Outdoor Report for March 21, 2016

HLVCB Outdoor Report

March 21, 2016

Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report

Steve Suman

The weather forecast last week listed rain chances nearly every day. This week – a week later and following the “official” start of spring – the weather forecast lists chances for snow every day. Temperatures this week are generally stable, with most highs in the low to mid-40s and most lows in the low 20s. Keep it in perspective – a month ago, we would have considered these temperatures almost balmy!

“Last week served a reminder that winter is still here,” says Pat at Happy Hooker. “The five or more inches of wet, heavy snow on the heels of spring-like temperatures came as a major shock to all hoping for an early ice-out.

“All anglers should use extreme caution if attempting to go ice fishing, but maybe it is time to hang it up and begin planning and checking equipment in preparation for open water fishing.”

At Hayward Bait, Sonya and Bob report the ice on area lakes is no longer safe.

“Several people report difficulty getting on and off at the shoreline – or falling through – so it is probably time to get ready for open water.

“The Namakagon River is open for catch and release trout fishing and anglers report some success. On Lake Superior, trolling anglers are catching coho in Saxon Harbor. Early trout season opens March 26 on Lake Superior tributaries, but check the regulations for updated rules.

“Get your hunting gear ready and sight-in your guns – spring turkey season opens soon!”

Carolyn at Anglers All in Ashland says ice fishing has ended on Chequamegon Bay and anglers are looking forward to an early ice-out.

“Currently, the only open water for the trollers is Saxon Harbor east of Ashland. Many anglers are taking advantage of this opportunity to get out for brown trout, lake trout, splake, and coho, with coho the most cooperative. Trollers should look for the clean water, especially after rain, and most are flatlining stickbaits.

“Steelhead anglers will soon be out in full force. It is time to get spawn, yarn, and flies ready – and check your waders for leaks!”

DNR fisheries biologist Skip Sommerfeldt says recent mild weather and heavy rains made ice conditions on nearly all lakes unsafe for any kind of travel.

“Shoreline areas, inlets, and outlets developed large areas of open water and the ice cover is likely well honeycombed and soft. Barring any major cold weather in the next few weeks, ice fishing season is over for this season.

“Prior to the recent thaw, some anglers were catching a few nice crappie and perch, but most were having a hard time finding many active fish.”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses the Hugh Becker Musky Symposium.

“Last week, DNR staff attended the combined Hugh Becker Musky Symposium and Muskies, Inc. 50th anniversary celebration in Minnetonka, Minnesota. Researchers and biologists from across North America gave presentations about all aspects of muskellunge management and biology.

“There seems to be a strong emphasis on muskellunge spawning habitat right now and agencies looking to overcome muskellunge recruitment challenge will welcome those results. There were also presentations about challenges dealing with public perception of muskellunge – what people in many parts of the country see as a large, toothy, unwelcome fish.

“The conference was held in honor of the late Hugh Becker, a Minnesota native with many strong ties to Wisconsin. Becker was one of the early pioneers of catch and release musky fishing and a founder of the “Lunge Log,” which Muskies, Inc. maintains to this day. Becker left a large sum of money in a foundation to fund muskellunge research and restoration projects across North America. He was a remarkable man, leaving quite a legacy.”

Leftover spring turkey hunting permits for the 2016 season are now on sale by zone, one zone per day. Each zone has a designated sales date, with extra tags available on a first-come, first-served basis. Hunters can purchase extra tags at a rate of one per day until the zone and period sells out or the season closes. Phone sales are no longer available to purchase licenses. The schedule is Zone 1 Monday March 21; Zone 2 Tuesday March 22; Zone 3 Wednesday March 23;Zone 4 Thursday March 24; and zones 5, 6, 7 Friday March 25. After zone-only sales days, the DNR will make all remaining turkey tags available for purchase Saturday March 26. Leftover permits cost $10 for residents and $15 for non-residents.

The DNR recently launched its new licensing program as part of the Go Wildcampaign, a program encouraging people to enjoy Wisconsin’s numerous recreational opportunities. The new system allows customers to get licenses, tags, and other items through license vendors, DNR service centers, and mobile devices. Proof of purchase options include a personal conservation card, an authenticated Wisconsin driver’s license, plain paper copy, or display on a mobile device. Purchase by phone is no longer an option with the new system. For more information, visit www.GoWild.wi.gov.

History shows spring brings Wisconsin’s highest fire occurrence and fire season is upon us – the DNR reported 23 wildfires during the past week. According to DNR wildfire prevention specialist Catherine Koele, fire season arrives shortly after the snow cover disappears and things can quickly dry out and elevate the fire danger in a couple of days. People burning in the outdoors should assess the weather and obtain proper burn permits. Check with local municipal or fire department officials for ordinances or other burning restrictions. An additional incentive is that anyone found responsible for causing a wildfire is liable for all suppression costs and potentially any damages.

Hayward Bass Club will hold its first planning meeting Wednesday March 23, at Hayward Rod & Gun Club, starting at 7 p.m. The second meeting is April 13. During this meeting, members will choose waters to fish this year from a list of more than 30 area lakes. The club welcomes any interested anglers; annual dues are $40. For more information, contact Wayne Balsavich at (715) 699-1015 or email haywardbassclub@gmail.com.

Upcoming Events

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

March 20: Winter crow season closed.

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

March 23: Hayward Bass Club planning meeting at Hayward Rod & Gun Club, 7 p.m. (715-699-1015).

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.