November 21, 2016
Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report
Now that the weather and temperatures have become more “seasonal” for this time of year, a consistent pattern is developing much as we experienced this summer. However, rather than the forecast indicating the possibilities of rain nearly every day, the pattern now consistently lists chances for snow!
“There are a few musky anglers still on the lakes,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “and they report moderate success.
“Anglers have recorded several lower- to mid-40s fish, all on live bait. Musky suckers are now a rare commodity and anglers planning a trip should call ahead to check availability or secure bait locally. Some anglers are successfully using stick-type baits such as Suicks and Eddie Baits – apparently the warmer weather left some muskies aggressive!
“There are few reports from anglers fishing for other species. Most should be heading to and congregating in deeper water with the temperature drop. Maybe fishing will be better with first ice.
“With gun deer season and the Nov. 30 close of musky season, most activity has been in the woods rather than on the water. Deer hunters were busy setting up stands and brushing shooting lanes preparing for the hunt and the few remaining grouse hunters reported modest success.
“Whatever your outdoor activity, good luck and please be careful and safe.”
Mike at Jenk’s says Chippewa Flowage musky action is solid.
“Most musky catches are in shallower areas bordering river channels, especially those with many stumps. Live bait is very good, but sucker availability is low with the end of season near. However, glide baits and jerkbaits are still producing results.
“Walleyes have not been very active with water temperatures constantly in the high 40s to low 50s, but this colder weather makes it tempting to try to snag a few deep walleyes, particularly on Round Lake. Walleye suckers are definitely the way to go at this time.
“The excellent smallmouth bite on Round Lake continues, with anglers fishing the cribs with small suckers on Lindy Rigs.
“For most crappie anglers, fishing has been a real dud this fall. The fish are schooling, but with very limited, if any, activity. That could change, however, with the dropping water temperatures”
According to DNR fisheries biologist Skip Sommerfeldt, fishing pressure is light on North Wood’s waters due to the cool, windy weather and gun deer season.
“There are still a few musky anglers trying their luck, with nearly all of these late-season anglers dragging large suckers. Success continues to be good, with many reports of catches of fish up to 46 inches. There is a bit of fishing pressure on the managed trout lakes, as a few of the lakes received adult brood stock trout from the hatcheries. Anglers report fair success in the past few weeks, with some nice catches of rainbow, brown, and brook trout.
“At this time, there are no reports of any ice on lakes or flowages and it appears that any kind of ice cover could be well after deer season.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses the Chippewa Flowage walleye population.
“The Chippewa Flowage is one of the most historical and popular fisheries in northern Wisconsin, with walleyes a cornerstone of the fishery and a huge draw for anglers. Following a dip in walleye reproduction, the DNR initiated stocking, enacted a 15-inch minimum length limit, and used drawdowns to boost the number of young walleye. These efforts have been largely successful, increasing the number of juvenile walleye in the Flowage by an estimated 500 percent since 2011.
“However, during the summer of 2016, there was a common theme for Flowage walleye anglers: lots of short fish and few keepers. To determine if the young walleyes are growing at an adequate rate to get to legal size, the DNR conducted a growth rate analysis.
“As it turns out, they are growing at an adequate rate, on average reaching 15 inches between 4-5 years of age, which lines up closely to the average for northern Wisconsin. So why were anglers catching so many shorts?
“It appears the reason has to do with which fish are currently most common in the lake. Recruitment has been strong the last few years, which means that at this time, there are proportionally many more small walleyes than big ones.
“The good news is that these small walleye are growing well and, given a little time, they will reach legal size in the near future.”
The DNR is seeking nominations for the Wisconsin Hunter Ethics Award, now in its 20th year. The DNR presents the award to one individual of any legal hunting age who uses a moral compass to ensure that safety, respect, responsibility, and ethics mark every hunt. The annual honor acknowledges hunters who show a strong sense of ethics and respect going well beyond taking possession of wildlife and who impacts another hunter or the resources in a positive manner. A nominee must be a licensed (resident/nonresident) Wisconsin hunter, with the act occurring in Wisconsin during 2016. The committee will consider nominations for any DNR-regulated Wisconsin hunting activity and accept nominations through February 1. For more information, search “Wisconsin Hunter Ethics Award” on the DNR website.
People interested in cutting their own Christmas trees can obtain DNR permits for a nominal fee from the property headquarters to cut trees from Black River, Brule River, Flambeau River, Peshtigo River, Governor Knowles, and Northern Highland-American Legion state forests. People with a non-commercial forest products permit may harvest fresh evergreen boughs. The DNR encourages visitors to know a few basics before heading into the woods, such as the forests allow no harvest within 100 feet or visual distance of roads, trails, and water, or from campgrounds and day-use areas. Many county forests also allow non-commercial harvest of Christmas trees. For more information, search “Christmas tree” on the DNR website.
Although most roads and trails across northern Wisconsin are open despite damage caused by a severe storm last summer, some trail sections will remain closed at the start of winter season. Trails in Douglas County will be completely open, but a number of major trails in Sawyer, Bayfield, and Ashland counties need additional work due to significant damage. For more information, search “snow conditions report” on the Dept. of Tourism website.
Open water fishing is winding down in the North Woods. Some anglers are still on the water, but with deer season and the onset of cold weather, most have put their boats in storage and await first ice – or spring. Adding to the usual reports, DNR hatcheries have stocked big brood fish into a number of managed trout lakes and fisheries biologist Skip Sommerfeldt says anglers are making some good catches of large rainbow, brown, and brook trout.
Musky fishing is good, particular on suckers, but it is difficult to find suckers in the area. Focus on mid-depth to shallow structure. Some anglers are having success with artificials such as large gliders, stickbaits, and jerkbaits.
Walleye fishing is fair, with fish holding in deeper water and walleye suckers the bait of choice. Anglers might want to wait until first (safe) ice cover when fishing should improve – and first (safe) ice might not be all that far in the future!
Crappies are schooling, but fishing is slow, though anglers are picking up fish on the Flowage. Use crappie minnows and look for fish in 15-18 feet in Moores Bay and around Pine Point.
Nov. 17: Fall crow season closed.
Nov. 22: Duck season closed in the north zone.
Through Nov. 27: Regular gun deer season (see regs).
Nov. 28: Muzzleloader deer season opens (see regs).
Nov. 29: Mourning dove season closes.
Nov. 30: Seasons close: Muskellunge; Turtle.
Dec. 1: Lake trout season on Lake Superior opens.
Dec. 7: Seasons close: Muzzleloader deer; Bobwhite quail.
Dec. 8-11: Statewide antlerless-only deer hunt (see regs).
Dec. 10: Application deadline: Spring turkey, Bear.
Dec. 16: Seasons close: Canada goose in north zone and Horicon zone period 2.
Dec. 24-Jan. 1: Antlerless-only Holiday Hunt (see regs).
Dec. 25: Bobcat hunting/trapping period 1 season closes.
Dec. 26: Bobcat hunting/trapping Period 2 north of Hwy. 64 opens.
Dec. 31: Seasons close: Pheasant; Turkey; Hungarian partridge; Fisher trapping; Frog.
Jan. 3: Hayward Lakes Chapter Muskies, Inc. business meeting (715-634-4543).
Jan. 8: Archery and crossbow deer seasons close.