August 15, 2016

Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report

Steve Suman

The 2016 summer weather is nothing if not consistent! Once again, forecasts call for warm and varied chances of wet, with a cooling trend for the weekend. Many rain and thunderstorm “chances” are (currently) low, so make your plans to enjoy outdoor activities!

“Our unusual weather patterns continue,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “but things will improve as we move into fall.

“Musky action is best with bucktails and topwaters on shallow cabbage, weed edges, and deeper drop-offs in early morning and late afternoon into dark.

“For walleyes, fish late evening into night in 6-8 feet with crawler halves and leeches on spinner and Lindy rigs. For northerns, fish spinnerbaits tipped with Twister Tails on shallow green cabbage and weedlines.

“Fish largemouth around shallow weeds, docks, and structure with rigged weedless plastics, topwaters, and crawlers under bobbers. Catch smallmouth on deep, rocky areas with crankbaits, tubes, and creature baits.

“Catch panfish in late afternoon near weeds in 8-12 feet with crappie minnows, tube jigs, and leaf worms under slip bobbers.”

Guide Steve Genson at Hayward Bait says fishing is solid, with water temperatures in the middle to upper 70s and a heavy thermocline around 20-25 feet.

“Musky action is improving, with clear lakes the better bet. Use double-blade bucktails and jerkbaits, but try various presentations until you get action. Walleye fishing is slow with the warm temperatures. Drift or troll along deep weeds and bars with crawler harnesses and crankbaits.

“Largemouth action is best around deep weed edges with swim jigs, spinnerbaits, plastic worms, and topwaters. Smallmouth action is decent on rock bars and cribs in 10-25 feet with swim jigs, tubes, and topwaters.

“Crappies and panfish are biting well, taking crappie minnows, waxies, and plastics on deep cribs and weed edges.”

Jim at Minnow Jim’s says Nelson Lake walleye anglers should work deep holes and the river channel during the day.

“In early morning and evening, fish rocky shorelines. Northern anglers are catching some nice pike on Mepps and surface plugs.

“Fish largemouth along lily pad and weed bed edges, shaded shorelines, docks, and swim platforms with buzz baits spinnerbaits, weedless swim jigs, and surface baits.

“Panfish action is good, but with a slow bite due to decreased water clarity. Be patient and fish deeper with scented or vibrating baits.”

Mike at Jenk’s says Chippewa Flowage musky fishing is improving.

“Muskies are in and around shallow weeds, hitting slow moving surface baits and shallow crankbaits. Walleye fishing is slow, though some success trolling #9 Flicker Shads and Shad Raps in 20 feet.

“Smallmouth anglers are doing well with yellow, chartreuse, and gold spinnerbaits on shallow stumps and rocks.

“Crappie fishing is slow. Start at the bogs and adjust tactics accordingly. If the bogs offer little or no success, try deeper cribs, brush piles, and weedy humps with crappie minnows, Mini-Mites, and plastics.”


Carolyn at Anglers All in Ashland says trolling on the big lake remains the most consistent fishing in the Ashland/Bayfield area.

“We have good reports from Long Island all the way to Outer Island, with most trollers running spoons and Spin-n-Glos, with some stickbaits and bait flies. Colors vary, but ‘aneurysm’ is by far the favorite.

“The Bay had its share of ups and downs with the strange weather patterns. The walleye bite is over weed beds, but it is sporadic. Smallmouth are shallow one day and on deeper drops the next day. While sucker minnows are a sure bet, plastics, especially wacky worms, also work well.”


This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses the movement of fish eggs and aquatic plants.

“When a new species shows up in a lake, there are always questions surrounding how it got there. For aquatic plants, most focus is on how humans move them from one lake to another on boat trailers or in live wells, but there is another pathway for plant travel – ducks. People have long speculated that ducks carry plants or fish eggs on their feet as they fly from lake to lake.

“Researchers in France studied more than 400 teal to learn if ducks could indeed transport plant seeds to a new location. They found a surprising 20 percent of these teal were carrying seeds from 21 different plant species, 16 of which were viable, meaning they could take root and grow if dropped in a new lake.

“The ducks transported most seeds in their stomachs and intestines, with a few cases of seeds stuck to feet or feathers, but there was no evidence from this study that ducks could transport fish eggs in a similar manner.”


Sale of bonus antlerless deer tags started Monday, Aug. 15, with sales the first three days zone-specific. Bonus tags cost residents $12; non-residents $20; and youth 10-11 years $5. Search “bonus availability” on the DNR website.

Early Canada goose, early teal, and mourning dove seasons open Sept. 1 (See migratory bird regulations.) Check the Fields & Forest Lands Interactive Gamebird Hunting Tool (FFLIGHT) to locate hunting areas.


Sawyer County Outdoor Projects and Education’s (SCOPE) annual free Family Fun Day is Saturday, Aug. 27, from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., at Summit Lake Game Farm east of Stone Lake. The event offers opportunities at interactive stations to try shooting (including laser shot hunting simulation on a big screen), fishing, archery, kayaking, canoeing, stand up paddle boarding, mountain biking, and more. For adults who want to try shooting, there is a requested donation (for ammo). Take Highway 27 south from Hayward, turn right on County Road F, and follow the signs to Summit Lake Game Farm. Recreational vehicle camping is available. For more information, visit


Hayward Bass Club’s annual free youth tournament for anglers 10-17 years of age is this Sunday, August 21, on the Chippewa Flowage. The Landing Restaurant and LCO Resort serves as tournament headquarters. Register (required) at Hayward Bait or Outdoor Creations, or contact Wayne Balsavich (405-227-1789). To request a permission slip, email




Musky fishing is good and getting better, with best success in early morning and then late afternoon into dark. Concentrate on shallow weeds/cabbage edges and along drop-offs. The most successful baits include double-blade bucktails, jerkbaits, crankbaits, and topwaters.



Walleye action is slow, with best success just before and into dark. During the day, fish deep holes, weeds, rock, river channels, and bars. In early morning and late evening, troll or cast along shallow and mid-depth weedlines, bars, drops, and rocky shorelines. Use crawlers and leeches under slip bobbers, on harnesses, split shot, spinner, and Lindy Rigs, or cast and troll Rapalas and other stickbaits.


Northern Pike:

Northern pike fishing is good and they are on the move all day. Fish in/around shallow weeds and weedlines, especially green weeds/cabbage, with spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, topwaters, and live bait.


Largemouth Bass:

Largemouth bass are providing the most consistent action in a variety of locations, including deep and shallow weeds and weedline edges, rock, docks, stumps, shady shorelines, lily pads, and fallen trees. Numerous bait types are working, from plastics and worms in assorted riggings, swim jigs, spinnerbaits, buzz baits, surface baits, and live bait.


Smallmouth Bass:

Smallmouth fishing is fair to good, though few anglers are targeting them at this time. Work rock bars, cribs, and other hard bottom structure out to 25 feet with tubes, plastics, swim jigs, crankbaits, and topwaters.



Crappie action is slow to good on deeper weeds, cribs, humps, brush, and bogs. Top baits include crappie minnows, waxies, plastics, tube jigs, Mini-Mites, Tattle-Tails, and Gulp! baits under slip bobbers.



Panfish fishing is good, though slow, with best success in late afternoon. For fast action, fish for smaller ‘gills around weeds and docks in shallow water. Work deeper weeds and brush for larger fish. The most productive baits are waxies, leaf worms, crawler pieces, and tube jigs under slip bobbers.


Upcoming Events

Aug. 15-18: Bonus unit-specific antlerless tags go on sale at noon.

Aug. 18-21: Sawyer County Fair (715-296-9000).

Aug. 21: Hayward Bass Club free youth tournament on Chippewa Flowage (715-699-1015).

Aug. 22: Remaining fall turkey permits go on sale.

Aug. 23: Deadline to transfer Class A Bear License to a youth hunter.

Aug. 27: SCOPEFamily Fun Day at Summit Lake Game Farm (715-354-7241).

Aug. 31: Bear dog training by pursuing bear closes (see regs).

Sept. 1: Seasons Open: Early teal; Early Canada goose; Mourning dove; Ginseng.

Sept. 1: Deadline for hunters with disabilities to apply to participate in a sponsored hunt.

Sept. 2-4: 24th Annual Exeland Trout Festival;

Sept. 3: Elk bugling with DNR elk biologist Laine Stowell; RSVP (715-332-5271).

Sept. 3-30: Lake sturgeon season; hook and line.

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

Sept. 7: Bear season opens (see regs).

Sept. 8-10: 18th Annual Chippewa Flowage Musky Hunt (715-462-3276).


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.