Hayward Lakes Outdoor Report 3-26-24

Steve Suman

The North Woods was/is a beautiful winter wonderland this Monday morning, only a few days following spring’s arrival. Wet, heavy snow nearing 10 inches covered the landscape and more is on the way, though in less quantity (or so says the current forecast). This week will see a few lows in the low double-digits and highs eventually returning to the mid-40s, with some rain and snow combinations ‑ but only one day (Thursday) of sunshine.

Travelers can check an up-to-date road conditions report at 511wi.gov for Wisconsin and 511mn.org for Minnesota.

“The Quiet Lakes’ area did not get much snow from the first storm last Thursday night,” says Greg at Happy Hooker, “but this week is a different story, with snow totals ranging up to 8 inches or more. The system is supposed to have a good amount of rain on the back end of it, so there might not be too much to worry about regarding those totals. We desperately need the precipitation, as lakes such as the Chippewa flowage and Moose are down nearly 5 feet.

“Fishing has been very quiet and I am not hearing much of anything from anyone. Most lakes and/or the shorelines and ramps formed a crust of ice with the chilly temperatures last week, further hindering those interested in fishing.

“Anglers should take advantage of the snow and get boats and gear ready for the upcoming season. Make sure to charge the batteries, that electrical systems are working, and double-check boat plugs for rotting and to ensure they are not missing. Sort through the rods and reels and look for broken or missing eyelets. Re-spooling reels is a good idea, especially for spinning reels, as the line tends to coil more than on casting reels. Make sure you are stocked up on terminal tackle such as snaps, swivels, hooks, etc.”

Jarrett at Hayward Bait says Mother Nature is back ‑ and brought a bunch of that wet, snowy stuff for us.

“Although we need the moisture to help fill our lakes after a snow-less winter, it sure puts a damper on fishing in the meantime. However, there is always much to do with prep work in the boat and with your rigs and tackle boxes!

“It might be time to re-spool your rigs so this summer a big one does not snap your line. It is also a great opportunity to organize the tackle box, clean up everything, and get ready for ‘actual’ spring. Everyone can be neat and tidy before the season – but few carry that same tidiness over from fall to spring. It is also worth looking online and strolling through your local bait shop to see what is new and improved for the upcoming season.

“For those who fish rain, snow, or shine, the Brule River downstream from Hwy. 2 opens this weekend, March 30, (see regulations), and anglers will flock to this river for steelhead and browns, among other species.

“For everyone else, have patience. Spring is coming, and warm sunny days sitting on your favorite crappie or walleye spots are mere weeks away!”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter talks about the April 6 Hayward Fish Expo at Flat Creek Lodge.

“The Wild Rivers Chapter of Trout Unlimited is hosting the Hayward Fish Expo April 6, from noon-5 p.m., at Flat Creek Hotel in Hayward. This is an explicitly ‘family-friendly’ event, with lots to offer for even the youngest anglers.

“The Expo will include exhibits, demonstrations, kids’ events, a bucket raffle, and a live auction for fishing tackle and other items. Over the years, the event has taken a few different forms and held at a few different venues, but the theme of conservation and promoting fishing in the area has remained constant.

“You will find many knowledgeable people who are ready to share fishing stories, tips, and spots to try for various species in addition to trout. The DNR Fisheries will have a table at the event and staff will answer questions and provide fishing recommendations.

“This is a great event for anyone who is getting excited about the upcoming open water season!”

All remaining bonus spring turkey authorizations are now on sale. Bonus authorizations remain available on a first-come, first-served basis, in the following turkey management zones:

  • Zone 1 (periods D, E, F)
  • Zone 2 (Period F)
  • Zone 3 (periods D, E, F)
  • Zone 4 (periods E, F)
  • Zone 5 (Period F)

Check “bonus permit availability” on the DNR website to see permits numbers and zones currently available. Cost is $10 for residents and $15 for nonresidents. You must have or purchase a spring turkey license and stamp when purchasing a bonus permit. 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.

The 2024 DNR annual Spring Hearing in-person session for Sawyer County is at Winter High School Monday, April 8, starting at 6 p.m. For those unable to attend this meeting, an online opportunity to provide input starts at noon April 10 and runs through noon April 13. The Wisconsin Conservation Congress (WCC) and DNR encourage everyone to attend the meeting and join the discussions if possible. They also strongly urge the public to provide input through the online tool, as it efficiently utilizes limited funding for gathering feedback and helps expedite compiling results.

Input gathered both at the in-person meeting and online input carry equal weight.

View the 2024 questionnaire, agenda, and meeting locations on the DNR Spring Hearings web page.


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 and Sawyer County Snowmobile & ATV Alliance report for closures, and visit the DNR ATV website to review rules and regulations.

According to the Sawyer County Snowmobile & ATV Alliance report, all county land ATV/UTV trails are now under spring closure (dark green areas on the map), as are Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest trails (light green areas). Roads and routes marked legal for ATV/UTV riding are open. Each township has its own set of ordinances on open town roads. If you are uncertain, make sure to check with the township.

Tuscobia (Trail 10) is open to ride, with the exception of Trail 11/9-Mile Loop. National forest trails open May 1; County trails open May 15. This might change with the early spring, so check back for updates! For specific questions, contact Cathy LaReau at cathy@sawyercountytrails.com or call (715) 558-8966.

Fishing Report

A temporary return to winter has stifled fishing interest, few anglers are active, and as a result, fishing reports are mostly at a standstill. However, there are plenty of off-water fishing-related opportunities to consider.

This is an excellent time to clean, inspect, repair, replace, update, and organize tackle and other equipment. Do not forget to update your fishing license ‑ the 2023-24 fishing licenses expire March 31. Licenses for the 2024-25 season are now available and valid upon purchase.

If you thoroughly inspect your boat, motor, and trailer, batteries, and accessories now, all will be ready to go for the May 4 fishing opener. Reminder: Wisconsin’s boat registration period runs for three years, beginning April 1 of the year the DNR issues or renews the registration, and expires March 31 of the third year after issuance or renewal. Search “boat registration” on the DNR website.

The Wild Rivers Chapter of Trout Unlimited will host a Hayward Fish Expo Saturday, April 6, from noon to 5 p.m., at Flat Creek Lodge in Hayward. The event will include raffles, silent auctions, and live auction for guide trips fishing equipment, and more.

The DNR fish survey teams will soon be/are on the water performing fisheries surveys. With that in mind, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter asks anglers and boaters who might be near a survey crew to keep a safe distance from buoys the crews set to mark their nets. Do not approach an electrofishing boat from your boat or a dock, staying a safe distance away or on shore. Engaging with survey crews at a boat ramp or on the water during the day is generally okay, and when able to do so, they are happy to answer questions and show people what they are catching.

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.

The Brule River opens March 30 for fishing downstream from Hwy. 2 (see regs, including legal fishing hours).

The in-person 2024 DNR annual Spring Hearing for Sawyer County is April 8, beginning at 6 p.m., at Winter High School. The online participation for those unable to attend in person opens from noon April 10 through noon April 13. View the 2024 questionnaire, agenda, and locations at the following links: questionnaire, agenda, locations. For more information, visit https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/about/wcc/springhearing.

Upcoming Events

March 20: Crow season closed.

March 23: All remaining bonus spring turkey authorizations on sale.

March 25: Full Worm Moon.

March 29: Good Friday.

March 30: Brule River open for fishing downstream from Hwy. 2 (see regs, including legal fishing hours).

March 31: Easter Sunday.

March 31: Annual hunting and fishing licenses expire (New licenses available and immediately valid upon purchase.)

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

April 1: Panfish limit changes take effect on Moose, Osprey, and Island lakes.

April 6: Hayward Fish Expo at Flat Creek Lodge, noon-5 p.m.

April 8: DNR annual Spring Hearing at Winter High School.

April 10: Application period for 2024 elk harvest tags open through May 31 ($10 application fee).

April 10-13: DNR annual Spring Hearing online participation (open noon April 10 to noon April 13).

April 13-14: Spring Youth Turkey Hunt.

April 15: Trapping seasons close: Mink and muskrat trapping in North Zone.

April 15: Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame opens for the season (715-634-4440).

April 23: Full Pink Moon.

April 30: Trapping seasons close: Beaver (Northwest Zone); Otter (North Zone).

May 3: Early inland trout catch and release season closes.

May 4: General inland gamefish season opener (715-634-7429).

May 7: Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies Inc. club meeting, 7 p.m., at Flat Creek Lodge, (715-634-4543).  

May 9-11: Treeland Challenge bass and walleye release tournament (715-462-3874).

Spring Turkey Season Dates

Spring turkey season is six, seven-day periods running Wednesday through the following Tuesday, in seven zones.

Youth Hunt: April 13-14

Period A: April 17-23

Period B: April 24-30

Period C: May 1-7

Period D: May 8-14

Period E: May 15-21

Period F: May 22-28

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.