Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report 3-30-2020

By: Steve Suman

This week’s forecast predicts upper 40s to mid-50 highs in the coming week, though with some rain possible Wednesday through late in the week. As always, this is subject to change – maybe we will even see sunshine! The milder temperatures offer a good opportunity to get away from home and get some fresh air. Take advantage of the opportunity! A walk or hike is always good to uplift the spirit, something all of us could use at this time! Be well, stay well!

“The Quiet Lakes have a good bite going for panfish,” says Pat at Happy Hooker. “Different lakes have different cultures of fish, so it is hard to talk about all the bites happening now, but most waters are turning out some fish.

“Panfish are locating over vegetation in 10-20 feet and drilling many holes and hole hopping continues to pay off. The snow is gone on most of the lakes and it is time to start wearing cleats to keep from slipping and falling. Unfortunately, cleats are also a noise disturbance, so walk softly. Before traveling out on a lake, check the ice along the shoreline, as that is where it thins the fastest and begins movement away from shore.

“Right now the perfect bait is 1/32-oz. tungsten jigs tipped with small plastics, fished on 4# monofilament line. Fish are schooling, so trust your electronics as you search for actively feeding fish. The best bite is in late afternoon.

“We are getting close to the end of ice fishing season, so get out and enjoy what we have left of it. If nothing else, it will help take your mind off of the off-the-ice world!”


Carolyn at Anglers All in Ashland says the Chequamegon Bay ice is “pretty well shot” due to the rain.

“Our store is closed, as are others deemed non-essential, and we are encouraging people not to leave their own locales. This is a good time for anglers to prepare their boats and other fishing equipment for the open water season.

“Although we have temporarily closed the store during these virus concerns, anglers who need or want tackle for Great Lakes fishing can call or leave a message on the Anglers All Facebook page – we can ship it!”


This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses the best fishing opportunities – right now!

“The fishing season opener is just around the corner, but many stir-crazy Wisconsin anglers might be looking for some opportunities to get out right now. Here are the three best bets for fishing action in the Hayward area at this time.

“Panfish are still the thing to chase if you want to continue ice fishing. Of course, panfish season is open year-round in Wisconsin, and as long as the ice is safe, there will be great chances for anglers. ‘Late ice’ can be one of the most productive times to target crappie and bluegill, which often start schooling up together this time of year. If your goal is to harvest some fish for a meal, panfish are by far your best bet, but please be mindful of deteriorating ice conditions.

“Trout are another option for anglers this time of year, and trying your luck for a big Namekagon River brown trout might be the most enticing ‘big game’ opportunity. March and April are very productive fishing months on the Namekagon, with fish susceptible to wet fly patterns on warm days and the potential for dry fly bites in late afternoon. Smaller brook trout streams might be worth exploring, too. Swan and Maple in the Weirgor area are good bets, and Big Brook and Mosquito Brook in the Hayward-Cable area are fantastic as well.

“This last recommendation is only for the truly adventurous. Redhorse and suckers do not have seasons, size limits, or bag limits, meaning you can fish them whenever you desire. The deep holes on the Namekagon River between Hayward and Trego, and even farther downstream, can provide near constant action from hard pulling river fish. A worm on the bottom in these holes will typically do the trick, and action will pick up as the water warms. While I have never heard good reports on these fish for table fare, if you are looking to get the blood pumping with a good fight, this might be a fun way to spend an afternoon.

“Good luck and stay safe!”


Trout season opened on designated sections Lake Superior tributaries March 28. Anglers should check the regulations for details. Opening dates for trout fishing on Lake Superior tributary streams depend upon what stream you are fishing and where along the stream you plan to fish. The standard trout season for all streams flowing into Lake Superior from their mouths upstream to the first impassible permanent barrier runs from 5 a.m. the first Saturday in May to the last Sunday in September. However, many streams with runs of Lake Superior fish have an extended season running from the last Saturday in March to November 15. One example is the Brule River, downstream of Highway 2. Trout season on this stretch of the Brule opens the last Saturday in March and closes November 15. For more information on Lake Superior tributary streams falling under this extended trout season, see the current Wisconsin Trout Fishing Regulations and Guide.


The Sawyer County Fisheries Forum scheduled for March 24 and canceled due to concerns about COVID-19, is available in an online video, says DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter. Wisconsin Northland Outdoors producer John Myhre helped facilitate the production. The video is available at www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lc-91pZLQ90&t=328s. If you have questions or comments after viewing the video, visit www.surveymonkey.com/r/2B75G7V.


Due to the COVID-19 Safer at Home order, the DNR is suspending ALL burning permits until further notice to protect the health and safety of Wisconsinites. At this time, this prohibits all burning of debris in barrels, debris piles on the ground, and burning grass and wooded areas. Spring in Wisconsin has the highest fire risk, with debris burning the No. 1 cause of wildfires.

Wildfires pose a serious threat to public safety, property, and the natural resources – and people cause more than 98 percent of all wildfires in Wisconsin. Most debris fires occur in the spring after the snow-cover melts and before vegetation greening. In many parts of the state, the DNR requires burning permits to conduct legal and responsible burning in the outdoors. The DNR also requires burning permits to conduct burning of legal materials in DNR fire protection areas when the ground is not completely snow-covered.

DNR burning permits do not apply within incorporated cities and villages. Municipalities often create their own burning permit requirements, and some townships may be more restrictive than state law and not allow any burning. It is up to you to check with your local municipality for their regulations, even if you have obtained a DNR burning permit. For a more detailed look, zoom-in to your location on the burning restrictions map.


The first County Deer Advisory Council (CDAC) meetings for 2020 began March 30, with the councils holding meetings by conference call due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The first Sawyer County CDAC meeting is April 6. The DNR invites hunters, farmers, foresters, and anyone interested in deer management to participate in CDAC meetings. All meetings are open to the public and include an opportunity to provide feedback. These meetings are important for shaping deer seasons, antlerless quotas, and recommendations to the DNR for deer management in the county. For meeting dates, times, and phone numbers to participate, visit www.dnr.wi.gov/topic/hunt/cdac.html. For more information, search “CDAC” on the DNR website, or call (715) 266-6291.


Anglers take note: Fishing licenses purchased for the 2019-20 season expire March 31. If you are fishing after that date for panfish and other legal species (see regulations) prior to the opening of the 2020 gamefish season, make sure to get your new license!



The ice is holding up for now, but sunshine, a week of 50-degree highs, and rain will certainly take a toll on it. Ice is starting to pull away from some shorelines, so as always, use caution when going on the ice, and check your way with a spud! The panfish bite is good, early catch and release trout fishing is open, and suckers and redhorse are hitting in the rivers. For more information, check out the input above from Happy Hooker and DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter.


Upcoming Events

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

March 31: Fishing/Hunting Licenses expire.

April 6: CDAC Sawyer County meeting by conference call (715-266-6291).

April 11-12: Youth Turkey Hunt.

April 13-16: Spring fish and wildlife hearings (no in-person hearings – online only).

April 15 through July 31: Illegal to allow unleashed dogs to run on DNR lands and FWPAs (see regs).

April 30: Seasons close: Otter and beaver trapping in North Zone.

May 1: Early catch and release trout season closes.

May 2: Seasons open: Gamefish (see regs); Musky south of Hwy 10; Smallmouth bass (catch and release only); Frog.

May 23: Muskellunge season opens north of State Highway 10.

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


Spring turkey season dates

April 11-12: Youth Turkey Hunt.

April 15-21: Period A.

April 22-28: Period B.

April 29-May 5: Period C.

May 6-12: Period D.

May 13-29: Period E.

May 20-26: Period F.


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.