Steve Suman

 

According to the forecast, this week should provide a bit of weather to please (and displease) everyone. Lows range from low teens to upper 30s, and highs from 30 to almost 70 degrees ‑ definitely March in the North Woods!

Quick reminder: 2020-21 hunting/fishing licenses expire March 31.

 

“Ice-out is well on its way,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “and so comes the end of the Quiet Lakes’ ice fishing season.

“In my opinion, ice travel this time of year is more dangerous than travel during early ice, and we discourage travel by any vehicle, including ATVs and snowmobiles. In fact, people are storing equipment and preparing for open water season.

“If you do venture out for one last trip on the hard water ‑ which is now turning soft in many areas ‑ make sure to be very, very careful. Shorelines, access points, and other areas of the lakes are starting to melt fast. Reports of ice movement away from shore vary from 8 inches to 2 feet, depending on the way the wind is blowing. If you go, stay on smaller waters, check the ice all the way out, and be safe.

“Finally, remember the 2020-21 licenses expire March 31. Renew licenses before the 2021-22 season begins ‑ that is as important as preparing for the new season!”

 

Trent at Hayward Bait says anglers and hunters are gearing up for open water fishing and spring turkey season.

“Snow is nearly non-existent and lake ice is no longer safe for ice fishing. We are seeing open water on some lakes and the rivers are becoming more accessible.

“Panfish, trout, and suckers are the name of the game until the May 1 gamefish opener.

“Panfish anglers are catching fish with waxies and worms. As the ice recedes, anglers might find some crappie and perch in shallow, and river fishing can be productive.

“Trout anglers are throwing worms, spinnerbaits, and spawn sacs. Most anglers are heading to Lake Superior’s south shore rivers looking for trout and salmon.

“Redhorse suckers provide a lot of fun on the rivers and are quite good smoked or pickled. Most anglers use crawlers to get these bottom feeders.

“Turkey season is the focus for hunters as we approach the season’s first period. Groups of toms are still traveling together, but not for much longer, and it is more difficult to find tracks as the snow melts. Another sign turkey are in an area are sandy patches of ground where turkeys take sand baths. Look for shallow bowls in the ground with scratch marks.

“Whether you are fishing or hunting, stay safe and have fun!”

 

Carolyn at Anglers All in Ashland says there is still ice on Chequamegon Bay, but it is not conducive to safe travel.

“This week will be days of summer and back to winter, but such is life in the north woods.

“There were few changes in the past week, although there is a lot of dirty water by the stream mouths after the big rain. The head of the Bay is open, the short bridge area is beginning to open, and anglers trolling the Saxon Harbor and south shore areas report good fishing for brown trout and coho.”

 

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses the size of one-year-old fish.

“Not many anglers catch one-year-old fish. For most species in our area, the size at one year of age is small enough that anglers do not commonly catch them with typical angling methods. How small is a one-year-old fish? Before answering that question, let’s clarify that we consider a fish to be one year old a full year after hatching from an egg.

“For most species, hatch timing changes from year to year. Some hatch earlier or later in a season, so the hatch date is almost always an estimate. Walleye and pike generally turn one year old a couple weeks after ice-out, often late April or early May. Musky might be late May or early June, and most bass and panfish turn one in June the year after hatching.

“Sizes of one-year-old fish vary considerably by species. A year-old walleye is often about 6.5 inches long, with pike and musky usually about 10-11 inches. Bass are typically 4-5 inches long on their first birthday, while panfish run from 3-4 inches, depending somewhat on the species.

“The first year of life is very perilous for virtually all of the species mentioned. At those sizes, they are vulnerable to a wide range of predators. Young fish must balance staying concealed in cover to minimize predation risk and foraging for their own prey.

“This challenging balancing act, coupled with other sources of mortality such as winterkill and disease, results in a very tiny percentage of all hatched fish making it to their first birthday. This is one of the fundamental reasons that most fish species lay thousands of eggs per female. Only a small handful needs to survive to sustain the population.”

 

The DNR and Wisconsin Conservation Congress (WCC) will hold the 2021 Spring Hearings April 12, beginning at 7 p.m. Once again, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, they will hold the hearings online. The public has the opportunity to provide input online on proposed natural resources rule changes from the DNR, and advisory questions from the Natural Resources Board (NRB) and WCC. The online input webpage will go live at 7 p.m. April 12, remain open for three days (72 hours), and the DNR will post results when they are available.

The rules and advisory questions from Fisheries, Wildlife, NRB, and Wisconsin Conservation Congress are available for preview online. The public can also recommend changes by submitting citizen resolutions online. The DNR must receive all citizen resolutions by 5 p.m. April 5. People who complete the online input form (April 12-15) will see resolutions submitted indicating the individuals reside in that county.

According to DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter, fisheries questions 1, 4, 13, 14, and 21 have local implications for Sawyer County, noting that question 1 relates to a small section of the Flambeau River that passes through Sawyer County and affects no other Sawyer County waterbody. Question 14 relates to the Namekagon River downstream from Trego, though still might be of some local interest.

Typically, county residents have the option to run for a seat on the WCC and elect delegates to represent their county’s views. Due to the ongoing pandemic, however, the WCC has canceled the 2021 elections and extended the terms of each WCC delegate by another year.

 

The DNR is looking for volunteers to lend their ears for help with two different frog and toad surveys. The Wisconsin Frog and Toad Survey (WFTS) is a citizen-based monitoring program coordinated by the DNR, in cooperation with the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS).

One survey requires volunteers to drive along set routes three nights during frog mating season. Volunteers survey one night each in early spring, late spring, and summer, and make 10, five-minute stops per night at each site. They identify the species calling and record that information and the relative abundance of each species. There are roughly two driving routes per county and many Wisconsin Frog and Toad Survey routes are still available for 2021.

The other is a phenology survey that people can complete at home or nearby wetland, lake, or river. Such surveys help monitor frog breeding seasons in relation to fluctuating spring weather conditions. Volunteers select one site to monitor throughout the spring and early summer and spend five minutes per night, as often as possible, recording data.

Since both surveys occur at night, the two surveys are great for families and can be completed while social distancing.

New volunteers can learn the different calls to identify the species, as well as learn more about frog and toad biology and ecology, by watching a series of short videos on all 12 frog and toad species in Wisconsin.

 

Hayward Bass Club is preparing for the upcoming fishing season, selecting the lakes and setting the schedule for its weekly fishing outings from May 5 through August 18. The club is still accepting new members and interested anglers should contact Wayne Balsavich at (405) 227-1789 (text preferred) or email haywardbassclub@gmail.com. Annual dues are $50 per two-person team.

 

The DNR will hold a Lake Superior quota rule virtual hearing Monday, March 29, on a rule to update lake trout and cisco quotas, as well as the recreational lake trout harvest trigger. Join the virtual hearing at 6:30 p.m. via Zoom or by calling (312) 626-6799 (use ID 838 5662 1970).

Those wishing to provide testimony at the meeting should pre-register by filling in the hearing appearance form and sending it to Meredith.Penthorn@wisconsin.gov. The DNR will accept comments at the same address through March 29.

For more information, visit Lake Superior fishery (dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/Fishing/lakesuperior).

 

FISHING REPORT

Lake Hayward is mostly/all open and other lakes are following, but most still have ice, though not safe for travel. Better to take this time to prepare for open water season, which could be early this year. The 2020-21 hunting/fishing licenses expire at midnight Wednesday, March 31.

On April 1, 2020, a number of new DNR fishing regulations went into effect that are applicable to the general Hayward area. Anglers can now pursue bass 12 months of the year, though catch-and-release only outside the regular harvest seasons. The daily whitefish and cisco bag limit changed to 10 fish in total. For sturgeon fishing on Lake Superior, the minimum length limit is 60 inches, with harvest of one fish per year, tagged and registered (tags $20 resident; $50 non-resident). For more information, see the 2020-21 Hook and Line Fishing and Trout Fishing regulations.

Perch and other panfish are moving shallower, redhorse suckers are running in the streams and rivers, and early catch-and-release trout season is open through April 30. Trout anglers should consult the DNR’S Trout Regulations and Opportunities User Tool (TROUT) that helps trout anglers find places to fish. It includes trout fishing regulations, classified trout waters, public land, and DNR fishing easements.

 

Upcoming Events

March 31: 2020-21 hunting/fishing licenses expire.

April 12: WCC Virtual Spring Hearings begin at 7 p.m. and remain open for 72 hours.

April 17-18: Youth turkey hunt.

April 30: Seasons close: Beaver and otter trapping in North Zone; Early catch and release inland trout.

May 1: General inland fishing season opens.

May 7-9: 36th Annual Treeland Challenge (715-462-3874; 945-2511).

June 27: Hayward Bass Club Round Lakes Open Tournament, 8 a.m.-4 p.m. (405-227-1789 (text).

 

Spring Turkey Season

April 17-18: Youth turkey hunt.

April 21-27: Period A spring turkey season.

April 28-May 4: Period B spring turkey season.

May 5-11: Period C spring turkey season.

May 12-18: Period D spring turkey season.

May 19-25: Period E spring turkey season.

May 26-June 1: Period F spring turkey season.

 

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