Outdoor Report

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]December 26, 2016

Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report

Steve Suman

A major winter storm Christmas day brought freezing rain and ice to the North Woods, followed by snow. There are chances for additional snowfall this week, with temperatures dropping to near single-digit lows and highs generally in the upper teens to mid-20s. The current forecast predicts similar temperatures for New Year’s Day – but with sunshine!

“Winter is officially here,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “but on some mild days you have to question it.

“People are starting to venture out on the lakes, but only by walking. Ice reports vary from lake to lake and the last sub-zero temperatures created some cracks that allowed water to push through. Staking crews monitor the lakes almost daily, but as of this report, there was not enough good ice to stake the lakes for snowmobiles.

“Several anglers have been out fishing, but with no reports of success. If the weather holds, more anglers will be able to travel to their favorite spots and not have to hug the shorelines.

“When traveling on the lakes, whether by foot or motorized vehicle, always use caution. Snowmobilers should wait for lake staking before attempting any travel. Be smart and be safe – there is always tomorrow!”

Erick at Hayward Bait says ice conditions are stable, holding about five inches on the big lakes, with as much as seven inches of ice on some other lakes – still, use caution.

“Walleye fishing is very productive now that the lakes offer anglers good access. Typically, action is best in mornings and/or evenings with walleye suckers on jig rods or tip-ups. During prime time hours, anglers have success fishing Jigging Raps, Rattle Traps, and Slab Raps, changing to glow rattle/non-rattle spoons as the morning/evening progresses. These baits are great tipped with only a fathead head.

“Tip-up fishing for pike is productive with northern suckers and large shiners fished along fairly shallow weed edges and on top of weed beds.

“Panfish anglers are fishing deep basins and off deep weed edges, catching crappies on jigs tipped with crappie minnows and panfish on waxies and spikes.”

Carolyn at Anglers All in Ashland Bay says fishing has started on Chequamegon Bay and anglers report 8-10 inches of ice on the Ashland side.

“The latest report says anglers are out to the Ashland lighthouse with snowmobiles and there is 3-4 inches of ice at the ‘s’ curve. The entire Bay is iced-in, but all people are exercising caution as they work their way out further. Be sure to check ice with ice bars and have ice picks and flotation for safety.

“Reports are good for catches of whitefish and brown trout in 10-20 feet off the coal dock and ore dock in Ashland. Anglers off Pamida Beach are having some success fishing walleyes on the humps and anglers off Second Landing report good success for perch and northern in 10-14 feet. Last Wednesday, for the first time, anglers were fishing off Bono Creek on the Washburn side of the Bay.

Most anglers are using lake shiners on live bait rigs, and jigs vary from the traditional Swedish Pimples and Hali Jigs to the new Hyper-Glides.”


This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses small pike for the table.

“Northern pike are a prized sportfish in most of their range, but in many northern Wisconsin lakes they can have poor size (slow-growing hammer handles) or the potential to compete with native muskellunge populations. As such, there are many instances when the DNR encourages northern pike harvest. However, harvesting just big pike, such as those more than 26 inches, does not help the problem of too many small pike and can actually make things worse.

“Anglers who want to be part of the solution for a lake with many small pike need to target smaller pike selectively for harvest. Many anglers are unwilling to harvest smaller pike, believing it is “not worth it” to filet them.

“To create a comparison, the Hayward DNR fish team compared the weight of pike filets with the weight of bluegill filets. One 20-inch pike, with y-bones removed, created the same weight of filets as the filets from three 8-inch bluegills, meaning a limit of five small pike is equivalent to 15 nice bluegills.

“We hope this information gives anglers a new perspective on harvesting small, problematic pike. By the way, we donated all fish sacrificed for this project to local non-profit groups.”



Note: Trail conditions can quickly change – for better or worse – so always check with local businesses for the most current trail reports.

The Cable area trail report (as of December 22) says the Namakagon Trail Groomers report that all gates are open, though there is not enough snow in the woods for a great ride. The swamps need packing down to freeze and allow groomers to groom. Although Lake Namakagon froze over, crews have not yet staked the lake trails.

The Hayward Power Sports trail report (as of December 20) says most Sawyer County snowmobile trails are open, but swamps and lakes are not yet completely frozen, gates are still closed for some private property owners, and groomers have not been out grooming. Trails in the Seeley Hills are good with 6 inches of snow and the Tuscobia trail has 8 inches or more of snow. Thank you to all club members and volunteers for your hard work ensuring great riding trails!

The Runamuk Rides trail report says most Hayward area trails are open, though the wetlands and lakes are not yet ready, and volunteers are packing swamps and making plans to start staking some lake trails. The Seeley Hills area trails are open and in good shape. Bayfield County trails (as of Dec. 22) are variable and not yet groomed. Water crossings are not safe and swamps still need to freeze. Ashland County trails remain closed due to warm temperatures and the lack of snow (check for current conditions). Even with the cold temperatures, there is still standing water on the trail and safety is the number one consideration. Please note there is no snowmobiling from Ashland to Bad River/Odanah (not permitted on reservation land). However, you can snowmobile from Bad River east to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. In the Clam Lake area, water holes are freezing up, groomers are not currently grooming trails, and the recommendation is not to trail ride at this time.


Anglers are getting out on the ice (4-7 inches on most – but not ALL – areas) and many report fishing is good to very good for most species. Interest will increase as anglers gain better accessibility by snowmobile, ATV, and vehicle.

Walleye action is good to very good with walleye suckers on tip-ups and jigging baits/spoons tipped with fathead heads. Best action is in early morning and evening hours.

Northern pike fishing is good on the edges of and on top of shallower weed beds, with northern suckers and large shiners under tip-ups the most effective presentation.

Panfish anglers are having some success fishing deeper weed edges and basins. Jigs with crappie minnows work best for crappies, while small jigs and teardrops tipped with waxies or spikes are the go-to baits for bluegills and perch.

Upcoming Events

Dec. 24-Jan. 1: Antlerless-only Holiday Hunt (see regs).

Dec. 25: Bobcat hunting/trapping Period 1 season closed.

Dec. 26: Bobcat hunting/trapping Period 2 north of Hwy. 64 opened.

Dec. 29: Northwest Relic Riders “Ride to Lunch” (715-416-2097).

Dec. 31: Seasons close: Pheasant; Turkey (zones 1-5); Hungarian partridge; Fisher trapping; Frog.

Jan. 2: Early catch-and-release only trout season opens statewide (see regs).

Jan. 3: Hayward Lakes Chapter Muskies, Inc. business meeting at Gridiron Pub & Grub (715-634-4543).

Jan. 7: Northwest Relic Riders “Ride from Frosty’s“ (715-416-2097).

Jan. 8: Archery and crossbow deer seasons close.

Jan. 14: Northwest Relic Riders vintage and antique snowmobile show; Jack Frost Festival, Spooner (715-416-2097).

Jan. 18: Winter crow season opens.

Jan. 21: Elk Country ATV Club’s 9th annual ice fishing contest, Upper Clam Lake (715-794-2298; 681-0581).

Jan. 31: Seasons close: Grouse in North Zone; Bobcat Period 2; Squirrel.


For more information on area events and activities, visit the Hayward Lakes Visitor and Convention Bureau website, view its Calendar of Events, or call 800-724-2992. [/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]