North Woods’ temperatures, both highs and lows, are running somewhat above the average for May ‑ if we could just avoid some of the rain! Still, technically, the forecast says most rain chances for this week, after Monday, are “slight,” and most of the days running less than 20 percent. This is an 80-percent against rain, so maybe ignore them, and go on about spring plans to fish, hike, golf, or whatever else you enjoy for spring recreation! Keep an eye on the sky… just in case!
“Water temperatures on the Quiet Lakes are still cold,” says Greg at Happy Hooker, “as the last bits of ice went out on Spider Lake and Lost Land Lake last Friday, with the water temperatures 40-44 degrees. On Lost Land and Teal Lake, DNR netting/electrofishing surveys were ongoing and reports sound encouraging, with good numbers of walleyes and a few 40-inch class muskies.
“Regarding the fishing opener weekend, it appears as if most anglers had some fishing success, with a good walleye bite in particular. Anglers caught most fish shallow, out to 10 feet, and on everything from crankbaits to jigs and live bait. A friend sent a photo of a very nice walleye followed by a musky he caught while wading some sandy flats.
“The crappie bit is still off, as anglers I have talked with have found them neither shallow nor deep. Water temperatures are still a little cold for the fish to move shallower to spawn, but temperatures in the upper 60s and 70s this should start them moving into spawning areas by the end of the week.
“We have not heard anything about other panfish species at this time.”
Jarrett at Hayward Bait says the opener arrived!
“Walleyes, depending on the lake you fish, could be actively spawning or just wrapping up spawning. Regardless of where they are in the process, fish will be on shallow wind swept, rocky shorelines. During daytime hours, fish slide into slightly deeper water where jigs and minnows will shine. During evening hours, work slow rolling crankbaits and jerkbaits in shallow water, even less than a few feet.
“Northern pike will also be fairly shallow, with many fish heading into muddy, shallow bays to sun themselves. In clear water, sight fishing for these fish can be a lot of fun. Live bait, hair jigs, and jerkbaits will tempt slow, sluggish pike to inhale baits.
“Largemouth and smallmouth bass will slowly start to make their way from their deep wintering spots to either weed flats or rock points. Largemouth will find the weeds; smallmouth normally move to rock or gravel flats. Live bait, spinners, jerkbaits, and some finesse plastics work well in cold-water scenarios.
“Crappies will also be between their winter basin homes and mid-depth weed flats, and even weeds that remain from last year. Crappie minnows, fatheads, and small crappie plastics on slip bobbers or jigs worked slowly over these flats should get you into fish.
“No reports on bluegills so far. That will start in about three weeks once they start moving shallow with the crappies.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses golf balls and lake water quality.
“People enjoy the Hayward area for all kinds of things. Some people come to play golf, some come for the lakes, and some people enjoy both, but golf balls and lakes do not mix. Specifically, golfers should not hit golf balls into lakes.
“We see golf balls in lakes all the time when we are performing electrofishing surveys. Usually, it is easy to see where they originate. Certain docks and raised shorelines will have a scattering of balls nearby, presumably shanked drives. When observing those conditions, I assume there are many more balls far out in the deeper part of the lake.
“The problem is that that brief enjoyment one might get from smashing a ball out over the water can lead to long-lasting water quality issues.
“Golf balls will break down in our lakes, though it often takes more than a century. However, as they break down, the balls release compounds, which can include heavy metals such as zinc. These heavy metals can find their way into the food chain, making fish less safe to eat.
“Simply put, golf balls are just like any other kind of litter.
“It is my hope that people learning about this will get them to reconsider something that they probably never thought was harmful to our lakes.”
The DNR’s Check Out Wisconsin State Parks program is expanding to additional libraries across Wisconsin. The program provides library cardholders the opportunity to check out day passes to state parks, forests, and recreation areas. In the Hayward area, contact the Sherman & Ruth Weiss Community Library in Hayward (715-634-2161) and the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwa College Community Library (715-634-4790).
As of May 1, more than 160 libraries across Wisconsin are making available nearly 6,300 day passes. The passes are valid for a free single-day admission for one vehicle at any state park, forest, or recreation area that requires admission. The initial program offered 1,000 day passes to 20 libraries across Wisconsin.
Friends of Wisconsin State Parks, a grant from the C.D. Besadny Fund of the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin, and two Green Tier businesses, underwrote the cost of day passes at 84 libraries.
The 2023 Wisconsin Canoe Heritage Museum Heritage Day Celebration in Spooner is Saturday, May 27, from 10 a.m.-4 p.m., during Memorial Day Weekend. This free event marks the season opening of the museum and includes an open house in the museum exhibit hall, canoe workshop activities, the Canoe & Wooden Boat Show, and more. For information, visit the website or call (715) 635-2479.
The Hayward Chapter-Fishing Has No Boundaries will host its 36th Annual event May 19-20, at the Lake Chippewa Campground on the Chippewa Flowage. The Hayward Chapter was the very first chapter of the national Fishing Has No Boundaries organization, making Hayward’s event the “Grand-daddy” event of all the chapters. Hundreds of volunteers gather to assist 120-150 anglers with various disabilities to enjoy this unique fishing experience.
The two-day event offers evening meals, adaptive equipment, and more, to ensure everyone has a wonderful time. Community involvement is outstanding, with individuals and business owners donating all watercraft used for the event.
For more information, visit the Hayward Chapter-Fishing Has No Boundaries website or call (715) 634-3185.
Opening weekend anglers were able to avoid rain for the Saturday opener and general reports indicate fishing was good for most of them. Some lakes experienced a late ice-out, with water temperatures in the mid-40s or so.
Anglers should note that although bass fishing season is “open” year-around for both largemouth and smallmouth, smallmouth bass fishing is catch-and-release only in the Northern Bass Zone until June 17.
The DNR’s 2023 Wisconsin Spring Fishing Report covering the entire state is now available on the DNR website ‑ and it is a big, full-color publication this year! According to DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter, this edition of the “Fishing Forecast” added many new elements and a great amount of information and photos to get anglers excited to fish.
Walleye fishing was good during opening weekend according to most reports. Activity varies from lake to lake and fish could be still spawning, finished spawning, or calling it a season and dispersing. Some fish will hold shallow, but daytime fishing might be best in mid-depths, inside of 10 feet, to deeper water. Nighttime action will remain best in shallow to very shallow locations. Look for fish on weedlines, sand flats, and rock points and shorelines. Multiple types of offerings are working, including walleye suckers, jigs and minnows, and other live bait, jerkbaits, crankbaits, stickbaits, and minnowbaits. Take an assortment!
Northern pike are on the move and fishing is good on most waters. Look for them from mid-depths to shallow, in bays, on weeds and weedlines, and ‑ as always ‑ wherever you find concentrations of panfish and baitfish. Northern and walleye suckers on jigs and live bait rigs, spinners, spoons, jerkbaits, and stickbaits can get their interest.
Largemouth bass are moving from their winter holding areas to shallower weeds, weedlines, and weed flats, but this movement can at times be a slow process. Various types of live bait, spinners, spinnerbaits, jerkbaits, and plastics are all good choices, depending on the conditions.
Smallmouth bass fishing in the Northern Bass Zone is open for catch-and-release only until June 17. As with largemouth, smallmouth are moving from deep wintering areas, but homing in on rock points and gravel flats. Do not overlook in-between areas. Sucker minnows, jerkbaits, spinners, spinnerbaits, and plastics can all be effective at this time.
Crappie fishing is fair as anglers (and crappies!) look forward to the spawning season. General reports indicate the fish are somewhat scattered and difficult to locate. Look for mid-depth weed flats and other weeds. Activity will increase as the water warms in coming days. Best baits include crappie minnows, fatheads, and plastics on jigs or slip bobbers.
Bluegill anglers have apparently not yet taken to the water or, if so, are not offering any reports (hmm… maybe having very good success and perhaps keeping it a secret?) Look for bluegill action to get hot in a few weeks when the fish move shallow for spawning.
May 27: Wisconsin Canoe Heritage Museum Heritage Day Celebration, Spooner (715-635-2479).
May 29: Memorial Day memorializing the veterans who made the ultimate sacrifice for this country.
June 3: Full Strawberry Moon.
June 3-4: Free Fishing Weekend.
June 3: Kids Fishing Derby, Lake Hayward Park, 8 a.m.-Noon (405-227-1789).
June 17: Chequamegon 100 (715-798-3599).
June 23-25: Musky Fest (715-634 8662).
June 23-25: Musky Fest FHNB Fishing Contest (715-634-3185).
June 23-24: DNR Learn to Fish at Shues Pond.
June 25: Hayward Bass Club Round Lakes Open, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. (405-227-1789).
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 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.