Sunny, clear, and mild is the forecast for much of this week, with colder nighttime lows, including chances for frost returning for a few days mid-week. Great weather and the abundance of outdoor activities available can make it difficult to choose! Choose one – or a dozen – but enjoy fall in the North Woods!
“Musky fishing remains slow, but as water temperatures continue to drop, fishing should pick up. Anglers are catching a few smaller fish on small bucktails and swimbaits, with some topwater success in early morning and late afternoon.
“Walleye anglers are still catching fish, with the best times early morning and late afternoon into the dark. During the day, some anglers catch an occasional fish on small crankbaits trolled over shallow mid-lake humps and rock/gravel areas. A few report catches on minnows under bobbers when fishing off docks at night.
“Northern pike and largemouth bass continue to roam shallow weeds and structure, with spinnerbaits, plastics, and topwaters taking fish. Smallmouth bass are taking small crankbaits cast over rock/gravel areas.
“Panfish still provide the strongest bite. Crappies are schooling in 10-16 feet and moving around the lake. Anglers are fishing deeper vegetation with crappie minnows and small plastics under slip bobbers. A good fish finder will help you find fish faster.
“Bluegill anglers are taking smaller fish in shallow weeds and catching larger ones just off weed edges, with waxies and leaf worms producing success.”
Trent at Hayward Bait says leaves are turning color, temperatures are dropping, and fall is here!
“Muskies are in 10 feet, on weed edges and flats adjacent to drop-offs. During mornings and evenings, fish lily pads and shallow vegetation. Bucktails and topwaters are working, as are rubber baits such as Bull Dawgs and Swimmin’ Dawgs.
“The walleye bite is tough, but improving. Most are suspending in 20-30 feet, though on warm days you might catch a few in 10 feet and shallower. Flicker Shads, lipless crankbaits, and walleye suckers are all working well.
“Northern pike are on flats near weed edges and drop-offs in 10 feet. During low light hours, fish shallow around lily pads and other vegetation. Bucktails and topwaters are the baits of choice.
“Largemouth bass are around heavy weedlines, ledges, and drop-offs in 10 feet. Jigs and reaction baits work best.
“Smallmouth bass are off points, humps, and drop-offs near sand and gravel bottoms in 10-20 feet, hitting Ned rigs, wacky worms, and topwaters.
“Crappies are transitioning to lake basins, staging in 15-20 feet. On warm days, watch for crappie size minnows hugging the shorelines – crappies will be lurking not far away. Crappie minnows, Fuzzy Grubs, Slab Daddies, and other jigs are producing.
“Bluegills are in 10-20 feet, with most suspending, and panfish jigs, worms, and small lipless crankbaits work well.”
Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage pool is down 2-3 feet and water temperatures are in the mid-60s.
“Musky fishing is solid and anglers caught a decent number of fish last week on suckers and an assortment of artificials. Though some anglers are skeptical of using smaller baits at this time, 3/8-oz. pink Tinsel Tail spinnerbaits are particularly productive, according to several anglers. We have a healthy supply of suckers, but demand is high.
“Walleye anglers are catching a few keepers, but the bite slowed a bit and most fish are smaller than 15 inches. Baits are a combination of minnows, crawlers, and artificials, with the best action on deeper mud flats and cribs.
“Northern pike fishing is okay, with the bite primarily on northern suckers and spinners fished in back bay weeds.
“Smallmouth bass fishing has been very good this year and the fish remain active on cribs and stumps and rock areas. Ned Rigs are the way to go, or use crawlers if you prefer live bait.
“Crappie fishing is decent on minnows and panfish plastics. Crappie Scrubs and one-inch Gulp! Minnows are the artificials of choice, fished on deeper cribs and brush piles. Do not fish just one crib – take drifts and fish multiple cribs.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses fishing statistics for Wisconsin anglers.
“The fun question ‘How many fish do anglers catch in Wisconsin every year?’ is also a tough question to answer. We just do not have the ability to ask all Wisconsin anglers what they caught every day they were fishing. However, we can use scientific methods to survey a representative sample of Wisconsin anglers, which is no different from how we survey fish. We capture a large enough number to get an estimate of what the total population looks like.
“In 2014-15, DNR social scientists and fisheries scientists worked together to sample more than 15,000 Wisconsin anglers by asking them to fill out diaries on their fishing activities. From the collected data in that project, the scientists were able to develop statewide estimates.
“The scientists estimated anglers spent 15,933,061 hours fishing, catching an estimated total of 39,654,149 fish (of all species), or about 2.5 fish per fishing hour. Bluegills were the most common fish, accounting for 46 percent of the total catch. Anglers harvested 12,334,465 of their total catch.
“It is important to note that all of these numbers are certainly underestimates of the actual catch and harvest in the state. The scientists made these estimates only from annual license holders. This means they did not include kids under 16 (no license required), short-term license buyers, and senior discounted licenses. While these numbers might be eye popping, the real figures are even higher. No matter how you look at it, those are a lot of bites!”
The Hayward Chapter of Fishing Has No Boundaries has canceled its annual all you can eat spaghetti feed fundraiser scheduled for Saturday, October 10. For more information, visit FHNB or call (715) 634-3185.
The DNR forecasts for the 2020 fall hunting and trapping seasons are now available online by clicking on the following links: Deer; Bear; Upland Game Bird; Migratory Birds; Furbearer Hunting and Trapping. For more information on regulations and season dates, visit the DNR website.
Sales continue for bonus antlerless deer tags and fall turkey authorizations at one per person, per day, until the unit sells out or the seasons 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 Wisconsin DNR (with others) is conducting the final year of a three-year sampling study of West Nile virus (WNV) in ruffed grouse. The DNR is asking ruffed grouse hunters to use leftover self-sampling kits already in their possession to submit samples from ruffed grouse they harvest. Hunters have yet to submit more than half of the 1,000 kits distributed in 2018 and 2019. Hunters with leftover kits who do not plan to fill them should pass the kits on to friends who will fill them this fall. Detailed instructions are available on the ruffed grouse webpage under the “disease sampling” tab.
Wisconsin’s Youth Waterfowl Hunt is this weekend, Saturday and Sunday September 19-20. This hunt offers young waterfowl hunters the opportunity to spend time afield with experienced adult hunters pursuing waterfowl without the pressures of the regular season. For more information, visit www.dnr.wi.gov/topic/hunt/documents/youthwaterfowl.pdf.
The fall transition continues, though this week will see a return to some milder (more normal seasonal) temperatures. Once again, on your way to the lake, stop and talk with your favorite bait shop personnel for the most current fish locations, bait preferences, and effective presentations.
Musky fishing is fair to decent, with action slowly improving. Morning and evening hours offer the most activity. Concentrate on weed edges, flats, and drop-offs in depths out to about 12 feet, with deeper water nearby. Bait preferences include mixed sizes of topwaters, bucktails, Bull Dawgs, Swimmin’ Dawgs, swimbaits, spinnerbaits, and suckers.
Walleye fishing is slow, but improving with cooling water temperatures. Best fishing is in very early morning and late evening into after dark. Target mud flats, mid-lake humps, rock, gravel, and cribs in depths from shallow to more than 30 feet – and look for suspending fish, too. Walleye suckers, fatheads, crawlers, and leeches all work well, or try trolling crankbaits and stickbaits in the deeper water during daylight hours.
Northern action is good to very good in and around shallow weeds, weedlines, weed edges, flats, lily pads, and concentrations of panfish and baitfish. Top baits include spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, bucktails, plastics, topwaters, and northern suckers.
Largemouth are still active and fishing is good. Work weeds, weedlines, breaklines, brush, lily pads, slop, and other structure out to 12 feet or so, though some fish are starting to move somewhat deeper. Use swim jigs, plastics, spinners, spinnerbaits, crankbaits, and live bait.
Smallmouth fishing is good to very good. Look for fish on rock, gravel, points, cribs, humps, stumps, sand, and drop-offs in depths to 22 feet. Crawlers, minnows, spinnerbaits, wacky worms, Ned Rigs, plastics in various configurations, and topwaters are all enticing smallmouth.
Crappie fishing is good to very good. Look for schooling fish in the shallows to 25 feet, in and along weeds, cribs, brush, and deep holes, as well as suspending over deep water. Check the entire water column to find and stay with the moving fish. Best baits include crappie minnows, waxies, plastics, Fuzzy Grubs, Crappie Scrubs, Slab Daddies, and one-inch Gulp! Minnows.
Bluegill fishing is good to very good on most waters. Anglers are catching numbers (i.e., smaller fish) in the shallower weeds and near other structure. Larger fish are on weed edges out to about 20 feet AND suspending. Waxies, leaf worms, crawler chunks, plastics, and Gulp! baits are working well. Try small minnows for the larger ’gills.
Sept. 16: Northern Zone goose season opens.
Sept. 19: Woodcock season opens.
Sept. 26: Northern Zone duck season opens.
Oct. 3-11: Hunters with disabilities gun deer hunt.
Oct. 8-10: Treeland’s 5th Annual Musky Fly Fishing Championship. Limited to first 100 entries (715-462-3874).
Oct. 10-11: Youth deer hunt.