No, you did not sleep through summer. Spring was here and then winter suddenly returned, though just briefly… we hope! The current forecast indicates Tuesday is the high point this week, with sunshine and a high near 50 degrees. The remainder of the week offers assorted forms of precipitation and highs in the mid-40s. Be patient, as spring-like weather will return ‑ or there will be a quick shift to summer!
“From what I see and hear, most of the Quiet Lakes have at least a few feet of open water along the shorelines,” says Greg at Happy Hooker. “There is a lot of water flowing in from the full creeks, the rivers are rapidly opening lake inlets, and it appears most shallow backwater bays and lakes are open water.
“As for fishing, I would not encourage heading out on the ice, but rather pack up the ice fishing equipment and get the boat ready for the opener! While some lakes might still have solid ice, access is probably not worth the risk.
“For anglers who want to risk going out, fish shallow and use minnows, waxies, and plastics on small jigs and spoons. If you can get out and fish safely, you will most likely catch a mixed bag of panfish.”
Jarrett at Hayward Bait says ice depths vary throughout the area. Reports are very slim, as not many anglers are fishing, and the ice could soon be unsafe for travel.
“Some reports had lakes with 8-12 inches early last week, while small pockets of open water are starting to develop in other areas. Regardless of reports, if you head out on late ice, make sure you notify someone about where you are going to fish and take a pair of picks or a floatation device/suit. It will soon be open water all around!
“Crappies are still basin related, but as we move forward and fresh water and oxygen enter the lakes, fish might begin to move more freely throughout the water column. Anglers still report success with minnows and plastics jigs.
“Bluegills are now freer to move around with some much-needed oxygen arriving in the form of runoff. Waxies and plastics on small jigs are working well for late ice bluegills.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses the 2022/23 winter and its effects on fish.
“There may be nothing riskier than writing an early obituary for a Wisconsin winter. Yet it is undeniable that the days are getting longer and the sun more powerful. Spring is approaching, even if we experience a false start or two, and now is as good a time as any to offer an assessment of how this past winter might have affected our fisheries.
“First off, risk of winterkill should be relatively normal compared to other winters. That might mean that a few places where it is a frequent issue could experience some kills, but we would not expect kills to be widespread.
“Ice cover started around a normal time and it appears that most lakes will see their ice leave sometime in the second half of April. Average ice-out for our area is typically mid-April, so ice-out this year might be a little later, but not abnormal.
“Our stream trout should have had an okay winter, too. We had a few cold snaps, but nothing so prolonged as to build significant ‘anchor ice’ that can kill eggs, fry, and even adult trout.
“The potential benefits to fisheries come from all of that snow that we have been shoveling and blowing all winter. Infiltration of melting snow into the mostly unfrozen ground should help recharge the water tables and increase the base flow in streams. Both of these are important for fish spawning, thermal habitat, and lake levels for recreation.
“Winter is hard for many creatures in Wisconsin, including humans, but it is also a critical part of the cycle of renewal for our lakes, rivers, and fisheries.”
The DNR is accepting applications through May 4 for its 2024 class of conservation wardens. Wardens enforce laws that protect fish and wildlife, the environment, state parks and forests, and outdoor recreation enthusiasts. It is likely this year’s successful applicants will receive assignments to major state park and forest properties across Wisconsin.
Successful applicants will progress through the hiring process in 2023 and begin their warden training in early 2024. Applicants must be at least age 21 upon hiring and have already earned or planning to earn at least 60 college credits within their first five years of hiring.
For more information, visit DNR warden recruitment. Apply at Wisc.Jobs and search for Job ID 9980 for recruitment to fill multiple vacancies across the state. Applicants do not need prior law enforcement experience. Search Job ID 9990 for warden positions specific to Devils Lake State Park. Applicants must have current law enforcement certifications.
The DNR has compiled all public comments received during the Nov. 10, 2022 through Feb. 28, 2023 public comment period on the proposed Wolf Management Plan. The compilation is available on the DNR’s Wolf Management Plan webpage. The DNR received around 3,500 comments by email, mail, and online. The comments are verbatim as submitted and sorted by submission type and order received, with the exception of DNR attempts to redact all personal contact information and any inappropriate language.
The DNR will review the comments, use them when considering revisions to the proposed Wolf Management Plan, and will present the final plan to the Natural Resources Board.
Tick season is here, says the DNR. Ticks are common in Wisconsin and live in wooded, brushy, and grassy areas adjacent to woods. A tick can be as small as a poppy seed, but carry and spread major illnesses, such as Lyme disease.
Limit your chance of contracting Lyme disease and other illnesses spread by ticks by following these tips:
- Cover as much of your body as possible; wear long sleeves and pants; tuck shirts into pants and pants into socks.
- Walk in the center of trails with mowed grass and vegetation.
- Wear light-colored clothing so ticks are easier to spot and remove quickly.
- Use EPA-registered insect repellent and you can treat clothes in advance with Permethrin.
- Throw clothes in the dryer for 10 minutes on high heat when you arrive home after recreating.
- Check yourself, children, and pets, especially behind knees, under armpits, around hairlines, ears, and waists.
To learn more about ticks and Lyme disease symptoms, visit Fight the Bite.
The Wisconsin spring turkey hunting season begins with Period A this Wednesday, April 19, and runs through May 30. The season is six, seven-day periods, Wednesday through the following Tuesday, in all seven zones open for hunting.
The DNR reminds turkey hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts to be aware and stay safe. Hunters and public land users sharing fields and forests should be aware of others in the area. Hunters should follow safety rules; non-hunters should wear blaze orange. It is extremely important to avoid wearing red, white, or blue.
Follow these tips from the National Wild Turkey Federation:
- Make sure that any accessories you carry that are red, white, or blue, such as decoys, diaphragm calls, box call chalk, candy wrappers, apples, cigarette packs, etc., are not visible to other hunters.
- Camouflage your firearm, covering over white diamonds or other red or white markings.
- Always keep your hands and head camouflaged when you are calling.
- If you see other hunters, call out to make them aware you are there. Better to disrupt a hunt than risk an incident.
- Wear dark color socks and long pants to prevent exposing your bare skin.
- Do not over-camouflage yourself by sitting in vegetation that is so thick that it obscures your vision.
- Hunters using a human-made blind or camouflage netting should maintain a clear field of view.
Some turkey hunters use a fanned turkey tail to conceal themselves, often referred to as “fanning.” A technique gaining popularity is reaping, in which a hunter hides behind a fan while moving toward the turkey, often prompting the bird to challenge them. Although legal in Wisconsin, this technique presents potential safety risks. Hunters should take the following safety measures if they choose to give reaping a try:
- Always cover decoys completely whenever you carry them.
- Do not try reaping on public land. There might be other hunters or the public nearby of which you are unaware.
- Do not reap a turkey in the woods or near a field edge on any property, whether on public or private land.
For more information, search “turkey hunting” on the DNR website.
Ice fishing season is winding down as the ice is quickly deteriorating and there are many areas of open water. Caution is of the upmost importance. IF you go, go with extreme caution and take all safety equipment that might be necessary, such as picks, rope, floatation devices, cell phones, etc. Check the DNR ice fishing safety webpage for more information.
Panfish Crappie and bluegill anglers report improving success, though now must deal with questionable ice in many areas. Check the entire water column, as fish can be moving anywhere in it. Crappies are in deep basins, with bluegills in shallower water. For crappies, crappie minnows, waxies, and plastics on small jigs and spoons are working well. For bluegills, baits of choice include waxies, spikes, plastics, minnows, and Gulp! baits on small jigs, teardrops, and spoons.
March 31: Fishing/hunting licenses for 2022-23 expired ‑ renew now!
May 5: Full Flower Moon.
May 5: Fundraiser for Terry Peterson Shues Pond Memorial project at Angler’s Haven Resort, 3-7 p.m. (715) 634-2757).
May 19-20: FHNB event at Lake Chippewa Campground on Chippewa Flowage (715-634-3185).
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 is six seven-day periods, Wednesday through the following Tuesday, in the seven zones open for hunting in 2023. Season dates are as follows:
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.