February 11, 2020

Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report

By: Steve Suman

The past weekend saw reasonably moderate temperatures (for February), but this week will see a return to more typical temperatures, with lows dropping to double-digit subzero numbers a few nights. Some wind and flurries in the forecast, too, with high temperatures ranging from 4-32 degrees.

“Fishing on the Quiet Lakes is good for northern pike to panfish,” says Pat at Happy Hooker. Consistent weather patterns helped anglers figure out fish routines, with fish on certain time schedules.

“There is a good bite on the lakes, but trailblazing anglers who put in the effort to get to hard to reach spots will earn the best results.

“Look to back bay basins with vegetation. Set up on the outside weed edges on shallow to deep transitions, the same as you would target from a boat. Baits of choice are waxies and soft plastics on tungsten jigs.

“Live bait under tip-ups continues to produce walleye, northern pike, and bass. The weather in the anglers favor and they are looking forward to being more mobile.”

Trent at Hayward Bait says ice conditions are still uncertain as the season moves into mid-February, with lakes holding about 15 inches of ice, the top consisting of several inches of compacted slush and snow.

“Some anglers are driving out vehicles, but I don’t think will be doing so this winter!

“As vegetation dies off on the lake bottoms, fish are moving shallower water and/or suspending higher in the water column. As fish become less active due to the lower oxygen levels downsizing baits can increase bite opportunities.

“Walleyes are most active at night, with the most productive bite windows from about 6:30-7:30 p.m. and again about 10 p.m. when walleye seem to feed. Smaller walleye suckers, shiners, and fatheads are the favored baits.

“Northern pike anglers are using suckers and large shiners under tip-ups, but many are switching to walleye suckers and medium shiners. Most are finding success in about 8-12 feet.

“Panfish are foraging on bluegill fry and small Kender K-Rips, other lipless crankbaits for jigging, and scented plastics are good choices. Experiment with finesse and aggressive actions to see what wakes up those fish that day.”

Carolyn at Anglers All in Ashland says Chequamegon Bay continues to fish well, with 14-18 inches of ice and very little snow.

“There are anglers driving trucks out from the city boat landing and Second Landing, however most are taking snowmobiles and wheelers.

“The Washburn side of the Bay has up to 12 inches of ice and most anglers taking machines. There is a ‘city’ between Houghton Point and Long Island, and anglers report big brown trout, excellent whitefish fishing, and some splake.

“To the north, some days the ice is fishable from Bodin’s to Pikes and most anglers are walking, but on some days use machines.

“A load of anglers are going off Red Cliff and getting out to Basswood Island by both walking and on machines, and most report good fishing for lake trout, brown trout, splake, and whitefish.

“Finally, for anglers who love to fish for smelt, there is currently a ton of them in the Bay!”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses ‘fishing espionage.’

“The trope that anglers are liars, that they lie by maybe adding a couple inches to their catch or inflating the total number of fish, is probably about as old as the act of fishing. Will anglers lie to protect a secret fishing spot?

“In a survey sent to 100 anglers mostly in the Hayward area, but also to a few of my fellow fish biologists around the state, I asked several question about what I call ‘fishing espionage,’ starting with ‘Do you ever give false or misleading information to anyone to protect your fishing spots?’

“Of the anonymous responses, most (72 percent) say they do not give false information to throw others off the scent – but that leaves 28 percent saying they DO give false information! Some respondents say they do not lie, but are very careful about how much they say. Perhaps for good reason, as fishing espionage goes even deeper.

“As a follow-up question, I asked: ‘When you see a post or someone shows you a fishing photo from a lake that you like, do you try to determine where on the lake they are based on the background or other photo details?’

“According to responses, 36 percent said they try to figure out locations in this way ‘all the time,’ another 33 percent said they do it ‘sometimes,’ and 31 percent said they ‘rarely’ or ‘never’ attempt it.

“This probably speaks to the usefulness of apps that blur the background of fishing pictures, though personally I think blurred images lose the necessary aesthetics of a great fishing photo.

“Sharing in the digital age is truly a new frontier for anglers and information sharing, as 59 percent of anglers taking the survey claim they have learned of a new waterbody or fishing spot based on something another angler posted online.”

The Drummond Sno-Jacks’ 21st Annual Bar Stool Races at Black Bear Inn is this Saturday, Feb. 15, from 11 a.m. 4 p.m. If you can put it on skis, you can race it (limited to 64 racers)! The event includes a Race of Champions including all winners over the past 20 years, raffles, cash drawings, and food and beverages available onsite. Racers pre-registration is $30; race day registration is $50. For more information, visit www.drummondwi.com or call (715) 739-6645.

The Hayward Chapter-FHNB will host its 2nd Annual Chili Cook-off Fundraiser this Saturday, Feb. 15, from 2-6 p.m., at Fish Tales Pub & Grub. Enter your chili by calling the FHNB office or sign up at Fish Tales and spend an enjoyable afternoon that includes great chili, raffles, silent auctions, a kayak raffle, and more. Chili judging takes place at 3 p.m. For more information, visit www.haywardfhnb.org or call (715) 634-3185.

Walleyes for Northwest Wisconsin will host its 24th Annual Family Ice Fishing Event on Lac Courte Oreilles this Saturday, Feb. 15, from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Register at the public boat landing off Hwy K. The event offers thousands of dollars in prizes as fishing prizes for adult and youth divisions for walleye, northern pike, crappie, bluegill, and perch and raffles that include Grand Raffle prizes (need not be present to win), gun, 50/50 cash, and rip tickets. A pre-event ticket bundle special ($130 value) costs $75, limited to 200 bundles. Event wristbands ($5/adults; $1/kids 13-17 years) available at Hayward Bait, Outdoor Creations, Hayward Home Center, Stone Lake Bait, and AAA Sports Shop are necessary to qualify for ice fishing prizes. Kids 12 and younger fish free, sponsored by Retreat Home Furnishings. For more information, visit www.wfnw.net or call (715) 462-3559.

 SNOWMOBILE TRAIL REPORT

The DNR reminds snowmobilers to make sure their snowmobile has a current registration and displays a valid snowmobile trail pass. Wisconsin requires a trail pass to operate on all public snowmobile trails. You can order trail passes online, as well as renew registrations.

The February 6 Hayward Lakes Visitors & Convention Bureau Sawyer County snowmobile trail report says lakes are somewhat slick and rough due to a warm-up/re-freeze, and road routes have icy patches and bare spots. Wooded trails are good overall, though there may be some icy corners. Lake Hayward remains the only lake closed to riding – the trail opened near the bridge and channel. Trail 5S is open as crews work on the reroute around Beissell Grade – keep an eye open for heavy equipment!

The February 8 Travel Wisconsin trail report for Clam Lake/Bayfield County says trails are open, groomed, and in excellent condition, with a base of 12-18 inches. Warm temperatures and heavy traffic made trails icy in spots, but they are still in excellent condition. Please stay on the trails!

The February 7 Travel Wisconsin trail report for Douglas County says all trails are open, groomed, and in excellent condition, with a base of 18-20 inches. Riders continue to report deer on trails, so keep an eye out while traveling.

The February 7 Travel Wisconsin trail report for the Park Falls/Phillips area says trails are open, groomed, and in excellent condition, with a base of 16-20 inches. Nine clubs maintain the trails. A reroute on Trail 120 that eliminates the old Trail 120 from FR 519 to the intersection of 120 and 121 is in effect all season and eliminates a very bad part of the swamp.

The February 10 Travel Wisconsin trail report for Washburn County says all trails are open, groomed, and in excellent condition, with a base of 9-16 inches. There are some icy spots present, but overall the trails offer great riding.

 FISHING REPORT

Walleye:

Walleye fishing is slow, with best action in the evening/nighttime hours. Target shallow to mid-depth weeds and weedlines with walleye suckers, shiners, and fatheads under tip-ups.

 Northern Pike:

Northern pike action remains very good to excellent around shallow to mid-depth weeds and weed edges in 6-15 feet. Northern suckers, walleye suckers, and shiners under tip-ups are the most productive offerings.

 Crappie:

Crappie fishing is good to very good, with fish holding near weeds and weed edges, as well as suspending. Best bait choices include crappie minnows, waxies, plastics, and jigging baits.

 Bluegill:

Bluegill fishing is good, though they also offer a light bite. Look for fish in and on the edges of weeds and weedlines in mid-depths to shallow water. Small jigging baits, as well as waxies, mousies, spikes, and plastics on small jigs and teardrops, are all taking fish.

 Upcoming Events

Feb. 12: DNR emergency rule hearing on Lake Superior commercial fishing; Ashland, starts at 6 p.m. (608-316-0080).

Feb. 15: Seasons close: Coyote trapping; Raccoon trapping and hunting; Red and gray fox gun and trapping.

Feb. 15: WFNW 24th Annual Family Ice Fishing Event on LCO, 8 a.m.-2 p.m. (715-462-3559).

Feb. 15: Hayward Chapter-FHNBChili Cook-off Fundraiser at Fish Tales Pub & Grub, 2-6 p.m. (715-634-3185).

Feb. 15: Drummond Sno-Jacks 21st Annual Bar Stool Races at Black Bear Inn, 11 a.m. 4 p.m. (715-739-6645).

Feb. 19-23: 46th Annual American Birkebeiner (715-634-5025).

Feb. 23: Lake Winnebago sturgeon spearing season closes (unless closed early due to harvest caps).

Feb. 28: Cottontail rabbit season closes.

Feb. 28-March 1: WI Women FishCrappie Weekend” at Deerfoot Lodge (715-462-3328).

 

For more information on area events and activities, visit the Hayward Lakes Visitor and Convention Bureau website, view the Calendar of Events, or call 800-724-2992.