Hayward Lakes Outdoor Report 4-23-24

Steve Suman

This week’s forecast for the Hayward area is “interesting.” It includes mid-60-degree highs to lows in the 20s, with sunshine, snow (sorry!), rain, thunderstorms, and some stiff winds dispersed throughout the week. There appears to be something for just about everyone! It predicts Wednesday and Thursday as the highlight sunny days, so take advantage if you can. Perhaps this bodes well for good weather the following weekend and the May 4 Wisconsin gamefish opener.

“In the Quiet Lakes’ area, we had a slight cool-down this past weekend,” says Greg at Happy Hooker. “The temperatures should warm and stay for a while, though it looks like decent chances for rain early this week and again this weekend. We need as much rain as we can get to help keep the lakes in decent shape for the fishing opener.

“At this point, it sounds as if Moose Lake and the Chippewa Flowage are the two main concerns, with all other area lakes at good water levels. There are still not many anglers getting out yet, but that should change with the warmer weather we have coming this week.

 “Anglers have only two weeks remaining to get boats ready and chores done before the fishing opener!

 “A few anglers visiting the bait shop say they are doing okay finding fish. The crappies were shallow, they found perch slightly deeper, and they saw some weed growth as well. They caught both crappie and perch on crawlers, which is somewhat odd for this time of year, so the fish are active and hungry. A small spinner-blade jig under a slip bobber will catch fish.

“Turkey season is underway and though we are seeing many of them, I have yet to hear of any successful hunts. My attempt to fill a tag begins May 1. Good luck to all who have tags for this spring!”

Jarrett at Hayward Bait says we have some cold weather, but much-needed warmth is just around the corner, albeit accompanied by some rain and clouds.

“We are hearing some small to medium size lakes have hit the high 30s to low 40s water temperatures, but this cold spell might set it back a few degrees.

“Walleye and northern pike season will open soon, but for now, bass anglers are taking advantage of catch and release bass season. Those anglers are finding both largemouth and smallmouth off deep points and over weed flats. Anglers should think about jerkbaits and the long pause it will take to get these cold-water fish to commit. Soon, with the warmer water and temperatures, the bass will move onto shallow flats to feed before preparing for spawn in May or June.

“Crappies are still wandering around deeper water and structure in 10-25 feet, from main lake basins to medium-depth weed flats. Fortunately, with the warm winter and lack of snow, many weed beds did not completely die off over the winter and provide great structure and hunting grounds for crappie schools moving towards spawning grounds. Picking off aggressive fish with slow moving plastics, or minnows and slip bobbers for hesitant fish, are working great.

“Until the gamefish opener, jump on the early season panfish bite ‑ it has been a few years since we have had open water this long before opener!”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses lake associations and their work.

“In the Hayward area, lake associations are some of our most consistent and active partners in fish management, which should come as no surprise. Lake associations are organized groups of people with a common interest in the health of that particular waterbody.

“In my position, I regularly interact with about 19 area lake associations. Most associations represent a single waterbody, but a few represent a group of lakes.

“It is worth noting that each lake association has a slightly different ‘personality,’ which is likely a reflection of the people in the group, the issues they tackle, lake size, and many more factors. There are some commonalities among all our local lake associations as well.

“Here is an update on what our local lake associations are doing.

“Currently, prevention and management of aquatic invasive species (AIS) is a huge focus for lake groups. Lake associations are in a good position to help monitor access points to prevent spread of AIS, and many groups are leveraging grant funds for treatment and harvesting of AIS such as Eurasian milfoil, curlyleaf pondweed, and purple loosestrife.

“Lake associations also have an interest in fish, and many have a standing fisheries committee to discuss and act on fish-related topics. Lake groups get involved in fish stocking when needed, fish habitat projects such as fish cribs, and provide input on fishing regulation changes. Lake associations also have a strong social component, with many having annual picnics or other gatherings where members can bond.

“Running a lake association takes a lot of work, nearly always accomplished by volunteers. We salute those working to protect our lakes by offering their time and expertise in our many lake groups!”

Spring season turkey hunters appear to be doing well statewide, with current harvest (as of April 16) at 3,866 birds across all turkey management zones. Remaining bonus tags are still available in zones 1 and 3 for periods E and F, and in Zone 4 for Period F.

Sawyer County fire danger is “Very High” as of Monday, April 22. The DNR has suspended all DNR-issued burning permits, prohibiting all burning in barrels, debris piles, and grass or wooded areas. Though it strongly discourages campfires, it allows their use if used solely for cooking or warming purposes. Please use extreme caution. Consider having small campfires in a designated fire ring or device in the evening hours to avoid burning under elevated fire conditions typically found during the day. Please note: Areas outside of DNR Protection and within the limits of incorporated villages or cities may create their own burning ordinances, as well as set their own burn restrictions.

Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies Inc. welcomes the public to attend its club meeting Tuesday, May 7, at Flat Creek Lodge in Hayward. The guest speaker is well-known and long-time local guide John Myhre, who will discuss the use of electronics in finding fish, including the latest forward facing sonar. Myhre is very knowledgeable on this topic, and if you use electronics on your boat, this will be a very educational meeting.

Admission is free and anyone interested in becoming a new member of Muskies, Inc. can purchase a half-price membership at the meeting. For more information, call Mike Persson (715) 634-4543.

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. Angler’s Haven Resort will then host a celebration dinner and fundraiser from 3-7 p.m. with raffles, prizes, and more. Only 75 tickets are available for this event. Purchase tickets online or donate at https://www.terrypetersonff.com.

The Sawyer County Deer Advisory Council is meeting April 29 at the Hayward DNR building on Hwy 27 South. The meeting begins at 6:30 p.m. The advisory councils provide input and recommendations to the DNR on deer management within each county. For more information, search “CDAC” on the DNR website or call (920) 366-3450).


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. Follow the ATV/UTV map and know the map legend. Visit the DNR ATV website to review rules and regulations.

Check the HLVCB ATV/UTV trail conditions report and Sawyer County Snowmobile & ATV Alliance report for trail conditions and closures. Currently, spring closures are in effect for Chequamegon National Forest (715-634-4821) and Sawyer County Forest (715-634-4846). These spring closures might be shorter than usual, so check back for updates. For Flambeau State Forest, call (715) 332-5271.

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

Fishing Report

The gamefish opener is less than two weeks distant ‑ only one weekend! ‑ so best to get busy and prepare. In addition to sorting and updating tackle, checking out the boat, motor, trailer, electronics, and current registration, it is time to renew your fishing license, if you have not already done so. Panfish season is open, bass and trout (through May 3) are open for catch and release fishing. Make sure to check the regulation changes to some Sawyer County waters in 2024.


Largemouth and smallmouth bass catch and release season is in effect. Look for fish on deep weed flats and just off deep points. Live bait and artificials are working, with a slow presentation best in the cold water.


Crappies are still mostly in deep basins and on weed flats in 10-25 feet, but will soon start moving towards their spawning areas with warming water temperatures. Crappie minnows, fathead minnows, crawlers and plastics under slip bobbers, and spin-jigs are all working well.


Perch are on mid-depth weeds and weedlines. Crawlers and spin-jigs under slip bobbers are all producing.

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 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 Boundariesevent at Lake Chippewa Campground (715-462-3672).

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.