Hayward Lakes Outdoor Report 2-1-2022

Steve Suman


The Hayward area has enjoyed a short respite from the cold and Tuesday should see temperatures in the 30s. Leave the golf clubs in storage, however ‑ the forecast says Tuesday night will bring a low of -8 degrees. Expect a slight warm-up on the weekend, with highs in the 20s. January is history and February is a short lead-in to March (trying to offer a positive spin!), but there is plenty of time remaining for winter recreation!


“Fishing patterns on the Quiet Lakes have not changed much overall,” says Greg at Happy Hooker, “and ice thickness reports indicate about 15 inches in most areas.

“Walleye action is slow as they continue to haunt hard to soft bottom transitions. Walleye suckers and shiners under tip-ups and dead sticking remain the most consistent ways to put fish on the ice. Stay mobile until you find them.

“Northern pike action continues in and around green weeds and deep edges adjacent to the basins as the pike feed on panfish. Tip-ups with bigger baits should produce.

“Crappies are suspending in the deep lake basins. Look for humps and structure that breaks up the lake bottom. Fish can be near the bottom as well as suspending in the water column. Stay mobile until you find the school, and then jig small jigs tipped with waxies and spikes.

“Bluegills and perch are in and around any green weeds you can find. Work the edges with waxies, spikes, and plastics on small jigs. Hole hop to keep on active fish, and fish peak times to get good action.”


Jarrett at Hayward Bait says ice thickness remains consistent, with 10-12 inches in most areas, and ATV, UTV, and snowmobile traffic is abundant.

“If you take out a vehicle, be very careful. Cold as it has been, there is not much ice to show for it due to insulation from the snow.

“Walleye are holding to their deep pattern in most clear lakes, and fishing on breaklines or near structure in 20-35 feet is the ticket to finding fish. In shallow, murky lakes, the fish are in 8-10 feet, but roaming or holding loosely to logs, stumps, etc. Walleye suckers and shiners on tip-ups work well, with a few fish coming on dead-sticking minnows and on Jigging Raps and spoons on jigging rods.

“Northern pike are in several areas. Many larger females will start gravitating to the edges of shallow bays, waiting for ice-out in a month or two. Northern suckers and shiners hold true, but big dead baits are another option at this time. Target fish in 10-20 feet, but if you do not find them, do not be afraid to go shallower ‑ and no, that is not a typo!

“Crappies are in basins, packed into deep holes in most waters where there is still plenty of oxygen and food. When fish stack like this, they are much easier to catch. Typically, most jigs will work, but before dropping down minnows and waxies on jigs, do not be afraid to start bigger with Jigging Raps, Rippin’ Raps, and spoons to select big fish in the school.

“Bluegills are intermixed with crappies in some areas, such as shallow basins in 10-20 feet, with the remainder on old weed beds, cribs, and structure offering cover. Jigs and waxies work well, but when fish are feeding, small spoons can work really well.”


This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses population estimates for adult walleye in four area lakes.

“In 2021, the DNR Hayward Fish Team completed estimates on the total number of adult walleye on five area lakes. These are just estimates, not absolute numbers, and each comes with some degree of uncertainty. Still, these estimates provide valuable information on population status, effectiveness of regulations, and stocking success.

“All of the lakes included for population estimates in 2021 have stocked walleye populations.

“Our estimate for Durphee Lake came out to 196 adult walleye, or 0.97 per acre. The Island Lake estimate was 55 adult walleye, or 0.82 per acre. The Whitefish Lake estimate was 1,292, or 1.64 per acre. The estimate for Black Dan Lake was 333 adult walleye, or 2.60 per acre.

“The range of these estimates lines up with the general observations for stocked walleye fisheries, where 1.5 per acre is an average population size. Some lakes see higher or lower population density based mostly on how well matched the habitat is for walleye.

“The DNR will use these estimates as part of a larger evaluation of the Walleye Stocking Initiative that will yield a lot of interesting information on overall walleye stocking strategy and success.”


A fisheries management plan for Sawyer County’s Spider Lake Chain is in the developmental stages and the DNR is seeking input from anglers who fish the Chain. Access the survey at www.surveymonkey.com/r/SpiderChainFMP. It will remain open until mid-February.

“Everyone can take the survey once,” says DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter, “and we encourage people to share this information with anyone who might have an interest.”


Several state DNR properties in northwest Wisconsin will hold Candlelight Ski Events in February.

Flambeau River State Forest’s Candlelight Ski Event is Saturday, February 5, from 6-9 p.m. Crews groom and track a 1.8-kilometer loop, illuminating it with glowing candles. The Forest waives admission fees and allows hiking and snowshoeing for this event. Forest staff will provide a BBQ grill, picnic tables, and maintain a warming campfire. Participants should meet at the Flambeau Hills Trailhead Hwy W parking lot. For more information, call (715) 332-5271.

Copper Falls State Park is also holding its Candlelight Ski and Snowshoe Event 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 does require a state park admission sticker. For more information, call (715) 274-5123.

Crex Meadows State Wildlife Area near Grantsburg is hosting a Candlelight Snowshoe and Hike Friday, February 4, from 6-8 p.m. Enjoy a peaceful evening walk or snowshoe on the 1.25-mile trail behind the Visitor Center, with luminaries lighting your way through the woods. Snowshoes are available on a first come, first serve basis, or bring your own equipment. The staff suggests flashlights or headlamps. Warm up inside the Center with hot chocolate and baked goods. Crex will hold the event even with little to no snow. For more information, call (715) 463-2739.


The January 30 Birkie Trail conditions report says trails are open and in good condition, with a thin base. Crews groomed the Birkie Trail from OO South to Gravel Pit with classic tracks, revised Seeley Hills Classic areas, and grooming plans now focus on the American Birkebeiner event February 23-27. Skiing on the Birkie Trail System December through March requires a Birkie Trail Ski Pass.



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 31 HLVCB snowmobile trail report says Sawyer County trails are open, groomed, and in good condition, with a base of 6-8 inches. Some have rocks or are a little slick on the corners; lake riding is awesome! Groomers were out Sunday and many are going this week. You can view grooming updates on the GTS (Grooming Tracking Systems) app and see trails groomed within 24-96 hours.


The January 29 Travel Wisconsin snowmobile trail report for the Clam Lake/Ashland County area says trails are open, groomed, in fair to good condition with thin spots in some areas, and a base of 3-5 inches. Be cautious on forest roads and trail re-routes ‑ you might be sharing them with vehicle traffic. The Trail 8 reroute near Clam Lake shares a stretch of Forest Rd 336.


The January 28 Travel Wisconsin snowmobile trail report for southeast Douglas County says all trails are open, groomed, and in fair condition with dirt showing on some trails, and a base of 9-10 inches. Please stay on marked trails ‑ it is critical to respect the landowners’ property.


The January 27 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 have exposed rocks.



Most anglers report fair to good success for most species, with timing bite windows important. Ice thickness is 10-15 inches on most lakes. Most anglers are using ATVs, UTVs, and snowmobiles, with some driving out vehicles. IF you do, use extreme caution ‑ a few have gone through this winter.


Walleye: 70

Walleye action is a bit slow. On the deep, clear lakes, target breaklines and structure in 20-35 feet. On shallow lakes with dark water, fish near weeds and wood in 8-10 feet. Move until you find the fish. Top baits include walleye suckers and shiner under tip-ups and dead sticks, and Jigging Raps and spoons on jigging rods.


Northern Pike:

Northern pike fishing is good to very good around green weeds, weed edges, and baitfish and panfish concentrations out to 20 feet. Large northern suckers and shiners on tip-ups work well, but do not overlook big dead baits.



Crappie action is good when you can locate and stay on the fish. Look for them stacked and suspending anywhere in the water column of deep basins. Crappie minnows, waxies, spikes, and plastics on jigs will work, but Jigging Raps, Rippin’ Raps, and spoons can pull the large fish from schools.



Bluegill fishing is good, with fish on green weeds, weed edges, and cribs. Be mobile to stay on active fish and hit the bite windows for best success. Use waxies, spikes, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs, teardrops, and plain hooks.


Upcoming Events

Jan. 28: Crow season opened.

Jan. 31: Seasons closed: 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 and Hike Event 5-8 p.m. (715-372-5678).

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 (drummondsnojacks@gmail.com).

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.