There is no shortage of snow or cold temperatures in the Hayward area! This week’s forecast shows somewhat of a welcome warming trend toward the end of the week and through the weekend, with a few chances for snow. Crews continue to groom the Birkie Trail.
“Shorelines have a good amount of slush and with the lakes packed with heavy snow, expect water to saturate your fishing area immediately when drilling holes. Wear comfortable insulated rubber boots to protect your feet.
“Conditions vary, but most small to medium size lakes have 6-8 inches of ice. Check the ice yourself – do not rely on someone else – but do check with other anglers, bait shops, guides, and resorts.
“Most fishing is near shore with tip-ups – walleye in late afternoon into dark and northern pike on shallow weed edges during the day. Panfish are on 10- to 20-foot drop-offs near vegetation, with small plastics on teardrops the best bait.
“The lakes are not completely safe and some marsh areas are not solid, so crews have not staked snowmobile trails.
“Due to recent rule changes, ATV/UTV riders can now operate on all Spider Lake Township roads, with the exception of private driveways.”
Trent at Hayward Bait says about the only change in the past week is more snow accumulation!
“Ice conditions remain questionable and vary greatly. With the heavy, insulating snow, recent cold temperatures were not enough to make much ice and conditions will deplete as that heavy snow pushes ice into the water column.
“Small lakes that froze over early now hold more snow than bigger waters, many lakes have a double layer of ice, and it is still mostly walk-on only. Make sure to use a spud bar and take other safety equipment.
“Tip-ups with walleye suckers work especially well for walleyes, but also for a variety of other species. Fatheads might be a better choice if you prefer dead sticking.
“Northern pike fishing is good fishing northern suckers and large shiners under tip-ups around vegetation in 5-15 feet.
“Crappies are in 25-30 feet, but it is difficult to get to those depths and still be on safe ice. Kender K-Rips are a good choice for crappie and other panfish.
“Bluegills are in 6-15 feet and responding to tungsten jigs.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses the most talked about fishing destinations in Wisconsin.
“How do you measure the ‘popularity’ of a lake for fishing? That is a tough question to answer.
“In northern Wisconsin, we have a considerable amount of creel data providing us estimates of the number of hours of fishing effort on different waterbodies. Such creel data is quite rare in the southern part of the state, however, and leaves out many big name fisheries.
“To gauge interest in some of Wisconsin’s most notorious fisheries, I went to one of the places where people talk about fishing, Lake Link, and pulled data from its fishing reports section on the lakes having the most posts and most page views. It simplified matters to restrict the search to only inland lakes of more than 1,000 acres in size. Focusing only on lakes created more clearly defined boundaries for each waterbody, compared to ‘Mississippi River,’ for example, and including only larger lakes was more manageable than sorting through thousands of smaller lakes.
“At first glance, one lake clearly gets the most online chatter: Winnebago. At the time of this exercise, there were 42,000 posts about Winnebago and more than 31 million page views. That is a ton of interest! This is not surprising, as it is a huge lake. Next in line were the southern Wisconsin lakes of Delevan and Geneva. Of course, these three lakes are all close to big population centers.
“After standardizing the list for waterbody size by dividing the raw number of posts and views by lake acreage, the top lake was Delevan, by a wide margin, with 5,327 page views and nine posts per acre of water! Next lakes in line were Fox, Okauchee, Geneva, and Waubesa, all in the southern portion of the state and generally near urban areas.
“To find a lake north of Highway 29, one has to go all the way down to the 21st spot on the list, the Chippewa Flowage, with 250 page views per acre.”
SNOWMOBILE TRAIL REPORT
The DNR reminds snowmobilers to make sure their snowmobile has a current registration and displays a valid snowmobile trail pass that Wisconsin requires to operate on all public snowmobile trails. You can order trail passes online, as well as renew registrations.
The large amounts of snow that Flambeau River State Forest received in recent weeks has settled, but due to mechanical issues with the grooming unit, crews are not yet grooming the Flambeau Hills Ski Trail System. For more information, call (715) 332-5271.
The December 16 HLVCB snowmobile trail report says Sawyer County trails are open, with a 16-inch base, but conditions vary depending on where the trail leads. County land (Seeley Hills area), forest trails, and Tuscobia Trail currently offer the best riding. Trails leading to swamps and lakes are not open, with the exception of Moose Lake, which crews staked. Heavy snow is hindering the freezing process, but many lakes have more than 4 inches. Crews groomed trails in the Seeley Hills area and 3/5 towards Lost Land Lake and Moose Lake several times, and the Tuscobia Trail in the Winter area and from Birchwood to Couderay to the Rusk, Washburn, and Barron county lines.
The December 16 Travel Wisconsin trail report for the Phillips area says trails are open, not groomed, and in fair condition, with a base of 16-20 inches. There is a lot of snow, but clubs are working to clear and groom the trails. Swamps need packing and many creeks and streams remain open. Watch for open water and downed trees!
The December 16 Travel Wisconsin trail report for Washburn County says trails are partially open, groomed, in very good condition, with a base of 6-10 inches. Open trails include Wild Rivers Trail #35, a portion of the rail grade connecting Wild Rivers Trail to Trail #39, a portion of Trail #8 east to the intersection with Trail #39, and Trail #39 from Trego north to Trail #8. All other Washburn County snowmobile trails remain closed.
The December 16 Travel Wisconsin trail report for the Clam Lake area says the trails are open, groomed, in fair condition, have a base of 15-20 inches, and groomers are trying to make their way through the trails. The Tri-county corridor is open. Though we received a lot of snow, be cautious of standing water in swampy areas.
The December 16 Travel Wisconsin trail report for Bayfield County says trails are open, groomed, and in good early season condition, with a base of 8-24 inches.
The December 16 Travel Wisconsin trail report for Ashland County says trails are partially open, not groomed, have a base of 20-35 inches, and in poor condition. There are three groomers trying to get through the trails, but downed trees and deep snow makes it difficult. Please respect private property and stay on the trails so the trail system remains open!
A thick layer of snow covers the lakes, but ice depths vary and are questionable everywhere. If you go, check the ice AS you venture out to your fishing spots. Despite appearance to the contrary, it is still very early in the ice fishing season!
Walleye fishing is best during the low light hours of early morning and late afternoon into after dark. Most anglers are using walleye suckers on tip-ups or dead-sticking fatheads, from shallow to mid-depths.
Northern pike action is good all day in and around weeds and weed beds out to about 18 feet. Favorite baits include northern suckers and large shiners on tip-ups.
Crappie fishing is fair to good once you locate them – electronics are indispensable. Look for fish around weeds and other structure in 8-28 feet, the deeper depths only if you find decent ice. Baits of choice include crappie minnows, Kenders K-Rip vibe baits, and plastics tipped on various small jigs and teardrops.
Bluegill fishing is fair to good around weeds and other structure in 4-22 feet, depending on the lake. Preferred baits include waxies, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs – lead, tungsten, and teardrops.
Dec. 16: Goose season closed in the Northern Zone.
Dec. 25: Christmas Day.
Jan. 1, 2020: New Years Day.
Jan. 4: Seasons close: Goose in Southern and Mississippi River zones.
Jan. 5: Seasons close: Archery deer; Pheasant; Fall turkey zones 1-5; Hungarian partridge; Fisher trapping.
Jan. 18-19: Free fishing weekend – no fishing license required.
Jan. 18: NABA 10th Annual Ice Fishing Event on Nelson Lake (715-296-7881).
Jan. 18: Seeley Hills Classic Ski Event (715-634-5025).
Jan. 31: Seasons close: Squirrel; Bobcat Period 2 hunting/trapping.