by: Steve Suman

This week’s forecast predicts a mostly mild and clear week, with highs in the high 60s to mid-70s and a few lows in the 40s. Pick your favorite outdoor recreational activity and take advantage of this outstanding early September weather!

“We are still in the dog days of summer,” says Pat at Happy Hooker. “Fishing is good some days and challenging other days, and Quiet Lakes’ anglers must experiment to find what works.

“Musky action is slow, with occasional catches. Cast bucktails, swimbaits, and topwaters in early mornings and late afternoons. If you use musky suckers, call ahead to check availability.

“Trolling deep diving crankbaits such as Shad Raps, Husky Jerks, Flicker Shads, and plastic spinner rigs is turning some walleye, northern pike, and smallmouth bass. The best tactic is to fish more than 20 feet, concentrating efforts on mid-lake humps and windblown points and shorelines, especially in late afternoon and evening.

“Anglers are catching northern pike and largemouth bass in the shallow weeds, and northern pike and smallmouth bass in rock and gravel areas.

“Panfish fishing is best in and around deeper weeds during late afternoon hours. Crappie minnows and crawler pieces under slip bobbers work well, as does casting small plastics with a slow jigging, retrieve. Anglers are catching some perch on the flats by drifting leaf worms on red hooks with a sinker to get towards bottom.”

Trent at Hayward Bait says the key this year is using something different, as the fish have learned what to avoid in a single summer!

“The best musky action is at night in 10-15 feet, though early mornings can produce nice fish. Swimmin’ Dawgs, Bull Dogs, and topwaters work well.

“Walleyes are on rock, gravel, sunken islands, and drop-offs in 15-30 feet, taking worms, Jigging Raps, and lipless crankbaits.

“Northern pike anglers are doing well with Mepps, spinnerbaits, spoons, and swimbaits around weeds and drop-offs in 10-15 feet. Early and late, try topwaters in lily pads and similar structure.

“Largemouth bass are in 3-15 feet, hitting Senko worms, drop-shot rigs, and topwaters. The best bites are deep during the day and shallow in morning and evening.

“Smallmouth bass are on humps, points, and around flowing water in 10-20 feet. Crawlers, creature baits, and topwaters work best.

“Crappie anglers are doing well on jigs/crappie minnows and topwaters on weed beds in 8-15 feet. If you see minnows close to shore, work 3-5 feet, including bowls and humps.

“Bluegill anglers are catching fish on poppers, jigs, and live worms in 5-10 feet.”

Jim and Cathy at Minnow Jim’s are hopeful the cooler nights this week will drop the water temperature on Nelson Lake and improve the walleye bite.

“Northern pike action is great, with anglers catching fish from ‘hammer-handle’ size to fish measuring more than 30 inches. Most anglers are using bucktails, Mepps, spinners, and surface baits.

“Largemouth bass are in and along weed beds, hitting spinners, frogs, and scented worms.

“Crappie and bluegill anglers should fish around cribs, bogs, and other structure with waxies and worms on dressed jigs or plain hooks under a bobber.”

Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage is at full pool, with the water temperature in the high 70s to low 80s.

“Musky action slowed a bit from the previous week, but fish are still relatively active, with bucktails and surface baits seeing the bulk of action. Water temperatures increased a bit in the last few days and fish might have moved to deeper areas where trolling would prove to be more effective.

“Walleye fishing remained slow last week, which is not surprising, as water temperatures remained high. The best success is during the 4-6 a.m. morning hours, fishing minnows on steep drop-offs in 8-20 feet. Trolling these deep edges with Shad Raps and Flicker Shads may also prove effective at those times.

“Northern pike continue to be active in the weeds on spinnerbaits, particularly Tinsel Tails. The average size is smaller than other times during the season, but the bite is decent.

“Crappie fishing picked up slightly on deeper cribs. Some anglers report catching a few off bogs, but cribs are producing more fish. Crappie minnows are the best choice for live bait, with one-inch Gulp! Minnows also effective.”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter addresses how to ask a fish biologist for a fishing spot.

“Every year I receive hundreds of requests for information on fishing spots. Planning a personal fishing trip is genuinely exciting for me and I am happy to help others with their process, but some ways are more effective than other ways when asking for information. Here are some tips from a professional perspective.

“It is difficult to know where to start when answering a very general inquiry, such as ‘Where do you recommend fishing in your area?’ When contacting a biologist for suggested spots, be sure to include at minimum some basic information about your species of interest.

“Preferences such as lake size – big, small, or maybe you prefer rivers – are also useful to know. Some anglers care about proximity to other attractions, such as near town, while other anglers want a remote feeling. Is accessibility an issue? Are you willing to work to get there, or do you want a paved, concrete ramp? Are you a serious or casual angler? Are you fishing with kids or only adults?

“Another version of the request asks what lakes are best for a specific species. Even that is a challenge to answer, as what does ‘best’ mean? High catch rates? Trophy size? Harvest opportunity? Fun to fish? Aesthetically nice?

“A fish biologist has a catalog of information on dozens, if not hundreds, of waterbodies. The more information anglers provide, the better we understand the objective for their fishing experience, and the better we can direct them to a waterbody that is a good fit.

“While I do not speak for all of my colleagues around the state, I suspect their perspective is the same.”

Sales continue for remaining antlerless deer tags and bonus fall turkey authorizations at one per person, per day, until the unit sells out or the hunting season ends. Deer authorizations cost $12 for residents, $20 for nonresidents, and $5 for youth under age 12. Turkey authorizations cost $10 for residents and $15 for nonresidents.

The DNR’s forecasts for 2020 fall hunting and trapping seasons are now available online by clicking on the following the links: Deer; Bear; Upland Game Bird; Migratory Birds; Furbearer Hunting and Trapping. For more information on hunting and trapping, including regulations and season dates, visit the DNR website.

Wisconsin’s 2020 black bear hunting season opens Wednesday, September 9, for hunters hunting over bait. Check the DNR website for season dates and regulations.

Wisconsin’s hook-and-line lake sturgeon season opens Saturday, September 5, on designated waters. Be sure to check the regulations, requirements, and restrictions for this season. Anglers intending to harvest a sturgeon must purchase a harvest permit costing $20 for residents and $50 for non-residents.

The 28th Annual Exeland Trout Fest is this weekend, Friday through Sunday, September 4-6. The event includes far too many events and attractions to list here. For more information, visit www.facebook.com/ExelandTroutFest, or call (715) 943-2242 or 492-1073.

On Tuesday, September 1, Wisconsin hunting seasons opened for early goose, teal, and mourning dove. As always, check the regulations before you go afield!

FISHING REPORT

Fishing for most species is fair to good, but the weather is changing and we are in a transition period. Check with your favorite bait shop folks for the most current (daily!) information concerning baits, presentations, and locations of the species you intend to target.

Musky:

Musky action is fair to slow and inconsistent, with most activity very early and late in the day, in depths from shallow to 18 feet. Use bucktails, Bull Dawgs, Swimmin’ Dawgs, swimbaits, and topwaters, as well as large, trolled stickbaits. Sucker action should soon begin, but supply is again questionable, so check ahead for availability.

Walleye:

Walleye action is slow, with best fishing in early morning and late afternoon into dark. During daylight, target deep breaklines, humps, points, drop-offs, rock, and gravel out to 30 feet. During low light hours, fish inside 12 feet. Baits of choice include leeches, walleye suckers, fatheads, crawlers, Jigging Raps, and cast/trolled crankbaits.

 

Northern Pike:

Northern pike action is good to very good. The fish are holding around shallow to mid-depth weeds, weed edges, humps, points, drop-offs, and concentrations of panfish and baitfish. Some of the most effective baits are northern suckers, minnows, spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, swimbaits, bucktails, crankbaits, and topwaters.

 

Largemouth Bass:

Largemouth bass are active, though at midday often deeper than anglers might expect for this time of year. Look for fish in and on weed beds, weed edges, lily pads, slop, bogs, brush, and cribs, from very shallow out to 20 feet. Morning and evening offer the best bite, with plastics, worms, spinners, drop-shot rigs, and topwaters all very effective.

 

Smallmouth Bass:

Smallmouth bass fishing is good to very good, with best success late in the afternoon into evening hours. Fish are on hard bottom areas such as gravel, rock, sand, humps, points, and drop-offs in depths out to 22 feet. The most productive baits include crawlers, plastics in various configurations, deep diving crankbaits, and topwaters.

 

Crappie:

Crappie fishing is fair to good on most waters, Look for fish on deeper (more than 20 feet) weeds, cribs, basins, brush, bogs, and other structure, though some fish are shallow. Top offerings include crappie minnows, waxies, worms, plastics, and Gulp! baits on slip bobbers that hold the correct depth, particularly for suspending fish, and topwaters.

 

Bluegill:

Bluegill fishing is fair to good around weeds, weed edges, brush, bogs, and cribs out to 20 feet. Fishing is best in late afternoon into evening hours. Best bluegill baits include waxies, worms, crawler chunks, and plastics on jigs, teardrops, and plain hooks with/without bobbers, and poppers. Try small minnows for big ‘gills and to avoid bait robbers.

 

Upcoming Events

Aug. 31: Bear dog training by pursuing bear closed (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).

Oct. 10: Hayward Chapter-FHNBall you can eat spaghetti feed fundraiser 4:30-8 p.m. Flat Creek Inn (715-634-3185).

 

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.