by: Steve Suman

The Birkie had plenty of fresh snow (more than a foot!) this past weekend, but a sunny and mild Monday started this week. Aside from a chance of snow Wednesday, the forecast shows most of this week with highs pushing 40 degrees nearly every day!

“Anglers should note gamefish season closes March 4,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “but current licenses are valid through March 31. License for the 2018-19 season go on sale sometime in mid March.

“The walleye bite is slow, but some anglers are catching fish in and around weeds. During low light conditions, set tip-ups with walleye suckers and medium golden shiners on the weed edges. Jigging in those areas is producing some fish, as is working the top of rock humps in early evening.

“Fish northern pike on weed edges, setting baits just off bottom, or fish deeper weeds, setting baits just above the weed tops. Use shiners and walleye suckers under tip-ups.

“Crappies continue to provide the best action, with anglers having success fishing the weeds, though smaller fish are holding in the shallows. Larger fish are in deeper water and/or sometimes suspending in the water column. Make sure to vary your bait depths to locate the fish.

“Panfish anglers are catching bluegills in the weeds with waxies, spikes, and plastics on small jigs. Look for perch on deep weed edges that meet with mud.”

“Bluegills are in the weeds, with anglers using small jigs tipped with waxies, spikes, and plastics.

Guide Steve Genson at Hayward Bait says fishing reports are still good, with most anglers targeting panfish. Anglers have only this week remaining for gamefish fishing, as inland gamefish season closes Sunday March 4.

“Walleye fishing is tougher, but anglers are getting some fish off deeper humps in 20-35 feet. Try some jigging – the more aggressive presentations seem to be getting more bites.

“Northern pike action is still solid on most lakes, with shiners under tip-ups the best bet. Anglers should focus on large weed flats, but any inflowing streams or rivers will attract pre-spawn pike.

“Crappie action is good, with darker lakes producing a better daytime bite and clear lakes best for the evening bite window. More fish are suspending – keep moving until you mark fish.

“Bluegills and perch are around weeds and adjacent deeper water. Waxies, spikes, and plastics on tungsten jigs should do the trick.”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses a new research study on cisco habitat.

“The cisco is a coldwater fish present in a relatively small portion of inland lakes in Wisconsin. A big reason for their limited distribution is their very specific habitat requirements. A team of Wisconsin DNR researchers, including Tim Parks and John Lyons from the DNR fisheries, recently published a paper on cisco habitat.

“The cisco habitat puzzle can be confusing. The basic concept is that ciscoes need both cold water and well-oxygenated water, and in most lakes, the cold water is lower in the water column and the better-oxygenated water is higher in the water column. Good cisco habitat exists only if those two zones overlap in the middle of the water column.

“The researchers used two different metrics to describe a lake’s cisco habitat quality. The first is the temperature at the point in the water column where there is 6 mg/liter of oxygen (determined a critical minimum level), with lower temperature suggesting better cisco habitat. The second metric is the width of the band of cold, well-oxygenated habitat, measured in vertical meters in the water column. A wider band provides more habitat than a narrower band.

“The researchers then ground-truthed their measures of habitat suitability by comparing them to cisco abundance. They found a positive relationship between their habitat metrics and cisco abundance, suggesting biologists could use these metrics elsewhere to determine cisco habitat suitability.”

Lakewoods Resort is hosting its annual World’s Longest Weenie Roast Weekend this coming weekend, March 2-3, and the event holds the world record for the longest line of hot dog cookers over one fire! The event benefits local emergency services including the Great Divide Ambulance Service, Namakagon Volunteer Fire Department, and First Responders, among others. There are numerous snowmobile speed runs, ice bowling, outlaw drags, fireworks, and more, with fun for everyone.


The DNR reminds snowmobilers to make sure snowmobile registrations are current and snowmobiles display 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.

The February 26 Hayward Power Sports trail report says Sawyer County trails are open and most are in great condition. The area received more than 12 inches of snow the past few days. There is a base of 6-12 inches and groomers are running. Lake trails are in good condition. Please to stay on staked trails. Both Trail #27/5 from Tuscobia to the Rusk County line and Trail #63 from Bodecker Road to the Bayfield County line remain closed. Now is the time to enjoy this beautiful weather and great trail conditions!

The February 26 Travel Wisconsin trail report for Washburn County says all Washburn County snowmobile trails are open, groomed, and in excellent condition, with a base of 6-10 inches. Saturday evening brought more than six inches of fresh powder, a great addition to the already good base. The base might be a little slim at road crossings, as there was a snow/dirt mixture before the new snow. Ride with caution – volunteers are grooming to keep up with all the new snow!

The February 22 Namakagon Trail Groomers trail report says trails are in good to very good condition, with a base of 4-6 inches. Heavy use areas are grooming well, but have some brown in the mix. Riders should expect some icy corners. Areas of concern remain. There is no longer a reroute on Trail 90 east between Old Grade and Federal Road and the trail is open. Watch for logging trucks, as they are still moving loads and running on Federal Road! On Trail 15 between Club Lake Road and Camp Eight Road at the Great Divide, there is heavy ice due to a spring spreading water across the trail.

There are 55 miles of snowmobile trails on Flambeau River State Forest, all in very good condition, with groomers grooming almost daily. The trails link to Tuscobia Trail and to trail systems in Sawyer, Rusk, and Price counties.


Reminder: Gamefish season on inland waters closes Sunday, March 4.


Walleye action is slow, with the best chance for success in early evening and during low light periods. Fish are in/on/near weeds, weed edges, and humps in 18 to more than 30 feet of water. Try walleye suckers and golden shiners on tip-ups on these areas, as well as active jigging.

Northern Pike:

Northern pike fishing is good on weed edges, deep weeds, weed flats, and incoming flowing water. Use walleye suckers and shiners under tip-ups. Set baits just off bottom on weed edges or just over the top of deep weeds.


Crappie fishing is good to very good, with larger fish in deeper water. Fish dark lakes during the day and clear lakes in the evening hours. Plan to move until you find them and be sure to check the entire water column, top to bottom, as fish are suspending at various locations. Baits of choice include crappie minnows, waxies, spikes, plastics, and Gulp! baits.


Bluegill fishing is good to very good. Fish are in/around weeds and/or nearby deeper water, and waxies, spikes, small plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs are producing catches.


Perch fishing is fair to good on waxies, spikes, plastics, and small minnows on small/tungsten jigs. Look for fish in/around weeds, nearby deeper water, and where weed edges meets with mud.

Upcoming Events

Feb. 26: Cottontail rabbit season closed.

March 1: Crex Meadows State Wildlife Area snowshoe adventure, 11 a.m.-noon (715-463-2739).

March 2-3: World’s Longest Weenie Roast Weekend at Lakewoods (715-794-2561).

March 3: Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies, Inc. awards banquet; Fireside Restaurant (715-634-4543).

March 4: Game fish season closes (check regs).

March 4: Mink trapping season closes in North Zone.

March 6: Lake sturgeon management plan public meeting; Ashland, 6 p.m. (920-303-5450).

March 9-11: Hot Air for Hearts Balloon Rally at Lakewoods (715-794-2561).

March 11: Turn clocks ahead one hour to start Daylight Saving Time (2 a.m.).

March 15: Crex Meadows State Wildlife Area snowshoe adventure, 11 a.m.-noon (715-463-2739).

March 18: Must remove ice fishing shelters from north of Hwy 64, Lake Superior, WI-MI boundary waters.

March 19-23: Sales by zone for remaining spring turkey harvest authorizations (888-936-7463).

March 20: Crow season closes.

March 31: Trout season opens on some Lake Superior tributaries (see regs).

March 31: 2017 licenses expire.

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.