By: Steve Suman
Temperatures rise slightly this week and the forecast currently shows no chances for snow. Perhaps the only “down side” for the week is at 2 a.m. this Sunday, March 10, at which time we lose an hour of sleep when changing to Daylight Saving Time.
“Gamefish season closed this past Sunday,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “and panfish are now the only legal quarry until the start of open water season.
“Fishing is very quiet, with only a few spotty reports from those braving the deep snow. Anglers removing permanent shacks are in for a lot of work.
“Panfish are schooling and the key is finding them when they are actively feeding. The best time is mid- to late-afternoon hours. Crappie minnows and waxies on small jigs work best, though some days the fish prefer soft plastics.
“Ice continues to grow, but snow keeps getting deeper, creating a challenge just to access the lakes. Snowshoes are a must if you walk and a light snowmobile if you plan to motor out, but even those can get stuck in deep snow or slush pockets. Carrying a shovel is a good idea.
“Snowmobile trails are in excellent condition, and groomers continue to groom. Stay on the traveled trails or you might end up stuck in the deep snow.”
John at Hayward Bait says deep snow and areas of slush make lake access and ice travel difficult.
“Anglers should be aware that gamefish season ended Sunday, but panfish fishing is still very good.
“Look for crappies in 25-35 feet and use waxies and spikes on tungsten jigs for the best success. Bluegills are hanging near weed beds in slightly shallower water.”
Carolyn at Anglers All in Ashland says winter shows no signs of slowing down any time soon, which is great news for those who love ice fishing!
“The lake trout bite in the Apostle Islands is great and anglers are icing some really good fish. Travel conditions for snowmobiles are generally decent, but watch out for pockets of slush here and there.
“Big plastics and traditional bobbing gear are both working well. Fresh smelt is the key, and the best way to get fresh smelt is to head out on the Bay and catch your supply with little Haley jigs before heading into the Islands.
“If you are new to fishing in the Islands, it is best to go with an experienced guide or at least acquire some first-hand information before venturing out there.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses the relationship between beaver and trout.
“Trout are one of the most popular species of fish for stream anglers and in Wisconsin it is arguable the greatest force impacting stream habitat is beaver (after humans, of course). Is it good or bad for trout when beavers dam the stream? The answer is complicated.
“A large and thorough recently published review of beaver and trout interactions in the Midwest aimed to bring together everything known about how beaver impact trout, both positively and negatively. A general summary of results is that beaver are detrimental to trout in low-gradient (slow-flowing) streams and can be beneficial in higher gradient (fast-flowing) streams. Additional studies would certainly provide more understanding of this complex relationship.
“Whether beaver impacts will be negative or positive is also linked to the amount of groundwater input to the stream.
“In many parts of the Midwest, including Wisconsin, active beaver control measures taken in high quality trout streams include removing beaver and taking out dams.
“Study results highlight how both fisheries and wildlife biologists need to work together to determine where beaver control is necessary and useful to maintain a balance between the two species groups, while also presenting opportunities for both anglers and trappers.
“The DNR recently updated its beaver management plan that guides such decisions and the plan is available on the DNR website.”
This weekend, March 9-10, Lakewoods Resort will host the 2019 U.S. National Snowshoe Championships. For more information, visit www.lakewoodsresort.com or www.2019ussnowshoechampionships.com, or call (715) 794-2561).
This Friday and Saturday, March 8-9, the American Birkebeiner Ski Foundation will host the FAT Bike Birkie, with an Expo and fat bike demonstrations (Friday) and the skill and endurance rides on the Birkie Ski Trail (Saturday). This event is a one-day exception to the Birkie’s “no bikes” rule and is for fat bikes only. Riders can choose from three events – the 47K Big Fat, 21K Chico, and the un-timed 10K Tour. For more information, visit www.birkie.com/bike/events/fat-bike-birkie or call (715) 634-5025.
Hayward Bass Club is hosting a pre-season planning meeting this Wednesday, starting at 7 p.m., at the Hayward Rod and Gun Club. Members will discuss which lakes they want to fish during their Wednesday night league fishing outings. The Club welcomes any anglers who have an interest in bass fishing. For more information, contact Wayne Balsavich at (405) 227-1789 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
SNOWMOBILE TRAIL REPORT
Snowmobilers should make sure their snowmobiles have a current registration and display a valid snowmobile trail pass, required to operate on all public snowmobile trails. You can order trail passes online, as well as renew registrations.
The March 4 Travel Wisconsin trail report for Washburn County says all trails are open, groomed, in excellent condition, and with a base of 13-19 inches. Clubs are out in force, grooming the trails regularly.
The March 1 Travel Wisconsin trail report for the Clam Lake area says Ashland County and Clam Lake area snowmobile trails are in very good condition, with a base of 15-20 inches, and grooming in process daily. The trail from Marengo north to the east end of Ashland remains closed, with a marked detour in place.
The March 1 Travel Wisconsin trail report for Rusk County says there is plenty of snow, there is a base of 14-20 inches, the entire trail system is in excellent condition and offers a variety of terrain throughout the county, and groomers are out in force. It does not get much better than this!
The March 1 Travel Wisconsin trail report for the Phillips/Park Fall area says all trails in Price County are in excellent condition, groomed, with a base of 20-28 inches. The snow is very deep in some areas, there is considerable slush on the lakes, and some riders are getting sleds stuck. Be careful, stay on the trails, and watch for wildlife, as they are looking for places to travel as well.
The February 28 Travel Wisconsin trail report for Bayfield County says trails are in excellent condition, groomed, and with a base of 12-24 inches. Numerous significant snowstorms pummeled all of Bayfield County through the entire month of February, with from two to more than three feet of snow falling during the month. All clubs report some of the best riding conditions of the year.
The February 27 Cable area trail report says the Namakagon Trail Groomers report the trail system has a base of 12 inches, grooming is ongoing, and conditions are very good. Remember the groomers groom day or night and have the right-of-way!
Gamefish season ended this past Sunday, deep snow and slush areas make access to get on (and off) the lakes and travel on them very difficult. Cold temperatures and wind are simply icing on the cake. As such, only a few panfish anglers are willing to deal with those challenges and most are waiting for more favorable fishing conditions… or spring and open water.
Crappies are schooling and action is very good when you can locate and stick with them. Target deep holes and weeds in 18-35 feet, with best activity during the mid and late afternoon hours. The most productive baits include crappie minnows, waxies, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs and plain hooks, and do not overlook small jigging spoons. Downsize to improve success – and make sure to check the entire water column!
Bluegill fishing is good to very good in and near mid-depth weeds and weed beds, as well as on soft bottoms. Best baits include waxies, spikes, and plastics on small jigs, teardrops, and plain hooks. Try small minnows for larger ‘gills.
March 10: Mink trapping season closes.
March 10: Daylight Saving Time begins at 2 a.m.
March 18-22: Remaining spring turkey permits go on sale.
March 19: Sawyer County CDAC meeting, DNR Service Center, 7 p.m. (715-266-6291).
March 20: Winter crow season closes.
April 8: Spring fish and wildlife hearings in each county.
April 16: Sawyer County CDAC meeting, DNR Service Center, 7 p.m. (715-266-6291).