Hayward Lakes Outdoor Report 9-21-2021

Steve Suman


This week should offer plenty of sunshine once the heavy rains of Monday night move through the Hayward area. The forecast predicts high temperatures in the 60s and lows in the 40s ‑ except Wednesday’s low of 35 degrees! This is the time for considerable weather changes, so start digging out those flannel shirts!

Fall is a beautiful time in the North Woods and you can track color changes across the state by visiting the Fall Color Report on the Travel Wisconsin website.


The Hayward Fall Festival is this Saturday, September 25, in downtown Hayward. The Hayward Fall Festival is an annual tradition that celebrates the changing of the seasons with fine art and craft booths, sidewalk sales, various contests, wonderful food, brat, beer, and wine tent, activities for kids, and live music. Relay for Life of Sawyer County is hosting a 5K Run/Walk ‑ visit the website to register. For more information and a complete list of activities and events, visit www.haywardareachamber.com or call (715) 634-8662.


“In the Quiet Lakes area, days are getting shorter, overnight temperatures continue to drop, ferns along roadsides are starting to die off, and tree leaves are turning color and starting to fall,” says Pat at Happy Hooker.

“Many people are starting to store their boats for winter, cabin owners will start pulling docks, and with fewer people, the lakes will again become quiet.

“This time of year, we usually get back to early May fishing tactics, and fishing is getting better every week. The next two months are arguably the best fishing months of the year.

“Musky fishing is still slow, but anglers are seeing some fish and reporting many follows, so the fish are beginning to move. Bucktails, swimbaits, and topwaters are all producing some interest, while other anglers are having mixed success with speed trolling and slow-dragging musky suckers along weed edges. Water levels are still down, so be careful. This is especially true when you are in unfamiliar areas.

“Walleyes are on mid-lake rock and weeds in 8-12 feet. Live bait under slip bobbers and jigs and minnows are the best tactics. Use light monofilament in 6-pound test to help with stretch.

“Bass anglers are making some great catches on Shad Raps, spinnerbaits, and plastic frogs and other topwaters. Wind-driven shorelines and 5-13 feet are the best locations. Do not be surprised if you tangle with smaller northern pike when concentrating on these areas.

“Crappie action is picking up on weeds and mid-lake rock, with most anglers catching fish in 8-12 feet.

“Panfish anglers looking for constant action should target cabbage, beaches, and docking areas. Worm chunks, Mister Twisters, and other types of small plastics will catch some fish.”


Jarrett at Hayward Bait says muskies are putting on the feedbag with the dropping temperatures.

“Big bait season is upon us and we are already seeing a steady number of catches on sucker rigs. In addition to live bait, bucktails, glide baits, and topwaters are catching fish. Anglers are seeing muskies in 10-20, and even deeper on some lakes where they are chasing whitefish and cisco.

“Walleyes are still roaming deep water, though starting to slide onto shallower weed edges in preparation for winter. Small suckers are working really well, but anglers are boating fish on Lindy Rigs, crawler harnesses, and crankbaits.

“Northern pike are around weeds and structure in 10-15 feet. Medium suckers work well, but anglers are also boating fish on medium bucktails, spinnerbaits, and crankbaits.

“Largemouth bass are relating to weeds edges, corners, and inside turns in 10-25 feet. Live bait, wacky worms, and swimbaits are doing the job.

“Smallmouth bass are in the same places you normally find walleye, with deep rock flats and weed edges key. As fish start to feed more heavily with the cooler weather, we are getting close to moving from finesse fishing, such as drop-shotting, to faster moving baits.

“Crappies are still on fire as schools of fish are roaming basins and weed edges looking for food. Once you find one, you will quickly get onto a good bite. Crappie minnows and small plastics are the ticket.”


This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses fall survey plans for the Hayward Fish Team.

“Early fall offers a window for effective surveys of juvenile walleye and this sends most fish teams into action, especially in the northern part of the state.

The fish teams conduct fall juvenile walleye surveys by boat electrofishing. Ideally, a survey includes the entire shoreline of the lake, but on larger lakes, we select a representative subsample of the shoreline.

“This fall, the Hayward Fish Team has a sizable list of fall electrofishing surveys. The lakes include Chippewa Flowage, Lac Courte Oreilles (LCO), Nelson, Big Chetac, Round, Spider, Sissabagama, Whitefish, Windigo, Island, Black Dan, Barber, Windfall, and Durphee.

“The Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission may survey some additional lakes, and the two agencies perform some surveys jointly.

“The data from these fall surveys can tell us several things about stocking survival and natural reproduction of walleye, and to some extent, muskellunge as well.

“Lakes surveyed in a year after stocking offer some idea of survival of those stocked fish through their first year in the lake. We also look for natural born walleye, usually less than 7 inches in length, that will give us an indication of the strength of that year class.

“Data on natural reproduction are becoming increasingly important as many lakes are showing declines in both reproduction and adult density. This information will inform where rehabilitation efforts may be necessary and most likely to succeed.”


The Clam Lake Elk Festival is this Saturday, September 25, in downtown Clam Lake. Activities include a car show, vendor booths and exhibits, ATV tours, elk walking tour, great food, and DNR elk education sessions. From 10 a.m.-noon, DNR elk biologists will hold a Q&A session at Clam Lake Community Center.

For more information, visit www.clamlakewi.com or call (715) 794-2781.


Musky anglers still have time to register for the 43rd Annual Fall Fishing Tournament, October 1-3, hosted by Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies Inc., offering more than $30,000 in prizes! The tournament awards prizes and trophies to the first 10 places. The angler releasing the largest fish wins a graphite replica, and every angler releasing a 34-inch or larger fish receives a plaque.

Each registered angler is in the Grand Door Prize drawing for a 2021 Lund 1725 Pro Guide tiller boat, ShoreLand’r trailer, and 60hp Mercury motor (must be present to win).

Entry fees are $115 for adults and $25 for youth 16 and younger. Enter in person at Jenk’s Bait and in person and phone at Hayward Bait (715-634-2921) until 11 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 30.

For more information, visit www.muskiesinc-hayward.org or call (715) 634-2921 or 634-4543.


Hunters have two additional seasons opening this coming weekend: Duck season in the Northern Zone (check the regulations) and woodcock season statewide. Woodcock are migratory game birds and hunters who pursue them must register annually with the Harvest Information Program (HIP), as well as possess a small game license. Both are available through license sales agents and online at Go Wild.


This Saturday, September 25, is the 39th Annual Hayward Sports Center Fundraiser, starting at 6:30 p.m., at the Hayward Sports Center. Tickets are $100 (two guests per ticket) and only 200 tickets are available. There is more than $10,000 in cash and prizes, with First Prize $3,000. Evening highlights include dinner for two, silent auction, and games of chance. Winners must be present to win for the door prize drawings every 15 minutes, cash raffles, and two bonus drawings for $250 each.

For more information, and to purchase a ticket, visit www.haywardsportscenter.com or call (715-634-4791).




Musky action is fair to good and improving as anglers are catching them more consistently. Look for fish from shallow to 20 feet, hanging on weeds, weedlines, weed edges, and points. Current bait favorites include suckers on quick-strike rigs, bucktails, spinnerbaits, swimbaits, stickbaits, gliders, and topwaters, and some trolling success.



Walleye fishing is good on weeds, weedlines, weed edges, rock, basins, and transition areas in 6 to 20 feet. Work deeper water during sunny days, and shallower locations in early morning and late evening into after dark. Walleye suckers, crawlers, stickbaits, crankbaits, Flicker Shads, and Beetle Spins are currently producing success.


Northern Pike:

Northern pike fishing is very good around weeds, weed edges, drop-offs, and baitfish and panfish concentrations in depths to more than 20 feet. Anglers are catching fish on northern suckers and smaller minnows, spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, crankbaits, bucktails, stickbaits, and topwaters. As always, bigger baits in deeper water for trophy pike.


Largemouth Bass:

Largemouth bass fishing is good to every good in depths from 5-25 feet. Concentrate on weeds, weed bed edges, lily pads, shoreline structure, drop-offs, and breaklines. Effective baits at this time include live bait, spinnerbaits, swimbaits, wacky worms, plastics, crankbaits, and topwaters.


Smallmouth Bass:

Smallmouth bass action is good on weed edges, rock, rock flats, and gravel in depths to 20 feet. Sucker minnows, Ned Rigs, drop-shot rigs, plastics, crankbaits, and topwaters can all catch the attention of smallmouth.



Crappie fishing is good to very good, with fish in/on weeds, weed edges, deep holes, basins, and cribs in 6-18 feet. Top offerings include crappie minnows, fatheads, waxies, plastics, Tattle-Tails, Mini-Mites, Gulp! baits, and Beetle Spins.



Bluegill fishing is consistent around weeds, brush, bogs, cribs, and other structure, from shallow to deep. Look for bigger bluegills in deeper water. Traditional baits such as waxies, worms, plastics, and Gulp! baits fished on small jigs with or without floats are working well.


Upcoming Events

Sept. 16: Goose season opened in Northern Zone (see regs).

Sept. 18: Seasons opened: Deer (archery, crossbow); Turkey; Cottontail rabbit; Squirrel; Ruffed grouse (Zone A); Crow.

Sept. 25: Duck season opens in Northern Zone (see regs).

Sept. 25: Woodcock season opens.

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

Sept. 25: Clam Lake Elk Festival (715-794-2781).

Sept. 25: 39th Annual Hayward Sports Center Fundraiser (715-634-4791).

Oct. 1-3: Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies Inc.43rd Annual Muskie tournament (715-634-2921; 634-4543).

Oct. 1-3: Stone Lake Cranberry Festival.

Oct. 2-3: Crappie QuestMusky Tale Resort (715-462-3838).

Oct. 2-10: Gun hunt for hunters with disabilities.

Oct. 7-9: Treeland Premier Musky Fly Fishing Championship (715-462-3874).

Oct. 9: NW Relic Ridersvintage snowmobile show and swap meet at Flat Creek Lodge (715-634-8377).

Oct. 9-10: Youth deer hunt.

Oct. 12: Bear season closes.

Oct. 15-17: Ladies Musky Fishing SchoolDeerfoot Lodge (715-462-3328).

Oct. 16: Hunting seasons open: Fox (red and gray); Bobcat (Period 1); Raccoon (resident).

Oct. 16: Hunting seasons open at 9 a.m. statewide: Pheasant; Bobwhite quail; Hungarian partridge (except Clark, Marathon, and Taylor counties.

Oct. 16: Trapping seasons open: Bobcat (Period 1); Fisher; Coyote; Fox; Raccoon (resident).

Oct. 23: Trapping seasons open: Mink; Muskrat.


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.