Hayward Lakes Outdoor Report 4-9-24

Steve Suman

This week’s forecast predicts temperatures in the 50s combined with chances for rain, albeit most less than 50 percent. Chances for sunshine exist some days, though difficult to determine which post-eclipse days we will see it. It is mid-April, perhaps nicer than usual for this time, so take advantage if you can!

“In the Quiet Lakes’ area, the weather has been absolutely brutal for fishing,” says Greg at Happy Hooker. “Then, just when it started to look good, we were reminded of March winters in the North Woods.

“Temperatures are on an upward trend, along with some rain. This should take care of any remaining ice or snow, and bring much-needed precipitation to help get the streams and rivers flowing. The snow and wind last week really put a damper on anglers getting out to fish, with few ‑ if any ‑ anglers fishing.

“There is still time for anglers to get gear ready before crappie spawning starts to heat up. Rigging the rods, reels, line, and tackle ‑ especially pinkie jigs, small Northland Mimic Minnows, and the smallest Beetle Spins for crappies. In addition ‑ learned after many years of my dad out-fishing me ‑ a crappie minnow on a gold #6 Aberdeen hook under a bobber is a staple for getting slabs in the boat.”

Jarrett at Hayward Bait says spring is in the air, with warm temperatures and snow piles in the rearview mirror.

“Most anglers are gearing up for fish moving or having moved shallow, as many fish seek the warmest water. Shallow creeks, channels, bays, and hard bottom areas warm the fastest, and are key areas to ‘sneak’ into, as many fish become very spooky when shallow.

“Many panfish sit on structure adjacent to these areas before moving to super-shallow areas. The structure can be weeds, cribs, or downed timber. Look for crappies and bluegills in 6-14 feet, and make sure you cover water! Slip floats are great, but without wind to move them or you moving them yourself, you will not cover much water. Slow-rolling plastics on small jigs over weed tops should coax panfish from hiding until the hot spring bite.

“This is a good time for walleye anglers to get out and identify the areas where the fish should be when the season opens. Look for areas where walleyes just finished spawning, such as shallow rock and gravel, preferably with moving water. The fish will pull from spawning areas and sit nearby until dusk, then move shallow to feed, often within feet of the shoreline.

“For river anglers, the sucker bite should turn on and trout are available if you are up for the challenge.

“Last year’s license expired March 31 and it is to get legal for the year!”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter reveals a great tool for planning your next trout adventure.

“My colleagues who work with trout are very bright and creative folks. Over the years, Wisconsin DNR fisheries habitat specialists have created all manner of techniques to improve trout habitat, with some now used across the country.

“A recent effort by our trout team is also making it easier for anglers to plan their Wisconsin trout fishing expeditions.

“The Trout Regulations and Opportunities User Tool (TROUT) is an online mapping app that enables adventuresome or curious anglers to explore trout fishing in all corners of the state. The resource highlights all trout waters, with color-coding of angling regulations. Within the app, you can turn on different layers that will help you find completed trout habitat projects.

“You can also look at terrain and air photos to get a better lay of the land before you pull up to the spot. Information on easements and parking areas is also available within the tool. When you find an area you want to visit, you can use the TROUT tool to create a pdf map, save it, and email to your phone. This will ensure that you have all the best intel even before setting foot on the streambank.”

“You can find the TROUT tool at https://dnrmaps.wi.gov/H5/?viewer=TROUT or by searching ‘Trout Tool’ on the DNR website.”

Wisconsin’s statewide 2024 Spring Youth Turkey Hunt is this weekend, Friday and Saturday, April 13-14. The hunt offers hunters younger than age 16 the opportunity to hunt turkey and gain valuable experience without the competition of adult hunters. The hunt is open to resident and non-resident hunters who possess a current valid spring turkey license, stamp, and harvest authorization.

Youth hunters 12-15 years old must complete a hunter safety education course. Youth hunters younger than 12 years must participate in the Mentored Hunt Program, which allows participants to hunt without first completing hunter education. An adult 18 years of age or older must accompany a youth hunter and may not accompany more than two youth hunters at any time during the hunt. To “accompany” means the adult is within both visual and voice contact of the youth. The adult is not required to be a licensed hunter or complete a hunter safety course.

Youth hunters can use a current valid harvest authorization issued for any period, but must hunt within the Turkey Management Zone on their harvest authorization. Youth hunters may harvest one bearded or male turkey during this hunt.

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

The DNR is hosting a virtual Elk Management Plan Open House for the Northern Elk Management Zone Wednesday, April 10, from 5:30-8:30 p.m., via Zoom. This meeting is for those who could not attend the April 4 in-person meeting, and offers participants the opportunity to interact with DNR staff about updates to the Elk Management Plan draft.

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

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 the in-person meeting, an online opportunity to provide input starts at noon April 10 and runs through noon April 13.

Elections for WCC delegates will take place during the hearings in each county.

The DNR and Wisconsin Conservation Congress (WCC) encourage everyone to attend the meeting and join the discussions. They also strongly urge the public to provide input through the online tool. Input from the in-person meeting and online input tool carry equal weight.

View the 2024 questionnaire, agenda, and in-person meeting locations on the DNR Spring Hearings web page at https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/about/wcc/springhearing.


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, and know the map legend. Check the HLVCB ATV/UTV trail conditions report and Sawyer County Snowmobile & ATV Alliance report for closures.

All ATV and UTV operators born on or after Jan. 1, 1988 who are at least 12 years old for ATV, and at least 16 years old for UTV, must complete an ATV and UTV safety certification course to operate legally on public ATV/UTV trails and areas in Wisconsin. Conservation wardens recommend all ATV/UTV operators complete a safety course.

An ATV safety education class will be available June 28-29, in Winter in Sawyer County. The course fee is $10. For more information, to contact those presenting the class, and to register, go to your gowild.wi.gov account, go to safety education, register, and choose ATV and Sawyer County.

Fishing Report

The weather is starting to change (finally) to warmer temperatures in the mid- to upper-50s, with a good chance for near-70 degrees this Sunday! We have a wet week ahead, but anglers will have somewhat more comfortable conditions to try their luck for panfish and catch and release bass and trout fishing.

The 2023-24 fishing licenses expired March 31 ‑ purchase your new license now and be ready for the May 4 opener!

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 registration 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.

Regulation changes for 2024 are on the books for some Sawyer County waters. As of April 1, panfish bag limits on Osprey and Island lakes are now year-round at 15 total and no more than 5 of one species. Moose Lake now has a 5-fish daily panfish limit, with only one greater than 12 inches. As of the May 4 fishing opener, the northern pike daily bag limit on the Chippewa Flowage, and Lac Courte Oreilles, Spider, and Tiger Cat chains of lakes changes to 10 fish and no minimum length. Look for new signage on these regulations posted at the boat landings. For questions, contact DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter.

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 closed at midnight (early closure).

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

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

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 through noon April 13).

April 13-14: Spring Youth Turkey Hunt.

April 15: Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame opens 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 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.