By: Steve Suman
The new, additional snow is welcome by snowmobilers and cross-country skiers, but less so by the ice anglers. While the “current” forecast continues to shift, it appears much of this week could be mild and somewhat clear, with 40 degrees Friday. Looks like a good week to catch up on some outside chores… or enjoy some winter recreation!
“We have had great ice buildup,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “and many lakes now have more than 12 inches of ice.
“Walleye anglers are catching fish on deeper weed edges in the evening as fish move in to feed. Medium shiners and sucker minnows are the preferred baits.
“Northern action is good in green weeds out to about 18 feet of water. Use shiners under tip-ups. Jig for panfish in these same areas while you fish for pike.
“Crappie fishing is good on waxies, crappie minnows, and artificials in deeper water. Search vertically, as they move daily. Catch bluegills with waxies and spikes in weeds. Perch are taking crappie minnows and waxies in deeper weeds.”
Erik at Hayward Bait says many anglers took advantage of the previous beautiful weather.
“Walleye anglers are finding success on the clear lakes by actively jigging spoons tipped with minnows and, minnow heads. While jigging, also set dead sticks with glow hooks and minnows, or tip-ups with fluorocarbon leaders, treble hooks, and walleye suckers.
“Northern pike action is good on large shiners and northern suckers under tip-ups.
“Crappie fishing is picking up in deeper basins for anglers using waxies and spikes on tungsten jigs. When hole hopping for crappies, pick up some bluegills and perch by sliding shallower and closer to structure such as weeds.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses DNR hatchery staff accomplishments.
“Wisconsin DNR boasts one of the most impressive hatchery systems in the world. Its success is due to the incredible men and women who staff the hatcheries and the numbers tell the tale of their excellent work.
“In 2017, the Wisconsin DNR hatchery system stocked more than 36.5 million fish. (Yes, you read that right.) The bulk of that number is walleye stocked as fry, small fingerlings, and large fingerlings.
“Numbers for other species are impressive as well.
“In 2017 alone, stockings consisted of more than 62 thousand muskellunge fingerlings and yearlings; more than one million catchable-size rainbow and brown trout; and 1.2 million salmon (coho and chinook).
“If these numbers alone do not impress you, consider the poundage – the total weight of stocked fish in 2017 surpasses 200 tons, the equivalent weight of raising 33 elephants to adult size.
“Hatchery staff often do not receive the credit they deserve for their role in making great fishing in Wisconsin, so thank you for taking a moment to read this and appreciate the work they do.
“If you are in the area of one of the state’s 11 hatcheries and rearing stations, stop in, as many of them offer public tours.”
The DNR fisheries office in Hayward is hosting its 2018 Sawyer County Fisheries Forum February 15 at Hayward High School, starting at 6:30 p.m.
This year, the forum focus is on projects and partnerships, says DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter.
“We are excited to tell people about some of the exciting projects we are working on to improve trout, walleye, musky, panfish, and bass fishing. People will also hear from many of the excellent groups in this area about their work on habitat projects, youth fishing opportunities, and fish stocking.
“Fish management is a true community effort in the Hayward area, and this is a night to put our heads together and plan for the coming year. We want to hear from you! If you know someone who might be interested in getting involved, share this announcement with them – or better yet, bring them along!”
To learn more about this forum, view the video at www.youtube.com/watch?v=nkhEN6PsMjY (many thanks to John Myhre!)
During Feb. 3-4, Deerfoot Lodge will host its Sixth Annual Freeze Your Buns Off Crappie Ice Fishing Contest on the Chippewa Flowage. The contest awards a grand prize, door prizes, prizes for fish length (crappie and northern pike), and prizes for best dressed, best wipe-out, and best photograph. There is a cocktail hour Saturday evening and complimentary fish fry brunch Sunday afternoon. The entry fee (after Jan. 15) is individual $50 and Family $80. For more information, visit www.deerfootlodge.com or call (715) 462-3328.
SNOWMOBILE TRAIL REPORT
The DNR reminds snowmobilers to make sure snowmobile registrations are current and snowmobiles display a valid snowmobile trail pass. Wisconsin requires a trail pass to operate on all public snowmobile trails. You can order trail passes online, as well as renew registrations.
The January 22 Travel Wisconsin trail report for Washburn County says all snowmobile trails are open and in good condition with a base of 4-6 inches, even after a couple of warm days last week. Always use caution on the trails, as you may encounter active trail grooming equipment.
The following reports are from January 18:
Hayward Power Sports trail report says Sawyer County trails are in great condition and the lakes are amazing! Tuscobia Trail is fantastic, with 72 miles of beautiful trail! Crews will be brushing during the next few weeks, so please be aware of heavy equipment. Brushing will begin on Trail 5 from Hwy 70 to Eagle Lodge.
The HLVCB trail report says groomers are out in full force and making very good trails with a base of 4-6 inches! Sunday blessed us with approximately a couple more inches of more fresh snow. Trails are in very good condition and the lakes are great! Ride Trail 9 from Couderay to Devils Lake Road with caution – there are some poor conditions (washouts/ruts and little snow). Surrounding counties are open and in good condition. Ashland, Bayfield, Douglas, Washburn, and Price county trails are good, Rusk is partially open, and Barron closed.
The Travel Wisconsin trail report for Ashland County says all trails are open and trail conditions are good in the Clam Lake area. Grooming continues, except for Trail 13 in the Ashland-Marengo area.
The Cable area trail report as of January 16 says trail bases are between 5-7 inches area-wide and trails are in good to very good condition. Area lakes have high snowdrifts if you venture off the stick trail, so please use caution, and ride safely if you stray from the marked areas. Due to logging, there is a detour on Trail 90 between Old Grade and Federal Rd. Please follow the signs. There is also a trail closure at Trail 70 and Trail 73 due to trespass issues. Trail 70 east closed at Randysek Rd.
Northwest Relic Riders Vintage Snowmobile Club is holding a “Ride to Lunch” in the Chippewa Flowage area January 25. Meet at Grand Pines at 10 a.m. and start riding at 10:30 a.m. For more information, call (715) 462-9696. On January 27, the club will hold its 10th annual (and final) Shorty’s Memorial Poker Ride for the American Cancer Society. The entry fee is $25 and includes lunch. Register for the run Jan. 26, from 6-8 p.m., at Stone Lake Pub. For more information, visit www.relicriders.com or call (612) 224-4332.
Weather conditions are changing nearly constantly so check with your favorite bait and tackle shop for the most up-to-date information on ice conditions and areas to avoid, as well as the most current bait and presentation preferences.
Walleye fishing is fair to good, with best action from late afternoon into dark. Success is best on the edges of deep weeds, targeting fish as they move into feed. Anglers are catching some fish in deeper water as well as in shallow weeds. The most productive presentations include shiners and walleye suckers on tip-ups and jigging spoons tipped with minnows or minnow heads.
Northern pike fishing is very good and anglers continue to catch some nice fish. Concentrate on weeds, particularly green weeds, in depth to 20 feet. Large shiners and northern suckers under tip-ups work best.
Crappie anglers report good to very good success fishing deeper water. Baits of choice include crappie minnows, waxies, spikes, plastics, and Gulp! baits on tungsten jigs. Be sure to check the entire water column, from top to bottom!
Bluegill fishing is good around shallow weeds and structure for anglers using waxies and spikes on small jigs, teardrops, and plain hooks.
Perch are around deeper weed areas and action is good on crappie minnows and waxies.
Jan. 25: Northwest Relic Riders “Ride to Lunch” on Chippewa Flowage (715-462-9696).
Jan. 27: Northwest Relic Riders 10th Annual “Shorty’s” Memorial Poker ride (612-224-4332).
Jan. 31: Seasons close: Squirrel; Ruffed grouse in Zone A (Northern Zone); Bobcat hunting/trapping season Period 2.
Feb. 2: Crex Meadows Candlelight Snowshoe Hike; 6-8 p.m. (715-463-2739).
Feb. 15: Seasons close: Coyote trapping; Raccoon trapping and hunting; Red and gray fox gun and trapping.
Feb. 15: Sawyer County Fisheries Forum, 6:30 p.m. at Hayward High School.
Feb. 17: Drummond Sno Jacks Bar Stool Races (715-739-6645).
Feb. 22-24: American Birkebeiner (715-634-5025).
Feb. 26: Seasons close: Cottontail rabbit; Mink trapping.