The forecast “promises,” in general, mostly very nice weather this week, though with a few chances for rain and/or thunderstorms. Cool nights and mild days in the upper 60s to mid-70s are perfect for nearly all forms of outdoor recreation. Look around just a bit ‑ not all that closely‑ and you will see early hints of fall color.
“The recent weather is consistent and so is fishing on the Quiet Lakes,” says Pat at Happy Hooker. “If you are having success, do not change a thing. If you are struggling, change tactics until you find success.
“Fall is knocking on the door and things will start to change in a hurry.
“Muskies are starting to put on the feed and we are almost at the start of a good bite on medium to large suckers.
“Walleye action remains hit-and-miss. Fishing in low light periods is the most productive, especially in late afternoon.
“Northern pike and bass are active in 6-12 feet. Look for deep weed transitions. Lures of choice include Jigging Raps, Rat-L-Traps, and jigs and plastics. The challenge is figuring out the proper retrieval cadence to get the fish to strike.
“Panfish fishing is decent on most lakes for anglers using live bait under floats and those casting plastics. It is hard to beat a Mister Twister type setup.”
Jarrett at Hayward Bait says muskies will become more active with the falling temperatures.
“Fish will move shallower, higher in the water column, and hit baits in addition to bucktails, the summer mainstays. Larger trolling baits, sucker profile baits, and topwaters will shine as fish stock up this fall.
“Walleye are still in deep water, depending on the waterbody, and feeding on crayfish and smaller baitfish. The start of Lindy rigging and large crankbait action is upon us.
“Northern pike will also put on the feed bag. The skinny pike you caught all summer will start filling out. Target weed beds in 8-12 feet as fish work up from deeper water to feed on bluegills, crappies, or whatever might be their main forage.
“Largemouth bass will soon start pushing toward weed beds as well. They follow bluegills and baitfish into warmer water that is full of oxygen and insects before cooler water kills off weeds. There is plenty of time!
“Smallmouth bass are wandering many of the same territories as walleye, such as deep rock bars, weed edges, and basins. Fishing topwaters over deep water for fish feeding on suspending baitfish should pick up quickly.
“Crappies have time before pushing shallow, though there are a few in shallow weeds. Many fish in deep water still feed on baitfish and insects towards the surface. Stay mobile, as these fish are nomads.”
Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage pool is down 2 feet, with the water temperature 72 degrees and dropping.
“Musky fishing is on par and the bite will get better as water temperatures cool. A few anglers report good luck trolling, however, local guides say casting bigger bucktails has been very effective over the last couple of weeks. With the cooling water, anglers are starting to float suckers while casting.
“Walleye reports have not been abundant as of late, though there are scattered reports. Anglers are starting to switch to minnows and crawlers. Most reports have walleye sitting at around 20 feet, but that can soon change with declining temperatures. Keep an eye on surface temperatures ‑ as they decrease, walleyes will move to shallower weed beds in search of food.
“Northern pike action is solid and the fish, though smaller, are still hitting spinnerbaits in the weeds.
“Smallmouth bass continue to be a solid bite on Ned Rigs, crawlers, and frogs, with the far eastern side from Moore’s Bay to the cranberries producing the most fish.
“Crappie action slowed more than normal over the last several weeks. One angler reports he found large crappies in deep holes in about 30 feet. As he moved to 25-20 feet, action decreased or stopped.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter provides a Blaisdell Lake sturgeon survey report from DNR fisheries technician Evan Sniadajewski.
“On Monday, August 23, DNR Fisheries crews from Hayward and Park Falls cooperated to conduct a gill net survey targeting lake sturgeon. This survey took place on Blaisdell Lake on the Chippewa River’s East Fork in Sawyer County.
“These types of surveys sometimes have limited success due to the low abundance and elusive nature of sturgeon. This proved to be a good day, however. We boated seven large fish, ranging in size from 55 inches up to a whopping 70 inches ‑ an inch larger than the average height of an American man. The two largest fish, 68 inches and 70 inches, likely weighed between 70 and 90 pounds.
“The lake sturgeon is both the largest and longest-lived Wisconsin fish species, with the potential to live for more than 100 years. They can reach incredible sizes, pushing 90 inches and well over 100 pounds, but despite their large size, these fish grow incredibly slowly.
“Interestingly, DNR crews handled some of these fish previously, initially tagging the two largest fish July 31, 2012, in a similar Blaisdell Lake survey. In the nine years since their initial capture, one fish grew only 1.5 inches and the other only 3.3 inches. It does not take a degree in mathematics to calculate those are two very old fish!
“The data we collected from this survey will aid in the continued monitoring of the East Fork sturgeon population, while yielding insights into fish movement and growth.”
The 38th annual Chequamegon MTB Festival is September 17-18. Off-road bicyclists from across the country make the annual trek to the Festival to take on the off-road bicycle tests of endurance and agility offered throughout the weekend. Three events occur during this festival: Chequamegon 40, Short & Fat, and Little Loggers.
Friday festivities run from 1-8 p.m. with bib pickup, food trucks, race festival, sponsor and vendor expo, and the first Little Loggers kids bike event.
The Saturday schedule includes numerous races and a CAMBA after-party at the Sawmill Saloon in Seeley.
The Chequamegon Area Mountain Bike Association (CAMBA) has marked and mapped a more than 300-mile system of user-friendly, off-road cycling trails in the immediate area. Visit the CAMBA website for more information.
Hunting season openers Saturday, September 18, make it a big day for many Wisconsin hunters. Seasons opening that day include archery/crossbow deer, turkey, ruffed grouse (Zone A), cottontail rabbit, squirrel (gray and fox), and crow. Be sure to check current regulations.
Wild Rivers Conservancy and partners will hold a Namekagon River clean-up day Saturday, September 11, from 9 a.m.to 3 p.m. Participants working from kayaks, drift boats, vehicles, and on foot, will move both upstream and downstream picking up trash in and around the Namekagon River. Following the clean-up effort, the group will hold an after-party in downtown Hayward, from 3-6 p.m., featuring Angry Minnow brew, food, fun prizes, and live music.
For more information, visit www.wildriversconservancy.org.
In zones A, B, and D, the season is open Sept. 8-14 for hunting with aid of dogs only in areas permitting dogs. The season Sept. 15-Oct. 5 is open for hunters using dogs, hunting over bait, and all other legal means. From Oct. 6-12, the season is open only for hunters hunting over bait and all other legal methods not using dogs. Each year, dog and bait hunters alternate opening the season.
In zones C, E, and F areas not allowing dogs, the season is open Sept. 8-Oct. 12 for hunters hunting over bait and all legal methods not using dogs.
Hayward Chapter-Muskies, Inc. will hold a club meeting Tuesday, September 7, at Flat Creek Lodge, starting at 6:30 p.m. Members will discuss and further plan the October musky tournament. Meetings are open to the public.
Muskies are finally more active with the cooler temperatures, and action will continue to improve (one would hope after the slow summer bite!) Work mid-depth weeds, weedlines, humps, points, and breaklines. Bucktails, stickbaits, and topwaters are working, as are trolled stickbaits, and the sucker bite is just beginning.
Walleye fishing is fair to good, with best success in late afternoon into after dark. During the day, work deep weeds, weedlines, flats, basins, and breaklines. Trolling crawlers, crankbaits, stickbaits, and crawler harnesses is a good choice. Late in the day, move to shallower water with minnows and crawlers on jigs and trolled stickbaits along weedlines.
Northern fishing is good around weeds, weed beds, breaklines, and concentrations of panfish in mid-depths to deep water. Favored baits include sucker minnows, spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, stickbaits, buzzbaits, and crankbaits. As always, work bigger baits in deeper water for trophy pike.
Largemouth fishing is good on deep weeds, weedlines, and cribs, as well as shallow weeds, lily pads, and slop. Baits of choice include live bait, spinners, swimbaits, buzzbaits, Jigging Raps, Rat-L-Traps, plastics, and topwaters.
Smallmouth bass action is good on weedlines and weed edges, in deep basins, breaklines, and on hard bottom areas such as points, humps, and rock bars. Sucker minnows, crawlers, drop-shot rigs, Ned rigs, plastics, and topwaters are all effective at this time.
Crappie fishing is fair to good on most waters. Look for fish in basins and holes in depths to 30 feet, suspending over deep water, and in shallow weeds. Top offerings include crappie minnows, fatheads, Tattle-Tails, Mini-Mites, plastics, and Gulp! baits, fished with or without slip bobbers, and Beetle Spins. Fish keep moving, so plan to do the same.
Bluegill fishing is good to very good on weeds, weedlines, brush, cribs, and bogs in a variety of depth, from shallow to deep. Baits of choice include waxies, worms, crawler chunks, small minnows, plastics, and Gulp! baits.
Sept. 1: Seasons opened: Early teal; Early goose; Mourning dove.
Sept. 8-11: Lake Chippewa Flowage Musky Hunt
Sept. 11: Namekagon River clean-up.
Sept. 18: Seasons open: Deer (archery and crossbow); Turkey; Cottontail; Squirrel; Ruffed grouse (Zone A); Crow.
Sept. 18: Ruffed Grouse Society banquet/event (715-492-5858).
Sept. 18: Chequamegon MTB Festival (952-229-7330).
Sept. 25: Hayward Fall Festival (715-634-8662).
Sept. 25: Clam Lake Elk Festival (715-794-2781).
Sept. 25: Hayward Fall Festival (715-634-8662).
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.