Hayward Lakes Outdoor Report 8-17-2021

Steve Suman


The forecast for this week indicates clear skies into the weekend, with high temperatures in the upper 80-degrees into the 90s. Weekend temperatures return to highs in the 70s, but with chances for showers.


“Summer in the Quiet Lakes’ area always goes too fast,” says Pat at Happy Hooker. “We are seeing some cooler nights, so cross your fingers for good weather to close the month.

“There is now less boat traffic and most anglers are catching what they are after.

“Musky action showed an upswing as anglers caught more fish last week, with bucktails, swimbaits, and topwater lures the producers. Anglers report many follows, so be sure to figure-eight at the boat ‑ many strikes happen at boat-side!

“Walleyes are still picky, showing up at low-light periods into dark. Drag mud basins and trust your electronics.

“Northern pike are fun to catch on suckers under oversized bobbers. Target fish in 8-20 feet ‑ and the deeper you fish, the better opportunity for big fish.

“Largemouth bass usually hide in thick stuff and under docks. For largemouth bass and northern pike, spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, and similar lures will do the trick.

“Smallmouth bass are on rock and gravel areas ‑ and throwing just about anything in the tackle box will work.

“Crappies are schooling off deep weed edges and structure. Use crappie minnows and plastics on small jigs and/or with slip bobbers.

“Panfish fishing can be very easy this time of year. Most areas with swimming beaches nearby will hold a school of roaming fish and simple panfish tactics will work.”


Jarrett at Hayward Bait says muskies are back in the mood to eat and fishing is decent.

“Cooler temperatures allow fish to return to waters otherwise too warm during the ‘Dog Days of Summer.’ Target points and the inside and outside corners of deep weedlines. Anglers are using bucktails and topwater baits, with a handful just starting to use musky suckers on quick-strike rigs.

“Walleye anglers prefer trolling now that we are out of the leech season. Waterways were extra dry this summer, leading to an early end of jumbo leech availability. Lindy rigging, deep crankbaits, and planer boards are bringing fish to the boat. Experiment with color presentations. Do not stick with one color because it caught fish in the past.

“Northern pike are also more widespread with the cooler temperatures. Work deeper points and weedlines corners, similar to musky. Pike are hitting well on live bait and crankbaits. Bring leaders ‑ they got teeth!

“Largemouth and bass smallmouth are on deep weedlines, as well as along lily lines and under docks. Wacky worms, drop-shot rigs, and Texas rigs still shine, and topwaters such as frogs, Spooks, and Skitter Pops are also doing well.

“Crappies are on deep weeds, basins, and cribs. If you have side imaging available, use it to find schools cruising in the basins. Crappies are nomads and always on the move!”


This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses factors affecting hooking mortality.

“Catch and release has become the overwhelming mode of operation for many anglers, particularly when targeting species such as muskellunge, bass, and trout. Even anglers looking to harvest fish often have to release some because they are not of legal size.

“In any instance, there is still a chance a released fish will die because it was caught. Fish biologists refer to this as ‘hooking mortality.’ It can be tricky to determine if a fish you release dies of hooking mortality, as it is often a delayed death. This means a fish might swim off, but then die over the next few days.

“There are many studies on hooking mortality across various freshwater species. Some common findings from those studies can help anglers better understand how they might reduce their own hooking mortality.

“Water temperature is a contributing factor to hooking mortality, with warmer water generally correlating to higher mortality. Warmer water has less oxygen content, making it harder for fish to recover.

“Bait or lure type can influence hooking mortality as well. Some studies show live bait leads to increased hooking mortality due to internal injuries caused by fish swallowing hooks deeper than they would swallow artificial baits.

“One of the factors that can lead to some of the highest rates of hooking mortality is depth of capture.

“Fish caught from greater depths and brought to the surface can have difficulty recovering from the pressure change, a phenomenon known as barotrauma. Biologists hypothesize that this particular type of hooking mortality may become more common, as modern electronics help anglers find deep or suspending fish that were previously difficult to locate.

“Regulating the depths at which anglers fish is challenging ‑ or impossible. Efforts to minimize this source of hooking mortality, along with the others discussed above, rely heavily on anglers making ethical decisions.”


The DNR is asking ruffed grouse hunters and outdoor enthusiasts who come across sick or dead grouse to submit samples for this fourth and final year of a multi-state ruffed grouse West Nile virus study.

The DNR and conservation partners are distributing test kits to increase the overall sample size and strengthen project results. They encourage hunters with kits from previous years to collect a sample and send it in for processing.

Northern and central forest hunters who would like to participate can request kits (available in early September). The DNR might limit the number of kits available to individuals to ensure samples from a large geographic area.

For more information, visit ruffed grouse hunting on the DNR website.


The DNR says roadside ruffed grouse surveys this spring show a 6-percent statewide decrease in drumming activity between 2019 and 2021 (no data collected in 2020). Complete survey results are available on the DNR website.

During the ruffed grouse mating ritual, males first beat their wings slowly, and then beat rapidly to create a deep, thumping sound. The display usually lasts 5-10 seconds, during which the wings can beat approximately 50 times.

The northern area saw a 7-percent decrease in the number of drums per stop from 2019 levels. The Driftless area showed a 33-percent increase, while the central area had no change.

Ruffed grouse typically follow a ten-year population cycle and it is likely the population peaked in 2019 or 2020. Abundance will decrease as grouse enter the down phase of the cycle.


Eligible disabled hunters interested in participating in the 2021 gun deer hunt for hunters with disabilities Oct. 2-10 should contact a hunt sponsor to sign up before the September 1 deadline. Hunters should contact sponsors directly as soon as possible to determine if space is available. For more information, search “hunters with disabilities deer hunt” on the DNR website.


The DNR started sales of bonus antlerless harvest authorizations at 10 a.m. Monday, August 16. Sales began with the Northern and Central Forest (Zone 1), followed by the Central Farmland (Zone 2) Aug. 17, the Southern Farmland (Zone 2) Aug. 18, and remaining authorizations in all zones on sale Aug. 19. Sales begin at 10 a.m.

Bonus authorizations are available in all deer management units (DMUs) for the 2021 deer season. The DNR website contains a list of units with available bonus authorizations. Hunters can purchase one per day until sold out or the deer season ends. Bonus authorizations cost $12/resident, $20/non-resident, and $5/youth 11 and younger.

Authorizations are available through license sales locations and Go Wild. Know the zone and unit in which you will hunt, and if it is public or private land.

Farmland (Zone 2) antlerless harvest authorization is included with each deer hunting license purchase in units that offer them. Some units offer more than one authorization with each deer license.

For more information, visit www.dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/hunt/deer.



Early signs of fall weather are appearing and fish are showing early signs of transitioning as well. As such (once again!), stop at your favorite bait shop on your way to the water. They have the most current information on baits, presentations, and fish locations.



Musky fishing is good and getting better with the slightly cooling temperatures. Concentrate on mid-depth to deeper weeds, weedlines, humps, and points. Bucktails, stickbaits, swimbaits, gliders, and topwaters are all getting follows and hits, and a few anglers are now using suckers on quick-strike rigs.



Walleye fishing is fair to good, with best success in early morning and late evening into after dark. Work weeds, weedlines, humps, and basins as deep as 30 feet during the day and then move to shallower depths for the evening bite. Anglers are jig fishing live bait and trolling and drift-fishing crawler harnesses, Lindy rigs, crankbaits, and stickbaits.


Northern Pike:

Northern pike action is good to very good on weeds, weedline edges, and points in depth to 23 feet. Suckers, spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, swimbaits, stickbaits, crankbaits, and topwaters will all get the attention of pike. Go deeper with bigger baits for trophies.


Largemouth Bass:

Largemouth bass fishing is good to very good, with fish around various cover in depths to 22 feet. Target weeds, weedlines, weed edges, brush, and cribs, both deep and shallow, as well as shallow slop, wood, and lily pads. Spinners, spinnerbaits, plastics, drop-shot rigs, and topwaters are all producing action.


Smallmouth Bass:

Smallmouth bass fishing is good on deep rock and gravel and along weedlines, as well as around some areas of shallow cover/weeds. Live baits, plastic, spinners, spinnerbaits, swimbaits, and topwaters are all catching fish.



Crappie fishing is good to very good. Fish are moving around deep basins, and on weeds, weed edges, cribs, bogs, brush, and other structure. Crappie minnows, plastics, Tattle-Tails, Mini-Mites, and Gulp! baits on small jigs, fished with or without slip bobbers, work well. Use your locator and move with the schools!



Bluegill fishing is good on weeds, weed edges, cribs, bogs, and brush, from shallow to deep. Best baits include waxies, worms, crawler chunks, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs and teardrops. Bigger bluegills are usually in the deeper water.


Upcoming Events

Aug. 15: Lake Superior lake trout season closed in Apostle Islands region (WI-2).

Aug. 21: 25th Annual Seeley Lions Club Pre-Fat Mountain Bike Race (715-558-3611).

Sept. 1: Seasons open: Early teal; Early goose; Mourning dove.

Sept. 1: Applications deadline for October hunters with disabilities gun deer hunt.

Sept. 5: Cable Rod & Gun Club pig roast and cash raffle (715-798-3099).

Sept. 7: Hayward Chapter-Muskies, Inc. club meeting, tournament planning, Flat Creek Lodge, 8 p.m. (715-634-4543).

Sept. 8: Bear hunting season opens (see regs).

Sept. 8-11: Lake Chippewa Flowage Musky Hunt

Sept. 18: Seasons open: Deer (archery and crossbow; Turkey; Cottontail; Squirrel; Ruffed grouse (Zone A); Crow.

Sept. 18-19: Youth waterfowl hunt (see regs).

Sept. 18: Hayward Fall Festival (715-634-8662).

Sept. 18: Chequamegon MTB Festival (952-229-7330).

Sept. 18: Hayward Chapter-FHNB event at Lake Chippewa Campground (715-634-3185).

Sept. 25: Clam Lake Elk Festival (715-794-2781).


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.