by: Steve Suman
A rainy Sunday night and Monday give way to a mostly warm, dry (possible exception Wednesday), and sunny remainder of the week (minor setback Friday night/Saturday). Less than two weeks from the fishing opener and in general the weather is trending in the right direction… can only hope it continues! Get out and enjoy the spring season!
“Changes in the weather certainly brought spring to the area,” says Pat at Happy Hooker. “There are many changes happening, as warmer temperatures drastically reduced the snow cover and combined with recent rains to escalate river levels to high and dirty water.
“There is nothing to report on fishing, as ice fishing is finished and anglers are in the process of putting away their equipment. This makes it an excellent time to prepare for the season opener and open water fishing. Purchase your new license; re-spool your reels; organize tackle and tackle boxes; shop for new equipment; and replace damaged items.
“The fishing season opener is still a couple weeks away, so have patience. Anxious anglers have opportunities to fish area rivers and streams.”
Carolyn at Anglers All on Chequamegon Bay in Ashland says as of Saturday, Bodin’s, Blackhawk Marina, and Sand Bay boat landings are open.
“The ice is moving out of the bay on the Ashland side and we hope the wind stays out of the south.
“Trollers off Bayfield and the Sioux and Onion rivers are doing well on coho, with the best coming soon! As the water temperatures warm, we hope to be smelting this week.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses the choices loons make for their various food selections.
“On many northern Wisconsin lakes, loons are an iconic sight. Anglers might watch with envy as the loons dive down to pick out their dinner, which is often fish, but sometimes includes frogs or crayfish.
“When observing loons, it is natural to wonder what kinds of fish they are eating, and in fact several studies have looked at this question. The main answer is – it depends on what is down there!
“Loons appear to be mostly opportunistic, eating the most common species of fish in the lake, often bluegill and perch, and studies from stocked trout lakes also found that loons happily eat trout.
“The behavior of a fish species can make them more – or less – vulnerable to being eaten by loons. Fish that swim higher in the water column are apparently more popular targets than those staying near the bottom. In addition, loons prefer long, skinny fish such as perch, to those that are deep-bodied, such as crappie.
“This is the same pattern researchers observe when studying the diets of muskellunge and northern pike. Another similarity between fish and loons is that they will preferentially target fish that are acting erratically, which can be an indicator the fish is wounded and an easy meal.”
Spring turkey season opened April 17 and the season runs through May 28, with six, seven-day periods running Wednesday through the following Tuesday. Hunters must register their turkey by 5 p.m. the day after recovery at gamereg.wi.gov, or by phone at (844) 426-3734, and will need their harvest authorization number located on a paper or digital copy of their harvest authorization. Hunters pursuing turkeys in a state park must hold a harvest authorization for the turkey management zone in which the park is located. The DNR allows spring turkey hunting in select state parks during the two-day youth hunt and the first two periods of the regular season. Bonus permits are still available for a few zones and periods and are available on a first come, first served basis until sold out or the season ends. For more information, search “turkey” on the DNR website.
The DNR reminds turkey hunters to be extra cautious with anything that can start a wildfire and to be especially mindful of the weather. During this time of year, dead vegetation dries out quickly and is fuel for a wildfire, and low humidity, warm temperatures, and gusty winds quickly drive up the fire danger. On windy day, warming/cooking fires can quickly become an out of control wildfire. For more information, search “seasonal fire risk” on the DNR website.
Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies, Inc. invites the public to attend its meetings Tuesday, May 7, at Flat Creek Eatery in Hayward. Admission is free. The special guest speaker for this meeting is well-known local fishing guide and seminar speaker Steve Genson. Genson will cover “oddball musky tactics that can work” during his presentation (and if you know Steve, you know he will offer some dandy oddball tactics!) People interested in becoming a new member of Muskies Inc. can purchase a half-price membership at the meeting. For more information, call Mike Persson (715) 634-4543.
The Namekagon River Partnership is teaming up with the St. Croix River Association to host the annual volunteer cleanup of the Namekagon River Saturday, April 27, from 8 a.m. to 12 noon. Volunteers will meet at 8 a.m. at Hayward City Beach on Lake Hayward. The plan is to clean the river from Seeley to Trego. Project coordinators will designate sections of the river to various groups before leaving the City Beach. Volunteers are free to bring their own drift boat, kayak, or canoe, or can participate by walking and cleaning (such as at the landings) or getting into a watercraft and cleaning a section of the river.
At the end of the day, all trash accumulated at various landings is consolidated and deposited at the National Park Headquarters for the Namekagon River Visitor Center in Trego. Last year, 86 committed volunteers showed gave the Namekagon a stellar cleaning. Do you want to help this year? Just show up dressed for the day and organizers cover the remainder, including tools, bags, water, and snacks.
A few warm, sunny days – and a few consisting of moderate temperatures with rain – have removed most evidence of snow in the Hayward area, though a few piles remain visible here and there. Most of the ice is gone from most lakes and anglers are fishing from both shore and boats on some waters. There are few reports of angler luck (either good or bad), but for most, just being on the water was a nice change of pace and way to welcome spring.
May 4-June 14: Smallmouth bass season catch and release only.
May 10-12: 35th Annual Treeland Challenge-Bass & Walleye Release Tournament; (715) 462-3874).
May 11: Staudemayer’s Four Seasons Resort Spring Crappie Fisherie (715-798-2346).
May 17-19: Musky Tale Resort’s Northern Encounter (715-462-3838).
May 22-23: Fishing Has No Boundaries Kid’s Event at Nelson Lake (715-634-3185).
May 25: Callahan Lake Resort Northern Pike Challenge (715-462-3244).
June 1-2: Free Fishing Weekend – no fishing license required.
Through July 31: Illegal to allow unleashed dogs to run on DNR lands and FWPAs (see regs).
April 17-23: Period A.
April 24-30: Period B.
May 1-7: Period C.
May 8-14: Period D.
May 15-21: Period E.
May 22-28: Period F.