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Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report

Steve Suman

Deer hunters who differ on their favorite hunting weather should all be happy at least one day this week, as the forecast includes clear, cloudy, cold, calm, wind, mild, rain, and snow at various points throughout the week!

Enjoy a safe and happy Thanksgiving Day!

“Fishing in the Quiet Lakes area went into idle with deer season and the weather,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “but last week musky and walleye anglers reported good success. Water levels are high due to rain the past couple of weeks.

“Musky angler using medium to large suckers on quick-set rigs have the most success, but there were also catches on jerkbaits, larger crankbaits, and topwaters. Work suckers on the drop-offs of weed edges in 6-10 feet of water while casting large jerkbaits or big double 10 spinnerbaits and always do a figure-8 as your bait nears the boat. There is a good bite with no particular feeding windows. Some anglers report good northern action while casting for muskies.

“Walleyes are tight to the bottom in 15-30 feet and the fish are locating in depressions or holes. Use 1/8-ounce jigs – 1/4-ounce if it’s windy – tipped with walleye suckers up to 4 inches or the largest fatheads you can find.”

Kelly at Hayward Bait says musky anglers report some decent action.

“Work weed beds in 5-15 feet and deeper with suckers and Fuzzy Duzzits. There is a fair walleye bite in deeper water on walleye suckers and fatheads. Crappies are still suspending over deeper water and providing a good bite on most lakes for anglers fishing crappie minnows and small plastics. For bluegills, work waxies and small plastics along rock bars and weedlines in 10-15 feet.

“Grouse hunting is good now that the foliage is down and the dropping temperatures were good for deer hunters. Stop in and sign up for the big buck contest!”

Carolyn at Anglers All in Ashland says snow and wind halted fishing for a bit.

“Warmer temperatures forecast for this next week should bring out the non-hunter anglers and there were recent reports by trollers of mixed bags of brown trout, splake, rainbow, and coho. Smallmouth anglers are doing best with artificials, which is odd this time of year.

“Snow encouraged some to deer hunt up north and they report a few big bucks, while other hunters report only antlerless deer.”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses how long a fish can survive without food.

“Some anglers might wonder how long it takes a fish to starve. Researchers from Illinois looked at starvation of young walleye and found water temperature played a big role in how long the walleye could survive without food.

“Walleye survive longer without food in cold water because their metabolism is lower and larger walleye survive longer than smaller walleye because they have more fat reserves.

“The study found that large fingerling walleyes in cold water –similar to what the fish experience over winter – could go 150 days without food. This is the same fish size and timing of walleye stocked in many northern Wisconsin lakes, suggesting these fish have plenty of fat reserves to live on while hunting for food and adjusting to their new lake.

“While fish can survive a long time without food, we hope the results of this study will not encourage people to start neglecting their goldfish that would still prefer a daily meal!”

DNR fisheries biologist Skip Sommerfeldt says deer season and the weather have ended open water fishing season.

“The cold weather may cause some skim ice on some smaller lakes, but lakes remain open and several weeks away from any sort of ice fishing activity.

“However, brook trout spawning season is about at its peak, which is typical for mid-November, and male brook trout exhibit some spectacular spawning colors.

“You can often view their mating rituals in many native brook trout streams. Look for the spawning fish around gravel areas in riffles in the smaller tributary streams, but watch from a distance and do not disturb the fish or the fragile spawning areas that represent the future of that brook trout population.”


An expanded early catch and release trout season opens at 5 a.m. January 2 and runs through Friday May 6 on waters where the early season currently exists. The DNR developed the expanded early season in response to feedback from anglers and the resulting rule received extensive public review. Regular trout season opens Saturday May 7 and anglers will see simplified regulations.

The DNR’s Office of the Great Lakes is inviting entries for its 8th annual Great Lakes Photo Contest. The deadline is February 1 for both photo and written submissions. The contest needs photos from all seasons in the following categories: natural features and wildlife; cultural and historic features; and people enjoying Wisconsin’s Great Lakes. Submissions for the new lake stewardship activities category should include a photo and a 180-word description of the restoration or protection project. Wisconsin’s Great Lakes 2016-17 calendar, distributed at the 2016 Wisconsin State Fair, will feature the top photos. The office is also accepting short essays, stories, songs, and poems about Lake Superior and Lake Michigan the DNR may use in the calendar and other publications, the DNR website, and in displays and presentations.

Wisconsin’s first-time buyer licenses continue to provide opportunities to explore the outdoors at a reduced price. Certain resident hunting, trapping, and fishing licenses are available for as little as $5 for those who have never purchased that type of license or have not purchased a license in the past 10 years. The DNR also offers first-time buyer discounts for certain nonresident licenses. Successful first-time deer hunters should also fill out a first deer certificate to commemorate their hunt.


This is the final open water fishing report for the season (unless there is a strange turn of temperatures!) Reports will resume when ice is considered “safe” (such as it is) for foot travel.


Musky fishing is good – and this is trophy time! Target weed beds and their edges in 5-18 feet with suckers on quick-strike rigs and large jerkbaits, crankbaits, double-10 bucktails, and topwaters.


Walleye action is fair to good in depths from 12-35 feet. Tip walleye suckers and large fatheads on jigs and fish them on or near the bottom. In the evening, try shallower water with live bait, crankbaits, and stickbaits.


Crappie fishing continues to be good on most waters, with fish still suspending over deep water and crappie minnows, plastics, and Gulp! baits producing the best action.


Fish for bluegills on weedlines and rock bars in 10-15 feet with waxies and plastics on small jigs, teardrops, and plain hooks. Small minnows will entice bigger ‘gills and deter smaller fish.

Upcoming Events

Nov. 21-29: Regular gun deer season.

Nov. 24: Duck season closes in north zone.

Nov. 29: Mourning dove season closes.

Nov. 30: Season close: Muskellunge; Turtle.

Nov. 30-Dec. 9: Muzzleloader deer season.

Dec. 1: Season opens: Lake Superior Lake trout.

Dec. 10: Permit application deadline: Spring turkey; Bear.

Dec. 10-13: Four-day antlerless deer hunt.

Dec. 16: Canada goose seasons closes in North Zone.

Dec. 25: Bobcat hunting/trapping Period 1 season closes.

Dec. 26: Bobcat hunting/trapping Period 2 opens (see regs).

Dec. 31: Seasons close: Pheasant; Extended fall turkey zones 1-5; Hungarian partridge; Fisher trapping; Frog.

Hayward Lakes Visitor and Convention Bureau and Sawyer County Record co-sponsor this report. For more information on area events and activities, visit the HLVCB’s Calendar of Events or call 800-724-2992.