Hayward Lakes Outdoor Report 2-27-24

Steve Suman

This should be an interesting week of (somewhat) windy weather! Starts with 55 degrees Monday and ends with 62 degrees Sunday. In between, we will see lows of 3 and 5 degrees, rain/snow chances Tuesday afternoon and night, and a Wednesday high of 19 degrees. This week offers something for nearly everyone, even sunshine!

Here is an early reminder that Sunday, March 10, Daylight Saving Time begins at 2 a.m. ‑ set clocks ahead one hour.

“The current forecast has weather for the Quiet Lakes’ area up and down through the end of the week,” says Greg at Happy Hooker. “This is somewhat fitting for this winter, mostly mild and very little precipitation.

“Fishing remains good and we should have relatively safe ice until gamefish season ends this weekend. Ice reports are consistent, with 8-10 inches on lakes without moving water. Some lakes with river systems, such as Moose, have about 6-8 inches. Always make sure to check ice as you go this time of year, as conditions can change rapidly with big warm-ups such as we have experienced.

“Predator fish such as walleye and northern pike are all relating to shallower weeds, rocks, cribs, or other structure. Look for fish in 6-12 feet and anywhere structure transitions into the basin. Northern suckers, walleye suckers, and shiners under tip-ups or systems like JawJackers are all producing fish. There are few reports of anglers jigging many big predator fish, but it is possible on these spots.

“Panfish are fairly predictable, with all species relating somewhat to the basins. Crappies are still deep, relative to the lake, and in 20-25 feet. Bluegills are tight to cover and structure in 6-12 feet. Perch are in 10-15 feet. Anglers are doing well with jigs, small spoons, and jigging minnow baits tipped with waxies, pieces of minnow heads or tails, and plastics.

“It might be time start thinking about rigging summer tackle and some boat maintenance!”

Jarrett at Hayward Bait says most area lakes have 4-8 inches of ice, though all lakes report differing thickness. When you head out on the ice, make sure to take a spud bar, float suit, and a fishing companion.

“Walleye fishing is slow, with most anglers who report success catching them at dusk and dawn in 10-25 feet. Jigging spoons tipped with minnow heads or tip-ups with baits set a foot or so off bottom near structure is the key, and tip-ups and jigging work equally well.

“Northern pike fishing is solid, with live and dead bait working equally well. Tip-ups are the go-to for pike, though an oddball hits a crappie jig when you least expect it. Fish are in 10-25 feet, depending on the food location. Finding panfish or a food source always leads to good numbers of pike.

“Crappies are in 15-35 feet in main lake basins, with most fish suspending in that range, so electronics are necessary. Small jigs, spoons, and rattlebaits work quite well.

“Bluegills are in 8-20 feet, depending on the lake, with many fish roaming the bottom looking for food. Anglers are catching fish with waxies tipped on small jigs and spoons.

“Perch are beginning to move onto mudflats to prepare for spawn. Dead-sticks with minnows work well.

“Gamefish season ends Sunday, March 3, so get out now and do some fishing! In addition, the 2024-25 annual fishing licenses officially go on sale Friday, March 1.”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses releasing fish kept on a stringer.

“Stringers, a common tool for anglers looking to harvest fish, are commercially available in a variety of designs and styles. All have the same basic function: keeping fish restrained while in the water. The design of stringers is not to be immediately lethal to a fish, but running a string or metal clip through its gill or jaw can still have immediate and long-term impacts on a fish.

“This leads to a question: If you decide to release a fish after it has been on a stringer, will it survive?

“Researchers in Canada explored this question by catching northern pike on hook and line and placing them on a variety of stringer types. There was also a control group, held in aerated water, with no stringer attached.

“Unsurprisingly, fish on stringers experienced an increased stress reaction compared to the control fish. About a quarter of the fish held on stringers and subsequently released died, while a lower number of control fish died. While there were no other species in the study, it seems reasonable to hypothesize that the mortality of stringer held fish could be higher for other species, given the hardiness of northern pike.

“These results indicate that stringers can lead to greater mortality of fish compared to immediate release. Anglers can use these results to make their decisions about how to handle fish ethically. Reserve putting fish on a stringer for those fish you are certain you want to harvest.

“Culling fish (e.g. replacing them with a larger fish you catch later) that have been on a stringer might lead to bad outcomes for the released fish. It could also lead to violations of daily bag or possession limits, since one might see an angler placing a fish on a stringer as taking the fish into possession.

“Anglers should make a decision to keep or not keep a fish immediately and stick to that decision.”

Lakewoods Resort is hosting its annual World’s Longest Weenie Roast this weekend, March 1-3, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., on Lake Namakagon. The event includes snowmobile racing, the Snow Outlaws World Finals, food, music, and fun, with the Tic Tac Toe sausage toss, snow golf, and more.

All World’s Longest Weenie Roast’s proceeds go to benefit the local EMS: Great Divide Ambulance, Namakagon Volunteer Fire Department, and other community groups.

Visit the Lakewoods Resort website for more details, or call (715) 794-2561.


The current HLVCB snowmobile trail report says that although technically the Sawyer County trails never close, the trails closed due to conditions not currently allowing for snowmobiling. Please stay off the lakes, as ice thickness varies greatly and it is not safe for motorized traffic.

The HLVCB ATV/UTV trail conditions report for February 20 says Sawyer County ATV/UTV trails remain open and this is a great time to ride. Visit the trail conditions report for a list of places where you can ride and current closures. Sawyer County allows side-by-side use on all ATV trails, including those in Chequamegon National Forest. For more information, contact Chequamegon National Forest (715-634-4821) and Flambeau River State Forest (715-332-5271).

The DNR requires trail passes for non-residents; Wisconsin residents must display their registration sticker. State law requires riders to run headlights at all times when operating. Follow the ATV/UTV map and know the map legend. Visit the DNR ATV website to review rules and regulations.

For specific questions, contact Cathy LaReau at cathy@sawyercountytrails.com or (715) 558-8966.

The February 25 Birkie trail conditions report says the loop took a beating last week and crews were out Sunday night smoothing everything to open Monday morning for general skiing. They hit all sections and should have good skiing.

Skiing any part of the Birkie Trail System December through March requires a Birkie Trail Ski Pass. An All-Access Snow Pass is required to ski on the snowmaking loop. For more information, call (715-634-5025).

Fishing Report

Fishing is good for most species and very good for others. Reports on ice thickness range from 4-11 inches ‑ maybe more and maybe less. Flowage lakes and lakes with springs can undergo changing conditions quickly with the current fluctuating temperatures, sun, and wind. Exercise extreme caution and use common sense.

Please note: Wisconsin’s general inland gamefish season closes this Sunday, March 3!

We are nearing the ice shack removal dates, but it is legal to remove those shacks before the removal dates, and doing so sooner rather than later ‑ if you have not done so already ‑ might be a wise choice. It is your decision, but…

The upcoming ice shack removal dates in March are as follows:

• Wisconsin-Minnesota boundary waters by March 1.

• Wisconsin-Michigan boundary waters by March 15.

• Lake Superior and inland waters north of Highway 64 by March 16.

Anglers can use portable shelters after these dates, but must remove them daily when not occupied or in use.


Walleye fishing is fair and somewhat slow, with anglers having the best luck in early morning and evening into after dark. Look for fish on weeds, weedlines, cribs, rock, and other structure, in depths from 5-25 feet. Walleye suckers and shiners on tip-ups suspending baits near the bottom, as well as jigs, jigging spoons, Jigging Raps, and various other jigging baits, are all catching fish.

Northern Pike:

Northern pike action is very good to excellent around weeds, cribs, rock, and other structure in 5-25 feet ‑ and anywhere you find concentrations of baitfish and panfish. Top baits include northern suckers, walleye suckers, and shiners under tip-ups (and similar rigs). Jigging the baits work, too, but tip-ups are currently the most productive.


Crappie fishing is good to very good in basins and around weedlines in 12-30 feet and deeper, depending on the lake. Electronics make a huge difference in locating the suspending fish and improve your fishing success. Be sure to check the entire water column! Crappie minnows and jigging baits and spoons tipped with waxies, minnow heads or tails, and plastics work great, and rattlebaits are producing action, too.


Bluegill fishing is good to very good for fish close to weeds and other cover, in basins, and on the bottom in 6-20 feet. Baits of choice include waxies, minnow heads and tails, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs, spoons, teardrops, and plain hooks.


Perch fishing is good on weeds, weed edges, in basins, and on mudflats. Small jigs, jigging baits, and spoons tipped with waxies, minnow heads/tails, and plastics are doing the job, as are minnows fished under dead-sticks.

Upcoming Events

Feb. 29: Leap Year!

Feb. 29: Seasons close: Cottontail rabbit; Squirrel (gray and fox).

March 1: Remove ice shacks from Wisconsin-Minnesota boundary waters.

March 1-3: Lakewoods ResortWorld’s Longest Weenie Roast (715-794-2561).

March 3: General inland gamefish season closes.

March 8-10: Canceled – WI Women Fish Crappie Weekend – at Deerfoot Lodge (715-462-3328).

March 9: Fat Bike Birkie (715-634-5025).

March 10: Daylight Saving Time begins at 2 a.m. (set clocks ahead one hour).

March 13: Hayward Bass Club planning meeting at Hayward Rod & Gun Club (405-227-1789).

March 15: Remove ice shacks from Wisconsin-Michigan boundary waters.

March 16: Remove ice shacks from Lake Superior and inland waters north of Highway 64.

March 20: Crow season closes.

March 24: Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies Inc. awards banquet at Ranch Supper Club (715-634-4543).

March 25: Full Worm Moon.

March 31: Annual hunting and fishing licenses expire.

For more information on area events and activities, visit the Hayward Lakes Visitor and Convention Bureau and Hayward Area Chamber of Commerce websites, view the Calendar of Events, or call (715) 634-8662 or 800-724-2992.