September 18, 2017
Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report
The forecast for this week is less than encouraging in some respects, with chances for rain and thunderstorms, but with mild to warm temperatures for mid-September. Follow your plan, go prepared, watch the sky – and remember that “sometimes” forecasts miss the mark.
“Fall colors are popping up everywhere,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “and should peak in the next couple of weeks.
“Musky fishing is sporadic, but with great action in active periods. Fish shallow weeds and along drop-offs with bucktails and surface lures. Try Bull Dawgs, Medusas, and similar lures near baitfish suspending in deep water.
“Walleye fishing is good for anglers working jigs and crawler halves on the edges of holes and humps in 15-18 feet. In the evening, fish jig/minnow combinations on weed edges in 5-8 feet. On bigger lakes, try just off weeds in 12-15 feet.
“Northern pike are in weeds, with some in deeper water. Use #4 or #5 Mepps or spoons tipped with Twister Tails.
“Largemouth are in shallow weeds, rocks, under docks, and in deep water, with no reliable pattern. Smallmouth are in deeper water, hitting crankbaits, crawlers, and minnows.
“Crappie action is best on minnows, small tube jigs, Tattle-Tails, and Mini-Mites in 12-18 feet. Bluegills are a little deeper in weeds and worms always work.”
Erik at Hayward Bait says outstanding weather stirred anglers to get out and chase their favorite species.
“Musky fishing is picking up and some anglers are starting to run musky suckers off the back of their boat while casting shorelines and mid-lake structure with bucktails and topwaters. During mid-day, troll or cast open water with big rubber baits such as Bull Dawgs, Swimming Dawgs, Medusas, and Poseidons.
“Walleye fishing is strong, with mornings and evenings best, and anglers report success vertical jigging Rattle Traps, Jigging Raps, and others. Trolling crankbaits such as Flicker Shads, Tail Dancers, and deep diving Husky Jerks is also productive.
“Panfish action is also strong. Crappies are along weed edges and mid-lake structure containing good weeds. You will find big bluegills not far from the crappies.”
Mike at Jenk’s says Chippewa Flowage musky fishing slowed last week, likely due to the warm temperatures.
“Trolling Mattlocks continues to be a strong choice, especially for anglers targeting bigger fish. Casting Warlocks and various bucktails seems to produce the most fish.
“Walleye fishing is okay, but not spectacular. Anglers are switching to minnows, but crawlers remain a good choice. If live bait does not seem to work, try minnow swim baits with swim jigs, Jigging Raps, or 4-inch Gulp! on Kalin Darter Jigs. During the day, use electronics to locate schools of walleye on mud flat bottoms. In the evening, fish along weedlines and drop offs holding baitfish.
“Northern pike fishing is good in the weeds, with white and silver spinnerbaits outperforming all others, and the west side the best bet for large pike.
“Local guide Ron Bergman reports crappies are starting to school in Blueberry Flats and Moores Bay. Crappie Scrubs and Stinger Shads on 1/16-oz jigs, one-inch emerald shiner Gulp! Minnows, and crappie minnows all produce results.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses “known-age” fish.
“Knowing the age of a fish can be important to fisheries biologists, as the information leads to more reliable growth, mortality, and recruitment estimates.
“There are a variety of ways to estimate the age of a fish, with most involving annual rings on calcified structures such as scales, spines, and some bones. These methods come with uncertainty, however, and provide only a ‘best estimate’ of the fish’s age. There are also ways to learn a fish’s age with more certainty.
“Marking or tagging a fish very early in life can create a ‘known-age’ fish. Biologists do this often by tagging hatchery-raised fish – fish with a known birth date – before stocking them into the wild. When biologists capture the fish later in its life, the tag tells where the fish came from and when it was born.
“True known-age fish are relatively rare due to the costs and labor associated with tagging large numbers of fish. In the Hayward area, there are a fair number of known-age muskies and every recaptured one leads to a wealth of information about growth, movement, and survival.”
Wisconsin has more than 17 million acres of forested lands and changes in color mean the trees are starting to prepare for winter. Visit the Fall Color Report on the Travel Wisconsin website for the most current peak color information. In northern Wisconsin, peak color usually occurs during the last week of September and first week of October. Three factors influence autumn leaf colors: leaf pigments, length of night, and weather, though temperature and moisture also affect the display.
With the start of the 2017 deer hunting seasons, the DNR encourages deer hunters to participate in the Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey. Hunters record their observations of deer and other wildlife and survey results help track deer and wildlife population trends. New this year, hunters can report observations using a smartphone app. For more information, search “Deer Hunter Wildlife” on the DNR website. At the end of the survey in January, participants receive a personalized summary of all recorded wildlife from that season.
The 33rd Annual Hayward Fall Festival on Main Street is this Saturday, September 23, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Events and attractions include arts and crafts, food vendors, brat and brew garden, fall flowers, face painting, caricature artist, scarecrow design contest, baking contest, carnival games, hanging donut eating contest, hula hoop contest, pumpkin decorating, live music, and more. For more information, call (715) 634-8662).
Musky action is fair to very good and improving, depending on timing and weather. Search for fish on/around shallow to mid-depth weeds, drop-offs, shorelines, mid-lake structure, and suspending over deep water. The most productive bait types at this time include bucktails, big Bull Dawgs and similar rubber baits, jerkbaits, gliders, topwaters, and musky suckers on quick-strike rigs. Trolling large stickbaits and minnow baits is also effective.
Walleye fishing is fair to good, with mornings and evenings still offering the best success. During the day, work in/on the edges of deeper holes and humps out to 20 feet or so and on the bottoms of mud flats. During evening into dark, work weed edges, weedlines, and drop-offs in 4-18 feet, depending on the lake. Bait preferences are transitioning. One or all traditional walleye offering might work… or not. Good choices include jigs with minnows or crawlers; cast and trolled crankbaits, swim jigs, and Gulp! Minnows; and jigging baits such as Jigging Raps.
Northern pike action is fair to good, particularly around green weeds and anywhere you find concentrations of panfish. Northern suckers, minnows, spinners, spinnerbaits, and Twister-tipped spoons all work. For trophy pike, fish bigger baits in deeper water.
Largemouth fishing can be challenging this time of year as the fish scatter to a variety of depths and habitat, such as weeds, rock, brush, and other structure. Good baits to try at this time include swim jigs, wacky worms, jerkbaits, spinners, plastics, and even some topwaters. Top baits include wacky worms, swim jigs, spinnerbaits, jerkbaits, plastics, and topwaters.
Smallmouth action is erratic, though some anglers report good success. Look for fish in, on, and near deeper weeds, rocks, gravel, and other hard bottom areas. Minnows, crawlers, crankbaits, and plastics all work for smallmouth.
Crappie fishing is good in 10-20 feet around weed edges and weedy structure, with fish in the early stages of schooling. Best baits include crappie minnows, tube jigs, Tattle-Tails, Mini-Mites, Crappie Scrubs, various plastics, and one-inch Gulp! Minnows.
Bluegills are providing very good early fall action around mid-depth to deeper weeds, with larger fish on the deeper edges and often near schooling crappies. Waxies, worms, crawler chunks, minnows, plastics, and Gulp! baits are all effective offerings.
Sept. 21-24: Youth Musky Hunt at Mystic Moose Resort (715-462-3014).
Sept. 23: Hayward Fall Festival (715-634-8662).
Sept. 23: Seasons open: Woodcock; Duck in Northern Zone.
Sept. 24: Trout season closes on rivers flowing into Lake Superior (see regs).
Sept. 28-30: 2nd Annual Treeland Premier Musky Fly Fishing Championships (715-462-3874).
Sept. 29-30: Cable Area Fall Fest (800-533-7454).
Sept. 30: Fishing seasons close: Lake Superior lake trout; Sturgeon on inland waters (see regs).
Oct. 6-8: 40th Annual Hayward Lakes Chapter – Muskies Inc. Fall Fishing Tournament (715-634-2921).
Oct. 7-8: Youth deer hunt.
Oct. 7-8: Musky Tale Resort’s Crappie Quest (715-462-3838).
Oct. 7-15: Hunters with disabilities deer hunt.
Oct. 10: Black bear season closes.
Oct. 14: Seasons open: Pheasant; Ruffed grouse Zone B; Bobwhite quail; Hungarian partridge; Raccoon gun/trapping for residents; Red and gray fox hunting/trapping; Coyote trapping; Fisher trapping; Bobcat Period 1 north of Hwy. 64.
Oct. 14: Inland trout season closes.
Oct. 28: Seasons open: Muskrat statewide; Mink in North, South, and Winnebago zones.