By: Steve Suman
The cold and snow continues, but if you can survive until Sunday, the forecast shows a warming trend. The high numbers will still be very similar – but they will be above zero!
“This cold weather made some great ice,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “and crews are finally able to stake the lakes.
“Many anglers favor early ice walleyes when fish cruise the shallows in low light conditions. Target 6-12 feet outside of old weed beds or structure with a gradual drop-off. Set up before sunrise or sunset to avoid spooking fish from the area. Use small suckers or fatheads, or try jigging spoons and minnows on the drop-offs to find the most aggressive fish.
“Anglers fishing walleyes off old weed beds with shiners and suckers on tip-ups are taking some nice northern pike.
“Panfish are on structure and in deep holes. Use small jigs tipped with waxies and plastics. Fish are now in big numbers and very aggressive.
“This is the last week of archery deer season – it ends January 7 – and hunters are not reporting much success. It is just too cold to sit very long in a stand.”
Erik at Hayward Bait says the Arctic temperatures are not keeping anglers off the ice!
“Ice conditions are improving thanks to this cold weather, with reports of up to 10 inches, but thickness varies. There are some anglers now taking out ATVs and snowmobiles, but be sure to exercise caution!
“Fishing action remains mixed, though there are decent walleye reports. Focus on the primary break and nearby sunken humps. Walleye suckers and medium shiners under tip-ups remain the preferred method, but always try jigging as well, and rattle spoons tipped with minnow heads should do the job.
“Northern pike are active in the weeds, with large shiners on tip-ups working well.
“Panfish action is good on waxies, spikes, and small plastics on tungsten jigs for both crappies and bluegills. Mobility is the key to success – keep moving until you start hitting fish.”
Carolyn at Anglers All in Ashland says Chequamegon Bay anglers are now out as far as Houghton Point.
“There is skim ice on the outside, but high winds in the forecast could change conditions.
“The bite is most consistent on the Washburn side, with anglers catching brown trout, splake, and whitefish by jigging and on setlines. The Ashland side is also producing trout, as well as perch, walleye, and northern pike.
“Ice depths range around 8-11 inches on both sides, but if you are taking a machine, it is very advisable to bring a spud and check your way.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses early returns on 2016 Sawyer County walleye stockings.
“Extended growth walleye stocking has become a recurring management action to bolster walleye populations in the Hayward area as natural recruitment sputters on many lakes. The return of natural reproduction would be best for these populations, but next best is high survival of walleye stocked to restore the populations.
“Generally speaking, walleye stocked in 2016 show excellent survival to age-1 (one year after stocking). Barber and Black Dan lakes in the Winter area showed the highest catch rates of age-1 fish ever recorded in those lakes. Big Chetac and Blueberry lakes showed higher catch rates than seen previously, and Whitefish and Big Sissabagama lakes showed higher than average survival to age-1.
“While stocking in most lakes showed positive trends, others show low survival to age-1, including Osprey and Durphee lakes. The reason for poor survival in these lakes is not clear. While measuring survival to age-1 gives us an idea of how walleye do shortly after stocking, it does not necessarily mean these fish will make it to adulthood, roughly 4 years old, in similar numbers.”
Pat’s Landing Resort on the Chippewa Flowage will host its 6th Annual Tipper Tourney Saturday, January 6, from 8 a.m. through 4 p.m., and anglers must register all fish by 4:30 p.m. The contest limits fishing to the west side of the Flowage, excluding Crane Creek and Crane Lake. Contest officials measure fish to the nearest quarter-inch, rounded down, and award prizes for the longest northern pike, longest largemouth bass, and longest combination of the two. There are randomly drawn door prizes and you must be present to win. The entry fee is $15. For more information, visit www.treelandresorts.com or call (715) 945-2511.
Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies, Inc. is holding a business meeting Tuesday January 2, starting at 7 p.m., at the Grid Iron Pub and Grub on Main Street. This is a business meeting to plan the 2018 budget, projects, and activities. The club requests the attendance of all board members and welcomes all interested members. For more information, call Mike Persson (715) 634-4543.
SNOWMOBILE TRAIL REPORT
Do not forget your trail pass! The DNR is reminding snowmobilers to make sure their snowmobile registrations are current and they display a valid trail pass. You can order trail passes online, as well as renew registrations. Wisconsin requires a trail pass to operate on all public snowmobile trails.
The December 29 Cable area trail report says crews are staking the stick trails on both Lake Namakagon and Lake Owen. Please use caution and watch out for the crews as they work to mark the lakes. There is a base of about 3-4 inches and groomers are out making trails smooth. Keep an eye out for any remaining low-hanging trees. The rail-bed – Trail 73 and Trail 70 from 73 to Parker Road – closed to all traffic. Please respect private landowners and their property.
The December 29 Travel Wisconsin Snowmobile Report says Washburn County snowmobile trails are open with the exception of the southeast portion of the county east of Highway 53/south of Highway 70. Overall, the trails are fair to good. It is still early season riding, so use caution over swamps as some areas still need to freeze.
The December 28 HLVCB trail report says crews are now staking lakes and grooming the non-lake and wetland trails. Crews staked the west side of Chippewa Flowage and are working on the east side, and staked Little Round, Osprey, and the marshes between. Trail 9 between Little Round and Osprey is open. Staking is in progress on Moose, Lost Land, Callahan, Namakagon, and Nelson lakes, and soon on Grindstone, LCO, and Big Round. Crews are working on Whitefish and groomed from Chippewa Flowage south to 21, 18, 12, and 5. Half of Trail 6 from Tuscobia to the Wannigan is open. Crews are working on Trail 5 from Tuscobia to Eagle Lodge, Tiger Cat Flowage, and the Spider Lake Chain.
On January 6, the Northwest Relic Riders will meet at Flat Creek Eatery and then guide a group of AWSC directors and representatives to lunch (time TBA). All are welcome to this event. For more information, call (715) 634-1689.
More anglers are hitting the ice now that ice depths are increasing with the very cold weather. It is still necessary to use caution when on the ice, however, as the snow is insulating some areas and ice depths can still vary significantly in short distances on the same lake. Check with your favorite bait and tackle shop for the most current information.
Walleye fishing is good out to 15 feet or so, with the best success during low light conditions in early morning and late afternoon into after dark. Work the edges of drop-offs, weedlines,
breaklines, humps, and other structure with walleye suckers, fatheads, and shiners on tip-ups, or jig Jigging Rapalas or rattle spoons tipped with minnow heads.
Northern pike fishing is good to very good and anglers are icing some bigger fish around weeds and weed beds with large shiners and northern suckers under tip-ups. As always, go deeper with bigger baits for trophy pike.
Crappie fishing is good to very good once you find the fish, which could take some searching to locate them. Look for deep holes and structure. Baits of choice include crappie minnows, waxies, spikes, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small/tungsten jigs.
Bluegill fishing is fair to good and improving. Concentrate on deep holes and structure with waxies, spikes, and plastics on small/tungsten jigs and teardrops. Be prepared to move to find the fish.
Jan. 2: Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies, Inc. business meeting at 7 p.m.; Grid Iron Pub and Grub (715-634-4543).
Jan. 6: Early catch-and-release trout season opens statewide (see regs for exceptions).
Jan. 6: 6th Annual Tipper Tourney at Pat’s Landing on the Chippewa Flowage (715-945-2511).
Jan. 6: Northwest Relic Riders lunch at Flat Creek and ride with AWSC directors and representatives. (715) 634-1689).
Jan. 7: Late archery deer season closes.
Jan. 20-21: Free Fishing Weekend – fish nearly anywhere in WI without a license or trout stamp (see regs).
Jan. 20: Northland Area Builders – 8th Annual ice fishing event (715-296-7881).
Jan. 20: Elk Country ATV Club’s – 10th annual ice fishing contest on Upper Clam Lake (715-794-2298).
Jan. 31: Seasons close: Squirrel; Ruffed grouse in zone A (northern zone); Bobcat hunting/trapping season Period 2.
Feb. 3: Flambeau River State Forest’s 26th Annual Candlelight Ski event; 6-9 p.m. (715-332-5271).
Feb. 17: Drummond Sno Jacks Bar Stool Races (715-739-6645).
Feb. 22-24: American Birkebeiner (715-634-5025).
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.