Outdoor Report

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]January 16, 2017

Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report

Steve Suman


This week’s forecast predicts a warming trend that carries through next weekend, which should provide excellent fishing conditions for Free Fishing Weekend and local ice fishing contests (see below for more information).


“There was little fishing activity last week due to the snow and cold,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “but anglers braving the elements had moderate success.

“Walleye action slowed, but anglers are catching fish off weed edges in late afternoon into dark. Northern provide the most action, with anglers setting tip-ups with walleye suckers and shiners over weed tops and along weed edges in 6-10 feet.

“Crappie anglers are finding fish just off the bottom in 16-18 feet. Use crappie minnows on jigging spoons or larger teardrops set at 14-16 feet, as crappie come up to bite. The best bite is in mid to late afternoon.”

Guide Steve Genson at Hayward Bait says ice conditions are very good, with 12-16 inches of ice on most lakes.

“Walleye fishing is good, though a little slower, but plenty of action and several reports of 30-inch fish this winter. Fish are moving a little deeper and tip-ups with walleye suckers work best, but anglers are catching good numbers of fish jigging spoons, Slab Raps, and Jigging Raps.

“Northern action is solid on shiners under tip-ups on weed edges and bars in shallow to mid depths.

“For crappies, use minnows, focus on deeper bays and basins, and keep moving until you find biting fish. Fish bluegills in the weeds with waxies, spikes, and finesse plastics on small tungsten jigs.”


Carolyn at Anglers All in Ashland says the Ashland side of Chequamegon Bay has 9-19 inches of ice.

“Anglers are driving trucks from the city landing and the landing behind Anglers All, but do NOT assume the ice is safe – check it yourself! At Second Landing, anglers are still using snowmobiles and ATVs.

“On the Washburn side, anglers are using only machines out to Houghton Point and the channel between Houghton and Long Island where ice is approximately 7-10 inches. Anglers walking off Bodin’s report 3-4 inches of ice.

“Reports are good for brown trout and whitefish in the channel and for perch closer to shore. One angler fishing off Second Landing last week said he had the best day of his life for big perch!”


This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter invites anglers and others to the Winter Fisheries Forum.

“The Hayward DNR fish team officially invites any and all interested anglers and stakeholders to attend the 2017 Winter Fisheries Forum January 25, starting at 6 p.m., at Hayward High School. The forum includes presentations on local fisheries issues and public discussion.

“This is the forum’s fifth year and the DNR considers it a good opportunity to get public feedback on the issues that matter to them.

“This year’s forum will feature a presentation by Jason Gostiaux, a UW-Stevens Point researcher who is studying walleye recruitment in the Hayward area. Although walleye recruitment is a main forum theme, there will be detailed discussions on Lac Courte Oreilles pike management, Chippewa Flowage panfish regulations, a preview of upcoming regulation change proposals, and other topics.

“We look forward to seeing and talking with many anglers and other concerned citizens and to productive discussions on how to improve fishing.”


The DNR is hosting a public hearing on an emergency rule to support lake trout recovery in Lake Superior. The meeting is January 16, starting at 6 p.m., at the Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center in Ashland. The rule provides different harvest levels in two Lake Superior fisheries zones based on lake trout abundance in those areas. The new rule also lowers the minimum length to 15 inches, allowing anglers to keep smaller fish that may not survive. For more information, search ‘Lake Superior fisheries management’ on the DNR website.


Free Fishing Weekend is this weekend, January 21-22, and you can fish almost anywhere in Wisconsin without a license or trout stamp! With the exception of spring trout ponds, most waters of the state are open, 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!


Northland Area Builders will host its 7th Annual ice fishing event on Nelson Lake January 21. Register at Nelson Lake public boat landing from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. The entry fee is $10 for adults and $5 for children 14 and younger. The first 50 kids receive a tip-up – and one lucky kid will receive a fish finder courtesy of SCOPE. Entrants receive one free raffle ticket for every non-perishable food item donation. Grand Prize raffle tickets cost $10, with the drawing at 2 p.m. for an ice fishing package that includes a Polar Bird 4T ice tent w/floor, FL-8 SE Genz Pack Vexilar; Eskimo ice auger, and more. Proceeds benefit the Nelson Lake Association fish sticks program and other local non-profits. For more information, call (715) 296-7881.


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, call (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 14 Lakewoods trail report says the trails offer good to great riding with the snow received last week, with most trails very good and groomers continuing to groom trails. Ride at your own risk and be cautious of groomers and other riders.

The January 14 Travel Wisconsin trail report says Ashland County trails in the Clam Lake area are open, with a 12- to 18-inch base and groomers report good riding conditions. Some trails are icy and have standing water. Ride with caution.

The January 13 Namakagon Trail Groomers trail report says groomers groomed trails and conditions are good and improving. Use caution if you come upon a groomer, enjoy riding, and be safe!

According to the January 12 HLVCB trail report, Sawyer County trails are in excellent condition, with most having a 6- to 8-inch base and new snow on top. Crews have staked all the lake trails and groomers are grooming. Check ahead for re-routed trails and current trail closures. Stay on the staked trails and ride safe!

The January 10 Cable area trail report says Bayfield County trails have a solid base and new snow made for the best riding conditions yet this season. The stick trail on Lake Namakagon now has a nice snow covering. Groomers are grooming during daytime hours, so please travel with care. Also, watch for logging activity on Trail 8 between FR203 and the groomer barn.




Walleye fishing is good, though the bite window narrowed and action slowed a bit. Best success is in late afternoon into dark on shallower weed edges. Use tip-ups with walleye suckers, or try jigging spoons, Slab Raps, and Jigging Raps.


Northern Pike:

Northern pike fishing is good to very good and can be a trip saver. Use northern suckers, walleye suckers, and shiners under tip-ups set over and along weeds, weed edges, and on bars in depths out to 12 feet.



Crappie fishing is fair good, with best action in mid to late afternoon hours. Look for fish suspending just off the bottom in 15-20 feet in bays and lake basins. Stay on the move until you find active fish and make sure to check the entire water column. Crappie minnows on teardrops or jigging spoons work best, keeping baits just above the fish.



Look for bluegills in and near deeper weeds, with waxies, spikes, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs and teardrops the baits of choice.


Upcoming Events

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. 18: 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. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]