December 31, 2018
Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report
Snow continues to fall in small quantities (subject to change!), but it is slowly accumulating and some snowmobiling is finally occurring in the area. Expect cold temperatures through New Year’s Day, followed by a warming trend with highs in the 30s starting Thursday and continuing through the weekend.
Happy New Year!
“Fishing is good,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “but temperatures in the mid thirties with a little snow and rain do not help build ice.
“Some lakes may have safe ice for a snowmobile or ATV, but use caution. If you trailer a snowmobile or ATV, be sure of the ice conditions before venturing out and check with local bait shops, resorts, and guides.
“There were many anglers on the ice in the past week and they were finding success for northern pike and bass during the day by setting tip-ups with sucker minnows and shiners in shallower water. Walleyes are moving in during the later afternoon into late evening hours.
“Crappie anglers are catching fish on crappie minnows under bobbers and jigging in 16-18 feet. Vary bait depth, as sometimes fish are near the bottom and other times higher in the water column. The best time is late afternoon into the evening.”
Erik at Hayward Bait says ice fishing remains exceptional, with anglers chasing walleye, pike, and panfish.
“Walleye action is good in 22-26 feet, with the best bet setting up off steep breaklines and near mudflats. Spoons and minnow-style jigging lures work well, tipping the lures with fathead heads. In addition, set tip-ups nearby suspending medium shiners or walleye suckers near the bottom.
“Northern pike anglers are finding good pike action with northern suckers and large shiners under tip-ups in depths from 6-12 feet.
“Panfish anglers should look for deeper lake basins, drill plenty of holes, and keep moving, as these fish tend to move often and graze while doing so. Tungsten jigs with panfish plastics will do for the hard-hitting fish, but for fish that lightly sniff the jigs, tip them with waxies or spikes to turn the fish into biters. Anglers dealing with more touchy bites are moving to even softer presentations.”
Carolyn at Anglers All in Ashland says everything is changing on Chequamegon Bay.
“There is fishable ice only on the Ashland side and reports of up to 12 inches in the pack ice. Most anglers are walking, though a few are taking four-wheelers.
“Anglers report catching perch and whitefish in 10-12 feet behind Anglers All, as well as some brown trout and northern pike off the ore dock and marina. We now have lake shiners, but anglers are also having luck with waxies.
“Conditions can change quickly and radically, so make sure to check current conditions.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses the winter life of fisheries professionals.
“The job duties of fisheries professionals tend to fascinate anglers and casual observers alike. What is not to like about a job in which a workday can be anything from wrangling 100-pound sturgeon below a dam to electrofishing for muskellunge late at night?
“But like any job, not all days of work are created ‘equal.’
“Winter tends to have less fieldwork – it is much harder to survey fish when the lakes are ice covered! – and much more office work. Typical winter job duties might include aging fish using scales, spines, or otiliths collected during the summer; organizing and repairing gear; applying for grants; writing reports; and attending professional meetings.
“None of that work is as glamorous as fieldwork, but much of it is just as important, and winter also provides a time for public meetings and coordinating plans with partner groups.
“Still, while there is plenty to keep us busy during the long winter months, it is impossible not to look forward to getting the boat in the water and setting the first net of spring!”
SNOWMOBILE TRAIL REPORT
The DNR reminds snowmobilers to make sure their snowmobiles have a current registration and displays 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 December 28 Hayward Power Sports trail report says Sawyer County received approximately 2-3 inches of wet, heavy snow Thursday night and most areas have approximately 5 inches on the ground. Most trails are open and all county property trails are open, but some trails crossing private property have not yet opened gates. Crews groomed Tuscobia Friday and will continue grooming after the heavy snow freezes and sets and it was a good snow to freeze and pack for a good base. Crews have staked almost all of the lakes, with the exception of Tiger Cat Flowage and Lake Hayward due to open water and partial staking of Big Round. Surrounding counties – Ashland, Barron, Bayfield, Rusk, and Washburn – have closed trails, while Price County trails are open, but in poor condition, according to reports.
The December 28 Cable area trail report says Cable area and Bayfield County trails are currently closed and groomers will not be out until this week. Crews have not yet rolled trails, though you can travel forest roads, but expect early season riding conditions on those forest roads. Riders can also use the stick trails on Lake Owen and Lake Namakagon. Swamps have not frozen over yet and experienced riders are welcome to help pack the swamps. We received 7 inches of snow in the last two days, with another 3-5 inches in the forecast for Monday-Tuesday.
The December 28 Lakewoods trail report says the Christmas storm brought 6-10 inches of heavy snow to the North Woods, the lake stick trail is up, and the Namakagon trails are open. Spotty snow and early season conditions exist, with most trails, but not all, open and in use. Please respect signage and closed gates. Wetlands and some other low areas may have standing water due to the unusually wet fall weather. Move quickly and safely through wetlands and do not stop unless absolutely necessary! Although the Lake Namakagon stick trail is up, ice conditions are never completely safe, so make sure you and your group are prepared. Stay on the marked areas and keep away from bridges and moving water by rivers and streams. Although trail markers are up for you to follow through areas checked for safety, conditions do change. Do not outdrive your abilities or your lights.
Walleye anglers continue to do well fishing 20-30 feet off breaklines and on mudflats, as well as in shallower areas in late afternoon, late evening, and after dark. The most productive baits include walleye suckers, shiners, and fathead heads fished on jigs, jigging baits, and spoons, as well as under tip-ups holding the bait just off the bottom.
Northern pike fishing is good to very good around weeds in depths out to 14 feet. Use suckers/northern suckers and large shiners under tip-ups.
Crappie action is good to very good, with late afternoon into evening offering the best activity. Plan to do considerable drilling as well as moving with the fish, and look for fish in 16-18 feet in holes and basins. Best presentations include jigging tungsten jigs with crappie minnows, waxies, and plastics, or fish the same baits under bobbers. Check the entire water column, as fish could suspend anywhere from bottom to top. Improve your success by downsizing tackle.
Bluegill fishing is fair to good in deeper water on most lakes, but as with crappies, expect to drill and move to stay on the fish. Use small tungsten jigs and teardrops, tipping them with waxies, spikes, and plastics.
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; (not in printed regs); Muskellunge in Southern Zone.
Jan. 4: Crex Meadows State Wildlife Area Morning Snowshoe Hike 10-11 a.m. (715-463-2739).
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 trapping; Pheasant; Hungarian partridge.
Jan. 6: Early catch-and-release only trout season opens statewide (see regs).
Jan. 8: Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies, Inc. meeting at Flat Creek Eatery, 7 p.m. (715-634-4543).
Jan. 10: Crex Meadows State Wildlife Area Sunset Snowshoe Hike 3:45-4:45 p.m. (715-463-2739).
Jan. 12-13: Hayward 300 SnoCross Races at Sevenwinds Casino, Lodge, and Convention Center (833-479-4637).
Jan. 18: Crow season opens statewide.
Jan. 19-20: Free Ice Fishing Weekend No fishing license required.
Jan. 19: 9th Annual NABA Ice Fishing Event on Nelson Lake (715-296-7881).
Jan. 19: 9th Annual Ice Fishing Contest at Staudemeyer’s Four Seasons Resort ((715-798-2346).
Jan. 19: Seeley Big Fat Bike Race (715-798-3599).
Jan. 19: Elk Country ATV Club’s 11th Annual Ice Fishing Contest.
Jan. 31: Seasons close: Bobcat hunting/trapping Period 2; Squirrel (gray, fox).
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.