December 5, 2016
Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report
The forecast indicates light snow early in the week, with some accumulation, and then a significant drop in temperatures. It would have been nice to get the cold temperatures before this snow to set up ice for better recreational opportunities later in winter, but we do not get a choice. If you have not done so, get your “serious” winter gear ready to go!
“We should be enjoying winter sports at this time of year,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “but with the weather we have had, it looks like it is still a little ways off.
“Open water season is basically over for this year, though anglers who ‘really’ want to get out could still do so.
“It’s time to start preparing for ice fishing season, especially early season walleye fishing. Early ice can be dangerous, so use a spud or auger to check ice thickness as you work your way out, and then look for deep weed edges, the greener the weeds the better. Set tip-ups using shiners or fatheads on those edges in afternoon and evening hours to catch walleye moving shallower to feed. At the start of the season, the best time is early evening through 8 p.m.
“You will find some perch mixed in with the walleye, so rig and jig for them. Crappies are deeper now and it is too early right after ice up to get out deep enough to look for crappie. Anglers will fish for them as the ice thickens.
“Gun deer season hunters reported plenty of does and yearlings, but very few bucks. Most deer harvested this season was smaller bucks, so maybe the bigger ones will show for muzzleloader season.”
At Hayward Bait, Sonya and Bob say musky anglers fished the season to its Nov. 30 close by boating some nice fish during the extended nice weather.
“There is still a good walleye and crappie bite and anglers targeting them are doing very well. Use walleye suckers for walleyes and work live minnows and plastics in deeper basin areas for crappies.
“Gun deer season hunters offered mixed reports on their success, but muzzleloader season runs through December 7 and archery season continues statewide through January 8.”
For all practical purposes, says DNR fisheries biologist Skip Sommerfeldt, the November 30 close of the Northern Zone musky season also brought a close to the 2016 open-water fishing season.
“A few last minute musky anglers trying their luck had good success, catching and releasing fish up to 45 inches. There are a few reports of walleye anglers continuing to try their luck below the dams on rivers, but with low success, and most anglers are now waiting for solid ice cover.
“That said, nearly all area lakes still have open water and mild temperatures slow the formation of solid ice cover. We need several nights of calm weather and cold temperatures in the low teens or single digits to get ‘safe’ ice.
“Most ice anglers wait for 3-4 inches of clear new ice for their first ice fishing venture of the season, but that looks to be at least a week or so away yet.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses bird-related hatchery musky mortality.
“Governor Thompson Fish Hatchery (GTFH) in Spooner provides most of the muskellunge stocked in northwestern Wisconsin and bird predation on muskies at the hatchery is an ongoing issue. Bonnie Richards, a UW-Stevens Point undergraduate, and DNR staff conducted observational studies, managed by Northwest Region ecologist Ryan Magana, to learn more about the predation problem.
“During the 2016 fish production season, the hatchery experienced muskellunge loss. The study’s focus was osprey, but included bald eagle, great blue heron, green heron, kingfisher, and otter. Observations started the week of June 13 and ended in late September, taking place from 6 a.m. until dark, during normal hatchery operation hours, to ensure sampling of all periods of daylight. Observers did not interfere with predator attempts to take muskellunge. However, at other times hatchery staff used various techniques to discourage predators.
“Now, DNR staff will review the data collected from these observations to determine if muskellunge loss was significant enough to warrant more bird deterrent actions and, if so, which deterrent actions to use.”
Nearly 600,000 deer hunters harvested 196,785 deer during the 2016 nine-day gun deer hunt, compared to 198,057 in 2015. The harvest of 97,892 bucks was an increase of 5.7 percent compared to 2015, with the largest change in buck harvest in the Northern Forest Zone, with a 30 percent increase from 2015. Harvest numbers will climb with the statewide muzzleloader hunt, statewide four-day antlerless-only hunt, and nine-day antlerless-only Holiday Hunt in select farmland counties. For more information on harvest registrations, search “weekly totals” on the DNR website.
Deer hunting opportunities continue, with muzzleloader season open through Dec. 7, archery season open through Jan. 8, four-day antlerless-only hunt Dec. 8-11, and a holiday hunt in a number of counties statewide Dec. 24 to Jan. 1. In metro sub-units, gun deer season remains open through Dec. 7 and archery hunting is open through Jan. 31. For more information, search “DMU” on the DNR website.
A 2017 Wisconsin state park admission sticker or state trail pass make great holiday gifts for outdoor enthusiasts as they offer access to some of the most scenic areas in the state. The stickers and trail passes are now available at state park facilities and DNR service centers, and state park properties will honor the 2017 stickers and passes now for admission to parks, forests, recreation areas, and trails. All people age 16 years and older biking, in-line skating, horseback riding, and cross-country skiing on certain state trails must have a state trail pass ($25 for resident and nonresident). People do not need a trail pass for walking and hiking. Vehicle admission stickers provide access to more than 60 state park, forest, and recreation area properties, and some state forest and trail parking areas also require a sticker. Annual admission stickers cost $28 for Wisconsin residents or $38 for nonresidents. People with more than one vehicle registered to the same household can purchase additional state park stickers for $15.50 for residents and $20.50 for nonresidents. Wisconsin residents 65 years of age and older can purchase a senior citizen annual sticker for $13. For more information, search “admission sticker” and “state trail pass” on the DNR website.
While a few anglers are attempting to extend open water fishing season, consider it done for this year. Walleye anglers, most using walleye suckers, are having some luck below the dams. Crappie anglers were finding fish schooling/suspending in deep water, with crappie minnows and plastics the baits of choice. All things considered, a better use of time might be to prepare for ice fishing season!
Dec. 1: Lake trout season opened on Lake Superior.
Dec. 7: Seasons close: Muzzleloader deer (see regs); Bobwhite quail.
Dec. 7: Northwest Relic Riders Kick-off Ride (715 416-2097).
Dec. 8-11: Statewide antlerless-only deer hunt (see regs).
Dec. 16: Seasons close: Canada goose in north zone and Horicon zone period 2.
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. 8: Archery and crossbow deer seasons close.
Jan. 21: Elk Country ATV Club’s 9th annual ice fishing contest, Upper Clam Lake (715-794-2298; 681 -0581).