Outdoor Report for March 14, 2016

HLVCB Outdoor Report

March 14, 2016

Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report

Steve Suman

If you enjoyed the warm, summer-like temperatures and found great pleasure in the sunshine this past weekend, the forecast for this week will probably not meet with your approval. Highs in the 40-degree range, lows reaching into the 20s, some wind, and a few mentions of rain and rain/snow mix tell the story. Still, many of the precipitation “chances” are slight, so this could very well turn into a very nice week – especially for March in the North Woods!

“Winter outdoor activities are rapidly coming to an end,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “and it may be time to start thinking about spring and open water fishing. Snowmobiling and skiing closed as the trails deteriorated to mud and dirt, lakes are now devoid of trail markers, and geese have already started their return migration, with loons soon to follow.

“From now and until the 2016-17 season begins May 7, anglers are limited to only panfish. IF you go on the lakes, use extreme caution. The forecast calls for warm weather, rain, and wind that will further deteriorate ice conditions.

“Panfish action is very inconsistent. Crappie fishing has not been very productive and it appears to be a matter of timing. There is no clear pattern, but some anglers report being in the right place at the right time. Use electronics to avoid a lot of searching for fish. Crappie action will become more consistent later in March as fish start moving towards shallower warm bays.

“Anglers are catching some bluegills on waxies in shallow water and perch fishing is fair, but with large perch hard to find. Bigger perch are currently feeding on wigglers over deeper mud flats, but as we get closer to ice-out, these fish will start moving into the bays to spawn.”

At Hayward Bait, Sonya and Bob remind anglers that game fish season closed, ice conditions are deteriorating, and anyone venturing out should use extremecaution!

“There is a good crappie bite on crappie minnows, rosy reds, grubs, and small plastics. The bluegills are also cooperating and biting well on grubs and plastics. Perch anglers report good success on rosy reds, fatheads, and grubs.”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses Wisconsin creel numbers.

“At the 2016 meeting of the Wisconsin Chapter of the American Fisheries Society, researcher Robert Holsman presented results of a mail-in creel survey of Wisconsin anglers. The DNR uses angler surveys to make estimates about the numbers of fish anglers catch and harvest in Wisconsin.

“Holsman and his co-authors estimate anglers annually catch about 40 million fish in Wisconsin and harvest about 12 million of those fish. Walleye are the most popular single species targeted by anglers, but ‘panfish,’ when combined as a group, become the most popular.

“There are an estimated 2 million walleye caught annually, with about 500,000 of those being harvested. Catch rates for walleye are similar in the northern and southern parts of the state, but catch rates for the south skew towards locations such as the Wisconsin River, Winnebago, and Green Bay.”

The Wisconsin DNR recently received $32,837,049 from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS) in the annual distribution of revenues generated by the Pittman-Robertson Wildlife Restoration and Dingell-Johnson Sport Fish Restoration acts. The funding derives from excise taxes hunters, anglers, and boaters pay on firearms, ammunition, and bows (Pittman-Robertson), and sportfishing tackle, some boat engines, and small engine fuel (Dingell-Johnson). Wisconsin received $20,982,254 from Wildlife Restoration (Pittman-Robertson) and $11,854,795 from Sport Fish Restoration (Dingell-Johnson). For more information, visit http://wsfrprograms.fws.gov.

Campers interested in camping in Flambeau River State Forest campgrounds should note that Lake of the Pines Campground opens April 15 on a first come, first served basis. There are 30 campsites, all non-electric, and no ADA sites. The campground includes two vault toilet buildings, a hand pump for water, a garbage and recycling station, boat access to Lake of the Pines, and access to a half-mile nature trail. Connors Lake Campground opens the Thursday prior to Memorial Day weekend. There are 29 sites with two ADA designated sites. All are non-electric. The campground includes two vault toilet buildings, hand pump water, a garbage and recycling station, boat access to Connors Lake, and access to a short 0.3-mile nature trail. You can reserve some sites by registering on www.reserveamerica.com or by calling (877) 444-6777. Flambeau River State Forest also offers 14 primitive canoe campsites along the Flambeau River and primitive backpack camping anywhere on the forest, with the exception of the Native Community Management Areas.

Wisconsin’s Learn to Hunt Bear program is now accepting applications from people who want to experience a real Wisconsin black bear hunt with skilled mentors. The program features classroom and field instruction, ending with a genuine hunt. Started in 2005, the DNR designed the outreach program for novice hunters who would not otherwise have an opportunity to experience bear hunting. Anyone age 10 and older who has not participated in a Learn to Hunt Bear event, has not previously purchased a Class A or Class B bear license, or has not applied for preference points, can apply. Participation is limited and the application deadline is May 27. Program organizers will evaluate applications and notify the winners in mid-June. For applications and more information, search ‘LTH’ on the DNR website.

FISHING REPORT

Last week’s ice fishing report was the final one for this season. Open water reports will resume following ice-out – which could be very soon! While a few panfish anglers continue to push their luck (and perhaps push it!), remember that this is not a normal year for ice – and ice pays no attention to the calendar. Spend some time locating and preparing your open water equipment. Clean reels and spool on new line. Organize tackle boxes (yeah, right). Visit the sporting goods stores to see the newest equipment they are just starting to receive and stock on the shelves. For a change, be ready to go when the first opportunity arises!

Upcoming Events

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

March 14-24: County Deer Advisory Councils (CDAC) meetings.

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 29-April 5: Hunter Education Course in Hayward (715-558-5371).

March 31: 2015-16 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.