December 17, 2018
Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report
The forecast for this week is once again calling for relatively mild weather for this time of year, with few chances of precipitation of rain, snow, or a mix of both. It appears this weather will hold for the remainder of December and into the New Year, if not beyond. The opportunities for snow, at this time, do not indicate much in the way of accumulation.
“Ice conditions are becoming safer on most area lakes,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “with ice thickness from 4-10 inches, depending on the waterbody. Smaller lakes, shallower areas, and back bays of larger waters have safer ice for walking and fishing, and some four-wheelers and snowmobiles are traveling the lakes. As always, use caution, best judgment, and proper safety when venturing onto the ice.
“Anglers targeting shallower areas near shore report mixed success. Small suckers and shiners under tip-ups set over 5-8 feet are producing a mix of walleye, northern pike, and bass. Look for vegetation holding onto summer life and use minnows that reflect the size of the fish you are targeting.
“Crappie anglers using small jigs tipped with crappie minnows and small plastics are taking some nice fish in 16-18 feet. The best bite is from mid-afternoon hours into just before dark.
“Panfish are nearby as well, and anglers are catching a nice mix of bluegills and perch on small teardrop jigs tipped with waxies and soft plastics in and around 5-10 feet. It is important to stay quiet so you do not spook the fish, especially shallower, highly pressured fish. If you are not using a camera, use the low power mode on your electronics to quiet the transducer noise.”
Erik at Hayward Bait says the North Woods has fantastic weather, good ice – and the fish are biting.
“Anglers are taking advantage of the lack of snow and great fishing conditions to pull and drag ice shacks and gear on the ice. The current ice depth is about 6-8 inches, with some reports of upwards to 10 inches, and some folks are taking out ATVs, UTVs, and sleds while ice fishing.
“Walleye anglers report most of the action is during the early morning and last light evening hours. The best baits and presentations include jigging spoons, Jigging Raps, Hyper-Glides, Moonshine lures, and rattle baits.
“Northern pike anglers are doing well with northern suckers and large shiners under tip-ups. Look for active pike around any old weed growth and set tip-ups just off the weeds and into deeper water, ideally 6-10 feet.
“For crappie anglers, deadsticking crappie minnows or rosy reds are a great bet for additional action.
“Panfish anglers should look to deeper lake basins in 24-30 feet and use tungsten jigs, ultra light Rippin’ Raps, and Acme spoons tipped with waxies and spikes.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses what mortality means to fisheries biologists.
“Whether you are a human or a fish, mortality is a scary word. To fish biologists, mortality means pretty much what it sounds like – the proportion of fish that die in the lake.
“Most often, biologists measure mortality in fish populations on an annual scale. Determining mortality can be extremely important, as this statistic can tell a biologist if overfishing is occurring or can point to other problems in the ecosystem. Unfortunately, it is very challenging to obtain this statistic.
“Mortality has two components: Fishing mortality, the proportion of all fish removed by sport, tribal, and commercial fishing; and natural mortality, the proportion of all fish that die by some other means. There can be many different causes of natural mortality, including starvation, winterkill, oxygen depletion, predation, disease, heat stress, and more.
“Accurately estimating both fishing and natural mortality requires a lot of work that includes an estimate of the total number of fish in the population and some type of creel survey to estimate the number of harvested fish. Because it is so expensive to do both of these things, biologists typically are able to obtain true estimates of mortality only for high profile fisheries such as for walleye in northern Wisconsin, lake trout in Lake Superior, and sturgeon in the Winnebago system.”
The DNR now has 2019 state park admission stickers and trail passes on sale – and state properties will honor them through the remainder of 2018. The stickers and passes make excellent Christmas gifts outdoor enthusiasts can use throughout the year. Admission stickers cost $28 for residents and $38 for nonresidents. Households registering more than one vehicle can purchase additional stickers for $15.50 for residents and $20.50 for nonresidents. Residents 65 and older can purchase senior citizen annual stickers for $13. Annual trail passes cost $25 for residents and nonresidents. For more information, search “sticker” on the DNR website.
The DNR’s Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey continues through the end of all deer seasons and the DNR encourages hunters to submit reports of their observations while in the field. This 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 from Flambeau River State Forest or Brule River State Forest, pick up a $5 permit at the respective forest office. The trees are for personal use only, permits include several conditions, and each property may have specific conditions. Generally, people must cut trees flush to the ground and cannot cut trees near roads, trails, lakes, or within designated recreation areas. For more information, contact Flambeau River State Forest at (715) 332-5271, or Brule River State Forest at (715) 372-5678.
Ice thickness continues to grow with the cold nights and is as thick as 10 inches in a FEW areas. Ice is never 100 percent safe, so use common sense and caution when going onto the ice. Some anglers are taking ATVs/UTVs and snowmobiles, but do so only in areas you know and after checking the ice thickness. No reason to take chances – fishing is good and most of the season remains! There is minimal snow cover on the lakes at this time and travel conditions are very good. Check with your favorite shop for the most current, up-to-the-minute ice conditions and fishing information.
Walleye action is good, with best success in early morning hours or during the last light of the evening. Fish near shallower vegetation areas in 5-8 feet. The most productive offerings include walleye suckers and shiners under tip-ups, jigging spoons, rattle baits, Jigging Raps, Moonshine lures, and Hyper-Glides.
Northern pike action is good for anglers fishing in and around weeds and vegetation in 4-12 feet, working shallow near-shore areas and weed edges. Top baits include northern suckers, walleye suckers, and large shiners under tip-ups.
Crappie fishing is good to very good in 14-20 feet and anglers are icing some nice catches. Use crappie minnows, rosy reds, and plastics on small jigs, or try deadsticking crappie minnows and rosy reds.
Bluegill fishing is fair to good in deep basins and in depths varying from 5-30 feet. Anglers are also picking up some perch in these areas. Best bait choices include waxies, spikes, and plastics on tungsten jigs, small jigging baits, and spoons tipped with live bait.
Dec. 16: Canada goose season closed in Northern Zone.
Dec. 16: Canada goose season reopened 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 (not in printed regs); Muskellunge in Southern Zone.
Jan. 5: Pat’s Landing 7th Annual Tipper Tourney on the Chippewa Flowage (715-945-2511).
Jan. 6: Seasons close: Fall turkey in zones 1-5; Fisher; Pheasant; Hungarian partridge.
Jan. 8: Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies, Inc. meeting at Flat Creek Eatery, 7 p.m. (715-634-4543).
Jan. 18: Crow season opens statewide.
Jan. 31: Seasons close: Bobcat hunting/trapping Period 2; Squirrel (gray and fox) statewide.
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.