November 7, 2016
Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report
If you are taking great pride in consistently running an hour ahead of schedule… perhaps you forgot to turn back your clock Saturday night/Sunday morning!
Mild weather continues in the North Woods this week, mirroring last year’s fall pattern. Should that continue, expect to see an abrupt change next week.
“The unusually warm fall weather brought a late drop in water temperatures,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “and most lakes in the area range from 47-51 degrees. Fall fishing reflects this warmth, turnover is in mid form, and the usual fall walleye and musky patterns are slow in arriving.
“Musky fishing is improving as the water temperatures drop, with the best fishing on suckers and sucker imitations on weed edges. Jerkbaits such as Eddie Baits and Suicks are also working now.
“Walleye fishing is fair, but not as good as usual in early November. The usual fall patterns should get going as the temperatures drop. The fish are deep, hitting jig and minnows combinations, but so far this fall, the fish are not showing a lot of size. The bite is only fair on the big, deep lakes. Work jigs tipped with large minnows on the drop-offs.
“Most anglers are concentrating on musky and walleye and very few anglers are fishing for northern pike or bass. However, you can still catch these fish in the weeds, especially if you can find some green weeds.
“Panfish action is almost non-existent, as most panfish anglers have put away their boats. However, those still fishing are finding crappies mixed in with the walleyes and perch in the weeds.
“Fall colors are gone and the forest floor is brown with leaves and pine needles. These are good conditions for bird hunters, who can now see the birds in flight.”
“The musky bite is quite good, with most fish coming on large suckers on quick-set rigs fished in 10-30 feet. There is some action for anglers casting large crankbaits, gliding jerkbaits, and big rubber baits such as Bull Dawgs. Other options include vertical jigging blade baits such as Fuzzy Duzzits or jigs with smaller suckers.
“Walleye anglers also report decent action, with most fish biting on walleye suckers and fatheads on jigs or rigs. Focus on deep points and cribs in 15-35 feet.
“Crappies are starting to school in deeper water, 15-35 feet. On most lakes, fish are biting on small minnows and plastics either vertically jigged or fished under slip bobbers.
“Area grouse hunters report good numbers of birds available on much of the public land.
“Bowhunting action is heating up and hunters harvested some nice bucks in the last week. There is a lot of sign showing up in the woods and hunters can expect good rut action in the next two weeks.”
Hunting has pretty much replaced fishing as the main recreation in the last few weeks, says DNR fisheries biologist Skip Sommerfeldt.
“The beginning of deer rut has bowhunters spending more time in their deer stands, and grouse hunters are still finding birds in fairly good numbers. Water temperatures are slowly dropping and most lakes are in the upper 40s.
“Muskies continue as the main species of interest and are providing some very good action. Most musky anglers are dragging live suckers and seeing quite a few fish in a variety of habitats, including the shallow weed edges, mid-depth flats, and some fish suspending over deeper water. The few anglers still throwing artificials with some success report fish are more active on sunny, warmer days after the water warms a bit.
“Walleye anglers who are still trying their luck report very inconsistent success, with good action for small and medium walleyes on some days and virtually no action on other days. Live minnows work best, fished on jigs, bare hooks dragged along the bottom, or below slip bobbers. On sunny days, look for the bite in late afternoon and right at dark, but cloudy days often produce some catches all day.
“Panfish action is fair, with anglers catching a few nice crappie and perch along mid-depth breaks and near cover.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses late fall musky action.
“The very pleasant fall weather has anglers still thinking about musky fishing, even as deer season approaches. With luck, most musky anglers had some success this year, but here are some last minute spots for those still looking for their first musky or wanting to add to their 2016 total.
“Hayward is known for many lakes with trophy potential, such as Chippewa Flowage, Lac Courte Oreilles, and Grindstone, but there are many ‘action’ lakes with very high musky densities. These lakes offer much higher catch rates, but with an average size smaller than in the trophy lakes.
“Good action lakes include the Spider Chain, Ghost, Moose, Tiger Cat Flowage, Mud/Callahan, Lower Clam, Day, Barber, and Blaisdell.
“Anglers should also not overlook the opportunities in the rivers, as the Chippewa, Flambeau, and Namekagon below Hayward all offer good musky action.”
Musky action is good to very good and getting better with the cooling water temperatures. Fish are scattered from shallow weeds to mid-depth flats to suspending over deep water, and suckers on quick-strike rigs are producing the majority of fish. Anglers fishing artificials report action is better late on warm, sunny days, with best success on large crankbaits, Bull Dawgs/rubber baits, gliders, and jerkbaits.
Walleye action is fair to good, though erratic, and not quite up to expectations for early November. Best success is late in the day into dark, though daytime fishing can be productive on overcast days. Look for fish on points, bars, cribs, and drop-offs in 12-30 feet and deeper. Walleye suckers and fatheads, fished on plain hooks, jigs, and under slip bobbers, are the most productive offerings.
Northern pike continue to feed in and around weeds at various depths. Northern suckers, walleye suckers, spinners, spinnerbaits, stickbaits, and spoons are all good choices. As always, try bigger baits in deeper water for trophy pike.
Bass activity, as well as angler interest, has waned with the dropping air and water temperatures. However, the fish are still there and ready to catch for late season anglers. Look for largemouth in the weeds – preferably green weeds – and smallmouth in weeds and on hard bottom areas. Live bait works best for both at this time.
Crappie action is fair to good and getting better as fish start to school in deeper water. Look for them suspending on/near cover, along mid-depth breaklines, weedlines, brush, and in some of the same areas that hold walleye. Check the entire water column! Baits of choice include crappie minnows, waxies, plastics, and Gulp! baits under slip bobbers.
Look for bluegills in 5-18 feet along breaklines, weedlines, rock, brush, and near other cover. Top baits include waxies, leaf worms, plastics, and Gulp! baits on plain hooks, small jigs, and teardrops.
Perch are in a variety of depths in the weeds, on weed edges, and in some of the same areas you will find walleyes. Jigs with fatheads and crawlers should produce some action.
Nov. 7: Woodcock season closed.
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: Muzzle Loader 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).
Dec. 10: Application deadline: Spring turkey, Bear.
Dec. 24-Jan. 1: Antler-less-only Holiday Hunt (see regs).
Jan. 3: Hayward Lakes Chapter Muskies, Inc. business meeting (715-634-4543).
Jan. 8: Archery and crossbow deer seasons close.