Hayward, WI, Chequamegon Bay, & St. Louis River Fishing Report 9-1-18
August is in the books, and we’re definitely seeing evidence of the seasons changing. I’m always sad to see summer go, but shorter days and cooling water temperatures usually mean some big numbers and big fish days are on the way. Fall can arguably bring some of the best fishing of the year, so it’s time to turn the page as we head down the home stretch of our season.
Good friends are priceless… Brent Jacobson, Brent Granger, and Kevin Murphy from New Lisbon, WI grew up with me, and we all know the best and worst of each other. Our annual trip started on Sunday, and I always look forward to this crew’s arrival. I’m fortunate to have stayed connected to the guys I grew up with, and every second we have in the boat is a blessing. Day #1 of our trip was spent on Lake Superior chasing the south shore walleye bite. The forecast called for calm winds throughout the day, and I thought we had a slam dunk. Not exactly… We started trolling crankbaits around mid morning at the river mouths with perfect conditions. The water was flat, and we found a few fish up to 18″ in 15′ of water before things got interesting. Storms moved in on us quickly, and we had a crazy ride into the landing. Always respect the big lake! It was a bumpy ride, but we made it home. Hang on fellas! The boys wanted to catch some smallies on Day #2 of their trip, and we headed to the Hayward Lakes to get things done. The deep rock bite has been consistent, and it didn’t take us long to get into fish. We drifted live bait rigs with minnows over rocks in 15′ – 20′ of water, and my crew was on point. We put a bunch of good smallmouth in the net including Jake’s 20″ slammer, and Granger made sure everyone knew who was winning the race… I can’t argue. He’s in the lead! Water temperatures were in the low 70’s, and we have a bunch more rain on the way. You had to know it was going to be like this… Incredible couple of days with some guys that I’ll do anything for. Can’t wait until next year next year fellas. Glad we didn’t lose you Murph!!!
Big rainfalls pounded northern Wisconsin on Monday night, and it was hard to know what to expect for Tuesday. Tom Huckaba (Joliet, IL) and his brother in law Larry Evans (Mesa, AZ) were back for their annual 4 day trip. They’re both Vietnam War veterans, and it’s always an honor to have them in our boat. We spent our first morning in the Hayward Lakes area trying to put some crappies in the freezer to take home. There was lots of trying, but not a lot of catching… Fish weren’t hard to find on our Humminbird in 18′ – 22′ mud flats, but they didn’t want to cooperate. We’d anchor up and catch one or two on jigs and plastics before we had to move. The fish were stacked up in predictable spots, but just not hungry. I’m sure all of the storms we had last night had something to do with it so it was time to switch game plans… We pulled the plug on Plan A and went looking for a smallmouth bite to get our lines tight. Plan B was just what the doctor ordered. We immediately found a big school of hungry fish, and Larry had one in the net before we could get all of our lines in the water. Perfect! We spent the afternoon using a Northwest wind to drift live bait rigs with minnows over rock reefs in 15′ – 25′ of water and had some crazy good action with Tom and Larry putting a pile of fat smallies in the boat up to 20″. I think we made a good move… Water temperatures held around 70 degrees on both lakes we fished. You can never go wrong having these guys in the boat, but connecting on a bunch of bronzebacks makes it even better. Can’t wait to see what we get into tomorrow!
More rain… Well we asked for it so I guess we’re going to get it! Tom and Larry were back in the boat for day #2 of their trip, and we wanted to see if those crappies would get going like they’re supposed to. More rain and north winds covered northern Wisconsin on Wednesday, and we were back in the Hayward area. A classic case of “When it rains, it pours” is going on. We needed the rain for sure, but that’s enough for now! It didn’t take us long to find fish on 20′ – 22′ of water on mud flats, and they were much more cooperative than yesterday. I wouldn’t say it was a crazy good bite, but it was good enough to keep us busy pulling in fish up to 11″ throughout the morning in between the rain and stiff north winds. Tom and Larry were looking to take a few home for a fish fry, and we were easily able to accomplish that. Slip bobbers and plastics were probably our most productive presentation, but we also caught a few tight lining plastics right over the side of the boat and on jigging spoons. The clouds finally cleared out in the afternoon, and it sure felt good to see the sun. We parked on a few more good schools of fish before quitting time and wrapped up our day with some pretty respectable numbers. It wasn’t fast, but it was steady… We’ll take that any time. Water temperatures held around 70 degrees, and my crew performed well. A few crappies are heading home for a fry, and we’ll be after it again tomorrow. Meet you at the landing guys!
The walleye bite around Hayward has been goofy lately. There’s fish being caught in the evening trolling main lake basins with crankbaits, but the daytime bite has been tough for us. They’ve got to eat sometime, so we’ll keep giving them a try until they do… Tom and Larry are the perfect guys to figure out a bite, and we figured out that the walleyes still weren’t going to eat. Schools of fish are starting to scatter, and we marked random fish in a lot of locations that wouldn’t cooperate. They will eventually, and it’s a good thing we’ve got options. Our smallmouth bite has been crazy good, and we switched tactics around mid morning to stretch the lines. I didn’t have to twist arms, and we put a bunch of fish in the net before lunch drifting live bait rigs with minnows over 15′ – 25′ rock reefs. South winds picked up in the afternoon, and we struggled to get into a groove until Larry suggested that we go to the spot that he caught his biggest fish on last year’s trip. It was the best idea of the day! We used the wind to drift between two rock points in 8′ – 10′ of water and clobbered a bunch of giant smallies up to 20″. In fact, I couldn’t even get a line in the water… Tom and Larry were teaching them a lesson, and I was just along for the ride. It was a fantastic way to end our day, and these guys sure deserved it. There was an awesome shallow bite last September, and I’m hoping that’s what’s setting up again. Water temperatures ranged from 69 – 71 degrees, and cool nights are starting to have an effect on our lake temperatures. Awesome day, awesome guys, and awesome fish. Your were right Larry. That was the spot!!!
With the action they had the day before, Tom and Larry wanted to get back after the smallies on the last day of their trip. I don’t blame them… We had overcast skies, a steady south wind, and bad weather on the way. That’s usually a fish biting equation, but they don’t always follow the script. They followed the script on Friday! We picked up right where we left off from the day before drifting live bait rigs with minnows along rock reefs in 5′ – 10′ of water, and had non stop action all day long. It was without a doubt the biggest numbers and size day we’ve had all season to this point. Multiple doubles, a triple, and a 21″ fish all hit the net. A bunch of smallmouth have migrated back to shallow water, and they all went crazy at the same time. The action was unbelievable, and I’m sure we would’ve done well with a variety of presentations and tactics. It seemed like every fish we marked on our electronics ate, and I could almost predict each bite. I’d tell the boys to get ready, and they’d connect. Why can’t they always be in that kind of mood? If those fish stay put they should be willing to hit plastics and crankbaits, and we’ll definitely be exploring that option. Water temperatures continue to hover around 70 degrees. What a fantastic day, and I don’t think you can’t wrap up a trip any better than that. Take care fellas, and we’ll see you next year!!!
Fall is definitely creeping in on us, and the signs are everywhere. A few maple trees are starting to turn, loons are grouping up, and that distinctive smell is in the air. We haven’t been to Chequamegon Bay for awhile, but it’s only because of circumstance. Word is that the walleye and smallmouth bite has been fantastic, and I hope to get there ASAP. It’s Labor Day weekend, and the Badgers start their football season. One of my favorite times of year… On Wisconsin!
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