Outdoor Report 9-10-2018

by: Steve Suman

The forecast for this week, with the exception of possible rain early and late in the week, is about as good as it gets in mid September! Get out and enjoy these days – the Farmer’s Almanac predicts a long, cold, and snowy winter!

“Less daylight and cool temperatures are lowering water temperatures,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “and in the coming weeks anglers will have to change fishing tactics.
“Muskies are somewhat quiet, though some anglers are catching fish with live bait on quick-strike rigs. Most anglers report follows, but no hookups.
“Walleyes are in 16-28 feet off mid-lake humps. If action is slow, try crawler pieces on trailer hooks or scented minnows. Also, troll flats with #5 crankbaits.
“Catch northern pike on weed edges with spinnerbaits and Mepps, adding a Twister Tail on the hook.
“Largemouth bass action is good on plastics and topwaters around vegetation, lily pads, and docks. Smallmouth are active along shorelines near gravel, with soft tubes in bright colors such as pink very good.
“Crappie, bluegill, and panfish are in deeper vegetation off sharp breaks in 12-20 feet. Crappie minnows, waxies, and worms will all catch fish, and smaller fish in the shallows provide entertainment for kids not in school.”

Erik at Hayward Bait says water temperatures are cooling down and fishing is heating up in the North Woods.
“Musky anglers should target muskies in shallow weeds, 4-6 feet, with bucktails, gliders, and topwaters.
“Walleye fishing is picking up for anglers fishing jigs and minnows, Jigging Raps, and pulling crawler harnesses, and crankbaits.
“Both largemouth and smallmouth bass fishing is very good. Use minnows on jigs and under slip bobbers, or try various plastics rigged for the conditions.
“Panfish fishing is strong for anglers fishing with/without slip bobbers and using the live bait of choice for the species they are chasing.”

Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage is at full pool, with the water temperatures approximately 70 degrees.
“Musky anglers should work big blade baits, jerkbaits, and topwaters in and over the top of shallow cover.
“The walleye bite is okay, with crawlers and minnows the baits of choice. In early morning and twilight, fish weed cover in 6-12 feet. During the day, work deeper bottom cover and in sand saddles, or troll Flicker Shads and other crankbaits.
“Northern pike are active, but small. Spoons and spinnerbaits, especially tinsel tails, are the best choices, though suckers are effective in weed beds on the west side.
“For largemouth bass, work plastic worms, frogs, craws, and crawlers in thick weeds and lilies in the back bays of Crane Lake. Smallmouth are active on the east side on the same baits fished around stumpy/rocky shorelines and cribs.
“Fish crappies around brush piles and cribs in about 26 feet with crappie minnows, Crappie Scrubs, and Gulp! baits.”

Carolyn at Anglers All in Ashland Bay says rain and dirty water kept many anglers off Chequamegon Bay last week.
“Walleye anglers trolling crawler harnesses and stickbaits on mudlines, over weed beds, and on drops into the channel had moderate success.
“As fall approaches, smallmouth bass tend to move to some of their deeper haunts such as the rock pile, back of the breakwall, and tip of Long Island, with most success on sucker minnows. Anglers report some nice northern pike in the mix, especially along the breakwall.
“Trollers had tremendous success last week for lake trout, brown trout, and even coho in 30-60 feet, depending on the thermocline in the area. Most are trolling flutter spoons, Spin-N-Glos, and bait flies run off downriggers, lead core line, and Dipsey Divers, though catching coho on deeper diving stickbaits.
“Fall spawning fish should move into tributary streams in the next few weeks, as steelhead and brown trout have already come into the Brule River.”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses Chippewa Flowage panfish bag limits.
“Anglers know the Chippewa Flowage in Sawyer County as a great panfish fishing destination, attracting an estimated 350,000 hours of panfish fishing effort during open water alone. The sheer popularity of this waterbody along with the number of panfish harvested have created some concern locally (this author included) about whether the current harvest level will impact panfish size and abundance.
“A Wisconsin Conservation Congress advisory question put forth statewide in 2018 proposed to lower the panfish bag limit on the Chippewa Flowage. Support both statewide and locally sent the proposal to the DNR for consideration as an official rule change.
“The DNR examined large amounts of data as part of this process and most data does not necessarily support a change at this time. Most panfish species in the Flowage are currently meeting or exceeding goals for size and abundance laid out in the lake’s fishery management plan.
“Bluegill, for example, have gone from 1-2 percent of the population being more than 8 inches just a few years ago, to now 16 percent being more than 8 inches. Crappie abundance and size have jumped around a bit, which is common in crappie, but have remained in the general target range.
“This sets up an interesting case, where there is public support for more conservative management, but the biological support doesn’t match up.
“For the time being, the DNR will table the proposal to change the regulations, though noting support for the change. It will continue to monitor the population annually and may reintroduce the proposal if it detects problems.
“In addition, other efforts to continue to preserve and improve Chippewa Flowage fishing quality will include habitat improvements, water level management, and working with guides, resorts, and anglers to promote selective harvest.”

This is a big weekend for Wisconsin outdoor recreationists, with the opening of Canada goose season and the Youth Waterfowl Hunt (see regs), and the season opener for archery/crossbow deer, fall turkey, ruffed grouse (Zone A), cottontail rabbit (North Zone), squirrel (gray, fox), and crow. Decisions, decisions!

Join DNR elk biologist Laine Stowell at 6 a.m. this Friday morning, September 14, as he checks for bugling bull elk in Flambeau River State Forest. For more information and to RSVP, call (715) 332-5271.

Musky fishing is fair, but improving with the temperature change. Anglers will find fish in shallower depths around weeds and on humps, points, and in bays. Mid-size to large bucktails, gliders, jerkbaits, and topwaters are all catching fish, and anglers fishing suckers are finding some success.

Walleye action is fair to good, but inconsistent. Depending on the time of day, look for fish around weeds, weedlines, humps, flats, breaklines, and drop-offs in 4-30 feet of water (shallower depths in low light conditions). Successful baits and presentations include jigs and minnows, crawlers on jigs, harnesses, split shot rigs, and under slip bobbers, trolling crankbaits, and Jigging Raps.

Northern Pike:
Northern pike remain active in and around shallow to mid-depth weed beds and on the edges. Spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, bucktails, and northern suckers under bobbers all catch fish. For trophy pike, go deeper with bigger baits.

Largemouth Bass:
Largemouth fishing is good around shallower structure such as weeds, lily pads, slop, brush, and docks. Good baits to try at this time include plastics in various riggings and configurations; crawlers and minnows on jigs, plain hooks, and/or under slip bobbers; and topwaters.

Smallmouth Bass:
Smallmouth fishing is good to very good around cribs, rock, gravel, and stumps in various depths. The most productive offerings include a wide variety of plastics in assorted riggings (tubes, craws, worms, and frogs), minnows, and crawlers fished on jigs, split shot rigs, drop-shot rigs, and under slip bobbers.

Crappie action is good to very good on most waters. Look for fish near weeds, brush, bogs, and cribs in 10-28 feet. Best baits include crappie minnows, Mini-Mites, Tattle-Tails, Crappie Scrubs, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs and plain hooks fished with or without slip bobbers.

Bluegill fishing is fair to good, with fish near weeds and on breaklines in mid-depth to deeper water. Waxies, worms, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs, teardrops, and plain hooks, with or without bobbers, all work well. Try small minnows deeper for bigger ‘gills.

Upcoming Events
Sept. 5: Black bear season opened (see regs).
Sept. 14: Elk bugling at Flambeau River State Forest 6 a.m., with DNR elk biologist Laine Stowell (715-332-5271).
Sept. 15: Early Canada goose season closes.
Sept. 15: Seasons open: Archery and crossbow deer; Fall turkey; Ruffed grouse in Zone A; Cottontail rabbit in Northern Zone; Gray and fox squirrel; Crow.
Sept. 15-16: Youth Waterfowl Hunt (see regs).
Sept. 16: Canada goose season opens in North and South exterior zones.
Sept. 22: 34th Annual Hayward Fall Festival (715-634-8662).
Sept. 22: Seasons open: Duck in Northern Zone (see regs); Woodcock.
Sept. 29: Seasons open: Duck in Southern and Mississippi zones; Canada goose in Mississippi River Subzone.
Sept. 30: Seasons close: Trout on rivers flowing into Lake Superior; Lake trout on Lake Superior; Sturgeon (see regs).
Oct. 6-7: Youth Deer Hunt for youth hunters 11-15 years of age (see regs).
Oct. 6-14: Hunters with Disabilities Deer Hunt (see regs).
Oct. 9: Black bear season closes (see regs).
Oct. 14: Trapping seasons open: Coyote trapping; Fisher trapping (see regs).
Oct. 15: Inland trout season closes (see regs).
Oct. 20: Seasons open: Pheasant; Ruffed grouse in zone B; Sharp-tailed grouse (by permit); Bobwhite quail; Hungarian partridge; Cottontail rabbit; Raccoon gun and trapping (resident); Red and gray fox hunting and trapping; Bobcat hunting and trapping Period 1 north of Hwy. 64 (see regs).
Oct. 28: Seasons open: Muskrat; Mink (see regs).

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.