Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report

Steve Suman

The Hayward area has warmer temperatures on tap for this week, but a number of days show chances for a “wintery mix” that includes rain, freezing rain, snow – and various combinations of the three. If you are traveling, keep an eye on the weather, pay close attention to road conditions, and arrive at your destination safely. Merry Christmas!

“If you are planning a fishing outing on the Quiet Lakes,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “take snowshoes to access your fishing spots, as well as a pair of insulated rubber boots to use when you arrive, or your feet are going to get very wet!

“Area lakes have poor conditions, as there is a lot of slush under the snow cover and drilling a hole will produce more water due to the weight of the snow on top. The snow insulates the ice and prevents it from growing fast. In the deep snow and slush, snowmobile and ATV travel on the lake is a big gamble.

“The forecast shows quite a warm-up this week, with temperatures in the mid to upper 30s, which will increase the slush levels. If you decide to go fishing, plan to spend a great amount of time and energy.

“Fishing near shore remains the most consistent tactic for success. Tip-ups with walleye suckers, large shiners, and fatheads set over the edges of shallow vegetation are taking some walleye, northern pike, and bass.

“Panfish fishing is up and down with the constant weather changes and the fish are as confused as the anglers. The bite should pick up if we get weather that is more consistent.”

John at Hayward Bait says many anglers took advantage of the extremely nice weather this past weekend to do some ice fishing.

“Most area lakes have 4-6 inches of ice with slush on top. Ice conditions vary considerably from lake to lake and anglers should be sure to take a spud bar and check the ice as they go.

According to some reports, Round Lake is giving up a few nice walleyes in about 12 feet and some anglers are catching a few panfish on Chippanazie.

“Reports also indicate that crews have marked the Nelson Lake and Moose Lake snowmobile trails.”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses size cutoffs for sexes of different fish species.

“Sexual dimorphism is a fancy biological term for organisms where males and females have different sizes or body shapes. This is common for many species of Wisconsin fish, particularly in ‘broadcast spawning’ species – those that deposit large numbers of eggs across the lakebed or riverbed and do not guard them.

“It is advantageous for a broadcast spawning female to have a big body and produce as many eggs as possible. That advantage does not exist for males in those cases, leading to an evolutionary tendency towards females larger than males.

“I looked at the sex breakdown at different sizes for some popular species in our surveys of Hayward lakes over the past five years.

“For northern pike, about 77 percent of fish we capture that are less than 24 inches are males and just 48 percent of those more than 24 inches are males. In the last 5 years, the biggest male pike we handled was 32 inches long, which means that all of the pike we handled that were greater than that size were females.

“For walleye, the differences are even more striking. More than 95 percent of the walleyes we handle in netting surveys that are less than 15 inches are males. Females walleyes make up 92 percent of all the walleye that we handle that are more than 20 inches. The largest male walleye we handled was 23.1 inches.

“Yellow perch are another interesting example, though they are not often the target of our surveys. In the last five years, of all the perch we handled that were more than 9 inches, 81 percent were female. The biggest male that we captured was 10.8 inches.

“Anglers can use information such as this to get a rough idea if the fish they catch are male or female, even if it is not possible to know for sure without cutting them open. In the Hayward area, northern pike more than 32 inches, walleye more than 23 inches, and perch more than 11 inches are very likely females.

“Remember, these fish are big for a reason – they’re the ones making the eggs!”


The DNR reminds snowmobilers to make sure their snowmobile has a current registration and displays a valid snowmobile trail pass. Wisconsin requires a trail pass to operate on all public snowmobile trails. You can order trail passes online, as well as renew registrations.

(Recent mild weather will affect trail conditions and these reports might not reflect current conditions.)

The December 21 Travel Wisconsin trail report for Washburn County says trails are open, groomed, and in good condition, with a base of 8-15 inches. All Washburn County trails are open, with the exception of Trail #34 near the Barron County line. Lake ice is not safe at this time. Swamps and wet areas are generally frozen, but many have rough ice crossings. Trail grooming will occur throughout the holiday week.

The December 20 Travel Wisconsin trail report for the Clam Lake area says trails are open, not groomed, and in poor condition, with a base of 15-20 inches. Deep snow and downed trees are making it difficult for groomers to get through the trails. Use caution in the swampy areas and stay on the trails!

The December 20 Travel Wisconsin trail report for Douglas County says trails are 75 percent open, groomed, and in good condition, with a base of 18-20 inches. Snowmobile clubs and the Douglas County Forestry Department are clearing trees, packing the base, and grooming where possible. Many trails remain closed until wet areas freeze. For more information, contact Douglas County Forestry (715) 378-2219.

The December 20 Travel Wisconsin trail report for Rusk County says trails are in fair condition and not groomed, with a base of 8-16 inches. Trails are partially open and lakes and rivers remain unsafe. Contact Rusk County snowmobile clubs for current conditions.

The December 19 Travel Wisconsin trail report for the Phillips area says Price County trails are open, in fair condition, and not groomed, with a base of 16-20 inches. Swamps need packing and many creeks and streams are still open. Watch for open water and downed trees. Crews packed all trails and panned some. There are still many wet areas and some logging operations in progress. Grooming will start when conditions permit.

The December 19 Travel Wisconsin trail report for Ashland County says trails are partially open, not groomed, in poor condition, and have a base of 20-35 inches. The Tri-county corridor is open. The Ashland County snowmobile trail system uses private property and it could lose access if property owners experience issues. The most common complaints are snowmobiles not staying on trails and loud noise from non-stock muffler systems.


The Hayward area warmed somewhat this week, but it will probably only add to the “sloppy” ice conditions. Most lakes have ice up to 8 inches, but it lies beneath layers of slush and snow. As a result, few anglers are fishing. If you decide to go and try your luck, take safety equipment and make sure to check the ice as you go.

Walleye fishing is fair to good, with most action around weeds in depths out to 15 feet. Most anglers are using tip-ups with walleye suckers, large shiners, and fatheads.

Northern pike anglers are using the same baits in the same areas as for walleye.

Crappie and bluegill action fluctuates with the weather patterns. Use the traditional offerings of crappie minnows, waxies, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs, teardrops, and plain hooks.

Upcoming Events

Dec. 24-Jan. 1: Antlerless-only Holiday Hunt in farmland units (see regs).

Dec. 25: Christmas Day.

Dec. 25: Period 1 bobcat hunting/trapping season closes.

Dec. 26: Period 2 bobcat hunting/trapping season opens north of Hwy. 64.

Dec. 31: Frog season closes (see regs).

Jan. 1, 2020: New Years Day.

Jan. 4: Seasons close: Goose in Southern and Mississippi River zones.

Jan. 4: 7th Annual Tipper Tourney at Pat’s Landing on the Chippewa Flowage (715-945-2511).

Jan. 11-12: Hayward SWX Frozen Adrenaline SnoCross Race at Sevenwinds Casino and Lodge (833-479-4637).

Jan. 5: Ruffed grouse season in Zone A/Northern Zone closes under emergency rule.

Jan. 5: Seasons close: Archery deer; Pheasant; Fall turkey zones 1-5; Hungarian partridge; Fisher trapping.

Jan. 5: Early catch-and-release only trout season opens (see regs).

Jan. 7: Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies, Inc. meeting, 7 p.m., at Flat Creek Eatery (715-634-4543).

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: 10th Annual Ice Fishing Contest at Staudemeyer’s Four Seasons Resort (715-798-2346).

Jan. 18: Seeley Hills Classic Ski Event (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 website, view its Calendar of Events, or call 800-724-2992.