Hayward Lakes Outdoor Report 8-24-2021

Steve Suman


The current forecast shows rain and thunderstorms early and late in the week, with Wednesday and Thursday offering sunshine and blue skies. Maybe. The best thing to do is go ahead with you plans, but with a Plan B available just in case. The forecast seems to be in a state of flux even more-so than usual!


“Wind conditions are kicking up big daytime gusts, but anglers are still getting some good days on the Quiet Lakes,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “with most fishing against shaded shorelines.

“Musky action remains unusually slow, with anglers catching a few smaller ones, but fishing will get better as the water cools. Fall is coming, so be patient and just keep throwing baits.

“The walleye bite is still best during low light periods, and drifting live bait rigs over deep flats will catch some fish.

“Northern pike and largemouth bass are on deeper vegetation and in shallow lily pads. Live bait, topwater frog imitations, and casting and trolling spinners can be very productive.

“Crappies are in deep vegetation. Casting and trolling small Beetle Spins and small plastics will turn a few fish. Panfish action is hot with a chunk of worm under a bobber.”


Jarrett at Hayward Bait says musky action is picking up as water temperatures cool.

“Muskies are working back to shallower bays and up the water column. Do not be afraid to downsize, as the fish are not currently looking for big meals and smaller bucktails are putting fish into the net.

“Walleye action is consistent for anglers trolling on deep flats and along deep weed edges. Fish are moving from the leech bite to a crappie minnow bite.

“Northern pike action is very good and anglers are taking quite a few big fish. It is just a matter of finding them. Work weed edges, points, and/or areas with good cover and deep water access nearby. Bigger Mepps, baits with rattles, and soft plastics are excellent choices.

“Largemouth and smallmouth bass are deep, foraging on bluegill and young of year fry, roaming weed edges and looking for food. Swimbaits, wacky worms, Ned rigs, and crankbaits are pulling fish to the boat.

“Crappie fishing is good, with fish stacked on cribs, roaming lake basins, and cruising weeds. Watch for the evening surface bites producing telltale surface ripples as fish feed on insects and small minnows. Be ready with jigs and plastics.”


Jim and Cathy at Minnow Jim’s say Nelson Lake fishing action slowed with the hot weather and warmer water and anglers should work baits at varying depths and deeper than usual.

“For walleyes, fish early mornings and late evenings with live bait and cast stickbaits on rocky shorelines and points.

“Northern pike and largemouth bass anglers are doing well with surface baits that produce noise and churn the water. Troll weedlines and weed beds, and be sure to cast around docks and under shady overhangs.

“Panfish are close to the bottom around bogs and cribs in 8-15 feet. Encourage the bite with movement, flash, and scent.”


Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage is down 1-2 feet, with water temperatures in the low to mid 70s.

“The musky bite remains strong and casting over shallower areas in the evening when the surface is cooler is productive. The Birches had mention several times in the past week. During the day, when surface temperatures are higher, consider going deeper by trolling.

“Walleye are still plentiful, though short of the length limit. Deep, brushy areas are productive during the day with crawlers and trolled crankbaits. With the nights getting cooler, try weed edges and bars in 6-12 feet during low light conditions.

“Northern pike action slowed a bit and the best bet is working weeds with weedless spoons and spinnerbaits.

“Crappie fishing is relatively slow, but anglers who report success are fishing bogs with plastics. Start at 5-6 p.m. and fish until dark. Daytime fishing is tough for fish on deep cribs. Currently, they favor Mini-Mites, Crappie Scrubs, and Gulp! Minnows to live bait.”


This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses how hot water kills fish.

“One of the most important habitat characteristics for fish is not one you can see with the naked eye. Water temperature affects virtually all aspects of a fish’s life, and when water gets too warm, it can be deadly. However, the ways in which water temperature can negatively affect fish are not always straightforward.

“All species of fish have an ‘optimum thermal range’ within which they thrive. When temperature rises above that optimal range, fish usually do not immediately die. Mortality of fish from excessive heat happens in a variety of ways.

“A very sudden increase in temperature can kill fish because it does not allow time for the fish to acclimate. For example, an increase of 20°F over the course of a few hours can be lethal, leading to metabolic shutdown and/or inability to take in enough oxygen.

“Sudden temperature increases or decreases can kill fish, even when the final temperature is not extreme.

“Prolonged exposure to high temperature has similar effects on fish and can be lethal, too. A long period outside a fish’s optimal thermal range functions as a long-term stressor. Prolonged thermal stress, often in addition to other environmental stressors, can be lethal.

“There are numerous indirect effects of heat that can impact fish as well. This includes lower dissolved oxygen, reductions in available prey, changes in behavior, loss of available habitat, and increased prevalence of disease or parasites.

“Some human activities can exacerbate heat stress on fish. Nutrient runoff from land use activities can lower available dissolved oxygen, compounding heat stress. Loss of habitat connectivity ‑ damming, for example ‑ can prevent fish from moving to thermal refuges such as cooler tributaries during heat events.

“Lastly, numerous studies have shown angling can create additional stress on fish when water temperatures are high. Our warming climate means this issue is going to become an increasingly important management challenge.

“Maintaining healthy fisheries as heat events become more common and intense will require supporting healthy watersheds and land use, restoring habitat connectivity where possible, and researching and implementing ethical angling practices.”


The DNR encourages ATV/UTV operators to wear helmets, seat belts, monitor speed, and use caution on hills and uneven terrain. So far this year, 26 people have died in ATV/UTV crashes. Most victims were not wearing seat belts or helmets. The DNR offers the following tips for a safe ride:

  • Never consume alcohol or drugs before or during your ride.
  • Wear a seat belt and a Department of Transportation (DOT)-approved helmet.
  • Wear protective clothing such as eye protection, gloves, long pants, and long-sleeved shirt.
  • Keep your speed in check for the terrain, visibility conditions, and experience.
  • Some Wisconsin terrain is too steep for ATV/UTVs. Be careful while traversing hills or uneven terrain.
  • Know before you go ‑ review all ATV/UTV laws.

For more information, visit ATV/UTV riding in Wisconsin on the DNR website.


The 2021 Wisconsin Hunting Regulations pamphlet is now available online and will soon be available at license agents and open DNR service centers. The pamphlet summarizes hunting laws and combines season dates, shooting hours, and regulations into one document. A number of changes include waterfowl stamp fees, no Mississippi River duck zone, and a new “Open Water Zone” on Lake Michigan. Updated bear zones are in effect this fall, as well as updated bear baiting regulations.

Trapping and wolf harvest season regulations are available separately online and in print.

For more information, visit “hunting” on the DNR website.


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.



Fishing for most species is decent, with some more active than other species. Timing bite windows is important, and using electronics is extremely helpful. Local bait and tackle shops can provide the most current, productive information.



Musky fishing is improving in response to the slowly cooling water temperatures. Hit shallower areas during the cooler times and deeper water with bright sun and the temperature is hot. Small to mid-size bucktails, spinners, stickbaits, gliders, and topwaters all work at the right time and location. Troll deep water during the heat of the day.



Walleye fishing is good, with best success in low light periods of early morning and late evening into dark. During the day, target deep weeds, brush, and flats. In low light, work weeds, bars, and humps in depths to 15 feet. Crawlers, minnows, and leeches (if you can find them) all work well, as do trolled crankbaits and stickbaits.


Northern Pike:

Northern pike action is good to very good on shallow to mid-depth and deeper weeds, weed edges, points, and panfish concentrations. Sucker minnows, spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, bucktails, and plastics all work on pike!


Largemouth Bass:

Largemouth bass fishing is good to very good, with fish scattered from very shallow to deep. Look for them on weeds, weedlines, brush, and cribs, as well as in lily pads and slop. Wacky worms, swimbaits, crankbaits, spinners, spinnerbaits, and topwaters will all get the attention of largemouth.


Smallmouth Bass:

Smallmouth bass anglers are finding fish on deep rock, gravel, other hard bottom areas, cribs and weeds edges, though some are on shallower weedlines. Live bait, wacky worms, spinnerbaits, swimbaits, crankbaits, and Ned rigs all work.



Crappie fishing ranges from slow to very good, with best success from late afternoon into late evening hours. Fish are on deep weeds, bogs, brush, cribs, and basins, though surface feeding in the evening. Crappie minnows, Mini-Mites, Tattle-Tails, Crappie Scrubs, plastics, and Beetle Spins are all productive offerings.



Bluegill fishing is very good to excellent on shallow to mid-depth and deeper weeds, brush, bogs, and cribs. Bigger fish are on deeper cover. Waxies, worms, crawler chunks, plastics, Mini-Mites, Tattle-Tails, and Gulp! baits work great.


Upcoming Events

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).

Sept. 25: Hayward Fall Festival (715-634-8662).


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.