Hayward Lakes Outdoor Report 3-1-2022

Steve Suman

 

Saturday’s American Birkebeiner race had sunshine, blue skies, and temperatures probably too warm to suit many of the participants, but it was great for spectators. Monday brought sunshine and a high pushing 40 degrees. The remainder of this week does not look as nice, though should offer moderate daytime temperatures… and some snow.

 

Quiet Lakes’ fishing is good, and ice conditions are good as far as safety,” says Greg at Happy Hooker, “but on-ice travel could pose issues. Lots of snow and now slush with the warm weather makes getting around tough. Foot travel might be nearly impossible, and probably not easy with anything other than a tracked machine. Remember, this is the last week for walleye, northern pike, and bass species until May 7.

“Walleyes still concentrate on deep structure. Anglers are using jigging spoons, Jigging Raps to find active fish, and tungsten jigs to get deep quickly. Tip spoons and jigs with minnow heads or multiple waxies or spikes, and be aggressive to start. Use the moon phases and dusk/last light when fish really turn on this time of year.

“Northern pike are in transitions between deep weed edges and basins and roam everywhere in between. Suckers, shiners, and fatheads on tip-ups and dead sticks will entice pike. Look for edges and bottom structure changes to locate roaming fish.

“Crappie, bluegill, and perch schools are in deep basins. Use your electronics to find the schools. Jigging them with small jigging spoons and jigs tipped with minnow heads, waxies, and spikes will put slabs on the ice. Look for perch on soft bottoms feeding on bugs coming out of the muck. Crappie and bluegill in the basins can be suspending off bottom or around structure such as brush, cribs, and trees. Stay mobile, as the schools move throughout the day.”

 

Levi at Hayward Bait says ice thickness is good, with about 18 inches and more on most lakes.

“Travel on the ice is tough, however, due to recent snow. With roughly 18 inches of snow cover combined with some much deeper drifts, even 4wd trucks and snowmobiles will have a difficult time.

“Walleye fishing is slow, with some anglers finding a few deep and off structure such as rocks and trees in 20-40 feet. The best bite is in the evening, just before and into dark. Anglers are using walleye suckers, large fatheads, and medium shiners, with some having luck with minnows and minnow heads on jigging spoons and Jigging Raps.

“Northern pike fishing is good over deep weeds and off weed edges in 5-15 feet. Use northern suckers, walleye suckers, and medium and large shiners. Best fishing is early morning through midday.

“Crappie fishing is steady, but tough to find big ones. Fish are in 10-25 feet, with some suspending in deep basins and some moving a bit shallower. Most anglers use crappie minnows and waxies, though some report success on plastics for finicky fish. The best fishing is in early morning and the evening hours.

“Bluegill fishing is good, with fish starting to school and move shallower, though some still suspend deep with crappies. Fish are just off shallow weedlines and drop-offs in 5-15 feet. Anglers are doing well with waxies, spikes, and plastics. Best fishing is early morning through midday.

“Perch anglers are doing well in 10-15 feet as fish start to push to mudflats as they move toward spawn. Fish are hitting crappie minnows, fatheads, rosy reds, plastics, and small spoons. Best fishing is early morning through midday.”

 

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses Chippewa Flowage catfish.

“When anglers think of the Chippewa Flowage, they probably think about muskies, walleye, and maybe crappie, with bass and northern pike getting their share of attention as well. Nobody is thinking about catfish.

“However, the Chippewa Flowage is ‑ and probably always has been ‑ home to a population of channel catfish. Catfish are a native species to the Chippewa River and were likely present in the river when they built the dam to create what we now know as the Chippewa Flowage.

“The 100-year history of catfish in the Flowage has been low-key. The Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame has a line-class record channel ‘cat’ in the books from the Chip, but catching one on any given day of angling would be extremely unlikely. In the most recent Chippewa Flowage creel survey (2011), catfish were the least common species anglers reported catching, trailing other oddballs such as warmouth, shorthead redhorse, and common carp.

“In the future, do not be surprised if we see catfish as a more common part of the fishery. In the past, DNR surveys have only occasionally turned up catfish. There were two reported in the 1980s and then three in the 1990s ‑ big fish, too, up to 32.5 inches. In the 2020s, we have already captured four catfish in the Chip and have seen several others that evaded capture, and we are only two years into the decade.

“Our catfish sightings on the Chip have thus far been restricted to areas adjacent to some flow, such as Moore’s Bay and near Shearpin Bar. Catfish are likely inhabiting areas further upstream on the West Fork of the Chippewa River, and they are present in the East Fork and its lakes as well.

“Why are more catfish showing up? Put simply, they are the quintessential warmwater fish in a warming world. As coolwater species such as walleye, muskellunge, and northern pike struggle with conditions created by climate change, we predict catfish to thrive. It remains unclear how or how fast these changes might play out on a waterbody such as the Chippewa Flowage.

“Expect to hear more about catfish in the future ‑ or maybe find one on the end of your line!”

 

The February 27 Birkie Trail conditions report says crews groomed the Birkie Trailhead loops and loops at OO following the Birkie. Skiing any part of the Birkie Trail System December through March requires a Birkie Trail Ski Pass.

 

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 25 HLVCB snowmobile trail report says Sawyer County trails are open, groomed, and in excellent condition, with a base of 6-8 inches.

 

The February 25 Travel Wisconsin snowmobile trail report for the Cable area says trails are open, groomed, and in very good conditions, with a base of 6-8 inches. Now is the time to hit the trails!

 

The February 25 Travel Wisconsin snowmobile trail report for southeast Douglas County says trails are open, groomed, and in excellent condition, with a base of 10-15 inches. Douglas County received 12-16 inches of snow across the county last week. Watch for drifting in open areas. Douglas County Forestry does not maintain trails across lakes. For information on specific trails, contact a local snowmobile club in that area.

 

The February 24 Travel Wisconsin snowmobile trail report for Rusk County says trails are open, with some closures, groomed, and in very good condition, with a base of 6-8 inches.

 

The February 23 Travel Wisconsin snowmobile trail report for the Clam Lake/Ashland County area says trails are open, groomed, and in very good condition, with a base of 6-8 inches. Trail conditions can vary, so please ride with care, stay on the correct side of trails, and be cautious on forest roads and trail re-routes. The Trail 8 reroute near Clam Lake shares a stretch of Forest Rd 336 with vehicle traffic.

 

The February 23 Travel Wisconsin snowmobile trail report for Washburn County says trails are open, groomed, and in excellent condition, with a base of 6-8 inches.

 

FISHING REPORT

Gamefish season closes Sunday, March 6; panfish season remains open until gamefish season reopens May 7. Anglers must remove permanent ice shanties from inland waters south of Highway 64 by March 6; from inland waters north of Highway 64 by March 13; and from Michigan boundary waters by March 15. IF you can remove your shack ‑ and have not already done so ‑ sooner rather than later is probably the wise choice.

Fishing is decent for most species. Ice is good, but on-ice travel can be quite dicey due to snow depth, drifts, and wet conditions. Mild days, cold nights, and snow and wind this week will have to battle it out for the most effect!

 

Walleye:

Walleye fishing is slow to end the season, but still providing some catches. Success is best in late evening into after dark. Find fish in 18-35 feet and deeper on and just off rock, trees, brush, and other structure. Top producing baits include walleye suckers, fatheads, shiners, and minnow heads fished on tip-ups, jigs, jigging spoons, and Jigging Raps.

 

Northern Pike:

Northern pike fishing is good, with best action in early morning through midafternoon. Look for fish over deep weeds, on weed edges in 5-18 feet, transition areas between weed edges and basins, and wherever you can find panfish concentrations. Tip-ups and dead sticks with northern suckers, walleye suckers, fatheads, and shiners will all draw pike.

 

Crappie:

Crappie fishing is consistent and best in early morning and evening hours. Fish are in 8-28 feet, suspending in deep basins, with some moving slightly shallower. Fish are just off bottom and around trees, brush, and cribs. Tip jigs and jigging spoons with crappie minnows, minnow heads, waxies, spikes, and plastics. Check the entire water column!

 

Bluegill:

Bluegill fishing is good to very good from early morning through midafternoon. Most fish are in 5-15 feet near weedlines, drop-offs, cribs, brush, and trees, and some suspending with crappies in deep basins. Waxies, spikes, and small minnow heads on jigs and jigging spoons tempt them.

 

Perch:

Perch fishing is good, with best action from early morning until mid-afternoon. Look for fish in 8-18 feet, in deep basins and feeding on the bottom of mudflats. Best offerings are jigs and jigging spoons with crappie minnows, fatheads, rosy reds, minnow heads, waxies, spikes, and plastics.

 

Upcoming Events

Feb. 28: Cottontail rabbit season closed.

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.