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Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report

June 22, 2020

Steve Suman


The current forecast predicts a very pleasant week ahead, with most lows in the 50s and highs ranging from 73 to 85 degrees. While there are chances for rain, they are at this time less than 30 percent. Take advantage of this great weather – the days are now growing shorter!


“The Quiet Lakes area continues to have an unusual amount of traffic,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “and fishing pressure is at an all-time high.

“Musky anglers report follows, but few hook-ups, and mostly smaller fish. Cast mid-size bucktails, swimbaits, and topwaters shallow and retrieve to deeper water.

“Walleyes are on shallow mid-lake humps and weeds. The best bite is in late afternoon into dark. Use leeches on slip bobbers, jigs/plastics, and trolled crawler harnesses and shallow running crankbaits.

Fishing patterns are changing to early summer techniques and anglers are catching some nice northern pike, largemouth bass, and smallmouth bass on various baits fished on those shallow mid-lake humps and weeds. Sometimes it is not the bait, but a fish’s attitude – and their attitude lately is to eat any and all presentations!

“Panfish fishing is strong in 6-12 feet around fresh vegetation and anglers are waiting for them to start their post-spawn feeding.”


Trent at Hayward Bait says is it seems as if it has taken forever for water temperatures to rise!

“Muskies are hitting best on rubber baits such as medium Medusas, Spring Bull Dawgs, and Swimmin’ Dawgs, with bucktails triggering a few fish.

“Walleyes are tight to weed edges in 15-20 feet and leeches, walleye suckers, and spinners work well.

“Northern pike are taking swimbaits, Slammers, jerkbaits, and sucker minnows on weeds and drop-offs in 10-15 feet.

“Largemouth bass are holding on shallow shorelines, docks, wood, and grass and taking wacky worms, creature baits, and topwaters.

“Smallmouth bass are on rocks, gravel bottoms, and just off weed edges in 10 feet. Anglers report success with leeches, crawlers, Ned rigs, and wacky worms.

“Crappies are inside vegetation in 8-12 feet. Crappie minnows, Slab Daddies, and chicken jigs all produce catches.

“Bluegill schools are in 4-8 feet and worms, jigs, and poppers all provide a good bite. Reports indicate some bluegills still have eggs.”


Jim and Cathy at Minnow Jim’s say fishing is good on Nelson Lake.

“While walleyes are not exactly jumping in the boat, anglers are catching all sizes of fish on fatheads and leeches, as well as by trolling and casting stickbaits.

“Largemouth bass and northern pike fishing are going well, usually on stickbaits and weedless surface frogs. If you do not see enough surface action, try swim jigs and scented worms on weighted hooks to get down in the weed beds.

“Crappie and bluegill anglers should use live bait and Gulp! baits. Start relatively shallow and work to deeper water. For crappies, make sure that you try varying the bait depth.”


Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage is at full pool and the water temperature 68-72 degrees.

“Musky action picked up and anglers report catching many mid 30s fish on Crane baits. The big fish last week was a 47-incher caught on a Frankensuick. Anglers trolling Jake and Grandma baits caught several low-40s fish, but currently casting is more effective than trolling. Cast from deeper water to shallower weeds and stumps.

“Walleye fishing slowed last week, probably due to storms and a cold front. Leeches are the first choice, though trolling could be effective for covering water. If trolling, Flicker Shads, Shad Raps, and Shaky Shads are the go-to baits.

“Northern pike are active on the west side, with anglers catching many smaller fish on Tinsel Tail Spinners and Johnson Silver Spoons.

“Smallmouth bass action is good on plastics in the wood on the east side.

“Crappies are around bogs at night, starting about 8 p.m., with crappie minnows and plastics working well. Get there early to get your spot!”


Carolyn at Anglers All in Ashland says many anglers are on Chequamegon Bay, but fishing is spotty and fish finicky.

“We have had so much wind and it seems to change direction every day – if not 3-4 times each day – and then the cold fronts! However, anglers report catches of walleye, smallmouth bass, and northern pike.

“Trolling for lake trout and brown trout is the most consistent, with good reports from Long Island to Outer Island.”


This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses Lac Courte Oreilles (LCO) Lake fish and fishing.

“Due to habitat differences, fish community composition, and various management actions, some lakes deliver higher quality fishing experiences for certain species than do other lakes.

“Here, I will highlight exceptional fishing opportunities in Lac Courte Oreilles (5,139 acres) and explain how they came to be.

“Lac Courte Oreilles is the largest of the ‘deep, cool’ lakes in Sawyer County and the fishery has many similarities to Round and Grindstone lakes. The lake’s quality smallmouth bass fishery goes all the way back to the origins of angling on the lake. Smallmouth is one of the only gamefish species native to this lake, along with largemouth and muskellunge. The DNR does not consider walleye and northern pike native to LCO.

“Good smallmouth fishing in recent years is likely the result of widespread catch and release ethic among bass anglers.

“Lac Courte Oreilles supports excellent panfish populations, especially crappie and bluegill, though anglers might find it challenging to locate them throughout most of the year. There are catchable 8- and 9-inch bluegills, and lucky anglers locating schools of crappie will find many in the 11- to 13-inch range, with some larger. Excellent size of both species is attributable to relatively low abundance. Unlike shallower, weedier lakes, only a small percentage of LCO offers good habitat for young panfish. This apparent early-life bottleneck, along with abundant predators, keep panfish abundance low and growth rates high, leading to good size.

“Speaking of good size, it would be a crime not to mention the musky size potential of LCO. The lake boasts two of the four Hayward area’s world record muskies – and big muskies are not ancient history in this lake. Two of the three largest muskellunge in inland DNR surveys in this century came from LCO, with fish measuring 55.5 and 56 inches. The world-class size of muskellunge LCO produces is due to strong native genetics and the presence of cisco and white suckers that are excellent prey for growing big fish.

“The biggest LCO management challenge, in the face of various challenges, is maintaining a fishable abundance of muskellunge, and we are employing new strategies to address those challenges.”


In May, the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board approved a harvest quota of 10 bulls from the northern elk herd for the 2020 elk hunt. Of those 10 tags, the state awards five to Wisconsin resident hunters through drawings and the Ojibwe tribes receive the remaining five tags. Nearly 28,000 Wisconsin residents entered the drawing. The DNR drawing winners for four of the once-in-a-lifetime elk tags are from Appleton, Junction City, Marengo, and McFarland. The DNR awards the fifth tag through a Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation raffle. Hunters can purchase raffle tickets through the RMEF website, with the winner drawn July 25 at its state banquet.


The DNR seeks participants in County Deer Advisory Councils (CDAC) to help the DNR manage county deer populations. The application deadline is July 1 and all council seats are open. Applicants must have experience or involvement with at least one of these seven stakeholder categories: agriculture, forestry, tourism, transportation, hunting, local government, and the Wisconsin Deer Management Assistance Program.


Hayward Bass Club is hosting its annual Round Lake Open tournament Sunday, June 28, from 8 a.m.-4 p.m., with Prop’s Landing serving as tournament headquarters. Participation is open to anglers in two-person teams and individual anglers competing alone as a team. The entry fee is $100/team. There is a 90-percent payback, with HBC retaining 10 percent to fund its annual free youth tournament. The club bases cash prize money on a full 50-boat field. First prize is $2,000. For more information, text Wayne Balsavich at (405) 227-1789 or email



This is a transition time when favored bait and presentation preferences change. Make sure to stop at your favorite bait and tackle shop for the day’s most current information.



Musky action is very good for some and less so for others. Anglers report seeing fish and getting follows, but fish are not connecting. Focus on weeds, wood, stumps, and other cover with bucktails, Bull Dawgs/rubber baits, swimbaits, stickbaits, jerkbaits, and topwaters.



Walleye fishing is best in late evening into dark. Fish weeds, wood, humps, and bars out to 20 feet or so during the day, but move shallow in the evening hours. Best baits include leeches and crawlers on jigs, slip bobbers, and harnesses; walleye suckers and fatheads; and cast and trolled spinners, stickbaits, and crankbaits.


Northern Pike:

Northern pike fishing is good to very good, though mostly for smaller fish. Look to shallower humps and weeds in about 12 feet, and around panfish concentrations. The pike are not all that particular, so throw what you have, including live bait, spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, swimbaits, jerkbaits, and plastics.


Largemouth Bass:

Largemouth action is fair to good and improving with warming temperatures. Work shallower shorelines, weeds, weedlines, wood, brush, stumps, slop, lily pads, and docks with live bait, plastics, spinners, spinnerbaits, stickbaits, swim jigs, and topwaters.


Smallmouth Bass:

Smallmouth action is good, with anglers catching some nice fish. Focus on hard bottoms such as rock and gravel and on weed edges and wood in about 12 feet. Assorted plastics such as wacky worms, tubes, and creature baits, Ned rigs, crawlers, and leeches are all productive.



Crappie fishing is very good once you locate them around weeds, weed edges, and bogs in 5-15 feet. Start shallow and move deeper until you find them. The evening bite is best. Baits of choice include crappies minnows, plastics, Slab Daddies, plastics, chicken jigs, and Gulp! baits on slip bobbers.



Bluegill fishing is good around weeds, weed edges, and brush in 3-15 feet. As with crappies, start shallow and move deeper water until you find the fish. Waxies, worms, plastics, Gulp! baits, dressed jigs, teardrops, and poppers are all catching fish.


Upcoming Events

June 20: Smallmouth bass fishing changed to regular season in the Northern Bass Zone (see regs for exceptions).

June 23: DNRvirtual meeting” on Lake Superior management plan; 6 p.m. (715-779-4036).

June 28: Hayward Bass Club’s Round Lake Open tournament, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. (715-699-1015; 634-2921).

July 15: Turtle season opens statewide (see regs for restrictions).

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

Aug. 1: Application deadline for bobcat, fisher, otter, and Upriver Winnebago system sturgeon spearing.

Aug. 7-8: Jack Pine Savage Days in Spooner - TBD (715-635-2168).

Aug. 28-30: Musky Tale ResortPoor Man’s Fishing Event (715-462-3838).


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

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