Spring is giving it a good shot, but just cannot seem to break loose from winterish weather. This week’s forecast calls for somewhat mild temperatures, but with Tuesday night through Friday offering “various” types of precipitation. Most everyone is ready for true spring weather ‑ there is no well-known popular song, “I’m dreaming of a White Easter.”
“The Quiet Lakes still have around 20 inches of ice,” says Greg at Happy Hooker, “but the creeks and rivers are opening up. Some of the shorelines are starting to open as well, and getting onto the lakes can be precarious.
“If you head out, be diligent in checking the ice all the way to where you plan to fish. Any moving water can cause thin ice that might not be noticeable from on top, so make sure to check ice thickness if you are anywhere near creeks, drainages, or shorelines!
“Crappies are in weed beds in 4-12 feet and staying shallower as they prepare for spawn. Small tungsten and lead jigs tipped with waxies and plastics will produce. Fish become more active at last light, so use that to your advantage.
“Bluegills are mixing in with the crappies, as well as on shallow weed beds, sandy shorelines, and flats that warm during the day. Using the same tackle and tactics will catch fish. Jigs in greens, pinks, and white are good this time of year, as many things are changing in the water column.
“Perch are in and around those same areas as well, but focus on deeper edges and where the bottom transitions. Small jigs with waxies and plastics with appendages that undulate will attract big perch.”
Levi at Hayward Bait says anglers are still ice fishing and there is still 15-24 inches of good ice on many lakes.
“Crappie fishing is good for the anglers who are fishing for them. Look shallow on the warmer days, but a bit deeper and in the basins with cold fronts. Early morning and late evening hours are the best times to fish. During the day, fish are along weed edges and in basins in 15-30 feet. In the evening, the fish move shallower. Most anglers are using crappie minnows and waxies, though some report success with pink and purple plastics.
“Bluegill fishing is decent with the fish starting to move somewhat shallow. However, recent cold weather pushed them a bit deeper into the weeds and along weedlines in 5-10 feet. Waxies and spikes are working best, though plastics are more effective for bigger fish.
“Perch fishing is steady as the fish move shallower as they get closer to spawn. Look for fish on shallow mudflats in 5-15 feet. Crappie minnows, rosy reds, waxies, plastics, and small spoons are all working well.
“Trout anglers fishing the early catch-and-release season report good action on cold, overcast days. Spinners and small crankbaits are producing success.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses spring survey plans for the Hayward Fish Team.
“As the ice goes out, the Hayward Fish Team will be getting back on the water for another round of spring surveys on area lakes. We time these surveys to line up with the pre-spawn or spawning behavior of different target species.
“This spring, we plan to be on Lake Hayward first, since with the flow of water coming in from the Namekagon River the ice there goes out much sooner than other lakes. We will target northern pike, musky, and panfish on Lake Hayward, though on occasion we often pick up walleye and even brown trout.
“Next, we plan to net Smith Lake, with a goal of estimating the total number of adult walleye.
“Our biggest survey effort of the year ‑ and probably the decade! ‑ will be on the Chippewa Flowage where we hope to estimate the total number of walleye and set the stage to do the same with musky. That survey will bring in teams from other parts of the state and will include intensive netting and electrofishing efforts, including some in the tributary rivers leading into the Chip.
“Following the Chippewa Flowage surveys, we hope to do a crappie survey on Windigo Lake and a crappie/musky survey on Moose Lake. Time allowing, we would also like to net Lower Holly Lake to get a better assessment of a partial winterkill that occurred a couple years back.
“If water temperatures allow, we may return to the Chip for some additional musky netting.
“As water continues to warm, we will set our sights on electrofishing for bass and panfish. All the lakes named above, with the exception of Moose and Windigo, will get a bass/bluegill electrofishing survey. Blueberry, Sand, and Green Lake might also get bass/bluegill electrofishing surveys.
“This full slate of surveys will include thousands of fish and take 6-8 weeks to complete, ending in early June.
“If you see us on the water, we are always happy to talk about what we are finding in the survey, but please keep your distance from our survey nets, marked with white buoys, and the electrofishing boats.”
The DNR will host a Bear Aware webinar by Zoom and phone Tuesday, April 19, starting at 6 p.m., to learn about living among black bears from DNR and USDA-Wildlife Services bear experts. They will discuss bear habitat and history, and offer tips for reducing potential bear conflicts around homes and businesses. The DNR and USDA-Wildlife Services receive more than 700 calls related to nuisance black bears each year.
The state has a thriving black bear population estimated at more than 24,000 bears. Wisconsin’s black bear live primarily in the far northern one-third of the state, though in the lower two-thirds of the state bear are becoming more common. The DNR pamphlet, Living with Black Bears in Wisconsin, is a great resource for learning more about co-existing with bears.
Black bears generally avoid contact with people, but conflicts arise. A bear finding food such as bird feed or garbage near a home or cabin will likely return for more, and will periodically check sites where food was once available. It might take several days to weeks after removing a food source for a bear to stop visiting.
The public can participate in a Q&A session following the Bear Aware webinar.
Join the webinar online by Zoom or by phone at (877) 853 5257; Webinar ID: 886 3482 8734.
For more information, search ‘Bear Aware webinar’ on the DNR website.
The Wisconsin spring Youth Turkey Hunt for hunters younger than age 16 is this weekend, April 16-17. Hunters younger than age 12 and youth hunters who do not have hunter safety certification can participate in the youth turkey hunt through the Mentored Hunting Program. A qualified adult must accompany any youth hunter and follow all youth turkey hunting and mentored hunting program rules. All hunters must possess a valid spring turkey license, stamp, and harvest authorization. Youth hunters can use a harvest authorization for any period during the hunt, but must hunt in the zone indicated on their harvest authorization. For more information, search “youth turkey hunt” on the DNR website.
The 2022 DNR Spring Hearing and Wisconsin Conservation Congress (WCC) meeting is available online from 7 p.m. Monday, April 11, through 7 p.m. Thursday, April 14. The public can provide input on proposed natural resources rule changes from the DNR and advisory questions from the Natural Resources Board (NRB) and WCC. There are 16 advisory questions from the DNR related to fisheries and wildlife management; two advisory questions from the NRB; and 45 advisory questions from the WCC. The WCC will not hold delegate elections this year. The DNR will post results when available. For more information, search “spring hearing” on the DNR website.
Anglers continue to fish on the ice and some lakes still have more than 20 inches, but it is deteriorating. Use extreme caution and common sense. Access is also a challenge with the ice shrinking away from shorelines.
Chippewa Flowage panfish anglers should note that April 1 the panfish bag limit on the Chippewa Flowage changed to 10 fish combined panfish species.
The 2021-22 fishing and hunting licenses expired March 31 and the May 7 gamefish opener is coming up soon (four weeks!) If you plan to fish or turkey hunt, make sure to purchase your new licenses.
This is a good time to check fishing equipment, from rods and reels to tackle and tackle boxes to boats, motors, and trailers. Prepare now so you are ready to go May 7!
Crappie action is good to very good, with best fishing in early morning and again in late evening when fish are most active. Look for fish along weed edges and in basins in 15-30 feet during the day, but in 4-14 feet on warm, sunny days and in the evening hours. You will find them in basins and deeper water during cold fronts. Various baits are working for crappies, including crappie minnows, waxies, Gulp! baits, and pink or purple plastics tipped on lead and tungsten jigs.
Bluegill fishing is fair to very good depending on the day. The fish are mingling with crappies and slowly moving shallower. You will find them in and along weeds, weed beds, weedlines, sandy shorelines, and flats in 5-10 feet. The most productive offerings include lead and tungsten jigs tipped with waxies, spikes, Gulp! baits, and plastics ‑ particularly those in green, pink, and white colors.
Perch fishing is consistent as the fish move toward shallower locations in preparation for spawning. Look for them on deep weed edges and mudflats, weed beds, and sandy shorelines in 5-15 feet. Baits of choice include small jigs and jigging spoons, tipping them with crappie minnows, rosy reds, waxies, Gulp! baits, and plastics.
March 31: The 2021-22 fishing/hunting licenses expired.
April 1: Chippewa Flowage panfish bag limit changed to 10 combined panfish species.
April 11-14: Online DNR Spring Hearing and WCC meeting open through 7 p.m. Thursday, April 14 (608-266-0580).
April 15: Good Friday.
April 16-17: Youth Turkey Hunt.
April 17: Easter Sunday.
April 18: Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame – opening day (715-634-4440).
April 19: DNR Bear Aware Zoom webinar, 6 pm. (877-853 5257; Webinar ID: 886 3482 8734).
April 30: Trapping seasons close in Northern Zone: Otter; Beaver.
May 3: Hayward Chapter-Muskies Inc. meeting, 7 p.m., at Flat Creek Lodge (715-634-4543).
May 6: Early catch-and-release trout season closes.
May 7: Wisconsin general gamefish opener (see regs for details).
May 12-15: Treeland Challenge Bass and Walleye Catch and Release Tournament (715-462-3874).
May 20-21: 35th Annual Fishing Has No Boundaries Hayward event (715-634-3185).
Bonus harvest authorizations on sale until selling out or season ends.
A: April 20-26
B: April 27-May 3
C: May 4-10
D: May 11-17
E: May 18-24
F: May 25-31
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.