Outdoor Report

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]January 9, 2017

Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report

Steve Suman


Snow continues to fall in the North Woods, though not in huge quantities. Still, accumulations will build if colder temperatures hold – more is on the way mid-week – but the forecast is for mid-20s on Sunday.


“The ice is not yet safe enough for vehicles,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “but people are taking out ATVs and snowmobiles.

“Walleye fishing is improving and anglers are catching some nice fish, especially in late afternoon/evening hours and after dark as fish come shallow to feed. Set tip-ups with sucker minnows or shiners on the edges of drop-offs and on weeds. On some deeper lakes, jigging fatheads is working in deeper water during afternoons.

“Northern anglers are catching pike on weeds and weedline edges with walleye suckers and shiners on tip-ups, or jig small shiners and fatheads.

“Panfish action improved now that anglers can fish the holes for crappies. Search vertically, as well as moving around, as they often suspend well off bottom. Use small jigs with crappie minnows and waxies. Bluegills are in the weeds, hitting waxies. Perch are in deep weeds, hitting anything small enough.”

Erik at Hayward Bait says ice conditions are good following holiday rainfall that melted snow and froze into a sold layer of ice.

“This makes it great for folks who are dragging shacks to their favorite spots with little or no snow on the ice. Ice thickness varies from 9-10 inches on some lakes to more than 12 inches on other lakes.

“Anglers are getting walleyes during early mornings and evening hours on glow spoons with rattles and jigging baits such as Rattle Traps, Jigging Rap, and others.

“Pike anglers are having luck fishing off points, weedlines, and transition areas with sucker minnows and large to extra large shiners under tip-ups.

“Crappie and sunfish are active in deep lake basins, but the key is hole-hopping and staying on active fish. Use tungsten jigs tipped with waxies or spikes to get down quick to suspended fish or fish just off the bottom.”


Carolyn at Anglers All in Ashland says cold and wind stopped most anglers from traveling on Chequamegon Bay until activity increased last Friday.

“On the Ashland side of the Bay, there is approximately 9-12 inches of ice and anglers report nice catches of perch, walleye, brown trout, whitefish, and some splake. On the Washburn side, ice conditions are still iffy at best, taking only one chop of a bar in many places!

“Most anglers are now targeting deeper areas, humps, and drop-offs into the channel. Lake shiners and waxies are the live baits of choice, but all types of minnows seem to produce if the fish are feeding aggressively.”


This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses trophy smallmouth growth.

“For many years, Round Lake near Hayward has been a top spot for big smallmouth. A recent analysis of the lake’s smallmouth growth rates have revealed how long it takes to grow a big smallmouth.

“In Round Lake, smallmouth grow rapidly for the first few years of life, often reaching 14 inches within five years. However, getting smallmouth to that size is the easy part. Adding the next 6 inches to get the fish to 20 inches might take an additional 10 years.

“Late in life, smallmouth typically grow slowly, perhaps only a quarter-inch each year, and this makes 22- to 23-inch smallmouth so rare. They simply do not ‘pop up’ overnight.

“In addition to the time it takes to grow big smallmouth, you have to have low mortality in the population. Even a small amount of harvest, or delayed mortality from catch and release, can have negative impacts on a population, particularly when it comes to trophy potential.”


Early catch-and-release trout season opened January 7 and runs until midnight May 5. This is the second year for the extended season that brought very favorable feedback from anglers. The DNR offers a Trout Tool to help anglers find places to fish. Early season anglers must have a valid 2016-2017 fishing license and trout stamp. Licenses are valid April 1 through March 31 the following year. Be sure to check the regulations for specific restrictions.


Free Fishing Weekend is January 21-22 when you can fish almost anywhere in Wisconsin without a license or trout stamp! Most waters of the state are open – with the exception of spring trout ponds – including all other inland waters and Wisconsin’s side of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River. Regulations and seasonal restrictions are still in force. If you have never ice fished, this is a great time to try it!


Elk Country ATV Club is hosting its 9th annual ice fishing contest January 21, from 8 a.m.-3 p.m., on Upper Clam Lake. The entry fee is $5, with a 100-percent payback. There is a youth division for kids 12 and younger. Contest species are walleye, northern pike, crappie, bluegill, and perch. Raffle prizes include a Vexilar, ice shack, ice auger, and more – and you could win a Honda Rancher ATV. For more information, visit www.elkcountryatvclub.com or contact Rick Guthman (715-794-2298; 681-0581).



Note: Trail conditions can change quickly, so always check with local businesses for the most current, up-to-the-minute ice and trail conditions and trail closures.

The January 7 Namakagon Trail Groomers trail report says the Lake Namakagon stick trail is up, there is a hard base with 1-3 inches of snow, and groomers are grooming.

The January 6 Lakewoods trail report says crews have staked both the Lake Namakagon and Lake Owen stick trails and riders report fair to good riding. The 1-3 inches of new snow helped cover the lake and freshen the trails.

The January 3 Cable area trail report says Bayfield County snowmobile trails are open and crews are staking stick trails. Despite not having a lot of snow on the ground, riders report fair riding conditions.

According to the January 3 HLVCB trail report, most Sawyer County trails are open, have a great base with a little snow on top, and crews have staked nearly all lake trails. Chequamegon Forest trails in Sawyer County are also open. In the southern part of the county, the Tuscobia Trail and Flambeau State Forest trails are open with the exception of Trail 36 from Flambeau to the Price County line, rerouted back to the old trail along Hwy W.




Walleye action is good and improving, with best success in early morning, late afternoon, and evening into dark. During these hours, focus on shallower drop-off and weed edges. During daytime, try jigging deeper water. Best baits include walleye suckers, shiners, and fatheads on tip-ups and jigs. Jigging spoons and other jigging baits are also producing some catches.


Northern Pike:

Northern pike fishing is good in/over weeds, on weedline edges, points, and breaklines/transition areas. Baits of choice include sucker minnows, shiners, and fatheads fished on tip-ups and jigs.



Look for crappies in deep holes and suspending over deep water. Small jigs tipped with crappie minnows, waxies, plastics, and Gulp! baits work well. Check the entire water column with your electronics!



Bluegills are in deeper water, hitting small jigs tipped with waxies, spikes, plastics, and Gulp! baits.



Perch fishing is fair to good in and near deeper weeds, with fish just off the bottom. Use small jigs tipped with waxies and spikes.


Upcoming Events

Jan. 7: Early catch-and-release only trout season opened statewide (see regs).

Jan. 8: Archery and crossbow deer seasons closed.

Jan. 14: Northwest Relic Riders vintage and antique snowmobile show; Jack Frost Festival, Spooner (715-416-2097).

Jan. 18: Winter crow season opens.

Jan. 21-22: Free Fishing Weekend – fish nearly anywhere in WI without a license or trout stamp (see regs).

Jan. 21: Elk Country ATV Club’s 9th annual ice fishing contest, Upper Clam Lake (715-794-2298; 681-0581).

Jan. 21: Northland Area Builders 7th Annual ice fishing event (715-296-7881).

Jan. 25: DNR winter fisheries forum, Hayward High School, 6 p.m. (715-634-7429).

Jan. 31: Seasons close: Grouse in North Zone; Bobcat Period 2; Squirrel.

Feb. 4: Flambeau River State Forest 25th annual candlelight event 6-9 p.m. (715-332-5271).

Feb. 4-5: Deerfoot Lodge Freeze Your Buns Off Crappie Ice Fishing Contest (715-462-3328).

Feb. 7: Cable Rod and Gun Club ice fishing contest (715-798-3099).

Feb. 11: Brule River State Forestcandlelight ski and snowshoe 5-9 p.m. (715-372-5678).

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

Feb. 15: Drummond Sno-Jacks 18th annual bar stool races (715-739-6645).

Feb. 25: American Birkebeiner (715-634-5025).

Feb. 26: Seasons close: Cottontail rabbit; Mink trapping.


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 or 715-634-4801.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]