Hayward Lakes Outdoor Report 3-8-2022

Steve Suman

 

“Looking like spring,” say some people, though technically spring begins March 20. This week’s forecast indicates subzero lows, upper teens to low 20s for highs, varying winds, and even a few rays of sunshine through Friday. Enjoy!

It is that time again ‑ Daylight Saving Time begins at 2 a.m. Sunday, March 13, so turn your clocks ahead one hour!

 

“Crappies and big bluegills roam the same areas of the Quiet Lakes this time of year,” says Greg at Happy Hooker, “with fish starting to transition to spawning areas once the ice goes out. It may not seem like the ice is going away anytime soon, but things are happening under the ice, with longer light during the day and warmer weather opening up creeks and rivers. Jigging high in the water column above basin weeds is a good place to start. Move around to find fish, pick out a few at a time, and then move with them as they roam. Small spoons and jigs with plastics are a good bet. Be aggressive, as big crappies and bluegills are more aggressive towards baits than smaller fish.

“Bluegills are higher in the water column this time of year, too, as the oxygen starts leaving the lakes. Look for schooling fish in the middle of the water column, but relating to basins. Bluegills will start moving towards shallower flats, above weeds, and just under the ice. Small tungsten jigs with plastics are deadly at this time, and plastics last longer than live bait when small fish peck at the offering. Use plastics that mimic worms and larvae coming up from the bottom.

“Perch are schooling and will start moving to shallow flats with vegetation, adjacent to basins. Look for contours in bottom compositions such as inside turns and depressions, as well as transitions from different bottom types such as rocks to mud, weed edges to basin, etc., and big perch roam these areas. First, drill a good number of holes, and if necessary, then move with the fish. If you stay in one spot, be patient, as fish will offer a hot bite window, move off, and then return. Use slightly larger, brightly colored jigging spoons to catch the biggest fish in the schools. Jig high in the water column to make them chase baits, which makes the fish more aggressive. Tip spoons with minnow heads or partial minnow bodies.”

 

Levi at Hayward Bait says there is lots of ice on the lakes, nearly two feet on some, but there is also a lot of slush.

“Due to the amount of snow and slush cover, truck travel is nearly impossible unless there is a plowed road. As always, use caution going near creeks, especially as the weather warms.

“Gamefish season closed Sunday, March 6. Walleye fishing was very slow at the end, with anglers catching a few fish on live bait on mid-depth to deep cover and structure. Northern pike action remained good through the season’s end.

“Crappie action is good in deep basins and just off weed beds. Look for fish to start moving shallow and just off structure in 10-30 feet with the warming weather. Crappie minnows, waxies, and plastics are the best baits.

“Bluegill fishing is good in shallow weeds, just off structure, and in deep basins with crappies. Look for bluegills to start moving shallow with the warm weather. Best baits are waxies and plastics on jigs fished in 5-15 feet.

“Perch fishing is picking up, with fish on mudflats and staging near spawning grounds in 5-15 feet. Best baits are crappie minnows, fatheads, rosy reds, waxies, plastics, and small spoons.”

 

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses April 1 Chippewa Flowage panfish bag limit changes.

“Starting Friday, April 1, 2022, the panfish bag limit for the Chippewa Flowage will change to 10, all species combined. Given the popularity of panfish on ‘The Chip,’ this is one of the more impactful regulation changes in the area in recent years. Please note this change takes effect April 1, not on the fishing opener, and anglers fishing panfish in early spring will need to abide by the new limit.

“We want to be clear that this is an aggregate bag, meaning you can have 10 panfish, all species combined. An example of a full bag limit might be 5 bluegill, 3 crappie, and 2 perch (10 total panfish). This rule change went through a long public input process through the Conservation Congress, supported both locally and at a statewide level.

“While the reduction in the daily bag is significant, we do not expect it to affect most panfish anglers. Creel surveys from 2011 showed that only 20 percent of panfish anglers harvest more than 10 panfish on any given trip. We expect this rule to reduce overall panfish harvest by 18 percent, with the greatest reduction on bluegill and crappie.

“Reduced harvest can lead to bigger panfish, one of the objectives of this new regulation. Another objective is to spread panfish harvest more evenly throughout the year, as opposed to current harvest patterns that see anglers harvest many fish in the early summer months and fewer fish later in the year.

“We will evaluate this regulation change as part of our regular annual Flowage survey effort, and will consider the regulation successful if it delivers panfish populations that are in line with targets established in the Chippewa Flowage Fishery Management Plan (2007).”

 

Hayward Bass Club is holding its spring planning and membership meeting this Wednesday, March 9, at Hayward Rod & Gun Club, on County Road B, just east of Hayward. The meeting starts at 7 p.m. This meeting is to select lakes to fish this summer and begin developing the teams and divisions. The club welcomes new members and invites interested anglers to attend this meeting. For information, contact Wayne at haywardbassclub@gmail.com or call (715) 699-1015.

 

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 March 6 HLVCB snowmobile trail report says Sawyer County trails are open, not groomed, and in fair condition, with a base of 6-8 inches. Groomers cannot get through trails due to many trees and branches down and power outages following ice storms Friday and Saturday nights. If you choose to ride, please choose wisely and keep safety in mind.

 

The March 6 Travel Wisconsin snowmobile trail report for Washburn County says trails are open, groomed, and in good condition, with a base of 4-8 inches. Ride with caution, as an ice storm hit the area March 5. Trails will be icy, there might be trees down, and you will find variable snow conditions. Many segments are in excellent condition, but open and sun exposed trail sections are beginning to turn brown. Report trail issues to Washburn County Forestry (715) 635-4490.

 

The March 6 Travel Wisconsin snowmobile trail report for Rusk County says trails are open, groomed, and in fair condition, with a base of 3-5 inches. We neither advise nor encourage riding today. Trails remain open, but keeping your sled cool is not an excuse to go off trail. Buy some ice scratchers and get comfortable with patches of ice, water, and mud.

 

The March 5 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. Trails are in good condition, but with some thin spots. Ride with care, as trail conditions can vary. Please be cautious on forest roads and trail re-routes, such as the Trail 8 reroute near Clam Lake, which shares a stretch of Forest Rd 336.

 

The March 4 Travel Wisconsin snowmobile trail report for southeast Douglas County says trails are open, groomed, and in good condition, with a base of 10-15 inches. Douglas County received 12-16 inches of snow across the county last Monday and Tuesday, and most trails are in good condition. It is starting to look a little like spring, so get out and ride while you still can.

 

FISHING REPORT

Gamefish season closed Sunday, March 6, and your 2021-2022 fishing license expires March 31. Fishing licenses for 2022-2023 are now available online and through license vendors. Panfish seasons remain open! Chippewa Flowage anglers should note that April 1 the panfish bag limit there drops to 10 fish total, all species combined.

The lakes hold good ice, but with considerable snow and slush cover, making travel difficult. The Friday and Saturday night ice storms probably did not improve the situation. Check with your favorite bait and tackle shop for the most current information regarding ice conditions and access, fish locations, and favored baits and presentations.

 

Crappie:

Crappie action is good as the fish start their slow move to pre-spawn staging areas. They move and you will need to do so, too. Look for fish in deep basins, near weed beds and structure in 10-30 feet. This time of year, it is important to check the entire water column! Crappie minnows, waxies, and plastics on jigs and small spoons work well.

 

Bluegill:

Bluegill fishing is good as the schooling fish move toward shallow, weedy flats and other structure in 5-18 feet, though some are hanging with crappies in deep basins. Check the entire water column. Tungsten jigs with waxies and plastics resembling the foods coming up off the bottom work quite well.

 

Perch:

Perch fishing is good with the schooling fish moving toward pre-spawn staging areas. You can find them on weedy flats, mud flats, transition areas, and structure in 5-18 feet. Go prepared to move with the fish. The most productive baits include jigs and bright spoons tipped with crappie minnows, fatheads, rosy reds, waxies, and plastics, as well as minnow heads and pieces of minnow bodies. They become more aggressive if you make them chase the bait.

 

Upcoming Events

Feb. 28: Cottontail rabbit season closed.

March 6: Trapping seasons closed: Mink; Muskrat.

March 6: General inland fishing season closed.

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

March 9: Hayward Bass Club planning and membership meeting, 7 p.m., Hayward Rod & Gun Club. ((715-699-1015).

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

March 13: Daylight Saving Time begins at 2 a.m.; turn clocks ahead one hour.

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.

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

 

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.