Hayward Lakes Outdoor Report 7-15-2019

Steve Suman


Hot and humid to start the week and it could continue through Friday, with some showers. However, forecasts can change quickly and substantially, so keep that in mind as you make your plans for this week. Keep in mind, too, that July 4th and mid July are now history!


“Inlet areas are producing mixed bags of fish,” says Pat at Happy Hooker. “A jig and crawler piece will catch various species on any lake, with early morning and late afternoon into evening the best times.

“Musky action remains slow, with anglers catching smaller fish and having big fish follows without hook-ups. Mid-size lures and slow retrieves are still the best bet. Fishing topwaters after dark can be a fun way to produce success.

“Walleyes are nocturnal and can feed aggressively under the stars. Night trolling and light-up bobber fishing will pick up as we move further into summer. Make sure all proper lighting is functional – and bring bug spray!

“Northern pike and largemouth bass are active in shallow weeds during the day and spinnerbaits and plastics will produce. For smallmouth bass, concentrate on rock and gravel areas, casting crayfish color tube jigs and small crankbaits.

“Panfish are plentiful in shallow water. Try crappie minnows, leaf worms, and small plastics under bobbers in and around weeds in 6-10 feet.”


Ken at Hayward Bait says water temperatures are in the 70s and summer patterns dominate presentations.

“Muskies are on structure and weed flat edges with baitfish present. Topwater, spinner, and glide bait fishing should improve. Throw smaller baits during a high barometer, especially if you have some follows in the morning hours.

“Walleyes are on deep weedlines and rock ridges, taking crawlers and leeches on Lindy Rigs and bobber fishing. Trolling crankbaits during low light conditions, and to search for reaction strikes, can be productive.

“Northern pike are on weedlines, chasing spinner and crank baits in orange, chartreuse, and red color combinations.

“Smallmouth bass are on hard bottom flats, rock, and hump areas. Try fishing topwaters such as Pop R’s, Whopper Poppers, and Spooks, as well as tubes, Ned rigs, and spinnerbaits.

“Panfish are on fish cribs, humps, deeper wood, and weedlines. Beetle Spins and small crankbaits can catch fish when they are suspending along structure. Use your electronics to find them and then jig plastics and bobber-fish live bait.”


Jim at Minnow Jim’s says Nelson Lake walleye anglers should use leeches and minnows, and cast and troll stickbaits.

“The lake has many developed lily pad patches and weed beds where northern pike and largemouth bass anglers can cast creature dressed jigs, scented worms, poppers, and weedless frogs.

“Crappie anglers report catching crappies suspending in deeper water, such as Lake 25, and be sure to vary the depths with your baits. Try bobber-fishing or dressed jigs tipped with your favorite live bait or artificial, such as Gulp! Alive.”


Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage remains at full pool, with water temperatures in the mid 70s to low 80s.

“Musky trolling action turned on during these rising water temperatures, with Mattlocks and Jakes hot. Some fish might move shallower at dawn and twilight. Handling muskies in these temperatures is perilous for the fish. Minimize its time out of water and hold it upright until it swims away.

“Walleye fishing slowed a bit. Fish leeches on weed edges and breaklines during dawn and twilight hours, deeper cover in midday, and Flicker Shads trolled over deep cover can be very effective.

“Northern pike activity also slowed and if they are not in shallow weeds, the temperatures likely pushed them deeper.

“Smallmouth bass are active on the east side and shallow cover on the west side. Use crawlers, spinnerbaits, and plastics, or try a crawler on deep cribs.

“Crappie action is okay on bogs in the evening. During the day, fish deep cribs and brush piles with crappie minnows and plastics.”


This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses food conversion efficiency.

“Previously, we talked about ‘bioenergetics’ as part of fisheries science that looks at fish energy budgets. Using musky as an example, we will look in more depth at understanding those energy budgets.

“To study the energy budget of fish, researchers must take a very detailed look at all input and loss of energy. This involves weighing and knowing the caloric content of every piece of food eaten by a fish. They must also understand how much energy is lost through metabolism, measured by how much oxygen the fish is consuming. Lastly, they must measure how much energy is lost as waste – and yes, that requires studying their poop.

“These processes are all very involved and typically done effectively only in a lab setting.

“A 1996 study done in Illinois looked at the energy budget of muskellunge. One main finding was that the energy budget of muskellunge varied somewhat based on the genetic strain of the fish. This demonstrates how fish evolving in different environments have physiology that is ‘tuned’ to that environment.

“Part of that finding revealed different strains had different ‘optimum’ temperatures for growth, with fish from colder parts of the country generally growing better at slightly colder temperatures, and vice versa.

“The last piece of information anglers might find interesting concerns the overall ‘conversion efficiency’ of muskies, which is the amount of food they need to eat to gain a certain amount of weight.

“For muskies in ideal conditions (mid 70sF), the ratio is roughly 3:1 (3 pounds of food to gain 1 pound of body mass). For muskies in less than ideal conditions (40F, for example), the ratio moves to 5:1 or even 9:1 for some strains.

“Note that fish do not ‘keep’ all body mass they create – some turns into eggs or milt, which leave the fish when spawning.”


The LCO 46th Annual Honor the Earth Homecoming Pow Wow is this Friday through Saturday, July 19-21, on the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe Reservation. For additional information on vendors, contests, and the schedule of events, visit www.lco-nsn.gov or call (715) 634-8934).


The Birchwood Lions Club will host its annual Bluegill Festival this Friday through Sunday, July 19-21, in Birchwood. The event includes food, games, music, contests, various vendors, fun runs, and more. For more information and a schedule of events, call (800) 236-2252).




Musky fishing is still slow for big fish – other than follows – but anglers are catching smaller fish on a consistent basis. In early morning, late evening, and after dark, cast shallower weed flats and weed edges with small to mid-size spinners, spinnerbaits, bucktails, gliders, and topwaters. During the day, troll deeper water with larger stickbaits.



Walleye anglers are catching fish, but most action is early and late in the day into dark. During the day, target deep weeds, rock, humps, brush, breaklines, and other cover. Leeches, crawlers, and minnows on jigs, Lindy Rigs, split shot rigs, spinner rigs, harnesses, and under slip bobbers are all effective. Trolling and casting Flicker Shads, stickbaits, and crankbaits will catch fish, too.


Northern Pike:

Northern pike activity lessened, but fish are still eating and hitting baits. Look for fish in and around shallow to mid-depth weeds and weedlines, as well as panfish concentrations. Live bait, spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, swim jigs, crankbaits, and topwater can all tempt pike. Go deeper with bigger baits for trophy fish.


Largemouth Bass:

Largemouth bass fishing is good to very good in and around weeds weedlines, lily pads, slop, brush, and other structure. Top producers include various types of plastics such as worms, tubes, and creature baits in different riggings, poppers, weedless frogs, and other topwater baits.


Smallmouth Bass:

Smallmouth fishing is fair to very good depending on the lake, day, and… angler. Fish are mostly holding on deeper hard bottom humps, flats, rock, gravel, and cribs, with some fish on shallower structure. The best offerings include crawlers, tubes, Ned rigs, wacky worms, spinnerbaits, plastics in crawfish colors, and topwaters.



Crappie action is good to very good once you locate them. Look for fish in/on weeds and weedlines, wood, humps, cribs, bogs, and brush in 4-20 feet and deeper, with some fish suspending. The most productive baits include crappie minnows, waxies, worms, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs or plain hooks fished with/without bobbers. Beetle Spins and small crankbaits will also catch fish.



Bluegill fishing is good (excellent for small, shallow fish) around weeds, weedlines, wood, humps, cribs, and other structure out to 12-15 feet. Best baits include waxies, worms, leaf worms, crawler chunks, plastics, and Gulp! baits.


Upcoming Events

July 15: Turtle season opened statewide (see regs for restrictions).

July 19-21: LCO 46th Annual Honor the Earth Pow Wow (715-634-8934).

July 19-21: Birchwood Lions Club Bluegill Festival (800-236-2252).

Through July 31: Illegal to allow unleashed dogs to run on DNR lands and FWPAs (see regs).

Aug. 1: Application deadline for bobcat, fisher, otter, and Upriver Winnebago system sturgeon spearing.

Aug. 1-3: 60th Annual Lumberjack World Championships (715-634-2484).

Aug. 2-4: Jack Pine Savage Days – Spooner (800-367-3306).

Aug. 3: Flambeau River State Forest – cast iron cooking techniques, Connors Lake picnic area (715-332-5271).

Aug. 4: Hayward Chapter-Muskies, Inc. Annual Kids Fishing Day (715-634-2921).

Aug. 10: Flambeau River State Forest – Smokey Bear’s 75th birthday party, Connors Lake picnic area (715-332-5271).

Aug. 19-22: Antlerless tags on sale in regular DMUs where available.

Aug. 20: Deadline to transfer Class A bear license.

Aug. 22-25: 112th Annual Sawyer County Fair (715-934-2721).

Aug. 25: Hayward Bass Club Youth Bass Tourney on Chippewa Flowage; noon-4 p.m. (715-699-1015).

Aug. 30-Sept. 1: 27th Annual Exeland Trout Festival (715-943-2242).

Through Aug. 31: Bear dog training by pursuing bear open (see regs for exceptions).


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.