Outdoor Report

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]February 27, 2017

Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report

Steve Suman


Weather conditions leading up to this past weekend were far from conducive to winter recreational activities, culminating with cancellation of the 44th annual American Birkebeiner. However, the resulting new, non-weather-dependent BirkieFest celebration drew more than 10,000 skiers and spectators to party away the disappointment! This week’s forecast predicts the somewhat moderate temperatures will continue, with some minor chances for snowfall.


“A week of temperatures in the 40s and 50s allowed more anglers to get on the lakes last week, even if they had to sit in water,” says Pat at Happy Hooker.

“Walleye action is best in late evening into night in shallower water. On the deep lakes, set tip-ups on the edges of deep holes and jig in the holes. On shallower lakes, set tip-ups on hole and weed edges.

“Northern pike action remains good, with some nice catches and good sizes. Set tip-ups with walleye suckers and shiners over green weeds and weed edges in 6-10 feet.

“Panfish action is quite productive. For crappies, fish holes in 16-20 feet with crappie minnows, waxies, and plastics on small teardrops and jigging spoons. Vary depths, especially if not using electronics – sometimes fish are up and other times near the bottom. Anglers are catching some nice bluegills and sunfish in those same areas.”

Bob at Hayward Bait says the ice is holding up, even with the warm weather and rain.

“While we do not advise driving vehicles on the lakes, it appears ATVs, UTVs, snowmobiles, and foot traffic is okay. A cold snap will help firm everything to continue our ice season. When traveling on lakes, keep in mind some areas with north shorelines have so-so ice and use caution around heavy use launches.

“Walleye fishing is good, though is spotty, but anglers report success jigging fatheads on spoons and with medium shiners under tip-ups.

“Northern pike fishing is great with large shiners on tip-ups set along points, inside turns, and weed edges. Set them in 10-15 feet with your bait of choice a few feet below the ice.

“Panfish fishing is good on the deep lakes, with anglers finding crappies in deep basins. Use jigs tipped with waxies and spikes, as well as crappie minnows on small spoons and jigs.”


This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses how where you live influences if you fish.

“A recent study in Ontario, Canada, sheds light on who buys fishing licenses and what it means for the future of license sales.

“Researchers looked at license buyers’ demographics and study results indicated that people living in less populated (rural) areas were more likely than their urban counterparts to buy a fishing license. This result is fairly intuitive, since if you live outside of a city you likely have more places to fish and fewer alternative activities such as concerts, sporting events, etc.

“The trend of urbanites buying licenses at a lower rate is concerning for resource management agencies that rely on license sales to support conservation efforts, particularly since the U.S. is becoming more urban over time. According to the U.S. Census Bureau in 2010, more than 80 percent of the U.S. population lives in an urban area – in 1950, that figure was 64 percent.

“An increasingly urban population that is geographically disconnected from natural areas will present challenges to management agencies and sporting groups interested in preserving fishing and the fishing culture.”


Lakewoods Resort is hosting its annual World’s Longest Weenie Roast March 3-4 on Lake Namakagon. The event includes snowmobile speed runs, live music, Klement’s Racing Sausage, ice bowling, outlaw drags, games for kids (and those who are kids at heart), and a hot dog cookout that holds the world record for the longest line of hot dog cookers over one fire. Proceeds benefit local emergency services including the Great Divide Ambulance Service, Namakagon Volunteer Fire Department, First Responders, and other area charities and not-for-profits. For more information, call (715-794-2561.



Note: Trail conditions can change quickly (especially this winter!), so check with local businesses for the most current ice and trail conditions, as well as trail closures.

The February 23 Hayward Power Sports trail report says Sawyer County trails are open, but there is not enough snow to ride. With cooler temperatures and just a few inches of snow, the Seeley Hill trails could offer a good ride. Crews have pulled the stakes on most, if not all, lake trails. Swamps and wetlands are no longer frozen and unusable even with snow. All surrounding counties and Chequamegon National Forest closed snowmobile and ATV trails. Check back for updates, as there is hope for a bit more riding before moving into the next season.

The February 22 HLVCB trail report says Sawyer County trails remain open, but not rideable due to the warm temperatures and rain, with trails thawed and muddy in many places. Crews have removed the stakes from all lake trails and snowmobilers should consider them unsafe at this time.

The February 21 Cable area trail report says that as of Tuesday, February 21, and until further notice, Bayfield County closed all snowmobile and ATV trails to all forms of motorized vehicles, including snowmobiles, ATVs, and UTVs (both tracked and wheeled). The unseasonably warm weather created extremely poor trail conditions throughout the county and the closure remains in effect until conditions improve, as Bayfield County determines.

The February 22 Namakagon Trail Groomers trail report says Bayfield County closed all trails to snowmobile and ATV traffic due to lack of snow and possible damage to the trails.



While it does not seem possible, this Sunday, March 5, is the close of gamefish season (which reopens May 6). Get out there now and get in your last shot, as well as additional use from your “old” license before it expires March 31.



Walleye action is slow and spotty, though anglers continue to catch fish, with the best hours late afternoon into and after dark. Look for deep holes (to more than 20 feet, though shallower in the evening) and set tip-ups with medium shiners on the edges, or jig fatheads on jigging spoons.


Northern Pike:

Northern pike fishing is good to excellent and anglers are catching good numbers of nice fish. Concentrate on, and along, and on the edges of green weeds, inside turns, and points in 5-18 feet, placing bait high in the water column. The most productive presentations include northern suckers, walleye suckers, and large shiners under tip-ups.



Crappie fishing is good in deep (14-23 feet) holes and lake basins. Use waxies, spikes, Gulp! baits, and crappie minnows on small jigs and spoons. Check the entire water column, from top to bottom.



Bluegill fishing is good around weeds, brush, cribs, and holes in 12-22 feet. As with crappies, be sure to check the entire water column, from top to bottom. Top baits include waxies, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs, teardrops, and jigging spoons.


Upcoming Events

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

March 3-4: World’s Longest Weenie Roast at Lakewoods (715-794-2561).

March 4: Hayward Lakes Chapter Muskies, Inc. awards banquet, The Fireside; RSVP (715-634-4543).

March 5: Game fish season closes.

March 5: Seasons close: Mink, muskrat trapping.

March 10-12: Hot Air for Hearts Balloon Rally at Lakewoods (715-794-2561).

March 12: Daylight Saving Time starts – turn clocks ahead one hour.

March 20-24: Leftover spring turkey permits on sale at 10 a.m. by zone, one zone per day.

March 20: Winter crow season closes.

March 22: Hayward Bass Club planning meeting; 7 p.m., Hayward Rod and Gun Club (715-699-1015).

March 22: Sawyer County CDAC meeting; Hayward DNR Service Center, 7-9 p.m.

March 25: Trout season opens on some sections of Lake Superior tributaries.

March 31: S.C.O.P.E. 10th annual Fundraising Banquet at The Steakhouse and Lodge.

April 10: Statewide spring hearings and Conservation Congress county meetings.

April 30: Seasons close: Beaver and otter trapping in North Zone.


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]