Outdoor Report

May 23, 2016

Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report

Steve Suman

The forecast indicates a rather warm and possibly wet week ahead, with “chances” of rain nearly every day from Monday through Saturday. Some of the chances look like good bets; others appear to be only chances. Carry a rain jacket – and please do not wash your car!

“This should be a good fishing week,” says Pat at Happy Hooker “as the weather will be warming daily.

“Walleye fishing is fair to good and you will find more active fish in cabbage weeds. Fish 1/8-ounce jigs with large fatheads early and late in the day. Northern, active in the same weeds, will hit any size minnow, as well as spinnerbaits and crankbaits.

“Bass action is good, especially largemouth cruising shorelines where they will soon spawn, and they will hit just about anything. Largemouth season is open and there is no size limit on some lakes, but be sure to check the regulation for the lake you fish. Smallmouth fishing is catch and release only until June 18.

“Cold weather last week moved crappies back to deeper water, but they will come back with the warmer water temperatures. Tattle-Tails, Mini Mites, small tubes, and plastics are working well. Bluegills will move shallow in a week or so. Perch are in the weeds, taking leaf worms and small minnows.”

At Hayward Bait, guide Steve Genson says fishing is improving with the warmer weather.

“The walleye bite remains spotty, with some fish biting jigs and minnows worked through new weeds and on breakline edges, and others hitting trolled minnow baits such as Rapalas and Flicker Shads. Bass action is improving and Senkos, jigs/plastics, and jerkbaits are good choices. Smallmouth fishing remains catch and release.

“Crappies are moving shallower and the bite is improving on minnows, plastics, and one-inch Gulp! Minnows in 3-10 feet. Keep moving until you find fish.”

Mike at Jenk’s says Chippewa Flowage walleye fishing is okay, with fish less active than during opening weekend.

“Baits of choice are minnows and leeches for live bait and Flicker Shads, Bad Shads, X-Raps, and Husky Jerks for artificials. Northern are active in the weeds, taking creek chubs and suckers.

“During the cooler weather, crappies moved from the bays and into deeper water. Fish brush piles and cribs with crappie minnows, one-inch Gulp! Minnows, and tube jigs.”

Jim at Minnow Jim’s says anglers are catching Nelson Lake walleyes, with some fish too short, just short, and some that are just right.

“Use jigs and minnows, Beetle Spins, and Rapalas, trolling or casting shorelines early and late in the day. For northern, fish in bays and near weedlines with sucker minnows, or cast spinnerbaits, weedless spoons, or Mepps spinners. Largemouth bass are hitting minnows and leeches, scented worms, dressed swim jigs, and surface baits.

“For panfish, work from deeper water to shallow, drifting live bait under slip bobbers, jigging minnows or worms, or casting small spinners.”


Warmer, more stable weather should produce fishing action that is more consistent, says DNR fisheries biologist Skip Sommerfeldt.

“Walleye fishing is very erratic, with a few reports of good catches on jigs and minnows, leeches, and crawlers. Warming water and moving mayfly nymphs will help draw fish shallow. Northern action is good on spinnerbaits over new weeds. Largemouth and smallmouth bass are starting their spawning, with males often guarding nests against predators.

“Crappies are into nesting in the shallows along weedlines and brushy cover. Larger bluegills are congregating near shallow water and spawning colonies should show up in the next week or so.”


This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses ultraviolet light and fish eggs.

“Bluegill, as with many fish species, lay eggs on the lakebed. This exposes them to a wide variety of risks, including one that most anglers probably never gave a thought: ultraviolet light from the sun.

“Researchers have found that ultraviolet light radiation can damage bluegill eggs and keep them from hatching, particularly in clear lakes where ultraviolet rays have deeper penetration. In one clear lake, researchers found that of bluegill eggs fish laid in less than 3 feet of water and exposed to direct ultraviolet rays, 55 percent perished.

“Bluegills have a couple tricks to get around this problem, however.

“First, bluegills in clear lakes will sometimes nest deeper. Second, if there is overhanging cover, bluegills will spawn in the shade, using it as protection from the direct sun.

“So leave that shoreline vegetation in place – there is no sunscreen for bluegill!”


Wisconsin’s Free Fishing Weekend is June 4-5 and residents and nonresidents alike can fish anywhere in Wisconsin without a license or trout stamp. This includes all inland waters and Wisconsin’s side of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River. Bag limits, size limits, and season restrictions remain in effect. State parks and recreation areas are waiving entrance stickers for the whole weekend. Check back next week for information on a list of local activities and events (see calendar below).


The Wisconsin Canoe Heritage Museum in Spooner is hosting a free Wisconsin Canoe Heritage Day event this Saturday, May 28, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., with more than 20 exhibitors displaying a wide variety of canoes, boats, and canoe related materials for sale and for show. Activities include a museum open house and tours, canoe workshop, food and beverages in the beer garden, and live music. For more information, visit www.wisconsincanoeheritagemuseum.org/, or call (715) 635-2479.




Walleye fishing is fair to good when you find them, though with inconsistent action. As is generally true, early morning and late evening into dark hours offer the best chances for success, particularly around shallow weeds and shorelines. During the day, fish cover, structure, and flats in 12-18 feet. Top live bait choices include jigs tipped with fatheads, crawlers, or leeches. For artificials, troll or cast Rapalas, Flicker Shads, X-Raps, Husky Jerks, and Beetle Spins.


Northern Pike:

Northern fishing is good to very good around new weeds, weedlines, shallow bays – and anywhere you find panfish. Minnows of various sizes produce the best success, but spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, minnow baits, and crankbaits can all catch the pike’s attention.


Largemouth Bass:

Largemouth fishing is good in the shallows and fish are hitting a wide variety of baits, including plastics (worms, lizards, tubes), swim jigs, surface baits, jerkbaits, and live bait such as crawlers, leeches, and minnows.

Note: Smallmouth bass fishing in the northern bass zone is catch and release only until Saturday June 18.



Crappie action is good and improving, but fish have been difficult to locate. Look for weeds, brush, and cribs, in depths to 10 feet. Preferred baits include crappie minnows, tube jigs, hair jigs, plastics, and one-inch Gulp! Minnow under slip bobbers, and small spinners.



Bluegill fishing is good to excellent, with fish shallow to deeper, depending on the lake and weather conditions. Best baits include waxies, worms, and crawler pieces under slip bobbers, small minnows, Gulp! baits, plastics, and spinners.


Upcoming Events

May 28: Musky season opens in North Zone.

May 28: Wisconsin Canoe Heritage Museum canoe and wooden boat show in Spooner (715- 635-2479).

June 3: Flambeau River State Forest open house 7:45 a.m.-4:30 p.m.; (715-332-5271).

June 4-5: Free Fishing Weekend – No license required!

June 4: Free Kids Fishing Derby, Lake Hayward Park; 8:30 a.m.-noon (715-699-1015).

June 4: Free Kids Fishing Clinic, Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center, Ashland (715- 685-9983).

June 4: Free Kids Fishing Clinic, Les Voigt Hatchery, Bayfield (715-779-4021).

June 7: Hayward Lakes Chapter Muskies, Inc. meeting at Coop’s Pizza, 6:30 p.m. (715-634-4543).

June 16-19: 67th Annual Musky Fest (715-634-8662).

Through June 17: Northern Zone smallmouth bass catch and release only.

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


For more information on area events and activities, visit the Hayward Lakes Visitor and Convention Bureau website or call 1-800-724-2992.