Hayward Lakes Outdoor Report 1-11-2022

Steve Suman


This week’s forecast indicates a slight warming mid-week, with highs in the upper 20s, only slightly cooler through the weekend . . . and with lows above zero. This is good news for all who plan to partake of the state’s Free Fishing Weekend Saturday and Sunday January 15-16. Check below for more information and related area events!


“Anglers report ice thickness ranges from 12-15 inches on the Quiet Lakes,” says Greg at Happy Hooker, “so it should be ‘safe,’ but it is always best to follow standard ice safety protocols!

“Overall, fishing slowed a bit and fish are moving to deep flats adjacent to basins.

“Walleyes are starting to scatter and head to deep flats that transition into the deepest part of the lake. Placing baits close to bottom on dead sticks and tip-ups will help produce. Utilize the peak fishing times of dawn and dusk to get on active fish, and if jigging, downsize a bit and slow the pace.

“Northern pike are cruising everywhere that opportunity awaits them. Setlines and tip-ups on deep weed edges are getting the most action, as well as in any other place you find fish.

“Crappies are starting to occupy deep water. Look for deep flats that relate to the deepest parts of the lake. Though they are roaming these flats, not all are schooling yet, so stay mobile in your approach. Small jigging spoons tipped with waxies are good presentations for getting slabs on the ice.

“Bluegills are on and around the edges of any good remaining weeds. Tip small jigs with waxies, spikes, and micro plastics, and be sure to work the deep edges and basin flats for bigger bluegills.

“Perch are nomadic now, and scattered across the lakes. As weed beds start dying off, look for perch with the crappies in deep water. Jigging spoons tipped with minnow heads and waxies are good choices.”


Jarrett at Hayward Bait says it is still cold out there!

“The walleye bite slowed, but anglers are still catching fish. Many are still coming on walleye suckers and shiners under tip-ups set on deep weedlines. In the extreme cold, fish will not last long on the ice or out of the water. If the fish is going in the fryer, awesome, but if the fish are heading back into the lake, take a very quick picture and immediately send fish on their way so the fins do not freeze!

“Northern pike action is slow, though anglers fishing shallow, dark lakes are catching fish on large suckers under tip-ups. With the warming this week, the bite should return to normal. As we get further into winter, and more fish die of winterkill, bigger dead baits will begin to work very well.

“Crappies are in main lake basins, and areas that drop into 25-30 feet will hold fish on most lakes. With the recent cold, many fish are suspending. Tipping small jigs with waxies and spikes will work well, but even in the colder weather, bigger spoons and rattle baits will trigger the school’s larger fish to take a look.”


This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses fishing pressure on Hayward area lakes.

“The amount of fishing pressure on lakes in our area has become a common concern among anglers.

“We have a means to measure fishing pressure via creel surveys, a scientific and standardized estimate of fishing effort (hours of fishing), catch, and harvest. We perform these surveys on a handful of area lakes annually.

“If you fish a lot, a DNR creel clerk might have stopped you as part of a creel survey. In addition to interviewing anglers, clerks count the number of boat, shore, and ice anglers.

“We see from creel surveys that the amount of fishing pressure, measured as hours of fishing per acre of water, varies considerably from one lake to the next.

“On the Spider Lake Chain, for example, we estimate 21.7 hours of fishing per acre of water, most of which is targeting gamefish. The Chippewa Flowage has an estimated 15 hours of angling per acre, not including ice fishing season, and that estimate will see an update in 2022.

“Notorious fish factory Big Chetac had an astounding 68.5 hours of fishing per acre in the most recent creel. A recent estimate for Grindstone Lake came in at 9.4 hours of fishing per acre, similar to Lac Courte Oreilles (LCO) next door, which had 10 hours per acre.

“A Round Lake creel in 2020 found 15 hours of fishing per acre, up somewhat from the last creel estimate in 2010, which found 10 hours per acre.

“These figures offer some interesting context to anglers who spend a lot of time thinking about fishing pressure and ‘crowding.’ As we see, not all lakes have the same amount of pressure. It is likely a host of factors drive the variation in fishing pressure from one lake to the next, including the productivity of the fishery, access, lakeshore development, and proximity to population centers.

“Creel estimates will continue to provide insights about angler behaviors in the future.”


Wisconsin’s Free Ice Fishing Weekend is this Saturday and Sunday, January 15-16. All waters of the state are open for anglers to fish without a license, though usual regulations remain in force. If you are new to fishing, or have not purchased a fishing license in 10 years, get a “First-time buyer/welcome back” resident license for only $5!


Elk Country ATV Club will host its annual ice fishing contest on Upper Clam Lake Saturday, January 15, from 8 a.m.-3 p.m., with raffle prize drawings throughout the day. For more information, call (715) 794-2298.


Northland Area Builders Association (NABA) will hold its 12th Annual Ice Fishing Event on Nelson Lake from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. Register at Nelson Lake Landing. This event is for walleye, crappie, bluegill, and perch.

The entry fee is $10 for adults and $5 for youth 14 and younger. The first 40 kids receive a tip-up courtesy of S.C.O.P.E., and one lucky young angler will receive a fish finder! The non-profit event includes cash and raffle prizes, including a chance to win an ice fishing package. Grand Prize raffle tickets cost $10.

Portions of the non-profit event’s proceeds benefit the Nelson Lake Association’s Fish Sticks Project and local non-profits. For more information, visit https://northlandareabuilders.com or call (715) 558-2097.



Snowmobiles must have a current registration and display a valid snowmobile trail pass to operate on public snowmobile trails. You can renew registrations and order trail passes online. Members of the Association of Wisconsin Snowmobile Clubs (AWSC) can purchase trail passes at a discounted rate directly from www.awsc.org. You do not need to be a Wisconsin resident to be an AWSC member.


The January 10 HLVCB snowmobile trail report says Sawyer County trails are open, groomed, in good condition, with a base of 9-10 inches, and snow in the forecast. This week, the groomers are out cleaning up after the busy weekend. Trails have some rocky areas, particularly in corners of heavy traffic. Groomers are great at seeing this and doing what they can, including picking large rocks off trails and pulling in snow from the sides as fill. If you see big rocks, throw them off the trail. It is easier for you to hop off a sled than for groomers to climb in and out of their machines. Ride lakes with caution, and stay on staked trails. If you go off-trail, watch for sticks, stumps, heaves, open water, tip-ups, etc.


The January 8 Travel Wisconsin snowmobile trail report for the Clam Lake/Ashland County area says trails are open, groomed, and in good condition, with a base of 3-5 inches. The Clam Lake area received more than 12 inches of snow last week and a dusting Saturday night. Groomers are panning the new snow to improve trail conditions. Continue to ride safely and with caution, as thin spots with rocks are possible in places. When riding on the lakes, stay close to staked trails. The Trail 8 reroute near Clam Lake shares a stretch of Forest Rd 336 with vehicle traffic. Take care on roadways.



Ice condition reports indicate thickness to 15 inches, but thickness can be “inconsistent” (sometimes very much so!). The DNR advises there is no such thing as 100 percent safe ice, and one cannot judge ice strength by appearance, age, thickness, or temperature, especially snow-covered ice. This is true for operators of ATVs, UTVs, trucks, snowmobiles, and all other vehicles, as well as skiers, hikers, skaters, and walkers. Be careful out there and check the ice as you go!



Walleye fishing is fair to good, with the best bite windows before sunrise and late evening into after dark. Target deep weedlines, basins, and flats leading to the deepest areas. Walleye suckers and shiners on dead-sticks and tip-ups, fished near the bottom, work well. If action is slow, downsize baits and slow your presentations.


Northern Pike:

Northern pike action is fair to good, and anglers continue to catch fish around weeds, weedlines, weed edges, and areas holding concentrations of panfish. Large northern suckers, walleye suckers, and shiners under tip-ups work well



Crappie fishing is good, with most fish in deep basins, on flats, and other areas in 28-32 feet. Look to a lake’s deepest areas. The fish are moving around ‑ and you will have to do so, too. Check the entire water column for suspending fish. The most productive offerings include crappie minnows, jigs tipped with waxies and spikes, and small to medium size jigging spoons and rattle-baits tipped with the same.



Bluegill fishing is fair to good, with fish on deep weed edges and flats, and in deep basins. Top producers are small jigs and teardrop tipped with waxies, spikes, and plastics.



Perch are on deep weedlines and flats, low in the water column. Baits of choice include small jigs and jigging spoons tipped with a waxie or head of a minnow.


Upcoming Events

Jan. 1: Early inland catch and release trout season opened (see regs).

Jan. 9: Seasons closed: Archery and crossbow deer; Pheasant; Ruffed grouse (Zone A); Hungarian partridge; Turkey (zones 1-5; see regs).

Jan. 12: Spider Lake Chain fisheries management plan public Zoom meeting, 6 p.m. (715-634-7429).

Jan. 15-16: Free Fishing Weekend – no fishing license, trout, or salmon stamp required (see restrictions).

Jan. 15: Elk Country ATV Club annual ice fishing contest (715-794-2298).

Jan. 15: NABA12th Annual Ice Fishing Event on Nelson Lake, 8 a.m.-2 p.m. (715-558-2097).

Jan. 15-23: International Snowmobile Safety Week.

Jan. 21-23: Winter Huskies Snowmobile ClubSno-Xtravaganza (715-661-1294; 638-0337).

Jan. 22: Staudemeyer’s Four Seasons Resort12th Annual Ice Fishing Tournament 12:01 a.m.-4 p.m. (715-798-2346).

Jan. 28: Crow season opens.

Jan. 29: 2022 Seeley Hills Classic (715-634-5025).

Jan. 31: Seasons close: Squirrel; Bobcat Period 2 hunting/trapping.


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.