Excerpts from the October 23, 2017 Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report by Steve Suman:
No matter your weather preference (barring 90 degrees, dry, and still), there should be at least one day this week that just about anyone should find favor. Probably just one day per person, per preference, but the forecast shows quite a mix!
“The first frost finally made its way into northern Wisconsin,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “and fall turnover should happen soon. Turnover usually starts when the water temperature hits 55 degrees and lakes are currently 56-58 degrees... Muskies put on an aggressive feed as the water temperatures drop and live suckers are the bait of choice. Anglers using suckers boated some nice fish in the past week... Walleyes are on underwater points and structure and will sit on deep, hard bottom edges. Look for areas with mixed rock, rubble, and boulders. There is a considerable amount of ‘dead water’ out there, so if you do not find or catch fish, move on. Fish move deeper as we head into late fall. Look for transitions from hard to soft bottom and fish sit right on the transition line, on the hard bottom side. Jig and minnow is the presentation of choice. Pitch jigs onto the breaks and drag or bounce them off the breaks... Northern pike are in and around the weeds, but most catches are by musky anglers throwing spinner and swim baits... Some anglers using crappie minnow on slip bobbers are finding crappies in deeper weed areas."
Erik at Hayward Bait says anglers enjoyed the exceptionally nice late October weather and fishing is strong... “Even with water temperatures warmer than normal, many musky anglers report successful days on the water. Most anglers are fishing suckers on Shumway sucker rigs, either straight-lined off the back of the boat and/or under a bobber at the desired distance. Casting is still great, with many rubber baits such as Bull Dawgs, Medusas, and paddle-tails an ideal choice for the next 50-incher... Walleye anglers are finding active fish by trolling, ripping Jigging Raps, and with and jigs and minnows, but they would love to see somewhat colder temperatures... Bass fishing, especially for smallmouth, still has the interest of some anglers. Smallmouth are active across rock humps and breaklines, mostly in 10-14 feet. A number of anglers report success on jigs with walleye suckers... Crappie anglers are having luck with live bait on slip bobbers, as well as fishing somewhat more active presentations such as Tattle-Tails, Mini-Mites, Chicken Jigs, and plastics. Most action is off weed edges.”
Mike at Jenk’s says Chippewa Flowage musky fishing is solid... “As we go later and later on in the year, the more suckers are the choice as muskies bulk up for winter. Target areas rich in baitfish. If you do not spot baitfish on the graph, try other spots, as muskies will congregate around food rich environments... Walleyes are starting to show signs of life on the Flowage, though the size remains smaller. A few anglers still use crawlers, but it is predominantly minnow fishing from here to the end of the season. With the cooler temperatures, expect walleyes to head to deep holes... While there are few reports of bass action on the Flowage, the smallmouth bite on Round and Grindstone lakes is very strong with minnows on the cribs. Several anglers report seeing smallmouth more than 20 inches every day... Crappies are biting, but it seems the only ones are those sitting on the bottom, not suspending fish. Crappie minnows are the best choice, but on slow days, try throwing some plastics.”
Musky: Late fall is THE time for big muskies and the fish are starting to up their feeding game. Rubber baits such as Bull Dawgs work well, but this is when suckers really shine. Run them on quick-strike rigs off the back of the boat, with or without a bobber, while casting and retrieving rubber baits near the sucker for a double temptation!
Walleye: Walleye fishing is good to very good, primarily deep, in holes, on point and bar edges, breaklines, and hard bottoms with rock and gravel. Jigs and minnows work well, some anglers still use crawlers, others trolling stick and crank baits, and still others work Jigging Raps and similar baits.
Northern Pike: Northern pike fishing is good, though most catches are by anglers fishing for other species. Work the weeds with northern suckers, spinnerbaits, bucktails, and swim baits. As is usually the case, use bigger baits in deeper water for trophy pike.
Smallmouth Bass: Smallmouth action is very good in 10-18 feet on cribs, breaklines, and humps. Large minnows and walleye suckers on jigs, plastics, and drop-shot rigs are all very effective at this time.
Crappie: Crappie fishing is good on and just off the edges of deeper weeds, at various depths in the water column. Use your locator. Crappie minnows work best, on jigs and/or under slip bobbers, but Gulp! baits, Tattle-Tails, Mini-Mites, and other plastics work well, too.
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.