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Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report

Steve Suman

It looks to be a nice week of cooler nights and mild days through next weekend, with the “best” chance of showers in midweek. Fall is an amazing time in the North Woods, but it can be a very short season – take advantage of every day!

Speaking of forecasts, the DNR’s Fall Hunting and Trapping Forecast is now available online.

Hunting season progresses this week, with the opening of bear season September 9, followed by the September 12 openers for archery and crossbow deer, northern zone ruffed grouse, cottontail rabbit; squirrel, turkey, and crow.

“Muskie action is good for this time of year,” says Pat at Happy Hooker.

“Action is spread out, with anglers catching fish from weeds to deep water on bucktails, crankbaits, plastics, and topwaters. Night fishing still very good. Walleye fishing is inconsistent, with all baits types working on different lakes. Fish deeper hard bottom edges with minnows, crawlers, and leeches. Catch northern around weeds in 6-10 feet with artificial and live bait.

“Fish largemouth in shallow weeds and other shoreline cover with topwaters/frogs and plastics. For smallmouth, fish hard bottom areas in 10-20 feet with crayfish imitations and minnows.

“Crappies are in deeper water, bluegills in shallow weeds, and perch deeper in the same weeds.”

Guide Dave Dorazio at Outdoor Creations says Chippewa Flowage musky fishing remains decent.

“Work weed beds and edges in 3-8 feet with black bucktails with green, brass, or flame blades. In the evening, try topwaters such as Top Raiders, Pacemakers, and Globes. Catch walleyes on brush and sunken bogs in 15-20 feet with crawlers and fatheads. Fish northern with spinners and twitch baits – musky anglers are catching some decent pike while musky fishing.

“For largemouth, fish weeds and thick slop on the west side with weedless plastics and topwater frogs. Crappie action is hot in 16-22 feet on sunken bogs, brush, and cribs and there is a good evening bite along floating bogs. Use crappie minnows and jigs with plastics or Gulp! baits.”

Bob at Hayward Bait says musky fishing is on and off on most lakes.

“Anglers should use bucktails such as Ghosttails and Bunny Bous, Bull Dawgs, tubes, topwaters such as Top Raiders and Globesters, plastics, and crankbaits. For walleyes in 15 feet and deeper, troll stickbaits, walleye suckers, and crawlers on harnesses, or try the same live bait on slip bobbers. Northern action is good around weeds with spinnerbaits, spoons, and crankbaits.

“For good largemouth and smallmouth action, fish plastic worms, creatures, and topwaters around weeds, rock, and other structure. Catch crappies suspending around cover in 20-30 feet with small jigs and crappie minnows, plastics, and Gulp! baits.

“The 38th Annual Hayward Chapter-Muskies Inc. Muskie Tournament is October 2-4.”

Mike at Jenk’s says musky fishing is great on the Chippewa Flowage.

“Most fish are on bucktails, with some surface action around sundown. Crane baits and Vexers are other good choices. Walleye fishing is slow. During the day, fish crawlers, minnows, and leech imitations in deep brush. At night, work weed edges and stumps with the same baits and crankbaits. Fish northern in deeper weeds with spinnerbaits, Johnson Silver Minnows, northern suckers, and chubs.

“For largemouth, work weed beds and lily pads with spinnerbaits, plastics, and small bucktails. Fish smallmouth on the east side with plastic frogs, poppers, and plastics. Crappies on cribs, brush, and bogs are taking a variety of baits, from Mini-Mites to live bait.”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses fall electrofishing surveys.

“In fall, fisheries crews across northern Wisconsin take stock of the year’s walleye production. By late September, walleyes born in spring are already about 6 inches long and scattered on shallow rock bars and weed beds. Electrofishing is a good way to capture these small walleye and get a relative idea about their abundance.

“Walleye from this year, known as ‘young of year,’ are measured as the number captured per mile of electrofishing. This figure gives fish biologists a good idea of how strong the year class is compared to other years and other area lakes.

“We can also use the number to determine if young walleye need to be stocked to supplement the existing population. Stocking is not a recommended practice in lakes with a significant number of natural born fish, as it can put additional strain on the prey base and lead to overall decreased walleye survival.”

DNR fisheries biologist Skip Sommerfeldt says musky action continues to be the highlight.

“Most anglers report many sightings and strikes on large artificials, including stickbaits, double-bladed bucktails, and Bull Dawgs. Fish are on weed beds, deep weed edges, and suspending in deeper water. Many walleye anglers are waiting for the start of fall patterns. Northern action improved with cooling water temperatures. Cast spinnerbaits along mid-depth weed edges.

“Largemouth are around cover in 3-6 feet, with soft plastics, jig/craw combinations, and spinnerbaits working best. Fish smallmouth near deep cover with spinnerbaits and finesse plastics. Decent crappie and bluegill are suspending around deeper cover – and rock bass are just about everywhere else!”




Musky action is inconsistent, though generally good to very good, especially at night. Concentrate on/over weeds and weed edges in depths out to 10 feet, as well as look for fish suspending over deep water. Baits producing the best results at this time include bucktails, Bull Dawgs, plastics, crankbaits, stickbaits, minnow baits, tubes, and topwaters.


Walleye anglers report slow and erratic walleye action, with fish scattered in depths from 5 to more than 25 feet on weeds, wood, hard bottoms, sunken bogs, and brush. Crawlers, leeches (if you can find or bring them) or imitations, walleye suckers, and fatheads, as well as cast and trolled crank and minnow baits will all catch walleyes.

Northern Pike:

Northern fishing runs slow to fair to good depending on the water and day. You will find pike in and long mid-depth to deeper weed beds and weedlines. Northern suckers work well, as do spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, twitch baits, crankbaits, and bucktails.

Largemouth Bass:

Largemouth action is very good to excellent on most waters. Target shallow weeds, lily pads, brush, rock, slop, and other cover in 2-7 feet. Weedless soft plastics, jig/craw combos, rigged worms, creature baits, spinners, spinnerbaits, swim jigs, frog imitations and other topwaters are all catching fish.


Smallmouth Bass:

Smallmouth anglers are having good success fishing 8-20 feet of water on hard bottoms and/or near weeds, rock, and other structure. Various bait styles are catching fish, from plastics such as worms, creature, and crayfish and frog imitations, to spinnerbaits, and poppers, and other topwaters.


Crappie action ranges from fair to excellent. Look for fish in 15-30 feet of water near bogs, brush, cribs, and other cover, and suspending over deeper water. The most productive baits include crappie minnows, Mini-Mites, Tattle-Tails, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs or plain hooks, fished with or without bobbers.


Bluegill fishing is fair to good for smaller fish holding in shallow weeds and larger ‘gills suspending near deeper weeds, brush, and rock. The usual panfish baits – waxies, leaf worms, crawlers, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs or plain hooks will do the trick. Try small minnows to avoid bait robbers and catch larger fish.

Upcoming Events

Sept. 5: Lake sturgeon season (hook and line) opened on local waters.

Sept. 9: Bear season opens.

Sept. 10-12: 17th Annual Chippewa Flowage Musky Hunt.

Sept. 12: Seasons open: Deer (archery, crossbow); Ruffed grouse (northern zone); Cottontail rabbit; Squirrel (gray/fox); Turkey; Crow.

Sept. 17-20: Youth Muskie Hunt at Mystic Moose Resort (715-462-3014).

Sept. 18-19: Lucky Lunker Bass Tournament on Lake Chippewa Flowage; Treeland Resort (715-471-0325).

Sept. 18-19: Chequamegon Fat Tire Festival (715-798-3594).

Sept. 19-20: Youth Waterfowl Hunt.

Sept. 26: Duck season opens in North Zone.

Sept. 26: 31st Annual Hayward Fall Festival (715-634-8662).

Oct. 2-4: Hayward Lakes Chapter Muskies, Inc. 38th Annual Muskie Tournament (715-634-4543).

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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