The North Woods’ June heat wave with 90-degree temperatures finally broke, and at least through this week, the forecast calls for highs in the upper 70s to low 80s, lows in the upper 40s to low 50s, and low humidity. This compromise should please just about everyone! Take advantage and get outdoors!
“Quiet Lakes’ fish are on a feeding binge with the warm temperatures,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “and many changes are taking place. This includes various aquatic bug hatches, such as mayflies, that will affect upcoming fish bites.
“Look for many species near weeds and drop-offs. Surface water temperatures hit the 70s and near 80 in some shallow bays, but fish are still cooperating.
“Musky action is slow, but many musky anglers think it best to leave muskies alone during the hot weather, as it stresses fish when landing and makes good releases more difficult.
“Walleye action is best in early morning and late afternoon into dark, with minnows and large leeches on jigs taking fish.
“Northern pike are shallow, searching for easy panfish meals, and hitting live bait, spinnerbaits, and plastics.
“Largemouth and smallmouth bass on beds are easy to locate, but it is best to not interrupt their reproduction. Smallmouth bass remain catch-and-release only until June 19.
“A good tactic at this time is to cruise slowly until you see fish on the graph and then cast toward them with leeches under slip bobbers. Rattle jigs are good for reaction bites, which will become more successful in the coming weeks. Live bait still turns fish, but they are transitioning to plastics and leeches.”
Trent at Hayward Bait says that with water temperatures now at levels that we do not normally see until the end of July, fish are past spawn and in summer patterns.
“There are a few exceptions, and some fish are confused on where they should be, but most are in consistent patterns.
“Muskies are close to vegetation in 15-20 feet, hitting glide baits, twitch baits, and bucktails.
“Walleyes are in about 15-20 feet during the day, moving to about 10 feet in mornings and evenings. Most anglers are trolling crankbaits, Lindy Rigs, and jigging minnows and leeches.
“Northern pike are in 10-15 feet near vegetation, and crankbaits, jerkbaits, and swimbaits are doing well.
“Largemouth bass are hitting well on topwaters and soft plastics fished on wood and vegetation in 2-8 feet.
“Smallmouth bass are in 10-15 feet, with some in 2-5 feet, on hard bottoms with deeper water access. Topwaters, soft plastics, and leeches are working well.
“Crappies are on/close to vegetation in about 10-15 feet, hitting chicken jigs, Bobby Garland plastics, and minnows.
“Bluegill anglers can expect a shallow water bite through the summer. Worms, jigs, and poppers are popular choices.”
Jim at Minnow Jim’s says Nelson Lake walleye anglers should cast stickbaits and fish leeches and fatheads along rock shorelines and points early and late in the day.
“For northern pike and largemouth bass, cast spinnerbaits and plastics along developing weed beds and soak northern suckers under bobbers while panfish fishing.
“Crappies and bluegills still provide a strong bite, with some fish still spawning. Try shallow weeds edges and wood structure first. If no fish, try 5 feet and deeper ‑ and work bogs and cribs. Use live bait on plain hooks under bobbers, and dressed and plain jigs with bait. Leeches, waxies, worms, and crawlers all work well.”
Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage is full, with surface temperatures running in the high 70s to mid-80s.
“Musky fishing is good despite the heat, with catches by anglers casting and trolling and while fishing for other species. High surface temperatures are lethal for muskies, so be mindful of the water temperature. If water temperatures get into the 80s, fish for something else. If you catch a musky, exercise extreme care in releasing the fish and release it in the water next to the boat. Safer times to fish for muskies are early morning and later at night.
“Walleye fishing is surprisingly good despite the high temperatures, with two surprising tactic with jumbo leeches fairly effective. The first is fishing in weeds, specifically milfoil, in 4-8 feet during the day. The second is fishing drop-offs in about 18 feet. Do not expect these patterns to hold for a lengthy period, but for now, they work fairly well.
“Northern pike are very active in the weeds, with Tinsel Tails, Silver Spoons, and bigger Beetle Spins doing the trick.
“Smallmouth fishing is excellent on Ned Rigs and surface baits. Stumps and rocks are good places to start.
“Crappie fishing is good at night on the bogs. Crappie Minnows, Crappie Scrubs, and Gulp! baits are the ticket.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses the ages of river smallmouth bass.
“River fishing for smallmouth bass is one of the truly exceptional opportunities in the Hayward area. Yet, despite the popularity of these fisheries, we often do not have much data on populations due to logistical surveying challenges.
“Lately, the Hayward Fish Team has been trying to address that data shortfall by devoting more time to understanding river smallmouth populations.
“In 2020, we collected dorsal spines from smallmouth bass in the Couderay and Namekagon rivers to determine the age of fish across different sizes. By estimating the age of a large sample of fish, we can get important information on population growth rates. Growth of smallmouth in the two rivers was relatively comparable, but the headline stats might surprise some anglers.
“It typically takes 3-4 years for a smallmouth in these rivers to get to just 10 inches, and about 5 years to get to the legal 14-inch size. Smallmouth greater than 18 inches were almost all 9 years old or older, and the oldest smallmouth we captured was 14 years old and 19.5 inches long.
“These growth rates in our area rivers are not too different from what we observe in our area lakes. This is of interest, because fish in rivers sometimes grow slower than do their lake-living relatives because they have to spend more energy swimming against current. In these cases, the abundance of food ‑ mostly crayfish and minnows ‑ might cancel out the higher energy demand in these high-quality smallmouth rivers.
“While we saw considerable similarity between the Namekagon and Couderay rivers, it is worth noting that we know not all river smallmouth populations are the same. For example, measured by angler catch rate, we know the Flambeau River has a very high density of smallmouth, but with a lower average size than other area rivers.”
Hayward’s 71st Annual Musky Fest June 24-27 is less than two weeks away! The event kicks off with a carnival, FHNB catch-and-release fishing contest, games for children, sidewalk sales, art and craft show, live music, and food booths. It continues with a Saturday car show, and street dances Friday and Saturday nights. The festival concludes Sunday with a 5K run/walk, a 10K run, and kids’ Minnow Run for 12 and younger, finishing with the Grand Parade in historic downtown Hayward. For more information, visit www.muskyfest.com/events-schedule or call (715) 634-8662.
On Sunday June 27, during Musky Fest weekend, Hayward Bass Club will host its annual Round Lakes Open Bass Tournament from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. For entry information, contest rules, and regulations, visit the Hayward Bass Club Facebook page or text (405) 227-1789).
Big Fish Golf Club is offering free youth golf clinics from 10.a.m.-11:30 a.m. Friday June 11, 18, and 25, and July 9 and 16. These clinics are for age levels 6-8, 9-12, and 13-17 years. For more information and to sign up for the clinics, call (715) 934-4770.
Summer arrived early and fish are out of their normal seasonal patterns and transitions. On your way to the water, stop at your favorite bait and tackle shop and get the most current information on baits, presentations, and fish locations. It can save you a great deal of time and effort!
Musky action is slow, with anglers casting and trolling gliders, twitch baits, and bucktails around weeds in 12-22 feet. Many musky anglers avoided fishing during the recent hot weather to avoid stressing hooked fish. If you go, know how to make a quick release with the fish remaining in the water.
Walleye fishing is good, with best success in early morning and late evening into dark. Work weeds, drop-offs, points, and rocky shorelines in depths from 4-20 feet. Do not overlook shallow bites during the day and deeper bites at night. Baits choices include fatheads, leeches, and crawlers on jigs and Lindy Rigs, and cast and trolled crankbaits and stickbaits.
Northern pike fishing is very good to excellent around weeds, weed edges, and panfish concentrations in depths to 16 feet. Though everything looks edible to pike, good bets include northern suckers, spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, swimbaits, jerkbaits, Beetle Spins, and plastics. Check out the Chippewa Flowage Pike Improvement Project 2.0.
Largemouth bass fishing is very good around weeds and wood in depths to 12 feet. Top baits include live bait, soft plastics such as wacky worms and creature baits, spinners, spinnerbaits, and crankbaits.
Smallmouth bass fishing is good to very good. Depending on the lake, fish are on hard bottoms, rocks, and stumps in 2-18 feet and adjacent to deeper water. Effective offerings include sucker minnows, leeches, crawlers, crayfish color plastics, Ned Rigs, and topwater baits. Smallmouth bass fishing is catch-and-release only until June 19.
Crappie fishing is very good in and around weeds and wood, in depths from 4-18 feet, and on bogs and cribs at night. Various bait choices are producing, including crappie minnows, waxies, worms, leeches, Gulp! baits, and jigs such as Tattle-Tails, Crappie Scrubs, chicken jigs, and Bobby Garlands.
Bluegill fishing is very good to excellent and fish are still spawning in some lakes. Start in shallower mid-depths and move shallower weed, wood, bogs, and cribs. Best bait choices include waxies, worms, crawlers, leeches, and plastics on plain hooks, and plain/dressed jigs under slip bobbers, and poppers.
June 18: Big Fish Golf Club free youth golf clinic 10-11:30 a.m. Call to register (715-934-4770).
June 19: Smallmouth bass season opens for harvest.
Jun 24-27: 71st Annual Musky Fest (715-634-8662).
Jun 24-26: FHNB Musky Fest fishing contest (715-634-3185).
June 25: Big Fish Golf Club free youth golf clinic 10-11:30 a.m. Call to register (715-934-4770).
June 27: Hayward Bass Club Round Lakes Open Tournament, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. (text 405-227-1789).
July 8-11: Spooner Heart of the North Rodeo (715-635-9696).
July 9: Big Fish Golf Club free youth golf clinic 10-11:30 a.m. Call to register (715-934-4770).
July 16: Big Fish Golf Club free youth golf clinic 10-11:30 a.m. Call to register (715-934-4770).
July 16-18: LCO Honor the Earth Pow Wow (715-634-8934).
July 16-18: Birchwood Bluegill Festival (715-354-3411).
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.