs. Crawlers are good baits on cribs, with Ned Rigs the top choice for artificials.
“Crappies are definitely deep in these water temperatures. Use minnows and plastics on deep weeds and cribs during the day and on the bogs at night.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses some pleasant surprises from spring 2021 surveys.
“Due to an accumulated 10 years of experience working on lakes and rivers in the Hayward area, combined with the fairly static nature of many of our fisheries, results of our fisheries surveys usually do not surprise me, as most lead to mostly predictable results.
“What we saw in spring 2021, however, brought a number of pleasant surprises.
“The first pleasant surprise was Lake Lac Courte Oreilles (LCO). We had hoped to see a few of the muskies stocked in 2017 to show up as mature adults, but ended up seeing many more than just a few! Our catch rate for muskies overall was far better than surveys conducted in 2016 and 2017.
“Staying on the musky front, we were very pleased with the results of our netting survey on Spider Lake as well. The concern in that system is that pike will overtake musky and become the dominant esocid species. We actually captured more musky than pike in both our netting and electrofishing surveys, especially in Big Spider. That is a good place to be today, but there is still reason for long-term concern about that situation.
“We had a pleasant surprise with walleye in Black Dan Lake near Winter, which is showing itself as a pretty successful stocked fishery. Most stocked walleye waters end up with about 1.5 adult walleye per acre. Our preliminary estimate for Black Dan Lake in 2021 was 2.6 adult walleye per acre, with a nice mix of sizes and year classes present.
“Lake Winter gave us a pleasant surprise in the form of some very nice bluegill during our electrofishing survey. The average bluegill size was 6.7 inches, and we observed some bluegill greater than 8 inches. Black crappies were also abundant, with a top-end size of about 11 inches.”
Big Fish Golf Club is offering a free youth golf clinic from 10.a.m.-11:30 a.m. Friday July 16. The clinic is for age levels 6-8, 9-12, and 13-17 years. For more information and to sign up for the clinic, call (715) 934-4770.
The LCO Honor the Earth Pow Wow this weekend, July 16-18, to celebrate the Ojibwe tradition in an authentic tribal experience, with music, dancing, crafts, and food. Grand Entries take place at 7 p.m. Friday, 1 p.m. and 7 p.m. on Saturday, and 1 p.m. Sunday. There is no admission fee and no attendance restrictions. Guests can buy a $2 button to enter a drawing. For more information, call (715) 634-8934.
The Birchwood Bluegill Festival is this weekend, July 16-18. The annual Medallion Hunt begins July 14 and continues until someone finds it. The finder receives $75 if wearing a 2021 Bluegill Button ‑ and $25 if not. The event includes a queen and court, craft show, vendors and artisans selling various goods, men’s softball tournament, live music, food tent, beer garden, Friday night fish fry, pancake breakfast, horseshoe tournament, beanbag tournament, and parade. For more information, visit www.birchwoodwi.com/bluegillfestival-2021 or call (715)354-3411.
The weather is nice and fishing is good ‑ go fishing. Now!
Musky fishing is fair, with fish alternating between shallow and deep with the changing water temperatures. Target weeds, rocks, points, humps, and panfish/baitfish concentrations. Bucktails, spinners, topwaters, and live bait works, as does trolling large crankbaits and stickbaits.
Walleye fishing is fair, with best success in late evening hours into dark. During the day, work weeds, rock, points, humps, and flats in depths to 25 feet and more in the deep, clear lakes, and a bit shallower in darker water. Leeches, crawlers, minnows, and plastics on jigs, Lindy Rigs, harnesses, and slip bobbers work well. Casting and trolling crankbaits, stickbaits, and minnowbaits are also catching fish.
Northern pike action is fair to good, with fish, particularly bigger pike, moving to deeper weeds and cover with the warmer water. Live bait, bucktails, spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, and swimbaits all look good to pike.
Largemouth bass fishing is good for fish in/along weeds, weed edges, lily pads, slop, cribs, brush, and bogs in a variety of depths. Live bait, plastics, drop-shot and Ned rigs, spinners, spinnerbaits, and topwaters are all effective.
Smallmouth bass fishing is fair to good, with temperature fluctuations affecting where they locate, which can be shallow weeds, wood, lily pads, and docks, or deep weeds, rock, and cribs. Sucker minnows, crawlers, leeches, plastics, Ned and drop-shot rigs, and topwaters all work well at the right time, in the right place.
Crappie fishing is good to very good once you find the fish and stick with them. Best fishing is in late afternoon into evening hours. Look for fish in 8-25 feet, and suspending over deep water, around weeds, weed edges, cribs, bogs, brush, and other structure. Crappie minnows, leeches, waxies, plastics, Gulp! baits, and small spinners work best.
Bluegills are active and in weeds, weed edges, brush, and bogs in depths from very shallow to 18 feet. Traditional bluegill offerings such as waxies, worms, leeches, small minnows, plastics, and Gulp! baits on jigs and plain hooks with/without bobbers, flies, and poppers are all catching fish.
July 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. 13-15: Sawyer County Fair (715-296-9000).
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.