By: Steve Suman
The forecast indicates a decent, though somewhat cold week ahead, followed by warmer temperatures next week, an oft-repeated cycle this winter. It IS winter, so dress for the day and get out and enjoy any outdoor recreation the North Woods offers!
“Fishing interest fell off somewhat with the arrival of more cold weather,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “and this is definitely shelter time for any ice fishing activity.”
“Walleye action slowed, with no reports of consistent activity and only an occasional fish. In late afternoon, just before dark, set tip-ups over green weeds and drop-offs in 6-10 feet to catch fish as they come in to feed. Rig your tip-ups with light line and walleye suckers and golden shiners on size six or eight treble hooks.
“Anglers report northern pike offer the best action, catching fish off green weeds in 8-12 feet. Try rigging tip-ups with golden shiners or walleye suckers.
“Panfish anglers report good action, but they are catching a lot of small fish. Jigging rods with light line, small jigs and hooks, and crappie minnows, waxies, and small artificials are producing catches in deeper holes and near cribs. Vary fishing depths, as fish sometimes suspend in the water column. Using electronics is a sure way to help locate these fish and improve your chances.”
Erik at Hayward Bait says fishing is solid and ice conditions are very good, with up to 20 inches and more, and vehicles are getting out on most lakes.
“The walleye bite is tough. Anglers should focus on main lake bars in 20-40 feet on the big lakes. Use tip-ups with suckers and medium shiners fished just off the bottom.
“Northern pike fishing could be better. Try large shiners under tip-ups on deep weeds.
“Panfish action is good, with decent reports from most lakes. Spikes and waxies on tungsten jigs are working well, and keep moving until you find fish.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses kids and the outdoors.
“The Midwest Fish and Wildlife Conference in Milwaukee last week brought together more than 1,000 fish and wildlife biologists and researchers from across the region, including many from Wisconsin.
“Among the many fantastic speakers, one who really stood out was Dr. Holtz, a child psychologist from Milwaukee. The doctor presented research showing the average American child spends about seven minutes outdoors every day – but about seven hours in front of a screen, such as with smartphones, TVs, computers, etc.
“The effects of this disconnect with the outdoors may be as bad as you expect. Kids who are not connecting to the outdoors have higher levels of stress and anxiety, while increasing the time spent outdoors helps kids focus, even leading to better test scores.
“Those passionate about the outdoors, whether for relaxation, fun, or harvesting healthy wild food, certainly recognize the benefits in their own lives.
“The challenge is to convey that passion for the outdoors to future generations and to find a way that fishing, hunting, hiking, and camping can compete with video games and smart phones.”
Walleyes for Northwest Wisconsin (WFNW) is hosting its 22nd annual Family Ice Fishing Event Feb 17, from 8 a.m.-2 p.m., on Lac Courte Oreilles. Registration and raffle ticket sales start at 6:30 a.m. at event headquarters at the public boat landing off Highway K. Event wristbands (necessary for fishing contest prizes) and raffle tickets are available at Hayward Bait, Outdoor Creations, Stone Lake Bait, and AAA Sports Shop in Spooner. Wristbands cost $5 for adults and $1 for youth 13-17 years of age. For youth ages 12 and younger, entry is free courtesy of Retreat Home Furniture. Organizers award fish prizes in drawings from all qualified entries, with separate divisions for youth and adults. Anglers earn up to three drawing entries by registering qualifying fish and must register all fish by 2 p.m. Sawyer County Outdoor Projects and Education (SCOPE) sponsored all youth division prizes. Raffles include rip tickets, gun, party sled, 50/50, and the Grand Prize raffle that includes portable ice shacks, power augers, cash prizes of $500, and thousands of dollars in other prizes. Grand Prize tickets cost $5/ea. or 5/$20. Discounted ticket bundles (limited to 200) are available offering $130 worth of tickets for $75. All raffle drawings, with the exception of rip ticket raffles, begin at 2 p.m. and winners need not be present to win. For more information, visit www.wfnw.net or call (715) 634-2921 or (715) 209-5232.
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 February 5 Hayward Power Sports trail report says 3-5 inches of snow Saturday freshened the trails. Reports from around the county say trails are great to excellent. The base is 4-8 inches on most trails and groomers are cutting and smoothing the trails. Lake trails are also in great condition and Lake Hayward trail is again open to riders. Trail 5/27 from Tuscobia to the Rusk County line and Trail 63 north from Bodecker Road to Bayfield County remain closed.
The February 5 Travel Wisconsin trail report for Washburn County says the area received about 4 inches of fresh snow over the weekend. All Washburn County trails are open and in fair to good condition, with a base of up to 10 inches in some areas. Use caution on the trails, as you could encounter active trail grooming equipment.
The February 4 Lakewoods trail report says the Cable Area recently received 4-8 inches of snow. Groomers are out and report a base of 5-7 inches, with good to very good riding conditions. Trails should hold up well with these single-digit daytime temperatures and subzero nighttime temperatures, and there are chances for snow through this week. There are reports of some icy trail corners, so please use caution, ride safely, and stay on designated trails and marked areas.
The February 1 Namakagon Trail Groomers trail report says trails are holding up well considering the warm weather and traffic, have a good base of 3-5 inches, and are in fair to very good condition. Grooming is going well, though expect some icy corners and a few bare spots. Areas of concern include Trail 90 east between Old Grade and Federal Rd. Follow reroute signs and watch for logging trucks. Trail 15 between Club Lake Rd and Camp Eight Rd at the Great Divide has heavy ice over the trail due to a spring spreading water across it. Slow down – there are many tracks into the trees!
Walleye fishing slowed a bit, presenting more of a challenge. Best success is in late afternoon into dark. Target the deep, clear lakes, fishing main lake bars in 20-40 feet during the day and green weeds and drop-offs in 6-10 feet in the evening hours. The most productive presentations include tip-ups with walleye suckers and shiners fished near the bottom.
Northern pike action is good to very good around green weeds at various depths. Best results are with sucker minnows and large shiners under tip-ups. Go deeper with bigger baits for trophy pike.
Crappie fishing is good to very good. Plan to drill holes and be on the move, and be sure to check the entire water column. Top baits include crappie minnows, waxies, spikes, and plastics fished on light line and small tungsten jigs. Concentrate on deeper holes and cribs.
Bluegill and Perch:
Bluegill and perch action is fair to good, but with reports of many small fish. As with crappies, plan to move often and check the entire water column. Fish deep holes, weeds, and cribs with waxies, spikes, and plastics on small jigs, teardrops, and plain hooks.
Jan. 31: Seasons closed: Squirrel; Ruffed grouse in Zone A (Northern Zone); Bobcat hunting/trapping season Period 2.
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. 15: Crex Meadows State Wildlife Area snowshoe adventure, 11 a.m.-noon (715-463-2739).
Feb. 17: Walleyes for Northwest Wisconsin Family Ice Fishing Event 8 a.m.-2 p.m. (715-634-2921).
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.