Hayward Lakes Outdoor Report 2-6-24

Steve Suman

Steve Suman

Spring-like temperatures arrived in Hayward Sunday with a sunny 50 degrees, followed by the high Monday of an also sunny 51 degrees. Tuesday through Thursday should be windy, with highs in the upper 40s. There are rain and snow chances Wednesday night through the weekend, and temperatures cooling starting Friday. This is considerably above the February average of 31 degrees for the high and the low of 2 degrees. It is not often that sunburn rather than frostbite is a major concern in early February!

If you registered for an ice or snow event, check ahead, as some are changing.

“The weather in the Quiet Lakes does not look favorable for the ice situation moving forward,” says Greg at Happy Hooker. “The next 15 days look to be well above freezing and with highs at the end of this week reaching the mid-50s.

“Current ice condition reports vary from 8-11 inches, but we will lose it fast if the forecasted temperatures hold. Fishing is good overall, with folks doing well with tips-ups and jigging.

“Walleye, northern pike, and bass anglers are using walleye suckers and shiners under tip-ups. For bass and pike, set rigs over shallow weeds. For walleyes, get right on the shallow to deep transition. In most lakes, shallow weeds are in 5-8 feet and deep transitions in 10-12 feet. Most of the time, you will also pick up a pike or two on that transition.

“There are reports of anglers doing well on panfish in the deep basins. Dropping small tungsten jigs or jigging spoons down to 20-25 feet can find some nice crappie. Some lakes fish shallower, depending on lake depth. Waxies on jigs or crappie minnow chunks on a spoon’s treble hook can be great for aggressive crappie, bull bluegill, and perch.”

Jarrett at Hayward Bait says many area lakes have 5-11 inches of ice, with most ice travel limited to walking, and the recommendation is always to use caution when venturing out onto ice.

“Walleyes are officially in the mid-winter blues when it comes to fishing. Most anglers report success catching them during the peak periods of dawn and dusk. Tip-ups and jigging are working equally well, with many catches in 10-25 feet. Jigging spoons tipped with minnow heads and tip-ups with baits a foot or so off bottom near structure are the key.

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

“Crappies are in main lake basins in 20-35 feet. Most fish are suspending and electronics are necessary to eliminate vertical water. Small jigs, spoons, and rattlebaits are working well, and anglers are spotting multiple big fish.

“Perch fishing should begin to ramp up this month, as many perch start to move onto mudflats to prepare for spawn. Minnows on dead sticks, paired with pounding baits into the mud to attract fish, work well for anglers.”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses “triploid fish.”

“Stocking a new fish species into a waterbody can change that waterbody forever, particularly if the stocked fish begin reproducing. In those scenarios, it might never be possible to get rid of that new species. We have seen that issue in many lakes throughout the Hayward area with the (presumed) illegal stocking of northern pike.

“Fisheries scientists, however, have figured out a way to stock a ‘triploid’ fish that will only be in the waterbody temporarily. Triploid refers to the three chromosome sets of these fish. Fish with three chromosomes are effectively sterile, meaning that their impact on the waterbody will not extend beyond their own life. Fertile fish, ‘diploids,’ have only two sets of chromosomes.

“Biologists have created several species of triploid fish, with one of the most notable the grass carp, used to control aquatic vegetation in some ponds and lakes, particularly in the southern U.S. However, fish managers typically want the ability to limit the number of grass carp in the pond, meaning they do not want them reproducing. This is where triploid grass carp come into the picture.

“Fish managers also use triploids in stocking scenarios where they desire predatory control, but on a temporary and controlled basis. The stocking of triploid walleyes occurs in some western states, for example, and some states rear and stock triploid trout.

“Creating triploids, though somewhat artificial, is not the same as a genetically modified organism (GMO). Fish scientists can create triploids by applying a pressure treatment to regular fish eggs at a specific part of their development.

“Interestingly, triploid sterility is not limited to the fish world. In fact, you might frequently eat organisms bred to be triploid. Seedless (sterile!) watermelon and many types of commercially sold bananas are triploid.

“The use of triploids as a tool in fish management is a relatively recent development, only made possible by our modern understanding of genetics.”

The DNR is hosting a public listening session for a Nelson Lake fishery plan update. The meeting is Tuesday, February 6, at Lenroot Town Hall on Hwy 63 north of Hayward, beginning at 6:30 p.m. The DNR wants to hear from anglers who fish Nelson Lake, and seeks public input on the plan update, the first in nearly 20 years.

According to DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter, “Angler input is a critical component of the plan update and important pertaining to other efforts on Nelson Lake, such as potential angling regulation changes.”

During the meeting, Wolter will provide a short presentation on fishery changes, management actions, a public feedback questionnaire, Q&A time, and an opportunity for participants to share fishery observations and preferences. For more information, call (715) 634-7429).


Snowmobiles must have a current registration and display a valid snowmobile trail pass to operate on public snowmobile trails. You can renew registrations and order trail passes online or purchase trail passes from sales agents. Members of the Association of Wisconsin Snowmobile Clubs (AWSC) can purchase trail passes at a discounted rate directly from www.awsc.org. You do not need to be a Wisconsin resident to be an AWSC member.

The January 31 HLVCB snowmobile trail report says the warm-up is underway and will drastically change the trail and lake system conditions this week. Crews are removing stakes from a number of lakes and anticipate more lakes to follow suit. Visit the HLVCB snowmobile trail report for a list of lakes and details. Please watch for updates. For your safety and the safety of others, DO NOT RIDE UNSTAKED LAKES!

The ATV/UTV trails are open in Sawyer County. If you do not have an ATV/UTV, borrow one, rent one, or if you feel spontaneous, buy one from an area business! If you venture out on an ATV/UTV, make sure that you follow the ATV/UTV map, always know the map legend ‑ and “Read before you Ride.” Visit the DNR ATV website to review rules and regulations.

For information on ATV/UTV trail conditions and seasonal closures, visit https://haywardlakes.com/trails/atv-utv/trail-conditions.

Fishing Report

This will be a warm week, as high temperatures hit or approach 50 degrees and with lows in the mid-30s. Coming on the heels of a warm weekend, it is affecting ice conditions rather quickly. Anglers reports fishing on ‘safe’ ice one day, and the next day, at the exact same location, finding only one or two inches of ice. This is a far from normal winter in the North Woods! If you decide to get on the ice, fish with a friend, use extreme caution, check as you go, and make sure to have whatever could be necessary safety equipment, such as PFDs/float suits, spud bars, rope, ice picks, cell phone, and creepers, etc. In addition, know before you go what to do IF an emergency arises ‑ you might not have the luxury of the time to ‘Google it.’ This is an excellent time to review the DNR ice safety website.

Anglers please note that Wisconsin’s general inland gamefish season closes March 3, less than a month distant!


Walleye fishing slowed a bit, is fair to good, and with the best success in early morning and evening into after dark. Find fish in shallow to deep water, in 5-25 feet, on weeds, weed edges, rock, and transitions between shallow and deep. Walleye suckers and shiners on tip-ups, jigs, and jigging baits and spoons, are all effective at this time.

Northern Pike:

Northern pike action is very good in 8-20 feet on shallow to deeper weeds, weed edges, transitions, and wherever you find concentrations of panfish and baitfish. Northern suckers, walleye suckers, shiners, and dead bait on tip-ups and jigs, and spoons and rattlebaits are all getting the attention of pike of various sizes.


Crappie fishing is good to very good. Anglers are catching some nice fish in the basins in 18-35 feet, as well as on cribs, drop-offs, breaklines, and other cover types. Many fish are suspending, so use electronics to locate them ‑ and make sure to check the entire water column from top to bottom. Baits of choice include crappie minnows, fatheads, waxies, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs, teardrops, and plain hooks offered under tip-ups, tip-downs, and dead-sticks. Small jigs, spoons, and rattlebaits are also productive, sometimes more so if tipped with live bait or plastics.


Bluegill and perch fishing is good. Bluegills are on shallow to mid-depth weeds, cribs, and other cover. Waxies, spikes, plastics, Gulp! baits, and small minnows on small jigs, teardrops, and plain hooks are working well. Perch are in weeds and moving to mudflats for pre-spawn. Fatheads, rosy reds, and crappie minnows on dead-sticks, jigs, and small spoons are catching fish. Bounce baits on the bottom to stir it up and attract fish. Waxies, and minnow heads on jigs also produce. Each lake can fish differently, so use your electronics to locate the schools.

Upcoming Events

Jan. 31: Bobcat hunting and trapping season Period 2 closed.

Feb. 6: DNR public listening session for Nelson Lake fishery plan, Lenroot Town Hall, 6:30-8 p.m. (715-634-7429).

Feb. 10: (Canceled) 42nd Annual Hayward Lions Pre-Birkie cross-country ski race (715-634-5025).

Feb. 15: Seasons close: Coyote trapping; Fox hunting/trapping; Raccoon hunting/trapping.

Feb. 17: Let’s Go Ice Fishing! Event, Lake Hayward boat landing; register, 10:30 a.m.-12 p.m. (715-483-3300).

Feb. 17: 24th-ish Drummond Bar Stool Races, 11 a.m.-3 p.m.

Feb. 21-24: 50th Annual Slumberland American Birkebeiner (715-634-5025).

Feb. 24: Full Snow Moon.

Feb. 29: Leap Year!

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

March 3: General inland gamefish season closes.

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

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.