Outdoor Report

[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]March 20, 2017

Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report

Steve Suman


Assorted forecasts for this week are as inconsistent as the current weather patterns, but it appears this week will be sunny through mid-week, with cool/cold temperatures, followed by a storm front moving in Wednesday evening. Subject to change at any time! Some forecasts show sunny, milder weather for the weekend – let’s go with that version!


“Beware the ‘ice’ of March,” says Pat at Happy Hooker.

“This is the time of year when ice conditions start to deteriorate rapidly and anglers should use extreme caution. From here on, cars and trucks are a no-go on the ice. If ice conditions are still stable, ATVs should be the only vehicle traffic, and very soon, as shorelines start opening up, it will be only walking.

“The Quiet Lakes and surrounding area lakes continue to offer the best opportunities for good action for anglers frequenting popular panfish fishing spots.

“Crappie anglers are catching some nice fish on small minnows under floats and while jigging, with the middle to lower parts of the water column ideal for suspending fish. This also holds true for bluegills, with anglers using small jigs and mini-spoons tipped with larvae or waxies for the best success. If you mark fish on the graph, but cannot get them to bite, it is a good idea to move to other locations in search of more aggressive schools.

“As angling pressure slows, it is a good time to plan ahead for open water season, inspecting, repairing, and/or replacing equipment, cleaning out the tackle boxes, and throwing out all the ‘bad stuff’ accumulated over the years. To avoid the last minute rush, purchase your new fishing license for the 2017 season. Old licenses expire March 31.

“In a quick check of new regulations, it appears nothing changed for the Quiet Lakes. Walleye limits remain the same, but be aware of the sizes you can keep and the sizes you must release. Daily panfish limits remain the same at 25 panfish, but only 10 of one species. Largemouth bass opens with the new season and anglers can keep any size.”

Annie at Hayward Bait says ice conditions are changing and anglers should use extra caution, particularly when traveling around shorelines and heavily used boat landings.

“Panfish fishing is good in early spring spots, weeds, and on soft bottom areas in 15-25 feet, especially in early morning and evening hours during insect hatches.

“For crappies, tip small jigs and spoons with crappie minnows and rosy reds. For bluegills, tip jigs with waxies and spikes. Fish perch on mud flats in 12-30 feet, using waxies, spikes, and minnows on rattle spoons, and on Jigging Raps.”


This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses spring plans for the Hayward DNR Fish Team.

“Ice-out is not too far away and the Hayward DNR Fish Team is planning for another busy spring, hoping to accomplish a variety of objectives.

“The first stop will likely be Musky Bay on Lac Courte Oreilles where we will execute a controlled pike removal, with the goal to increase musky abundance and improve overall pike size. The team will relocate some removed pike to nearby waters and donate some of the fish to local food pantries.

“The fish team will conduct walleye population estimates on Big Chetac, Nelson, and Blueberry lakes, collecting data that will enlighten us on the success of previous years of extended growth walleye stocking. On the west side of the Chippewa Flowage, the team will check on crappies and insert PIT tags into muskellunge.

“Following the initial round of netting surveys for walleye, pike, musky, and crappie, we will return to all of these lakes to conduct electrofishing surveys that primarily target bass and bluegill.

“Reports detailing our survey results are typically available by mid-summer.”


Trout season opens on some sections of Lake Superior tributaries March 25.


The Sawyer County Deer Advisory Council (CDAC) will meet Wednesday March 22, from 7-9 p.m., at the Hayward DNR Service Center. The council will review deer population data and other key information to develop preliminary antlerless quota and permit level recommendations on public and private lands to help shape the 2017 deer seasons. A public feedback period in early April will include an online survey. Councils reconvene in mid-April to determine final deer season recommendations. Prior to forming preliminary and final recommendations, councils will accept public comments at any CDAC meeting or comments sent to CDAC members. The Natural Resources Board (NRB) will determine the final permit levels and deer season structure at its May meeting. For more information, search “CDAC” on the DNR website.


This week, the DNR will sell 105,464 leftover spring turkey permits by zone, one zone per day, on a first-come, first-served basis. Sales dates for zones with leftover permits are as follows: Zone 1: Monday March 20; Zone 2: Tuesday March 21; Zone 3: Wednesday March 22; Zone 4: Thursday March 23; Zones 5, 6, 7: Friday March 24. Remaining tags go on sale Saturday March 25 and hunters can purchase one extra tag per day until the zone and period sell out or the season closes. Leftover permits cost $10/residents and $15/non-residents. For more information, search “leftover spring turkey permits” on the DNR website.


Hayward Bass Club is holding a planning meeting Wednesday, March 22, starting at 7 p.m., at Hayward Rod and Gun Club on Hwy B in Hayward, to begin discussion on lake selections for the 2017 season. For more information, email Wayne Balsavich at haywardbassclub@gmail.com or call (715) 699-1015.



Ice conditions are changing quickly and it is imperative that anglers – and everyone else – use extreme caution when recreating on the ice. This is especially true around shorelines and heavily used areas such as landings. No matter how good the fishing, do not take unnecessary chances – if you do not catch the fish through the ice, they will still be there during open water season!



Crappie fishing is good and getting better on soft bottoms and near weeds in 15-25 feet. The most productive baits include small jigs and spoons tipped with crappie minnows, rosy reds, waxies, plastics, and Gulp! baits. Be sure to look at the entire water column for fish suspending at various levels within it.



Bluegill fishing is fair to good and can be very good once you locate active fish. Look for fish around weeds and on soft bottom flats in 12-22 feet. Top baits include small jigs tipped with waxies, spikes, plastics, and Gulp! baits. As with crappies, check the entire water column.



Perch action is good around weeds and on mud flats in depths from 10-30 feet. Use small spoons and jigging baits tipped with waxies, spikes, minnows, and minnow pieces


Upcoming Events

March 20-24: Leftover spring turkey permits on sale by zone, one zone per day.

March 20: Winter crow season closed.

March 22: Hayward Bass Club planning meeting; 7 p.m., Hayward Rod and Gun Club (715-699-1015).

March 22: Sawyer County CDAC meeting, Hayward DNR Service Center, 7-9 p.m.

March 25: Trout season opens on some sections of Lake Superior tributaries.

March 31: S.C.O.P.E. 10th annual Fundraising Banquet at The Steakhouse and Lodge.

April 10: Statewide spring hearings and Conservation Congress county meetings.

April 15-16: Youth turkey hunt.

April 19-25: Period A spring turkey season.

April 26-May 2: Period B spring turkey season.

April 30: Seasons close: Beaver and otter trapping in North Zone.

May 3-9: Period C spring turkey season.

May 6: Inland waters gamefish season opens.

May 10-16: Period D spring turkey season.

May 17-23: Period E spring turkey season.

May 24-30: Period F spring turkey season.


For more information on area events and activities, visit the Hayward Lakes Visitor and Convention Bureau website, view its Calendar of Events, or call 800-724-299[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]