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Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report

August 6, 2018

Steve Suman

The forecast for the remainder of this week is encouraging, with most highs in the 80s, lows in the 50s, and only a slight chance of rain Wednesday night. Days are shorter, nights are longer, and first week of August is history (don’t shoot the messenger!), so get out and enjoy the great summer weather while it IS summer weather!

“Fishing is on the slow side, yet productive,” says Pat at Happy Hooker.

“Musky angler success is quiet, though with many reports of follows and no hookups. Big fish are not yet aggressive, but that will change later in the year.

“Walleyes are concentrating over deeper mid-lake humps and other structure in 10-25 feet, with live crawlers and minnows on spinning rigs productive. The best times are still early morning and late afternoon into dark.

“Northern pike are around deeper weeds and spinnerbaits, medium Mepps, and some topwaters are all working.

“Bass fishing is good on most of the lakes for anglers casting and jigging near vegetation with soft plastics, wacky rigs, and topwaters such as Jitter Bugs, Hula Poppers, and frogs.

“Panfish are on deeper weedy drop-off areas and most success is on slip bobbers tipped with small minnows and tube jigs and small hair and feather jigs tipped with crawler pieces.”


Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage is down about 2 feet and the water temperature is in the low to mid 70s.

“It is still musky trolling season, but with the recent cold front more fish are on gravel bars and moving on jerkbaits and topwaters. Try targeting the Baumgarten, 50 Pound, and Church bars with Warlocks, X-Toads, and Suicks.

“Walleye anglers report fair success working walleye suckers or trolling firetiger, silver, and perch color Flicker Shads and Wally Divers tight to downed trees along the Banana Islands’ shorelines.

“Northern pike are active in weeds, with black and orange spinnerbaits producing the most success. Definitely work weedy bays on the west side.

“Smallmouth bass action is good on plastic imitations – particularly craws – and shallow crankbaits around stumps and rocky shorelines on the east side.

“Crappie action is slow for anglers hitting bogs, cribs, and brush piles. Instead, try 20-25 feet coming up to 10 feet with weed cover.”


This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses tales of downstream musky movement.

“Tagging muskellunge with PIT tags has been a major focus in the Hayward area in recent years and as of this spring, there are more than 23,000 tagged muskies in Sawyer County. With so many tags on the landscape, the number of recaptured fish has increased each year, providing a large and interesting dataset on everything from growth to movement.

“Two recaptures from this past spring and summer are particularly interesting.

“One muskellunge, captured near Deerfoot Resort on the Chippewa Flowage and originally tagged in Teal Lake in 2015, made a downstream trip of about 12 miles.

“The other notable tag was a fish captured by an angler in the Chippewa River, downstream from the Chippewa Flowage. This fish, originally tagged in Moose Lake 10 years ago, traveled at least 14 miles from the tagging point to the catch location, a trip that included going over two sizable dams.

“Large downstream movements such as these may not be the norm, but individual cases offer interesting glimpses into the capabilities of fish.”


Hayward Bass Club is hosting it annual free Youth Bass Tourney Sunday, August 19, from 12-4 p.m., on the Chippewa Flowage. The Landing Restaurant and LCO Resort serves as tournament headquarters. Club members and other experienced anglers guide young anglers 10-17 years of age for an afternoon of fun, friendly bass fishing, with catch-and-release style competition just like the pros. Participants can bring their own tackle or use gear provided by the club and guides. A shore lunch for participants, families, guides, and spectators follows the weigh-in. Participants must have a permission slip and pre-register. For more information, or to register, stop at Hayward Bait (715-634-2921) or Outdoor Creations (715-634-1044), or contact Wayne Balsavich (; 405-227-1789).


Bonus antlerless deer harvest authorizations (formerly known as tags) for regular DMUs go on sale Monday, Aug. 13, at 10 a.m., through license sales locations and the DNR’s Go Wild website. Sales are zone-specific as follows: Aug. 13: Northern and Central Forest (Zone 1); Aug. 14: Central Farmland (Zone 2); Aug. 15: Southern Farmland (Zone 2); Aug. 16: Remaining authorizations for all zones. Authorizations sell at one per person per day until sold out or the 2018 deer season ends. Authorizations cost $12 for residents, $20 for non-residents, and $5 for youth age 11 and younger. The DNR will begin an online queuing system at 9:45 a.m. and at 10 a.m. randomly assign online users a number in a “virtual” line. There is no advantage to enter the site before 9:45 a.m. For more information and a list of available bonus authorizations, search “deer” and “bonus availability” on the DNR website.


Operation Deer Watch, the DNR’s annual volunteer-based wildlife monitoring survey, offers Wisconsin residents the opportunity to assist with deer herd management efforts. Survey data provide insight into the status of the deer herd and help shape deer management, and County Deer Advisory Councils use the data to develop recommendations for season framework, permit level, and the harvest quotas. From August 1 to September 30, participants record all bucks, does, and fawns they see during the day and track their daily observations using an online tally sheet. For more information, search “deer watch” on the DNR website.


This Saturday, August 11, Flambeau River State Forest is holding a 75th birthday party for Smokey Bear. The festivities begin at noon at the Connors Lake picnic area. Come help celebrate the birthday with a party that includes games, cake – and a visit with Smokey! For more information, call (715) 332-5271.




Musky fishing is currently presenting a challenge for many anglers. There are numerous reports of sightings and follows, but fish are not making the final commitment to hit the baits. Look for fish on gravel bars and humps adjacent to deep water. Cast jerkbaits and topwaters on these areas, or troll larger crank and stick baits.



Walleye action is inconsistent (isn’t that usually the case?), with very early mornings and late evening into dark offering the best opportunities. During the day, fish deeper cover, bars, brush, and humps out to about 30 feet. In the evening, work shallower bars and shorelines. Use crawlers and minnows on spinning rigs, walleye suckers on jigs, or troll stick and crank baits along the same areas.


Northern Pike: 

Northern pike action is good to very good, but primarily for smaller fish around shallow to mid-depth weeds and other cover. Best baits include spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, stickbaits, crankbaits, topwaters, and northern suckers. Try bigger baits in deeper water for trophy pike.


Largemouth Bass: 

Largemouth bass action is good around shallow to mid-depth weeds, weedlines and other vegetations, brush, and downed trees. Plastics in various configurations, spinners and spinnerbaits, and topwaters will all catch largemouth.


Smallmouth Bass:

Smallmouth bass are still active and fishing is good around areas with weeds, stumps, rocks, and gravel. The most productive offerings include soft plastics such as wacky worms/rigs, crayfish, and tubes, crankbaits, swim baits, drop-shot rigs, crawlers, and sucker minnows.



Crappie fishing is fair. Work deeper weeds, brush, bogs, cribs, drop-offs, and humps out to about 25 feet. Baits of choice include crappie minnows, waxies, tubes, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs and plain hooks fished under slip bobbers, and small spinners. Downsize offerings to improve success.



Bluegill action is very good for smaller fish in shallow areas with cover. Look for bigger ‘gills in mid-depth to deeper weeds, brush, cribs, and drop-offs. Waxies, worms, crawler pieces, tubes, and plastics on small jigs, teardrops, and plain hooks are all effective, with/without slip bobbers. For big bluegills, try deeper cover with small minnows.


Upcoming Events

Aug. 11Smokey Bear’s 75th birthday party, Flambeau River State Forest, Connors Lake picnic area, noon (715-332-5271).

Aug. 13-16Antlerless deer tags (where available) for regular DMUs go on sale.

Aug. 17Universe in the Parks at Flambeau River State Forest, Connors Lake picnic area, 8 p.m. (715-332-5271).

Aug. 18Fall turkey permits remaining after drawing go on sale. Check availability.

Aug. 19Hayward Bass Club Free Youth Bass Tourney, 12-4 p.m., The Landing, Chippewa Flowage (715-699-1015).

Aug. 21Deadline to transfer Class A bear license.

Aug. 23-26Sawyer County Fair (715-934-2721).

Aug. 25SCOPE Family Fun Day at Summit Lake Game Farm (715-558-5371).

Aug. 31-Sept. 226th Annual Exeland Trout Festival (

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

Through Aug. 31Application period for sharp-tailed grouse permits.

Sept. 1Seasons open: Early teal; Early Canada goose; Mourning dove; Sturgeon (see regs); Ginseng.

Sept. 1Application deadline for hunters with disabilities deer hunt.

Sept. 5Black bear season opens (see regs).

Sept. 15Early Canada goose season closes.

Sept. 15Seasons open: Archery and crossbow deer; Fall turkey; Ruffed grouse in Zone A; Cottontail rabbit in Northern Zone; Gray and fox squirrel; Crow.

Sept. 15-16Youth Waterfowl Hunt (see regs).

Sept. 16Canada goose season opens in North and South exterior zones.

Sept. 22Seasons open: Duck in Northern Zone (see regs); Woodcock.

Sept. 29Seasons open: Duck in Southern and Mississippi zones; Canada goose in Mississippi River Subzone.

Sept. 30Seasons close: Trout on rivers flowing into Lake Superior; Lake trout on Lake Superior; Sturgeon (see regs).


For more information on area events and activities, visit the Hayward Lakes Visitor and Convention Bureauwebsite, view its Calendar of Events, or call 800-724-2992.