By: Steve Suman
Winter “officially” started last Thursday, December 21, and the forecast certainly shows winter has arrived! This week is snow and cold, and cold and snow, and some days offer the combination. Cold temperatures will go a long way to building ice for anglers and snowmobilers, while new snow should help with snowmobile and cross-country ski trails.
Bob and Sonya at Hayward Bait say the lakes have made some new ice and conditions should improve with the subzero highs forecast for this week.
“Most of the smaller lakes and the shallow larger lakes have about 4-6 inches of ice, while most deep lakes have less than four inches. The recommendation continues for no ATV, UTV, or snowmobile travel at this time.
“Crews have not yet staked the lake trails, but good numbers of anglers are getting out on foot. Be careful, tell someone when you go out and when to expect your return, be safe, always check conditions, and most of all, have fun!
“Walleye anglers continue to have success while focusing on shallow waters, but the fish will soon start moving to deeper water. The preferred baits are walleye suckers and medium shiners on tip-ups, but also try jigging rattle spoons and Jigging Rapalas.
“There is good northern pike action for anglers fishing large shiners under tip-ups in the weed flats and on the weed flat edges.
“Crappie action is still best in deeper water, with some fish suspending and some hugging the bottom. Anglers are finding good success using spoons and tungsten jigs. Bluegill fishing is good in and around weeds with waxies and spikes on jigs.”
Carolyn at Anglers All in Ashland says Chequamegon Bay anglers are starting to work their way out on the Ashland side.
“There are reports of up to 8 inches of ice off of Second Landing and some anglers are taking out four-wheelers, but please check your own way with a spud bar – you are responsible for yourself!
“Behind Anglers All and to the west, there is 4-5 inches of ice and anglers continue to walk. The ice on the Washburn side is still inconsistent, but the ice conditions should improve with these very cold temperatures.
“As for fishing, anglers report good success catching perch, northern pike, and whitefish on lake shiners, fatheads, crappie minnows, and waxies.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses weekend versus weekday fishing pressure.
“All anglers want to find themselves in the enviable position of having their favorite lake all to themselves. On the busy lakes of northern Wisconsin, however, that will rarely be the case. Data from DNR creel surveys on a trio of popular Sawyer County lakes offers an interesting picture of when people fish.
“Not surprisingly, weekend days see more fishing hours than do weekdays. On Grindstone Lake, the average summer weekend day received 180 hours of ‘angling pressure’ (total fishing hours of all anglers on the lake that day); Lac Courte Oreilles (LCO) saw 297 hours; and Chippewa Flowage had 3,262 hours.
“The difference between lakes is largely driven by lake size, but for each lake, the number of angler hours on weekdays was about 30-40 percent lower than on the weekends.
“As one might expect, there are fewer angling hours per day in the winter and the difference between weekend and weekday fishing gets even greater in the winter. On Grindstone and LCO – there is no data available for the Chippewa Flowage – the amount of ice fishing hours on a weekday was about 65-70 percent less than on a weekend. The difference likely demonstrates that anglers are less willing to take a day off work to sit on the ice than they are to take a day to sit in a boat in the summer.
“If you are looking to go fishing and beat the crowds, pick a weekday, especially in the winter.”
Pat’s Landing Resort on the Chippewa Flowage will host its 6th Annual Tipper Tourney January 6. Fishing runs from 8 a.m. through 4 p.m. and anglers must register all fish at the resort by 4:30 p.m. The contest limits fishing to the west side of the Flowage, excluding Crane Creek and Crane Lake, and each entrant can only fish three tip-ups. Contest officials will measure fish to the nearest quarter-inch, rounded down, and award prizes for the longest northern pike, longest largemouth bass, and for the longest combination of the two. There are randomly drawn door prizes and you must be present to win. Registration is on a first come, first served basis. The entry fee is $15 and entry forms are available at www.treelandresorts.com/hayward-resort-information/fishing-contests/tipper-tourney or call (715) 945-2511.
Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies, Inc. is holding a business meeting Tuesday January 2, starting at 7 p.m., at the Grid Iron Pub and Grub on Main Street. This is a business meeting to plan the 2018 budget, projects, and activities. The club requests the attendance of all board members and welcomes all interested members. For more information, call Mike Persson (715) 634-4543.
SNOWMOBILE TRAIL REPORT
Do not forget your trail pass! The DNR is reminding snowmobilers to make sure their snowmobile registrations are current and they display a valid trail pass. You can order trail passes online, as well as renew registrations. Wisconsin requires a trail pass to operate on all public snowmobile trails. For snowmobiles registered in Wisconsin, there are two types of trail passes. A $10 discounted annual trail pass is available to snowmobile owners who currently belong to a Wisconsin snowmobile club affiliated with the Association of Wisconsin Snowmobile Clubs (AWSC). The pass costs $30 for owners of snowmobiles who are not members of an AWSC-affiliated snowmobile club. Nonresident snowmobile trail passes cost $50 for snowmobiles registered in another state, province, or country. Make your selection carefully – snowmobile trail passes are not refundable!
The December 21 Namakagon Trail Groomers trail report says trails are in fair condition, with many low-hanging trees. At this time, the groomers are going around the swamps with the grooming equipment. For riders who are out and venturing across the swamps, please use extreme caution – some areas have deep water! Doing so will help freeze down the swamps and allow crews to proceed with groomer operations. Please use extreme caution on Rock Lake Road, as logging trucks are still running. Two alternate routes to connect Rock Lake Road to Trail 70 are Club trails 55 and 57 on the map. At this time, crews have not yet staked the stick trail on Lake Namakagon. Ride safe and enjoy!
The Northwest Relic Riders Vintage Snowmobile Club will have this season’s first “ride to lunch” December 28, meeting for breakfast at 10 a.m. at the Sawmill Saloon in Seeley. For more information, call (715) 634-1689.
Even with the much colder temperatures, ice conditions remain “iffy” on most lakes. Ice depths remain inconsistent and can vary significantly just a few feet apart on the same lake. IF you go, continue to use extreme caution and common sense. Check with your favorite bait shop for the most recent information on ice conditions, areas to avoid, and fishing hot spots, baits, and presentations.
Walleye action is decent, still in shallower depths. Walleye suckers and medium shiners under tip-ups offer the best success, but anglers are also catching fish on rattle spoons and Jigging Rapalas.
Northern pike action is good to very good on weed flats and on the weed flat edges for anglers using large shiners under tip-ups.
Look for crappies in deeper water, both suspending and near the bottom – check the entire water column! Baits of choice include crappie minnows, live bait and plastics on tungsten jigs, and small jigging spoons.
Catch bluegills around mid-depth to deeper weeds and weedlines with waxies, spikes, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs and teardrops.
Dec. 24-Jan. 1: Antlerless-only Holiday Hunt – farmland units only.
Dec. 25: Period 1 Bobcat season closed.
Dec. 26: Period 2 Bobcat season opened.
Dec. 31: Seasons close: Pheasant; Fall turkey zones 1, 5; Hungarian partridge; Fisher trapping; Frog.
Jan. 7: Late archery deer season closes.
Jan. 20: Northland Area Builders – 8th Annual ice fishing event (715-296-7881).
Jan. 31: Seasons close: Squirrel; Ruffed grouse in zone A (northern zone); Bobcat hunting/trapping season Period 2.
Feb. 17: Drummond Sno Jacks Bar Stool Races (715-739-6645).
Feb. 22-24: American Birkebeiner (715-634-5025).