Hayward Lakes Outdoor Report 3-12-24

Steve Suman

This week starts with high temperatures in the 60s, but they steadily cool as the week progresses. The current forecast shows no rain or snow chances (mostly slight) until Friday evening. Those chances continue through the weekend, but otherwise, a very nice week ahead for outdoor activities. Officially, spring begins in only one week!

“The forecast for the Quiet Lakes’ area shows nearly zero precipitation for the next 15 days,” says Greg at Happy Hooker, “and temperatures this week will be in the 50s until the end of the week.

“It sounds like the ice is deteriorating quickly and will continue to do so this week. We cannot yet call it ice-out, but it is safe to say the ice fishing season is as good as over. Most of the Chippewa Flowage is open, there are big open shorelines on Teal and Spider lakes, and Lake Hayward is open from the Hwy 77 bridge into the main lake and possibly more. There are reports of anglers trolling on Lake Superior and doing well on smelt and herring.

“This is a great time to work on projects around cabins and properties and to prepare boats for the season and we might have a good chance of ice-out in the next couple of weeks. Crappie fishing could be fantastic at ice out, as we did not lose much for weeds this winter.”

Jarrett at Hayward Bait says it is not winter and it is not spring, but we are fishing!

“Most of the ice is on its way out and anglers are breaking out their open water gear and heading to the nearest waterbodies to work on their casting. Warmth is on the horizon and it looks like spring will be here early this year. This is a welcome sight, as the last few years we had ice until the week of the opener!

“Many anglers looking to wet a line are heading to the nearest river with a box of crawlers in search of suckers and bass. With the recently added early catch and release period for both smallmouth and largemouth, anglers can find pods of early season fish in deep holes of rivers before water levels rise and fish disperse.

“Other anglers are heading to more pristine river areas in search of trout, and busting out the old school Mepps and Panther Martins. Check local regulations before using live bait for trout on a river. The use of live bait is illegal on sections of area waters, such as the Namekagon River. If you are in search of walleyes and want to get out of town, river mouths near Green Bay and sections of the Fox River are prime attractions this time of year. Anglers gear up and rip big rattlebaits off the bottom for big pre-spawn females.

“Some type of ice still covers many lakes, but it will not be long until anglers are fishing open water. Many fish will still be right where we left them when we fished through 8-inch holes, but shortly after ice-out, all indications on fish locations will be dependent on water temperature.”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses local fishing regulation changes for 2024.

“Angling regulations are an important tool for fisheries biologists to prevent overharvest, create quality opportunities for angling, and spread out harvest equitably. This year, there are a handful of regulation changes coming to lakes in Sawyer County.

“For the last few years, Osprey and Island lakes have had seasonal reduced bag limits for panfish. Those reduced bag limits will now apply year-round. The panfish regulations for these lakes include a 15-fish daily bag limit, with no more than 5 of any one species. Local lake groups requested this particular change.

“Panfish regulations are also changing on Moose Lake. The panfish bag limit for Moose will drop to 5 fish per angler per day, with only 1 panfish greater than 12 inches. We tailored this regulation specifically to the Moose Lake crappie population, with the goal of improving this already high-quality fishery.

“Lastly, the northern pike bag limit will increase to 10 per day on the Chippewa Flowage, Lac Courte Oreilles (LCO), the Tiger Cat Chain, and Spider Chain. This change is a part of our larger effort to maintain low-density pike populations in these four lakes that we manage primarily for muskellunge.

“Anglers should understand that the northern pike possession limit in Wisconsin remains at 10. Functionally, this means that if anglers harvest 10 pike in a day, they must clear them from their possession, such as eat them or donate them to another person, before they can harvest any additional pike from these or any other waters. The hope is that this higher bag limit will allow anglers to more effectively harvest pike at the times of the year when they are most vulnerable.

“All of these changes take effect April 1, resulting in an effective start date of April 1 for panfish regulations and May 4 for pike regulations since pike season remains closed in April.

“The print and online regulation books will reflect these changes and we will update signs at the lake boat landings.”

Wisconsin’s boat registration period runs for 3 years. The registration period begins April 1 of the year in which the registration is issued or renewed, and expires March 31 of the 3rd year after issuance or renewal.

For more information, search “boat registration” on the DNR website.

Bonus spring turkey harvest authorizations sales begin at 10 a.m. Monday, March 18, through license sales locations and the Online Licensing Center. Each zone has a designated sales date. Sales begin at 10 a.m. and run through midnight each day. Sales continue for five consecutive days, with customers able to purchase one harvest authorization per day.

Search “bonus spring turkey permits” on the DNR website for a list of permits available for zones and periods. (Note: There are no bonus permits available for Zone 6 that includes Sawyer County.)

  • Zone 1 – Monday, March 18
  • Zone 2 Tuesday, March 19
  • Zone 3 – Wednesday, March 20
  • Zone 4 – Thursday, March 21
  • Zone 5 – Friday, March 22
  • Zone 6No permits available
  • Zone 7 – Friday, March 22

Remaining authorizations for all zones go on sale Saturday, March 23, starting at 10 a.m., on a first-come, first-served basis. Cost is $10 for residents and $15 for nonresidents. Please note you must have/purchase a spring turkey license and stamp at the time of purchase. Sales continue at one per person per day until sold out or the season ends.

For more information, search “turkey hunting” on the DNR website.

Downtown Hayward will host its Shamrock Shuffle Saturday, March 16, from 11:45 a.m.-1:30 p.m., with the fun 1k and 5k runs or walks in Hayward and kids races from 11:45 a.m.-noon. Participants can sign up as an individual or a team. Register at https://raceroster.com/events/2024/81492/shamrock-shuffle. Early registration and packet pick-up with t-shirt is Friday, March 15, from 12-6 p.m. at Riverbrook Bike & Ski on Main St., or 9 a.m. Saturday morning, March 16, before the race. The race morning packet pick up is at TNT Sports Bar on Main St. beginning at 10 a.m. This is a pet friendly event with various awards, including best dog costume. For more information, visit downtownhaywardwi.com or call (715) 634-0437.

Former DNR fisheries biologist Frank Pratt is holding an angler education instructor training workshop this Saturday, March 16, from 8 a.m.-3 p.m., at the Hayward DNR office on Hwy 27 south. Pre-registration and a DNR customer ID number are necessary. The program seeks people who like to fish, enjoy working with novice anglers of all ages, and would like to help teach others to learn basic fishing skills.

For more information, search “angler education instructor training” on the DNR website, or call (715) 934-2411.

Hayward Bass Club will hold its spring planning meeting Wednesday, March 13, starting at 7 p.m., at Hayward Rod & Gun Club on County Hwy B three miles east of Hayward. Club members will select lakes to fish this summer and begin organizing teams and divisions. The club welcomes new members and invites interested anglers to attend this meeting. For more information, email haywardbassclub@gmail.com, visit the HBC website, or call (405) 227-1789.


Spring trail closures are now in effect (somewhat early) for some trails in Sawyer and Bayfield counties. This includes trails on Sawyer County Forest lands and Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. For more information, visit the HLVCB ATV/UTV trail conditions report, Sawyer County Snowmobile & ATV Alliance, and Bayfield County Tourism. For specific questions, contact Cathy LaReau at cathy@sawyercountytrails.com or call (715) 558-8966.

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, know the map legend, check the HLVCB ATV/UTV trail conditions report for closures, and visit the DNR ATV website to review rules and regulations.

Fishing Report

Ice conditions are changing quickly with the warmer weather, and though the season was relatively short, it has now reached its end. Use this “extra” time to prepare tackle, boats, and other equipment for the May 4 fishing opener ‑ and do not forget to buy a new license!

Early catch and release season for inland trout continues until May 3 on select waters. Anglers must use artificials only, immediately release any trout they catch, and should practice responsible catch and release. For more information, visit the DNR’s trout fishing webpage and Guide to Wisconsin’s Trout Fishing Regulations.

Wisconsin’s general inland gamefish season closed Sunday, March 3, the 2023-24 annual fishing and hunting licenses expire March 31, the 2024 gamefish season opens May 4, and 2024-25 licenses are now available.

Ice shack removal dates are March 15 for WI-MI boundary waters and March 16 for inland waters north of Hwy. 64 and Lake Superior.

Upcoming Events

March 3: General inland gamefish season closed.

March 10: Daylight Saving Time began at 2 a.m. (are you running an hour behind?)

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: Shamrock Shuffle in downtown Hayward (715-634-0437).

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

March 16: Angler education instructor training at DNR office 8 a.m.-3 p.m., must register (715-934-2411).

March 18-23: Bonus spring turkey authorizations on sale.

March 19: First day of spring (vernal equinox).

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 25: Good Friday.

March 31: Annual hunting and fishing licenses expire.

March 31: Some boat registrations expire ‑ is your registration current?

March 31: Easter Sunday.

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.