Outdoor Report for December 21, 2015

HLVCB Outdoor Report

December 21, 2015

Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report

Steve Suman

Moderate winter weather continues in the North Woods. This week’s forecast shows highs in the mid-30s and lows ranging from mid-teens to mid-20s, with temperatures cooling toward the end of the week. Precipitation is in the mix nearly every day, coming in various forms including rain, freezing drizzle, sleet, and snow.

Here’s wishing you all a very Merry Christmas!

“It may look and feel like winter some days,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “but it is not enough for participation in favorite winter activities.

“Until we get good, hard ice on the lakes and marshes, crews cannot stake them for travel and the trails will remain closed until conditions are right. The ATV trails are open, however.”

Kelly at Hayward Bait says they look forward to soon seeing some substantial ice.

“Some anglers are targeting walleye, northern, and bass with shiners and walleye minnows, but there isn’t much ice. If you go, be safe, check the ice as you go, and use extreme caution!”

Mike at Jenk’s says a couple cold mornings helped a bit with ice on the Chippewa Flowage.

“Temperatures are forecast for the mid-30s for the first part of this week, however, and that will put a damper on ice formation.

“Conservatively, there might be one inch of ice. If you do decide to go, go using EXTREME caution!”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses fish sleep habits.

“Sometimes fish bite during the day and sometimes fish bite best at night. This might lead anglers to wonder: Do fish sleep? The answer is ‘sort of’.”

“Of course, fish do not close their eyes and lie down like mammals – for starters, they have no eye-lids – but many fish do go through a daily cycle where they will reduce their metabolism and activities at night to conserve energy. Some fish lie motionless on the bottom of the lake; some suspend in place; and others tuck themselves into wood or weedy cover.

“It is thought this behavior has some of the same benefits of actual sleeping, but allows the fish to remain somewhat alert and able to respond to danger.”

According to DNR fisheries biologist Skip Sommerfeldt, most lakes have lost their ice cover with the mild weather in the last two weeks and this put an end to any sort of early-season ice fishing.

“Some smaller lakes still held a thin layer of very soft ice, but it was not even close to a thickness that would support any kind of ice travel. It will take several nights of single-digit low temperatures to get the 3-4 inches of ice needed to support a person on foot.

“A few anglers took advantage of the re-opening of many lakes and gave open-water fishing a try. The conditions were rather windy and brisk and success was generally low, with anglers catching just a few perch, crappie, and small walleye. Most anglers are just biding their time until good ice re-forms on their favorite waters.”

You still have time to buy tickets for Walleyes for Northwest Wisconsin’sfundraising gun raffle. The Savage bolt-action rifle includes a scope. You can buy tickets – $5/each or 3/$10 – at Hayward Bait in Hayward and AAA Sports in Spooner. The drawing is December 24. For more information, visitwww.wfnw.net or call (715) 462-3559 or 634-5650.

Beginning this year, all snowmobiles (with some exceptions) operating on a Wisconsin snowmobile trail or corridor must display a valid snowmobile trail passwhether registered in Wisconsin or another state. The fee is dependent upon whether the snowmobile has Wisconsin registration and whether the snowmobile owner is a member of a snowmobile club and Association of Wisconsin Snowmobile Clubs (AWSC). The trail pass fee is $30 for snowmobiles registered in Wisconsin. The fee is $10 for a snowmobile registered in Wisconsin and owned by a member of both a snowmobile club and the AWSC. The nonresident snowmobile trail pass is $50 for a snowmobile registered in/in the process of registering in another state, province, or country. Visit www.awsc.org for information on discounted club member trail passes.

The DNR now has the second edition of the Public Access Lands atlasavailable. The atlas includes DNR properties, as well as federal and county owned lands. You can download and print the maps free of charge. People interested in purchasing an atlas can do so at University Book Store. The original PAL Atlas, with 441 maps, two indexes and a glossary is $89.95; a separate PAL atlas, available for each of Wisconsin’s 72 counties, is $24.95; a DVD with more than 450 pages of public lands access data is $5.95. For more information, search ‘atlas” on the DNR website.


Mild weather continues to delay not only ice fishing, but also the start of nearly all other winter recreation. While there may be some thin ice in back bays, it is not thick enough for safe travel. Current forecasts do not sound encouraging for building any ice depths this week.

Upcoming Events

Dec. 25: Bobcat hunting/trapping Period 1 season closes.

Dec. 26: Bobcat hunting/trapping Period 2 opens (see regs).

Dec. 31: Seasons close: Pheasant; Extended fall turkey zones 1-5; Hungarian partridge; Fisher trapping; Frog.

Jan. 3: Late archery deer season closes.

Jan. 16-17: Free Fishing Weekend. Residents and nonresidents.

Jan. 16: Elk Country ATV Club’s 8th annual ice fishing contest on Upper Clam Lake.

Jan. 24: Winter crow season opens.

Jan. 31: Seasons close: Ruffed grouse (Northern Zone); Bobcat hunting/trapping (Period 2); Squirrel.

Hayward Lakes Visitor and Convention Bureau and Sawyer County Record co-sponsor this report. For more information on area events and activities, visit the HLVCB’s Calendar of Events or call 800-724-2992.