The forecast for this week shows mild temperatures are in store for the North Woods. However, warm winds from the south will also bring more moisture, varying from rain to sleet to snow ‑ and any mixture of the three. Temperatures will top out Wednesday with a high pushing 50 degrees, but then drop to a low of 17 overnight, with winds gusting to 40 mph. We are in for a wide variety of weather this week… or the forecasters are just covering every possibility! Follow through on your plans, but watch the conditions and respond accordingly.
“Ice thickness reports say three to six inches in the bays, but still not safe for any vehicle traffic. Milder temperatures and sunshine, even with cold nights, might slow ice making on the lakes.”
Jarrett at Hayward Bait says walleyes are still shallow, though during primetime periods many cruise weedlines in 5-10 feet eating crappies, bluegills, and perch.
“Tip-ups are the mainstay on early ice so far. Fish will begin moving deeper toward the end of the month once the shallows lose their weed growth and oxygen.
“Northern pike are shallow, chasing baitfish, though some pike will roam the basins feeding on panfish that made an early transition to deep water. Large suckers and shiners on tip-ups are working well to ice pike.
“Good numbers of crappies still run the edges of flats in 8-10 feet looking for minnows. Some fish moved to lake basins, schooling towards the bottom of the water column, so do not always look for suspending fish ‑ look towards the bottom as well! Minnows and small plastics on jigs are working well to tempt crappies.
“Big bull bluegills in small schools are roaming deep flats, while smaller fish are still in thick weeds. Waxies and spikes on jigs are the ticket and will remain so throughout winter.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses the DNR Fish Team’s favorite Sawyer County oddball fish.
“One does not become a fisheries professional unless you love fish, which is certainly true for the members of the DNR Hayward Fish Team. Scott Braden, Evan Sniadajewski, and I are all avid anglers who target a wide range of species. We also get very excited when we see odd fish in our surveys, and many lakes and rivers in the Hayward area boast one or two odd species that we encounter on occasion.
“For example, Lac Courte Oreilles, Grindstone, Whitefish, and Sissabagama each have a small population of longnose gar. Chetac and Knuteson have bowfin (sometimes called ‘dogfish’).
“We see burbot in Moose Lake and the Chippewa Flowage, as well as in many area trout streams. We get excited when we see a channel catfish in the Chippewa Flowage or in the Couderay River.
“Warmouth are a fun sunfish that we encounter on a handful of lakes in both the Couderay and Brunet River drainage. We have just two lakes, Ghost and Black Dan, with white crappie, and even within those lakes, they are far less common than black crappie.
“One of the rarest and oddest fish we encounter is the banded killifish in Spider Lake, which we have seen only in the vicinity of one specific island. Lake chubsucker (no, I did not make that up!) are also exceptionally rare, appearing in low density in Indian Lake and, from what we can tell, nowhere else in the area.
“Many of these species would be new additions to the ‘life list’ of most anglers, but catching them could require either serious dedication or blind luck.
“All of the species listed above occur at such a low density that it would likely take a lot of time on the water for an angler to be successful in catching even one!”
The Sawyer County total harvest currently stands at 2,748 deer, including 1,617 antlered and 1,131 antlerless:
- Archery: 290 deer (196 antlered, 94 antlerless)
- Crossbow: 600 deer (402 antlered, 198 antlerless)
- Nine-day gun deer season: 1,811 deer (1,001 antlered, 810 antlerless)
- Youth Deer Hunt Oct. 9-10: 47 deer (18 antlered, 29 antlerless)
The DNR is offering an antlerless-only Holiday Deer Hunt that runs Dec. 24-Jan. 1 in select Farmland/Zone 2 counties and bonus antlerless harvest authorizations still available in those areas (see regs). For more information, search “antlerless-only holiday hunt” on the DNR website.
Turkey hunters who are still interested in pursuing wild turkeys should note the fall season remains open through Jan. 9 and zones 1-4 still have bonus harvest authorizations available. As of December 7, turkey hunters have harvested 2,980 turkeys statewide so far during the fall season. For more information, search “turkey hunting” on the DNR website.
The DNR is seeking public input on the draft ATV and UTV trail guidelines with the intention of promoting statewide consistency in trail planning, design, and construction. The guidelines were created by DNR staff in consultation with various stakeholders and trail users to establish common language for developing recreational trails that are physically sustainable, protect natural resources, and ensure trail users have an enjoyable and safe experience.
The final guidelines will serve as a comprehensive reference for the DNR and other public trail providers such as local government units, trail advocates, volunteers, advisory councils, and others as they consider trail development and funding. The draft is available on the DNR’s public input opportunities webpage.
The DNR encourages the public to submit comments regarding the draft ATV and UTV trail guidelines via email to: DNRFWPPRGuidance@wisconsin.gov. It will accept comments through the December 23 deadline.
Pat’s Landing on the Chippewa Flowage will host its 10th Annual Tipper Tourney fishing tournament Saturday, January 8, on the Chippewa Flowage. The tourney runs from 8 a.m.-4 p.m. This is a northern pike and largemouth bass “fun” fishing tournament with fishing limited to the west side of the Chippewa Flowage, excluding Crane Creek and Crane Lake. The registration fee is $15 per entrant. The contest offers door prizes and awards prizes for the longest northern pike, longest largemouth bass, and the longest stringer. For more information visit www.treelandresorts.com, or call (715) 945-2511.
Hayward Mercantile Co. is hosting the 17th Annual Gingerbread House Contest Friday Dec. 17-19, with the following categories: Adult, Business, and Kids 16 and younger. Judges will look at the most creative house, yard, etc., with the platform size no larger than a jellyroll pan (11×17 inches), and award one prize for each category. Judging will take place Sunday, Dec. 21, and judges will announce the winners at that time.
All entrants must complete a registration form available at Hayward Mercantile. Please fill out and return to Hayward Mercantile with your gingerbread house submission from Dec. 17-19. The houses will be on display at area businesses until noon, Dec. 24, with pick-up no later than 2 p.m. Friday, Dec. 24. For more information, please call (715) 634 7179.
For the second time in the past five years, Main Street Hayward has made it to the Top 10 of the America’s Main Street Contest! This is the Top 10 in the country! The America’s Main Street Contest will announce the Grand Prize winner December 20, which receives $25,000 in cash and related prizes to help revitalize that Main Street.
When Main Streets are strong, so are the communities that surround them. The goal of the contest is to help promote the importance and strong economic benefits of Main Streets and the small businesses that help them thrive.
For more information, visit www.mainstreetcontest.com.
Fishing action is very good for most species and many anglers are taking advantage of the mild temperatures to get on the ice. Just remember this is still early ice, temperatures and sunshine are having an effect, and the heavy snowfall is doing little to no good in helping the lakes make ice. Use caution and common sense ‑ it is early and there is a LOT of season remaining!
Walleye action is very good to excellent, with anglers having best success when fishing late afternoon into after dark. Set tip-ups with walleye suckers and shiners over flats, in bays, and on weedlines in 4-12 feet. Some anglers report success with Jigging Raps and jigging spoons
Northern pike fishing is good to very good on weedlines and flats, as well as near concentrations of panfish and baitfish. Northern suckers and walleye suckers are the favorite baits, fished under tip-ups set over and along weeds, weedlines, and weed edges. Jigging baits can also entice pike into action.
Crappie fishing is good on weeds and weed edges, in lake basins, and on flats in 6-14 feet. Be sure to check the entire water column, as some fish are suspending high and others are holding near the bottom. The most productive baits include crappie minnows, waxies, plastics, and Gulp! baits on jigs and/or small jigging spoons. Keep moving to find active fish.
Bluegill fishing is good to very good for small fish in/on weeds and weedlines. Bigger ‘gills are on deep flats, but ice conditions are not currently favorable to reaching them. Top offerings include waxies, spikes, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs and teardrops, as well as small jigging spoons. Try small minnows to target big bluegills.
Dec. 16: Goose season closes in Northern Zone.
Dec. 24-Jan 1: Antlerless-only Holiday Deer Hunt in select Farmland/Zone 2 counties (see regs).
Dec. 31: Musky season closes.
Jan. 2: Fisher trapping season closes.
Jan. 8: 10th Annual Tipper Tourney on the Chippewa Flowage, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. (715-945-2511).
Jan. 15-16: Free Fishing Weekend.
Jan. 22: Staudemeyer’s Four Seasons Resort’s 12th Annual Ice Fishing Tournament 7 a.m.-4 p.m. (715-798-2346).
Jan. 28: Crow season opens.
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.