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Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report

Steve Suman

Hayward hosted the 50th Annual Governors Fishing Opener this past weekend and sunny skies, warm temperatures, and cooperative fish all combined for an outstanding game fish opener – perhaps the best on record. Forecasts indicate warm temperatures continue this week, but include numerous chances for much-needed spring rains.

“Walleye finished spawning and will begin to feed,” says Pat at Happy Hooker. “Fish shallow during early morning and evening hours and deeper on bright, sunny days. Use light tackle and slow retrieves. Northern pike are active shallow and along weed edges – use a leader to avoid ‘bite offs.’

“Crappies are in 4-8 feet in shallow, warmer bays. Largemouth action is good in the same areas.

“Anglers can catch quality fish from shore this time of year fishing around dams, docks, piers, and bridges.”

Guide Dave Dorazio at Outdoor Creations says the Chippewa Flowage is within two feet of normal, but be cautious in shallow areas.

“Most walleyes moved to 8-15 feet, but some may still be shallow. Use jigs tipped with fatheads or crankbaits in the shallows during early morning and evening hours. For northern pike, cast bright crankbaits near new green weeds.

“Crappies are in shallow, dark-bottom bays near reeds, weeds, and wood. Try feather jigs, hair jigs, and jigs tipped with plastics. You might find largemouth bass in the shallows with crappies.”

Guide Steve Genson at Hayward Bait says fishing is good for most species.

“Walleye anglers are doing well trolling crankbaits over shallow flats and bars and pitching jigs and fatheads over bars and points. Fish 5-10 feet during low light, going slightly deeper during the day. Pike action is very good with crankbaits and jigs fished around newly emerging weeds in shallow bays.

“Smallmouth bass (catch-and-release) are active in shallow bays, hitting X-Raps and Shadow Raps. For solid crappie action, use Tattle-Tails, Mini-Mites, and crappie minnows under slip bobbers in 5-12 feet.”

Jim at Minnow Jim’s says it is a nice opener when you need sunscreen rather than Sorels!

“Anglers are catching Nelson Lake walleyes near the river mouth and log jam with minnows on jigs and Lindy Rigs, spinners, and stickbaits. Northern pike are in the same areas as the panfish, taking minnows and spoons.

“Crappie and bluegill fishing is good on small dressed jigs tipped with minnows, waxies, and worms. Drift in 5-8 feet of water or still-fish close to shore.”

Mike at Jenk’s says walleyes are near wood in river channels.

“Most fish are in 10-20 feet, with a few on shallow rock/gravel during low light. Work crankbaits very slowly over these areas. Use 1/4-ounce heads with minnows for deeper fish. Pike are active in shallow bays holding crappies – fish spinner and jerk baits fast and aggressively.

“Look for largemouth around wood near river channels and warm bays with wacky worms and jigs. Fish smallmouth slightly deeper with jigs/minnows and crawfish imitations.

“Most crappies are in less than 3 feet in shallow bays. Work plastics and minnows under floats, leaving a 4- to 12-inch lead.”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses the spring surveys.

“Spring fisheries surveys are underway on many area lakes. The surveys have a variety of purposes, depending on the lake, with walleye, pike, and muskie the usual target species. Walleye populations look good in many lakes and we have seen some nice muskies as well.

“On most of the lakes we are visiting, however, it is the panfish impressing us. Chippewa Flowage has an abundance of 9- to 11-inch crappies and bluegill size appears to be a little bigger than in past years.

“Crappie and bluegill are now up shallow and in good numbers in many lakes. With gamefish season open, anglers have a lot of fish to chase – but keep panfish on your radar as well!”

DNR fisheries biologist Skip Sommerfeldt says most lakes are one to two weeks past the main walleye spawning period.

“Walleye anglers have the best luck in early morning and late evening with live bait and slow presentations. Northern pike are active near new green weeds in the shallows; largemouth bass have just begun to move shallow.

“Crappie, bluegill, and perch on shallow flats provide plenty of action during the day.

“The DNR actively planted trout the past few weeks and stocked trout lakes and spring ponds provide excellent fishing.”

Sawyer County warden Thomas Heisler Jr. reminds anglers the Chippewa River below Winter Dam is a refuge 1000 feet below the dam until June 2 and the three Arpin Dams on the Chippewa River in Radisson are year-around refuges 500 feet below each dam.

The Hayward Chapter of Fishing Has No Boundaries is holding its 28th annual fishing event May 15-16 at Lake Chippewa Campground on the Chippewa Flowage. The two-day event hosts 150 participants fishing from boats and pontoons, an experience that for some was once was only a dream. The event always needs and welcomes additional volunteers to assist with various duties. For more information, call (715) 634-3185 or email

The 31st Annual Treeland Challenge is May 8-10 on the Chippewa Flowage. The catch-and-release event, offering thousands of dollars in prizes and door prizes, is limited to the first 300 adult entries. Entry fees are $90 single; $150 with spouse; and $25 for each child with parents. For more information, call (715) 462-3874.

Hayward Lakes Chapter Muskies, Inc. will hold a meeting Tuesday, May 5, at Coop’s Pizza in Hayward, starting at 7 p.m. Guest speaker DNR research biologist Jeff Kampa will discuss the pit tag project. Visitors are always welcome and non-members can purchase a one-year Muskie, Inc. membership for half price! For information, call (715) 634-4543.




Walleye action is fair to good. Depending on the lake and time of day, depths vary from 5-20 feet and locations include bars, flats, points, gravel, wood, rock, and river channels. Best success is in early morning and late evening. Use fatheads on jigs, Lindy Rigs, and spinner rigs, or troll crank and stick baits over shallow flats and bars. Work baits slowly!

Northern Pike:

Northern pike fishing is very good in shallower water (to 10 feet) around new green weeds and panfish with spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, jerkbaits, crankbaits, and live bait.


Largemouth Bass:

Largemouth action is fair to good in warm, shallow bays. Fish near wood, structure, and crappies with jigs, wacky worms, and live bait.

Smallmouth Bass:

Smallmouth bass fishing in the northern bass zone is catch-and-release only until June 20. Smallmouth are in various locations, from shallow bays to river channels and depths to 20 feet. Fish wood and rock areas with crawfish imitations, jigs/minnows, X-Raps, and Shadow Raps.


Crappies are very shallow around weeds, wood, and other cover in dark, mud-bottom bays. Best baits include crappie minnows and various jig tipped with Tattle-Tails, Mini-Mites, plastics, and Gulp! baits suspended under slip bobbers.


Bluegill anglers are catching good numbers of fish from very shallow out to 10 feet. Try small hooks and assorted jigs tipped with waxies, worms, and Gulp! baits, with or without bobbers.

Upcoming Events

May 5Hayward Lakes Chapter Muskies, Inc. business meeting; Coop’s Pizza, 7 p.m. (715-634-4543).

May 8-1031st Annual Treeland Challenge (715-462-3874).

May 15-1628th Annual Fishing Has No Boundaries on Chippewa Flowage (715-634-3185).

May 15-17Musky Tale Resort’s Northern Encounter (715-462-3838).

Through July 31: Illegal to allow dogs to run on DNR lands and Federal WPA (see regs for exceptions).

Spring turkey hunting periods

C: April 29-May 5; D: May 6-12; E: May 13-19; F: May 20-26.

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. 

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