Hayward Lakes Outdoor Report 4-5-2022

Steve Suman

 

This should be an interesting week. The forecast calls for highs around 50 degrees with rain, but also highs in the 40-degree range with snow. Then there are the days with a rain/snow mix. Keep a good outlook through the week and the weekend should provide some much nicer weather, with sunshine, temperatures in the 50s ‑ and no rain or snow! It is a typical spring in the North Woods and we just have to ride it out for a while.

 

“Ice conditions and access are still good on the Quiet Lakes,” says Greg at Happy Hooker, “with approximately 18 inches on the main lakes, but be mindful of areas with flowing water and snowmelt on the south shorelines.

“Last ice is generally some of the best ice fishing of the year for panfish, as all panfish species ramp up for spawn and changing conditions under the ice. Fish should be aggressive with fresh oxygen entering the lake from melting snow and open creek and river inlets.

“Overall, fishing is going strong, with panfish anglers targeting crappie, bluegill, and perch. Focus on weed beds, as these fish will be moving shallow to get ready for spawning.

“Look for sandy bottom areas with some weed cover, and fish the whole water column in 5-15 feet. Try to find weeds that are starting to develop where there is good light penetration. There is a good crappie bite. Longer days mean longer feeding windows, so the action should stay more consistent throughout the day.

“Upsizing jigs a bit and tipping with minnows, minnow heads, bigger plastics, and multiple waxies will ice the larger fish in the school. Making noise with bigger jigging spoons and Jigging Raps with rattles will call in fish. There is more noise under the water this time of year, so do not be afraid to be a bit louder!

“If you go, be sure to have a 2022-23 license!”

 

Levi at Hayward Bait says ice is generally 10-16 inches and the snow is gone, but travel conditions are wet and slick and the ice is deteriorating rapidly. Ice is pulling away from the shorelines on some lakes and a few anglers are using planks and ladders to access the ice.

“Crappie fishing is very good. Many anglers are targeting crappies in weeds and just off weed beds in 5-10 feet, with morning and evening fishing best. Most anglers report having their best luck with plastics, particularly purple and pink, but crappie minnows and waxies are working as well.

“Bluegill fishing is good with the warmer weather, as fish push into 3-10 feet and in and just outside weeds. The bite was a little tough with the recent cold snap, however. The best bite is during mornings and late afternoon into early evening. Waxies and spikes work best, with some success on plastics.

“Perch fishing is picking up steadily as the fish continue to move shallower in search of spawning sites. Look for mudflats in 5-15 feet. The best bite is in midafternoon. Crappie minnows, fatheads, and waxies are working best.

“Trout fishing is steady now that the river offers more open water, with best fishing on overcast days with little sun.”

 

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses oak wilt fish cribs.

“Oak wilt, the most destructive disease of oak trees in Wisconsin, has become common in southern Wisconsin and is now in many parts of northern Wisconsin as well. A fungal disease estimated to kill thousands of trees in Wisconsin each year, oak wilt spreads by beetles moving from one tree to the next, and through underground root connections between neighboring oaks. It can be difficult to treat.

“A new project in Sawyer County aims to help control oak wilt and improve fishing opportunities. The project is a partnership between DNR Forest Health, DNR Fisheries, and private landowners. During winter, at approved sites, crews cut oak wilt infected trees and turn them into fish cribs. Submerging the wood stops the cycle of fungus growth and spread.

“So far, the DNR Hayward Fish Team has created oak wilt tree fish cribs on lakes Windigo, Little Sissabagama, and Placid on the Tiger Cat Chain. The crew worked hard to construct some very impressive cribs that anglers might find in their next trip to one of these lakes. The large oak logs make excellent crib construction material, and these structures should last for a very long time.

“Frequent readers know that I seldom advocate for crib projects, but we deemed this project worthwhile because of its dual purpose of managing oak wilt and building some fishing structures.

“Please be aware that installing cribs often requires a permit and people should check with their local fisheries biologist before beginning a project.

“Those interested in learning more about oak wilt can visit https://dnr.wisconsin.gov/topic/foresthealth/oakwilt.”

 

Reminders:

The 2021-22 fishing/hunting licenses expired March 31 ‑ it is time to purchase your new licenses.

On April 1, the Chippewa Flowage panfish bag limit changed to 10 combined panfish species.

 

The DNR will relocate the eastern terminus of the Ice Age National Scenic Trail to its original location in Potawatomi State Park. It will move the large glacial boulder and historical marker that serve as one of the Trail’s two endpoints 0.3 miles to the west, to the park’s Old Ski Hill Overlook, a site more picturesque than its current location ‑ a heavily wooded area near a vault toilet. The move will alleviate confusion resulting from decades old signage from when it served as the terminus. The DNR expects to make the move this month.

The1,200-mile Ice Age National Scenic Trail footpath is entirely within Wisconsin, from St. Croix Falls in the west to Sturgeon Bay in the east, and as far south as Janesville. The trail highlights landscapes carved by ancient glaciers and some of the most beautiful areas in Wisconsin. Nearly 60 percent of Wisconsin residents live within 20 miles of the trail.

 

The 2022 DNR Spring Hearing and Wisconsin Conservation Congress meeting is again online. The online input webpage opens at 7 p.m. Monday, April 11, and will remain open through 7 p.m. Thursday, April 14. The public can provide input on proposed natural resources rule changes from the DNR and advisory questions from the Natural Resources Board (NRB) and WCC through the online opportunity. The DNR will post results when available.

This year, there are 16 advisory questions from the DNR related to fisheries and wildlife management; two advisory questions from the NRB; and 45 advisory questions from the WCC. The WCC will not hold delegate elections this year.

For more information, search ‘spring hearing’ on the DNR website, or call (608-266-0580).

 

Turkey hunters can still purchase leftover spring bonus harvest authorizations for late periods in five zones. Bonus authorizations cost $10 for residents and $15 for nonresidents, with equal purchase opportunities. Hunters can purchase one authorization per day. Authorizations are available at all license agents and online through GoWild.Wi.Gov. Currently, bonus authorizations remain available in five zones and three periods. Sales will continue until selling out or the season ends.

Check the turkey zone map and bonus authorization availability to see if authorizations are available for the period and zone you wish to hunt. All spring turkey hunters must possess a valid spring turkey license, turkey harvest authorization, and a 2022 wild turkey stamp. Regulations for the 2022 spring turkey season are included in the 2021 combined hunting regulations. For more information, search “turkey hunting” on the DNR website.

 

Wisconsin’s spring Youth Turkey Hunt is April 16-17 for hunters younger than age 16. Hunters younger than age 12 and youth hunters without hunter safety certification can participate in the hunt through the Mentored Hunting Program. A qualified adult must accompany any youth hunter and follow all youth turkey hunting and mentored hunting program rules. Youth hunters must possess a valid spring turkey license, stamp, and harvest authorization. Youth hunters can use a harvest authorization for any period during the youth hunt weekend, but they must hunt in the management zone indicated on their harvest authorization. For more information, search “youth turkey hunt” on the DNR website.

 

FISHING REPORT

Ice fishing season is still in progress, but deteriorating ice conditions will soon end it. Still, there is quite a bit of ice on most lakes ‑ 10-18 inches (more or less) ‑ though it is shrinking from the shorelines and affecting lake access. Use both caution and common sense and do not take unnecessary risks.

Trout anglers are continuing to do well on the Namekagon River, and cloudy, overcast days offer the most success.

Once again, anglers should be aware the 2021-22 fishing/hunting licenses expired March 31 so it is time to renew your fishing privileges for this year.

Chippewa Flowage anglers should note that as of April 1 (again, no kidding) the Chippewa Flowage panfish bag limit changed to 10 combined panfish species.

 

Crappie:

Crappie fishing is good to very good, with morning and late afternoon into evening hours offering the best success. Look for fish in/on weeds, weed beds, and on sand bottoms in 4-15 feet. Make sure to check the entire water column during your search. Crappie minnows, fatheads, waxies, pink and purple plastics, and Gulp! baits on jigs and jigging spoons work well.

 

Bluegill:

Bluegill fishing is good, with the best success in early morning and late afternoon into early evening hours. Fish in and around weeds, weed beds, and on sand bottoms, in 2-12 feet. Baits of choice include waxies, spikes, small minnows, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs and teardrops.

 

Perch:

Perch fishing is fair to good and improving. Look for fish on weed beds, sand bottoms, and mud flats in 5-15 feet, with midday offering the best bite. Tip jigs and small jigging spoons/jigging baits with crappie minnows, fatheads, minnow heads, waxies, and plastics.

 

Upcoming Events

March 21: Spring turkey bonus authorizations on sale until selling out or season ends.

March 31: The 2021-22 fishing/hunting licenses expired.

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

April 11-13: Online DNR Spring Hearing and WCC meeting begins at 7 p.m.; open for 72 hours (608-266-0580).

April 15: Good Friday.

April 16-17: Youth Turkey Hunt.

April 17: Easter Sunday.

April 18: Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fameopening day (715-634-4440).

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

May 3: Hayward Chapter-Muskies Inc. meeting, 7 p.m., at Flat Creek Lodge (715-634-4543).

May 6: Early catch-and-release trout season closes.

May 7: Wisconsin general gamefish opener (see regs for details).

May 12-15: Treeland Challenge Bass and Walleye Catch and Release Tournament (715-462-3874).

May 20-21: 35th Annual Fishing Has No Boundaries Hayward event (715-634-3185).

 

Spring Turkey Season Dates

A: April 20-26

B: April 27-May 3

C: May 4-10

D: May 11-17

E: May 18-24

F: May 25-31

 

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.