Outdoor Report for February 22, 2016

HLVCB Outdoor Report

February 22, 2016

Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report

Steve Suman

The weekend’s mild, wet weather was far from perfect for Birkie skiers, snowmobilers, and ice anglers, but all went forward and (most) enjoyed a good time following their favorite pursuits. This week, nights turn colder with temperatures in the teens (that should firm up things!), highs fluctuate from teens to mid-30s, and there are a few chances of snow.

“Ice thickness can vary from spot to spot,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “and there are still some slushy areas, so we do not recommend driving a vehicle on the lakes.

“Walleye fishing during the day is fair in 12-18 feet with medium shiners or suckers on tip-ups. On the big, clear lakes, jig Swedish Pimples tipped with crappie minnows or fatheads in deeper water. Anglers report better action in shallower water in the evening when fish move in to feed.

“Northern fishing is spotty, with most anglers setting tip-ups rigged with shiners or suckers over weeds. Panfish provide the best action, now that anglers can get over deeper areas to jig minnows or waxies for crappies. Bluegills are shallower in deeper weeds, hitting waxies or spikes. If you do not have electronics to help find fish, be prepared to move around a lot.”

At Hayward Bait, Sonya, Kelly, and Bob say there are some slush pockets on lakes, but ice conditions are improving.

“Walleye anglers are catching fish in 15-20 feet on shiners, suckers, and fatheads. Northerns are moving into shallow (7-10 feet) weed beds and taking shiners and suckers.

“Crappies are in deep water, suspending as much as half-way up from the bottom. Use crappie minnows, waxies, spikes, and plastics. For bluegill and perch in 7-10 feet, use crappie minnows, rosy reds, waxies, spikes, mousies, and plastics.”

Mike at Jenk’s says there are reports of 12 inches of ice, but not over the entire lake.

“Do not take thick ice for granted – ALWAYS exercise caution when going on the ice.

“Northern action is fair on suckers in 10-15 feet, with some in shallower weeds. Crappie fishing is solid all day. Fish 15-20 feet with smaller fatheads, Jigging Raps, and Swedish Pimples.”

At Anglers All in Ashland, Carolyn says the weather cooperated with most Chequamegon Bay anglers last week.

“There were excellent reports of brown trout, splake, whitefish, and occasional lake trout and steelhead. Anglers are concentrating toward Houghton Point to Long Island or off Bodin’s. Warm temperatures and rain could have changed ice conditions in those areas, so beware, go slowly, and check for cracks.

“Perch fishing is good off Second Landing, mainly on cloudy days, which is especially important in shallower water as there is very little snow cover.”

Access is still difficult on most lakes, says DNR fisheries biologist Skip Sommerfeldt.

“Strong winds formed some significant snow drifts and some firming slush areas created a double layer of ice.

“Walleye fishing is erratic. A few anglers are catching fish in late afternoon on medium suckers or large fatheads fished near breaklines and mud flats in 5-10 feet.

“Panfish provide the most consistent action on small ice jigs tipped with waxies, with decent catches of crappie, bluegill, and perch suspending just off bottom near deep water.”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses livewell temperatures.

“Temperature stress can be hard on fish and can even lead to mortality. Researchers studying if livewells were a source of temperature stress, tested livewells during bass tournaments to see if they became warmer than the lake water. They placed temperature logging thermometers into livewells and the lake and examined the difference.

“The good news is that livewell temperatures typically stayed within a few degrees of the lake water temperature, meaning fish in the livewells probably did not experience much temperature stress provided the water was often re-circulated. Anglers fishing bass tournaments and those hoping to keep fish alive and fresh until returning to the dock can feel comfortable the fish in their livewells are not getting too hot!”

The Hayward DNR fisheries crew is hosting its annual Sawyer County fisheries forum at Hayward High School Thursday, February 25, from 6-7:30 p.m. A short presentation by fisheries biologist Max Wolter will focus on how management strategies are shifting to habitat work and other projects following the regulations overhaul for walleye, trout, panfish, bass, and musky, and great strides in walleye and musky stocking. The crew invites all interested anglers to attend and learn what is changing in fish management. There will be plenty of time for questions and discussion.

Flambeau River State Forest is hosting an event Saturday March 5, from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. to help celebrate Aldo Leopold Weekend. View a screening of Learning from the Land, a video chronicling Leopold’s life using various passages from A Sand County Almanac, and enjoy a short walk along the Flambeau River, readings from Sand County Almanac, and refreshments. For more information, contact Ron Weber (715) 353-2993; ronw2492@yahoo.com.

The Namekagon River Valley Chapter of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundationwill hold its fundraising banquet Saturday, Feb. 27, starting at 4:30 p.m., at The Steakhouse in Hayward. Proceeds help support RMEF Conservation efforts, including the Namekagon Chapter Youth Day Program. For more information and tickets, visit the RMEF events website or call Chris Rugowski (715) 634-1742.

SCOPE Shooters, Hayward’s only high school trap team, will hold a sign-up session Monday, February 29, at Hayward High school, during the spring sports meeting. The team invites all Sawyer County high school students to join in for the second season. Team activities do not conflict with regular spring sports schedules. For more information, email scope4youth@hotmail.com or call Coach Chris (715-558-5371).


The February 22 Cable Area trail report says Cable area trails are in fair condition after a warm weekend. There is a flat base of 2-4 inches, even with the warm weather, and we expect colder temperatures this week and a chance of snow Tuesday. Groomers are out day and night – and remember: they have the right of way. A suggested reroute for Trail 90, closed due to logging, is FR191 (Old Grade Rd) to trail 80. Do not forget Feb. 26-27 is the World’s Longest Weenie Roast at Lakewoods.

The February 20 Hayward Power Sports trail report says Sawyer County snowmobile trails are open and the woods trails still have good snow. They may be rough due to the warm temperatures; and trails in open areas have bare spots. All lake trails remain staked, but in fair condition. Please stay on staked trails – there is a lot of slush off the marked trails.

The HLVCB trail report for February 19 says Sawyer County snowmobile trails are open, with the majority in very good condition, though there was weekend rain. Lake trails are good, but please stay on the marked trails, and use caution, as there are reports of ice heaves in some areas.



Walleye action is fair to good, but inconsistent, with better success in late afternoon and evening hours into and after dark. During daylight hours, fish 12-20 feet near breaklines, mud flats, and drop-offs. In the evening, fish shallower water, 4-12 feet, on weed edges, breaklines, and mud flats. Walleye suckers, shiners, and fatheads on tip-ups, jigs, and jigging spoons, are all catching fish.

Northern Pike:

Northern pike fishing is fair to good, though a bit erratic. Concentrate on weed beds in 5-18 feet, setting tip-ups with shiners or suckers over the weed tops.


Crappie fishing is good to very good in depths out to 22 feet. Fish are suspending at various levels, so be sure to check the entire water column. Top baits include crappie minnows, rosy reds, fatheads, waxies, spikes, and plastics, as well as Jigging Raps and Swedish Pimples.


Bluegill action is good around weeds in 5-12 and deeper, with fish suspending near the bottom. Baits of choice include waxies, spikes, mousies, and plastics on small jigs or teardrops.


Look for perch near the bottom in depths from 10 feet out and/or close to deep water. Use small ice jigs, teardrops, or plain hooks with waxies, or try small jigging spoons.

Upcoming Events

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

Feb. 27: RMEF banquetThe Steakhouse (715-634-1742).

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 18: NWTF Hunting Heritage BanquetHayward VFW (715-763-3381).

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.