By: Steve Suman

The forecast indicates a cooler (lows in the 40s; highs in the 60s), wet week, but current radar does not appear to support the wet. Regardless, the prediction is for sunshine and blue skies for Saturday, Sept. 22, and the 34th Annual Hayward Fall Festival. Come partake in the food, entertainment, arts and crafts, vendor booths, contests, and more!

“Fall changes are definitely taking place,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “as are changes in fishing techniques.
“Musky anglers report seeing fish and follows, but few hookups, with most catches on live bait. Try floating a sucker on a quick-strike rig while casting and be sure to figure eight at the boat.
“Walleyes are on mid-lake humps and rice beds, with early and late best, and speed trolling crankbaits at 2.5-3 mph over 20- 30-foot depths producing fish.
“Northern pike are in shallow weeds, hitting spinnerbaits and nearly anything else.
“Largemouth bass anglers are catching fish near shallower weeds and under docks with wacky worms and topwaters such as frogs and Jitterbugs.
“The crappie bite is good as panfish start to move off their summer weed areas. Work deeper structure such as humps, rocks, downed wood, and cribs with crappie minnows and plastics on jigs and/or under slip bobbers.”

At Hayward Bait, Trent and Steve say anglers should watch for fall patterns with the cooling water.
“Musky action is slow, but anglers are catching some fish, primarily on suckers, Suicks, bucktails, and topwaters.
“Walleye fishing is best in late afternoon and evening, with anglers fishing fatheads and crawlers on jigs, slip bobbers, and bottom bouncers on Round, Lac Courte Oreilles, and Grindstone.
“Northern pike are active on many lakes, taking Rapalas, spoons, and stickbaits.
“Largemouth bass are hitting swim baits hard around lily pads and talk swamp grass in 3-5 feet. Smallmouth bass action is good on Rapalas on the Chippewa Flowage.
“Crappie anglers are using electronics to find fish in 7-9 feet and then catching them on crappie minnows and worms on jigs and under bobbers. Bluegills are still hitting surface poppers and it does not take long to catch a nice meal.”

Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage is at full pool, with water temperatures in the low to mid 70s.
“Musky fishing slowed last week with the higher water and water temperatures. There is some sucker action, but casting is slow. If you see rising surface temperatures, deeper trolling might be an effective tactic.
“Most midday walleye fishing success is on trolled Flicker Shads (1.8-2.1 mph) and Shad Raps (3.5 mph and more). During evening hours, work crawlers and minnows on weedlines and drop-offs.
“Northern pike are in weed beds and active on spinners and spoons.
“Smallmouth bass are hitting crawlers in the cribs and plastic craws and frogs on stumpy shorelines, rocks, and lilies.
“Crappie anglers have to be aggressive, catching 2-3 and moving to the next spot. Try crappie minnows and plastics on cribs, brush piles, sand saddles, and deeper bars with weeds.”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses the popularity of catch and release fishing.
“One of the reasons fishing is such a dynamic sport is that there is a variety of ways to enjoy it, though obviously catching fish is important to the fun. However, after catching a fish, some anglers get enjoyment from harvesting it for a meal, others are inclined to release what they catch, and some anglers may switch between harvest or catch and release based on the day, the lake, or more commonly, the species.
“A study conducted by University of Wisconsin researchers in 2011, using angler diaries, looked at release rates for different popular species in northeast Wisconsin. The researchers asked anglers to record where they fished, what they targeted, what they kept, what they released, and why they released fish (i.e. voluntarily or required by regulations or season).
“The musky release rate was 99 percent, a statistic that will surprise very few Wisconsin anglers. Release rates for bass species were nearly as high at 97 percent, and rates for northern pike 86 percent.
“The release rate was 67 percent for both walleye and panfish, with a key difference between the two. Walleye anglers were more likely to release fish because of regulations (i.e. shorter than minimum length limit), while panfish anglers were most likely to release panfish voluntarily, not due to regulations preventing harvest.
“These kinds of studies help biologists understand angler preferences and may help anglers put their own experiences in context with what their peers are doing on the water.”

The DNR is asking archery and gun deer hunters to post all of their hunting activity observations throughout the deer season to the Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey, even if they have no wildlife sightings during a hunt. The DNR uses these observations to track the populations of many wildlife species. Hunters can submit observations online and by regular mail. The survey ends January 2019 and participants can receive a personalized summary of all wildlife recorded during the season. For more information, search “deer hunter wildlife” on the DNR website.

Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies Inc. is holding its 41st Annual Fall Muskie Tournament Friday through Sunday, October 5-8, on 17 Hayward area lakes. The name of every entrant goes into the drawing for the Grand Door Prize – a 2018 Lund 1725 Pro Guide tiller, ShoreLand’r trailer, and 60hp Mercury motor. Catching a fish is optional, but you must attend the drawing at the Sunday awards ceremony at Flat Creek Inn and Suites to win. The contest offers more than $30,000 in prizes, including gift certificates, GPS units, trolling motors, depth finders, rods, reels, cameras, and more, and awards prizes and trophies to the first 10 places, including a $1,500 gift certificate to Cabela’s and a $1,000 gift certificate to Hayward Bait & Tackle. The angler releasing the largest musky receives a graphite replica and every angler releasing a 34-inch or larger fish receives a plaque. Entry fees are $80 for adults ($90 after Sept. 19) and $25 for youth 16 and younger. Enter in person at Jenk’s (715-462-3055) or in person and by phone at Hayward Bait (715-634-2921) until 11 p.m. October 4. For more information, visit, or call (715) 634-2921; 634-4543.

Musky action is fair, as fish are apparently not getting with the annual fall feeding program and only looking at, but not buying, angler offerings. Suckers on quick-strike rigs are starting to work, but otherwise anglers are casting bucktails, jerkbaits, and topwaters, as well as trolling large, deeper diving stickbaits. The slow summer to early fall bite could very well be an omen for an excellent later fall season. You will not know unless you get out and give it a shot!

Walleye fishing is fair to good, with low light hours offering the best chances for success. Fish are holding in mid-depth to 30 feet around weeds, weedlines, humps, bars, flats, and drop-offs. The most productive baits and presentations include crawlers, leeches (if you can find them), and fatheads/minnows on jigs, bottom bouncers, slip bobbers, and split shot rigs, as well as trolling deeper water with crankbaits/stickbaits such as Flicker Shads and Shad Raps.

Northern Pike:
Northern pike continue to provide perhaps the most consistent fishing action in shallow to mid-depth weeds and weed edges. Bucktails, Rapalas, stickbaits, spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, and northern suckers are all effective at this time.

Largemouth Bass:
Largemouth bass action is good around shallow to mid-depth weeds, wood, lily pads, brush, bogs, cribs, and docks. Plastics in various configurations, swim baits, crankbaits, spinners, topwaters, and live bait can all catch (no pun intended) the interest of largemouth.

Smallmouth Bass:
Smallmouth fishing is good to very good around weeds, wood, gravel, rock, and cribs in various depths. Productive baits include assorted plastics in a variety of riggings, small crankbaits/stickbaits, topwaters, crawlers, and minnows.

Crappie action is good once you locate and follow them. Look for fish on deeper weeds, wood, brush, bars, bogs, cribs, humps, and rocks. Crappie minnows, waxies, worms, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs and plain hooks, fished with and without bobbers, are all catching fish, as are small spinners.

Bluegill fishing is fair to good on mid-depth to deeper weeds, wood, humps, rocks, brush, bogs, and cribs. Best baits include waxies, worms, crawler pieces, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs, teardrops, and plain hooks, with or without bobbers, and on small surface poppers.

Upcoming Events
Sept. 15: Seasons opened: Archery and crossbow deer; Fall turkey; Ruffed grouse in Zone A; Cottontail rabbit in Northern Zone; Gray and fox squirrel; Crow.
Sept. 16: Canada goose season opened in North and South exterior zones.
Sept. 22: 34th Annual Hayward Fall Festival (715-634-8662).
Sept. 22: Seasons open: Duck in Northern Zone (see regs); Woodcock.
Sept. 29: Seasons open: Duck in Southern and Mississippi zones; Canada goose in Mississippi River Subzone.
Sept. 30: Seasons close: Trout on rivers flowing into Lake Superior; Lake trout on Lake Superior; Sturgeon (see regs).
Oct. 5-8: Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies Inc. – 41st Annual Fall Muskie Tournament (715-634-2921).
Oct. 6-7: Youth Deer Hunt for youth hunters 11-15 years of age (see regs).
Oct. 6-14: Hunters with Disabilities Deer Hunt (see regs).
Oct. 9: Black bear season closes (see regs).
Oct. 14: Trapping seasons open: Coyote trapping; Fisher trapping (see regs).
Oct. 15: Inland trout season closes (see regs).
Oct. 20: Seasons open: Pheasant; Ruffed grouse in zone B; Sharp-tailed grouse (by permit); Bobwhite quail; Hungarian partridge; Cottontail rabbit; Raccoon gun and trapping (resident); Red and gray fox hunting and trapping; Bobcat hunting and trapping Period 1 north of Hwy. 64 (see regs).
Oct. 28: Seasons open: Muskrat; Mink (see regs).

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