January 30, 2017
Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report
Winter temperatures return to the North Woods, along with some snow early in the week to please snowmobilers and skiers. Ice anglers have enjoyed generally good fishing conditions, though with some slush and slop during the mild periods. The forecast predicts sunny, clear, and cold from Wednesday into the weekend.
“While some people enjoyed our recent January thaw, it disappointed others,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “but there is still plenty of time to enjoy winter activities.
“On the Quiet Lakes and Spider Chain, walleye anglers fishing evening hours are catching fish on medium shiners under tip-ups set at 8-10 feet on weed and drop-off edges. On the larger lakes, daytime anglers jig deeper water with shiner and fathead parts, switching to tip-ups on shallow weed edges in the evening.
“Northern pike action is good all day with shiners and suckers on tip-ups over/on deep, green weeds. Some anglers set two tip-ups for pike and then jig for panfish with crappie minnows and small plastics on teardrops and jigging spoons.
“Crappie anglers are catching fish on crappie minnows and small jigs with waxies in deep holes. Good electronics greatly help when fish are just off bottom. Bluegills in the weeds provide great action for good numbers of smaller fish. Perch are hitting wigglers on the bottom around deep weeds and on mud flats.”
Kelly at Hayward Bait says ice conditions are excellent, with 14-20 inches of ice on most lakes.
“The walleye bite is getting a little tougher, but there are still decent reports from most lakes. Fish deep, steep breaks in 20-30 feet with jigging spoons, Jigging Raps, and Slab Raps, as well as walleye suckers and medium shiners on tip-ups.
“Northern pike offer the best action. Target weed flats and bars in 5-20 feet with large shiners on tip-ups, or try jigging spoons.
“There is a good panfish bite, but you have to keep moving to find biting fish. Focus on 10-25 feet, using tungsten jigs tipped with waxies, spikes, and plastics.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses habitat permitting.
“Regulation changes can be controversial, but anglers nearly always strongly support projects to enhance fish habitat. There is a longstanding interest in fish cribs, and “fish sticks” projects are now becoming popular as well.
“Conducting fish habitat projects on lakes can be more complicated than many initially believe. First, you must determine which structure has the best chance to achieve your objective. While fish sticks and tree drops can be helpful for perch, panfish, bass, and possibly juvenile musky, ‘half-log’ structures can provide spawning areas for smallmouth bass.
“Fish cribs have multiple designs and are one of the more popular structures because they become good spots to catch fish. When added in large numbers, fish cribs have shown indications of improving fisheries in lakes with almost no aquatic vegetation. In lakes with some existing structure and fish habitat, however, the cribs rarely lead to improvements in the population and may act more to concentrate fish.
“In Wisconsin, the DNR requires a permit for many fish habitat projects before work can begin, though it is possible to get a permit covering multiple structure types. Lake associations and other groups interested in taking on one of these projects should contact the local fisheries biologist to get recommendations on the need for habitat improvement.”
Walleyes for Northwest Wisconsin (WFNW) is hosting its 21st annual family ice fishing event Saturday February 11, from 8 a.m. through 2 p.m., on Lac Courte Oreilles. The event offers thousands of dollars in raffle, adult, and youth fishing prizes awarded through drawings. Event buttons ($5 for adults; $1 for youth 13-17 years old) and raffle tickets are available at Hayward Bait, Outdoor Creations, Hayward Home Center, Stone Lake Bait, and AAA Sports Shop. Youth 12 years and younger receive free entry, sponsored by Retreat Home Furniture. Tickets for Grand raffle prizes cost $5 each or five/$20 and you need not be present to win. A pre-event bundle ($130 value) costs $75 and is limited to 200 bundles. The event will have food and beverages available at the registration site at the public boat landing off Highway K. For more information, visit www.wfnw.net or call Hayward Bait (715) 634-2921.
Flambeau River State Forest is hosting its 25th annual candlelight event Saturday February 4, from 6-9 p.m. Forest staff will groom and track a 1.8-kilometer trail through the heart of the forest and illuminate it with more than 600 candles. During this event, the forest waives day-use fees and allows hiking and snowshoeing. Forest staff will provide picnic tables, a large barbecue grill, hot dogs, chili, and spiced tea, as well as maintain a large warming fire throughout the night. The event will take place regardless of snow conditions. For information, call (715) 332-5271. Brule River State Forest is hosting its candlelight ski and snowshoe Saturday February 11, from 5-9 p.m. Forest staff will light a 5-kilometer section of the After Hours ski trail and part of the snow shoe trail. The forest will provide grills, picnic tables, and a bonfire and will not require trail passes. For more information, visit www.brulexcski.com or call (715) 372-5678.
SNOWMOBILE TRAIL REPORT
Note: Trail conditions can change quickly, especially this winter, so always check with local businesses for the most current ice and trail conditions, as well as trail closures.
The January 26 Hayward Power Sports trail report says Sawyer County and Chequamegon National Forest trails are open. Wooded trails in the Seeley Hills, around Chippewa Flowage, and near Couderay are in fair to good condition. Flambeau River Forest trails are poor to fair. Open area trails have many scattered bare spots with icy corners. Crews have staked all lakes with a foot or more of ice. Groomers are grooming in some areas of the county; others will resume with another 2-4 inches of snow. With the lack of snow, some volunteers are panning and brushing the trails.
The January 26 HLVCB trail report says the reroute of Trail 36 from Flambeau to the Price County line goes back to the old trail along Hwy W. Trail closures include Lake Hayward due to open water under the bridge; Trail 63 north of Seeley from Bodecker Road to the Bayfield County line; Trail 5/27 from Tuscobia south to the Rusk County line; Trail 6 from Tuscobia by Ojibwa north to the Chippewa Flowage; and trails in counties to the south, such as Rusk and Barron. Trails are open in counties to the side and north, such as Ashland, Bayfield, Price, and Washburn.
The January 24 Cable area trail report says the trails still have a thin base, but riding conditions are poor and reports indicate some lakes have standing water. At this time, trails are open and the lake is rideable, but use extreme caution.
Walleye fishing is decent, with the big lakes providing the most success and evenings offering the best action. Set tip-ups with walleye suckers and medium shiners on the edges of shallower weeds, holes, and drop-offs. During daytime hours, jig deep holes and breaks with jigging spoons, Jigging Raps, and jigs tipped with shiners and fatheads.
Northern pike fishing is good to very good on nearly all lakes containing pike. Look for deep green weeds on bars and flats in 8-20 feet. The most productive presentations are tip-ups with northern suckers and large shiners, with some anglers having success with jigging spoons.
Crappie fishing is good – once you locate them. Plan to move in the search for active fish. Concentrate on deeper water areas out to 25 feet, particularly in holes, and check the entire water column with your electronics. Best offerings include crappie minnows and small tungsten jigs tipped with waxies, spikes, plastics, and Gulp! baits.
Bluegill action is very good in the weeds for smaller fish. Use small jigs and teardrops with waxies, spikes, plastics, and Gulp! baits.
Perch fishing is fair to good near the bottom around deeper weeds and on mud flats. Use minnow heads, waxies, wigglers, spikes, and plastics on small jigs or plain hooks.
Jan. 31: Seasons closed: Grouse in North Zone; Bobcat Period 2; Squirrel.
Feb. 2: DNR public meeting on master planning for Totogatic Wildlife Area; 4-6 p.m., Hayward High School.
Feb. 4: Flambeau River State Forest 25th annual candlelight event 6-9 p.m. (715-332-5271).
Feb. 4: Northwest Relic Riders 11th annual Johnson Memorial snowmobile ride (715-416-2097).
Feb. 7: Cable Rod and Gun Club ice fishing contest (715-798-3099).
Feb. 11: WFNW 21st annual ice fishing event on Lac Courte Oreilles, 8 a.m.-2 p.m.; Hwy K boat landing.
Feb. 15: Seasons close: Coyote trapping; Raccoon hunting/trapping; Red and gray fox gun/trapping.
Feb. 18: Drummond Sno-Jacks 18th annual bar stool races (715-739-6645).
Feb. 18: 5th Annual Lanes and Links on the Lake at Pat’s Landing; (715) 945-2511.
Feb. 25: American Birkebeiner (715-634-5025).
Feb. 26: Seasons close: Cottontail rabbit; Mink trapping.