I’m not marking as a report, because it doesn’t have to do with the lakes. The river fishing in the area was excellent last week. This is a video I threw together of a small river near Hayward. Lots of smallmouth on topwater!
Excerpts from the July 20, 2020; Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report by Steve Suman:
The forecast indicates Wednesday and Thursday as the high points this week. Rain and thunderstorms are possible for the other days, but highs in the low 70s to mid 80s offer a short respite from the extreme heat. Enjoy some outdoor recreation these days – hot temperatures return this weekend and next week!
“In this summer heat on the Quiet Lakes, it is very important that anglers care for the fish they catch,” says Pat at Happy Hooker. “Make sure that you work quickly to release the fish as soon as possible. “Musky action remains slow, with anglers seeing fish, but it is a different story on fish taking lures. Some anglers are catching a few smaller fish, a good sign that muskies are reproducing. “Walleyes are on mid-lake structure. In the evening, fish weedlines, rock, and gravel areas in 6-12 feet. For the next several weeks, trolling crankbaits will be a productive tactic. The early morning and late evening into night windows are good times to fish leeches under slip bobbers in mid-lake depths adjacent to deeper water. “Largemouth bass fishing is very good on topwater baits resembling frogs. Vary your retrieval speed, weaving baits in and out of weed patches. It is exciting to see bass blow up on topwater baits! “Northern pike are also in the weeds, with spinnerbaits and topwaters working well for them. “Panfish fishing is good in the deeper vegetation on most lakes. Concentrate your efforts on weed areas in 10-16 feet. Soft plastics and crappie minnows under bobbers are producing fish.”
Trent at Hayward Bait says that with the hot weather, anglers are finding fish deeper than normal. “Most musky anglers are leaving muskies alone due to the warm water. “Walleyes are in 20-25 feet, with the night bite showing success in 7-10 feet. Fish weed edges and cribs with leeches and crawlers on Lindy Rigs, walleye size Tattle-Tails, and deep diving crankbaits. “Bigger northern pike are in deep, cool water, near bottom, and most anglers start at about 20 feet. Kwikfish K14s are good at getting down in that deeper water, with larger flukes and swimbaits also effective. During the first and last hour of daylight, look for pike feeding along shallow shorelines. “Largemouth bass are under docks and near spawning areas and secondary points. Even largemouths want access to deeper/cooler water now. Wacky worms, drop-shot rigs, and Tokyo rigs are good options when fish are not hitting topwaters or weighted lures, and slow presentations work well. “Crappies are in basins and on cribs and weedlines in 15-20 feet. Crappie minnows, Crappie Scrubs, and Slab Daddies are working well. “Bluegills are around cribs and weed beds 6-10 feet and will hit almost anything that fits in their mouth. Favorites include poppers, Bimbo Bugs, and Tattle-Tails.”
Jim and Cathy at Minnow Jim’s say Nelson Lake walleye anglers should fish the deep river channel with leeches, minnows, and deep diving crankbaits. “Largemouth bass are in weed beds and around shaded areas such as over-hanging trees, docks, and swim platforms. Use spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, and buzzbaits to get their attention. “Due to the warm water, panfish anglers should fish around deeper bogs and fish cribs. Bobber-fish and jig with waxies, worms, crawlers, and leeches. Use small jigs with Twister Tails, Gulp! Alive Minnows, Mini-Mites, and chicken jigs.”
Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage is full and the water temperature 78-81 degrees. “Muskies are sitting in deeper basins during the day, despite cooling water temperatures. At night, some fish move to shallower weed beds. Trolling deep basins during the day and casting surface baits during low light hours is effective. Though these cooler surface temperatures are not instantly lethal to muskies, they remain harmful. Practice quick and safe catch and release techniques. If you have questions regarding safe handling, ask any guide or stop at the shop. “Walleye action is somewhat better and there is a very good bite on leeches, with jumbos outperforming mediums. When water temperatures warm during mid-day, troll deep cover with Shad Raps and Flicker Shads. When the water cools at night, fish weed bars and breaklines in 6-12 feet. “Smaller northern pike are active on spinnerbaits and spoons in and around weeds on the west side. “Smallmouth bass fishing is very good on stumps and rock piles with Ned Rigs and Whopper Ploppers. “Crappies are still hanging around bogs and brush piles, with nighttime best, around 8 .pm. on the floating bogs. During the day, try deeper cribs and brush piles, but the bulk of action will likely come from the bogs.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses ‘broken streaks.’ “Frank Pratt, the previous DNR biologist in Hayward, and I, take considerable pride in the outreach programs our office has provided over the years. This year, however, virus health concerns forced cancellation of two of our biggest events.
“The first event was our youth fishing program that occurs at Shue’s Pond during Musky Fest. Cancellation of Musky Fest included cancellation of our event as well, breaking a two-decade streak of hosting the event. We were also not able to transfer bluegills into Shue’s Pond. There might be some fish present from previous years or fish that made their way in naturally, but Shue’s Pond fishing success will likely be lower for anglers this summer. Consider the city park on Lake Hayward, behind the Fishing Hall of Fame, which offers a pier and boardwalk for angler use. “The second event we had to cancel is ‘River Rats,’ a day of aquatic exploration with grade-school age kids, hosted by Cable Natural History Museum. Between the two of us, Frank and I have held this fun event for more than 30 years.
“It is sad to see these streaks broken, and we certainly miss the events and working with the kids. It was the right call for the safety of everyone, but the spirit of these events can still thrive this summer. If you have young people in your life, take them fishing or out to explore nature. “Recently, I took my kids to the Namekagon River for our own ‘River Rats’ experience, taking just a minnow net and bucket. We had so much fun catching crayfish, minnows, frogs, and aquatic bugs that we were late for supper!”
Fishing should improve as temperatures moderate. If you use live bait, give it proper care – a bag of ice in the livewell can make a big difference. If you keep fish for a meal, get them on ice quickly, too. Stop at your favorite bait shop on the way to the lake and ask about fish locations and preferences that day. Get out and have fun!
Musky: fishing is fair. During the day, troll crankbaits on and over deep lake basins. In the evening and nighttime hours, when it is cooler, work surface baits on shallow weedlines. Many anglers are giving muskies a pass during this extremely hot weather. If you go, make any catch a very quick catch and release to protect the fish.
Walleye: fishing is fair to good, with best success in early morning and late evening into dark. During the day, work deeper weeds, rock, gravel, other structure, and flats out to 25 feet and deeper. Cribs, river channels, and brush can also hold fish. In the evening, target shallower weedline edges, shorelines, breaklines, rock, and gravel out to about 12 feet. Jumbo leeches on jigs and under slip bobbers work best at this time, but crawlers, minnows, and plastics catch fish, as do trolled crankbaits and stickbaits.
Northern Pike: fishing is good to very good and can be a trip saver. Look for fish in and around weeds, weedlines, and anywhere baitfish and other food sources are available. Smaller fish are in shallower water, so go deep with bigger baits for trophy pike. Top offerings include swimbaits, spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, Kwikfish, flukes, and live bait.
Largemouth Bass: fishing is good to excellent in and around weeds and protected/shaded areas such as lily pads and slop, but go for deeper, cooler water if necessary. The most productive baits include wacky worms, buzzbaits, spinnerbaits, chatterbaits, drop-shot and Tokyo rigs, and topwaters.
Smallmouth Bass: fishing is good to very good on hard bottoms, rock, gravel, humps, and drop-offs in depths out to 20 feet. Wacky worms and various other plastics, Ned Rigs, Whopper Ploppers, crankbaits, and live bait are all producing action.
Crappie: fishing is good, but fish are in depths from 8-22 feet. You will find them around weeds and weedlines, cribs, deep basins, brush, and bogs. Best bite is in the later evening hours. Baits of choice include crappie minnows, waxies, worms, crawlers, leeches, Crappie Scrubs, Slab Daddies, Twister Tails, Mini-Mites, chicken jigs, plastics, and Gulp! Alive Minnows, with or without bobbers.
Bluegill: fishing is good to very good around weeds, weed beds, bogs, and cribs. Depths vary from 4-18 feet, with bigger fish deeper. Best live baits include waxies, worms, crawler chunks, small minnows, and panfish leeches on small jigs, teardrops, and plain hooks, with/without bobbers. Artificial choices include poppers, chicken jigs, Bimbo Jigs, Twister Tails, Tattle-Tails, Mini-Mites, and Gulp! baits.
For more information on area events and activities, visit the Hayward Lakes Visitor and Convention Bureau website, view the Calendar of Events, or call 800-724-2992
Excerpts from the July 13, 2020; Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report by Steve Suman:
This week’s forecast shows rain and thunderstorm chances through Tuesday, and clear and sunny mid-week. Chances for rain and thunderstorms, and a warming trend, return Friday night through the weekend. That is reaching out a ways and subject to change. It is a great summer in the North Woods, despite the unfortunate cancelation of many events.
“The Quiet Lakes are very busy with people enjoying summer,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “so please be careful, cautious, and courteous. “Weather is hot and so is the fishing on some waters. It is best to get on the water in early morning, late evening, and after dark. Fish are moving to cooler, deeper holes and around structure. If you find fish at a certain water temperature, try to find areas with identical conditions. “Walleye fishing is good on some lakes, with daytime anglers fishing leeches under slip bobbers finding fish near mid-lake humps in 12-20 feet. A few anglers report nice walleye in 12-18 feet. It is a hit-or-miss, low numbers bite, but some big fish. Late afternoon into dark is the most productive time. “Northern pike and largemouth bass anglers are catching fish in and around deeper vegetation. “Smallmouth bass anglers are getting some very nice fish on swimbaits and crankbaits cast near hard substrate such as rock, sand, and gravel. “Panfish anglers are catching fish around deep vegetation. Avoid bass and northern pike by using corn. Otherwise, waxies, leaf worms, and small plastics will produce fish.”
Trent at Hayward Bait says recent rains brought temporary relief for the anglers and fish dealing with warm mid-summer water temperatures. Some fish have moved to the shallows, at least for the short term. “To prevent mortality rates, most musky anglers are foregoing fishing until temperatures cool. “Walleyes are as shallow as 4 feet, most likely due to the recent storms. Most anglers are working weedline edges with spinners, jigs, and crankbaits. “Northern pike are all over the lakes, but commonly found near drop-offs in about 10 feet. Work Rapalas, spinnerbaits, and swimbaits on weed edges. “Largemouth bass are staging around drop-offs, ledges, humps, and creek channels. Many types of lures are working, with topwaters favored, but swimbaits, stickworms, and creature baits are pulling their weight. “Smallmouth bass are around humps and drop-offs in 5-12 feet, with Ned rigs, 5-inch wacky worms, and topwaters working well. “Crappies are around shallow wood and emergent vegetation. Minnows and worms on jigs, small Rapalas, and topwaters are all effective. “Bluegills are in about 8 feet and favoring live bait, though with recent bug hatches, poppers and flies work well.”
Jim and Cathy at Minnow Jim’s offer a pat on the back to Nelson Lake anglers braving the hot temperatures to get out and enjoy fishing! “The walleye bite is slow, with best success jigging minnows and leeches or casting Rapalas, Flicker Shads, Rattle Traps, and Beetle Spins. “Northern pike are very active around weed beds and weed edges. Cast spoons, spinners, swim jigs, and buzzbaits. “Largemouth bass anglers using scented worms, creatures, and weedless baits are working shorelines in early morning and late evening and the river channel in midday. “Panfish fishing is good, especially around bogs and cribs. Use waxies, worms, crawlers, and leeches under bobbers or jig fishing. Fish might be a little deeper with warm surface temperatures.”
Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage pool is full and the water temperature 78-81 degrees. “Musky fishing is now safer due to somewhat cooler water temperatures, but be diligent with your release. Try trolling deeper basins with Mattlocks, 13-inch Grandmas, 14-inch Jakes, and 10-inch Cranes. In very early morning and late evening hours, cast bucktails and surface baits. “Walleyes might come into 6-12 feet in the evening, but stay in deep basins with cover during the day. Water temperatures dropped a bit, though still higher than ideal. Leeches are the go-to bait, but this could be the last week for leeches. “Northern pike action is quiet, but some fish might move into shallower weeds with the dropping water temperatures, and Tinsel Tails are the trick this time of year. “Smallmouth bass are in/around shallow stumps and rocks on the east side. Several local guides say Ned Rigs and Whopper Ploppers are very effective. “Crappies still get a lot of attention on the bogs at night. Crappie minnows, tube jigs, one-inch Gulp! Minnows, Crappie Scrubs, and Mini-Mites all perform very well. Get to the bog early to reserve your spot!”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses muskies and heat. “I do not need to tell you how hot it has been, as you are feeling it – and the fish feel it, too! Unlike humans, who can escape to air-conditioned buildings, fish are stuck with the heat, though feel it in a different way. “Fish are cold-blooded and the environment determines their body temperature. When the environment gets hot, they get hot. This leads to some major metabolic and physiological shifts that impact their behavior, growth, and potentially their survival.
“What do we know about muskies and heat, and what might it mean for your fishing? “When temperatures get really hot, muskies eat less. Studies of muskies feeding across different temperatures found that musky feeding peaks around 73 °F, though that varies a bit based on the musky strain. When water temperature gets warmer than 73 °F, muskies start to feed less, and at extreme temperatures, a musky might not feed at all. “High water temperature induces a ‘stress response’ in muskies. Cortisol, a common indicator of stress, releases into the blood stream and the size and count of red blood cells increase to facilitate oxygen transfer. This stress response can help muskies endure brief periods of extreme temperatures, but long durations of very warm water can be lethal.
“A study in which I took part found that muskies held in steadily warming water started to lose their orientation at about 85 °F, with some succumbing at that temperature or slightly warmer. A study of angling-caught muskies found that muskies caught and released at temperatures up to about 80 °F were able to survive the experience, but the study included no muskies caught at temperatures warmer than 80 °F. “There is still more to learn about what extreme summer water temperatures mean for survival of angled muskies, but studies such as these have started to outline what might be the ‘danger zone.’”
Musky: action is fair to good, though with the warm water temperatures many anglers are choosing to give the muskies a break and not pursue them until cooler temperatures prevail. Should you fish muskies at this time, trolling deep basins with large stickbaits during the day is a possibility. In evening and early morning, cast bucktails and topwaters along shallow to mid-depth weed edges.
Walleye: fishing is fair to good, though with inconsistent bite windows and best fishing in early morning and late afternoon into after dark. During the day, work weeds, humps, and deep basins in depths to 20 feet and deeper. In the evening hours, target weed edges from shallow to 10 feet. Leeches and crawlers on jigs, slip bobbers, and spinner rigs work well, but fish are also hitting Beetle Spins, crankbaits, Rapalas, Flicker Shads, and Rattle Traps.
Northern Pike: action is very good or slow, depending on the lake. Look for fish in/on and near weeds, weedlines, weed edges, drop-offs, and panfish concentrations in depths out to 15 feet. Spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons with Twister Tails, swimbaits, buzzbaits, and Rapalas are all working. Go deeper with bigger baits for trophy pike.
Largemouth Bass: fishing is good to very good in/over/on the edges of shallow to mid-depth weeds, humps, ledges, drop-offs, channels, slop, and shorelines. Very effective baits include swimbaits, stick worms, creature baits, scented worms, weedless plastics, and topwaters.
Smallmouth Bass: action is good on structure and hard bottom areas such as gravel, rock, sand, stumps, humps, and drop-offs in depths out to 15 feet. Ned rigs, wacky worms, swimbaits, and crankbaits in crayfish colors, as well as topwaters, are all catching fish.
Crappie: fishing is good to very good around mid-depth to deeper weeds, wood, brush, bogs, and cribs. A wide variety of baits are working, including crappie minnows, waxies, worms, leeches, tube jigs, plastics, Crappie Scrubs, Mini-Mites, Tattle-Tails, and Gulp! baits, small Rapalas, and topwaters.
Bluegill: fishing is good to very good around weeds, brush, cribs, and bogs out to about 12 feet. Top baits include waxies, worms, leaf worms, crawler chunks, and panfish leeches on jigs and/or under bobbers, and on flies and poppers. Try a bit deeper for bigger ’gills.
For more information on area events and activities, visit the Hayward Lakes Visitor and Convention Bureau website, view the Calendar of Events, or call 800-724-2992
Excerpts from the July 6, 2020; Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report by Steve Suman:
This week’s forecast looks a bit cooler, except Wednesday, but with chances for storms nearly every day until Friday and into the weekend. Chances for rain aside, these hot and sunny summer days encourage considerable outdoor activity.
“It is summer, hot and humid, and biting insects are out in number around the Quiet Lakes,” says Pat at Happy Hooker. “Make sure to pack sun block, aloe lotion, and bug repellent. “Anglers report success with diverse fishing methods, including trolling, jigging, and casting, but specific techniques will take over soon. Water temperatures, currently about 70-78 degrees, continue to rise, which will bring more bug hatches and aquatic vegetation. “Musky action remains slow. Anglers see follows, but get few takers, while throwing various baits and sizes. “Walleye fishing is hit or miss. Drifting live bait rigs in and around 10-foot breaklines works best. Bigger fish are deeper, so concentrate on 10-20 feet. Leeches are the prime live bait. Time of day is important. Most anglers report good action starting about 4:30 p.m. and running into nighttime, with crawlers and leeches the go-to baits “For northern pike and largemouth bass, cast spinnerbaits and soft plastics in and around shallow weedlines and on the edges of drop-offs. Target thicker vegetation with plastic topwaters and rigged weedless crawler and leech baits. Smallmouth bass are on and along rock and gravel areas. “Panfish are along weeds in 12-16 feet. Jig soft plastics on small jigs. Cast and snap or fish them under bobbers.”
Trent at Hayward Bait says hot weather makes tough fishing, but morning and evening are good times to be on the water. “Musky anglers are getting follows in about 10 feet, but fewer hits. Try bucktails, rubber baits, and topwaters to find active fish. “Walleyes are moving deeper, out to about 25 feet. Leeches are most popular, though deep diving crankbaits also work. If you catch smallmouth, push slightly deeper for walleyes. “Northern pike fishing is so good anglers not targeting pike are catching them with little effort, finding them out to 10 feet. Bigger fish are deeper, close to the bottom. Cast crankbaits, swimbaits, and topwaters. “Largemouth bass are hugging shorelines and structure. On the hot days, look for shade along shorelines. Wacky worms, Texas rigs, and topwaters work well. “Smallmouth bass are staging on sand and gravel humps and points in about 10 feet. Ned rigs, swimbaits, flukes, and leeches are producing. “Crappies pushed deeper and most success is in and around weed beds in 15-20 feet. Drag a jig across the weed tops. Anglers also find crappies cruising deeper basins. Use jigs and minnows, Crappie Nibbles, and Kalin’s Crappie Scrubs. “Bluegills are still in about 8 feet and small jigs, poppers, and worms are all working well.”
Jim and Cathy at Minnow Jim’s say Nelson Lake walleye anglers should fish minnows and leeches on jigs, troll deep divers in the river channel, and troll shallow divers along the shorelines. “Northern pike and largemouth bass are very active in this hot weather. Fish weed beds with weedless worms, dressed spoons, and rattling swim jigs. Work along weed edges with spinners, buzzbaits, frogs, and popping plugs. “Panfish anglers should bobber fish and jig for crappies and bluegills near bogs and cribs with waxies, worms, and leeches. Cast small spinnerbaits and dressed jigs near fallen trees.”
Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage is at full pool and the water temperature 83-86 degrees. “Muskies are deep and your best bets are trolling and vertical jigging, with Mattlocks, Jakes, Grandmas, and Crane 1010s solid choices. The water with mid-80s temperatures is very low on oxygen and lethal to muskies. Make a very quick net and release within 30 seconds. “Walleye anglers are catching fish in decent numbers in deep areas. With these warm and rising water temperatures, most fish will not rise to the surface or even move to the shallows to feed. Use Lindy Rigs with jumbo leeches or crawlers, or troll deep running crankbaits such as Flicker Shads, Shad Raps, and Flicker Minnows. “Northern pike action is slow and these fish are probably deep as well. Try trolling spoons or fishing large live bait down to 20 feet or so where there is some nice cover. “Smallmouth bass are still around shallower areas, despite the warm water. If shallow action decreases, try crawlers on deeper cribs. “Crappie action on the bogs at night is really good. Many anglers report success with minnows on the bog at the bridge, and with tube jigs and waxies on the bog by Dun Rovin in 12 feet and deeper.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses forests and fish. “Most conservationists would likely argue that a forest has value, even if difficult to determine a dollar amount. However, in resource management, sometimes it is useful to assign a dollar value to a resource, especially when decisions become political or other economic considerations are in play.
“The Alaskan salmon fisheries offer an interesting example. The fisheries contain tremendous value, but consider, also, the landscape that supports the salmon production that fuels the lucrative sport and commercial fisheries. “There is a well-established linkage between salmon and trees. “The salmon support the trees by running the streams to spawn, dying, and leaving behind carcasses rich with nutrients from the sea. The forests support the salmon by creating and protecting the critical habitats they need to spawn successfully, including clean streams fed by groundwater.
“Researchers in Alaska estimated that two large National Forests, the Tongass and Chugach, support 48 million salmon that go on to be harvested commercially, with an estimated value of $88 million. Salmon originating from those two forests account for 25 percent of all those caught commercially. “Figures such as these are relatable to the public and to lawmakers (everyone understands money) and used to argue for protection of critical habitat, even with those who might not understand the complex ecological linkages. This is what makes studies like these valuable.”
Sunny, clear, and hot days are affecting both anglers and fish. If you use live bait, keep it cool and aerated. If you are catch and release fishing, get the fish back in the water as quickly as possible. Fishing is good, but it can be a bit uncomfortable in the heat and sun for long periods. Keep it fun!
Musky: action slowed, with anglers still seeing fish following, but not anxious to hit. Try working around weeds and weedlines in 8-12 feet, as well as much deeper water. Anglers are throwing a variety of baits including bucktails, rubber baits, and topwaters, as well as trolling large baits such as Mattlocks, Jakes, Grandmas, and Cranes over deeper water. With the very warm water, release the fish as quickly as possible.
Walleye: fishing is fair to good, with best fishing in late afternoon into dark. During the day, concentrate on cover, structure, and breaklines as deep as 30 feet. In early morning, late evening, and after dark, work depths to 20 feet. Productive baits include leeches, crawlers, and minnows on jigs, Lindy Rigs, and live bait rigs, and trolled crankbaits.
Northern Pike: fishing is very good to excellent on most waters where you find them – or they find you. Focus on shallow weeds and weedlines, drop-off edges, and panfish concentrations out to about 12 feet. Go deeper with bigger baits for trophy pike. Top baits include spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, crankbaits, swimbaits, buzzbaits, and live bait.
Largemouth Bass: action is very good to excellent during this hot weather. Target shallower weeds and weedlines, drop-off edges, shoreline structure, lily pads, and thick slop. The bass are taking a wide variety of baits, including spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, plastic worms in various riggings (weedless, wacky, Texas, etc.), buzzbaits, swim jigs, crawlers, leeches, and assorted topwater baits.
Smallmouth Bass: fishing is good around weeds, rock, sand, gravel, points, humps, and cribs in 10 feet and deeper. Some anglers are catching fish shallower, even with the increasing water temperatures, but expect fish to move deeper as the hot days continue. Ned rigs, swimbaits, tubes, and plastics in crayfish colors, crawlers, leeches, and minnows all work well.
Crappie: fishing is good to very good around weeds, wood, bogs, cribs, and lake basins in 10-22 feet. Best fishing in is late afternoon/evening hours into dark. Baits of choice include jigs and minnows, waxies, worms, leeches, tube jigs, plastics, Crappie Nibbles, Crappie Scrubs, Mini-Mites, Tattle-Tails, and small spinners.
Bluegill: fishing is good to very good around weeds, wood, bogs, and cribs in 4-18 feet. The standard bluegill offerings of waxies, worms, leeches, and plastics on small jigs and under slip bobbers are all catching fish, as are small spinners and poppers.
For more information on area events and activities, visit the Hayward Lakes Visitor and Convention Bureau website, view the Calendar of Events, or call 800-724-2992.
Excerpts from the June 29, 2020; Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report by Steve Suman:
According to the forecast, the North Woods will experience hot temperatures and various chances for thunderstorms in the next week (or longer). There should also be plenty of sunshine in the mix, however, so make your plans for summer recreation and a July 4 celebration!
“Water temperatures on the Quiet Lakes range from mid 60s to low 70s,” says Pat at Happy Hooker. “The better fishing is in late afternoon into dusk. Some waters will start producing bug hatches that affect the bite in a positive – or negative – manner. “Musky action remains slow, with anglers seeing follows, but not boating many fish. Most are casting an assortment of different baits and sizes, but smaller to mid-size baits are producing best. “Shallow, mid-lake reefs and humps are producing some nice catches of walleye and northern pike, primarily in 8-14 feet. Live bait works best, either jigged or under slip bobbers. Slow trolling a spinner rig is productive, and casting weedlines with spinnerbaits will produce northern pike. “The bass bite for both largemouth and smallmouth is consistent. For largemouth bass, cast to shoreline vegetation, docks and weeds. For smallmouth, look to rock and sand areas. “Panfish finished spawning on most lakes and are ready to eat aggressively in thick vegetation in 4-8 feet. Try pitching a 1/16-oz. jig tipped with a crawler piece or use a small minnow under a slipbobber.
Trent at Hayward Bait says fishing is fair to good, depending on the species. “Muskies are around lily pads in 5 feet in early morning and late evening. During the day, fish vegetation and flats in 10 feet. Natural color Husky Jerks, X-Raps, and rubber lures such as Swimmin’ Dawgs and Medussas work best. “Walleye anglers are catching fish on weed edges and rock humps in 15-20 feet. If you find smallmouth, try a few feet deeper. Favored baits are leeches, minnows, and crankbaits. “Northern pike are in weeds and lily pads in 5 feet early and late. During the day, work vegetation in 10 feet with Husky Jerks and X-Raps. “Largemouth bass are in 5 feet around shorelines, docks, vegetation, timber, and baitfish early and late in the day. They now favor faster spinners, jerk minnow baits, and topwaters. “Smallmouth bass are on rock piles, humps, sunken islands, and sandbars in 10 feet. Leeches, Ned rigs, and topwaters work well. “Crappies are near vegetation, drop-offs, and humps in 8-12 feet. Use minnows, Slab Daddies, and small swimbaits. “Bluegills are in 4-8 feet, hitting crawlers, leaf worms, jigs, and poppers.”
Jim and Cathy at Minnow Jim’s say Nelson Lake walleye anglers should work shorelines early and late in the day and target deeper water during the middle of the day. “Drift, troll, and cast rocky shorelines with crawler and minnow harnesses; jig and bobber fish leeches and minnows; and cast and troll stickbaits. “Northern pike and largemouth bass anglers say chatterbaits work well, along with spinnerbaits, and buzzbaits.” “Panfish anglers fishing for crappies and bluegills are using jigs and slip bobbers with worms, crawler chunks, waxies, leeches, and Gulp! Alive, which works as well as live bait. Start shallow, searching for remaining spawning beds, and work out to deeper water, making sure to try around cribs and bogs.”
Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage is full, with water temperatures in the mid-70s and rising. “Muskies are on the move. With highs in the 80s this week, anglers can expect a good trolling bite. Target points, breaklines, deep, open water with cover on the bottom, and deep areas holding walleyes. Mattlocks, Jakes, and Grandmas are solid choices. At night, cast bucktails and topwaters over weed tops, retrieving into deeper water. “Walleye fishing is slow with summer water temperatures. Anglers still catch fish, but have to work for them. During the day, when there is a chop, troll cover out to 18 feet with crankbaits, or jig leeches and crawlers. At night, fish weeds and wood in 6-12 feet. “Northern pike are very active, though not many larger fish. Tinsel Tails and Johnson Silver Spoons in the weeds remain the most effective strategy. “Smallmouth bass action is primarily on Ned rigs, plastics, and crawlers fished on stumps and rocks. “Crappie fishing is predominantly on the bogs around 8 p.m., though cribs, brush piles, and deep weed humps are also productive. Anglers are using crappie minnows, Crappie Scrubs, and Mini-Mites.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses Nelson Lake’s fishing and fishing history.
“Habitat differences, fish community composition, and various management actions enable some lakes to deliver higher quality fishing experiences for certain species than other lakes. Here, I will highlight the reasons for the exceptional fishing opportunities in 2,716-acre Nelson Lake. “Nelson Lake has experienced a seismic shift in fishery composition over the last 30 years. Once a very high-density walleye lake, it now has the unfortunate distinction of being a prime example of walleye recruitment failure, an issue impacting many lakes across the Midwest. “While Nelson Lake today does not offer anything close to its walleye action of the past, the walleyes anglers catch are more likely to be large. A 2017 survey found 48 percent of all captured walleye were more than 20 inches. “Largemouth bass have effectively filled the void left by walleye as the most abundant gamefish in the lake. Largemouth action tends to be consistent, with many fish in shallow weeds and wood. Most largemouths are in the 12- to 16-inch range, with few larger. “Northern pike might be Nelson Lake’s most exceptional angling opportunity, when compared to other area lakes. While 40-inch pike are a true rarity in most lakes, Nelson has the ability to produce them with consistency.
“There are three reasons pike run large in Nelson Lake. “First, there are no muskies in the lake. (Yes, there are rumors of musky in Nelson, but this is definitely a ‘photo or it didn’t happen’ situation.) This allows northern pike to fully occupy the large predator role and have access to the biggest food sources, which are mostly suckers. “Second, pike recruitment tends to be lower than most other lakes, leading to a lower density population with less competition among individuals. “Finally, there are restrictive size and bag limits in place that allow pike to reach their growth potential. It is worth noting the restrictive regulations could only be successful with the low recruitment/low density nature of this population.”
Fishing in general is good, but some species are definitely more cooperative for anglers. Again, this is a transition time and fish are moving or have moved to summer locations and changed feeding patterns. It will serve anglers well to stop at their favorite bait and tackle shop to get the most current favored baits, presentation, and fish locations.
Musky: action is improving, though it remains very challenging. Hit shallow weeds, weedlines, and lily pads with bucktails and topwaters early and late in the day. During the day, target weeds, flats, and deep cover with spinner baits, Swimmin’ Dawgs and Medussas, or troll breaklines and points with larger baits such as Mattlocks, Jakes, and Grandmas.
Walleye: action is somewhat slower, but some anglers continue to connect. Fish are dispersing and you might find them around weed beds, weedlines, wood, rock, and humps in 6-22 feet. During the day, target the deeper structure, but move to shallower cover in late evening when walleyes move in to feed. Top bait choices are currently leeches, crawlers, and minnows on jigs, slip bobbers, and spinner rigs for live bait. Artificials include trolled/cast crankbaits and stickbaits.
Northern Pike: are still on the feed and aggressive. Focus on weeds, weedlines, humps, lily pads, and panfish concentrations in 4-15 feet. Northern suckers, minnows, spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, buzzbaits, Husky Jerks, and X-Raps are all great pike baits. For trophy fish, work deeper water with bigger baits.
Largemouth Bass: action is best in low light hours around weeds, weedlines, wood, brush, docks, stumps, and slop, with depths from very shallow out to about 8 feet. Spinners, minnow baits, chatterbaits, buzzbaits, plastics, and topwaters are all very productive.
Smallmouth Bass: fishing is good, with fish holding on humps, stumps, sand, rock, and bars in depths to 12 feet. Anglers are doing best with leeches, crawlers, Ned rigs, plastics in various forms, and topwaters.
Crappie: fishing is fair to good, with evening hours providing the best action. Holding areas include thick vegetation, drop-offs, cribs, humps, brush, and bogs in depths to 14 feet. Baits of choice include crappie minnows, worms, waxies, leeches, Slab Daddies, Crappie Scrubs, Mini-Mites, Tattle-Tails, and Gulp! baits on jigs and/or under slip bobbers.
Bluegill: fishing is good to very good and they are on the feed after completing spawning. Look in and around weeds, cribs, and bogs, from very shallow out to about 10 feet. Waxies, worms, crawler pieces, and leeches on jigs and under slip bobbers work well, while Gulp! baits and poppers are also producing.
For more information on area events and activities, visit the Hayward Lakes Visitor and Convention Bureau website, view the Calendar of Events, or call 800-724-2992.
Excerpts from the June 15, 2020; Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report by Steve Suman:
The current forecast predicts a very pleasant week ahead, with most lows in the 50s and highs ranging from 73 to 85 degrees. While there are chances for rain, they are at this time less than 30 percent. Take advantage of this great weather – the days are now growing shorter!
“The Quiet Lakes area continues to have an unusual amount of traffic,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “and fishing pressure is at an all-time high. “Musky anglers report follows, but few hook-ups, and mostly smaller fish. Cast mid-size bucktails, swimbaits, and topwaters shallow and retrieve to deeper water. “Walleyes are on shallow mid-lake humps and weeds. The best bite is in late afternoon into dark. Use leeches on slip bobbers, jigs/plastics, and trolled crawler harnesses and shallow running crankbaits. Fishing patterns are changing to early summer techniques and anglers are catching some nice northern pike, largemouth bass, and smallmouth bass on various baits fished on those shallow mid-lake humps and weeds. Sometimes it is not the bait, but a fish’s attitude – and their attitude lately is to eat any and all presentations! “Panfish fishing is strong in 6-12 feet around fresh vegetation and anglers are waiting for them to start their post-spawn feeding.”
Trent at Hayward Bait says is it seems as if it has taken forever for water temperatures to rise! “Muskies are hitting best on rubber baits such as medium Medusas, Spring Bull Dawgs, and Swimmin’ Dawgs, with bucktails triggering a few fish. Walleyes are tight to weed edges in 15-20 feet and leeches, walleye suckers, and spinners work well. “Northern pike are taking swimbaits, Slammers, jerkbaits, and sucker minnows on weeds and drop-offs in 10-15 feet. “Largemouth bass are holding on shallow shorelines, docks, wood, and grass and taking wacky worms, creature baits, and topwaters. “Smallmouth bass are on rocks, gravel bottoms, and just off weed edges in 10 feet. Anglers report success with leeches, crawlers, Ned rigs, and wacky worms. “Crappies are inside vegetation in 8-12 feet. Crappie minnows, Slab Daddies, and chicken jigs all produce catches. “Bluegill schools are in 4-8 feet and worms, jigs, and poppers all provide a good bite. Reports indicate some bluegills still have eggs.”
Jim and Cathy at Minnow Jim’s say fishing is good on Nelson Lake. While walleyes are not exactly jumping in the boat, anglers are catching all sizes of fish on fatheads and leeches, as well as by trolling and casting stickbaits. “Largemouth bass and northern pike fishing are going well, usually on stickbaits and weedless surface frogs. If you do not see enough surface action, try swim jigs and scented worms on weighted hooks to get down in the weed beds. “Crappie and bluegill anglers should use live bait and Gulp! baits. Start relatively shallow and work to deeper water. For crappies, make sure that you try varying the bait depth.”
Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage is at full pool and the water temperature 68-72 degrees. “Musky action picked up and anglers report catching many mid 30s fish on Crane baits. The big fish last week was a 47-incher caught on a Frankensuick. Anglers trolling Jake and Grandma baits caught several low-40s fish, but currently casting is more effective than trolling. Cast from deeper water to shallower weeds and stumps. “Walleye fishing slowed last week, probably due to storms and a cold front. Leeches are the first choice, though trolling could be effective for covering water. If trolling, Flicker Shads, Shad Raps, and Shaky Shads are the go-to baits. “Northern pike are active on the west side, with anglers catching many smaller fish on Tinsel Tail Spinners and Johnson Silver Spoons. “Smallmouth bass action is good on plastics in the wood on the east side. Crappies are around bogs at night, starting about 8 p.m., with crappie minnows and plastics working well. Get there early to get your spot!”
Carolyn at Anglers All in Ashland says many anglers are on Chequamegon Bay, but fishing is spotty and fish finicky. “We have had so much wind and it seems to change direction every day – if not 3-4 times each day – and then the cold fronts! However, anglers report catches of walleye, smallmouth bass, and northern pike. “Trolling for lake trout and brown trout is the most consistent, with good reports from Long Island to Outer Island.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses Lac Courte Oreilles (LCO) Lake fish and fishing. “Due to habitat differences, fish community composition, and various management actions, some lakes deliver higher quality fishing experiences for certain species than do other lakes.
“Here, I will highlight exceptional fishing opportunities in Lac Courte Oreilles (5,139 acres) and explain how they came to be. “Lac Courte Oreilles is the largest of the ‘deep, cool’ lakes in Sawyer County and the fishery has many similarities to Round and Grindstone lakes. The lake’s quality smallmouth bass fishery goes all the way back to the origins of angling on the lake. Smallmouth is one of the only gamefish species native to this lake, along with largemouth and muskellunge. The DNR does not consider walleye and northern pike native to LCO. “Good smallmouth fishing in recent years is likely the result of widespread catch and release ethic among bass anglers. “Lac Courte Oreilles supports excellent panfish populations, especially crappie and bluegill, though anglers might find it challenging to locate them throughout most of the year. There are catchable 8- and 9-inch bluegills, and lucky anglers locating schools of crappie will find many in the 11- to 13-inch range, with some larger. Excellent size of both species is attributable to relatively low abundance. Unlike shallower, weedier lakes, only a small percentage of LCO offers good habitat for young panfish. This apparent early-life bottleneck, along with abundant predators, keep panfish abundance low and growth rates high, leading to good size.
“Speaking of good size, it would be a crime not to mention the musky size potential of LCO. The lake boasts two of the four Hayward area’s world record muskies – and big muskies are not ancient history in this lake. Two of the three largest muskellunge in inland DNR surveys in this century came from LCO, with fish measuring 55.5 and 56 inches. The world-class size of muskellunge LCO produces is due to strong native genetics and the presence of cisco and white suckers that are excellent prey for growing big fish. “The biggest LCO management challenge, in the face of various challenges, is maintaining a fishable abundance of muskellunge, and we are employing new strategies to address those challenges.”
Hayward Bass Club is hosting its annual Round Lake Open tournament Sunday, June 28, from 8 a.m.-4 p.m., with Prop’s Landing serving as tournament headquarters. Participation is open to anglers in two-person teams and individual anglers competing alone as a team. The entry fee is $100/team. There is a 90-percent payback, with HBC retaining 10 percent to fund its annual free youth tournament. The club bases cash prize money on a full 50-boat field. First prize is $2,000. For more information, text Wayne Balsavich at (405) 227-1789 or email [email protected]
This is a transition time when favored bait and presentation preferences change. Make sure to stop at your favorite bait and tackle shop for the day’s most current information.
Musky: action is very good for some and less so for others. Anglers report seeing fish and getting follows, but fish are not connecting. Focus on weeds, wood, stumps, and other cover with bucktails, Bull Dawgs/rubber baits, swimbaits, stickbaits, jerkbaits, and topwaters.
Walleye: fishing is best in late evening into dark. Fish weeds, wood, humps, and bars out to 20 feet or so during the day, but move shallow in the evening hours. Best baits include leeches and crawlers on jigs, slip bobbers, and harnesses; walleye suckers and fatheads; and cast and trolled spinners, stickbaits, and crankbaits.
Northern Pike: fishing is good to very good, though mostly for smaller fish. Look to shallower humps and weeds in about 12 feet, and around panfish concentrations. The pike are not all that particular, so throw what you have, including live bait, spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, swimbaits, jerkbaits, and plastics.
Largemouth Bass: action is fair to good and improving with warming temperatures. Work shallower shorelines, weeds, weedlines, wood, brush, stumps, slop, lily pads, and docks with live bait, plastics, spinners, spinnerbaits, stickbaits, swim jigs, and topwaters.
Smallmouth Bass: action is good, with anglers catching some nice fish. Focus on hard bottoms such as rock and gravel and on weed edges and wood in about 12 feet. Assorted plastics such as wacky worms, tubes, and creature baits, Ned rigs, crawlers, and leeches are all productive.
Crappie: fishing is very good once you locate them around weeds, weed edges, and bogs in 5-15 feet. Start shallow and move deeper until you find them. The evening bite is best. Baits of choice include crappies minnows, plastics, Slab Daddies, plastics, chicken jigs, and Gulp! baits on slip bobbers.
Bluegill: fishing is good around weeds, weed edges, and brush in 3-15 feet. As with crappies, start shallow and move deeper water until you find the fish. Waxies, worms, plastics, Gulp! baits, dressed jigs, teardrops, and poppers are all catching fish.
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
Excerpts from the June 15, 2020; Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report by Steve Suman:
The current forecast shows nice weather through Wednesday, but then predicts highs in the upper 80s and chances of rain and thunderstorms through the weekend. Forecasts seem quite fluid, so go ahead and make your plans, but keep an eye on weather conditions! It is a great time for recreation of all types in the North Woods!
“Fishing on the Quiet Lakes continues to be busy,” says Pat at Happy Hooker. “The best part is that many anglers are finding success! “Fishing patterns continue to change often as the temperatures continue to rise and fall. Water temperatures range from the 60s to low 70s, with warmer water spurring new weed growth and bug hatches. Fishing new vegetation is often very good. Bug larvae in soft substrate sticks to fresh weeds as they rise and small baitfish love to eat them. “Musky action remains slow, with anglers seeing follows, but getting few hookups. Anglers are throwing smaller bucktails, crankbaits, spinnerbaits, swimbaits, and stickbaits. Be patient – you never know when it will happen! “Anglers report good action for walleye, northern pike, and bass when fishing in and around new vegetation. Other good walleye areas are mid-lake humps and underwater rice beds as walleyes transition to mid-lake areas. The best bet is fishing leeches and minnows under slip bobbers. Some anglers report success by working shallow, mid lake humps with worms and minnows on jigs. “Panfish spawning is still visible in the shallows on some lakes. These fish are vulnerable, however, and taking fish off beds before they complete the full spawning cycle does not help future fish populations.”
Trent at Hayward Bait says the bite is good for most species and anglers are doing well. “Muskies are not too aggressive, but anglers report some success. Medussas and Bull Dawgs are working, as are glide and twitch baits. Topwater action will improve with warming water temperatures. Fish are in lily pads as well as in 10-15 feet. “For walleyes, use leeches, fatheads, and worms in 15 feet during the day. In early morning and late afternoon into dark, work shallow crankbaits in 5 feet. “Northern pike are very aggressive. Small pike are shallow most of the day, while bigger pike cruise weedlines in 10 feet. Rapalas, Mepps, and spoons all work well. “Largemouth bass are hugging shorelines and most active in mornings. Wacky worms, Ned rigs, and other finesse options work well. Topwaters work in mid-day heat and during evening hours when bugs are on the surface. “Smallmouth bass anglers report success with wacky worms, creature baits, and swimbaits on weed edges and sand/gravel flats in 10-15 feet. “Crappies finished spawning and most have moved deeper. Anglers are doing well working jigs, minnows, worms, and very small swimbaits over vegetation in 10 feet. “Bluegill anglers are catching fish in 4-5 feet on Bimbo Skunks, worms, leeches, and poppers. Most bluegills have spawned, but a few still guard shallow beds.”
Jim and Cathy at Minnow Jim’s says Nelson Lake walleye anglers should work leeches and minnows on jigs along shorelines early and late in the day, or troll shallow and deep diving crankbaits. “Cast spinners, spoons, Mepps, and buzz bait in the weed beds for largemouth bass and northern pike. “Crappies are in 5 feet and deeper water. Jig and bobber-fish minnows, worms, waxies, and Gulp! Alive. “Panfish anglers continue to see some bluegills on spawning beds. “Brown trout anglers fishing the Namekagon River report success with small spoons and black Rooster Tail spinners.”
Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage is at full pool and the water temperature is in the low to mid 70s. “Muskies are semi-active. Anglers are catching mostly smaller fish, with bucktails and surface baits the way to go. If water temperatures rise to the mid 70s, try trolling deeper water with Mattlocks and other trolling baits. “Walleye fishing is constant. During the day, walleyes sit in 15-20 feet with good bottom cover. During low light hours, they move to weed edges in 6-12 feet. Around 8 p.m., they move to bogs, particularly by the CC Bridge. Leeches are the live bait of choice during low light. During the day, trolling is effective in deeper water. “Northern pike are very active in weeds, particularly on the west side. They are hitting various baits, from live bait to spinnerbaits to bucktails. “Smallmouth bass are active in the wood and rock on the east side. Ned rigs are the go-to baits and Cranberry Lake and Cedar Swamp are solid spots to fish for smallmouth. “Crappie fishing during the day is tough, but they seem to congregate around bogs about 8 p.m. at night. Get to the bogs 15-30 minutes early to get your spot – the bogs are very popular! Crappie minnows, Mini-Mites, Crappie Scrubs, and one-inch Gulp! Minnows are solid choices.”
The DNR will host a public “virtual meeting” conference call on the Lake Superior management plan Tuesday, June 23, starting at 6 p.m. The meeting will discuss the results of creel surveys and bycatch monitoring during commercial fishing. Access the meeting via Skype or by calling (866) 715-6499 and entering pass code: 8395854504#. For more information, visit www.dnr.wi.gov/Calendar/Meetings or call Bradley Ray at (715) 779-4036.
The DNR has released preliminary harvest registrations for the 2020 spring turkey season. The figures indicate hunters registered 44,963 birds during the season, a nearly 17 percent increase from the 2019 season, with significant increases across all zones and periods. The 2020 spring harvest was the highest harvest since 2016 and the second highest since 2010. Overall, the statewide success rate was 20 percent. Youth season hunters registered 2,880 birds – a 47-percent increase from 2019! For more information, search “turkey” on the DNR website.
There is still time to enter Hayward Bass Club’s annual Round Lake Open tournament Sunday, June 28, from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. Prop’s Landing on Big Round Lake will serve as tournament headquarters. Participation is open to anglers in two-person teams, but an individual may compete alone as a team. The entry fee is $100/team. The club guarantees a 90-percent payback, retaining 10 percent to help fund the August 16 free Youth Tournament on the Chippewa Flowage. The club bases cash prize money on a full field of 50 boats. First prize is $2,000. For more information, text Wayne Balsavich at (405) 227-1789 or email [email protected]
Might be a good idea to fish early in the week, if possible, as the forecast for Wednesday night through the weekend calls for good chances for showers and thunderstorms. There are still opportunities to catch fish in the shallows, but some species are dispersing and starting to move to deeper water. Go fishing now!
Musky: fishing is somewhat slow. Anglers are seeing fish and getting some follows, but most fish are not taking the baits. Look for fish in shallow to mid-depths, often near any remaining spawning panfish. Small to mid-size baits seem to work best at this time. Baits of choice include bucktails, spinnerbaits, swimbaits, stickbaits, gliders, Bull Dawgs, Medussas, and topwaters, with trolling effective during warmer water conditions.
Walleye: action has slowed somewhat, but anglers are still consistently catching fish. Target mid-lake humps, bogs, shorelines, and weeds and weed edges in depths to about 22 feet. The best bite is during low light conditions such as early morning and evening. Work shallower areas during these times, moving to deeper cover during the day. The most effective baits include leeches, crawlers, and fatheads on jigs or under slip bobbers, and cast and trolled crankbaits.
Northern Pike: fishing is very good to excellent! Look for them around weeds, weedlines, and other vegetation, and near concentrations of panfish and baitfish. Smaller pike can offer nearly non-stop action in shallower water, while trophy pike are in deeper weeds. Spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, swimbaits, stickbaits, buzz baits, bucktails, #5 Mepps, and live bait are all catching pike.
Largemouth Bass: fishing is good to very good and improving with warming water temperatures. Concentrate your efforts around shallower new weed growth, humps, brush, bogs, and shorelines. Top baits include Ned rigs, spinners, spinnerbaits, buzz baits, live bait on jigs or under slip bobbers, and topwaters.
Smallmouth Bass: action is good to very good. Look for fish around new weeds and weed edges, wood, humps, and rock, gravel, and sand flats in depths to about 18 feet. Fish are taking Ned rigs, jigs with worms, minnows, and leeches, and plastics such as wacky worms, swimbaits, and creature baits.
Crappie: fishing is fair to good, with fish completing spawn and moving toward somewhat deeper water. The best bite is during the evening hours, particularly around bogs, and around weeds and weedlines. Best bait offerings include crappie minnows, worms, waxies, and Gulp! Minnows on jigs, Mini-Mites, Tattle-Tails, and Crappie Scrubs.
Bluegill: fishing is good to very good and anglers continue to find a few fish spawning in the shallows on some lakes. Look for them on beds in depths from very shallow out to about 6 feet. Productive baits include waxies, worms, leeches, minnows, dressed jigs, poppers, and Gulp! baits.
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
Excerpts from the June 8, 2020; Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report by Steve Suman:
This week should see a return to cooler (i.e., more seasonal) temperatures, but better keep rain gear handy through Thursday! While the forecast is less than encouraging, remember that forecasts are often wrong. Take advantage of the good days to get outdoor and fish, hike, bike, golf, or whatever – enjoy the fresh, clean North Woods’ air!
“Anglers fishing the Quiet Lakes are looking for areas with new vegetation,” says Pat at Happy Hooker. “They are finding a good bite as shallow as 2-5 feet – and not just for walleyes, but also northern pike, crappies, and perch. Crawlers and minnows work, as do #5 Mepps and drifting fatheads over deep holes in shallow basins. “Muskies are near the shallows, preying on spawning fish, and anglers are seeing fish follow to the boat, but no takers. This is still the time to cast smaller bucktails, crankbaits, and swimbaits. “The walleye bite slowed somewhat. The fish are in transition to deeper water, though anglers still find a few smaller fish near spawning grounds. Best tactic is slip bobber fishing on drop-offs in 10-20 feet, with the best bite in late afternoon into evening. “Northern pike and largemouth and smallmouth action is good on spinnerbaits and stickbaits cast along the shorelines. Look for transitions to new bait types with the rising water temperatures. “Most lakes have a consistent panfish bite.”
Trent at Hayward Bait says water temperatures are rising and anglers are doing well. “Musky action improved, with bucktails, twitch baits, and glide baits remaining the favorites. The topwater bite should increase any day now. “Walleyes are in about 15 feet, but feed in 5 feet and shallower at first light and sunset. Try shallow diving crankbaits during low light conditions. Fatheads, worms, and leeches are effective during the day. “Northern pike feed shallow in morning and evening – and are stealing lures from panfish anglers! Northern suckers, Mepps, Rapalas, and spinnerbaits work well. “Largemouth bass are around shallow cover and docks. Wacky worms work and topwaters are worth a try. “Smallmouth bass have moved out to about 10 feet. Work weedlines with Ned rigs, leeches, and crankbaits. “Crappies also pushed to about 10 feet, though a few remain shallow with bluegills. Crappie minnows, tube jigs, and Bimbo Skunks all work well. “Bluegills are on shallow beds and cover. Small jigs, waxies, and worms work well, with poppers also seeing action.”
Jim and Cathy at Minnow Jim’s says Nelson Lake walleye anglers are catching fish with minnows and leeches on jigs, as well as by casting and trolling stickbaits along shorelines early and late in the day. “Northern pike anglers having difficulty finding large northern suckers and minnows should try Mepps spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, and buzzbaits. “Largemouth bass action is picking up and anglers should plop plastic worms, frogs, scented critters, spinnerbaits, and swimbaits in and along weed beds. “Look for crappies in 5-8 feet and there is still time to catch some spawning bluegills. Fish shorelines in 1-4 feet with small Beetle Spins, Gulp! Alive Waxies, Leeches, and one-inch Minnows, dressed jigs, and Mini-Mites. For live bait, try bobber and slip bobber fishing waxies, worms, crawler chunks, and panfish leeches.”
Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage is 1-2 feet below full, with mid- to high-60s water temperatures. “Musky anglers are switching to slightly bigger baits with the warming water. Start around bluegills, which are still shallow. Crappies are on bogs at night, so around 8 p.m. cast a few baits on the edges. “Walleye action improved this week and two tactics work well. Fish 8-10 feet with solid weed cover and/or stumps, or fish the bogs at night with slip bobbers and leeches. Some anglers are catching legal fish; others have trouble breaking 15 inches. Leeches are preferred, but minnows remain viable. “Northern pike fishing success is mostly on Burde Bait Spins and Tinsel Tail spinnerbaits worked in the weeds. “Crappies seem to be more elusive during the day, but trying fishing weed humps in 10-15 feet. Around 8 p.m., fish the bogs for success. A few anglers are still catching nice crappies in some shallow bays on the west side and minnows and various plastics are the ticket.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses fish spawning strategies. “Now that spring is behind us, fish spawning is wrapping up in this area. How and when fish spawn has always been an interesting topic to me, and a better understanding of it might help anglers better understand fish behavior. “In our part of the world, most fish spawn in spring, with the exception of some coldwater trout and salmon species. The prevalence of spring spawning is not coincidental. By spawning soon after ice-out, fish give their offspring the best possible start on growth before winter. It is a well-established fact that larger fish with larger fat reserves have better odds of surviving our long, harsh winters. Having as much time as possible to pack on the weight in warmer months is critical.
“Another interesting part of spawning is how much parents invest in the care of their offspring. Many species give zero care to their offspring – they drop the eggs and scram. This includes species such as musky, walleye, northern pike, and suckers. For these species, it is a numbers game, so the females tend to get larger than the males and produce as many eggs as possible, hoping just a few will survive. “The alternate strategy is to provide care for the eggs and hatching fry. Bass and most panfish species fall into this category. The male digs a nest, attracts females to lay eggs, and then guards those eggs and even sticks around to protect the fry until they disperse. With this strategy, females typically produce fewer eggs, expecting that protection by males will increase egg survival. This can be very taxing on the males and makes them very vulnerable to angling. “Whether it is a fish guarding a nest or producing tens of thousands of eggs annually, the risk is worth the reward of passing on their genes to another generation.”
Hayward Bass Club will host its annual Round Lake Open Tournament Sunday, June 28, from 8 a.m.-4 p.m., with Prop’s Landing on Big Round Lake serving as tournament headquarters. Participation is open to 50 two-angler teams, however, an individual may compete alone as a team. The entry fee is $100/team. There is a 90 percent payback guarantee to five places, with HBC retaining 10 percent to help fund the August 16 free Youth Tournament on the Chippewa Flowage. The club bases projected cash prize money on a full field of 50 boats. First prize is $2,000. For more information, text Wayne Balsavich at (405) 227-1789 or email [email protected]
Fishing remains generally good for most species and anglers are still finding panfish and bass in the shallows. There is a transition in the works, however. As such, on your way to the lake, stop at your favorite bait and tackle shop and ask the experts for the most current information regarding locations, times, baits, and presentations. These people WANT you to catch fish and will do their best to assist you in that regard.
Musky: action is slowly improving, with plenty of sightings and follows, but minimal hook-ups. Look for fish shallow, near spawning panfish, and along weedlines and bogs in the evening hours. Most anglers continue to cast smaller baits, including bucktails, crankbaits, swimbaits, twitch baits, gliders, and topwaters.
Walleye: fishing remains good, with early morning and late afternoon into dark offering the best chances for success. Depths vary from very shallow out to 22 feet or so, with fish shallower during low light condition. Weeds, flats, holes, humps, stumps, drop-offs, and bogs can all hold fish. Top live baits include leeches, crawlers, and fatheads on jigs, slip bobbers, and harnesses. Stickbaits and crankbaits are the favored artificials.
Northern Pike: are on the feed and offering consistent action in and around shallow weeds, weedlines, and spawning panfish. This is a good time to “test” the baits in your box – throw spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, stickbaits, swimbaits, buzzbaits, and of course northern suckers and large minnows.
Largemouth Bass: action is good to very good on most lakes. Fish are around shallow weeds, weedlines, brush, docks, stumps, and slop. The most effective temptations include plastic worms in various configurations, frogs, and critter baits, spinners, spinnerbaits, swimbaits, Rapalas, and topwaters.
Smallmouth Bass: fishing is good to very good around weeds, weedlines, and hard bottoms out to about 12 feet. Minnows, leeches, crawlers, Ned rigs, spinners, spinnerbaits, crankbaits, and Rapalas will all get attention.
Crappie: fishing is good, though the fish finished spawning and are moving toward deeper water. However, depending on the time of day, look for fish in anywhere from 2-18 feet. Fish deep brush, weeds, and humps during the day, but in evening hours try shallower water and around bogs. Crappie minnows, Mini-Mites, Tattle-Tails, dressed jigs, plastics, and Gulp! baits are all effective.
Bluegill: are still spawning on some lakes, offering good action. Look for fish very shallow in bays and along shorelines. Bait options are plentiful and include waxies, worms, crawler chunks, leeches, plastics, dressed jigs, Mini-Mites, Tattle Tails, and Gulp! baits, all fished alone or under 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
Excerpts from the May 25, 2020; Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report by Steve Suman:
On the heels of Sunday night’s 35-degree low (not a typo!), this week’s forecast predicts a mix of rain, thunderstorms, and sun, with highs in the 80s and lows not below 50 degrees. Take advantage of the Free Fun and Free Fishing weekend June 6-7, but keep an eye on the weather.
“The Quiet Lakes had a great start to fishing season,” says Pat at Happy Hooker. “Stop at any boat launch and you will find it busy with angler traffic. “Wind is a key to success in some instances – they do not call it a ‘walleye chop’ for nothing. Wind-blown shorelines and wind-swept points are producing a good mix of fish. “For walleyes, the best tactic is live bait on jigs, using small jigs for shallower water and heavier jigs deeper. Look for fresh vegetation to hold some good fish. Favorite baits include a mix of Husky Jerks, crankbaits, stickbaits, swimbaits, and live bait. “In addition to walleye, many other fish are biting, such as muskies, northern pike, bass, crappie, and perch. “Crappie anglers are catching fish in 2-8 feet – trust your electronics. “Panfish are in a feeding frenzy on some waters. Small hair jigs and soft plastics under floats work well. Do not spook the fish as you move up on them.”
Trent at Hayward Bait says water temperatures are in the 70s shallow, but in the 50s and 60s on bigger, deeper lakes. “Musky anglers are relatively quiet. Small bucktails, glide baits, and Lake X topwaters are producing good action. A few fish are shallow on colder lakes, but fishing deeper on warmer lakes will save some frustration. “Walleyes are in 15 feet during the day, moving shallow to feed in early morning and late evening. In the evening, work swimbaits and shallow diving crankbaits in 5 feet and shallower. “Northern pike are deeper during the day and feeding shallow in morning and evening. Spinners and larger Rapalas are angler favorites. “Largemouth bass are along shallow shorelines, with some on beds. Females are hard to find. Strike King bass jigs, wacky worms, and Texas rigs are all good options. “Smallmouth are around weedlines in 10-15 feet. Ned rigs, creature baits, and leeches are the favorites. “Inconsistent air and water temperatures and inconsistent spawn makes crappie fishing frustrating. Crappie minnows and chicken jigs tipped with waxies work well, but it is a light bite. “Bluegills are on shallow beds in 1-3 feet. Waxies, worms, flies, jigs, and poppers all work well.”
Jim and Cathy at Minnow Jim’s says Nelson Lake walleye anglers are catching fish on suckers and fatheads, Rapalas, and Beetle Spins – and try trolling stickbaits along shorelines early and late in the day. “Largemouth bass are active around weed beds. Use crawlers, scented worms, swim jigs, and weedless surface baits. “Happy days – the panfish spawn is on! Fish in one to five feet along shorelines with small dressed jigs and hooks tipped with tails or live bait such as waxies, worms, leeches, and minnows. “Anglers also report catches of nice size perch and bullheads.”
Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage is at full pool, with water temperature in the mid 60s. “Musky action is generally quiet, mostly because few anglers are targeting them. Most predatory fish such as muskies are lingering in the shallows since bluegills are spawning. Smaller baits are typically more effective at this time of year and shallow runners and surface baits are solid choices. “Walleyes are in summer patterns and fish size decreased over the past week. Anglers caught greater numbers of larger, legal fish in May than in previous years, but catches have returned to numerous 14.5-inch fish. Minnows remain a solid choice, but many anglers are using regular and jumbo leeches. During the day, target deeper areas with solid cover. During evening and low light hours, fish 6-12 feet off weed edges and breaklines. “Northern pike anglers are catching many mid 20s fish. Live bait is strong, along with spinnerbaits, spoons, and larger Beetle Spins. Fish weeds in bays, particularly on the far west side. “Crappies are post-spawn. Some small males are in shallow bays, but most are transitioning into summer patterns.”
Carolyn at Anglers All in Ashland there is considerable activity on Chequamegon Bay. “Walleyes started their post-spawn feeding with rising water temperatures. Most action is at the head of the Bay from Fish Creek Slough, Brush Point, and the hot pond. Some anglers report success trolling on the first breaks and humps on the west side of the Bay. “Smallmouth bass are in all phases of spawn – pre spawn, spawn, and post spawn. The water is very clear in the Sand Cut, Oak Point, and Brush Point areas, though rain and wind could change that. It is still very fishable if you know the structure. Anglers are also making incidental catches of northern pike, walleye, rock bass, and perch in those areas. “Trout and salmon trolling is very productive for most anglers, with good reports from Washburn all the way out to the Islands.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses surveying fish with video. “The design of most fishery survey methods is to capture fish so workers can handle them. Handling fish allows for accurate length and weight measurements, while providing an opportunity to tag fish and take biological samples such as scales or fin rays to estimate age. “Some surveys, however, focus on just estimating fish abundance in a waterbody and handling each individual fish might not be as important. As video technology has advanced, using cameras for estimating fish abundance has become more common. “A recent study in Virginia found video camera use successful in estimating the abundance of adult brook trout in small stream pools. Researchers found that counting the number of fish ‘captured’ by video was as effective as multiple passes with an electrofishing unit. “Video is also used in places such as the Brule River in northern Wisconsin, where biologists count upstream migrating salmon and trout on video recordings. “One of the most sensational examples of using video to count fish comes from Illinois.
“Invasive silver carp, one of the notorious Asian carp species, often leap when they sense vibrations and when near an electrofishing boat. Illinois researchers mounted cameras on the front of electrofishing boats and use video to count how many fish launch themselves out of the water in different areas to estimate their abundance. “As technology continues to advance and become more affordable, look for video to play a bigger role in future fisheries management.”
Free Fun Weekend and Free Fishing Weekend are this weekend, June 6-7. During Free Fishing Weekend, the DNR waives the requirement for licenses and stamps to fish inland waters and outlying Wisconsin waters of the Great Lakes and Mississippi and St. Croix rivers. All other regulations apply.
During Free Fun Weekend, the DNR offers free admission to all state parks, forests, and trails, waives state trail pass requirements for biking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and inline skating; and ATV/UTV owners can ride free. Non-resident ATV/UTV operators do not need a non-resident trail pass to ride state ATV trails. All other rules apply. Safety education certification is required for all ATV and UTV operators who were born on or after Jan. 1, 1988.
Panfish fishing is getting serious with fish in spawning mode, but other species are cooperating as well. Remember that smallmouth bass fishing in the Northern Bass Zone is catch and release only until June 20.
Musky: fishing reports are scarce, which means few anglers are pursuing them – or are enjoying great success. Target shallow to mid-depth areas near spawning panfish and near deeper water escape areas. The current bait preferences include bucktails, spinners, spinnerbaits, swimbaits, gliders, and topwaters.
Walleye: fishing continue to be good on most walleye waters. During the day, look for fish around weeds, other cover, and breaklines in depths out to 20 feet. In early morning and evening into dark, concentrate on shallow feeding areas on points, bars, humps, and shorelines. The most productive baits include walleye suckers, fatheads, leeches, and crawlers for live bait. For artificials, try swimbaits, stickbaits, crankbaits, Beetle Spins, Rapalas, and Husky Jerks, as well as trolling.
Northern Pike: action is good to very good during the day. Look for them in and around weeds and weedlines, as well as near spawning panfish. Catch numbers of smaller fish in shallower water, but go deeper with bigger baits for big fish. Pike are not selective eaters and live bait, Mepps spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, Rapalas, and Beetle Spins all work well.
Largemouth Bass: fishing is fair to very good, depending on the lake and weather. Some bass are spawning, but nearly all are around shallow weeds and brush in bays and along shorelines. Best baits include crawlers, swim jigs, plastics such as wacky- and Texas-rigged worms, scented worms, and topwaters.
Smallmouth Bass: fishing is fair to good on hard bottom areas and around weedlines in depths to about 20 feet. Top producing baits include minnows, creature baits, Ned rigs, and plastics. Remember that smallmouth fishing in the Northern Bass Zone is catch and release only until June 20.
Crappie: action is fair to very good, with fish in various stages of spawn, depending on the lake, time, and weather patterns. Look for fish in depths from very shallow out to 10 feet in bays and along shorelines. Expect a light bite, with preferred baits crappie minnows, waxies, worms, and plastics on dressed jigs and plain hooks fished under bobbers.
Bluegill: fishing good to excellent, with fish spawning in many lakes. Use restraint in harvest! Look for fish on beds in very shallow water in bays and along shorelines out to about six feet or so. Current baits of choice include waxies, worms, leeches, minnows, and plastics on jigs or plain hooks, with flies and poppers also catching fish.
Excerpts from the May 25, 2020; Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report by Steve Suman:
Forecasts for rain over the Memorial Day weekend did not come to fruition, with the exception of thunderstorms Monday morning. As such, it is probably best to take the forecast for the remainder of this week as a toss-up. Though it currently shows wet and warm as a distinct “possibility” – think positive and expect warm and sunny!
“The Quiet Lakes continue to provide some good action,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “and musky season opened this past Saturday. “Start musky season with smaller, softer plastics and swimbaits with slower retrieves. Muskies and northern pike are looking for spawning fish in 6-10 feet. “The best walleye bite is on fatheads on 1/8-oz. jigs. Anglers are catching keepers off drop-offs in 10-14 feet. There are many undersized walleyes in holes in 18-25 feet. “Drift jigging live bait on breaks in 6-14 feet is good for a mix of walleyes, northern pike, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and even an occasional musky. On some lakes, crawlers, minnows, and leeches are producing action, as are leeches under slip bobbers fished off sharp transitions. Check the regulations – some lakes have different rules. “Panfish fishing improved with the warming water temperatures. Crappies are staging for spawn and anglers are finding them in 4-6 feet. Look for crappies to move into shallow, fresh vegetation this week. Try crappie minnow on small hooks or jigs fished under bobbers. Remember to always set the bobbers to keep your bait above the fish.”
Trent at Hayward Bait says warming water temperatures are pushing largemouth bass and bluegills in to spawn. “Musky anglers will see decent action as water temperatures increase. No need to throw big lures this early in the season – larger jigs, sucker minnows, and bucktails will work. “Walleye are in 10-15 feet near weed edges, but with warmer water temperatures, they will move shallow to feed in early mornings and late evenings. “Northern pike are very active. Bigger pike will retreat to deeper water as temperatures warm, while smaller pike remain shallow. Anything from crappie jigs to larger Rapalas work well. “Largemouth bass are active, but not aggressive. Try finesse lures, Texas-rigged soft plastics, and jigs. Males will be shallow, waiting for females, until the water temperature gets closer to 65 degrees. “Smallmouth bass are near weed edges in 10-15 feet. Jigs/fatheads, swimbaits, and crankbaits work well. Leeches are good once water warms to more than 65 degrees. “Crappies will soon move shallow to spawn. Jigging minnows and worms is the favored presentation. “Bluegills are moving shallow and small jig, worms, and poppers, all work well.”
Jim and Cathy at Minnow Jim’s say Nelson Lake walleye anglers report success on fatheads and jigs under slip bobbers. “In addition, cast or troll Rapalas and Flicker Shads in the dam area, rocky shores, and river channel. “For northern pike, cast darting action surface plugs or soak large minnows under bobbers. “Largemouth bass fishing is good for anglers casting weedless frogs, scented plastics, and swimbaits near developing weedlines and weed beds. “Panfish are nearly ready to spawn. Jig and bobber-fish shallow bays and shorelines with waxies, crawler chunks, small leeches, and minnows, or cast small Mimic Minnows and Beetle Spins. If you only find smaller fish near shorelines, move a little deeper for larger, staging fish.”
Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage is at full pool, with water temperature in the mid 60s. “Musky anglers should target spots where crappies are spawning, as crappies are a major food staple for Flowage muskies. Use smaller baits, as these baits are more appealing in early season. “Walleyes are slowly moving into their summer patterns. Minnows remain a strong bait choice, but leeches are becoming more popular. When walleyes go deeper during the day, target deeper areas with solid bottom cover, and try trolling with various shad-style crankbaits. As the day progresses to twilight, walleye move to breaklines, weed edges, stumps, and rocks. “Northern pike are hunting panfish in the shallows and bays on the west side. Great places to start are Minnesota and Daggett’s bays. Live bait and spinnerbaits are solid bait choices. “Crappies are spawning in the shallows and Minnesota and Sibley bays are very productive. Crappie minnows, Crappie Scrubs, and Gulp! Minnows are all producing good numbers of fish.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses stocking – and removing – suckers. “White suckers receive little attention from anglers unless they are looking to use them for bait. The species is widespread in the Midwest, occurring in most lakes, rivers, and small streams. “One thing known about white suckers, especially in musky country of northern Wisconsin, is they are a great food fish for predators. There are, however, waterbodies where suckers are so abundant there is concern they compete for food with other fish species, such as panfish, though I know of no such cases anywhere in the Hayward area.
“The imbalance of suckers – too many in some places and not enough in others – has led to some interesting fisheries management practices, including removing suckers from high density lakes and stocking them into other lakes as food for predators. This approach was apparently common in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, though evaluated only recently. “Researchers took suckers from high-density lakes and stocked them into lakes with slow growing northern pike. They then evaluated if panfish growth improved in the lakes where they removed suckers and if pike growth improved in lakes where they stocked the suckers. They found little evidence of growth improvements in either the pike or the panfish. “This study throws some cold water on the idea that you can simply stock more food for predators and change the growth dynamics of a system. An approach that may be more likely to yield results is to place an emphasis on overall ecosystem health and balanced predator prey relations.”
Free Fun Weekend and Free Fishing Weekend are on the schedule for June 6-7. During Free Fishing Weekend, the DNR waives the requirement for licenses and stamps to fish inland waters and outlying Wisconsin waters of the Great Lakes and Mississippi and St. Croix rivers. All other regulations apply.
During Free Fun Weekend, the DNR offers free admission to all state parks, forests, and trails, waives state trail pass requirements for biking, mountain biking, horseback riding, and inline skating; and ATV/UTV owners can ride free. Non-resident ATV/UTV operators do not need a non-resident trail pass to ride state ATV trails. All other rules apply – safety education certification is required for all ATV and UTV operators who were born on or after Jan. 1, 1988.
Fishing conditions are good and the weather decent, though rain is in the forecast. Start planning for the Free Fishing and Free Fun weekends coming up June 6-7 when the DNR waives the requirement for fishing licenses, state park admission fees, trail passes, and more. See above for more information.
Musky: season in the Northern Zone opened this past weekend, but apparently with little fanfare. Reports are few, but indicate action was fair. Fish are in depths out to about 12 feet, not far from where you will find spawning panfish. Good bait options include small to medium suckers, soft plastics, swimbaits, and bucktails.
Walleye: action is good to very good, though should slow as fish disperse to deeper water summer spots. For now, target depths from 4-18 feet. Focus on shallower water in early morning and evening hours. Weedlines, rock, breaklines, brush, stumps, river channels, and transition areas are prime holding areas. Deeper cover is best during daytime hours. Live baits of choice include fatheads, walleye suckers, crawlers, and leeches fished on jigs, harnesses, and under slip bobbers. Effective artificials include casting or trolling crankbaits, Rapalas, Flicker Shads, and other minnow baits.
Northern Pike: are on the feed in shallow bays, weeds, and weedlines – and close to wherever you find spawning panfish. Depths vary from shallow to mid-depths, though look for trophy pike in deeper, cooler water. Pike are hitting nearly any offering, but top producers include suckers and smaller minnows under bobbers, spinners, spinnerbaits, spoons, Rapalas, #5 Mepps, and topwaters.
Largemouth Bass: fishing is somewhat slow, but quickly getting better with the warming water temperatures – which are encouraging bass to move shallower for spring spawning. Find them on weedlines, weed beds, and breaklines in 3-16 feet. Productive baits include live bait, rigged plastics, finesse baits, creature baits, swimbaits, and topwaters such as frogs.
Smallmouth Bass: action is good in 5-18 feet on weed edges, breaklines, and hard bottom areas. Jigs with minnows or leeches, swimbaits, crankbaits, and soft plastics will all entice the smallmouth.
Crappie: fishing is good to very good as the fish are on shallow spawning beds or moving in that direction, depending on the lake. Start in mid-depths and cast shallow, working toward shore as necessary. Be sure to check regulations (for any species!) on the water you are fishing. Best offerings include jigs/crappie minnows, worms, panfish leeches, plastics, Mimic Minnows, Beetle Spins, Crappie Scrubs, and Gulp! Minnows. Use restraint in your harvest.
Bluegill: fishing is fair to good, but constantly improving as the fish move shallower in preparation for spawning. Look for fish on beds in shallow bays and shorelines, with bigger ‘gills just off/outside those shallow areas. Again, show some restraint on harvest. Top baits include waxies, worms, crawler chunks, small leeches, and plastics under bobbers.