By: Steve Suman
The “forecast” for this week includes quite a mix of sun and rain chances, with mild temperatures. As such, follow your plans, prepare for rain, keep an eye on the sky – and enjoy the outdoors in the North Woods!
“Musky action is improving, with anglers catching some nice fish on mid-size bucktails, Mepps, swim jigs, spinnerbaits, Bull Dawgs, and topwaters.
“Walleyes are on deeper vegetation, rock, gravel, sunken timber, and cribs in 10-18 feet. Use fatheads and leeches on split shot rigs under slip bobbers. Best times are early morning and late afternoon into dark for walleye in shallower water.
“Anglers are catching northern pike on deeper weeds and structure with spinnerbaits, jigs/minnows, and topwaters.
“Largemouth bass are on deeper weeds and structure, with anglers taking fish on rigged worms, spinnerbaits, frogs, and surface baits. Smallmouth bass are in and around rock and gravel areas and anglers are taking fish on crayfish color crankbaits, tube jigs, and swimbaits.
“Crappie fishing is good on fatheads and leeches fished under slip bobbers in 10-18 feet.”
Trent at Hayward Bait says the nice weather is welcome and musky anglers appreciate the cooler water temperatures.
“Medusas, Bull Dawgs, Lake X Toads, and glide baits are effective this time of year.
“Walleyes are moving deeper, but many anglers still find them in 15 feet. Flicker Minnows, Flicker Shads, Lindy Rigs, Jigging Raps, and live bait are good choices.
“Many anglers are having fun catching northern pike. Work weedlines holding baitfish, thick cover such as lily pads in the mornings and evenings, and points. Large X-Raps, Husky Jerks, and #5 Mepps are all good options.
“Bass fishing is going strong on creature baits, worms, and topwater frogs. Look for vegetation or structure near drop-offs. For bigger largemouth, work outside weedline edges in 5-15 feet. Smallmouth are in 8-15 feet.
“Bigger crappies and bluegills moved to deeper weeds in 8-15 feet and/or suspending. For crappies, try chartreuse jigs over weed tops, as well Fuzzy Grubs, Chicken Jigs, and Crappie Scrubs. For bluegills, try Tattle tails, flies, and poppers.”
Jim at Minnow Jim’s says that on Nelson Lake, the hot days of August, ‘dog days’, and algae blooms remind anglers to add some extra attractors to bait and lure presentations, such as small spinners, scents, vibration, and bright flash.
“For walleyes, troll the river channel and dam areas with deep divers or cast crawlers on bottom bouncers.
“Northern pike and largemouth bass are in oxygen rich weed beds, both shallow and deep.
“Crappie and bluegill anglers should fish close to the river channel in cooler, deeper water – 8 feet and more – and drifting works well if there is a breeze.”
Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage remains full, with mid to high 70s water temperatures.
“Musky action is okay, with bucktails and topwaters effective in cooler evening temperatures. During the day, muskies hold over deeper brush, weeds, and mud flats. Find baitfish and troll Mattlocks, Jakes, and Grandmas straight through them.
“Walleye anglers should target deep weeds, mud flats, and brush during the day. Trolling covers considerable water in a short time. Once you locate walleyes, Jigging Raps and live bait, especially leeches, are effective. During early morning and late evening, walleyes move onto shallow weed edges and breaklines.
“Northern pike are quiet, with mostly crappie anglers fishing around bogs accidently catching a few.
“Smallmouth bass action is solid on crawlers and imitation craws (and other artificials) fished around stumps and rocks. Crawlers on the cribs are also effective.
“Crappie action is good on live bait and plastics. Fish bogs in the evening, but some crappies and bluegills are on deeper weed hump, brush piles, and cribs.”
Carolyn at Anglers All in Ashland Bay says August is here, water temperatures are in the low 70s just about everywhere, and there is a classic summer fishing pattern on Chequamegon Bay.
“Smallmouth bass are scattered throughout the Bay in 5-30 feet. Look for deep weed areas with current, rock, and sharp drops. If you mark fish, but do not get bites, return later in the day. This time of year, fish are fat, happy, have no need to feed all the time, and offer bite windows throughout the day.
“There is a strong whitefish bite in the Bay and they are easy to target. Use electronics to locate fish and use small plastics or fatheads on jigging spoons.
“Lake trout fishing is steady, with eater-size fish on the flats and bigger fish in the islands, and some nice brown trout around Long Island.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses trout habitat and the Little Weirgor River.
“The Little Weirgor River in southern Sawyer County connects several productive native brook trout streams. Large stretches of the river itself, however, did not hold trout due to extensive beaver damming that led to degraded trout habitat and warmer water temperatures. Enrolling the river in the USDA-APHIS beaver control program in 2017 led to removal of dams.
“In 2018, one year after dam removal began, an electrofishing survey checked trout status in the one-mile reach of river below Polish Road, with the hope native brook trout had moved into this stretch from tributaries, as well as brown trout periodically stocked in the area. That was not the case.
“In one mile of shocking, the survey captured only one brook and one brown trout, which was disappointing and surprising. Trout habitat looked fantastic, both the physical structure and the 58-60F water temperature on a hot July day.
“In 2019, the crew returned to survey that stretch again and see if things had changed. What a difference a year makes! The team captured 50 trout, both brook and brown trout. While this is a low rate compared to many great trout streams, it is a huge year-to-year improvement.
“Time will tell if numbers continue to increase, but this offers a nice example of the importance of good habitat and that ‘if you build it, they will come.’”
Sawyer County Outdoor Projects and Education (SCOPE) will host its annual Family Fun Day this Saturday, Aug. 17, at Summit Lake Game Farm. The event includes interactive stations, reptile exhibit, and mountain bike, raptor, and K-9 demonstrations. Featured entertainment is exhibition shooters The Gould Brothers. Registration opens at 8 a.m.; interactive stations start at 8:30 a.m. and close at 2 p.m. for free raffle giveaways for all youth in attendance. For more information, visit www.sawyercountyoutdoors.com.
Musky action is improving and anglers are seeing more big fish. Look for fish on/over deeper brush, weeds, mudflats, humps, and points. Casting baits producing hits include bucktails, spinnerbaits, Bull Dawgs, swim jigs, glide baits, and topwaters. Trolling is best with larger Mattlocks, Jakes, Grandmas, and others trolled through baitfish pods.
Walleye action remains surprisingly steady for August, with best fishing in early morning, late afternoon, and after dark. Target deeper weeds, weed edges, mudflats, river channels, brush, and breaklines out to 30 feet. Leeches, crawlers, fatheads on jigs, Lindy Rigs, spinner rigs, and bottom bouncers work well for live bait. Flicker Shads, Flicker Minnows, deep diving crankbaits and stickbaits, and Jigging Raps are the choices for artificials.
Northern pike fishing ranges from fair to very good, especially for smaller fish. Concentrate on weeds, weedlines, weed beds, points, and other cover, as well as near baitfish/panfish congregations. Spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, crankbaits, stickbaits, jigs/minnows, and topwaters are all effective for pike.
Largemouth bass action is very good to excellent on most waters. Look for fish on/near wood, weeds, weedline edges, lily pads, docks, rocks, brush, bogs, and other structure out to 18 feet. The most productive offerings include plastics in various configurations such as worms, creatures, tubes, spinnerbaits, crankbaits, and frogs and other topwaters.
Smallmouth continue to provide good action in/on/around rock, gravel, weeds, stumps, and cribs out to 20 feet. The most productive baits include crayfish color crankbaits, creature baits, tubes, rigged worms, swimbaits, topwaters, and crawlers.
Crappie fishing is good to very good in/on/around weeds, bogs, brush, and cribs in 6-18 feet. Top baits include crappie minnows, fatheads, leeches, plastics, and Gulp! baits on jigs and under slip bobbers.
Bluegill fishing is good to very good and excellent for small fish shallow. For bigger ‘gills, work weeds, weedlines, and brush out to 18 feet with waxies, leaf worms, crawler chunks, Tattle-Tails, plastics, flies, and poppers.
Aug. 15: DNR Big Chetac Lake public meeting on fishery management; Birchwood School, 6 p.m.
Aug. 22-25: 112th Annual Sawyer County Fair (715-934-2721).
Aug. 24: Family Fun Day at Brule State Fish Hatchery, 10 a.m.-3 p.m. (715-372-5678).
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).
Sept. 1: Application deadline for hunters with disabilities to apply to participate in a sponsored hunt.
Sept. 14: Early September Canada goose season closes.
Sept. 21: Woodcock season opens.
Sept. 29: Trout season closes on rivers flowing into Lake Superior (see regs).