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Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report

June 12, 2017

Steve Suman

The current forecast, subject to change at any time, indicates a somewhat warm, wet week ahead. Best advice is to make your plans – including a “Plan B” – and keep an eye on the sky for developing storms. So far, this spring is a weather roller coaster ride!

“Muskies and northern pike are shallow,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “but action slowed with the heat.

“Target 2-8 feet associated with sand, weeds, and rock, working smaller bucktails, crankbaits, and topwaters very slowly and methodically.

“Walleye anglers are catching fish on jigs/minnows, leeches, crawlers, and crankbaits on drop offs and shallow flats, with some mid-day activity along deeper weeds. Best action is early and late in the day.

“The bass bite is very good, with both largemouth and smallmouth shallow. Anglers are not targeting them and most catches are accidental by walleye and crappie anglers fishing minnows on jigs or under bobbers.

“Crappie and bluegill are shallow and spawning or preparing to spawn. This can be the easiest and most fun time of the year to catch numbers of both species.”

Erik at Hayward Bait says water temperatures are in the low to upper 60s, depending on the lake, and fishing is exceptional for many species.

“Musky fishing is heating up, with good numbers of fish on weeds and in shallow water, and anglers throwing smaller bucktails, gliders, and swimbaits.

“Walleyes are in 8-16 feet, off break edges with weeds. Use jigs with fatheads or walleye suckers, and troll deep diving crankbaits off break edges.

“Bass are shallow and smallmouth are still spawning on some lakes. Fishing is very good on Texas rigged plastics, wacky rigs, drop shot rigs, and topwaters.”


Jim at Minnow Jim’s says Nelson Lake walleye anglers are catching fish on leeches, and fatheads, and by casting and trolling stickbaits along rocky shorelines and weed edges.

“For largemouth bass and northern pike, cast surface plugs, spinnerbaits, frogs, and scented plastics along weed beds.

“Crappies have scattered. Try drifting small minnows and leeches, varying the depth, or cast small spinnerbaits such as Beetle Spins or Rooster Tails.

“Some bluegills are still spawning. Use plain or dressed hooks tipped with live bait or scented artificials.”

Mike at Jenk’s says Chippewa Flowage musky fishing is decent on a variety of baits and sizes.

“You can still use smaller baits, but larger baits are starting to produce results. Use subsurface baits during the day and topwater baits in early morning and twilight hours. Stay in deeper water and cast shallow to cover the shallows and drop-offs. If you use suckers in these rising water temperatures, send them deeper so they last longer.

“Walleye numbers are solid, but keeper walleye remain a challenge. Try fishing Flicker Shads on weed edges and deeper weeds on the west side.

“Smallmouth action is good on the far east and south ends of the east side for anglers fishing shoreline stumps and rocks with plastics and shallow runners. During the day, try fishing crawlers on the cribs.

“Crappies are moving to deeper summer patterns. Fish deeper, weedy troughs where the bottom drops from 7 to 15-18 feet, and also try bogs, brush, and cribs, with crappie minnows, Mini-Mites, and small plastics.”

Carolyn at Anglers All in Ashland says smallmouth fishing is excellent on Chequamegon Bay.

“Smallmouth are in both spawn and pre-spawn mode and fishing is productive on the primary spawning grounds on east end and secondary spawning grounds on the west end. Play the wind and fish 1-5 feet, moving bait slowly.

“Walleyes are feeding heavily in Kakagon Slough, Fish Creek Slough, Brush Point, and the head of the Bay. Anglers are using minnows, leeches, and crawlers, with some slow-trolling stickbaits in the evening.

“Anglers soaking smelt along the shallow shoreline continue to catch northern pike.

“Trout and salmon anglers are catching fish from Houghton Point to out amongst the Islands. Water temperatures are starting to warm, creating the transition stage. Look for the 50-degree thermocline and balls of baitfish.”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses increased walleye production in even numbered years.

“Fish researchers examining walleye recruitment in Savanne Lake in Canada noticed an interesting pattern – noticeably higher recruitment in even numbered years. After exploring a number of factors, the researchers say it appears mayfly abundance might be the driving force.

“Savanne and several other lakes in the area have two mayfly species with two-year life cycles. In even numbered years, the abundance of mayfly larvae in the lake was 3-4 times higher than in odd numbered years.

“The researchers concluded that years with a high abundance of mayflies may boost walleye production by giving walleyes an abundant prey source, reducing cannibalism, and providing an alternate prey for predators that might otherwise eat walleye.

“Anglers know how disruptive a big mayfly hatch can be to fishing, so the findings may not be surprising, but those same conditions might lead to a better fishery a few years down the road. Note these odd/even mayfly hatch patterns may not be present in Wisconsin.”

The 67th Annual Musky Festival is June 22-25 and this year the Hayward Lion’s Club Musky Fest Fishing Contest is introducing the $100,000 Musky Fest Lions Family Fishing Spectacular in which any angler who catches a state record fish can win $100,000! The contest runs June 20 through 5 p.m. June 24 for the following species: musky, tiger musky, walleye, northern pike, smallmouth bass, and black crappie. For more information and specifics, visit or call (715) 634-8662.

Fishing Has No Boundaries is hosting a “FISH ON” benefit concert this Sunday, June 18, from noon to 7:30 p.m., at the Sawyer County Fairgrounds. Entertainers include Marty Cina, Gaelynn Lea, Sean & Ian Okamoto, and Joe Bucher & the Young Guns. Tickets cost $15 – youth 12 and younger receive free admission – and are available at the FHNB Hayward office, Hayward BaitMarketplace, and All proceeds benefit Fishing Has No Boundaries to provide people with disabilities the opportunity to get out to fish and enjoy the outdoors. For more information, call 800-432-3462, email, or visit




Musky action is improving, with most anglers at least seeing fish (your catch mileage may vary). Fish are still lounging in relatively shallow water, particularly near weeds, rock, sand, and on the edges of drop-offs. The muskies are hitting a variety of baits (still giving a nod to smaller offerings) including bucktails, crankbaits, topwaters, gliders, swim baits, stickbaits, and live bait. If you use suckers in hot weather, give them some TLC to keep them in good shape.


Walleye fishing remains mostly good, with best success, as usual, during early and late low-light hours. Some anglers are finding fishing during the day by fishing deep weedlines. Depths vary from 6-20 feet and deeper. Work weeds, break edges, and rock shorelines, moving shallower in the evening hours. The most productive baits include jigs with fatheads, leeches, and crawlers, as well as cast and trolled crankbaits and stickbaits.

Northern Pike:

Northern pike action is good in shallow weeds and around other cover, as well as near concentrations of spawning panfish. Various baits work for pike, including jigs/minnows, northern suckers, bucktails, spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, crankbaits, and topwaters.

Largemouth Bass:

Largemouth bass spawn continues on many lakes. Look for fish in shallow water and around weeds, brush, and other cover. Plastics (worms, tubes, creatures, etc.), drop-shot rigs, spinnerbaits, topwaters, and live bait all take largemouth.

Smallmouth Bass:

Smallmouth fishing is very good in shallow water with hard bottoms, as well as rock, wood, and cribs. This Saturday, smallmouth fishing in the northern bass zone switches from catch and release only to daily bag limits, however the recommendation remains catch and release for smallmouth. Best baits include plastics, tubes, crankbaits, drop-shot rigs, topwaters, jigs/minnows, and crawlers.


Crappie fishing is good to very good, with the fish continuing their spawning ritual. Look for fish from very shallow out to 20 feet, near weeds, breaks, brush, bogs, and cribs. Top producing baits include crappie minnows, leeches, small plastics, Mini-Mites, Tattle-Tails, Beetle Spins, and small spinners.


The bluegill spawn continues in the shallows, with fish moving in and out with the weather fronts. Use the traditional bluegill baits of waxies, worms, crawler pieces, and plastics on small jigs and plain hooks, with or without floats.

Upcoming Events

June 17: Northern Zone smallmouth bass season opens for daily bag limits (see regs).

June 18Fishing Has No Boundaries “Fish On” benefit concert, Sawyer County Fairgrounds (800-243-3462).

June 20-24$100,000 Musky Fest Lions Family Fishing Spectacular (715-634-8662).

June 22-2567th Annual Musky Festival (715-634-8662).

June 25Hayward Bass Club Round Lake Open tournament (715-699-1015). 

July 15: Turtle season opens (see regs).

July 1 Aug. 31: Training dogs by pursuing bear (see regs). 

July 29Flambeau River State Forest “Campfire Cookout” at Connors Lake picnic area (715-332-5271). 

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

Aug. 1Application deadline: Fall turkey; Bobcat; Fisher; Otter; Sharp-tailed grouse.

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. 

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