The Hayward area received up to eight inches of snowfall New Years Eve night, causing an immediate spike in snowmobiling and cross-country skiing activities. Sub-freezing temperatures forecast through this week should keep trail conditions consistent, and any additional snowfall will only improve them.
“Lake conditions have vastly improved over the last couple of weeks,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “with ice thickness varying from 7-10 inches all over the area. Some anglers are driving four wheelers and ATVs onto the lakes, but it is not advisable to drive a car or truck out there until we get a few more inches.
“There is a fair walleye bite at first light in the morning, but fishing is much better towards evening. Walleye suckers and shiners under tip-ups are a safe bet, but jigging Rapalas or a Buckshot Rattle Spoons tipped with a piece of fathead are working on more aggressive walleyes.
“For northern pike, fish shallow weeds and weed edges in 4-10 feet of water. They are quality fish, but it is a slow bite. Panfish are biting, but the average size is small and catches of 15-30 fish for five eaters is pretty common.”
At Hayward Bait, Bob and Jim report that most lakes have good ice for walking and some anglers are driving ATVs.
“The fish are biting and walleye action is good on walleye suckers and shiners in 8-16 feet of water,” Bob says. “Crappie action is good on crappie minnows, rosy reds, plastics, and Gulp! baits in shallow to deeper water, but look for suspending fish, too.”
“Northern pike fishing is very good on northern suckers and large shiners fished in shallower weeds in 5-9 feet of water,” Jim adds. “The pike are biting, but less aggressively than at the start of ice fishing season, so watch closely for that light bite.”
Al at Pastika’s says ice thickness remains variable from lake to lake, especially on the big, clear lakes.
“Some anglers are using four-wheelers and ATVs, but check the ice, know what you are on, and use caution.
“The walleye bite is good, though it slowed a bit. If you are bored with tip-up fishing, anglers jigging deeper water walleyes are catching some nice fish. Northern action is good with northern suckers and large shiners, and crappie action is good on crappie minnows, waxies, and plastics.”
At Outdoor Creations, guide Dave Dorazio advises anglers to be careful as ice thickness varies on all area lakes.
“There is a good evening walleye bite on the big lakes—Round, Grindstone, Lac Courte Oreilles – on walleye suckers and shiners under tip-ups. Crappie and bluegill action is good on the panfish lakes, but it will require some sorting for a meal, and crappie action is spotty on the Chippewa Flowage.”
Carolyn at Anglers All says the Ashland side of the Bay has some ice. Anglers are taking out four-wheelers from behind the shop and getting about halfway up to the break wall for a good northern bite. Perch fishing is decent at Second Landing and across from Pamida, though anglers report only a few keepers.
In the past week, Hayward area registration stations (Shooting Star, Hillman’s Store, Hayward Bait) registered 11 deer for late archery season hunters – seven antlerless deer and four bucks, including one very nice, tall-tined ten-point. The late archery deer season closes at the end of hunting hours January 8.
As of January 2, following snowfall New Years Eve night, Hayward area snowmobile trails are starting to take shape and overall we have good trail conditions.
Hayward Power Sports reports trail crews staked and marked all lake trails, 4-6 inches of fresh snow covers a good, frozen base, and the forecast calls for sub-freezing temperatures all week. The trail grooming now in progress will continue though the week.
Lakewoods Resort reports trails have eight inches of snow and are open to all areas. Trail conditions are better in some areas than in others, with road ruts and rough trails in areas of logging activity. The Namakagon stick trail is in place, with good ice conditions and averaging 8-10 inches thick. Use caution around bridges and areas of stream inlets/outlets where there are still areas of open water.
Jan. 7: Stone Lake Pub Ice Fishing Contest (715-865-2141).