Steve Suman

 

Rain and snow combinations are not an encouraging start the week, but the forecast shows improvement as it progresses. Highs in the 50s ‑ and sunshine! ‑ should return later in the week. Nice early spring weather set somewhat unreasonable expectations, but better weather is on the way… says the forecast.

 

The DNR and Wisconsin Conservation Congress (WCC) 2021 Spring Hearings are tonight, Monday April 12, starting at 7 p.m., held online due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. The online input webpage goes live at 7 p.m., and will remain open for three days (72 hours). The public can provide input online on proposed natural resources rule changes from the DNR, and advisory questions from the Natural Resources Board (NRB) and WCC. The DNR will post results when they are available.

The rules and advisory questions from Fisheries, Wildlife, NRB, and Wisconsin Conservation Congress are available for preview online. The public can also recommend changes by submitting citizen resolutions online. The DNR must have received all citizen resolutions by April 5. People who complete the online input form (April 12-15) will see their resolutions submitted indicating the individuals reside in that county.

County residents usually have the option to run for a seat on the WCC and elect delegates to represent their county’s views. Due to the ongoing pandemic, however, the WCC canceled the 2021 elections and extended the terms of each WCC delegate by another year.

For more information, visit https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/about/wcc/springhearing.

 

“Ice on the Quiet Lakes was completely gone a week ago Sunday,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “so the lakes are open and it is time to go fishing — despite the rainy weather!”

 

Trent at Hayward Bait says that although gamefish seasons remains closed until May 1, anglers cans still chase panfish, with trout and largemouth and smallmouth bass catch-and-release only.

“Largemouth bass relate to vegetation throughout the year and depth is dependent on where you find grass. Coontail and milfoil grass around structure such as wood or near points are good staging areas. Lures that mimic baitfish, such as spoons, swimbaits, and spinnerbaits, will produce.

“Smallmouth bass are near similar types of structure and rock. Crankbaits and other lures that mimic baitfish are good options this time of year.

“Crappies are still mostly in 20 feet in the main basins, with no reports of them moving shallow just yet. Jigs and minnows, Beetle Spins, and small jigs are the current favorites.

“Bluegills mostly remain in about 20 feet in the main basins and anglers report success with worms, ice fishing tackle, and small jigs such as a Bimbo Bugs.

“Perch have made their way to the shallows and in 10 feet or shallower. Working shallow flats near ledges and drop-offs are worth checking. Worms and minnows under slip bobbers, chicken jigs, and Bimbo Skunk Bugs are good options.

“Hunters are gearing up for the spring turkey hunt, with the Youth Turkey Hunt April 17-18 starting the season. Toms are already strutting and most have separated from their bachelor groups. Early season hunters can expect a good chase on firm ground, with the snow gone for several weeks and grass green-up already starting.”

 

Carolyn at Anglers All in Ashland says the smelt are running and trolling success is super!

 

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

“This week, I will teach you how to talk like a fisheries’ pro.

“Spring fisheries surveys are a hectic time and we might handle several thousand fish during any given day. Usually when we are working on fish, I record the data while fish technicians Scott Braden ‑ and Russ Warwick before him ‑ call out all the details. Over the years, they developed their own little shorthand language.

“Russ liked to call female fish ‘hens’ and males ‘bucks.’ Female fish could be ‘green’ or ‘tight,’ which meant they were still full of eggs. Females that have started releasing eggs they would call ‘ripe’ or ‘running.’

“If we are conducting a mark-recapture population estimate, there is an entirely different set of terms for fish we have already handled. Fish we are seeing for the first time are ‘fresh fish,’ while those we have already handled are dubbed ‘recaps,’ short for ‘recaptures.’

“Other crews probably have their own fun slang for speeding up work. At one point, there was even a national effort to develop hand signals to help crews communicate, especially during electrofishing surveys when generators make it hard to hear one another.”

 

Boat owners should be aware of a new law that went into effect April 1 requiring operators of boats less than 26 feet in length to use engine cut-off switches when underway. For more information and clarification of the law, visit the BoatUS website and U.S. Coast Guard website. If an engine cut-off switch is present, the operator must use it. Take the time to visit these websites ‑ a few minutes of reading could save you from receiving a ticket!

 

Spring is baby animal season and the DNR reminds people the importance of keeping wildlife wild. During spring and summer, human-wildlife encounters increase, especially those involving young wild animals.

While most encounters are harmless, there are times when well-intentioned people interfere because they assume a young animal is an orphan. Mother animals often leave their young for hours at a time while they look for food. To avoid transferring scent that could attract predators, some animals keep their distance from their young except at mealtime.

If you come across a baby wild animal and you do not see the mother nearby, chances are that mom and baby are doing exactly what they should to stay healthy and safe. Before handling or bringing a baby wild animal to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator, check the DNR’s website for tips to tell if a wild animal truly needs help. For more information, visit https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/WildlifeHabitat/orphan.

 

It has been a busy wildfire season in Wisconsin so far, say DNR fire experts, and they remind the public to remain vigilant. During the first week of April, 161 wildfires burned more than 1,000 acres, destroying19 buildings and threatening another 179 saved by fire suppression efforts. Debris burning and equipment have been the main fire cause, accounting for more than half of these fires. However, the two largest fires of the week, in Juneau and Waukesha counties, ignited along railroads.

Recent rains offered a bit of a reprieve, but it will not take long for the dead grass, leaves, and pine needles to dry out and be ready to ignite once again. April is the busiest month for wildfires in Wisconsin, so stay vigilant with any outdoor flames, smoke, campfires, ash disposal, or equipment use. Put off debris pile burning until the vegetation greens up or becomes less dry after spring rains.

To check the daily fire danger, wildfire reports, and burning restrictions, search “wildfire danger” on the DNR website or visit https://dnr.wi.gov/topic/forestfire/restrictions.asp.

 

Wisconsin’s Youth Turkey Hunt is this weekend, April 17-18. To be eligible for the youth turkey hunt, youth hunters must have completed hunter education or participate under the mentored hunting program and have a valid spring turkey license, turkey stamp, and harvest authorizations. The adult mentor must hold a 2021 hunting license and not accompany more than two youth hunters at one time. For more information, search “Youth Turkey Hunt” on the DNR website.

The statewide turkey season opens Wednesday, April 21 with Period A, and bonus harvest authorizations are still available for several periods and zones. This spring season runs from April 21 through June 1, which includes six, seven-day periods running Wednesday through the following Tuesday.

All hunters must register their turkey by 5 p.m. the day after recovery using GameReg, or by phone at (844) 426-3734. Hunters need the harvest authorization number on the paper or digital copy of their harvest authorization.

 

Hayward Bass Club is preparing for its weekly fishing outings from May 5 through August 18 and is still accepting new members. Interested anglers should contact Wayne Balsavich at (405) 227-1789 (text preferred) or email haywardbassclub@gmail.com. Annual dues are $50 per two-person team.

 

FISHING REPORT

Less than two weeks remain before the gamefish opener ‑ make sure to buy your new license now and get ahead of the game, rather than wait for opening weekend. Every year there are complaints about long lines and/or computer issues complicating the opening-day purchase process.

Crappie fishing is fair, with fish around vegetation and brush in 18-23 feet. Crappie minnows, waxies, and plastics on jigs, and safety-pin spinners are all effective. Bluegills are in about the same depths, hitting waxies, worms, and plastics on teardrops, small jigs, and plain hooks. Look for perch in shallow spawning areas. Try tempting them with minnows and worms on small jigs fished under slip bobbers.

Anglers can target largemouth and smallmouth bass before the gamefish season opener, but it is catch-and-release only fishing. Largemouth are near weeds and wood and spinners, spinnerbaits, and swimbaits are good offerings. Try for smallmouth on hard-bottom areas, working soft plastics and crankbaits.

The smelt run has just started along the Lake Superior shoreline in Ashland. The Ashland Area Chamber of Commerce fishing report as of April 12 says the weather was is “yucky,” with rain today and chance of snow tonight. Call the smelt hotline (715-682-2500) after 5 p.m. for the most current report. Chequamegon Bay fishing is good, with most boat landings open, aside from the Washburn Marina, which still has some ice in the marina area. Anglers fishing the Bay and off Houghton Point are catching coho and brown trout. Steelhead fishing is good in the Brule and Sioux rivers.

 

Upcoming Events

April 12: WCC Virtual Spring Hearings begin at 7 p.m. and remain open for 72 hours.

April 17: Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame opens (715-634-4440).

April 17-18: Youth Turkey Hunt.

April 30: Seasons close: Beaver and otter trapping in North Zone; Early catch and release inland trout.

April 30-May 2: HLVCB hosting Governor’s Fishing Opener (715) 634-4801).

May 1: General inland fishing season opens.

May 1: Chippewa Flowage Pike Improvement Project 2.0 begins.

May 1-3: Deerfoot Lodge & ResortInvitational Walleye Opener Tourney (715-462-3328).

May 7-9: 36th Annual Treeland Challenge (715-462-3874; 945-2511).

May 22-23: Deerfoot Lodge & ResortPike Pursuit contest (715-462-3328).

June 5-6: DNR Free Fishing Weekend.

Jun 25-27: 71st Annual Musky Festival (715-634-8662).

June 27: Hayward Bass Club Round Lakes Open Tournament, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. (405-227-1789 (text).

 

Spring Turkey Season

April 17-18: Youth Turkey Hunt.

April 21-27: Period A spring turkey season.

April 28-May 4: Period B spring turkey season.

May 5-11: Period C spring turkey season.

May 12-18: Period D spring turkey season.

May 19-25: Period E spring turkey season.

May 26-June 1: Period F spring turkey season.

June 27: Hayward Bass Club Round Lakes Open Tournament, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. (405-227-1789 (text).

 

For more information on area events and activities, visit the Hayward Lakes Visitor and Convention Bureau and Hayward Area Chamber of Commerce websites, view the Calendar of Events, or call (715) 634-8662 or 800-724-2992.