Hayward Lakes Outdoor Report 4-16-24

Steve Suman

The North Woods enjoyed a sunny, warm, and beautiful weekend, with highs hitting the low 70-degree mark! Unfortunately, it will not be quite so nice this week, with most highs in the 40s and 50s and lows even reaching down into the 20s a few mornings. Rain is in the forecast for Tuesday afternoon through Wednesday night, followed by cloudy days ‑ actually nice weather for mid-April! Use the rainy days for indoor projects ‑ get ready to roll when the sun shines!

“There is good news for Quiet Lakes’ anglers,” says Greg at Happy Hooker, “as the DNR is installing piers at all public launches in the area. Crews completed Lost Land and Clear Lake on the Spider Chain, but we cannot speak for any of the other lake launches.

“Water levels will be a concern for many anglers, with most lakes a little low, but fishable. The Chippewa Flowage is still way down, though there are reports that Xcel energy has cut flow as much as possible. Anglers are optimistic it will be at full pool by the opener.

“Few anglers have been on the water so there is a real shortage of fishing reports. That should change with the nicer weather, and crappies should start pushing into shallower water to prepare for spawn. Look for new green vegetation and fish the deep edges of those beds. Bluegill and perch should be in close proximity to those spots as well.

“Do not forget that your 2023 license expired March 31, so be sure renew your license before getting on the water. Really do not want to start off the year getting on the bad side of the DNR!”

Jarrett at Hayward Bait says anglers are gearing up for fish making their spring move to the shallows.

“Water temperature is the key, as fish seek the warmest water in the lake.

“Shallow creeks, channels, small bays, and hard bottoms warm fastest. Look for panfish on structure such as weeds, cribs, and timber in 6-14 feet near these areas before they move shallow. Entering these areas requires a sneak approach, as fish become spooky when shallow.

“Make sure to cover a lot of water. Slip floats work great with wind or you to move them, but otherwise they will not cover enough water. Instead, try slow-rolling plastics on small jigs over weed tops to coax fish out of hiding.

“Walleyes are not legal until the opener, but this is a good time to identify areas where they will hold when the season opens. Look for areas where they have finished spawning. They will sit in nearby water until dusk, and then move shallow to feed, sometimes very near the shoreline.

“In addition, the sucker bite is on and catch-and-release trout fishing is open for anglers looking for a challenge.

“Do not forget to renew your fishing license!”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses another angler tool ‑ the Aquatic Plant Explorer.

“Aquatic plants are a critically important lake habitat type for virtually all species of fish in our area. Aquatic plants can be a refuge, or a hunting ground, depending on the species and their stage of life.

“Anglers are wise to the importance of aquatic plants, which is why terms such as ‘weed edge,’ ‘cabbage,’ or ‘in the slop’ are included in so many fishing reports and tips. Very savvy anglers even go far enough to learn the names and distribution of plant species that they believe hold fish more often than other species do. For example, I occasionally receive information requests from anglers asking where they can find the best ‘musky cabbage’ in our lakes.

“A new tool from the DNR, the ‘Aquatic Plant Explorer,’ provides anglers great access to a wealth of aquatic plant data. In this tool, you can search for lakes you are interested in and explore any available aquatic plant data. The tool shows you the distribution of aquatic plants throughout a lake, including where species richness‑ the number of different species ‑ is high or low.

“You can also look at the distribution of individual plants of interest, such as the broad-leaved pondweed species (musky cabbage), lily pads, native milfoil, or coontail. Anglers who have success in locating fish in a certain plant type can easily find other spots on the lake with the same type of plants.  

“To access the tool, visit https://dnr-wisconsin.shinyapps.io/AquaticPlantExplorer, or search ‘aquatic plant explorer’ on the DNR website.”

The DNR is accepting applications through May 7 for the 2025 class of conservation wardens. Conservation wardens are credentialed law enforcement officers stationed statewide, serving rural and urban communities.

The DNR will hire approximately 10 full-time wardens who will begin training in January or April 2025, depending on prior law enforcement experience. Applicants do not need prior law enforcement experience, but must be at least 21 years old and have earned or be planning to earn at least 60 college credits within their first five years of hire.

The DNR is hosting a virtual information session Tuesday, April 23, from 6-7 p.m., to discuss the hiring process, training program, and more. Pre-registration required. Conservation wardens around the state will hold open office-hours sessions for applicants to discuss the career and ask questions.

To learn more about the conservation warden career and hiring process, search “warden recruitment” on the DNR website, or watch a brief video on the DNR’s Youtube channel.

To apply, visit Wisc.Jobs and search for Job ID 13900. Contact Mary Bisch at Mary.Bisch@wisconsin.gov with any questions about the application process.

Dry, windy, and warm conditions persist, and the DNR asks the public to avoid all outdoor burning due to continued elevated fire danger across Wisconsin. The fire danger is currently Very High in Sawyer and most surrounding counties, and the DNR has suspended burn permits in 41 counties, including Sawyer.

On Saturday, April 13, the most active wildfire day so far this year, 37 fires burned more than 300 acres, with several fires in the northwest part of the state having the potential for large fire growth.

On windy, dry days, embers from any fire, especially burn piles and campfires, if not properly extinguished, can easily get out of control and cause a wildfire. In addition, be extra careful with off-road vehicles or other equipment that can create sparks and start a fire.

Visit https://apps.dnr.wi.gov/wisburn/#/BurnRestrictions to check the current fire danger, wildfire reports, and burning restrictions.

Wisconsin’s 2024 spring turkey season opens Wednesday, April 17, and bonus harvest authorizations are still available for purchase for zones 1, 3, and 4. The spring season includes six, seven-day periods running Wednesday through the following Tuesday. All seven turkey management zones are open for hunting. Hunters should review the spring turkey hunting regulations in the fall 2023-spring 2024 hunting regulations.

Turkey harvest registration is mandatory and hunters must register their turkey by 5 p.m. the day after recovery. Do so at gamereg.wi.gov or by calling (844) 426-3734, using the number on the paper or electronic authorization. Registration is a critical component of wildlife population management.

The DNR offers a “first harvest or experience certificate” to turkey hunters, and for deer, bear, bobcat, fisher, and otter, to commemorate the experience and honor that special moment.

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


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. Visit the DNR ATV website to review rules and regulations. Follow the ATV/UTV map, know the map legend, and check the HLVCB ATV/UTV trail conditions report and Sawyer County Snowmobile & ATV Alliance report for closures.

Currently, Chequamegon National Forest and Sawyer County Forest closed trails for the spring thaw. These springs closures might be shorter than usual, so check back for updates. For Chequamegon National Forest information, call (715) 634-4821. For Flambeau State Forest, call (715) 332-5271. For specific questions, contact Cathy LaReau at cathy@sawyercountytrails.com or (715) 558-8966.

North Country ATV Club will host a spaghetti feed fundraiser at the Hayward Veterans Center Saturday, April 20, from 5-9 p.m., to raise money for trail maintenance. Tickets are $10 for adults and $5 for kids 12 and younger. The meal includes spaghetti, salad, garlic bread, and beverages. Visit North Country ATV Club for more information.

Fishing Report

Weather is improving in great leaps, though very windy, and anglers are starting to show a bit more interest in getting on the water. Greg at Happy Hooker says the DNR is installing piers on lakes in the Quiet Lakes’ area and likely at other lakes as well. Warmer water should draw crappies to shallower water if they are not already moving in that direction. The fish will be looking for warmer water, regardless. The fishing opener is May 4, so make sure your license is current ‑ your 2023 license expired March 31.

Upcoming Events

March 31: Annual hunting and fishing licenses expired.

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

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

April 15: Mink and muskrat trapping season closes in North Zone.

April 20: North Country ATV Clubspaghetti feed fundraiser at Hayward Veterans Center, 5-9 p.m. (715-634-2558).

April 21-22: Peak Lyrids Meteor Shower; 10-20 per hour, 2-4 a.m.

April 23: Full Pink Moon.

April 29: Sawyer County Deer Advisory Council meeting – Hayward DNR building, 6:30 p.m. (920-366-3450).

April 30: Beaver trapping season closes in Northwest Zone.

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

May 3: Terry Peterson Memorial Fundraiser at Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame, noon-2 p.m. (715-634-4440).

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

May 4: Northern pike daily bag limit changes in effect on some Sawyer County waters.

May 5-6: Peak Eta Aquarids Meteor Shower; 5-20 per hour, 2-4 a.m.

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

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

May 17-18: Hayward Chapter-Fishing Has No Boundaries eventLake Chippewa Campground (715-634-3185).

May 17-19: Musky Tale Resorts Northern Encounter fishing tournament (715-462-3838).

May 23: Full Flower Moon.

May 25: Musky season opens in the Northern Musky Zone.

May 25: Wisconsin Canoe Heritage DayWisconsin Canoe Heritage Museum in Spooner (715-635-2479).

May 25: Callahan Lake Resort Northern Pike Challenge, 8 a.m.-6 p.m. (715-462-3244).

May 27: Memorial Day memorializing the veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice for this country.

May 31: Application deadline for 2024 elk season tag.

Spring Turkey Season Dates

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

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.