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Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report

October 2, 2017

Steve Suman


The forecast indicates a wet start to the week, but with sunshine and 60-degree temperatures Wednesday. Showers are possible Friday and Saturday, but with continued temperatures in the 60s. This is not a bad forecast for October in the North Woods! Get out and enjoy it – fall is a far too short season!


“Trees along the shorelines are showing fall colors,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “and falling water temperatures usually means an increase in fishing success.

“Musky fishing was surprisingly good during the warmer weather last week and versatile anglers boated some nice fish on bucktails, topwaters, suckers, and trolling crankbaits in deeper water. The key is a flexible approach.

“Some walleyes are in their fall areas, but fish remain somewhat scattered and not in groups chasing baitfish. The good minnow bite slowed and fish are still biting on crawlers fished behind spinner rigs, live bait rigs, and Lindy Rigs. If you use minnows or minnow imitations, go smaller to get more fish. Look for steep breaks and deep structure.

“Some anglers are spending time fishing for smallmouth bass and northern pike. They seem to have their best luck fishing small soft plastics in shallow water. With the cooler forecast this week, we will see how it affects the fishing.

“Crappies are still holding near shore, off shallow green vegetation that is still producing a good amount of oxygen. Some fish are out towards deep structure and a few are suspending. As the water cools, they will move deeper and suspend over main lake basins in big schools. They are fun to target with small jigs and plastics or jigs and minnows. Using the wind, slowly drift over deep mud to get bites. Stagger slip bobber depths to find the school and active biters.”


Mike at Jenk’s says musky action is heating up on the Chippewa Flowage, with anglers using a variety of methods.

“More anglers are starting to use suckers, but casting and trolling are still effective, and there is a lot of action on shallow bars and cover. Bucktails and surface baits are still effective, and trolling Mattlocks and 10-inch Jakes – in that order – are the baits of choice. Hit areas with schooling crappies and troll through the school or drop down a sucker.

“Walleyes turned on again, though big fish remain elusive. During the day, troll bottom bouncers or cast #7 Jigging Raps on mud flats in 20-25 feet. In the evening, work bar edges with minnows or crawlers.

“Northern pike action is hot on spinnerbaits in the weeds, though fish size varies. The only steady bass action is with 3- to 4-inch suckers in the cribs on Round Lake.

“Crappies are still schooling in Moores Bay and Blueberry Flats and biting on a variety of baits, including crappie minnows, Gulp! Minnows, Mini-Mites, and Crappie Scrubs. Chartreuse, whites, and pinks are the hot colors.”


Carolyn at Anglers All in Ashland says fishing last week was good on Chequamegon Bay, with coho and brown trout finally becoming active.

“Anglers using stickbaits, spoons, and bait flies report good success trolling from Washburn to Long Island to the Onion. Most anglers are using Dipsey Divers to get their baits down, but some are still using downriggers. Anglers also report good success in 15-20 feet by the breakwall on the Ashland side of the Bay.

“The Sioux River is holding a good number of coho, as well as some brown trout and steelhead.

“Smallmouth bass are starting to school in their fall haunts of the breakwall, rock pile, and tip of Long Island.”


This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses how wood benefits trout.

“Anglers fishing streams for trout would almost never pass on a chance to cast near a downed tree, stump, log, or branch in the water, as these areas almost always hold trout. Why do they hold trout?

“The first reason may have to do with avoiding predators. A trout under a log or in a mess of branches is a much more difficult target for predators, particularly ospreys, herons, and eagles. But there is another reason as well.

“Research shows that trout in woody habitat do not have to expend as much energy to fight the current or search for food and that lower energy use can lead to faster growth or better reproductive success.

“Trout in wood are also less likely to ‘fight’ with each other for food or for the best position to get food. The wood acts as a sort of natural partitioning system for the fish, with each fish occupying its own area.”


The DNR encourages deer hunters to participate in the Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey and record observations of deer and other wildlife while hunting. Survey results help track deer and wildlife population trends. For more information, search “Deer Hunter Wildlife” on the DNR website.


The DNR’s 2017 Fall Hunting and Trapping Forecast, now available, includes valuable information on where to find your favorite game, regulation updates, and how to get involved with deer herd management through the Deer Management Assistance Program. For online viewing, visit


Hunters and trappers of all ages can receive a free first harvest and first hunting experience certificate from the DNR to commemorate their day in the field. Certificates are available for first deer, turkey, bear, bobcat, otter, fisher, first trapping, and first hunting experience. For more information, search “first certificates” on the DNR website.


There is still time to enter the October 6-8 Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies Inc. 40th Annual Fall Fishing Tournament on 17 Hayward area lakes. Every entrant is eligible for the Grand Door Prize drawing for a 2017 Lund 1725 Pro Guide tiller boat, ShoreLand’r trailer, and 60 hp Mercury motor. Anglers can win more than $30,000 in prizes that include gift certificates, trolling motors, depth finders, GPS units, rods, reels, cameras, and more. The angler releasing the largest fish wins a graphite replica. Angler releasing a 34-inch or larger fish receive a plaque. Entry fees are $90/adults and $25/youth 16 and younger. Enter in person at Jenk’s (715-462-3055) or in person and by phone at Hayward Bait (715-634-2921) until 11 p.m. Thursday, October 5. For more information, visit




Musky fishing is good and getting better with the weather change. Target bars, breaklines, humps, weeds, and other cover from shallow to deep, as well as wherever you find panfish concentrations. Baits of choice include suckers, bucktails, trolled crank and stick baits, and topwaters.



Walleyes are scattered, but fishing is fair to good, with early morning and evening offering the best success. During the day, fish various depths and habitats, from deeper weeds, breaks, structure, and mud flats out to 30 feet. In early morning and evening into dark, work weed bed and bar edges. Top baits include minnows and crawlers on jigs, Lindy Rigs, bottom bouncers, and spinner rigs, Jigging Raps, and trolled crankbaits.


Northern Pike: 

Northern pike action remains good in/around shallow to mid-depth weeds and near panfish concentrations. Use spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, plastics, and northern suckers under bobbers.



Largemouth bass fishing can be a challenge this time of year as the fish move deeper, but find them on the right day and you can enjoy outstanding action. Work deeper green weeds with spinnerbaits, plastics, twitch bait, and even some shallow topwaters on warmer, sunny days. Look for smallmouth on deeper hard bottoms, rocks, cribs, and humps, as well as near deeper cover in flowages and rivers. Best baits include sucker minnows, crawlers, crankbaits, and drop-shot rigs



Crappie fishing is fair to very good when you locate them. Find fish schooling, near shallow weeds, on deeper structure, and suspending over deeper water. Crappie minnows, small plastics, Mini-Mites, Tattle-Tails, Crappie Scrubs, and Gulp! Minnows under slip bobbers are all working.


Upcoming Events

Sept. 30: Fishing seasons closed: Lake Superior lake trout; Sturgeon on inland waters (see regs).

Oct. 6-840th Annual Hayward Lakes Chapter - Muskies Inc. Fall Fishing Tournament (715-634-2921).

Oct. 7-8Youth deer hunt.

Oct. 7-8Musky Tale Resort’s Crappie Quest (715-462-3838).

Oct. 7-15Hunters with disabilities deer hunt.

Oct. 7Stone Lake Cranberry Festival.

Oct. 10Black bear season closes.

Oct. 14Seasons open: Pheasant; Ruffed grouse Zone B; Bobwhite quail; Hungarian partridge; Cottontail rabbit southern zone; Raccoon gun/trapping for residents; Red and gray fox hunting/trapping; Coyote trapping; Fisher trapping; Bobcat Period 1 north of Hwy. 64.

Oct. 14Inland trout season closes.

Oct. 14Fishing Has No Boundaries spaghetti dinner fall fundraiser at Flat Creek Inn & Suites (715-634-3185).

Oct. 142017 Crex Meadows Fall Wildlife Festival (715-463-2739).

Oct. 28: Seasons open: Muskrat statewide; Mink in North, South, and Winnebago zones.

Oct. 20-22: Ladies Musky Fishing School at Deerfoot Lodge (715-462-3328).

Nov. 3-5Treeland’s Resort Fall Musky Bash (715-462-3874).

Nov. 11LCO Veterans Powwow (715-634-8934).


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.