November 24, 2014
Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report
Steve Suman

The welcome, though too brief, break from winter this past weekend is now history as winter weather again makes its mark. Forecasts call for another four to six inches of snow accumulation through Monday night, accompanied by up to 30 mph wind gusts. Not great – but it is also not Buffalo!
Deer hunters enjoyed mild temperatures for stand sitting and the warm-up enabled people to ‘clean up’ driveways and areas of snow around homes and buildings before the next arrival of cold weather this week.

“Open water fishing in the Quiet Lake area came to a screeching halt,” says Pat at Happy Hooker. “Most waters have iced over and in the shallower bays and sheltered areas there is 3-6 inches of ice.
“Reviews are mixed on the 2014 open water season. Some muskie anglers reported a great season, while others said it was a tough year. Walleye fishing seemed a little off, but panfish season was a great one for most anglers.
“The first ice anglers are reporting walleye catches in the shallow flats and bays and ‘all right’ pike action.
“Should you decide to venture out, be cautious, stay safe, and check ice thickness as you go. Fish with a buddy and take safety equipment such as polar picks and PFDs.”
Guide Dave Dorazio at Outdoor Creations says the Chippewa Flowage iced over and open water fishing ended for the year.
“There are bays with 3-5 inches of ice and some anglers are already ice fishing. Use extreme caution while on the ice. Some areas have current, especially near river channels, and with the continuing drawdown, some areas can actually open when temperatures rise. It is just not worth going through the ice for a few fish.
“Walleye fishing generally picks up near dusk and the first few evening hours can provide good action. Most of it is on tip-ups with 4- to 6-inch sucker minnows set about a foot off bottom on bars and weed edges, or try jigging #5 or #7 Jigging Rapalas. There is no need to tip them with live bait.
“Northern pike will generally provide action during the day. Be sure to have long-nose pliers and jaw spreaders to handle the sharp-toothed pike!”
Jim at Hayward Bait says ice conditions are anywhere from open water to six inches of ice.
“The ice is solid and quite a few anglers are going out, but they still need to use extra caution as ice thickness can vary. Do not venture out on early ice alone – always fish with a partner. Walleye and crappie fishing is relatively good on the Chippewa Flowage and Nelson Lake, and northern pike are active on most lakes.
“Surprisingly, this year we registered one deer more for archery season than we did at this same time last year.”

Carolyn at Anglers All in Ashland says ice has formed out to the lighthouse on Chequamegon Bay, but it is too early to try it.
“A few anglers are trying some of the inland lakes south of Ashland, but ice depths vary greatly, so be sure to check conditions with an ice bar.
“Our deer season archery registration was split about 50-50 between vertical bows and crossbows, but it was surprising how many kids shot their first deer with crossbows. We registered 86 archery deer so far, all looked healthy, and we’ve seen some beautiful racks.”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter goes ‘under the ice’ with zooplankton.
“Zooplankton are tiny crustaceans that fish, panfish in particular, love to eat. Because they are present in essentially all of our lakes, understanding their location and behavior can help anglers.
“Researchers in South Dakota looked at how zooplankton behave under the ice and found their density was significantly higher under snow covered ice than under clear ice. The researchers believe the zooplankton prefer to be in more dimly lit areas – something for anglers to consider as they decide where to drill their ice fishing holes!”
DNR fisheries biologist Skip Sommerfeldt says unseasonably cold fall weather resulted in most lakes icing up in the past week, though many larger, deeper lakes still have areas of open water.
“The lakes that iced over have real variable ice thicknesses, with about three inches in near-shore areas and only one to two inches out towards deeper water.
“Even with several nights of single-digit low temperatures, ice thickness has been slow to increase and early-season anglers should wait another week or so until the ice depths reach the four-inch level.
“There are, however, the first reports of a few anglers getting out on the three inches of ice in shallow bays and near-shore areas. Most are targeting walleye, with just fair success, and most fish 10-14 inches.”

In the past week, Hayward area registration stations (Shooting Star, Hillman’s Store, Hayward Bait) registered one antlerless deer and 38 bucks for archery season. For the first weekend of regular gun season, the stations registered seven antlerless deer and 108 bucks. During the first weekend of the gun season, and as has been the case for a number of years, the DNR took deer samples at Shooting Star Archery and Hayward Bait did not register deer. For archery season leading up to the gun season opener, Hayward Bait registered 114 deer, including 58 taken by vertical bow and 30 by crossbow. Youth hunters registered 26 deer during the Youth Hunt, including 16 antlerless deer.

The Hayward Lakes Visitors & Convention Bureau snowmobile trail report for November 24 says much of the snow melted during the brief warm up this past weekend. It is snowing today, with 2-4 inches expected. Seeley Hills Trails and some forest roads are open for snowmobiling, but with no grooming at this time. Grooming and additional trail openings are on hold until official permission and/or freeze-over.
The Hayward Power Sports snowmobile trail report for November 17 says that while Sawyer County snowmobile trails are technically always open, the swamps and lakes need time to freeze over for safe crossings. Groomers are not yet running, some private property trails are not yet open, and some trails still require clearing of downed trees. Use caution if you choose to ride early this year!

Some anglers are ice fishing, but it is too early to encourage it. If you are intent on testing your luck (with both fate and fish!) check the bait shop and DNR reports above for information!

Upcoming Events
Nov.25: Duck season closed in north zone.
Nov.30: Seasons close: Regular gun deer; Muskie; Turtle.
Dec. 1: DNR Lake Superior fisheries public meeting, 6:30-9 p.m. Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center, Ashland.
Through Dec. 8: Relic Riders vintage and antique snowmobile display; Northern Lakes Co-op Cabin Shop.
Dec. 1-10: Muzzleloader deer season.
Dec. 1-31: Extended fall turkey season in zones 1-5.
Dec. 7: Lake Superior lake trout season opens.
Dec. 8: Ruffed grouse season closes in Zone B.
Dec. 10: Permit application deadline: Spring turkey; Bear.
Dec. 10: Seasons close: Muzzleloader deer; Bobwhite quail.
Dec. 11-14: Antlerless-only firearm hunt in Central Forest and Central Farmland Zones.
Dec. 16: Canada goose seasons close in North Exterior Zone.
Dec. 25: Bobcat hunting/trapping Period 1 season closes.
Dec. 26-Jan. 31: Bobcat hunting/trapping season Period 2 north of Hwy. 64.
Dec. 31: Seasons close: Pheasant; Turkey; Hungarian partridge; Fisher trapping; Frog.
Jan. 4: Late archery deer season closes.
Jan. 25-March 20: Winter crow season.
Jan. 31: Seasons close: Squirrel; Ruffed grouse in northern zone; Bobcat hunting/trapping Period 2.

Hayward Lakes Visitor and Convention Bureau and Sawyer County Record co-sponsor this report. For more information on area events and activities, visit the HLVCB’s Calendar of Events or call 800-724-2992.