Hayward Lakes Outdoor Report 2-22-22

Steve Suman


Those who perhaps had concerns about sufficient snow for this week’s American Birkebeiner events can rest easy ‑ there is no snow shortage in the Hayward area! Reports on accumulation are still out, but snow fell most of Monday and the forecast say it will continue through Tuesday night. This week, highs in the teens, lows subzero, and gusty winds.


“The crazy weather patterns continue in the Quiet Lakes’ area,” says Greg at Happy Hooker, “and fish are acting accordingly, staying deep as thick ice and snow cover blocks light penetration.

“Walleye action is slow, with fish in deep basins and around structure. Tipping jigging spoons with minnow heads is a typical approach this time of year. Deadsticking jigs with fatheads and crappie minnows on another rod, and leaving it still, can be good as well.

“Northern pike action is sometimes sporadic at this time, and tip-ups work best for targeting these predators. Walleye suckers and shiners on treble and circle hooks under tip-ups set on weeds and deep weed edges are a mainstay all winter. Try to focus on green weeds, as most weed beds have died off and will not hold baitfish.

“Crappie, bluegill, and perch anglers should go micro this time of season as the best bet for all panfish species. Tipping micro jigs and spoons with waxies, spikes, and micro plastics offer the best chance for catching fish. Most panfish are schooling in deep water. Try to utilize high light situations such as sunny days and early afternoons when some light is penetrating, pulling small bugs the panfish prey on off the soft bottom.”


Levi at Hayward Bait says the walleye bite remains slow.

“Anglers report some success with walleye suckers and medium shiners on tip-ups. It is mostly an evening into after dark bite in 15-35 feet. Fish are on steep breaks and shallow humps, and anglers should look for them moving toward pre-stage spawning areas.

“Northern pike fishing is steady with large suckers and medium and large shiners on tip-ups. Fish are in shallow weeds, over deep weeds, and on deep humps in 5-15 feet. As with walleye, they might start moving toward pre-spawn staging areas.

“Crappie action is good in 10-30 feet in deep basins, off steep humps and drop-offs, and near any type of structure. Fishing is also good along shallow weedlines in the evening hours. Crappie minnows, fatheads, waxies, spikes, and plastics on tungsten jigs are producing.

“Bluegill fishing is steady in 5-20 feet in shallow bays, over weed top, and on deep humps. Some are also with crappies suspending in deep water. Most anglers are catching fish with waxies and small plastics on jigs.

“Perch fishing is picking up on sand flats and just off deep humps in 8-20 feet. Crappie minnows, fatheads, rosy reds, and waxies on small spoons and jigs are all catching fish.


This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses the Sand Lake muskellunge population.

“There might be days when musky anglers feel as if there are no fish in the lake, though even anglers in the deepest slumps would likely acknowledge there are always at least a few around. The question of exactly how many muskies are in a lake, however, can be difficult to answer.

“Muskies are hard to capture compared to other species, even for DNR survey crews. The best window to survey them is short and comes only once a year. However, each year we get estimates of the total number of adult muskies on a handful of area lakes.

“Our most recent Sand Lake estimate comes from surveys conducted between 2019 and 2021. These surveys take multiple years, with the first to ‘mark’ fish, and the second to ‘recapture’ them.

“The number of fish in the second sample have a mark from the first year that we can put into an equation to estimate the total number of muskies in the lake. This estimate only includes adults that exhibit some spawning behavior, which is what makes them vulnerable to capture.

“Our estimate for total adult muskellunge in Sand Lake in 2019-2021 was 75, or 0.08 adults per acre. This is lower than desired, though higher than the 42 adults in the last estimate in 2015. Estimates from earlier years were as high as 165 adults.

“The low estimate of muskies in Sand Lake is concerning and indicates that a few things might be happening.

“First, northern pike are becoming a bigger part of the fishery, possibly crowding out muskellunge during earlier life stages. Second, Sand Lake receives regular stocking of muskellunge fingerlings, but success is lower than we would like.

“We do know some Sand Lake muskellunge leave the lake over the small outflow dam, having found PIT-tagged Sand Lake fish in Whitefish and Lac Courte Oreilles (LCO) lakes.

“Sand Lake received a stocking of some very large fingerlings in 2021. We hope these fish can help continue the trend of increasing numbers of adult muskellunge towards what we have historically seen there.”


The February 20 Birkie Trail conditions report says crews cleared debris and did a single grooming pass from OO south to Lake Hayward. Many folks are out there having fun. Reminder: The trail closes tonight at midnight and we will be preparing for Birkie Week events. American Birkebeiner is this week, February 23-27. Skiing any part of 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.


Safety recall notice: Polaris has issued a recall for some 2022 model year snowmobiles.

The throttle release switch (TRS) on some models could fail to disengage when releasing the throttle lever. A stuck throttle condition can lead to loss of vehicle control, posing a crash hazard and risk of serious injury. In addition, the throttle cable on some units can kink during installation, leading to cable damage and throttle impairment during operation, posing a crash hazard and risk of serious injury.

Consumers should immediately stop using impacted units and contact a Polaris dealer to schedule a free inspection and repair if necessary. DO NOT attempt repairs yourself. The Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) is in the right side of the tunnel. To see if this recall affects your unit, visit www.polaris.com or call at 800-765-2747.


The February 21 HLVCB snowmobile trail report says Sawyer County trails are open, groomed, and in excellent condition, with a base of 6-8 inches. Snow started falling Sunday night and will continue into Tuesday night. Trails will offer excellent riding this week and weekend. Birkie Week starts Tuesday and there are some re-routes in the area. Closures include Lake Hayward, Railroad St., and Main St. Some trails cross the Birkie Trail in the Seeley Hills, so expect some delays. Please respect closures/reroutes and cross Birkie trail crossings slowly, respectfully, and do not damage the trail.


The February 21 Travel Wisconsin snowmobile trail report for the Clam Lake/Ashland County area says trails are open, groomed, and in good condition, with a base of 6-8 inches. Significant snowfall fell today and is in the forecast for tomorrow. Trail conditions can vary, so ride with care and stay on the correct side of trails. Snowmobilers share forest roads and re-routes with vehicles, such as the Trail 8 reroute near Clam Lake. Take care on roadways!


The February 18 Travel Wisconsin snowmobile trail report for southeast Douglas County says trails are open, groomed, and in fair to excellent condition, with a base of 9-10 inches. The area received snow last week. Douglas County Forestry does not maintain any trails across lakes, so contact area snowmobile clubs for local trail information. Stay on marked trails and respect the landowners who allow us to use their property.



Heavy snow and strong winds falling the early part of this week could make lake access and travel difficult for some time. Much will depend on the final snow accumulation from this three-day (or longer!) storm/storms.

Anglers should note removal deadlines for permanent ice shanties are as follows: WI-MN boundary waters: March 1; Inland waters south of Hwy 64: the first Sunday following March 1; Inland waters north of Hwy 64 (including) Lake Superior, Lake Michigan, and Green Bay): the first Sunday following March 12; WI-MI boundary waters: by March 15.



Walleye action is slow, with evening into dark best. Look for fish in 8-35 feet in deep basins, and on steep breaks, shallow humps, and structure. They could begin moving toward pre-stage spawning areas. Walleye suckers and shiners on tip-ups, dead-sticking fatheads and crappie minnows on jigs, and minnow heads on jigging spoons are all catching fish.


Northern Pike:

Northern pike action is mostly steady, though inconsistent at times. Look for pike in 5-15 feet, around and on the edges of shallow weeds, over weed beds, on deep humps, and near panfish schools. They could begin to move to pre-spawn, pre-staging staging areas. Northern suckers and large shiners on tip-ups are the preferred offerings.



Crappie action is good in 10-30 feet in deep basins, on steep drop-offs, humps, and any structure, as well as suspending over deep water. In the evening, work shallow weedlines. Use your locator to check the entire water column. Baits of choice include crappie minnows, fatheads, waxies, spikes, and plastics on jigs and spoons.



Bluegill fishing is consistent, with best success on sunny afternoons. Look for fish in 6-23 feet in shallow bays, on deep humps, and over weed beds, and even with crappies suspending in deep water. Make sure to check the entire water column! Best baits include jigs and spoons tipped with waxies, spikes, and plastics.



Perch fishing is improving, with best action on soft bottom flats and humps in 8-20 feet, with some fish deep, especially when the sun is high. Tip small spoons and jigs with crappie minnows, fatheads, rosy reds, waxies, spikes, and micro plastics.


Upcoming Events

Feb.23-27: Slumberland American Birkebeiner week (715-634-5025).

Feb.28: Cottontail rabbit season closes.

March 1: Anglers must remove permanent ice shanties from WI-MN boundary waters.

March 3-6: World’s Longest Weenie RoastLakewoods Resort (715-794-2561).

March 6: Trapping seasons close: Mink; Muskrat.

March 6: General inland fishing season closes.

March 6: Anglers must remove permanent ice shanties from inland waters south of Highway 64.

March 12: Fat Bike Birkie (715-634-5025).

March 13: Anglers must remove permanent ice shanties from inland waters north of Highway 64.

March 15: Anglers must remove permanent ice shanties from Michigan boundary waters.

March 20: Crow season ends statewide.


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.