Outdoor Report for February 15, 2016

HLVCB Outdoor Report

February 15, 2016

Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report

Steve Suman

This week’s forecast continues to change, but it appears we have a warming trend starting, with a mix of precipitation early and late in the week. The current prediction for Friday and Saturday (during this weekend’s American Birkebeiner), is about 40 degrees.

“Most lakes still have 8-10 inches of ice,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “but the increased slush layer could hamper ATV and snowmobile travel.

“Walleye success remains quite variable, with best success in late afternoon into dark hours. Try small fatheads or suckers in 5-10 feet. Northern pike action is fair during mid-day hours. Use shiners and suckers on tip-ups, set the baits a few feet over the top of weed beds in 5-10 feet.

“Panfish anglers have to move quite a bit to find active fish, so electronics are important in locating these schools. Crappies are in deeper water, suspending 3-5 feet off bottom, while perch are hitting small minnows fished just off bottom on mid-depth mud flats.”

At Hayward Bait, Sonya, Bob, and Kelly say ice conditions continue to be about the same.

“We have reports of 12 inches of ice on most lakes, but not consistent over the entire lake, so we still recommend extreme caution when venturing out onto the ice.

“The walleye bite remains good along weed edges and near structure in 15-25 feet. Walleye suckers and shiners work well, along with jigging spoons and jigs tipped with fatheads. Northern action is fair in 10-15 feet, with some in shallower weeds, on suckers and shiners.

“The panfish bite continues to be decent, with waxies, spikes, mousies, and small jigs working well for fish suspending or close to bottom in 15-20 feet.”

Ice depths are holding at 8-10 inches, says DNR fisheries biologist Skip Sommerfeldt, but the slush layer is 4-6 inches on some area waters, miring down even some snowmobiles and ATVs.

“Walleye activity spiked up a bit and a few anglers are having success on mid-depth breaklines and mud flats in 5-10 feet. The best action is on small suckers or extra large fatheads in the hour or so before dark. Northern pike fishing is okay, with decent catches on large golden shiners fished near old weed beds in 4-6 feet.

“Panfish continue to provide the most consistent success, though anglers have to move around quite a bit to find active fish. Crappies are suspending off the bottom in deeper water, with both finesse baits and small minnows catching fish. For perch, fish over mud flats and near weed beds with small fatheads.”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses the February 25 Sawyer County Fisheries Forum.

“On Thursday, February 25, from 6-7:30 p.m., the DNR fisheries crew will host its annual Sawyer County Fisheries Forum at Hayward High School. Over the years, this event has been a very useful forum for sharing information between anglers and the DNR.

“There will be a relatively short presentation (by Wolter) full of big fish pictures and videos focusing on how our management strategies are starting to shift toward habitat work and other projects. This follow the regulations overhaul for walleye, trout, panfish, bass, and musky and great strides in both walleye and musky stocking.

“We hope interested anglers will attend to learn about what is changing in the world of fish management, look forward to feedback from anglers, and will leave plenty of time for questions and discussion.”

The DNR now has the deer harvest survey results for the past season (Sept. 12 through Jan. 31) available on the DNR website. For more information on Wisconsin deer hunting, search “deer” or visit http://dnr.wi.gov.

The DNR is now (starting Tuesday February 16) implementing the new Go Wild licensing system, making it easier for license purchases, boat and RV registration, and to access information on recreational safety courses. The system secures license and registration information online, allowing sales and validation 24/7/365, with no waiting for licenses or registrations to arrive. Purchase proof is available through mobile devices, Wisconsin driver’s licenses, and an optional personal conservation card, and will be available at more than 1,000 vendors statewide. For more information, search “Go Wild” on the DNR website or visit www.GoWild.wi.gov.

SNOWMOBILE TRAIL REPORT

The February 15 HLVCB trail report says it was another good weekend. The majority of trails are in very good to excellent condition, groomers are running, and lake trails are good, though use caution due to reports of ice heaves. Please stay on marked trails, ride safe, and have fun!

The February 11 Cable Area trail report says the Cable Area received several inches of new snow last week and trail conditions are improving with the cold temperatures. There is a good 4-inch base and local riders boast trails are in prime condition. A suggested re-reroute for Trail 90 (closed due to logging in the area) is FR191 (Old Grade Rd) to trail 80.

The February 9 Runamuk Rides trail report says trails are relatively smooth and holding up well. Sawyer, Bayfield, and Ashland county groomers are working diligently to groom trails, grooming many of them 2-3 times per week. The lakes are open to snowmobile traffic, but as always, go only on staked lakes and stay close to the stakes.

The Northwest Relic Riders Vintage Snowmobile Club is holding a ride to lunch event Feb. 18. Participants should meet at 10 a.m. at the LCO snowmobile corral parking lot. For information, call Mike Wells (715-634-4608; 520-8220).

FISHING REPORT

Walleye:

Walleye action is decent to good, with best success an hour before dark into after dark. Concentrate on weed edges, structure, mid-depth breaklines, and mud flats in 5-28 feet. Walleye suckers, shiners, fatheads, and jigging spoons are producing the best results.

Northern Pike:

Northern action is fair to good, but there is all day action. Fish over the top of weeds, weed beds, and weed edges in 4-18 feet with tip-ups tipped with large shiners and northern suckers.

Crappie:

Crappie fishing is good, but use electronics and plan to move around to locate fish that are suspending near, and a few feet off, bottom in 12-23 feet. Check theentire water column! Top producing baits include waxies, mousies, spikes, finesse baits, plastics, and small minnows on small jigs or plain hooks.

Bluegill:

Bluegill fishing is good and stable, with fish suspending or near the bottom in 12-22 feet near weeds and structure. Baits of choice include waxies, spikes, and mousies on small jigs, teardrops, and plain hooks.

Perch:

Perch fishing is fair to good for fish holding near the bottom on mud flats and weed beds in 15-20 feet. Best success is on small jigs tipped with waxies, spikes, mousies, or small minnows.

Upcoming Events

Feb. 15: Seasons closed: Coyote trapping; Raccoon trapping/hunting; Red and gray fox gun and trapping.

Feb. 18: Relic Riders Ride to Lunch (715-634-4608; 520-8220).

Feb. 18-21: American Birkebeiner (715-634-5025).

Feb. 25: DNR public meeting, Sawyer County Fisheries Forum, 6-7:30 p.m., Hayward High School.

Feb. 26-27: LakewoodsWorld’s Longest Weenie Roast (715-794-2561).

Feb. 28: Seasons close: Cottontail rabbit; Mink trapping.

March 4: 2016-17 hunting and fishing licenses go on sale.

March 6: Game fish season closes on inland waters (see regs for exceptions).

March 6: Anglers must remove ice fishing shelters from inland waters south of Hwy 64.

March 20: Winter crow season closes.

March 21-25: Remaining spring turkey permits on sale OTC.

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

March 31: Hunting/fishing licenses expire.

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.