By: Steve Suman
Those looking for a break in the 90-degree heat will have to wait until the weekend. Thunderstorms are possible throughout the week, most in evening hours, and highs remain in the upper 80s and nighttime lows in the mid-60s. Enjoy these days when and while you can ‑ spring and summer are relatively short seasons in the North Woods!
“Hot days, warm water, and better fishing have arrived in the Quiet Lakes area,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “and we have set record high temperatures. Be sure to pack sunscreen, sunglasses ‑ and bug repellent!
“Musky success is limited. We have posted five on our board, all caught by walleye anglers using jigs and minnows.
“Walleyes moved to deeper water and deeper holes, with best success in early morning and late afternoon into dark. Jigs and minnows work best, but some anglers report good action with leeches.
“Northern pike are shallow, looking for an easy meal of panfish. Set up on drop-offs and cast towards the shoreline with bucktails, spinnerbaits, swimbaits, and crankbaits. For more action, hang a split-tail grub on the hook.
“Both largemouth and smallmouth bass are shallow for spawning. Smallmouth are catch and release only until June 19. Smaller plastics, swimbaits, and surface lures are all taking fish.
“Panfish fishing is excellent. Crappie and bluegill are shallow, finishing spawning. Some small fish remain shallow; larger fish moved deeper. Anglers are doing well in 3-5 feet. Slip bobber rigs with small hooks and crappie minnows work best. For bluegill, sunfish, and perch, use feather jigs and waxies.”
Trent at Hayward Bait says fishing is good despite the cold snap to heat wave weather causing odd spawning habits.
“Musky season is still just beginning and glide baits, jerkbaits, and topwater lures are working best. Depths range from 3-15 feet, depending on vegetation and weather conditions.
“Walleyes are responding to crankbaits, crawler harnesses, and minnows jigged over fresh vegetation and on weed edges in 10-15 feet, depending on vegetation location.
“Northern pike are also around vegetation 10-15 feet. Jerkbaits and spinnerbaits work well, and pike are hammering topwater frogs in shallow lily pads.
“Largemouth bass are in 2-8 feet, hitting soft plastics, spinnerbaits, and topwater lures worked around vegetation, wood, and docks.
“Smallmouth bass are still on beds on some lakes and have already spawned on others, and depths vary from 10-20 feet. Favorite baits include leeches and minnows on jigs, Whopper Ploppers, and crawlers on harnesses.
“Crappies have spawned, bluegills moved in to spawn, and some late bloomer crappies are still shallow with the bluegills. Most fish are around vegetation in about 10 feet and some as deep as 20 feet, suspending over sparse vegetation. Baits preferences are Tattle-Tails and soft plastics such as Bobby Garlands.
“Bluegills are on beds and hitting jigs, topwater flies, and poppers in 2-10 feet.”
Jim at Minnow Jim’s says that good fishing on Nelson Lake must be the reward for anglers suffering in the heat!
“Walleye anglers should toss dressed jigs, Beetle Spins, and stickbaits along rocky shorelines, and troll deeper diving stickbaits along the river channel.
“Northern pike action is good on sucker minnows floated under bobbers.
“Bass action is improving and successful anglers are using spinnerbaits, wacky worms, and creature plastics.
“Panfish fishing is good for anglers fishing waxies, crawler chunks, worms, and leeches on hooks and dressed jigs under bobbers.”
Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage is at full pool, with water temperatures in the mid to high 60s and rising.
“Musky action around the area is somewhat solid. Muskies will head to deeper water with the heat and trolling might be a good idea if the shallow water bite disappears. High surface temperatures are dangerous for these big fish, so be mindful of how you handle any muskies you catch in these conditions.
“Walleyes are active, but anglers are still catching many short fish. With the heat, expect patterns to change. The fish will probably head to deeper, cooler water, and trolling and Lindy rigging over deep cover would be good options. You can use minnows, but leeches are better choice in this heat.
“Northern pike action is solid in shallow weeds and cover, with Tinsel-Tails, spoons, and bigger Beetle Spins key to success. As always, the best pike action is on the west side.
“Crappies have left the shallows and fishing slowed. Try summer patterns, such as fishing floating bogs at night and deeper cribs and weed humps during the day. Minnows and Gulp! baits are getting the most action.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses what they learned from the Nelson Lake drawdown.
“During the fall/winter of 2020-21, we drew down the water level of Sawyer County’s Nelson Lake by four feet. There were a variety of objectives for the drawdown, including dam inspection and repair, boat landing and culvert repair, and fish habitat enhancement.
“In some instances, lowering water levels at that time of year can enhance spawning conditions for walleye. While the drawdown offers several potential long-term benefits to the fishery, there was also a risk of short-term declines in popular species such as largemouth bass and bluegill.
“On May 18, 2021, the Hayward DNR Fish Team conducted an electrofishing survey targeting bass and panfish to assess any changes to the fish community that might have resulted from the drawdown.
“This survey found no decline in catch rate for either bass or bluegill compared to other recent surveys, most recently in 2017. In fact, catch for both species increased slightly. More encouragingly, sizes of both bluegill and largemouth bass had improved since that last survey. We saw higher percentages of bluegill greater than 8 inches and largemouth bass greater than 15 inches than we had observed previously.
“Crappies were also abundant, and northern pike were present at their usual density.
“It is clear from this survey that most species in Nelson Lake fared just fine through the drawdown. There is also no evidence that overfishing occurred during the winter when fish were somewhat more concentrated. If that happened, we would expect to see worse size structure.
“The Hayward DNR Fish Team plans to return to Nelson Lake in fall of 2021 to determine if the drawdown improved walleye spawning success.”
The Lake Chippewa Flowage Resort Association (LCFRA) encourages anglers to participate in the Chippewa Flowage Pike Improvement Project 2.0 and harvest northern pike up to 24 inches long. Each fish you register at a LCFRA member establishment is a chance to win thousands of dollars in cash and prizes! For more information, visit www.chippewaflowage.com/fishing/pike-improvement-project. You will also find instructions on how to filet a pike in illustrations and video, as well as tasty pike recipes.
Boulder Lodge Resort on Ghost Lake will host a free Paddle North Outdoor Canoe Expo Saturday June 12, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m. at the resort on Hwy 77. Canoe experts will talk about paddling, fishing, canoe design, and canoe history from 1-4 p.m., and you can watch paddle demonstrations and try various Esquif canoes models. There will be great food, beverages, and live music for a fun and informative event. For more information, visit https://fb.me/e/2eD0MzBKa.
Big Fish Golf Club will offer free youth golf clinics from 10.a.m.-11:30 a.m. on Friday June 11, 18, and 25, and July 9 and 16. The free clinics are for youth in three age levels: 6-8, 9-12, and 13-17 years of age. For more information and to sign up for the clinics, call (715) 934-4770.
Fishing action is great for most species, despite the heat. Still, stop at your favorite bait shop for insights on the current fish locations, favored baits, and presentations. If you use live bait ‑ take good care to keep it live bait!
Musky fishing is starting out somewhat slowly this year, but anglers are still catching some fish. They were in shallow to mid-depth weedy areas, but might have moved deeper with the heat. Bucktails, jerkbaits, gliders, and topwaters, as well as trolling stickbaits, are all viable offerings.
Walleye action is good, with early morning and evening into dark best. Work weeds, weed edges, and rocky shorelines, going deep during midday and moving shallower for the early morning and evening bite. Minnows, leeches, and crawlers on jigs, Lindy rigs, and harnesses; crankbaits, Beetle Spins, and stickbaits; and trolling deeper diving stickbaits, crankbaits, and Lindy rigs all work well.
Northern pike action is very good to excellent, with best fishing around spawning panfish, shallow weeds, and lily pads. Spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, swimbaits, Beetle Spins, bucktails, crankbaits, jerkbaits, topwaters, and sucker minnows will all tempt pike. Be sure to check out the Chippewa Flowage Pike Improvement Project 2.0!
Largemouth bass fishing is good to very good, with fish shallow for spawning, and around weeds, wood, docks, and other structure out to 12 feet. Live bait, plastics such as wacky worms and creatures, swimbaits, spinnerbaits, and topwaters are all effective enticements for bass.
Smallmouth bass are in some spawning stage, depending on the lake. Find them on hard bottoms, from shallow to mid-depths. Productive baits include live bait such as sucker minnows, crawlers, and leeches, plastics, swimbaits, and topwaters. Smallmouth fishing is catch-and-release only until June 19.
Crappies have finished spawning on most lakes and moved deeper. Some remain shallow, however, mixed in with bluegills. Look for fish around weeds out to 12 feet, in deeper water suspending and/or on weeds, humps, and cribs, and near bogs. Best baits include crappie minnows, waxies, worms, crawlers, leeches, Gulp! baits, Tattle-Tails, and plastics on small jigs, fished with/without slip bobbers.
Bluegills are on their shallow spawning beds (should be finishing) and fishing is excellent. Look for them very shallow out to about 10 feet. Traditional panfish baits such as waxies, worms, crawler chunks, leeches, on plain and dressed jigs and plain hooks with/without bobbers, and poppers/flies are all catching fish.
June 7-11: Fishing Has No Boundaries-Hayward Chapter ‑ Senior Citizen Event on Nelson Lake (715-634-3185).
June 11: Big Fish Golf Club free youth golf clinic 10-11:30 a.m. Call to register (715-934-4770).
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).
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 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.