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Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report

Steve Suman

The North Woods enjoyed a beautiful weekend and the forecasts indicate this should be one special week for outdoor activities. Expect warm days and mild nights, with a few chances for showers from mid-week into the weekend. Take advantage of the exceptional weather – it is not a long-term proposition!

“Cooler temperatures last week certainly put the feeling of fall in the area,” says Pat at Happy Hooker. “Leaves are falling and trees are beginning their color changes, and in the next couple of weeks the North Wood’s trees should be in full color array.

“With the passing of Labor Day weekend and schools back in session, it is much quieter in the area and now is the time for serious anglers to venture forth for the good fall weather fishing.

“Musky action continues to be good, with most anglers reporting many sightings, follows and strikes, and even landing quite a few fish. Medium bucktails and topwaters are producing the best action, with some anglers beginning to use suckers on quick strike rigs. Walleye action is still generally slow and northern pike fishing is fair.

“Action for both largemouth and smallmouth bass is sporadic, with smallmouth action best on the rivers. Panfish fishing is fair, though some anglers report very good success on crappies. Fish 15-20 feet depths and fish at varying depths, but you have to locate the fish first! A good locator is certainly a benefit for anglers searching for panfish! “

Carolyn at Anglers All in Ashland says Chequamegon Bay fishing is producing success for both smallmouth and northern pike.

“Walleye anglers are catching fish by trolling over the weed beds and humps, as well as casting along the Ashland shoreline.

“Lake trout fishing continues to be excellent for anglers fishing Dipsey Divers, lead core line, and downriggers from Long Island out into the Apostle Islands.

“Salmon, brown trout, and splake are starting to show up off the Sioux and Onion rivers, and from Houghton Point out to Long Island.”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses the effects of cormorants on the fisheries.


“Anglers who spend time in Minnesota and other parts of the Midwest may be familiar with cormorants, large black birds with big appetites for fish. The birds have been a consistent issue on some of the larger lakes in Minnesota, prompting researchers to look at what they can do about the effects cormorants have had.

“Researchers found that an adult cormorant can eat up to a pound and half of fish per day. Though perch and cisco make up a large majority of the cormorant diet, they can consume a considerable number of walleyes as well.

“In response to the impacts cormorants can have on a fishery, Minnesota has implemented population control efforts for the birds and these relatively successful efforts have reduced fish consumption by cormorants by 90 percent.

“We are fortunate in northwest Wisconsin that we rarely receive extended visits from cormorants, but if that was to change in the future, it is encouraging to see they can be effectively managed.”

DNR fisheries biologist Skip Sommerfeldt says cooperative weather and fish are making for good fishing success. Sunny skies bumped water temperatures a bit, increasing action for most gamefish species.

“Muskies are active along weed edges and around shallow weed beds, with topwaters, soft plastics, and stickbaits working well at all times of the day. Walleye fishing is improving, with anglers catching fish on leeches and crawlers along weed edges, in weed pockets, and on deeper rock and gravel bars.

“Largemouth are still in thick cover, near wood, along weed, bog, and marsh edges, and under docks, with various forms of soft plastics working best. Smallmouth fishing is best on flowage, large rivers, and deeper water in larger lakes. Fish wood and rock near deep water with soft plastics and finesse baits.

“Panfish action is fair, with decent catches of bluegill, perch, and rock bass, but nice crappies are tough to find.”

The DNR’s seventh annual Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey is now in operation. Hunters record their deer and wildlife observations while hunting, filling out tally sheets online or printed from the site. At the end of the year, participants receive personalized summaries of all wildlife recorded during the season. Results from the survey help DNR wildlife biologists track population trends for deer and other wildlife.

The 2015 Wisconsin Youth Waterfowl Hunt is September 19-20, offering youth 12-15 years of age (or 10 and older under mentored hunting law) an opportunity to learn skills without the hunting pressure of the regular season. The DNR waives all license and stamp requirements for the youth hunt, but normal bag limits apply. Participants need HIP registration and a regular season goose permit for the zone they hunt if also hunting geese.

Regular season Canada goose hunting in the Exterior and Horicon zones opens September 16, with breeding numbers similar to recent years. Hunters will have 92 days of hunting in the Exterior Zone with a two-bird daily limit. Combined with the 15-day early season, the 107 days of Canada goose hunting is the maximum allowed by federal law.




This is “big musky” time and fishing is good in/on/over shallow to mid-depth weed beds and edges. The most productive baits include bucktails, Bull Dawgs, jerkbaits, gliders, twitch baits, topwaters, and suckers on quick strike rigs.


Walleye action is slow, but improving. Work weed edges, over weed beds, sunken bogs, brush, and around rock and gravel bars in 8-28 feet with crawlers, leech imitations (the real thing if you can find them!), crankbaits, and minnow baits.

Northern Pike:

Look for northern pike around shallow to mid-depth weeds and weedlines – and wherever you find concentrations of panfish. Northern suckers under bobbers work well, but artificials such as spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, smaller bucktails, and twitch baits will all catch pike. Fish deeper water with larger baits for the big fish.

Largemouth Bass:

Largemouth fishing slowed with the cooler temperatures, but remains fair to good. Work shallow to mid-depth weeds, wood, brush, and bogs with spinners, spinnerbaits, assorted rigged plastics (worms, frogs, crayfish, etc.), swim jigs, topwaters, and live bait.

Smallmouth Bass:

Smallmouth action varies from steady to erratic, with best success around wood and rock in moving and/or deeper water. Best baits include various forms of soft plastics, spinnerbaits, and some topwaters.


Crappie fishing is slow to very good, depending on the lake and weather. Work weedlines, bogs, brush, and cribs in 12-25 feet, with some fish suspending over deeper water. Baits of choice include crappie minnows, Tattle-Tails, Mini-Mites, plastics, and Gulp! baits on jigs or plain hooks. Use slip bobbers to hold baits at the proper depths.


Bluegill action is fair to very good in depths from shallow to deeper water, with fish holding near weeds, brush, cribs, and other structure. Use waxies, leaf worms, crawler pieces, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs, teardrops, and plain hooks under slip bobbers. Small minnows can work well for bigger ‘gills.

Upcoming Events

Sept. 12Seasons opened: 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. 18-19Lucky Lunker Bass Tournament on Lake Chippewa Flowage; Treeland Resort (715-471-0325).

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

Sept. 19-20Youth Waterfowl Hunt.

Sept. 26: Duck season opens in North Zone.

Sept. 2631st Annual Hayward Fall Festival (715-634-8662).

Oct. 2-4Hayward 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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