Hayward Lakes Outdoor Report 9-28-2021

Steve Suman


The forecast calls for a beautiful week ahead through Thursday (not that they have not tricked us in the past!) with highs in the low 70s to 80s and lows in the low to mid-50s. Chances for showers start Friday evening and run through the (busy) weekend. Plan ahead and do not let the weather deter you from the numerous activities (see calendar below)!


“We still see a lot of green in the trees of the Quiet Lakes area,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “but a little farther north, trees are in full color autumn displays.

“Water temperatures are below 70 degrees and will continue downward.

“An old angler myth says, ‘As the forest becomes more and more naked, fishing gets better and better.’ This time of year, as wildlife becomes more active, fish do the same!

“It is now not necessary to get up early to catch fish. Anglers prefer to fish when water temperatures are highest later in the day.

“Musky anglers are active with the slipping water temperatures. Suckers on quick-set rigs are producing fish, which will only get better further into fall. Expect to see boats trolling large swimbaits and crankbaits along shorelines.

“Walleye, northern pike, and most multi-species fishing action is best with drifting methods. On breezy days, use the wind to your advantage and try Lindy Rigs and similar presentations.

“Bass are around docks and on sharp breaks in 4-10 feet. Many lakeshore owners are removing docks now, especially on weekends, and docks are disappearing quickly. Casting spinnerbaits and plastics will provide some action.

“Crappie and sunfish went into a non-biting mode and the crappie bite has not yet materialized. Anglers are not giving up, however, and catching few by fishing crappie minnows under slip bobbers over deep weeds and on sharp drop-offs. Rock bass are really on a bite.”


Jarrett at Hayward Bait says muskies are on the prowl!

“We are hearing many reports of muskies along weed edges in 10-15 feet. Suckers are paying off for the numerous anglers using them. Those not using live bait are running bucktails and topwaters.

“Walleyes are slowly moving onto shallow flats to feed. Depending on the waterbody, fish could be as deep as 40 feet or as shallow as 10 feet. They are in loosely formed schools, but the bite is good. Walleye suckers are the ticket, though some anglers still troll crawler harnesses.

“Northern pike action is good, with fish in 10-15 feet looking for forage. Anglers report success with spinnerbaits, swimbaits, stickbaits, and live bait.

“Largemouth bass are deep. With cooler weather making short work of shallow weeds, fish are fleeing to deep weed edges and thick grass. Wacky worms, Ned rigs, and some topwaters are producing fish.

“Smallmouth bass are on deep rock flats looking for crawfish and small baitfish. Ned rigs are working well with this cooler water, as big fish start to pack on the pounds for winter with whatever slow, easy meal lies in front of them.

“Crappie fishing is solid, with fish schooled both shallow and deep. Good electronics help get onto fish quickly, but small plastics, spinners, and jigs and minnows work well for finding fish. If you are not getting bites, keep moving! Once you find them, slow down and jig or cast slip floats.”


Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage is down 2 feet, with water temperatures in the mid- to high-60s.

“Musky fishing is decent, with anglers using a variety of tactics. Surface and sub-surface baits, trolling, and suckers are producing fish, and suckers off the side while casting is a definite recommendation. Muskies might be less shallow than folks think, as water temperatures are unusually high for this time of year. Hang over deep water and cast shallow to work the shallows and deeper drop-offs.

“Walleye fishing is a bit slower than weeks past, but anglers are still putting fish in the boat. The majority of walleyes anglers are catching on the Chip are on the smaller side, however. Some anglers are trolling Flicker Shads occasionally, but most are using crawlers and minnows, and live bait seems to work best.

“Northern pike reports slowed, probably due to few anglers fishing for them. Pike will start looking for live bait as we get later in the year. Try hanging a couple northern suckers off the side of the boat while casting spinnerbaits and spoons.

“Bass angler reports are scarce, as most are not fishing for them. Those trying for other species report a few catches on artificials in and around shallow structure.

“Crappie fishing picked up, but fish are not schooling in the bays with water temperatures too warm. Anglers are catching them with minnows and plastics on cribs in 18 feet and shallower.”


This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses “rules” on what fish will eat.

“An interesting belief among some anglers, but certainly not all, is that different species of fish will only eat certain prey. This is largely a misconception, perhaps born out of the rules humans create for themselves about what they will and will not eat, i.e. vegan, keto, etc.

“In the wild, there are basically no rules about what other organisms fish will eat. Each fish species does have some preferences and specialties and will encounter some prey more often than others based on the habitat that they occupy.

“For example, smallmouth bass spend time in and around rocks and specialize in eating crayfish ‑ studies of their diet consistently show that they eat a whole lot of them. Does that mean a smallmouth will not eat a frog, dragonfly larvae, or even a little northern pike if they get the chance? Absolutely not. Smallmouth, and most other fish, will usually eat whatever suitable prey they encounter.

“We have seen pike filled with insect larvae, bluegills filled with other little fish, and there are plenty of examples of larger gamefish eating terrestrial prey such as mice and ducks. Really, the only rule when it comes to fish diets is that a fish can pretty much eat only the things it can fit in its mouth. Even there, anglers might be surprised.

“We have seen plenty of examples of northern pike or muskies eating another fish that is close to half their own length. Recently, we caught a 7.5-inch creek chub in a trout survey with a 4-inch long green frog jammed down its throat.

“Simply put, in the hard life of a wild animal, one cannot be too choosy about a meal!”


This coming weekend is another busy one in the Hayward area. Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies Inc. will host its 43rd Annual Muskie tournament October 1-3, with the Stone Lake Cranberry Festival those same days (official Festival day is Saturday, Oct. 2), and Musky Tale Resort’s hosting its Crappie Quest Oct. 2-3. Wisconsin’s gun deer hunt for hunters with disabilities opens Oct. 2 and runs through Oct. 10. There are many more event opportunities available this weekend ‑ visit the Calendar of Events for an inclusive list.


The DNR will host the first Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Response Plan Committee meeting Friday, Oct. 1, from 9-11 a.m., to discuss the review process to examine progress on the DNR’s 15-year CWD Response Plan. The public can view the meeting here. The plan, in effect through 2025, guides the DNR’s approach to CWD in Wisconsin. Stakeholders representing conservation, business, hunting organizations, and tribal governments comprise the committee that will develop input on the plan’s implementation and actions. For more information on CWD, visit the DNR CWD webpage.




Musky action is warming up as the water temperatures are cooling down and the fish increase feeding activity. Target mid-depth to shallow weed edges, shorelines, breaklines, drop-offs, and flats. Musky suckers on quick-strike rigs, large bucktails, Bull Dawgs, jerkbaits, crankbaits, gliders, and topwaters are all getting attention. Trolled large swimbaits, stickbaits, and crankbaits are also producing strikes.



Walleye action is fair to good on most waters, with locating them a challenge. Some are deep and some are moving to feed on shallow flats. Look for them in depths from 8 to more than 35 feet, though they will move shallower as the water temperatures continue to cool. Walleye suckers, fatheads, and crawlers on Lindy Rigs and harnesses work well for live bait, while cast and trolled crankbaits, stickbaits, and Flicker Shads are also producing responses.


Northern Pike:

Northern pike fishing is good to very good as fish load up for the winter months. Look for them on weeds, weed edges, and near panfish and baitfish concentrations in depths to 20 feet. Northern suckers and minnows on jigs, Lindy Rigs, and harnesses, spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, swimbaits, and stickbaits are all effective for pike.


Largemouth Bass:

Largemouth bass fishing is fair to good, depending on the day and conditions. Concentrate on sharp breaks, deep and shallow structure, and deep weed edges, subject to change with the water temperature. Spinners, spinnerbaits, Ned rigs, wacky worms, plastics, and topwaters should cover their desires.


Smallmouth Bass:

Smallmouth bass fishing is good to very good for anglers pursuing them. Fish are on a fall feed, holding on deep rock flats, breaklines, and structure, both shallow and deep. Spinnerbaits, plastics, tubes, and Ned rigs are all catching fish.



Crappie fishing is good to very good, with fish schooling on deep weeds, cribs, and drop-offs, as well as on similar shallow cover. They are moving, so plan to do likewise, or sit and wait for their next pass (but it might be awhile!) Best baits include crappie minnows, fatheads, plastics, and Gulp! baits on jigs and/or slip bobbers, spinners, and Beetle Spins.



Bluegill fishing is fair to good on weeds, weed edges, cribs, and brush at various depths. Waxies, worms, crawler chunks, plastics, and Gulp! baits will all entice bluegills. Look for bigger ‘gills on deeper cover.


Upcoming Events

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

Sept. 25: Woodcock season opened.

Oct. 1: CWD Response Plan Committee meeting 9-11 a.m.

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.