The forecast for this week indicates average to slightly below average temperatures and a few chances for mostly light snow (but always subject to change!) The average temperatures for this time in December include highs in the upper 20s and lows in the lower double-digits. Lack of snow cover is helping lake ice set up solid for anglers, but snowmobilers and skiers would like to see some snow accumulation.
Reminder: The application deadline is next Monday Dec. 10 for 2019 spring turkey and bear permits.
Ken at Hayward Bait says ice fishing is in full swing, with anglers reporting ice depths of three to seven inches on area lakes.
“Anglers and others going on the ice should be aware of current and other variables that might affect the ice depth.
“Many anglers are using tip-ups with treble hook rigs to target northern pike and walleyes around weed beds, weed humps, and shallower rock, with walleyes hitting on tip-ups, jigging spoons, and jigs. Daytime fishing is good during lower barometric periods and the last couple of hours of daylight offer the best chances. A number of anglers report catching northern pike more than 35 inches long.
“There is a good crappie bite going on, but the fish travel and you have to stay on the move for the best success. Look for panfish holding on outside weedlines and near muck bottoms where there are hatches of nymphs and other insects.
“Deer hunters still have time to get their deer during the muzzleloader and late archery seasons.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses angler preferences from an online questionnaire.
“Nearly 500 anglers responded to an online questionnaire developed to get feedback from Hayward area anglers about species preferences, management preferences, and harvest vs. catch and release (C+R). The survey yielded interesting results on whether anglers prefer harvest or catch and release oriented management for different species.
“For walleye, 9 percent of anglers preferred a strong C+R emphasis for walleye, while 32 percent preferred a harvest emphasis. Most walleye anglers preferred an emphasis that balanced both C+R and harvest. Reading between the lines, this matches a slot limit that allows harvest of smaller fish and protects larger females.
“Results were almost identical for black crappie, with 9 percent of anglers preferring C+R, 37 percent harvest, and 54 percent balance.
“As one would expect, C+R was the dominant response for muskellunge (84 percent), but 5 percent of respondents preferred a harvest emphasis and 11 percent wanted a balance.
“Similarly, there was a surprising amount of harvest interest for smallmouth bass. While 46 percent preferred C+R for smallmouth, 12 percent preferred a harvest-oriented emphasis, and 42 percent preferred a balance.
“Largemouth bass was the most evenly divided species for preferences. Of the surveyed anglers, 30 percent preferred C+R, 34 percent preferred a harvest emphasis, and 36 percent preferred a balance. Worth noting is that many popular lakes in the Hayward area have seen an overabundance of small largemouth bass in recent years and as such the results are likely unique to the Hayward area and probably do not reflect angler attitudes across the state.”
The application deadline for 2019 bear and spring turkey permits is December 10. To receive a kill permit for one of these species, you must submit an application by the deadline and be a drawing winner. You can submit applications through authorized license agents, DNR service centers, online, or by calling (877) 945-4236. Paper applications are no longer available. The 2019 spring wild turkey season runs April 17 through May 28, with six periods in seven zones. The 2019 Youth Turkey Hunt is April 13-14, prior to the start of the regular season. Wisconsin’s 2019 black bear season runs Sept. 4 through Oct. 8 in four management zones, with regulations covering varied hunting methods within those seasons. For more information, search “turkey” and “bear” on the DNR website.
Wisconsin’s traditional nine-day gun deer hunt ended November 25, but hunters can still participate in the muzzleloader season, archery and crossbow seasons, and two antlerless-only gun hunts. These hunts offer hunters an opportunity to extend their deer season and fill any unused deer tags. Muzzleloader deer season opened Nov. 26 and runs through Dec. 5. The annual statewide four-day, antlerless-only hunt is Dec. 6-9. Hunters may fill any unused antlerless tags while hunting in the proper zone, unit, and land type specified on the tag. There is an antlerless-only holiday hunt in 17 farmland units Dec. 24 through Jan. 1. These antlerless-only seasons are in units with high deer numbers needing antlerless harvest to slow overall herd growth. Archery and crossbow seasons remain open through January 6 statewide and through the end of January in some metro sub-units. For more information, search “DMU” on the DNR website.
The Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey continues through the end of all deer seasons and DNR wildlife managers encourage hunters taking advantage of these extra seasons to submit reports of their observations in the field. This valuable data improves population estimates for Wisconsin’s deer herd and other species. For more information, search “deer hunter wildlife” on the DNR website.
If you would like to cut your own Christmas tree, you can do so from Flambeau River State Forest or Brule River State Forest after picking up a $5 permit at the respective forest offices. The trees are for personal use only, permits include several conditions, and each property may have specific conditions depending on the property type. Generally, people cannot cut trees near roads, trails, lakes, or within designated recreation areas, and must cut trees flush to the ground. For more information, contact the Flambeau River State Forest office at (715) 332-5271 or the Brule River State Forest office at (715) 372-5678.
Ice depths are increasing, with reports of up to 7 inches on some area lakes, but it is still iffy on some waterbodies. As should always be the case, use extreme caution (even more so at this time) when you are fishing or recreating on the ice. Walleye anglers are having some decent success fishing walleye suckers and minnows on jigs, tip-ups, and jigging spoons in late afternoon into dark. During the day, northern pike are actively hitting northern suckers and anglers are taking some nice fish. Look for both species in and around weeds, weed beds, humps, and rock. There is a good crappie bite, but once you find the fish – concentrate on weedlines, weed edges, and muck bottoms – plan on moving to stick with them.
Nov. 29: Mourning dove season closed.
Nov. 30: Seasons closed: Muskellunge; Turtle.
Dec. 1: Lake Superior lake trout season opened.
Dec. 2: Seasons closed: Southern Zone duck and goose; South Exterior Zone Canada goose.
Dec. 4: Mississippi River Zone duck season closes.
Dec. 5: Muzzleloader deer season closes.
Dec. 8: Ruffed grouse season closes in Zone B.
Dec. 6-9: Antlerless-only firearms hunt.
Dec. 10: Permit application deadlines: Spring turkey; Bear.
Dec. 12: Bobwhite quail season closes.
Dec. 16: Canada goose season reopens in Southern Exterior Zone.
Dec. 24-Jan. 1: Antlerless-only Holiday Hunt in farmland units (see regs).
Dec. 25: Period 1 bobcat hunting/trapping season closes.
Dec. 26: Period 2 bobcat hunting/trapping season opens north of Hwy. 64.
Dec. 31: Seasons close: Frog; Ruffed grouse in Zone A (Northern Zone) under emergency rule and not in printed regs.
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.