Hayward Lakes Outdoor Report 4-11-23

Steve Suman

This week’s forecast shows sunshine, warm temperatures in the 70s, and melting snow. There are also flood advisories through Thursday, and then rain. On Saturday, temperatures cool closer to normal averages. Enjoy this week’s wonderful April weather!

“There is a big warm-up on the way to the Quiet Lakes,” says Greg at Happy Hooker, “and it looks like it might stay well above freezing for the foreseeable future. We still have solid ice on some lakes, but anglers should be mindful of more runoff by mid-week. Temperatures should near 70 degrees for much of this week and ice-out will soon be here!

“Longer days and higher sun provides much needed sunlight to start weed growth, and combined with runoff coming into the lakes, things will be happening shallow. For panfish of all species, start in 5-10 feet around new weed growth or existing weed beds.

“Crappies will hit waxies and plastics on jigs and larger offerings such as used for perch. Crappie spawn is just a few weeks away and fish will become aggressive and territorial.

“Bluegills will feed on bugs anywhere in the water column and waxies on jigs is the most common way to target them. Try different jig styles to really dial in the bite; banana style jigs are productive right now.

“Perch will likely take larger crappie minnow heads on spoons, or baits such as Jigging Raps or Puppet Minnows.”

Jarrett at Hayward Bait says that despite recent warm weather, ice conditions remain solid.

“Some anglers still report 18-24 inches of ice, but with the warm weather continuing the ice should go quickly!

“Crappies should be schooled over basins, but with the tough winter we had, some lakes might be severely oxygen deprived. In that case, when you look for crappies throughout the water column, start at the very top. Some fish could be right under the ice, even in 30 feet! As winter goes on and the oxygen depletes, fish will rise from bottom to top. Small jigs and plastics are working well, with fussy fish taking to waxies.

“Bluegills in most areas will be intermixed with the crappies at this point. Check areas with safe ice that have some kind of runoff heading into them. This warmer water and influx of oxygen will draw fish from all over, but with water draining down holes, be extremely careful for weak spots. Waxies and spikes on small tungsten jigs are the ticket lately.

“Perch action through the ice has died off relatively quickly compared to past years, with no reports of perch of any since late March.”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses different types of lake surveys.

“Fisheries surveys gather information about fish populations that we use to better manage those populations. Many of our most important fisheries in northern Wisconsin are lakes. Surveying a lake is, in many ways, simpler than surveying a river or large flowage where water and fish are moving in and out. Lakes provide a nice, tidy boundary for a survey, and with good timing, we can learn most of what we need to know about the fishery in a short amount of time. The DNR uses a variety of protocols to survey lakes, often depending on the species present in the lake.

“In early spring, we use fyke netting surveys for pike, walleye, crappie, perch, and muskellunge. These take place within the first few days and weeks after ice-out when these species are making moves into the shallow parts of the lake. The ‘catchability’ of these fish goes up considerably when they are shallow.

“The number of nets used varies based on the size of the lake. On a smaller lake, we might use only 4-6 nets, while surveys of larger lakes might require dozens of nets. These surveys are very labor and time intensive and must occur during a limited window of time. As a result, our team conducts only about 4-8 of these spring netting surveys each year.

“In late spring, we use electrofishing to survey bass and bluegill when these species are up shallow in pre-spawn or spawning mode. On small lakes, we might survey the entire shoreline. Random transects of shoreline are selected on larger lakes if it is not possible to do the entire shoreline. Our team can survey about 8-10 miles of shoreline in one night. We conduct 6-10 of these surveys a year.

“Fall electrofishing surveys, conducted at the end of the growing season, allow us to measure the reproductive success of important species such as walleye and muskellunge. These surveys are very targeted and short, so we can typically conduct 15-20 a year.

“There are a handful of other survey types that we use in special circumstances. These include mini-fyke netting for forage species, gill netting for deep water species such as cisco and whitefish, and fall fyke netting for crappie.”

Wisconsin’s 2023 Fish and Wildlife Spring Hearings (virtual and online input) take place April 10-13. The Wisconsin Conservation Congress is the only statutory body in the state in which the public elects delegates to advise the DNR and Natural Resources Board on responsible natural resources management.

The DNR and WCC invite the public to get involved in the 2023 hearings, focused on natural resource-related questions and proposed rule changes, and again in a virtual format. The online questionnaire is open for input through noon April 13 via the WCC Spring Hearing webpage.

For more information, visit the Wisconsin Conservation Congress website.

Wisconsin’s 2023 statewide spring Youth Turkey Hunt is April 15-16 and the DNR says there is still time to plan for it. This hunt offers hunters younger than 16 years of age the opportunity to gain valuable hunting experience and feel the excitement of turkey season before the regular season begins.

Youth hunters must have a spring turkey license, stamp, and valid harvest authorization for any period. All of these are available through Go Wild online or in person at DNR service centers and license agents. Youth hunters must have completed hunter education or participated in the mentored hunting program to be eligible for the hunt.

To participate in the mentored hunting program, a qualified adult 18 years of age or older must be accompany the youth. The adult may not accompany more than two youth hunters at one time. For more information, visit the Mentored Hunting webpage.

Youth hunters may use a harvest authorization for any period during Youth Hunt weekend, but must hunt within the zone on their authorization. Authorizations not filled during the youth hunt are valid during the regular hunting season in the zone indicated.

Hunters must register their turkey by 5 p.m. the day after recovery at gamereg.wi.gov or by calling (844) 426-3734. Hunters will need their harvest authorization number.

The DNR seeks public comments for the 2023 deer season as part of the annual County Deer Advisory Council (CDAC) process. The online comment period is open through April 16. Participate in the survey here. Each county CDAC meets annually to provide input and recommendations to the DNR on deer management within their area, based on deer herd metrics, county population objectives, and public feedback. Information on each county’s harvest and population metrics is available on the Wisconsin Deer Metrics System webpage.

The DNR encourages the public to attend local CDAC meeting to join the discussion about local deer management and provide input on deer season details. The councils welcome comments from anyone interested in helping shape local deer management preferences. Local CDACs consider the comments in their recommendations for the DNR.

Councils review current county data on fawn to doe ratios, harvest trends, herd health, impacts on agriculture, forest health, and economics, vehicular collisions, and hunter experience.

Recommendations for the upcoming season undergo review and adjustment as needed in response to the previous year’s deer harvest, winter severity, and other factors.

This year, CDAC meetings take place April 24 through May 4, both in-person and virtually.

In June, the DNR will take 2023 season recommendations to the Natural Resources Board for review.

Hayward Bass Club still has openings for new members to join for weekly fishing outings during the summer months. The club welcomes new members and invites all interested anglers. For information, call/text Wayne at (405) 227-1789, or email haywardbassclub@gmail.com.

Fishing Report

Warming weather will soon end ice fishing season, though ice depths remain as thick as 24 inches on some lakes. Check with your favorite bait shop for current ice conditions, fish locations, favored baits, and preferred presentations. This is a great time to be on the ice, but expect sloppy conditions and use extreme caution so you do not miss the May 6 general inland gamefish opener! Make sure to have a valid fishing license. Speaking of the opener, please note that some boat registration renewals were due April 1!


Crappie fishing is good and getting better. Fish are likely still schooled in deep basins, but regardless of depth, can be anywhere in the water column, so check it in its entirety, from the very top to bottom and all points between. Productive baits include crappie minnows, waxies, spikes, plastics, and Gulp! baits on jigs of varied sizes. Offer the fish a choice!


Bluegill fishing is good to very good. They are mixed in with crappies, which can be anywhere in the water column. Runoff and holes draining water bring in fish, but check the ice as you go. Baits of choice include waxies, spikes, plastics, and Gulp! baits on teardrops and small tungsten jigs in various designs, with banana jigs good at this time.

Perch: Perch fishing is fair. Look to new weed growth as well as old weed beds in 4-12 feet. Try crappie minnows, spoons tipped with minnow heads, and Jigging Raps, Puppet Minnows, and similar baits.

Upcoming Events

March 31: Fishing/hunting licenses for 2022-23 expired.

April 1: Boat registration renewals due for some boat owners.

April 10-13: Fish and Wildlife Spring Hearings (virtual and online input).

April 15-16: Youth Spring Turkey Hunt (see regs).

April 24-May 4: CDAC meetings in each county.

April 30: Otter hunting/trapping season closes in North Zone.

May 2: Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies Inc. general business meeting, 7 p.m., Flat Creek Lodge (715-634-4543).

May 5: Full Flower Moon.

May 5: Early catch-and-release trout season closes (see regs).

May 6: General inland fishing season opener (see regs).

May 27: Wisconsin Canoe Heritage Museum Heritage Day Celebration, Spooner (715-635-2479).

Through May 31: Applications accepted for 2023 elk season.

Spring Turkey Season Dates

Spring turkey season is six seven-day periods, Wednesday through the following Tuesday, in the seven zones open for hunting in 2023. Season dates are as follows:

Youth Hunt: April 15-16

Period A: April 19-25

Period B: April 26-May 2

Period C: May 3-9

Period D: May 10-16

Period E: May 17-23

Period F: May 24-30

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.