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Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report

October 3, 2016

Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report

Steve Suman

Chances for rain continue to dominate the forecasts, though current predictions show mild temperatures and sunshine sandwiching-in showers through the mid-week. In general, nice weather compared to what it “could” be this time of year!

“The Quiet Lakes are very high because of the heavy rains,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “and fall colors are well behind and nowhere near peak.

“Musky action is better, but not great, as the water temperatures are so slow in dropping. Fish are scattered throughout the lakes and all bait types are working, from surface baits to big plastics. Walleye fishing is fair, with fish on the edges of weed beds, holes, and drop-offs in 12-14 feet. Jigs and minnows are the best bet, with reports of some fish on crawler halves. The best fishing is still in/near shallow weeds at night.

“Northern pike are aggressive in green weeds and large sucker minnows and chubs work best. Largemouth are moving deeper as shallow weeds die off and spinnerbaits with slow retrieves work well. Smallmouth are deeper, searching for minnow concentrations, and jigs with larger minnows can be quite effective.

“The best crappie action is around weeds in 6-8 feet with minnows, jigs, tube jigs, and small plastics.”

Guide Steve Genson at Hayward Bait says fall colors are changing and fishing is good!

“Muskies are active with the cooling temperatures. Try shallow flats in 3-10 feet with surface baits, large bucktails, and jerkbaits. The walleye bite is improving, with most action on large minnows on jigs and rigs at the base of breaklines and bars in 10-25 feet.

“Bass fishing is solid, with most action on jigs, jerkbaits, and large sucker minnows in slightly deeper water. There is a good crappie bite in 15-30 feet for anglers fishing small jigs tipped with minnows and plastics.

“Get out and enjoy the great fall fishing!”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses the winter diet of trout.

“Winter can be a challenging time for trout in small streams, but just like fish in lakes, stream trout continue to feed throughout the winter. Researchers in Minnesota recently studied the diet of trout in winter, looking at what brown trout ate at different times compared to what was available.

“The study found that large fish had different diets than small fish. Large trout were more likely to eat caddis flies, while small trout were more likely to eat fly larvae. In general, all sizes of trout selected larger invertebrates over smaller ones when available. Additionally, in winter, trout were more likely to eat invertebrates from the river bottom than those drifting along in current. Emerging (hatching) invertebrates made up an important part of the trout diet at certain times of the winter.

“Availability of a winter food source may play an important role in the viability of stream trout fisheries.”

Treeland Resorts is hosting its first annual Musky Fly Fishing World Championship this weekend, Oct. 6-8. The entry fee is $200, limited to the first 100 entries. The event offers door prizes all three nights, a Grand Door prize all three nights, a prime rib Thursday night, Friday night fish fry, and lasagna Saturday night – all with Angry Minnow beer on tap. The contest awards prizes for the first three places and an individual prize for the largest musky. For more information, visit or call (715) 462-3874.

Wisconsin’s Youth deer hunt is this weekend, Oct. 8-9, and is open to all resident and non-resident youth hunters 10-15 years of age who have a gun deer license and appropriate tags. Please note that junior antlerless tags are not valid in Sawyer, Ashland, and Forest counties. Youth hunters who have not completed hunter education may hunt under the Hunting Mentorship Program. For more information, search “youth hunt” on the DNR website.

This Saturday, Oct. 8, from 8 a.m.-2 p.m., Northwest Relic Riders is hosting its 8th annual vintage snowmobile show and swap meet at Flat Creek Inn and Suites, sponsored by Hayward Power Sports. The show awards 45 trophies in 23 classes and displays vintage sleds, equipment, and trivia. For more information, visit or call (715) 638-2563; 462-4566.

Friends Into Spooner Hatchery (FISH), a group supporting fish rearing activities at Governor Thompson Hatchery in Spooner, is hosting an “Adopt-A-Musky” program and Harvest Festival at the hatchery this Saturday, Oct. 8, from 9 a.m. to noon. The event offers hatchery tours, prizes, free coffee, DNR staff on hand to answer questions, viewing of fingerling tagging – AND you can adopt a muskie! This fall, the hatchery will stock between 5,000 and 7,000 muskies into the Flowage, each with a PIT tag containing a unique number. You can “adopt” a musky by making a small donation to FISH and receive an adoption certificate that connects your name to a fish’s PIT tag number for the life of the fish (and muskies live 15-20 years!) If a DNR fisheries crew captures the fish as a part of future surveys, you will receive an email with details and can track the fish as it grows. Though this is a kid-friendly event, any fan of fish, fishing, biology, and conservation will find it interesting. For more information, visit or call (715) 635-6002.




Musky fishing is decent and improving for big fish with the cooler temperatures. Fish are somewhat scattered, but concentrate your efforts on flats, weeds, drop-offs, and bars from very shallow out to about 12 feet. Take your choice of baits, with large bucktails, plastics, gliders, jerkbaits, topwaters, and suckers all catching fish.


Walleye action is fair, though improving, but not quite what anglers normally expect at this time of year. Look for fish in 8-30 feet on weed beds/edges, bars, breaklines, holes, and drop-offs, with best fishing still in shallower water during low light hours. The bite is primarily on minnows, with crawlers also getting a few fish.

Northern Pike:

Northern pike are on the feed around green weeds and weed beds, drop-offs, holes, and wherever you find concentrations of baitfish and panfish. Top baits include spinners, spinnerbaits, and spoons, and live bait such as northern suckers and large minnows.

Largemouth Bass:

Largemouth action is slowing as the temperatures drop and the fish move to deeper weeds. Bass anglers continue to catch fish on jigs, spinnerbaits, jerkbaits, plastics, and live bait such as large minnows.

Smallmouth Bass:

Smallmouth fishing is good to very good, with fish moving to deeper rocks, weeds/weed edges, cribs, and other structure, as well as near schools of baitfish. Baits of choice include jigs with large minnows, plastics, crankbaits, and in some instances topwaters.



Crappies remain scattered, but fishing is fair to good once you locate them in their various locations. Look in depths from 5-30 feet, around weeds/weed beds, cribs, humps, brush, and on mud flats. The most productive baits include crappie minnows, Mini-Mites, Tattle-Tails, tube jigs, and small plastics.

Upcoming Events

Oct. 1-9: Special deer hunt open to people with disabilities (see regs).

Oct. 6-8: 1st Annual Musky Fly Fishing World Championship (715-462-3874).

Oct. 8: Northwest Relic Riders Vintage Snowmobile Show and Swap Meet; Flat Creek Inn (715-638-2563; 462-4566).

Oct. 8: Fish Harvest Fest and Adopt a Musky at Spooner Hatchery (715-635-6002).

Oct. 8-9: Youth deer hunt (see regs).

Oct. 11: Bear season closes.

Oct. 15: Seasons open: Pheasant; Ruffed grouse Zone B; Bobwhite quail; Hungarian partridge; Raccoon gun/trapping (residents only); Red and gray fox hunting/trapping; Coyote and fisher, trapping; Bobcat hunting/trapping Period 1.

Oct. 15: Inland trout season closes (see regs).

Oct. 22: Seasons open: Muskrat; Mink.

Oct. 29: Raccoon hunting and trapping season opens for non-residents.

Nov. 5: Trapping seasons open in North Zone: Beaver; Otter.

Nov. 19-27: Gun deer hunt (see regs).

Nov. 28-Dec. 7: Muzzleloader deer season (see regs).

Dec. 8-11: Statewide Antlerless Hunt (see regs).

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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