Outdoor Report for March 28, 2016

HLVCB Outdoor Report

March 28, 2016

Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report

Steve Suman

Wind and rain chances (should they prevail, and yes, the forecast includes snow) will help remove some of the ice this week, though it will end with a return to low temperatures below 20 degrees. Though we are officially more than a week into spring, it might take a bit of time before spring becomes full reality in the North Woods!

“We dodged another one last week,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “but supposedly there is another front passing through this week that could deposit a little more snow on us. Lakes have open water along the edges and on one, I did not have to throw a rock very far for it to break through.

“One good thing about the new DNR ‘GoWild’ system is that state residents can use their drivers license for proof of purchase and do not have to carry the piece of paper if they are fishing inland lakes. People hunting deer, turkey, and other species that require tags have to carry the piece of paper. Speaking of licenses, be aware your 2015-16 hunting and fishing licenses expire March 31.”

At Hayward Bait, Sonya, Bob, and Guide Steve Genson say ice-out on lakes is happening and we should soon have complete lake ice-out.

“It should be a nice, early spring, so it is time to store ice fishing gear and pull out open water equipment. Clean and grease reels, and install new line; check rod eyes and replace if necessary; clean and prepare the boat; and hope for nice weather! As soon as lakes open and water temperatures rise, panfish fishing should be very good.

“Catch and release trout fishing is open on the Namakagon River and some Lake Superior tributaries opened March 26. Check the DNR website for rules and regulations.

“Turkey season opens soon, so get your guns, calls, and camo ready to go!”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses spring plans for the Hayward DNR fisheries team.

“As it is during most springs, the Hayward-based DNR fisheries management team will be very busy in 2016.

“The year will likely start as the ice goes out on Barker Lake when we will survey the whole fish community, with an emphasis on walleye and muskellunge tagging, and do a considerable amount of work on walleye and northern pike on Lac Courte Oreilles (LCO). We will survey the Chippewa Flowage for muskellunge and crappie, and hatchery crews will collect muskellunge eggs for the Governor Thompson Hatchery. There will be walleye and muskellunge work on Round Lake, with a goal of tagging many adult muskellunge.

“Clear Lake, Indian, Spider, Windigo, and Winter will receive surveys for various species of interest. Later in the spring, after the water has warmed, we will survey all of the lakes mentioned in this article for bass and bluegill.”

According to DNR fisheries biologist Paul Piszczek in Superior, steelhead anglers can look forward to the possibility of a good spring bite on the Bois Brule and other Lake Superior tributaries. He says DNR biologists reported an increase in steelhead numbers during the fall 2015 count and anticipate better access to the water as much of the snow has melted. From July 1 through Dec. 31, 5,660 steelhead passed through the fishway monitoring site, up from 3,036 the previous year, and steelhead significantly outnumbered the 3,930 brown trout and 1,680 coho salmon. The fall 2015 run was the highest fall return since 2010. For nearly nine consecutive weeks starting in September, steelhead exhibited movements of 400 or more fish past the Brule fishway, a marked improvement over the past three of four fall seasons, when steelhead counts exceeded 400 fish for only two or three weeks. More than 60 percent of the fish were 20-25 inches long and 25 percent exceeded the 26-inch legal minimum length. To learn more, search “fishing Lake Superior” on the DNR website.

Wisconsin’s 2015-16 winter is ending, and judging from the winter severity index, it was a mild winter. The DNR calculates the index by adding the number of days with 18 inches or more of snow on the ground to the number of days when the minimum temperatures were at or below zero degrees Fahrenheit. The average severity index through March 2016 was approximately 20. Biologists consider a winter with a severity index of less than 50 mild, 50-79 moderate, 80-99 severe, and more than 100 very severe. The severity index for the record-setting winter of 2013-14 was 149. For more information, search “deer” on the DNR website.

On April 4, Wisconsin’s County Deer Advisory Councils (CDAC) will release their preliminary recommendations for antlerless harvest quotas, permit levels, and season structure. A public comment period runs April 4-17. Meetings resume in April and councils will review public feedback before submitting final recommendations. The DNR will continue to accept public comments at April meetings. To provide comments, contact a CDAC chair or email to DNRCDACWebMail@Wisconsin.gov. For more information, search “CDAC” on the DNR website.

The DNR has released chronic wasting disease (CWD) sampling results for 2015, having sampled more than 3,100 deer statewide. The samples produced 290 positive detections, primarily in the endemic area in southern Wisconsin. Last year’s efforts were the fourth year for CWD surveillance in Washburn County, following the 2012 discovery of a CWD-positive adult doe near Shell Lake. With the help of landowners and hunters, the DNR sampled more than 2,000 deer in the area and detected no new positives. Based on four years of sampling, all information indicates the disease is not widespread in the Washburn County area. Search “CWD” on the DNR website for more information.

Fishing Has No Boundaries is hosting its 29th annual convention April 1-3 at Lakewoods in Cable. Presentations include the need for good photos and how pictures tell the story; working with difficult issues; safety is more than just a lifejacket; overcoming challenges and the need to make accessibility a priority; and more. For more information, and to register for the conference, call (715) 634-3185 or 800-243-3462.

The March 23 Hayward Power Sports ATV trail report says all Sawyer County ATV trails, with the exception of 9 Mile Loop, closed until further notice. There is a washout of Tuscobia Trail at Clover Spur Road resulting from heavy precipitation last week. The DNR placed barricades and called Digger’s Hot line to mark the area. If weather cooperates and the water level drops sufficiently, crews will reset the culvert, rip rap the sides, replace the gravel, and reclaim gravel that washed downstream to the sides of the trail.

Upcoming Events

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

March 31: 2015-16 hunting/fishing licenses expire.

April 1-3: Fishing Has No Boundaries convention and annual meeting (715-634-3185; 800-243-3462).

April 8: A Night with Wisconsin’s Bats at Crex Meadows 6-7 p.m. (715-463-2739).

April 9: Maple Tree Workshop at Crex Meadows, 1-3 p.m. (715-463-2739).

April 13: Hayward Bass Club planning meeting at Hayward Rod & Gun Club (715-699-1015).

April 15: Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame opens for season (715-634-4440).

May 3: Hayward Lakes Chapter Muskies, Inc. meeting at Coop’s Pizza, 7 p.m. (715-634-4543).

May 7: General inland fishing opener (see regs).

May 7-June 17: Northern Zone smallmouth bass catch and release only.

May 20-21: Fishing Has No Boundaries on Chippewa Flowage (715-634-3185).

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.