October 24, 2016
Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report
Moderate fall weather continues in the North Woods, though with signs of moving to more seasonal aspects. This week looks to be a bit cooler and again (surprise!) includes chances for rain – with snow possible on the weekend. However, IF it occurs, Sunday’s high of 50 degrees should remove all evidence. Take advantage and enjoy this mild weather while you can!
“Above average temperatures for this time of year renewed the interest of serious musky and walleye anglers,” says Pat at Happy Hooker. “Partly cloudy skies and light to calm winds makes it an ideal time for anglers to be on the water.
“Muskies remain spread over the lake, with anglers catching fish from over weeds to on deeper drops, and best action with suckers on quick-strike rigs. Bull Dawgs, Medusas, and larger crankbaits are producing a few fish, but not the quantity as live bait.
“Walleyes moved deeper and anglers report moderate success during daylight hours in 12-18 feet. Vertical jigging a fathead works best and it still seems to be an evening bite, with late evening into dark producing the best success.
“There are few panfish reports, but the fish are still there. Crappies moved out of the weeds and dispersed throughout the lake. Earlier, anglers reported good crappies schooled on drops in 10-17 feet. The best bite is on crappie minnows under slip bobbers, at various depths, in late afternoon. Bluegills are holding in remaining green weeds, but will move deeper with the die-off of shallower weeds. Perch are just off weeds and on flats.
“As a reminder, Happy Hooker is closed from noon Oct. 27 through Oct. 31. Our daughter is getting married and she requires that we attend.”
Muskies continue to provide most of the fishing pressure, says DNR fisheries biologist Skip Sommerfeldt.
“Action is good, with most anglers switching from artificials to live suckers. Smaller suckers (10-14 inches) are providing the best action, with good numbers of fish up to 40 inches. However, the nicer fish are coming on large, 18-inch and larger suckers. This trend will continue as fall progresses, with the trophy potential getting better as water temperatures cool into the 40s.
“Walleye fishing is erratic, with fish not yet in a solid fall pattern. For now, use jig/minnow combinations and minnows on slip bobbers. Cloudy days often produce fair action during daytime hours. The few die-hard largemouth anglers still trying their luck report fair success on soft plastics fished around woody cover in 4-6 feet of water during afternoon hours on warm, sunny days.
“Panfish action is fair for crappie and perch along deep weed edges and near mid-depth cover.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses leaves as fish food.
“The crunch of leaves underfoot is a sure sign that fall is in full swing. While many people love fall foliage for its color and beauty, fish love them for a different reason. Leaves falling into the water become a source of nutrients for the aquatic food chain. This nutrient source is particularly important in small streams that do not receive nutrients by many other means.
“Once leaves are in the stream, aquatic invertebrates eat them. Many different species make up this group of invertebrates, commonly called ‘shredders.’ The fish then eat the invertebrates, which makes the invertebrates a critical link in the food chain.
“This importance of leaves to aquatic ecosystems adds further importance to the shoreline buffers that protect trees and vegetation.”
On October 10, the DNR stocked approximately 7,500 exceptionally large muskellunge fingerlings at various locations on the Chippewa Flowage, says DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter. The fingerlings, reared at Gov. Thompson Fish Hatchery in Spooner, came from eggs collected from the Flowage last April.
“This is the largest number of muskellunge stocked into the flowage since a stocking of 7,600 fish in 2001. What makes this fall’s stocking unique is the size of the fish. These fingerlings averaged slightly more than 13 inches in length – with many more than 15 inches – the largest muskellunge ever stocked into the Chippewa Flowage. In addition, we implanted most fingerlings with small tags, allowing biologists to track each implanted fish throughout its life.
“In the past, the average muskellunge stocking length was typically between 9 and 11 inches. On paper, the difference between an 11-inch fingerling and a 13-inch fingerling may not seem like much, but in real life, the difference is huge. Muskellunge fingerings nearly double their body weight between 11 and 13 inches, making larger fingerlings less vulnerable to predation and with more fat reserves going into winter.”
Wolter says that not surprisingly, results from previous years show fingerings larger than 12 inches have vastly higher survival than those less than 12 inches.
“A generous donation from the Hayward Lakes Chapter of Muskies Inc. for additional high quality forage minnows made the growing of larger fingerlings possible. Having extra food allowed these fish to stay in the ponds longer and have more time to grow.
“This partnership is a great example of conservation-minded citizens working with the DNR to solve problems and improve fishing.”
Musky action is good and getting better – and late fall is trophy time for musky anglers. Fish remain scattered with the warmer weather and water, and you can find them anywhere from shallow to deeper areas. Suckers on quick-strike rigs are by far the most productive at this time, but anglers are also catching a few fish on large Bull Dawgs, Medusas, crankbaits, and jerkbaits.
Walleye fishing is decent and getting better, with some action during the day in 15-25 feet. The evening into dark bite is still best, however. Fatheads/minnows on jigs and under slip bobbers are the most productive presentations.
Northern pike action is good around weeds and cover with northern suckers, spinners, spinnerbaits, and spoons fished at a variety of depths. For trophy pike, target deeper water with bigger baits.
Largemouth action is inconsistent and slowing with the cooling water, though decent on the warm, sunny days. Look for fish around weeds and wood in various depths, from shallow to deeper areas. Soft plastics are currently the go-to baits, but live bait can also produce interest.
Smallmouth fishing is good around deeper weeds, cribs, rock, and other cover. Sucker minnows, drop-shot rigs, and plastics remain the top producing baits.
Crappie action is good when you find them. They are scattered and moving and/or have moved to deeper water. Try along weeds, weed edges, and other cover in 8-20 feet with crappie minnows, plastics, and Gulp! baits under slip bobbers.
Bluegill fishing is fair to good in weeds, brush, cribs, and other cover in mid-depth to deeper water. Baits of choice include waxies, worms, and plastics, as well as small minnows for larger ‘gills.
Perch action is good around weeds, weed edges, and on flats in a variety of depths. Use waxies, worms, crawler chunks, small minnows, and plastics on small jigs or plain hooks, with/without slip bobbers.
Oct. 29: Raccoon hunting and trapping season opens for non-residents.
Nov. 1: Wild ginseng season closes.
Nov. 5: Trapping seasons open in North Zone: Beaver; Otter.
Nov. 6: Turn back your clocks – Daylight Saving Time ends at 2 a.m.
Nov. 7: Woodcock season closes.
Nov. 15: Trout and salmon fishing closes on downstream section of Lake Superior tributaries (see regs).
Nov. 17: Fall crow season closes.
Nov. 19-27: Regular gun deer season (see regs).
Nov. 22: Duck season closes in the north zone.
Nov. 28-Dec. 7: Muzzleloader deer season (see regs).
Nov. 29: Mourning dove season closes.
Nov. 30: Seasons close: Muskellunge; Turtle.
Dec. 8-11: Statewide antlerless deer hunt (see regs).