Hayward Lakes Outdoor Report 3-15-2022

Steve Suman

 

A wonderful week ahead, if the forecast holds, with sunshine, blue skies, and some high temperatures pushing into the 50s. Spring begins this Sunday and it might actually look like it, but a bit early to rotate recreational equipment. Keep rubber boots handy, however!

This past Sunday, March 13, Daylight Saving Time began at 2 a.m. If you are running behind one hour, you forgot to set your clock ahead. If you are running behind two hours, you turned your clocks the wrong direction!

 

“A big warm-up is coming to the Quiet Lakes area this week,” says Greg at Happy Hooker, “and with longer days, ice cover melting, and creek runoff bringing in oxygen and fresh water, the late ice bite should warm up, too.

“Crappies are suspending in the water column and mixing with bluegills. Small, bright jigs with contrasting plastics will entice fish. This time of year, it is about finding the bait and color combination fish want to eat and then replicating it. Sometimes plastics get the nod; other times, it is live bait. Work baits slowly, focusing on the drop, and make them look as natural as possible.

“Bluegills, the big ones, get finicky at this time. To get big gills on the ice, the key is finding the right bait and color combination and presentation. Working slowly through the water column will catch more fish. Pre-drilling holes will help you follow the school as it moves throughout the day, and you might have to go only 5-10 feet to stay on active fish. Transitions between deep basins and shallows weed edges where fish will start moving are good places to start.

“Perch are on muddy, soft bottom flats. Aggressively jigging spoons tipped with crappie minnow heads will fire up the jumbos. Hole-hop to stay with the perch as they roam. Perch are usually not as picky as crappie and bluegill, so use baits ‘louder’ in color and character to keep perch fighting for your offering.”

 

Levi at Hayward Bait says ice conditions are rough, with considerable snow and slush cover.

“The recommendation is for anglers to use snowmobiles or tracked vehicles.

“Crappie action is good if you can find them. The small fish, 6-8 inches, are easy to find, but finding the bigger fish, 8-12 inches, is tricky. Anglers continue to catch them in deep basins and just off structure such as trees, drop-offs, and shallow points. With the warmer weather this week, look for fish to start moving shallower to 10-25 feet. Most success is with live bait such as crappie minnows and waxies, though some anglers report good luck with plastics.

“Bluegill fishing is good, too, and with the warmer weather they should start schooling and moving to weeds and just off weed edges in 5-15 feet. Waxies and spikes work best, but anglers are catching bigger bluegills with plastics.

“Perch action is picking up as fish start staging near their spawning grounds. Look for mudflats and just outside creek mouths in 5-15 feet. Most anglers use live bait such as crappie minnows, fatheads, rosy reds, and waxies, though some do well with minnows on small spoons.

“Trout anglers fishing the early catch-and-release trout season are catching a few fish wherever they find the river is open. With the warmer weather, look for more anglers to hit the water to try their luck.”

 

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses Chippewa Flowage walleye/musky population estimates.

“The DNR and partners such as the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission (GLIFWC) annually conduct population estimates for walleye and muskellunge on about 50 lakes throughout northern Wisconsin. A ‘population estimate’ generates our best estimate of how many total fish of a specific species are in a waterbody.

“These are intensive surveys, often requiring many personnel, even on smaller waterbodies. On a waterbody the size of the Chippewa Flowage, generating a population estimate is a major undertaking, but that is what we plan to do in 2022. These are ‘mark-recapture’ surveys, in which we capture as many fish as possible and mark them. In this case, we mark the fish with a temporary fin clip and release them back into the population.

“The ‘recapture’ portion of the survey involves capturing as many fish as possible during a second window. We then look at the ratio of marked to unmarked fish and use it to generate the estimate.

“Walleye will be the main target of the 2022 Chippewa Flowage survey. The last previous walleye estimate for the Chip was in 2011, and the estimate was 46,979 adult walleye.

“Muskellunge population estimates can be more challenging. The mark and recapture often happen in back-to-back years and it can be difficult to capture sufficient numbers. As a result, the DNR has never conducted a muskellunge population estimate for the Chippewa Flowage. In 2022, we hope to handle enough muskellunge to get a suitable mark, and if so, plan to return in 2023 to do the recapture.

“Both the walleye estimate and the muskellunge estimate ‑ if we can pull it off ‑ will be extremely useful and interesting pieces of data that will have implications for how we manage the fishery.”

 

The popular Family Fishing Expo returns to Hayward Wesleyan Church on Nyman Avenue Saturday, April 2, from noon-5:30 p.m. The event offers vendors, workshops, activities for kids, and a bucket auction, with food and refreshments available. Keynote speaker Rev. Mark O. Wilson, former pastor of the church, will speak at 4:30 p.m.

For more information, or to help with the event, contact Frank Pratt (715) 699-3974; email fpratt32@gmail.com.

 

SNOWMOBILE/SKI 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.

 

(NOTE: Trail conditions will change quickly this week and riders should call ahead for the most current conditions in the areas they intend to ride. Contact the areas directly, or visit the Travel Wisconsin trail report website.)

 

The March 10 HLVCB snowmobile trail report says Sawyer County trails are open, groomed, and in good condition, with a base of 3-5 inches. Crews completed brushing and groomed Trail 9 from Hayward Power Sports to Round Lake, Trail 3/5 north to Lost Land Lake Lodge, Red Deer, and Reel Livin’. Crews brushed and groomed Trail 3 north of Lost Land to Lake Namakagon, and cleaned up and smoothed Trail 18 from Tiger Cat Flowage to Callahan Lake.

 

The March 14 Travel Wisconsin snowmobile trail report for Washburn County says trails are open, groomed, and in fair condition, with a base of 3-5 inches. Warm weather forecast for this week will rapidly deteriorate trail conditions. NOTE: All Washburn County snowmobile trails will close for the season Thursday, March 17.

 

The March 10 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 3-5 inches. Please ride with care and watch for low hanging branches and machinery. Trail conditions vary, so watch for thin spots. Be cautious on forest roads and trail re-routes as you might be sharing them with vehicle traffic.

 

The March 10 Travel Wisconsin snowmobile trail report for the Cable area says trails are open, groomed, and in very good condition, with a base of 6-8 inches. The area received more than 8 inches of snow last Monday (March 7) and now is the time to hit the trails!

 

The March 10 Travel Wisconsin snowmobile trail report for Rusk County says trails are open, groomed, and in fair condition, with a base of 3-5 inches. Trails are open, with occasional closures. Expect icy corners, dirt, slush, branches, and debris. Trails vary, but generally 80 percent good with some fair and poor spots.

 

The March 14 Birkie Trail conditions report says crews groomed the OO loops Sunday for the Nordic Kids Program and groomed and set the track on the Classic Trail north of OO to Bodecker. Crews have not been able to groom the Birkie Trail past south of OO since the ice storms last week, but will groom when they are able. As the temperatures are increasing, much of the side brush is becoming more vertical.

Skiing any part of the Birkie Trail System December through March requires a Birkie Trail Ski Pass.

 

FISHING REPORT

Warmer weather this week, with sunshine and stiff winds, will affect ice conditions, but to what degree? There is considerable snow and slush on the lakes, but the warm-up could quickly improve on-ice travel options. Anglers currently favor snowmobiles and tracked vehicles.

Early catch-and-release trout season is now open through May 6. Check the trout regulations for exceptions. Anglers taking advantage of the early season are catching some fish in the open areas of the rivers.

Reminders:

 

Crappie:

Crappie action is good when you find them, though locating larger fish is somewhat trickier. Fish are in 8-30 feet and suspending, mixed with bluegills, in deep basins, and near trees, drop-offs, and shallow points. Baits of choice include crappie minnows, waxies, and plastics on small, bright color jigs. Mix and match until you find the “correct” combination.

 

Bluegill:

Bluegill fishing is good, with fish often temperamental. Drill many holes and move with the fish. Search areas around weeds and weed edges in 6-18 feet, as well as in transition areas between the weed edges and deep basins. Take a mix of baits including waxies, spikes, and plastics in assorted colors and configurations. Plastics are currently best for bigger fish.

 

Perch:

Perch fishing is good as the fish start moving toward their pre-spawn staging areas. Look for fish in 6-18 feet on mudflats and near creek mouths. Preferred presentations are bright color jigs and spoons tipped with crappie minnows, fatheads, rosy reds, minnow heads, and waxies.

 

Upcoming Events

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

March 20: Crow season closed statewide.

March 20: Spring equinox ‑ first day of spring!

March 31: The 2021-22 fishing/hunting licenses expire (2022-23 licenses are now available and immediately valid).

April 1: Chippewa Flowage panfish bag limit changes to 10combined panfish species.

April 2: Family Fishing Expo at Wesleyan Church, Noon-5:30 p.m. (715-699-3974).

April 15: Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame opens for the season (715-634-4440).

April 30: Trapping seasons close in Northern Zone: Otter; Beaver.

 

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.