Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report 3-3-2020

March 2, 2020

Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report

By: Steve Suman

There is a good chance this week you will see some weather you like – as well as weather you do not like. While not necessarily touching the far ends of the spectrum, it will be quite the mix, from rain to snow and from warm to cold. If you do not much care for the current weather, be patient, as your favorite will swing back around!



Daylight Saving Time begins at 2 a.m. this Sunday, March 8. Remember to turn your clocks ahead one hour!

“The weather last week was a mix of warm and cold in the Quiet Lakes area,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “and we certainly look forward to the warmer days in front of us!

“Anglers should note that gamefish season closed March 1, but the best bite on the lakes has been for crappie and bluegill anyway. Mobility remains important, as does fishing away from pressured fish.

“The best crappie bite is in late afternoon, with anglers using light tackle and small tungsten jigs with crappie minnows, soft plastics, and waxies. Bluegills are active all day and hitting waxies and plastics.

“New licenses are now available and are valid immediately. Last year’s licenses expire March 31.”


Trent at Hayward Bait says spring is just around the corner and gamefish season closed, but panfish are still fair game.

“Crappies are in about 20 feet and for some anglers, for some reason, rosy reds seem to work better than crappie minnows.

“Bluegills are in about 15-20 feet and seem to prefer waxies and spikes over minnow heads. Silver color lead jigs are currently producing more fish than tungsten jigs, with orange/chartreuse and pink also good colors.

“The perch bite is tough, with the fish full of eggs and they should be moving shallower for spawning in the next several weeks. Usually, working the bottom with a jig, stirring up sediment, can get perch to bite. The best bite windows seem to be in early morning and then again from 5-6 p.m. in the afternoon.”


Carolyn at Anglers All in Ashland says fishing is spotty in Chequamegon Bay – unless you are a smelt angler.

“There is an abundance of smelt this year and fish are full of them, making competition tough for anglers!

“As of Sunday, there was still ice north of Bayfield. North of Washburn offers the most productive fishing, though it is inconsistent, with late afternoon and evenings the best bets.

“This weekend, March 7-8, the North Wisconsin Rod and Gun Club will host its 33rd Annual Ice-O-Rama from 5 a.m. Saturday through noon Sunday, with raffles and cash prizes. The entry fee is $10; raffle tickets are $5 each and 5/$20. Contest location is off Second Landing east of Ashland. Visit www.facebook.com/NWRGC.”


This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses boat ramp ownership.

“Boat ramps are critical infrastructures that enable anglers to get out and enjoy Wisconsin’s lakes. Ramps vary in design and complexity, with some concrete slabs, some poured concrete, and some simply gravel. Anglers might not be aware that ownership of public boat ramps varies as well, and not all are ‘DNR’ ramps.

“In the Hayward area, the DNR does own and maintain quite a few boat ramps. It is particularly common to see DNR owned ramps on lakes that have a lot of state land around them – the lakes within Flambeau River State Forest are a good example.

“The Chippewa Flowage offers quite a diversity of ramp ownership models. The state owns and operates the ramps at CC North, CC South, Hay Creek, and Winter Dam. The Blueberry Flats launch is tribal, while the Town of Hayward owns Chief Lake launch. Township ramps are very common on many lakes, particularly smaller lakes. There are of course numerous privately owned ramps as well, including those at most resorts.

“The state does not maintain these ramps, but typically requires DNR permits for installation and some maintenance activities.

“Federally owned landings are also present in this area. The U.S. Forest Service owns and operates the ramps on lakes within Chequamegon-Nicollet National Forest, such as Ghost, Lower Clam, Black, and others.

“This mix of groups working to offer access is one of many reasons people can get out and enjoy Wisconsin lakes.”


The DNR is accepting applications through May 31 for 2020 elk season tags. The Natural Resources Board will approve the license quota at its April meeting. Only Wisconsin residents are eligible. The $10 applications are available through the Go Wild license system and license agents. Raffle tickets for a tag are available from Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation for $10, with no limit on purchases. For more information, search “elk” on the DNR website.


The DNR’s new regulations regarding bow, crossbow, and hand fishing for catfish are effective as of March 1. The rule establishes size limits, bag limits, seasons, and gear restrictions. In general, the daily bag limit is five channel catfish and one flathead with no size limit. Bow and crossbow season coincides with rough fish spearing season. Hand fishing season runs June 1 to Aug. 31. For more information, search “catfish regulations” on the DNR website.


Updated local, statewide, and regional fishing regulations go into effect April 1. These changes will affect bass fishing statewide, inland whitefish and cisco, musky in the northern zone, Lake Superior lake sturgeon, and others. For more information, search “new fishing regulations” on the DNR website.



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 March 2 Hayward Lakes Visitors & Convention Bureau trail report says trails are good and wooded trails great. Trails near roads have slush, bare spots, or “snirt” (snow/dirt). For riders on the Chippewa Flowage, stay on the staked trails and ride with caution. The lake level dropped about 8 feet in the past few months and bars, humps, and stumps are noticeable. You might also find some Flowage entrances with little water/ice and muddy. These are off to the side and passable. Some logging is underway on Trail 8 north of Nelson Lake and west to Washburn County.


The February 28 Travel Wisconsin trail report for Bayfield County says trails are open, groomed, and in excellent condition, with a base of 12-24 inches. Most of the county received some fresh snow last week.


The March 2 Travel Wisconsin trail report for the Cable area says trails are open, groomed, and in excellent condition, with a base of 10-12 inches.


The February 28 Travel Wisconsin trail report for Douglas County says all trails are open, groomed, and in good condition, with a base of 12-16 inches. As temperatures warm, watch for trail closure updates.


The February 27 Travel Wisconsin trail report for the Park Falls/Phillips area says trails are open, groomed, and in good condition, with a base of 12-16 inches.


The March 2 Travel Wisconsin trail report for Rusk County says trails are open, groomed, and in good condition, with a base of 4-16 inches (exception: City of Ladysmith closed trails). Trail conditions vary, with forest trails still quite good and most roads/shoulders and logging roads bare. Expect patches of ice, mud, asphalt, and gravel.


The March 2 Travel Wisconsin trail report for Washburn County says all trails are open, groomed, and in good condition, with a base of 8-12 inches. Ride with caution due to patchy ice conditions throughout the trail system. Recent warm temperatures and some logging activities resulted in trail stretches with little or no snow.



Anglers should be aware that gamefish season closed March 1. Panfish fishing should only get better until ice-out – whenever that might be this year. Check with your favorite bait and tackle shop for the most current ice conditions, fish locations, favored baits, and bite windows.



Crappie fishing is good to very good. Most anglers are fishing in 18-22 feet, with best success in late afternoon hours. Use your electronics, search the ENTIRE water column, and move until you find active fish. Downsize tackle. Best baits include jigs with crappie minnows, rosy reds, waxies, and plastics.



Bluegill action is good to very good around weeds and other structure in 10-22 feet. As with crappies, keep on the move until you find active fish. Waxies, spikes, mousies, and plastics on small jigs in various colors are all working.



Perch fishing is challenging, but anglers are making catches. Best fishing is during late afternoon hours, just before dark. The perch will soon start moving toward shallower water for their spawning season. Try live bait and plastics on jigs, bumping the bottom to disturb sediment and draw attention.


Upcoming Events

Feb. 28: Cottontail rabbit season closed.

March 1: Gamefish season closed for all inland species (check regs for exceptions).

March 1: DNR requires removal of ice fishing shelters from WI-MN boundary waters.

March 8: Daylight Saving Time begins at 2 a.m. (turn clocks ahead one hour).

March 8: DNR requires removal of ice fishing shelters south of Hwy 64. DNR requires

March 8: Mink trapping season closes.

March 15:  DNR requires removal of ice fishing shelters north of Hwy 64, Lake Superior, and WI-MI boundary waters.

March 16-20: Remaining spring turkey permits on sale beginning at 10 a.m.

March 19: First day of spring!

March 24: Sawyer County Fisheries Forum at Hayward High School; starts 6 p.m.

March 20: Winter crow season closes.

March 28: Trout season opens on designated sections Lake Superior tributaries (see regs).

Through May 31: DNR accepting elk tag applications for 2020 hunting season.


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.