Outdoor Report

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]May 29, 2017

Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report

Steve Suman


According to the current forecast (take it as you will), the sun should shine Wednesday and for the next week we should (could) see mostly warmer, drier weather. The times they are a-changin’! (well, maybe…)



“High, cold water is slowing weed growth,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “and bass and crappie spawning is behind schedule.

“Most musky anglers are fishing shallow locations with smaller baits and slow retrieves.

“Cold weather slowed walleye action and the fish moved deeper, though with some reports of shallow walleye in rocky areas in the evenings. Try jigs and minnows in 8-12 feet.

“Northern pike are feeding in green weeds, providing great fun and action on large minnows and flashy baits. Walleye anglers are catching many pike by accident.

“Bass action slowed with the cold water, just as they were coming shallow to build spawning beds. Smallmouth fishing is catch and release until June 17.

“The cold stopped crappie spawning activities and fish moved close to shoreline cover and deeper water. There was some great action until the weather changed. Bluegills are starting to hang on the shorelines and perch are in the weeds.”


Jim at Minnow Jim’s says Nelson Lake walleye action is fair.

“Walleye anglers should still-fish fatheads, sucker minnows, and leeches, or cast and troll stickbaits and harness rigs.

“Northern pike anglers are catching some nice fish by bobber fishing large sucker minnows and casting large stickbaits and spinners. Largemouth bass are hitting frogs and spinnerbaits near developing weedlines.

“Catch crappies and bluegills in the shallows on waxies, worms, crawlers, and Gulp! baits with bobbers or jigs.”


Mike at Jenk’s says Chippewa Flowage muskies offered mixed action for the opener.

“Some anglers caught 3-4 fish, while others struggled. Smaller topwaters and crankbaits produced some fish on the Flowage and Eddie Baits produced action on Moose Lake.

“Walleyes are active, but seem lacking in size. Anglers report action on live bait in brush piles in about 25 feet, with Ripple Shad and Jerk Minnows on darter head jigs producing fish in early evening.

“Bass are aggressive in the shallows in the southeast portion of the Flowage, with most action on #3 Mepps Bucktails and 3/8-oz. spinnerbaits.

“Crappies are moving from their holes in 8-9 feet back to the shallows, though a bit sluggish. It might be a few days before feeding habits resume, though several anglers report seeing a few crappies in shallow weeds and bays.”


Carolyn at Anglers All in Ashland says Chequamegon Bay fishing is good, despite the ‘not so ideal’ conditions.

“Smallmouth are in pre-spawn and spawning mode and fishing is excellent with sucker minnows and plastics on light jigs and plain hooks moved slowly through the shallows. Jerkbaits also work, but remove the extra hooks to be easier on the fish. Try not to pull fish off the beds!

“Walleye anglers are drifting crawler harnesses and using jigs with minnows, crawlers, and leeches in Sand Cut and Brush Point. On the Ashland side, shoreline anglers soaking smelt on the bottom and casting spoons and spinners are picking up northern pike and some brown trout.

“Trout and salmon fishing is good for anglers trolling stickbaits on mudline edges from Houghton Point into the Islands. Look for balls of baitfish and you will likely mark trout and salmon.

“Streams are becoming more fishable as water levels drop, and the last rain brought in more steelhead.”


This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses how many anglers catch their full bag limit.

“Conservation-minded anglers are often concerned about how much harvest happens on fish populations. A common assumption is that most ‘other’ anglers on a lake are catching their full bag limit day after day. A study in Minnesota indicates that is likely not the case, at least for a large majority of anglers.

“Researchers looked at 16 years of creel data from Minnesota lakes and examined how many fish individual anglers were harvesting. Study results showed that less than 1 percent of all anglers targeting walleye, crappie, sunfish, and perch harvested their legal limit. In fact, a majority of the anglers targeting walleye harvested no walleye at all. Even anglers targeting crappie and sunfish often harvested no fish.

“In some cases, the lack of harvest may be by choice of catch and release, but in many other cases, anglers simply do not come close to catching their full bag limit.

“Results of the Minnesota study even suggested that high bag limits may create unrealistic expectations for more novice anglers that could result in their frustration or dissatisfaction.

“More skilled anglers often have a hard time believing results such as these, but they largely mirror harvest patterns in Wisconsin as well.”


Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies, Inc. invites the public to attend its Tuesday June 6 meeting at Grid Iron Pub and Grub on Main Street in Hayward. Following a business meeting from 6:30 p.m. to 7 p.m., guest speaker Larry Ramsell, internationally known local musky historian and guide, will begin his presentation “The History of Big Muskies.” Admission is free and anyone attending the meeting who is interested in joining Muskies Inc. can purchase an annual membership for half price. For more information, call Mike Persson (715) 634-4543.


Flambeau River State Forest will host an open house this Friday, June 2, from 7:45 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at the Forest headquarters on Hwy W, 15 miles east of Winter. Forest staff will be on hand to answer questions, discuss what has happened over the past year, plans for the future, possible changes to the access plan and forest production areas, and any other concerns. For more information, search “Flambeau River” on the DNR website.


Free Fun Weekend in Wisconsin is June 3-4, and residents and visitors can fish, hike and bike state trails, enjoy admission to state parks and forests, and ride public ATV trails for free. The DNR waives requirements for admission stickers for state parks and forests, trail passes for those who bike, in-line skate, or horseback ride on state trails, and fishing licenses to fish state waters, though other regulations remain in effect. During Free Fun Weekend, ATV/UTV owners do not need to register machines in Wisconsin and nonresidents do not need a trail pass. State park and forest campers still need to pay for campsites. For more information, search “free fun” on the DNR website.




Musky season in the north opened this past weekend and thus far, reports are a bit scarce. This time of year, and especially considering the weather, fish smaller baits with slower retrieves on shallow shorelines out to the first break.



Walleye action is fair to good around weeds, rock, and other structure from 6 feet to deeper water. As always, work shallower water in the evening hours. Baits of choice include jigs and live bait rigs with fatheads, walleye suckers, leeches, and crawlers, as well as crank and stick baits.


Northern Pike:

Northern pike are active and anglers are boating some nice fish. Look for pike in/near shallower green weeds and wherever you find panfish concentrations. Spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, stickbaits, and northern suckers under floats are all effective baits, and walleye and panfish anglers are catching them on jigs and minnows.


Largemouth Bass:

Largemouth are moving to pre-spawn staging areas around shallower weeds and weedlines. They will become more active when (if!) the water warms. Topwaters, spinners, spinnerbaits, and plastics are all effective at this time.


Smallmouth Bass:

Smallmouth fishing remains catch and release until June 17. Look for fish on hard bottom areas from shallow water to mid-depths. Plastics work well, fished slowly on/near bottom.



Crappie fishing is somewhat hit and miss, as the fish move in and out with the changing weather patterns. Look for them close to shallow shoreline cover OR close to deeper water. Top baits include crappie minnows, waxies, plastics, Mini-Mites, Tattle-Tails, and Gulp! baits, fished with or without floats.



Bluegill movement and action slowed with the cooler weather, but you can still find them in the weeds along shallow shorelines and on the edges of deeper water as they prepare to “make their move” for spawning. Standard bluegill baits will do the trick, including waxies, worms, crawlers, plastics, and Gulp! baits on jigs or under bobbers.


Upcoming Events

May 24-30: Period F spring turkey season.

May 27: Muskellunge season opens north of Highway 10.

June 2: Flambeau River State Forest open house 7:45 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. (715-332-5271).

June 3-4: Free Fishing and Free Fun weekend.

June 17: Northern Zone smallmouth bass season opens for daily bag limits (see regs).

June 18: Fishing Has No Boundaries benefit concert, Sawyer County Fairgrounds (800-243-3462).

June 20-24: $100,000 Musky Fest Lions Family Fishing Spectacular (715-634-8662).

June 22-25: 67th Annual Musky Festival (715-634-8662).

June 25: Hayward Bass Club Round Lake Open tournament (715-699-1015).

July 15: Turtle season opens (see regs).

July 1 Aug. 31: Training dogs by pursuing bear (see regs).

Through July 31: Illegal to allow unleashed dogs to run on DNR lands and FWPAs (see regs for exceptions).

Aug. 1: Application deadline: Fall turkey; Bobcat; Fisher; Otter; Sharp-tailed grouse.


For more information on area events and activities, visit the Hayward Lakes Visitor and Convention Bureau website, view its Calendar of Events, or call 800-724-2992.