HLVCB Outdoor Report

April 18, 2016

Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report

Steve Suman

The forecast predicts a fairly mild, wet week ahead, but spring rain showers are certainly better than “other” forms of precipitation – and do believe we can handle the high temperatures around 60 degrees. Perhaps spring has (finally, really, truly) arrived in the North Woods!

“This is the official/unofficial declaration the ice is gone from the lakes,” says Pat at Happy Hooker. “Are you ready? The weather over the past several days was good for all outdoor activities, be it fishing, hunting, hiking, or taking a walk.

“Many anxious anglers began filling their boats and picking up bait with the approach of ice out, but as of yet there are no reports on fishing activity or success. Be safe on the lakes – the water is still quite cold!

“As shallow bays begin to warm, fish start moving shallower in preparation for spawning. Look for the warmest water in the lake, usually on the north side, and in the back of bays.

“Fish feed aggressively throughout their time in the shallows for spawning, providing good opportunities for excellent meals and testing boats and tackle. For best results, use very light tackle and fish very shallow – anglers catch most fish in water less than 5 feet. Crappie minnows and fatheads work best, though worms and waxies will also catch fish.

“Perch move in to spawn as soon as the ice goes and crappies follow the perch. At this time, look for fish schooling in mid-depths, moving towards shallow, warm water.

“It is a good idea to purchase your new license before the fishing season opener, as the new licensing system is a little more time consuming. Bringing your old license will shorten waiting time.”

At Hayward Bait, Bob, Sonya, and guide Steve Genson say the ice is out!

“We have reports of crappies biting in deeper water, but that will change with warmer weather bringing fish into the shallows. Expect the bite to pick up in the next week or so.

“Walleyes are spawning in area lakes and steelhead are active on the Brule River and other Lake Superior tributaries. Anglers report good success with spawn, yarn, wet flies, and hardware such as Mepps spinners and Panther Martins. Be cautious on the rivers – the water is still high and moving fast.

“Don’t forget to renew your fishing license for 2016!”

At Anglers All in Ashland, Carolyn says spring has sprung on Chequamegon Bay and smelting season has begun – a sure sign of spring!

“With the ice now out of the Bay, fishing has also started. Anglers trolling for trout and salmon, when the weather allows, report a good deal of success on brown trout, splake, steelhead, and coho from Bono Creek north to Houghton Point and the Sioux River out to Long Island.

“Look for mud lines and troll the edges. Depths change depending on water temperature and water clarity, with success reported in as shallow as 6 feet. Most anglers use shallow running stickbaits (6-10 feet) such as Scatter Raps, Bombers, Thundersticks, Husky Jerks, and Bay Rats. The Ashland side of the Bay is still fairly dirty, but it will hold trout and salmon around Fish Creek.

“Warm water species such as perch, northern pike, and walleye should pick up as water temperatures warm. Steelhead stream fishing is good on the Sioux River and Fish Creek for anglers using spawn, yarn, flies, and spinners.”

DNR fisheries biologist Skip Sommerfeldt says ice out progressed slowly on lakes across the North Woods.

“Many of the shallow, stained lakes have been ice free for a week or two, while the larger, deeper lakes are just now starting to lose their ice cover. Water temperatures have been slow to warm, so early spawning species such as northern pike and walleye have also been slow to get started.

“Most DNR fishery crews have been doing spring surveys and their catches of northern pike and walleye should really pick up with the warm temperatures forecast for this week.

Fishing activity pretty much remains at a standstill until more lakes open and water temperatures creep into the mid 40-degree range. This will bring some panfish into the shallows and early season anglers may be able to get a meal or two when the water warms.”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses good walleye survival on the East Fork lakes.

“The DNR hopes to reestablish the walleye population on the East Fork of the Chippewa River. As with the Chippewa Flowage, adult walleye numbers in the East Fork and its lakes (Barker, Hunter, Blaisdell) dropped after reproduction started to falter.

“The East Fork and its lakes, with dark water and abundant forage, are well suited to walleye. The DNR and Winter Lakes Alliance partnered to stock the lakes along the East Fork over the last several years and the initial results are encouraging. Surveys in Blaisdell (2015) and Barker (2016) indicated good early survival of stocked, extended growth fingerlings.

“Restoring the East Fork population should have positive effects on the Chippewa Flowage, as these two populations have long been considered to be linked, with fish moving between the Flowage and the East Fork system.”

On Monday, April 11, more than 4,300 people attended the 2016 Spring Fish and Wildlife Hearings and Wisconsin Conservation Congress meetings. A majority favored ideas to shorten beaver and otter trapping seasons by two to four weeks on non-trout waters; create a local public notice and input process to change certain fish regulations on inland waters; and Conservation Congress advisory proposals relating to removal of waterfowl blinds on public lands and creation of a Wildlife Conservation Stamp.

Under a rule approved by the Natural Resources Board, the 2016 migratory game bird seasons for duck, geese, dove, woodcock, and other migratory game birds are nearly identical to last year. The only significant change is in the Horicon Canada goose zone where hunters can hunt on any day of the 92-day season. The first game bird hunting seasons open September 1 for early Canada goose, mourning dove, and early teal. Regular waterfowl seasons include 60-day duck and 92-day goose seasons.

Turkey hunters should note a few changes related to their turkey carcass tags and tagging under the new Go Wild system. Changes include elimination of thermal paper licenses and new ways to show proof of licenses. In addition to proof-of-license options, hunters need a paper printout of their turkey carcass tag. Turkey hunters should check online for current tagging instructions as they changed from those in the spring 2016 regulations pamphlets, printed before development of the Go Wild system. For more information on, search “turkey” on the DNR website.

Upcoming Events

April 15-July 31: Illegal to allow dogs to run on DNR lands and FWPAs (seeregs).

April 30: Otter trapping season closes in North Zone.

May 3: Hayward Lakes Chapter Muskies, Inc. meeting at Coop’s Pizza, 7 p.m. (715-634-4543).

May 6: Early catch and release trout season closes.

May 7: Seasons open: General inland fishing (see regs); Musky in South Zone; Frog.

May 7-June 17: Northern Zone smallmouth bass catch and release only.

May 20-21: Fishing Has No Boundaries on Chippewa Flowage (715-634-3185).

May 28: Musky season opens in North Zone.

Spring turkey season dates

April 13-19: Period A.

April 20-26: Period B.

April 27-May 3: Period C.

May 4-10: Period D.

May 11-17: Period E.

May 18-24: Period F.

For more information on area events and activities, visit the Hayward Lakes Visitor and Convention Bureau website or call 800-724-2992.