March 13, 2017
Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report
Cold, snow, and wind were the order of the day for Monday, but the forecast says to expect a switch to sunshine – with more cold and wind – until the latter part of the week. At that point, it appears temperatures rise, though this brings a chance of snow. It is spring and March is simply doing what March often does.
“Anglers fishing the final weekend of gamefish season reported some successes and failures,” says Pat at Happy Hooker. “Now, only panfish season remains until gamefish season re-opens in May. With the weather dipping back into below freezing, there is no problem with the ice on the lakes.
“Crappie fishing is the most productive and anglers are still fishing deep holes, jigging small spoons and teardrops tipped with crappie minnows and waxies. Panfish anglers using waxies and small plastics/artificials are catching bluegill and perch in the same areas.
“Spring is just a few days away, so it is time to start reorganizing and repairing equipment in preparation for open water season. New licenses for the 2017-18 season are now available – get your license early and avoid the opening weekend rush.”
Bob at Hayward Bait says the ice is holding up well despite the rain, snow, heavy winds, and warm spell.
“After all that, temperatures dropped down to more ‘normal’ for early March and ice conditions are solid. Reports say most lakes have plenty of ice, with some holding more than 12 inches. Still, continue to fish with caution and be careful around shoreline edges and boat landings that see a lot of use.
“Panfish fishing is decent and anglers are starting to find crappies and bluegills transitioning to early spring spots. Look for inside turns with vast, soft bottom flats with weeds. These areas produce good insect hatches, especially in the early morning and evening, and most action is in 15-25 feet. For crappies, use small spoons and jigs tipped with crappie minnows and rosy reds. Bluegill anglers should use tungsten jigs tipped with waxies or spikes.
“The beginning of March can be productive for chasing big perch. Look for mud flats at various depths, from 12-30 feet. Perch are actively hitting small Jigging Raps and Bomb and rattle spoons tipped with waxies, spikes, and minnows.”
Carolyn at Anglers All in Ashland says that if the landings hold up, Chequamegon Bay anglers should get another week of ice fishing.
“Anglers are still targeting the channel areas of the Bay and there are good reports on brown trout, splake, coho, and even some lake trout. They are all following the smelt, of which there are catches in big numbers. Whitefish are active in 25-50 feet. Perch and northern pike anglers are primarily fishing off the first and second landings, targeting weed beds in 10-15 feet.
“Recommended travel is now by ATV or snowmobile. Please check with local bait shops for reports of any hazards.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses the biggest fish observed in DNR surveys.
“One popular question people often ask DNR fisheries staff is ‘What is the biggest fish you’ve seen in a survey?’ To answer that question, I looked through our database for each of the most popular local fish species. A note of caution: Our historical survey results (pre-1990) are not all entered into this database.
“In Sawyer County, the longest muskellunge caught in a DNR survey was a 56-inch female from Lac Courte Oreilles in 2001. The largest northern pike, 44 inches, came from Round Lake in 1950. The largest walleye, 31.6 inches, came from Connors Lake in 1976.
“The largest largemouth bass, 24 inches, came from Round Lake in 1998. The largest smallmouth bass, 22 inches, came from Teal Lake in 2004. The biggest crappie captured in a DNR survey was 16.8 inches from a small lake near Winter. The largest bluegill, 11.6 inches, came from Ashegon Lake in 1945. The largest yellow perch, 15 inches, came from a small lake near Winter in 2006.
“The largest brown trout, 26.5 inches, came from the Namekagon River in 1984. The largest brook trout, 19 inches, came from Camp Smith Lake in 1977.”
According to DNR fisheries culture section chief Dave Giehtbrock, some of the 455,307 large walleye fingerlings stocked in 2013, the first year of the Wisconsin Walleye Initiative, should reach harvest size this year. In 2016, the DNR stocked 797,815 extended growth walleye (6-8-inches) in 150 Wisconsin waterbodies. Wisconsin is one of the top three U.S. fishing destinations, with anglers generating an economic impact of nearly $2.3 billion per year.
Licenses and permits for 2017 went on sale March 8 through the DNR’s Go Wild system. The system offers the opportunity to purchase fishing and hunting licenses, as well as register boats, ATVs, UTVs, off-highway motorcycles, and snowmobiles beyond the hours offered at vendors or DNR service centers. Licenses purchased for the 2016 license year remain in effect through March 31. Licenses purchased on/after March 8 are valid immediately for any open season.
The DNR will start selling 105,464 leftover spring turkey permits over the counter at 10 a.m. Monday, March 20, on a first-come, first-served basis, by zone, one zone per day. The sales dates are as follows: Zone 1: Monday March 20; Zone 2: Tuesday March 21; Zone 3: Wednesday March 22; Zone 4: Thursday March 23; Zones 5, 6, 7: Friday March 24. After zone-specific sales, remaining tags go on sale Saturday March 25. Hunters can purchase one tag per day until the zone and period sell out or the season closes. Leftover permits cost $10/residents and $15/non-residents. Check the permit availability page as well as the turkey zone map on the DNR website to verify the hunting area.
Camping season is just around the corner and Flambeau River State Forest staff reminds campers that they can reserve all campsites at Connors Lake Campground (opens the Thursday before Memorial Day weekend) and many sites at Lake of the Pines Campground (opens April 15) by visiting http://www.reserveamerica.com or calling (888) 947-2757.
Crappie fishing is good to very good and the best bet for action. Look for them in deep holes, weeds, inside turns, and soft bottom flat areas in 12-30 feet. Baits of choice include crappie minnows and waxies on small jigs, teardrops, and jigging spoons.
Bluegill action is good in early spring spots, weeds, and soft bottoms in 10-25 feet. Use small jigs tipped with waxies, spikes, plastics, and Gulp! baits. Small minnows work well for bigger ‘gills.
Perch fishing is fair to good on soft bottom areas in 10-30 feet. Use small jigs, rattle spoons, and Jigging Raps tipped with waxies, spikes, plastics, and small minnows.
March 5: Game fish season closed.
March 20-24: Leftover spring turkey permits on sale at 10 a.m. by zone, one zone per day.
March 20: Winter crow season closes.
March 22: Sawyer County CDAC meeting, Hayward DNR Service Center, 7-9 p.m.
March 25: Trout season opens on some sections of Lake Superior tributaries.
April 30: Seasons close: Beaver and otter trapping in North Zone.