Outdoor Report for April 4, 2016

HLVCB Outdoor Report

April 4, 2016

Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report

Steve Suman

Judging from forecasts today, it appears to be another week or so of “early spring” (i.e., late winter) weather and then a return to more moderate, comfortable temperatures. Maybe mild enough to store some winter-wear… just don’t put them in the back of the closet!

“Mother Nature continues to play April Fool’s jokes on us,” says Pat at Happy Hooker. “Not funny. If ‘April showers bring May flowers,’ do ‘April snows make things grow’”?

“This is a good time to purchase your new licenses – plan to spend a bit more time as the DNR adjusts the new issuing system.

“Despite the cold weather, ice is very iffy right now and I would not recommend anyone try it. Portions of lakes are open and there is a lot of movement along shorelines, depending on which way the wind blows. All inland lakes without flowage are dark, almost black, and could go out very soon. Lakes with flowage are open or almost open.

“Some anglers are fishing the rivers for redhorse and whatever else they might catch, but there is not yet any action on the inland lakes.”

At Hayward Bait, Sonya and Terry say the ice is out on the smaller lakes, but the larger ones still have ice.

“Rivers are high and fast, but redhorse started running in the southern parts of the county. Trout fishing on the Brule opened March 26 and we have reports of some nice catches of brown trout. Due to the cold nights and warm days, the trout have not yet started moving up the rivers.

“Northern pike are now spawning in many lakes and in two weeks walleyes should spawn in many lakes.

For anglers who have their boats out of winter storage, crappies and bluegills are suspending in deep water. As water temperatures rise, the fish will start moving to shallower water. Just remember to renew your fishing license!

“The Youth Turkey Hunt is this weekend, April 9-10. The start of the first turkey season is Wednesday April 13.”

Mike at Jenk’s says this week will be a bit colder, but spring is on its way and it looks to warm up soon after that.

“Crappie and panfish seasons are open in April and with the lakes now opening up, expect anglers to soon be crappie fishing.”

Carolyn at Anglers All in Ashland says there is still some ice in Chequamegon Bay.

“The ice keeps bouncing back and forth, opening some landings and closing others. Most trollers, when they can get out, are doing well flatlining stickbaits out of Saxon Harbor, Sand Bay, and Bayfield. The streams, currently blown-out, do contain steelhead, so be patient – spring will happen!”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses the ‘Year of the Musky’ on the Chippewa Flowage.

“This spring, fisheries will emphasize musky on the Chippewa Flowage. Crews from Governor Thompson Hatchery in Spooner will join the Hayward fisheries management team on the water to survey adult muskellunge and collect eggs needed for hatchery production.

“All adult muskellunge we handle will receive a PIT (passive integrated transponder) tag that will enable us to track the fish’s growth, movement, and use as hatchery broodstock. In the Chippewa Flowage, there are currently more than 200 adult muskellunge already carrying these tags and we stand to learn a lot about the status of Flowage muskellunge because of this project.

“This fall, the DNR will stock back into the Chippewa Flowage many of the muskellunge fingerlings raised from the collected eggs. Our goal is to grow these fish to a larger size, which will help them avoid predators and survive winter at a higher rate. Anglers can help create favorable conditions for these young muskies by harvesting small northern pike (less than 26 inches) throughout the year. Northern can prey directly on muskellunge (and walleye), as well as compete for food. Chippewa Flowage pike densities are problematically high, particularly in many areas of the west side.”

Friends into Spooner Hatchery (FISH) is sponsoring an Angler Ed Instructor Certification Class at 7 pm., April 28, at the DNR headquarters in Spooner. The class is free and open to anyone 18 years of age and older, who would like to share their skills and love of angling with others. We encourage attendance by schoolteachers, scoutmasters, rod and gun club members, and anyone interested in promoting learn to fish classes and events. The class instructor is retired DNR fisheries biologist Frank Pratt from Hayward. Class space is limited. To secure a spot, contact Larry Damman (715) 468-7059 or larry@shearluckfarm.com.

As of April 1 (no foolin’!), new DNR experimental regulations to improve panfish size took effect on 93 lakes. Most general inland waters still have the 25 fish per day bag limit for species including bluegill, pumpkinseed, sunfish, crappie, and yellow perch. According to DNR senior fisheries biologist and panfish team leader Max Wolter, the rules are part of a 10-year panfish management planfocusing on habitat improvement and predator management to boost panfish on specific lakes. It takes panfish about six or seven years to reach the 8-inch size and then their growth rate slows. Anglers in Wisconsin target panfish more than any other group of fish – and in Wisconsin, bluegills 9-10 inches long can be 14-16 years old. The DNR is applying three different experimental bag limits to the 93 lakes to determine which is most efficient at improving panfish size. Biologists will evaluate the new rules in five years and again in 10 years to determine whether they are improving panfish size and anglers still support the changes. Biologists are currently in the process of posting signs at boat landings and public fishing spots on the lakes. For more information and a list of affected lakes, search “panfish plan” on the DNR website.

On Monday, April 11, the DNR will hold 72 public spring fish and wildlife hearings and meetings, one in each county, starting at 7 p.m. These hearings offer individuals interested in natural resources management the opportunity to provide their input on proposed rule changes and advisory questions to theDNR, Natural Resources Board, and Conservation Congress by non-binding vote and testimony. County residents have the opportunity to run for a seat on the Conservation Congress and/or elect delegates from their county to represent their views. To view this year’s questionnaire, search “spring hearing questionnaire” on the DNR website. This year, the Sawyer County meeting is at Winter High School. Other area county meeting locations include Ashland: Ashland High School, Ashland; Bayfield: Drummond High School, Drummond; Douglas Superior High School, Superior; Price: Price County Courthouse, Phillips; Rusk: Ladysmith High School, Ladysmith; Washburn: Spooner High School, Spooner.

Upcoming Events

March 26: Trout season opened on some Lake Superior tributaries.

March 31: 2015-16 hunting/fishing licenses expired!

April 8: A Night with Wisconsin’s Bats at Crex Meadows 6-7 p.m. (715-463-2739).

April 9: Maple Tree Workshop at Crex Meadows, 1-3 p.m. (715-463-2739).

April 9-10: Youth turkey hunt.

April 11: Spring Fish and Wildlife meetings; Sawyer County meeting at Winter High School.

April 13: Hayward Bass Club planning meeting at Hayward Rod & Gun Club (715-699-1015).

April 15: Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame opens for season (715-634-4440).

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, view its Calendar of Events, or call 800-724-2992.