By: Steve Suman
Snowfall totaling 3-4 inches fell on Hayward late Sunday afternoon and night, much of which did stay for long, as Monday’s sunshine and blue skies quickly removed a good portion of it. The remainder of this week looks mostly clear, but with some nighttime lows in the mid to upper teens. Enjoy these mild, “bug-free” days while you can – it can change quite rapidly!
“Ice on the Quiet Lakes is becoming too dangerous for travel,” says Pat at Happy Hooker. Ice conditions deteriorated, especially along shorelines, making access impossible, and we could have some shore fishing opportunities in the very near future.
“Most ice anglers have stored their ice gear and are now organizing tackle and getting the boat ready for open water fishing. Some eager anglers are heading to the open water rivers.”
Trent at Hayward Bait says ice conditions are now nearly non-existent, with some lakes open and others with minimal ice not safe for walking.
“The open water offers shore fishing opportunities so it is time to pull out the summer gear. Remember – gamefish season does open until May 2.
“Panfish anglers can choose from various baits, but crawlers are producing and favored. The water is still very cold, with temperatures in the high 30s, and most fish are staging in deeper water. If you are not fishing from a boat, work the edges of ice and open water, or fish dam areas that are providing fresh oxygen.
“For those preferring bigger fish, bass season is open for catch and release only. These fish are also in deeper water and again, dams and open water with current provide the best opportunities. Shad colored deep diving and lipless crankbaits, swimbaits, and deep running jerkbaits are all good cold-water options.
“Many anglers are trout fishing on the streams and rivers or heading to Lake Superior tributaries. If you hit the local streams, early trout season is catch-and-release, artificials only. Anglers can use live bait on some Lake Superior tributaries, but check the trout regulations for exceptions. Small spinnerbaits such as Panther Martins or Rooster Tails are good options, and fly anglers are casting streamers and other flies resembling minnows.
“Spring turkey season is just starting, with the first regular season opening April 15. Hunters out pre-season scouting report good numbers of turkeys, with toms strutting and calling to hens. This year, for a change, there is very little snow on the ground for first season and turkeys can move around easily.”
Mike at Jenk’s says his shop will resume regular business hours starting April 29, the Wednesday before the May 2 gamefish opener, and those hours will continue for the entire season.
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses how anglers can spread out and fish in Sawyer County.
“This week, I offer my services as a local fishing travel guide, focusing on waterbodies and spots accessible and fished effectively without a boat. During this time of social distancing, this could be particularly valuable for those looking to get outside and avoid a crowd.
“There are numerous great trout fishing opportunities in this area, with the Namekagon River the main attraction. Between Hayward and Cable, there are many road crossings and angler access trails to the Namekagon, with most of the shoreline public land. The brown trout population is in great shape and the river is a true fishing paradise.
“Other great trout fishing streams that run through public land in some areas include Mosquito Brook in a county forest, Hatchery Creek in a county park, Benson Creek on state land, and Venison Creek in a national forest. Early stream trout fishing is catch-and-release, artificials only, until the May 2 fishing opener. After May 2, anglers can harvest fish according to the normal rules and use live bait on all waters listed above except the Namekagon River.
“Anglers looking for lake fishing opportunities should put the Chippewa Flowage at the top of their list. Large portions of the shoreline are public in either state or federal ownership. The DNR recently constructed fishing trails off the Good Day Trailhead on County CC and at the CC South boat landing. There are also shore-fishing opportunities around the CC North boat landing and, if you are adventuresome, via trails in the Moss Creek area.
“Other lakes with easily accessed public shorelines include Nelson Lake, near the dam and along the north side of the lake along Tag Alder Road, Lake Helane, and Beverly Lake.
“Panfish fishing is open year-round and gamefish season opens May 2 on lakes. Please note that anglers age 16 and older must have a valid fishing license and all rules and regulations apply.”
The DNR is suspending ALL burning permits until further notice due to the COVID-19 Safer at Home order. This prohibits all burning of debris in barrels, debris piles on the ground, grass, and wooded areas. Spring has the highest fire risk, with debris burning the #1 cause of wildfires. People cause more than 98 percent of all wildfires in Wisconsin and most debris fires occur in the spring after the snow-cover melts and before vegetation greens. 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. The 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. Check with your local municipality for its regulations, even if you have a DNR burning permit. For more details, check your location on the burning restrictions map.
Wisconsin’s state parks and trails remain open to the public and the DNR has implemented voluntary registration fees and voluntary admission via self-registration or electronic kiosks. It has also closed park offices, visitor centers, non-essential buildings, as well as many other facilities on DNR properties. Recently, the DNR has also closed a number of state parks, forests, and recreational areas in the Northeast, Southeast, and South Central regions due to crowds, litter, and vandalism. If the public does not follow social distancing guidelines and vandalizes property, more parks may close.
The DNR says the 2020 spring turkey season is going forward on schedule, with the first regular period, Period A, running April 15-21. Bonus remaining permits are as follows – Zone 1 periods D-F; Zone 2 Period F; Zone 3 periods D-F; Zone 4 periods E-F; Zone 5 Period F. There are no remaining bonus permits for zones 6 and 7. Cost is $10.00 for residents and $15.00 for the nonresidents. Properties designated as public hunting grounds, including state parks open to hunting, remain open to turkey hunting, even if those properties were in the closure order.
The Hayward Chapter of Fishing Has No Boundaries has canceled this year’s 33rd Annual FHNB event, scheduled for May 15-16 on the Chippewa Flowage, due to public health and safety concerns surrounding the Covid-19 virus. People who have registered for the event can opt to have FHNB apply the event fee to next year’s event or request a refund by contacting the FHNB office.
Though the DNR canceled the in-person spring fish and wildlife hearings scheduled for Monday April 13, it IS taking public input and comments online on the natural resources advisory questions from April 13 through April 16 (a 72-hour period). For more information, visit www.dnr.wi.gov/About/WCC/springhearing.html.
Open water is appearing in greater quantity and some anglers are using their boats. Make sure your boat registration and fishing license are current for this year. Panfish is the main draw right now, as gamefish season does not open until May 2. However, a change in statewide regulations effective April 1 allows anglers to catch and release bass fish year-round except where refuges and closed areas are in effect. The season applies to most inland, outlying, and boundary waters and does not affect waters with continuous a bass harvest season. There is also a variety of regulation changes for local waters, with details in the Hook and Line Fishing and Trout Fishing regulations.
Bass fishing is now open all year, though it is catch and release only outside the specified regular seasons for each species. Best areas are deeper and/or moving water. Baits of choice include jerkbaits, crankbaits, swimbaits, and live bait.
Crappie, Bluegill, Perch
Panfish fishing is fair to good, with the best baits waxies, crawlers, and plastics on small jigs, both plain and dressed. Start shallow and move toward deeper water. Look for green weeds and brush.
Early catch and release, artificials-only trout season is in session and anglers report good success. To the north, trout and salmon season is open on some Lake Superior tributaries (check the regs) and anglers report some decent success. Spinners, flies, and live bait (again, check regs) are all productive offerings.
April 15 through July 31: Illegal to allow unleashed dogs to run on DNR lands and FWPAs (see regs).
May 1: Early catch and release trout season closes.
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.