August 3, 2020

Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report

Steve Suman


Forecasts show another beautiful, slightly cooler week ahead, with a few rain chances. The lows in the 40s and 70-degree highs are nearly perfect for all outdoor activities, so take advantage of this weather while it is available!


“Recent weather certainly helped aquatic life in the Quiet Lakes,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “bringing food and re-oxygenation from feeder creeks and rivers, and taking water temperatures a step back. The only downfall is fish are slow to readjust to their regular routines.

“As we enter the dog days of summer, this can be some of the trickiest fishing of the year, but our waters continue to produce productive fishing for numbers, though not necessarily size.

“Musky angling is popular on the river lately, but without much success, and the same goes for the lakes, though anglers are catching some smaller fish.

“To find active walleye, northern pike, and an occasional smallmouth, work windblown shorelines, humps, islands, and areas with rock and gravel. Best baits include jigs with leeches, spinner rigs with one-third crawler or minnow, small hard baits, and two-inch plastics.

“Largemouth bass anglers are catching some very nice fish on topwater baits.

“Creek inlets, lily pads, weed edges, sheltered areas, and those in close proximity, are best for multi-species catches. The small feeder streams that bring in fresh food and oxygen attract different species and different year classes.”


Trent at Hayward Bait says fish remain deep on most lakes, but notes that fish raised from 30 feet and deeper will likely die due to burst air bladders.

“Muskies are on the bottom in about 20 feet, though sometimes in 10 feet at night while roaming to feed. Large swimbaits, glide baits, and topwaters all work well.

“Walleyes are in 20-30 feet, hitting fatheads on jigs and Jigging Raps off humps and weed edges. When fish cruise in 10 feet and shallower during first and last light, crankbaits and bass worms are effective.

“Northern pike are in 20 feet, on the bottom, and taking sucker minnows, crankbaits, and skirted jigs.

“Largemouth bass moved to weeds, points, and cribs as deep as 15 feet, though smaller fish along shorelines provide plenty of action. Drop-shot rigs, Tokyo rigs, crankbaits, and wacky worms work well.

“Smallmouth bass fishing is good on Ned Rigs fished on rock piles and sandy humps in 10 feet. The topwater bite is strong after 8 p.m. when even the smallmouth in 20 feet will rise for them.

“Crappies are in 15-20 feet, suspending in the top 10 feet of the water column. Try jigging shallow or work small topwaters.

“Bluegills are in about 10 feet, hungry, and hitting just about anything. Most anglers do well with leaf worms, panfish jigs, and poppers.”


Jim and Cathy at Minnow Jim’s say Nelson Lake walleye success slowed somewhat and anglers should fish leeches, fatheads, and stickbaits along rock shorelines and in the river channel.

“Anglers fishing for northern pike and largemouth bass report good success with spinners, buzz baits, swim jigs, wobbling baits, rattle lures, and plastic frogs. Work in and along weed beds, shaded overhangs, and docks.

“During warm water conditions, look for crappies and bluegills around bogs and cribs in more than 8 feet. Use your favorite baits, or try Beetle Spins, dressed hooks with Twister Tails, Cubbies, and Tattle-Tails.”


Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage is above full pool and water temperatures range from 74-80 degrees.

“Musky fishing is solid, with anglers trolling more during the day, and one reporting he caught five on Mattlocks in the past week! During low light hours, surface baits and bucktails over the tops of weed beds are effective. When water temperatures reach 78 to 80 degrees, practice safe catch-and-release techniques and limit the fish’s time out of the water.

“The walleye bite is decent, with fish on the smaller side, and many 10- to 11-inch fish. Fishing during the day is best in deeper brushy basins. During dawn and dusk, fish weed edges in 6-12 feet. Leeches remain the live bait of choice, while Flicker Shads and Shad Raps are still moving fish during daylight hours.

“Northern pike fishing is also decent and the fish on the smaller side, with best action on Tinsel Tail spinnerbaits retrieved through the weeds.

“The strong smallmouth bass bite continues, especially in the southeast corner. The best bet is fishing Ned Rigs and Whopper Ploppers on stumps and rock piles.

“Crappies are starting to congregate around some deeper cribs and weed humps, but they are tight to the bottom and not very active. Anglers are still catching some fish around bogs, but the crib bite might pick up this week.”


This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses the differences between white and black crappies.

“There are two crappie species in North America: black crappie and white crappie. While both species are present in Wisconsin, white crappie is considerably rarer, especially throughout northern Wisconsin.

“The two crappie species are closely related genetically. They are both in the same genus and can successfully hybridize, which raises an interesting ecological question. Why would evolution produce two species that are so similar and even have overlapping ranges?

“Researchers in Illinois recently explored that question.

“The researchers found that subtle differences in body shape explained much about the habitats in which the two species thrive, and those differences likely led to the evolution of separate species.

“The researchers found black crappies more suited for complex, weedy habitats where their more stout body shape enabled them to avoid predators.

“White crappies, on the other hand, were better at avoiding predators in open water, facilitated by their more elongated body. White crappies are often associated with more turbid reservoirs and rivers, and turbidity typically means plants cannot grow in many parts of those waterbodies.

“These results help unlock some of the natural mysteries about why different species evolved, as well as offer managers more information about habitat requirements for these important species.”


The DNR will not issue permits for a fall sharp-tailed grouse hunting season, and will neither offer nor accept applications this year, but says accumulated preference points will not expire. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, biologists were unable to complete surveys so data for 2020 is incomplete. The Sharp-tailed Grouse Advisory Committee will reconvene prior to fall 2021 to re-evaluate the possibility for a season. For more information, search “sharp-tailed grouse” on the DNR website.


Northwoods Bass Anglers will host its Big Chip Open Tournament for largemouth and smallmouth bass on the Chippewa Flowage Saturday, August 8, from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. The tournament is open to anglers as two-person teams and individuals competing as a team. The entry fee $100 per team. Entry is limited to 40 boats, with prize money based on a full field of 40 boats. There is a 90-percent payback guarantee, with five cash prizewinners. In case of ties, winners split the pots. First place pays $1600. Pre-tournament meeting, take-off, and weigh-in are at The Landing Resort on Hwy CC. Participants may access the Chippewa Flowage via any private or public landing and motor to The Landing. For more information and entry form, email Skip Sommerfeldt at or call (715) 762-1833.




Musky action is slow to fair, but definitely improving! Concentrate on deeper water during the day with jigging baits and trolling large stickbaits. In early morning and evening hours into after dark, work shallower weeds with bucktails, swimbaits, gliders, and surface baits. Know how to release a fish safely and quickly, especially during hot weather.



Walleye action is fair to good, with best fishing (surprise!) in early morning and late evening into dark. During the day, target deeper weeds, humps, breaklines, brush, river channels, and rock in depths out to more than 30 feet. During low light hours, fish weed edges and shorelines inside of 12 feet. The most productive baits include leeches, crawlers, fatheads, crankbaits, stickbaits, Jigging Raps, Flicker Shads, and Shad Raps.


Northern Pike:

Northern pike fishing is very good around weeds and weed edges, humps, and anywhere you find concentrations of panfish and baitfish, from shallow to mid-depths. Live bait, spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, crankbaits, buzzbaits, swim jigs, and rattle baits are all working well. As always, go deeper with bigger baits for trophy pike.


Largemouth Bass:

Largemouth fishing is very good to excellent. Fish are holding around weeds, weed edges, slop, lily pads, points, cribs, docks, and other cover in depths out to about 18 feet and deeper. Many lures are working on bass, with plastics, drop-shot and Tokyo rigs, crankbaits, wacky worms, spinners, buzzbaits, swim jigs, and topwaters leading the way.


Smallmouth Bass:

Smallmouth bass action is very good along shorelines and on humps, stumps, islands, rock, gravel, and sand in 8-22 feet. Best bait options include minnows, leeches, and crawlers on jigs and spinner rigs, plastics, Ned Rigs, crankbaits, Whopper Ploppers, and topwaters.



Crappie fishing is good to very good. Look for fish around weeds, bogs, cribs, and humps in 6-22 feet, making sure to check the entire water column. Best offerings include crappie minnows, fatheads, plastics, Mini-Mites, Tattle-Tails, small Beetle Spins, poppers, and small topwaters.



Bluegill fishing is good to very good. Fish are holding around weeds, cribs, bogs, and brush in depth from very shallow out to about 15 feet. Top producing baits include waxies, worms, leaf worms, and plastics on small jigs, teardrops, and plain hooks; and small Mini-Mites, Tattle-Tails, and Twister Tails.


Upcoming Events

Aug. 7-8: Jack Pine Savage Days in Spooner – Canceled – (715-635-2168).

Aug. 8: Northwoods Bass AnglersBig Chip Open Tournament, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. (715-762-1833).

Aug. 15: Fall bonus wild turkey harvest authorizations go on sale at 10 a.m.

Aug. 17-20: Bonus antlerless harvest authorizations on sale where available (see DNR website for details).

Aug. 25: Deadline to transfer Class A Bear License (see DNR website for restrictions).

Aug. 28-30: Musky Tale ResortPoor Man’s Fishing Event (715-462-3838).

Aug. 31: Bear dog training by pursuing bear closes (see regs).

Sept. 1: Seasons open: Mourning dove; Teal; Early goose in designated areas; Wild ginseng.

Sept. 4-6: 28th Annual Exeland Trout Fest (715-943-2242).

Sept. 5: Hook-and-line lake sturgeon season opens on designated waters (see regs).

Sept. 9: Black bear hunting season opens (see regs).

Sept. 9-12: Lake Chippewa Flowage Musky Hunt (filled).

Sept. 12: Seasons open: Archery and crossbow deer; Fall turkey; Ruffed grouse in Zone A; Cottontail rabbit in Northern Zone; Gray and fox squirrel; Fall crow (see regs).

Sept. 19-20: Youth Waterfowl Hunt (see regs).

Oct. 2-4: Hayward Chapter-Muskies Inc. 43rd annual fall tournament – Canceled – (715-634-4543).

Oct. 3-4: Musky Tale ResortCrappie Quest (715-462-3838).

Oct. 8-10: Treeland’s 5th Annual Musky Fly Fishing Championship. Limited to first 100 entries (715-462-3874).


For more information on area events and activities, visit the Hayward Lakes Visitor and Convention Bureau website, view the Calendar of Events, or call 800-724-2992.