Outdoor Report

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]June 26, 2017

Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report

Steve Suman


The sometimes sun and sometimes showers trade-offs continue this week, with the possibility of strong storms in the mix. Temperatures remain cool for this time of year. Follow your plans, carry bug spray, keep an eye on the sky “just in case,” and do get out and enjoy outdoor recreation in the North Woods regardless of the weather!


“Weed growth is good,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “though high lake levels make it appear as if the weeds have not come up. Most landings are easy to use and in good shape.

“Musky fishing is somewhat slow, but the fish are hitting smaller bucktails and surface baits over the weeds. Muskies will become more aggressive as the water temperature warms.

“Walleye fishing is still surprisingly good for anglers using jigs and flatheads, with some anglers starting to use leeches and crawler halves with moderate success. Look for fish in both shallow weeds and deeper water off humps and rice beds. On the larger lakes, work breaklines in 12-15 feet. In the evening, walleyes move into weeds for feeding.

“Northern pike are providing some good action in the weeds on larger fatheads and suckers under bobbers, flashy artificials, and surface baits.

“Largemouth bass are around all types of cover, including piers, boathouses, downed trees, and weeds. Plastics and wacky worms are working, along with surface baits and spinnerbaits. Crawlers attract too many bluegills. Smallmouth are on deeper rock/gravel areas and dragging/jerking crayfish imitations work best. Leeches and crawler halves also work very well.

“Panfish action is good. Crappies are in the weeds or around shoreline structure, with minnows and small plastics working well. For bluegills, fish the shorelines with leaf worms. Catch perch in deeper weeds with waxies, worms, and small leeches.”


Bob at Hayward Bait says water temperatures remain around 68-72 degrees depending on the lake.

“Musky fishing is getting better and if you locate any bluegills a musky or two will not be far away. Walleye anglers are still catching fish on walleye suckers, fatheads, leeches, crawlers, and deep crankbaits.

“Bass fishing picked up, with various plastics such as Senkos and Texas and wacky rigged worms very effective. Crappies are near deeper structure and on the edges of weedlines and breaklines and bluegills are pushing shallow.”


Jim at Minnow Jim’s says Nelson Lake walleye anglers are having some success.

“Jig leeches and minnows, work deep divers in the river channel, and troll or cast shallow divers along the shorelines early and late in the day.

“Northern pike and largemouth bass action is good on dressed Mepps, willow spinnerbaits, wacky worms, and frogs cast in and over weedlines and weed beds.

“Crappies are scattered, so drift with live bait or try Beetle Spins, Mimic Minnows, and Gulp! baits. Fish bluegills around brush, stumps, and cribs with waxies, worms, and crawler chunks.”


Carolyn at Anglers All in Ashland says Chequamegon Bay continues to fish reasonably well, despite fluctuating clean/dirty water conditions.

“Smallmouth are in transition, with many fish going on a post spawn feed and others recuperating or even still spawning, though it is hard to tell with the dirty water. The most productive presentation is finesse fishing plastics, such as wacky-wormed Senkos, beaver type baits, and Twister Tails on light jigs, moving them slowly along the bottom. With the smallmouth now on the move throughout the Bay, they can be anywhere there is structure.

“Walleye anglers are fishing in – and in the mouths of – Fish Creek and Kakagon sloughs and in the drops into the channel. Anglers are having success jigging leeches, crawlers, and minnows, slow-trolling crawler harnesses, and slow-trolling stickbaits in the evening.

“Trout (mostly lake trout) and salmon fishing is very good, particularly out in the Islands. Most trollers are now using spoons and Spin-n-Glos when fishing deeper water, though some anglers are still using stickbaits on the first drops.”


This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses spawning – a great way to lose weight!

“In May and June, you can observe male smallmouth bass guarding their nests and research shows this can be very taxing for the fish.

“A male smallmouth must guard the nest from predators while constantly fanning his fins to aerate the eggs. This creates a constant energy demand throughout a spawning season that in some cases can last almost a month. Some research shows that a smallmouth guarding a nest will expend 60 percent more energy than at other times of the year.

“While guarding the nest, a male cannot leave the nest for long stretches of time and may not have many opportunities to feed. Instead, it must rely on finding food nearby. This combination of high-energy demand and low feeding can result in significant weight loss of guarding smallmouth.

“Because spawning occurs in the spring after the bass have used their fat reserves to get through winter, smallmouth typically burn lean tissues – muscle – for energy during spawning. Studies show that on average a smallmouth loses about 3 percent of its muscle mass during a week of nest guarding.

“For smallmouth bass and other nest guarding species, the stress and physical demand associated with spawning can lead to relatively high post-spawn mortality.”


Four Wisconsin anglers have established the DNR’s first state records for catch and release white bass, pumpkinseed sunfish, rock bass, and bluegill. In the traditional categories so far in 2017, anglers have set six new state records for rainbow smelt, common shiner, alewife, golden redhorse, golden shiner, and shovelnose sturgeon. For more information, search “record fish” on the DNR website.


Beginning July 5, the DNR will close Barber Lake boat landing in Sawyer County to start construction projects that include a new concrete boat ramp, a disabled car trailer parking stall, and other work to improve navigation and lake access. The landing will remain closed until completion of the project later this summer.




Musky action is fair, with anglers seeing many fish, even if having difficulty teasing them into strikes. Look for weeds and panfish in shallow to mid-depths. The best bite is primarily on bucktails and topwaters.



Walleye anglers continue to catch fish, though fish are scattered in various depths. Look for weeds, rice beds, breaklines, humps, and river channels, keying on shallower water in early morning and evening hours. Walleye suckers, fatheads, leeches, and crawlers on jigs and live bait rigs, as well as trolled crankbaits and stickbaits are all effective at the right time and place.


Northern Pike:

Northern pike continue to offer very good fishing wherever there are weeds and/or panfish concentrations. Sucker minnows and fatheads under bobbers, spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, stickbaits, and topwaters will all catch fish. For trophy pike, fish larger baits in deeper water.


Largemouth Bass:

Largemouth action is good and improving on most waters. The bass are around various cover, including weeds, wood, docks, downed trees, brush, bogs, and cribs. Plastics such as worms in various riggings, topwater frogs, and creature baits, crankbaits, spinners, and spinnerbaits are all producing fish.


Smallmouth Bass:

Smallmouth have moved deeper and fishing is best on hard bottom rock and gravel areas. The most productive baits are plastics, particularly crayfish imitations, as well as tubes, Senkos, Texas and wacky rigged worms, and live bait such as minnows, leeches, and crawlers.



Crappies are scattered and fishing is good, though now in somewhat deeper water around weeds, weed edges, brush, and breaklines. Best baits include crappie minnows, plastics, Mini-Mites, Tattle-Tails, Beetle Spins, and Gulp! baits.



Bluegill action is good in shallower water on shorelines and in/near weeds, wood, stumps, brush, bogs, and cribs. Use waxies, worms, crawlers/crawler pieces, plastics, and Gulp! baits. Try small minnows for larger ‘gills.


Upcoming Events

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

July 14-16: Honor The Earth Pow Wow (715-634-8924).

July 15: Turtle season opens (see regs).

July 20-22: Lumberjack World Championships (715-634-2484).

July 29: Flambeau River State Forest “Campfire Cookout” at Connors Lake picnic area (715-332-5271).

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.

Aug. 12: Flambeau River State Forest Smokey Bears’ Birthday Party at Connors Picnic Area; noon (715-332-5271).

Aug. 14-17: Bonus unit-specific antlerless deer tags where available go on sale at 10 a.m.

Aug. 17-20: Sawyer County Fair (715-934-2721).

Aug. 22: Deadline to transfer Class A bear license to a youth hunter.

Aug. 26: Remaining fall wild turkey permits go on sale at 10 a.m.


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. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]