Hayward Lakes Outdoor Report 1-25-2022

Steve Suman

 

Subzero low temperatures, strong winds, and chances of snow for much of this week, according to the forecast, with a slight, somewhat short warming toward the weekend. Wind chills will reach serious levels and an advisory is in effect until Tuesday noon. Judging from the forecast, this will not be the only wind chill advisory this week. Keep informed, dress accordingly, and be careful out there!

 

“Temperatures are all over the place,” says Greg at Happy Hooker, “and Quiet Lakes’ fish are the same!

“Ice conditions appear to be good, with thickness at 15 inches, more or less, in most areas. However, there are reports a vehicle went through on Grindstone last week. Overall, fishing is decent ‑ if you can bear the weather conditions.

“Walleye action remains slow and the fish continue to haunt transitions from hard to soft bottom. Tip-ups and dead-sticks are still the most consistent ways to put fish on the ice. Walleye suckers and shiners under tip-ups are a good bet, but stay mobile until you find the fish.

“Northern pike action continues in and around green weeds, as the pike are feeding on panfish around the weeds and deep edges adjacent to basins. Tip-ups with big baits under them should produce interest.

“Crappies are suspending in deep basins, so focus on the deepest parts of the lake. Look for humps and structure that break up the lake bottom. Fish can be near bottom or suspending somewhere in the water column. Stay mobile until you find the school, and then jigging waxies and spikes on small jigs are a good bet.

“Bluegills and perch are in and around any green weeds. Work the weed edges with waxies, spikes, and small plastics on small jigs. For the best action, fish peak times, and hole-hop to keep on active fish.”

 

Jarrett at Hayward Bait says fishing is good, anglers are finding easy access, and most lakes have 10-15 inches of ice.

“A strong handful of lakes have 4-8 inches of snow and slush, however. Though we have cold temperatures, the snow insulates the water resulting from a recent warm period. Some anglers are traveling on the ice in vehicles, but do so only with extreme caution! Most anglers are using ATVs, UTVs, and snowmobiles.

“Walleye action slowed a bit, though anglers using tip-ups and jigging are catching a few here and there. Many fish are coming from 15-25 feet. The fish will soon start working their way towards pre-spawn staging areas. Spawn is a ways off, but look for the main underwater pathways the fish use to travel to those spots.

“Northern pike are still all over the place, with some shallow and some sitting on deep ledges. In shallow water, try your luck with big dead baits. Winter is hard on many fish under the ice and pike take advantage of any or all winterkill lying on the lake bottom. For deep fish, try active shiners on tip-ups or dead-sticks.

“Crappies are mostly towards or adjacent to lake basins, but they cruise constantly to find food, so make sure you are mobile enough to stay on fish. If the cold keeps you in a shack, set up on drop-offs or structure that can concentrate fish.

“Bluegills are cruising in 10-15 feet, with many still relating to any remaining weed life. Make sure to check any type of structure in the area as well, such as cribs, logs, branches, or anything that might offer bluegills cover and food.”

 

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses what biologists learn from a species count.

“After ‘what’s the biggest fish you got?’ the next most common question we get about surveys might be ‘How many different species did you get?’ I appreciate that people share a fascination for fish diversity, and getting surprising fish in surveys is a favorite part of my job.

“The total number of species that appear in one of our surveys can be informative in several ways.

“In streams, the total species count usually reflects water temperature. Very cold streams will have just a handful of species, while warmer streams might have two dozen or more species. Warm water is more hospitable to a wider range of species.

“We can see the same concept when looking at global species diversity, where we see many more species of fish and other organisms in warm/tropical areas compared to colder polar regions.

“In lake surveys in our area, the number of species appearing often reflects lake size. Larger lakes have more diverse habitat, including greater variation in depth, temperature, substrate type, and often, aquatic plant communities. This increased habitat diversity supports more species. Very small lakes often have a relatively simple fish community, often just bass, bluegill, and a small handful of others.

“Habitat connectivity can also influence species diversity. Lakes or rivers isolated by dams or other barriers often have fewer total fish species than those with direct connections to larger waters, including oceans.

“Different reaches of the Chippewa River illustrate this example. The lower Chippewa River has a direct connection to the Mississippi River and even the Gulf of Mexico. As a result, you will on occasion find species such as American eel. Those species are not able to access the upper portions of that river, leading to lower total species diversity.”

 

Flambeau River State Forest near Winter is hosting a Candlelight Ski Event Saturday, February 5, from 6-9 p.m. Crews will groom and track a 1.8-kilometer trail loop and illuminate it with glowing candles. The Forest waives admission fees and allows hiking and snowshoeing for this event. Bring your own food for a cookout and take advantage of a BBQ grill and picnic tables the Forest provides. Staff will maintain a warming campfire throughout the night. Participants should meet at the Flambeau Hills Trailhead Hwy W parking lot. For more information, call (715) 332-5271.

 

Copper Falls State Park is holding its Candlelight Ski and Snowshoe Event also on Saturday, February 5, from 5-9 p.m. Candle luminaries will light your way on the groomed ski trail or snowshoe trail. A bonfire will be waiting for you to roast marshmallows. Friends of Copper Falls will offer chili and hot drinks for sale. The Park requires a state park admission sticker. For more information, call (715) 274-5123.

 

The January 22 Birkie Trail conditions report says the area received 2-3 inches of snow and the Trail Crew groomed and set tracks on the Classic Trail from OO to Timber Trail and the OO loops, and groomed Easy Strider, OO to Lake Hayward, and Hatchery Creek loops. Upcoming events include the Seeley Hill Classic January 29 and American Birkebeiner events February 23-27. Skiing any part of the Birkie Trail System December through March requires a Birkie Trail Ski Pass.

 

SNOWMOBILE TRAIL REPORT

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 24 HLVCB snowmobile trail report says Sawyer County trails are open, groomed, and in good condition, with a base of 6-8 inches. The area received about 1 inch of snow over the weekend and another 3 inches of fresh, fluffy snow Monday, which should freeze nicely with the cold temperatures. Many groomers were grooming Sunday and more will start their weekly schedules Tuesday. Trails will be nice!

 

The January 24 Travel Wisconsin snowmobile trail report for the Cable/Bayfield County area says trails are open, groomed, and in fair to good condition, with a base of 3-5 inches. Some trails are in good condition, some are fair, and some have areas with exposed rocks. Remember that groomers have the right of way!

 

The January 24 Travel Wisconsin snowmobile trail report for Washburn County says trails are open, groomed, and in good condition, with a base of 4-8 inches. The area received four inches of fresh snow over the weekend.

 

FISHING REPORT

Fishing is good in general, with best success during prime time bite windows. Lake access and on-ice travel is good, though some have 4-8 inches of snow and slush. Most anglers use ATVs, UTVs, and snowmobiles. A few are driving vehicles with ice thickness up to 15 inches, but a few breakthroughs have occurred this winter. Check with your favorite bait shop for the most current favored baits, presentations, and fish locations.

 

Walleye:

Walleye fishing is a bit slower, but anglers continue to catch fish. Move until you find the fish, focusing on 10-28 feet on bottoms with hard-to-soft transitions. Walleye suckers and shiners on tip-ups and dead sticks, Jigging Raps, and jigging spoons all work well.

 

Northern Pike:

Northern pike fishing is good to very good. Depths can vary from shallow to deep, but look for fish in and around weeds and weed edges, on or near deep basin edges, and concentrations of panfish and baitfish. Top producers include large northern suckers and shiners on tip-ups and dead-sticks, and dead baits for shallow water presentations.

 

Crappie:

Crappie fishing is good once you locate the fish ‑ just keep moving until you find them. Look for fish suspending in or near deep basins, on drop-offs, deep humps, and other structure. Be sure to check the entire water column, as fish can be anywhere in it. Crappie minnows, waxies, spikes, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs and plain hooks will do the trick.

 

Bluegill:

Bluegill fishing is good on any green weeds you can find, weed edges, cribs, brush, and other cover and/or food sources in 8-18 feet. Keep on the move to stay with the fish. Waxies, spikes, and small plastics on small jigs work best.

 

Perch:

Perch fishing is fair to good on weed edges, especially green weeds if you can find them. Baits of choice include waxies, spikes, minnow heads, and plastics on small jigs.

 

Upcoming Events

Jan. 28: Crow season opens.

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

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

Feb. 4: Crex MeadowsCandlelight Snowshoe Hike 6-8 p.m. (715-463-2739).

Feb. 5: Flambeau River State ForestCandlelight Ski Event 6-9 p.m. (715-332-5271).

Feb. 5: Copper Falls State ParkCandlelight Ski and Snowshoe Event 5-9 p.m. (715-274-5123).

Feb. 5: Northwest Relic Riders snowmobile “Run for Fun,” Trails End Resort, 2-3 p.m.; $20/person (715-634-9052).

Feb.12: Hayward Lions Pre-Birkie.

Feb.12: Brule River State ForestCandlelight Ski Event 5-8 p.m.

Feb.15: Seasons close: Raccoon hunting/trapping (resident/non-resident); Fox hunting/trapping; Coyote trapping.

Feb. 18-21: Great Backyard Bird Count (607-254-2137).

Feb.19: 23rd Annual Drummond Bar Stool Races at Black Bear Inn.

Feb.23-27: Slumberland American Birkebeiner week (715-634-5025).

Feb.28: Seasons close: Cottontail rabbit.

 

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.