Once again, the forecast indicates the only thing stable about the weather is its instability! During the next week (according to the current forecast), lows will range from -13 to 22 degrees, highs from 11 to 34 degrees, and winds from 5-15 mph, with gusts to 30 mph. Snow chances appear Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. Whatever the weather brings each day (apparently it is anybody’s guess!), it is one day closer to spring! Dress for the weather and enjoy the outdoors!
“Quiet Lakes’ ice conditions are favorable,” says Greg at Happy Hooker, “with reports saying two feet or better in some places, but mostly consistent everywhere at 18-24 inches, which should be safe travel for machines of all sizes.
“With that much ice, plus snow cover, most weeds died off as no light reaches them. Increased snow cover will also keep fish deeper.
“Walleyes are in the deepest lake basins, jigging spoons tipped with minnow heads the go-to bait, and glow colors might help your chances. Suckers and shiners on tip-ups and dead sticks can increase the number of fish you catch. Jig aggressively at first to catch their attention. Fish can be finicky now, and putting in time and having patience will pay off.
“Northern pike fishing is good with northern suckers, shiners, and big fatheads on tip-ups and dead sticks. Set them no matter what fish you target, as they like an easy meal. If smaller fish are there, bigger fish will be, too. Pike can be anywhere in the water column, so set baits at different depths.
“All panfish species are schooling in deep basins. Use small jigs and jigging spoons in UV or glow colors tipped with waxies, spikes, and small plastics. Find active fish by jigging aggressively, then downsizing should that not work.”
Levi at Hayward Bait says most lakes have about 18 inches of ice, with 5-10 inches of snow on top, depending on the location and wind. Some anglers drive trucks, but due to snowdrifts, many are taking snowmobiles and ATVs.
“Walleye fishing is slow, though some anglers find them off humps, weed edges, and in deep water. Some catch fish with Jigging Raps and spoons in 20-40 feet; others fish walleye suckers and medium shiners under tip-ups on humps and weed edges 10-25 feet. Most catches are in early mornings and evening.
“Northern pike fishing is good on northern suckers and large shiners under tip-ups set on weedlines and weed tops in 5-20 feet. Best action is during late morning to mid-afternoon.
“Crappies are in deep holes, 15-30 feet, and on weedline edges in 8-12 feet in the evening. Feeding crappies usually suspend or rise off the bottom as the bait drops. Best fishing is in early morning and late afternoon into evening. Crappie minnows, waxies, and plastics on jigs work well.
“Bluegill fishing is good in weeds in 50-20 feet with waxies, spikes, and plastics on small jigs.
“Perch fishing is slow, with fish just off bottom in 7-20 feet, depending on the lake. Best baits are rosy reds, fatheads, crappie minnows, waxies, plastics, and small spoons.”
Mike at Jenk’s says ice thickness is about 17 inches on the Chippewa Flowage.
“Northern pike action is good on shiners in weed beds. Anglers should focus their attention on the west end of the Flowage, particularly Squaw and Daggett’s bays. (Note: Walleye season on the Flowage closed November 30.)
“Crappie fishing is good according to most angler reports, with the most productive spot on Blueberry Flats in front of Chippewa Pines Resort. Minnows and waxies on jigs are doing the trick.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses Wisconsin’s ‘most abundant’ fish species.
“A question recently posed to me was both interesting and stumped me a bit: What is the most abundant species of fish in Wisconsin?
“It is tough to land on an immediate answer to this question, in part because there are more than 100 species of fish from which to choose. I then posed this question to a handful of true experts on Wisconsin fisheries.
“John Lyons, the ultimate expert on Wisconsin fish diversity, offered three possible options: bluegill, white sucker, and johnny darter. Each of these is a generalist species found in both lakes and rivers in every corner of the state. Johnny darters are small enough so that anglers would have little chance of catching them, but they are probably in about any flowing water you have ever fished in the state.
“Fish researcher Stephanie Shaw threw out a few other candidates, including rock bass, bluntnose minnow, and fathead minnow. She also nominated white sucker. Bluntnose minnow are an interesting case as they can be extremely abundant in certain lakes.
“Dan Isermann, a researcher at UW-Stevens Point, offered a singular and confident response: ‘Bluegill. Hands down.’ Dr. Isermann’s case for bluegill comes from his experience with removal projects that remove massive numbers of bluegill from small lakes, and yet never seem to deplete them.
“All the experts I talked with about fish abundance offered generalists species that can thrive in a wide range of habitats. All species mentioned are also at the bottom of the food chain and vastly more abundant than top predators.
“It is likely none of us would even try to generate an estimate of the actual number of these species in Wisconsin ‑ but we can be confident that number would have a lot of digits!”
The February13 Birkie Trail conditions report says Sunday morning was a cold -23 degrees at the Trail Head. Sunday was also day two of the Wisconsin State XC Meet. American Birkebeiner week is February 23-27. Skiing any part of the Birkie Trail System December through March requires a Birkie Trail Ski Pass.
Cornell Lab’s 2022 Great Backyard Bird Count (GBBC) runs February 18-21, and participating is easy: Decide where you will watch; Watch for at least 15 minutes; Count all birds you see/hear. A Feb. 16 webinar will help you review bird ID, bird songs, and practice counting birds. For more information, visit www.birdcount.org or call (607) 254-2137.
The 23rd Annual Drummond Bar Stool Races at Black Bear Inn is this weekend, Saturday February 19, with food, drinks, and great raffle prizes. Races start at 12 noon. The event includes the general, powder puff, and open class racing, with a Best of Show category. New this year, a spectator class offers a chance to race the course and get a free T-shirt. For more information, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
SNOWMOBILE TRAIL REPORT
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 February 14 HLVCB snowmobile trail report says Sawyer County trails are open, groomed, and in good condition, with a base of 6-8 inches. The area received fresh snow this past weekend and trails were busy. Groomers will be out grooming early this week and will provide a more comprehensive trail report in the next day or two.
The Feb. 14 Travel Wisconsin snowmobile trail report for the Cable area says trails are open, groomed, and in good condition, with a base of 3-5 inches. The area received 4-5 inches of good snow last week so trails are in good condition. Please obey all posted signage and remember that groomer have the right of way!
The Feb. 12 Travel Wisconsin snowmobile trail report for the Clam Lake/Ashland County area says trails are open, groomed, and in fair to good condition, with a base of 3-5 inches. Trail conditions can vary, with a few thin spots possible, so ride with care and stay on the correct side of trails. Please be cautious on forest roads and trail re-routes, such as the Trail 8 re-route near Clam Lake that shares a stretch of Forest Rd. 336, as you might be sharing them with vehicles.
The Feb. 11 Travel Wisconsin snowmobile trail report for Washburn County says trails are open, groomed, and in fair condition, with a base of 3-5 inches. Significant new snow would help improve trail conditions.
The Feb. 11 Travel Wisconsin snowmobile trail report for southeast Douglas County says trails are open, groomed, and in good conditions, with a base of 6-8 inches. The area received 2-5 inches of snow recently, with grooming on some trails. Clubs are working to groom the trails, so please watch out for our volunteer groomer operators.
Ice thickness reports indicate up to 24 inches on many, but not all, lakes, and thickness can vary due to a number of factors. Anglers and others choosing to drive out vehicles should also be aware of snowdrifts hampering travel in some areas.
Walleye action is slow, with anglers having best success in early morning and evening hours. Fish are on weed edges and humps in 8-28 feet, and in 20-40 feet in deep basins. Walleye suckers and shiners under tips-ups and on dead sticks are working well, and Jigging Raps, spoons, and jigs with minnow heads are also producing good catches.
Northern pike action is good to very good, especially from late morning to mid-afternoon hours. Fish northern and walleye suckers, shiners, and fatheads on tip-ups and dead sticks set along weedlines and over weed tops out to 25 feet. Pike will be around food sources, so vary bait depths.
Crappie fishing is good to very good, with most anglers having best success in early mornings and late afternoon into the evening hours. Look for fish in deep basins and holes in 15-30 feet, moving to the edges of weedlines in 6-14 feet for the evening bite. Check the entire water column! Crappie minnows, fatheads, waxies, and plastics will all catch fish.
Bluegill fishing is fair to good around deeper weeds and on soft bottoms in depths to 25 feet. Traditional bluegill baits such as waxies, spikes, plastics, and Gulp! baits on jigs and jigging spoons are producing success.
Perch fishing is slow, with fish spread from 8-25 feet, and just off bottom near weeds and on flats. Baits of choice include fatheads, crappie minnows, rosy reds, waxies, plastics, and various color spoons.
Feb. 18-21: Great Backyard Bird Count (607-254-2137).
Feb.23-27: Slumberland American Birkebeiner week (715-634-5025).
Feb.28: Seasons close: Cottontail rabbit.
March 6: Trapping seasons close: Mink; Muskrat.
March 6: General inland fishing season closes.
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.