Steve Suman

 

This week’s forecast predicts cooler temperatures and chances for rain nearly every day, with Friday the exception. However, rain chances are only about 20 percent each day, with Wednesday’s 70-percent chance the exception. Highs range from upper 40s to upper 50s, and lows from upper 20s to mid 40s.

Travel Wisconsin produces a Fall Color Report each year and it currently shows the Hayward area at 95 percent peak. Hayward Lakes Visitor and Convention Bureau put together six self-guided color tours for Sawyer County, three each in the northern and southern sections of the county. Rain or shine, this is the perfect time to see peak fall colors!

 

“We are still in the early stages of fall turnover on the Quiet Lakes,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “and combined with some unseasonable temperatures, fishing is somewhat inconsistent. Shorter daylight hours and cooler nights should make for better fishing.

“Musky fishing is picking up as more anglers target these big predators. Northern pike and musky fishing will get better as we move further into fall. If you do not get fish to move on big, hard-bodied lures, try downsizing to smaller baits. Many anglers float a musky sucker while casting. Retrieve your bait near the sucker for any following fish.

“Walleye anglers continue to catch fish in deeper water by trolling deep diving crankbaits over reefs or vegetation. In addition, look to shallower waters, especially on wind-blown points and in the evening hours.

“Northern pike and bass continue to roam the weed edges. The best way to target these fish is to cast spinnerbaits and double-jointed crankbaits.

“Panfish are schooling in 10-13 feet, moving around the lakes, and electronics help to find them. Crappie minnows and small plastics under bobbers are working well for these fish.

“Bluegill action is good on small worms under slip bobbers.”

 

Trent at Hayward Bait says anglers should notice more consistent fall patterns for most species with the cooling trend.

“Musky fishing is getting into full swing and anglers are using bigger lures such as Lake X Toads, Magnum Bull Dawgs, bucktails, and jerkbaits. Most success is in 12 feet, on ledges in 10 feet, and some in 3 feet around lily pads.

“The walleye bite is tough, though anglers are finding fish on weed beds, rock, gravel, and hard and soft bottom transition areas. Jigs and minnows, blade baits, and crankbaits are all good options.

“Northern pike are on weed edges, lily pads, and points out to 10 feet. Cast topwaters, swimbaits, and inline spinners.

“Largemouth bass are scattered, with some in 2-5 feet and others out around 8-12 feet near drop-offs, points, and cribs. Swimbaits, bass jigs, and topwater frogs all work.

“Smallmouth bass are staging on sandy bottoms, humps, and drop-offs in 8-25 feet, depending on the lake. Wacky worms, creature baits, crawlers, and walleye suckers work well this time of year.

“The crappie bite is good near weeds in 10 feet to as deep as 20 feet, depending on the lake. Jigs/minnows, small Rapalas, spoons, and lipless crankbaits are all good choices.

“Bluegills are offering a good bite in 3-15 feet, with Bimbo Skunk Bugs, chicken jigs, and live worms working well.”

 

Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage is down 2-3 feet and the water temperature is in the low 60s.

“Musky fishing is solid, the sucker bite is good, and jerkbaits and rubber baits are hot. Prime spots include deeper edges and weed edges.

“Walleye fishing has picked up slightly, with minnows the bait of choice, particularly sucker minnows and large fatheads. The best bite is on the east side, over mud flats and near large underwater rocks, in about 16-18 feet.

“Northern pike action slowed, but anglers continue to catch some smaller fish in the weeds on live bait and spinners.

“Smallies bass fishing is good on Ned Rigs, with humps, rocks, and cribs all good spots on the east side.

“Crappies are still spread out and the increased temperatures last week delayed their schooling in Moore’s Bay and the Blueberries. Minnows, Crappie Scrubs, and Mini-Mites are working well.”

 

Carolyn at Anglers All in Ashland says Chequamegon Bay fishing has picked up, especially for smallmouth bass.

“Smallmouth bass action is good, primarily in the deeper ‘go-to’ spots, such as the tip of Long Island, rock pile, and back of the breakwall. Anglers report success with sucker minnows and by ripping plastics and jigging spoons.

“Coho and trout are moving into the Bay, heading for stream mouths. Trollers using Dipsey Divers, leadcore line instead of downriggers, and some just flatlining boards, are starting to find some fish. Baits range from spoons to stickbaits to dodgers and bait flies.

“Anglers are now catching salmonids in some of the streams, primarily the Brule.”

 

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses fly-fishing for panfish.

“Fly fishing is most commonly associated with catching trout, but anglers might want to consider the method for another popular species group: panfish.

“Traditional spinning and baitcasting set-ups use the weight of the lure to propel a cast, while fly fishing uses the weight of the line to propel the cast, meaning the lure (fly) can be nearly weightless. This allows anglers to throw tiny flies so light they stay on the water’s surface. It also allows anglers to create some very convincing presentations for panfish.

“Panfish, crappie, and bluegill in particular, eat zooplankton as a huge part of their diet. There are many kinds of zooplankton, but they all have the commonality of being very small and suspending in the water column. That is a very challenging organism to imitate with traditional fishing gear, though ice fishing jigs likely come closest.

“Fly fishing allows an angler to cast a tiny fly with near-neutral buoyancy. A small ‘hare’s ear’ or ‘bead-head prince nymph’ danced slowly in front of panfish effectively mimics zooplankton and other small organisms. This kind of presentation can be nearly irresistible, even when panfish are not particularly aggressive.

“Long, quiet casts also make it easier to target shallow panfish that might otherwise scatter when a slip bobber hits the water.

“Fly fishing is certainly not something you can learn overnight, but for those who take the time to add it to their skill-set, the rewards go beyond trout.”

 

The DNR will start updating its walleye management plan for walleye populations across the state. Public input will come from random mail and online surveys of fishing license holders (resident and non-resident) to gauge angler attitudes about management options, and regional virtual meetings to discuss management issues and partnership opportunities. The public can also provide comment on an online public input form. The DNR’s first regional meeting, via Zoom, is Tuesday, Oct. 13, at 6:30 p.m., for Ashland, Bayfield, Douglas, and Iron counties. Individuals living in those counties who have a strong interest in walleye management and would like to participate (pre-registration required) should contact Max Wolter.

 

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 end. 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 has combined the hunting regulations into one convenient document, printed on larger paper, with color photographs and graphics and simplified language. Hunting regulations and season dates are available online and at license agents throughout the state. The DNR will continue to produce separate trapping regulations pamphlets.

 

Treeland’s 5th Annual Musky Fly Fishing Championship is Thursday through Saturday, October 8-10. The tournament will give away thousands of dollars in prizes every day, as well as team and individual prizes. Registration ($150/person) for the contest, limited to first 100 entries, closes at 6:30 p.m., Thursday, Oct 8. For more information, call (715) 462-3874.

 

Musky Tale Resort is hosting its annual Crappie Quest this Saturday and Sunday, October 3-4. This is a two-person-team tournament paying prizes for five places based on total weight for both days, and for largest fish. Fishing hours are 7 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and 7 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday. The contest offers cash prizes, raffles, and door prizes Saturday night. Entry fee (after Sept. 15) is $80/team. For more information, call (715) 462-3838 or visit www.muskytale.com.

 

FISHING REPORT

Musky:

Musky fishing is good and getting better. Target weeds and weed edges, points, humps, and drop-offs in 3-15 feet. Musky suckers and bigger bucktails, rubber baits, jerkbaits, and topwaters are the current baits of choice.

 

Walleye:

Walleye fishing is a challenge, but improving somewhat. Concentrate on deeper weeds, weed edges, points, rock, gravel, transition areas, and mud flats out to 25 feet. Fish shallower in very early morning and late evening hours. Walleye suckers, large fatheads, and chubs work well, as do trolled crankbaits and stickbaits.

 

Northern Pike:

Northern pike action is fair to good. Look for fish on weeds, weed edges, lily pads, and points out to about 15 feet, as well as near baitfish/panfish concentrations. Spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, crankbaits, swimbaits, and topwaters are all catching fish. Go deeper with bigger baits for trophy pike.

 

Largemouth Bass:

Largemouth bass action is fair to good, with fish spread out and holding on weeds, weed edges, points, cribs, and drop-offs in 2-15 feet. Live bait, swimbaits, bass jigs, swim jigs, plastics, spinnerbaits, crankbaits, and topwaters will all get the attention of largemouth.

 

Smallmouth Bass:

Smallmouth bass are active and fishing is good on weeds, weed edges, rock, cribs, sand bottoms, stumps, humps, and drop-offs in 6-25 feet. Walleye suckers, crawlers, wacky worms, Ned rigs, spinnerbaits, crankbaits, and creature baits are all effective baits at this time.

 

Crappie:

Crappie fishing is good, with fish schooling and on the move. Look for scattered schools around weeds and other cover in 8-22 feet and suspending over deeper water. Top offerings include crappie minnows, plastics, small Rapalas, spoons, Crappie Scrubs, Mini-Mites, and Tattle-Tails, fished with/without slip bobbers.

 

Bluegill:

Bluegill fishing is good to very good in and around weeds and other structure in depths from 2-18 feet. The most productive baits include waxies, worms, crawler chunks, Skunk Bugs, teardrops, and chicken jigs. Small minnows work well for larger ‘gills and help to avoid “bait robbers.”

 

Upcoming Events

Sept. 26: Northern Zone duck season opened.

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

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: Hayward Chapter-FHNBall you can eat spaghetti feed fundraiserCanceled (715-634-3185).

Oct. 10-11: Youth deer hunt.

Oct. 13: Bear hunting season ends (see regs).

Oct. 15: General inland trout season closes (see regs).

Oct. 17: Seasons open: Pheasant; Fox (red, gray) hunting/trapping; Bobcat Period 1 hunting/trapping; Fisher trapping; Raccoon hunting/trapping; Coyote trapping.

Oct. 31: Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame closes for the season; reopens April 15 (715-634-4440).

 

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.