September 26, 2016

Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report

Steve Suman


The current forecast predicts a wet start to the week, but mild and sunny days from Wednesday through the weekend – always subject to change. In addition (at this time), there is no severe weather on the horizon! Take advantage of these nice days, do not allow any inclement weather stop your outdoor activities, and enjoy the always too-short fall season!


“The turnover process is starting on many lakes,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “and it certainly changes the fishing.

“Musky action is improving and fish are spread out over the lakes. Some anglers report catches over/near weeds with surface baits and bucktails; others use plastics, crankbaits, and gliders for fish suspending over deeper water. It is also time for suckers on quick-set rigs. Walleye anglers are catching fish with crawler halves and minnows fished near/on the edges of deeper holes, drop-offs, and weedlines.

“Northern moved deeper in the weeds. Use the brightest, noisiest lures in your tackle box, large minnows, or suckers. Bass action is slowing. Largemouth are in cover, with plastics and topwater frog imitations work best. Fish smallmouth on drop-offs and rocky points.

“Crappies are moving deeper, with some in 4-6 feet on warm days. Bluegills are still in the weeds.”

Guide Steve Genson at Hayward Bait says musky action is ramping up with fish moving shallow.

“Main lake points and bars remain good, but also try large shallow flats. Use double-blade bucktails with fast retrieves, crankbaits, and surface baits. Walleye fishing is picking up, with most action in 15 feet and deeper water. Troll crankbaits and crawler harnesses on the clear lakes, and jig/minnow combos on deeper humps will get fish.

“Bass action is very good. Largemouth are in deeper weeds and smallmouth are on rock and weed edges. Plastics and topwaters work well.

“Crappies are suspending in deeper water and taking live bait and plastics. For larger bluegills, use plastics in 8-12 feet.”

Mike at Jenk’s says Chippewa Flowage musky fishing is solid, though fish are not hitting just one bait type.

“Various lures are working, including surface baits since water temperatures are still in the mid-60s. Many fish are coming from shallower water, but do not discount drop offs. Walleye fishing remains disappointing. Anglers are catching a few small, under the length limit fish. Around twilight, try fishing weed edges bordering deeper drop offs.

“Northern pike are going strong in weed beds holding plenty of smaller fish to eat, particularly on the west side. Both suckers and Tinsel Tails are producing good action. Largemouth fishing is slow, but smallmouth action is strong. Work rock and weed edges with plastics, shallow crankbaits, and topwaters. On Round Lake, fish the cribs.

“Crappie fishing is solid, but they are still not yet schooling. Anglers report action in various spots and structure that includes cribs in 19-20 feet, mud flats in 15 feet, deep weed humps, and shallow weed beds.”


Fishing pressure has dropped with hunting seasons open, says DNR fisheries biologist Skip Sommerfeldt.

“Many musky anglers report success fishing bucktails, stickbaits, and suckers along weed edges. Walleye fishing is improving with more fish in the shallows, and best success is on jig/minnow combinations worked on deep edges and crankbaits in the shallows near dark.

“Largemouth are relatively shallow, though temperamental, with best action in late afternoon. Smallmouth are active near cover along deep areas in rivers and flowages. They will go deeper – and become harder to catch – with the declining water temperatures.

“Panfish anglers fishing small minnows along weed edges and near mid-depth cover in late afternoon hours report decent catches of crappie, bluegill, and perch.

“The DNR expanded inland trout harvest season by two weeks this year and it closes Oct. 15. Many stocked trout lakes remain open after this date – check the trout fishing regulations.”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses 2016 Chippewa Flowage fall electrofishing surveys.

“Though we have not yet tabulated the final numbers for the September 14-15 Chippewa Flowage fall electrofishing survey, it is safe to say the Flowage fishery had a very good year.

“Walleye pulled off a very solid year class, returning better numbers of young-of-year than any other DNR shocking run in the last decade. Muskies also had a good reproduction year, with numbers of young muskies captured the highest in since 1999.

“Other species had also had a good year. Northern pike reproduced well and small pike are currently abundant. We encourage anglers who ice fish this winter to keep small pike – they are excellent for pickling!

“Largemouth bass produced a very large year class, but small bass can be vulnerable to winter conditions, so we will see if they survive beyond 2016. Smallmouth bass abundance appears to be expanding, particularly on the west side where they have been less common.”


Musky Tale Resort’s Crappie Quest on the Chippewa Flowage is this weekend, Saturday and Sunday, Oct. 1-2. The event includes door and raffle prizes, payout for at least five places (7 crappies per boat/day), and the biggest fish. First place pays $1,000. The contest encourages catch and release. Entry fee is $70 per two-person team. For more information, visit, or call (715) 462-3838.


The 39th Annual Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies, Inc. Fall Fishing Tournament is this Friday through Sunday, Sept. 30-Oct. 2, but you still have time to enter – and each entrant (even if you do not fish!) is eligible for the Grand Door Prize: a 2016 Lund 1725 Pro Guide tiller boat, ShoreLand’r trailer, and 60 hp Mercury motor. The event offers participants more than $30,000 in prizes, including trolling motors, gift certificates, depth finders, GPS units, and more. Every angler releasing a 34-inch or larger fish receives a plaque. The angler releasing the largest fish wins a graphite replica. Entry fees are $90 for adults and $25 for youth 16 and younger, and you have until 11 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 29, to enter in person at Jenk’s (715-462-3055) or in person and by phone at Hayward Bait (715-634-2921). For more information, visit




Musky fishing is good and getting better with fall’s arrival and cooler water temperatures. Fish are in various depths, from shallow to deeper water, and scattered/suspending in various locations. Look for them on/over/near weeds and weed edges, points, bars, humps, drop-offs, and flats. The most productive baits include bucktails, crankbaits, plastics, gliders, stickbaits, topwaters, and large suckers on quick-strike rigs. Choose the presentation that best suits the location.



Walleye fishing is fair, but improving with cooling water temperatures. Fish are moving to deeper (20 feet and more) weeds and weed edges, holes, humps, and drop-offs, though coming into nearby shallower areas in late evening and after dark. The best bait choices at this time include jigs and minnows, crawlers on harnesses, and trolled/cast crankbaits.


Northern Pike:

Northern pike fishing remains very good for fish in somewhat deeper weeds and weed beds. Baits of choice include spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, larger minnows, and northern suckers under bobbers. As always, go deeper with bigger baits for trophy pike.


Largemouth Bass:

Largemouth fishing is fair to good (best late in the day), but inconsistent. Bass are in and around weeds, be they shallow or deep. Top bait picks include crankbaits, spinnerbaits, soft plastics, topwaters, and live bait.


Smallmouth Bass:

Smallmouth action is good to very good near and along deeper edges of weeds, rock, points, drop-offs, and cribs. Best success is on plastics, crankbaits, topwaters, and live bait.



Crappie fishing is fair to very good, with late afternoon offering the best success. Fish are scattered and suspended, though primarily in/moving to deeper water, along weed edges, humps, cribs, and other cover in depths ranging from 5-20 feet. Crappie minnows, waxies, plastics, and Gulp! baits will all tempt crappies.



Bluegill fishing is fair to good, with best action late in the day. Look for larger fish in weeds and near other structure in 6-14 feet. Waxies, small minnows, plastics, and Gulp! baits work well.


Upcoming Events

Sept. 24: Seasons Opened: Woodcock; Duck in northern zone.

Sept. 30: Seasons Close: Trout on inland waters and rivers flowing into Lake Superior; Lake Superior lake trout; Hook-and-line sturgeon on inland waters (see regs).

Sept. 30-Oct 2: 39th Annual Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies, Inc. Fall Fishing Tournament (715-634-2921).

Oct. 1: 38th Annual Stone Lake Cranberry Festival & Parade.

Oct. 1-2: Musky Tale Resort’s Crappie Quest (715-462-3838).

Oct. 1-9: Special deer hunt open to people with disabilities (see regs).

Oct. 6-8: Musky Fly Fishing World Championships (715-462-3874).

Oct. 8-9: Youth deer hunt (see regs).

Oct. 11: Bear season closes.

Oct. 15: Seasons open: Pheasant; Ruffed grouse Zone B; Bobwhite quail; Hungarian partridge; Raccoon gun/trapping (residents only); Red and gray fox hunting/trapping; Coyote and fisher, trapping; Bobcat hunting/trapping Period 1.

Oct. 15: Inland trout season closes.

Oct. 22: Seasons open: Muskrat; Mink.


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.