Excerpts from the October 16, 2017 Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report by Steve Suman:
The forecast for this week (at least until the weekend) shows near-perfect fall weather for just about any outdoor activity. Cool nights and highs in the mid to upper 60s is about as good as it gets! Take advantage now – or play “woulda, coulda, shoulda” in what will probably be the too-near future.
“Our autumn weather continues to be rather mild,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “with daytime temperature ranging from the mid 50s to the lower 60s. Leaf colors are now at or nearing peak, hunters are taking to the woods for grouse, archery deer, and waterfowl, and anglers are on the water searching for trophy muskies... Most fishing action is for musky and this is the time to float suckers while casting. In the past couple of weeks, the majority of muskies have come on live bait. Large bucktails, swim baits, gliders, and deep running crankbaits also work. If you float a sucker while casting, make sure to retrieve the lure past the sucker. You may have a follow – and many anglers miss follows by not doing a figure eight at the boat... Walleye action is best in late evening into night for anglers fishing along shallow weeds and rock bars as walleyes come in to feed. Small crankbaits, tube jigs, and jigs and minnows are producing the most success. However, we have several reports of musky anglers trolling musky lures catching walleyes and largemouth bass... Northern pike are still active in and around the weeds, once again proven by musky anglers. Anglers are catching most of the pike on small to mid-size bucktails and spinnerbaits, but northern pike will hit almost anything that moves or flashes... You will find largemouth bass on deeper weeds and smallmouth on rock and gravel areas. The same baits work for both species... Panfish fishing action slowed, but anglers report success fishing deeper weeds (8-12 feet) for crappies and bluegills. Sometimes fish are suspending and other times they are close to the bottom. Adjust baits accordingly to cover the entire water column. Schooled fish move around and good electronics help locate them. Early afternoon is best. Use crappie minnows and small fatheads under slip bobbers, though vertical jigging small tube jigs produce good success.”
Erik at Hayward Bait says water temperatures are cooling to the mid 50s as nightly lows produce good morning frosts... “Musky anglers are out and the fall bite is in full swing. Anglers looking for big muskies report success fishing musky suckers off the back of the boat, as well as while casting gliders, crankbaits, jerkbaits, and rubber baits such as Medusas and Bull Dawgs... “Walleye fishing is holding strong with aggressive, jigging style baits such as Rippin' Raps, Jigging Raps, and Rattle Traps. For the tough afternoon bite, just keep it simple. A jig head tipped with a walleye sucker or fathead minnow is highly effective... Bass anglers continue to hit the water and report some success fishing tubes and crankbaits, with even an occasional topwater bite... Panfish action is progressively picking up this fall. Anglers report the most success fishing various small paddle-tail, shad, tube, and plastics near cribs and in deep weeds. Tipping your favorite color jig with a crappie minnow and fishing it with/without a bobber is also always a productive."
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses walleye stocking success in the Hayward area... “Fish stocking can be a useful tool for fisheries biologists to create fisheries where a fishery did not previously exist (e.g. stocked trout ponds), reestablish populations, or to supplement existing populations... In the Hayward area, most of the stocking consists of muskellunge and walleye. Walleye stocking has become increasingly common, as natural recruitment has sputtered in many local lakes. There are about two dozen lakes in the Hayward area stocked with extended growth walleye... Evaluations of the stocking success in those lakes show that survival varies considerably, depending on the lake. The survival of stocked walleye appears to be highest in Big Chetac, Chippewa Flowage, Teal (and to a lesser extent Lost Land), and some of the smaller lakes in the Winter area. One commonality between all these lakes experiencing good stocking survival is that they have relatively dark water. In addition, all of these lakes have a good forage base... As we continue to stock walleyes, we will expand our understanding of where stocking works best, how many fish to stock in a given lake, and what we can do to improve stocking survival... It should be noted the preferred outcome is that the walleye return to reproducing naturally.”
Musky: Musky action is good and getting better as fall temperatures encourage a pre-winter feeding binge. Work on/edges of deep weeds, breaks, points, bars, and wherever you find concentrations of panfish. The most productive baits include suckers, large bucktails, Bull Dawgs and similar rubber baits, tubes, jerkbaits, stickbaits, gliders, and crankbaits, with trolling many of these baits working as well.
Walleye: Walleye reports range from fair to very good, with lake, time, conditions, offerings, and angler all factors in success (or lack thereof). Late afternoon into dark is best, concentrating on shallow weeds, points, bars, and rock. Jigs with walleye suckers or fatheads work best, but crankbaits, plastics, and tube jigs are also catching fish.
Northern Pike: Northern pike are on the feed around weeds in varied depths and not far from wherever you find concentrations of panfish. Try northern suckers and small to medium bucktails, spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, swim baits, and soft plastics. If catching trophy pike is your goal, offer bigger baits in deeper water.
Largemouth Bass: Largemouth action can be very, very good in the fall if you can locate the fish and make correct presentations. Look for fish around deep weeds, downed trees, brush, and cribs, and tempt them with live bait, plastics, spinners, and spinnerbaits.
Smallmouth Bass: Smallmouth action remains fair to good on rock, gravel, and cribs at various depths. Use sucker minnows, crawlers, tubes, crankbaits, plastics, drop-shot rigs, and topwaters.
Crappie: Crappie action is very good once you locate and follow them. Fish are schooling and suspending at various depths around weeds, cribs, and near bottom. Best baits include small jigs tipped with crappie minnows, fatheads, tubes, plastics, Mini-Mites, Tattle-Tails, and Gulp! baits fished with or without bobbers.
Bluegill: Bluegill fishing is good for bigger fish around mid-depth to deeper weeds, brush, and cribs. Use waxies, worms, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs, teardrops, and plain hooks, with or without slip bobbers.
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.