Chequamegon Bay & Hayward, Wisconsin Fishing Report 11-1-16
Our final report of the 2016 guiding season is a long one but a good one full of friends, family, and fish. I’m not ready to be done just yet! Joel Zimmerman (Webster, WI) and his father Steve (Duluth, MN) arrived on Monday, 10/24 with the goal of putting their first muskies in the net, and we hit a river in the Hayward area on a perfect October day. Cold temps overnight had dropped water temps to the mid 40’s, and I was expecting an aggressive bite. That wasn’t the case however, and the Zimmermans had to work for everything they got. Steve connected first around mid morning on a low 30’s fish that smashed his bucktail at the end of his cast. It was a good battle to the boat, and we were on the board. Joel connected a short time later on a 30″ fish, and the prospects for a big day were looking good. We moved a few fish in the afternoon, but they were far from serious attempts with some half hearted follows and nips. Turns out that Joel and Steve connected on the only good opportunities they’d have, and I was proud of them both for making it happen. Both fish were caught on bucktails, and we also pulled a sucker all day that only got nailed once in the morning by a fish that wasn’t serious about eating. Congratulations on your first skis boys. You worked hard all day, and those fish were well earned. Looking forward to doing it again fellas!
My partner Terry Peterson and I hooked up with WI DNR Fisheries Biologist Max Wolter on Tuesday for a trip to Chequamegon Bay. Max is tasked with watching over many of our lakes in northern, WI, but he’d never experienced the smallie bite on Lake Superior. With “The Professor” and “The Biologist” in the boat, it was probably an unfair situation for those fish. They didn’t come easy however, and we had flat conditions in the morning. Fish were scattered along a mud flat in 18′ – 20′ of water, and we picked a few off using minnows along with a bonus walleye landed by Max. We even put a double in the boat before the bite slowed. After checking out some other structure big SE winds kicked up, and we bailed back toward our am bite. It took awhile to dial it in, but we were eventually able to figure out a drift pattern that worked. Once we did, every drift resulted in action including some big smallies over 20″ and another bonus walleye. It was kind of evil that the bite got better as our day wound down, but I don’t think anyone was complaining. We shared lots of stories, had lots of laughs, and caught plenty of good fish. Water temps held around 49 degrees, and we made lemonade out of lemons with crazy weather and a bunch of big smallies in the net. Thanks for all of your hard work and efforts Max, and I’m glad you got a taste of what the bay has to offer. I just wish The Professor would let you and I catch a few!!!
We always wrap up the end of our open water guiding season with friends and family. Well… My Dad Jim Evans and neighbor Mike Masterson from Iron River, WI drew the short straw when it came to weather. We had rain, east winds, and temps in the 30’s on Wednesday, but it wasn’t enough to deter my crew as we ventured out in search of crappies in the Hayward area. Weather conditions were miserable, and I had a feeling our trip would be short. We found fish in 24′ – 25′ of water at our first stop on jigs and plastics, but they weren’t overly cooperative. We’d catch one or two and have to move. Spot # 2 was a different story. Again we found fish around 25′ of water, but this school had a bit of a different attitude. We caught some nice slabs up to 13″ in short order and waived a soggy, cold white flag by early afternoon. Plenty of fish had been caught, and there was no reason to abuse this crew any further. Water temps held at 50 degrees, and our lakes may finally be turning over. We returned to the ramp cold, wet, and with a meal of fillets. Our day was short but productive, and I’m pretty sure nobody complained at quitting time. That was a soggy situation… Thanks for all you do for us neighbor, and it was great sharing the boat with you and dad. Good stuff with two good dudes. You need to start working on that weather man though… Man was that cold!
Two of my favorites were back in the boat on Thursday. Jordan and Kelsey Gensmer sacrifice their fishing time in the summer to run Angler’s Haven resort, and our annual fall trip is much anticipated for these two musky nuts. We fished the Hayward area and lake #1 was tough sledding. We targeted walleyes and found them, but the bite was super slow. They were there, but they weren’t… Kelsey did slam (and I mean slam) a high 30’s pike that grabbed a sucker as we worked 25′ – 30′ of water. A change of scenery was in order for the pm, and it proved to be a good move with live bait producing again. Kelsey got us started when she landed a fat mid 30’s musky, and Jordan ended the day with a good fish in the high 30’s. I’ll let you decide which one is bigger… I’m staying out of that one! We threw bucktails and jerk baits throughout the afternoon in 10′ – 15′ of water along weedlines, but meat was the answer. That’s been the theme this fall. The skis have been tough to move on artificials, but live bait will give you a few opportunities if you stick with it. Water temps held around 48 degrees, and hopefully our lakes are settling in to a good fall pattern. Those of you planning on fishing into November may find one heck of a bite. Thanks to Jordan and Kelsey for another great day and another great year. Congratulations on some good fish. As usual, job well done by a fantastic fishing couple. You should’ve seen Kelsey cross that pike’s eyes! I know you’ll be sending me some pictures of big bucks in the back of your truck soon Gensmers…
Long time friends Mark Hayman and Steve Naglosky were back for their annual fall musky trip in the Hayward area on Friday. Big winds were in the forecast, so we decided to duck for cover in a small river. Water temps were in the mid 40’s, and Mark started us off by landing a nice low 30’s fish that grabbed the sucker we were dragging. Fishing live bait for muskies in small river systems is always interesting with lots of obstacles to overcome. This fish cooperated however, and provided some excitement in tight quarters. Our morning ended with a really good fish blowing up on Steve’s bucktail three times, but it just wouldn’t stay pegged. We came back on that same fish after lunch, and it rolled twice on a jerk bait Mark was throwing. Again we couldn’t connect… That fish is too smart for his own good! A short stretch later, Mark had another one roll twice. So close!!! The boys chopped up a bunch of water through the afternoon, and Steve finally connected on a fat 30″ fish that slammed his bucktail. He deserved that one! The guide even got to land one as the guys were taking a break. I had a small musky smash a bucktail, and the boys were outstanding on the net. Thanks for throwing me a bone fellas! By the end of the day we had raised eight different fish and landed three. Not a bad day I’d say… Job well done men, and thanks for another memorable trip. I Always look forward to it!!!
My brother in law Joe Weiss from Maple Grove, MN is “That Guy” when it comes to musky fishing. Several years ago he boated a 50″ monster with me on his first attempt chasing skis. He swore he’d never musky fish again… He returned for his annual fishing trip on Saturday and brought along his brother Chris from Eagan, MN. Despite being Viking fans, these are good guys and fun to have in the boat. We spent the first half of our day in the Hayward area catching big crappies up to 14″ on plastics in 20′ – 25′ of water. The bite was good, and it didn’t take us long to get all we wanted. In the afternoon Joe thought we should try to get Chris his first musky. That was one heck of a sacrifice for a guy with nothing left to accomplish in musky fishing, or was there one more thing?… We threw jerkbaits, crankbaits, and pulled suckers along weed edges in 10′ – 15′ of water. Water temps held around 48 degrees. Again, it was live bait that got things going. Simply put, it all happened at once. Chris slammed the hooks into a nice 40″ fish and battled it into the net for his first ski. Immediately after the fish was landed our second rod that was hanging in the water got nailed, and Joe put a fat mid 30’s musky in the net alongside Chris’s fish. A musky double! It’s only the third time I’ve witnessed that in my career, and leave it to Joe to be a part of it. Unbelievable… What a great day and great experience for to good guys. I think they were even rooting for the Badgers a little bit during their big win that night. Just a little… Congrats fellas! Where do we go from here Joe?
With only two days left in our open water guiding season, I couldn’t think of a better guy to help me wrap things up. My buddy Nate Berg from Jason Mitchell Outdoors and Nate Berg Fishing Guides arrived on Sunday, and long time friend Shawn Lund from Ashland, WI hopped in the boat with us. It’s usually not good news for the fish when Nate is in the boat, and this trip was no different. We were back after crappies in the Hayward area, and the outstanding bite we’ve been experiencing continued. It was a cold, damp day, but the slabs up to 13″ continued to chomp on plastics in 20′ – 25′ of water. I’m also seeing them in deeper water on my electronics, but would rather fish them as shallow as possible at this time of year to reduce mortality on released fish. With more than enough catching in the morning, it was time to chase muskies in the p.m. On our last trip the three of us fished together several years ago, Berg got to land the first (and only) musky we caught. Lundo was on deck and ready to roll. The game plan didn’t change with jerkbaits, cranks, and suckers along weed edges, and our first action came when a nice fish took a swipe at Shawn’s jerk bait but didn’t stay buttoned up. Close call! He wasn’t going to give them too many chances however, and Lundo connected late in the afternoon on an old and fat low 40’s fish. Atta kid! Who am I calling old and fat? With Shawn on the board and time running out in the day, Nate was up and put a fat mid 30’s fish in the net right before quitting time. Live bait continues to be the top producer for skis this October, but it still pays to chop the water with artificials to pull in follows along with an occasional strike. A lot of muskies are caught in deeper water at this time of year, but our warm fall still has plenty of fish relating to shallower structure. Water temps cooled to 47 degrees, and it was good to have these guys back in the boat together. Lots of stories, laughs, and fish. Heck of a day boys!
Time was running out on our 2016 season, and we were back on Chequamegon Bay Monday to finish where we started. Halloween brought big winds, and that seems to be the theme lately when I plan a trip to the bay. I had a top notch team assembled for our final day however, and a little bit of wind wasn’t going to stop us. Nate Berg was back in the boat along with good friend Scott Roppe (Birchwood, WI), and we were ready to get after it. They didn’t stand much of a chance with these guys in the boat, and we began the day catching smallies in 8′ – 12′ of water on minnows and crankbaits. The bite was weird though with lots of misses, and we moved deeper to see if there was a more consistent pattern. Bingo! We located a bunch of fish in 20′ – 30′ of water on the electronics, and drifted over them with minnows. It wasn’t a smoking hot bite by any means, but it was steady. The wind was pushing us a bit faster than we wanted although we’d have action on every drift that included smallies up to 20″ with some nice walleyes up to 24″ mixed in. Water temps on the bay were pretty steady at 47 degrees. Watching these two guys put on a clinic throughout the day was an appropriate way to wrap up a great season of fishing. Only fresh pumpkin bars made by Scott’s fiance Kala could’ve made it better… I’ll trade you a cushion for those bars next time Scott! As the sun set, I dumped one more fat smallie back into Lake Superior. Perfect. Couldn’t have been a better ending with two better guys. Thanks fellas!
If you’re going to be in the Brainerd, MN area, look up my buddy Nate Berg for a first class open water or ice fishing experience. He’ll put you on fish and one heck of a good time!
Big thanks to all of our loyal customers who keep coming back year after year along with those that follow our fishing reports throughout the season. We wouldn’t exist without you. Your support is greatly appreciated, and I don’t take any of it for granted. I’d also like to thank my partners Terry Peterson, Dave Brown, Josh Teigen, Aron Kastern, Nate Baron, and Kevin Schmidt. You’re all top notch guides as well as great guys, and It’s a privilege working with you. Last but not least, a huge thanks to my wife LeeAnn and daughter Morgan for keeping me going all season. Hope you don’t get sick of me over the next few months! You too Berkley, my favorite pooch!!!
Many local businesses help us out in a variety of ways throughout the season, and I appreciate everything you do for us and our customers. Please check these places out if you’re in our area, and tell them I sent you. They’ve all had my back over the years, and I’ve got theirs. THANK YOU!!!
Hayward Power Sports | Angler’s Haven | Bloomer Ford | Northland Lodge | River Rock Inn & Bait Shop | Hayward Bait & Bottle Shop | O’Brien’s C-Store | The Bait Box
Stay tuned for ice fishing reports to come, and maybe even a story or two from the deer woods over the next few weeks. There’s lots of fall left with too much to do and too little time. Get out there and enjoy it!!!
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Great end to a great season. I think the Keys are calling us. Dad