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Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report

Steve Suman

On the heels of a cool, somewhat wet weekend, this week’s forecast indicates a weather roller coaster ride, with warm to cold, wet to dry, and all stops in between.

“The transition from summer highs to fall temperatures is always an interesting period,” says Pat at Happy Hooker.

“Water levels remain good and we have had just enough rain to make a difference, which is good news for anglers, many of whom enjoy fall fishing more than any other time. Water temperatures are declining, soon heading toward the low 60s and even 50s.”

Jim at Hayward Bait says fishing overall is a bit soft, but spending time on the water will produce action.

“Most muskie anglers are catching fish on deep weedlines and mid-lake humps with bucktails, Bull Dawgs, gliders, tubes, and suckers. The walleye bite is good on the deep, clear lakes. Anglers are fishing crawlers, fatheads, walleye suckers, and trolling stickbaits on deep weedlines, rock bars, and points in 15-35 feet.”

Randy at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage muskie action is best on bucktails, gliders, and suckers on bar edges.

“Spinnerbaits and bucktails in the weeds are producing some nice northerns, and crappie fishing is good on minnows and Gulp! baits on deep brush, cribs, and bogs.”

Guide Dave Dorazio at Outdoor Creations says prime times for Chippewa Flowage muskie action are mornings and evenings, with bucktails and topwaters the most productive baits.

“Catch walleyes with leeches, crawlers, and minnows on deep weeds (especially in the evening), brush, and sunken bogs. Crappie anglers are catching good numbers of fish on deep brush and cribs.”

Carolyn at Anglers All in Ashland says anglers are catching lake trout in the flats and from Long Island to Outer Island, and brown trout, coho, kings, and splake from Washburn out, depending on water temperatures.

“Trollers are using spoons on downriggers, lead core line, and Dipsey Divers, and flat-lining stickbaits around Basswood Island and off Pikes Creek and the Onion River.”

DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter says that occasionally an angler will hook a bird while on the water. Loons will chase baits and ducks and geese can become tangled in line if people are fishing near them.

“Do not try to get the bird into the boat,” advises DNR conservation warden John Schreiber. “It is dangerous to both you and the bird. Try to cut the line as close to the animal as possible.”

DNR wildlife biologist Ken Jonas says the best thing you can do is avoid these situations.

“Try to scare off the bird and if that does not work, move to a different location. Getting hooked and having hooks removed by DNR personnel is very hard on these animals.”

DNR fisheries biologist Skip Sommerfeldt says seasonal late-summer weather is providing pleasant fishing conditions and good success.

“A local angler brought in a huge 12.4-inch, 2.3-pound bluegill – just short of the 2-pound, 9.8-ounce state record.

“Sturgeon season opened September 7. Quite a few anglers report smaller fish, but only a couple legal-size 60-inchers. The most productive spots are deep holes on the Flambeau River’s North Fork.”

Hayward area registration stations (Shooting Star, Hillman’s Store, Hayward Bait) have registered 63 bears so far this bear season, including one 500 pounds, one 400 pounds, and one taken with a longbow. During opening weekend of archery deer season, the stations registered four antlerless deer and nine bucks, including some nice eight-pointers, with nearly all bucks still in velvet. The unique velvet on one spike was more like hair, growing from the head to the tip of the spikes. To retain velvet antlers, you must obtain a special tag from a conservation warden.

The 36th Annual Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies, Inc. Fall Muskie Tournament October 4-6 offers participants more than $35,000 in prizes. All entrants are eligible for the Grand Door Prize, a 2013 Lund 1725 Pro Guide tiller boat, ShoreLand’r trailer, and 60 hp Mercury motor, with the winner’s name (must be present to win!) drawn at the Sunday awards ceremony. Entry fees are $80 for adults ($90 after Sept. 23) and $25 for youth 16 and younger. After September 23, enter in person or by phone at Hayward Bait (715-634-2921) or Jenk’s (715-462-3055) until 11 p.m. Oct. 3.




Muskie fishing is improving, but mornings and evenings still offer better odds. Work deeper weedlines, weed edges, and mid-lake humps with big bucktails, Bull Dawgs, tubes, gliders, topwaters, stickbaits, and suckers (if you can find them) on quick-strike rigs. Shallower water is also producing some fish.


Walleye action is fair to good, with daytime fishing improving, but late afternoon into dark is still best. Concentrate on deeper weedlines, weed edges, points, rock bars, brush, and bogs in 12-35 feet of water. Anglers continue to catch fish on crawlers and leeches (if you can find them), but jigs and fatheads, walleye suckers, and trolled stickbaits are producing good catches.


Northern action should improve with cooling water temperatures. Fish the weeds – green ones if you can find them – weed edges, and other cover with spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, crankbaits, and northern suckers. Offer bigger baits in deeper water for trophy pike.

Largemouth Bass:

Largemouth seen a bit sluggish with the cooler temperatures, but they are still active in weeds, wood, brush, and bogs in about 12 feet of water. Use plastics, spinners, spinner and buzz baits, topwaters, and leeches, crawlers, and minnows.

Smallmouth Bass:

Smallmouth action is good, though somewhat erratic, on rock humps, cribs, and near wood in depths from 10-30 feet. Do not overlook rivers and flowages. Top baits include spinnerbaits, jigs/plastics, drop-shot rigs, plastic worms, and tubes. Leeches, crawlers, and minnows work well, but artificials are easier on the fish.



Crappie fishing is good to very good, but expect some sorting. Fish are suspending over deeper water and holding on deep weed edges, cribs, brush, and bogs. Crappie minnows, fatheads, waxies, plastics, spinners, Mini-Mites, tubes, and Gulp! baits all deliver, but go prepared – preferences can vary from day to day.


Bluegills moving to deeper weeds, cribs, and brush are hitting waxies, crawlers, leaf worms, plastics, and Gulp! baits. Small minnows work well for bigger ‘gills.

Upcoming Events

Sept. 14: Seasons opened: Archery deer; Ruffed grouse in Zone A; Turkey; Gray and fox squirrel; Cottontail rabbit in northern zone; Crow.

Sept. 16: Canada goose season opens in exterior zone.

Sept. 19-22: Youth Muskie Hunt at Mystic Moose Resort (715-462-3014).

Sept. 21: Hayward Fall Festival (715-634-8662).

Sept. 21: Duck season opens in northern exterior zone.

Sept. 27-28: Cable Area Fall Festival (800-533-7454).

Sept. 30: Seasons close: Inland trout (see regs.); Sturgeon on inland waters. Lake trout season on Lake Superior.

Oct. 4-5: Stone Lake Cranberry Festival.

Oct. 4-6: Hayward Lakes Chapter Muskies, Inc. Fall Muskie Tournament (715-634-2921).

Oct. 5-6: Youth Deer Hunt.

Oct. 5-6: Musky Tale Resort Crappie Quest (715-462-3838).

For more information on area events and activities, visit the Hayward Lakes Visitor and Convention Bureau website, view its Calendar of Events, or call 1-800-724-2992.