Somewhat cooler temperatures prevailed in the past week, but our highs and lows are still running above average for this time of year. Grass is greening, trees are budding, geese are nesting, sandhill cranes are dancing – it is definitely spring in the north woods. Of course, this is also subject to change at any time and “We will pay for this great weather” is a commonly heard refrain.
Reminder for anglers, hunters, trappers, and other outdoor enthusiasts who are required to have annual licenses: Your old license from last year expired March 31. You can purchase a new license at authorized license agents and DNR service centers, online, or toll-free 1-877-945-4236. New annual licenses are valid through March 31, 2013.
“Record setting temperatures last week and record setting early ice out brought forth anglers anxious to start the open water season,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “and some reported nice catches of crappie and perch. The others just enjoyed the time on the water. The current, more typical early spring weather will slow fishing success.
“As it is, we have a fair start to panfish season, though with no clear pattern and no real indication fish have started to move shallow. The perch bite should be good within days, followed by crappies, but still well ahead of schedule. Shallow, darker water warms early and is the best place to start, but fish where you would normally fish in late April. Look along drop-offs for crappies and in shallower water for perch.”
Bob at Hayward Bait says anglers are catching a variety of species in assorted waters.
“Panfish action is good on local lakes and will only get better as the water temperatures warm, and trout anglers fishing the streams and rivers for early catch-and-release trout season report good success. Some of the Lake Superior tributaries opened March 31 for steelhead and other species, and anglers trolling the big lake are doing quite well fishing for salmon in shallower water.
“In addition to fishing, turkey season opens April 11 following the Youth Turkey Hunt April 7-8. If hunters have not yet organized and checked their turkey hunting equipment, now is the time to do so.”
Anglers are now fishing open water for panfish, according to guide Dave Dorazio at Outdoor Creations.
“Crappies and bluegills are divided between deep areas and the shallows,” says Dorazio. “Crappies in the Chippewa Flowage, Moose Lake, and other dark water flowages are moving shallow to feed before the spawn. Crappie minnows will work well, as will jigs with plastics and marabou jigs under bobbers.”
“Anglers are starting to see walleyes up shallow, but they must release any walleyes caught before the opening of game fish season May 5. This is a great time to prepare your tackle – rods, reels, nets, and line – rather than waiting until the last minute just before (or during!) opening weekend.”
According to the March 30 Hayward Lakes Visitor and Convention Bureau ATV trail report, a number of Sawyer County Forest ATV trails – trails 8, 77, 15, 11, and trail 31 north of Highway 77 – remain open due to the dry winter and early spring. Trails 3, 26, and trail 31 south of Highway 70/27 remain closed. The closure is for Forest Service jurisdiction trails and does not affect trails on private or other public lands.
Trail users should check with counties where they plan to travel regarding county and state trail regulations before planning any trail riding between now and May 1. ATV routes in the city do not offer access to out of city limits.
For more information on Sawyer County ATV trails, contact Sawyer County Forest Department (715) 634-4839; Sawyer County forest administrator Greg Peterson (715) 634-6728; or the Wisconsin DNR (715) 266-7032.
The 74-mile Tuscobia State Trail runs from Park Falls west to a junction with Wild Rivers State Trail just north of Rice Lake. It cuts through parts of Barron, Washburn, Sawyer, and Price counties, passing through part of the Flambeau River State Forest and the rugged Blue Hills.
The Wisconsin ATV Association voted Sawyer County ATV trails “Best trails in the state of Wisconsin.”
North Country Riders ATV Club will hold its Eighth Annual Spaghetti Feed and Fundraiser Saturday April 14, from 3-8 p.m., at the Hayward Veterans Center. The all you can eat dinner costs $7 per person, and the event includes raffles and door prizes. For more information, visit www.ncratv.com, or call (715) 462-3838.
March 31: Hunting, fishing licenses expired; Trout season opened on Lake Superior tributaries (see regs).