Hayward Lakes Outdoor Report 4-2-24

Steve Suman

Spring continue to delay its arrival and winter refuses to depart ‑ but the time is coming for both! This week will see temperatures slowly warm into the 50s by the weekend, but still offers chances for snow, rain showers… and even a bit of sunshine. Get ready to roll once we make the turn!

“The weather in the Quiet Lakes’ area during the past week definitely slowed anglers and others from getting boats on the water,” says Greg at Happy Hooker. “All told, we received about 10 inches of snow and most lakes have or at least had some ice cover. There is not enough ice to not get out, but certainly enough to be a hindrance to do so! In addition, most landings still have some snow cover, which is yet another mess that anglers have to deal with to launch their boats!

“Angler reports for the inland lakes remain scarce, but a few folks are doing well trolling Lake Superior for coho.

“The next week looks to be going in the right direction as far as the weather goes, with low- to mid-40s temperatures all week and then upper 50s for next weekend. There are currently very few chances of rain until after next weekend. For now, next weekend looks to be a great weekend to make sure the boat is ready to go and to get out and potentially chase some crappies!”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses the triggers for fish spawning.

“As we grapple with many unexpected disruptions of what was mostly a very ‘un-wintery’ winter, especially by Wisconsin standards, some anglers might be wondering about its effects on fish.

“On the positive side, the risk of winterkill should be very low for virtually all waterbodies. Similarly, survival of trout in streams should be good. Mild winters are generally good for fish and other animal survival.

“The negatives will start to kick in if we have a very a-typical spring. An early ice-out and prolonged spring have the potential to impact both the timing and success of the fish spawn.

“Many fish species use cues from the temperature and photoperiod (length of daylight) to tell them when to spawn. However, what if these cues act in opposition to each other, such as if the water warms much earlier than expected, but days are still short? Research is still untangling the effects of these cues, and when fish defer to one or the other.

“The general consensus is that if ice goes out early, some fish will start to spawn when the temperature gets to the right level, though some fish might wait. This can result in a drawn-out spawn when different groups of fish are coming in to spawn over a wide period.

“The opposite seems to be true for a later-than-usual ice out. In those instances, the spawn happens fast and furious because both the temperature and photoperiod are telling the fish to spawn.

“Unfortunately for important species such as walleye, both later and earlier spawning tends to be less successful than spawning that happens at the ‘normal’ time.

“Early spawning can also mean different opportunities for anglers and harvesters. If the spawn happens long before the fishing opener, anglers might not get a chance to target walleye in shallow water.

“We have seen examples of both late and early ice-outs over the last decade. Inconsistency and high variability seem to be the new normal, which is a challenge for biologists, people chasing fish, and the fish themselves.”

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 (Period F)
  • Zone 5 (Period F)

Check “bonus permit availability” on the DNR website to see permit 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 Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame will host a memorial service and Terry Peterson Memorial Fundraiser at the Hall Friday, May 3, from noon to 2 p.m. From 3-7 p.m., Angler’s Haven Resort will host a celebration dinner and fundraiser with raffles, prizes, and more. Tickets ($100) go on sale April 1, with only 75 available for this event. Purchase online (or donate) at https://www.terrypetersonff.com.

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. The family-friendly event includes demonstrations, kids’ events, exhibits, raffles, silent auctions, and live auction for guide trips, fishing equipment, and more. For information, visit https://wrtu.org.

The DNR closed the Northern Zone river otter trapping season as of midnight, April 1, after projecting that trappers would reach the harvest quota of 2,500 river otters within the week. Regulations initially listed the Northern Zone season to run through April 30 or until harvest reached the quota. More information, visit the DNR’s Furbearer webpage.

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, online participation is open from noon April 10 through noon April 13. View the 2024 questionnaire, agenda, and meeting locations on the DNR Spring Hearings web page at https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/about/wcc/springhearing.

The DNR is hosting an Elk Management Plan Open House for the Northern Elk Management Zone April 4, from 5:30-8:30 p.m., at the Veterans Community Center in Hayward. Participants can interact with DNR staff about updates to the Elk Management Plan draft.

For those who cannot attend the in-person session, the DNR will hold a virtual Elk Management Plan Open House, Wednesday April 10, from 5:30-8:30 p.m. Participants must register in advance to attend the virtual meeting via Zoom.

For more information, visit “Elk in Wisconsin” on the DNR website, or contact Joshua Spiegel at Joshua.Spiegel@wisconsin.gov or call (715) 558-0648).


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.

According to the HLVCB ATV/UTV trail conditions report, the Sawyer County Forestry Department closed the county land trails March 8. They do not anticipate the closure will be as long as the normal spring closure, but will update as we move forward this spring. The U.S. Forest Service-Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest (715-634-4821) also closed trails March 8. We will update if they decide to open early.

For specific questions, contact Cathy LaReau at cathy@sawyercountytrails.com or (715) 558-8966.

Fishing Report

Fishing conditions and the weather are not motivating anglers to hit the water, so there is little to report at this time. That should change this week, with temperatures warming into the 50s by the weekend. There is other fishing news, however, along with some updates and reminders.

The 2023-24 fishing licenses expired March 31 and 2024-25 season are available.

Wisconsin boat registrations run for three years, beginning April 1 of the year the DNR issues/renews the registration, and expires March 31 of the third year after issuance/renewal. Make sure your boat is current!

Wisconsin’s early catch and release season for inland trout is open through 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, search “trout fishing” and Guide to Wisconsin’s Trout Fishing Regulations on the DNR website.

The Brule River opened March 30 for fishing downstream from Hwy. 2. Check the regs and legal fishing hours.

Anglers should note regulation changes to some Sawyer County waters in 2024. As of April 1, panfish bag limits on Osprey and Island lakes are now 15 total, with no more than 5 of one species, year-round. Moose Lake panfish limits are now a daily bag limit of 5 in total, with only one greater than 12 inches. The northern pike daily bag limit changes to 10 fish and no minimum length on the Chippewa Flowage and Lac Courte Oreilles, Spider, and Tiger Cat chains of lakes. Look for new signage at the boat landings. For any questions, contact DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter.

Whet your fishing appetite at the Hayward Fish Expo Saturday, April 6, from noon to 5 p.m., at Flat Creek Lodge in Hayward. Hosted by Wild Rivers Chapter of Trout Unlimited, the family-friendly event will include demonstrations, kids’ events, exhibits, raffles, bucket raffle, silent auctions, and live auction for guide trips, fishing equipment, and more.

Upcoming Events

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

March 31: Annual hunting and fishing licenses expired.

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

April 1: Otter trapping season in North Zone closes at midnight (early closure).

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

April 4: Elk Management Plan Open HouseVeterans Community Center, 5:30-8:30 p.m. (715-558-0648).

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

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

April 8: Total solar eclipse will cross North America.

April 10: Virtual Elk Management Plan Open Housejoin via Zoom, 5:30-8:30 p.m. (715-558-0648).

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

April 13-14: Spring Youth Turkey Hunt.

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

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

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

April 23: Full Pink Moon.

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 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.