February 2, 2015
Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report
Steve Suman

It is February in the North Woods – lows are hovering slightly above/below zero, highs are single-digit into the teens, and snow of varying proportions is a daily possibility. This is a good winter – enjoy it!

“Walleye fishing is best during dark,” says Pat at Happy Hooker. “Fish near bottom along weed edges in 8-18 feet. During the day, fish deeper water. Use tip-ups with shiners, suckers, and fatheads, or jig spoons tipped with minnow heads. For northern pike, set tip-ups with shiners or walleye suckers around structure or panfish.
“Crappie fishing is best before dusk or in early morning. Fish are suspending over deeper water or mid-depth weeds. Use jigs with waxies or small jigging spoons. Catch bluegills near weeds out to 22 feet with waxies and plastics. Fish perch on the bottom of deep water with jigging spoons tipped with waxies or small minnows.”
Guide Dave Dorazio at Outdoor Creations says the Chippewa Flowage has great northern pike action, with limits of upper 30-inch pike.
“Set tip-ups with sucker minnows and shiners along weedlines and in weed pockets, suspending baits halfway down the water column. Sometimes pike show a preference, so take both bait types.
“Crappie anglers are catching large numbers of good size fish. Use electronics to find fish in 12-22 feet and try different baits until crappies respond. Use crappie minnows and jigs with plastics or Gulp! baits, or jig spoons for larger fish. Downsize offerings to target bluegills mixed in with the crappies.
Jim at Hayward Bait says walleye fishing is good on walleye suckers and fatheads in 15-30 feet of water.
“Northern are active on most lakes and anglers are using northern suckers and shiners under tip-ups in 10-15 feet along weedlines. Some anglers are picking up bass in 5-15 feet with walleye suckers and shiners under tip-ups.
“Fishing is good with minnows, waxies, and small plastics for crappies suspending over deep water. For bluegills, fish in 5-15 feet with waxies, spikes, and plastics.”

Carolyn at Anglers All in Ashland says the perch bite is all over Chequamegon Bay.
“Anglers are catching larger fish, walleye, brown trout, splake, and northern a mile or two off second landing. The Pamida hump is producing walleyes, particularly during low light hours, and other species.
“The smelt bite is hot by the lighthouse during late afternoon and anglers report whitefish off second landing toward Long Island and off Bayfield.
“Bobber anglers fishing off the ice road and at Basswood report lake trout and whitefish. Use caution off Bayfield – there are many bad ice spots and a great deal of pack ice.”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter talks about lake sturgeon food.
“Lake sturgeon are huge, prehistoric fish inhabiting many of Wisconsin’s larger rivers, including several in the Hayward area. The biology of these fish is a mystery to many anglers who are not as familiar with sturgeon as they are with our other species.
“Many people assume that because sturgeon are big fish, they eat large prey. This is not at all the case. Most adult sturgeon eat small worms, snails, and leeches off lake and river bottoms. Sturgeon will readily take crawlers soaking on the bottom and occasionally anglers catch sturgeon on jigs and minnows.”
DNR fisheries biologist Skip Sommerfeldt says ice is 12-16 inches with 8-9 inches of snow cover, making ice travel difficult and snowmobiles, ATVs, and 4-wheel-drive vehicles almost a necessity.
“Walleye action is fair, with the best catches on cloudy, mild days. Favorite baits are large fatheads and medium suckers fished 6 inches off bottom in 5-12 feet two hours before dark. Northern activity slowed with the increased snow cover and fish moved to deeper water.
“Panfish anglers are moving from lake to lake and spot to spot searching for active fish, with perch providing most of the action.”

Ice fishing contests in the next two weeks include Cable Rod and Gun Club Ice Fishing Contest on Lake Namakagon (headquarters Loon Saloon) Feb. 7 (715-798-4459); Deerfoot Lodge Freeze Your Buns Off Crappie Fishing Contest Feb. 7-8 (715-462-3328); and the Walleyes for Northwest Wisconsin event on Lac Courte Oreilles Feb. 14 (715-462-3559). For more information, check the websites or call the contact numbers.

The DNR’s third annual Sawyer County Fisheries Forum at Hayward High School is Wednesday, February 18, starting at 6:30 p.m. Fisheries biologist Max Wolter says topics include walleye recovery, stocking in 2014 and on tap for 2015, improving panfish fishing, what anglers can do to improve fishing, and regulation proposals appearing on the Spring Hearing (April 13) ballot. For more information, contact Wolter at the Hayward DNR Service Center.

Snowmobile Trail Reports
The February 2 Hayward Power Sports report says all Sawyer County snowmobile trails are open, with northern Sawyer County, Seeley Hills, and Moose lake trails in good condition. Trails along roads and in open areas have scattered bare spots. Tuscobia trail is fair, with scattered bare spots. Southern Sawyer County trails are fair to poor and need snow. Chippewa Flowage and other lake trails are good, but stay on staked trails for safety.
The February 2 Runamuk Rides report says trails in central and northern Sawyer, Ashland, and southeast Bayfield counties are in great shape. Trails in Seeley Hills are awesome. Trails in southeast Sawyer into Price are good. Best trails are in central and northwest Sawyer into southern Bayfield and western Ashland. Bayfield, Ashland, Cable, and Clam Lake trails are good. Trails in southern Sawyer are passable.
The February 2 Lakewoods report says trails are fair and in typical low-snow condition – now covered, but dirty with bare spots on corners. Marked lake trails are in great shape, but stick to marked areas and be prepared for emergencies, no matter the ice thickness.
The Cable Area report for February 1 says trails are fair to good, with a base a solid 6 inches and little loose snow. Namakagon Trail Groomers will groom trails bi-weekly. Trail 8 heading to Clam Lake going over the swamp has a bit of slush, but is still safe for travel.

The FREE AWSC Celebrate WI Snowmobiling Sport Show is this Sunday, Feb. 8, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at LCO Casino, Lodge & Convention Center. Attractions include meeting Miss Snowflake 2014-15, displays of antique and racing snowmobiles and trail grooming equipment, a learn to ride/safety area; snowmobile dealers, and more. For information, visit Hayward Lakes Visitors & Convention Bureau or call 800-724-2992; (715)634-4801.

Walleye action is fair to good fishing, though inconsistent. Just before and into dark offers the best success. During the day, fish near bottom around weed edges out to 30 feet. During low light, fish in less than 20 feet. Tip-ups with walleye suckers, fatheads, and shiners work best, but jigging spoons with minnow heads also catch fish.

Northern Pike:
Northern fishing is good to very good and pike often offer an all-day bite. Concentrate on weedlines and structure in 8-18 feet or wherever you find panfish. Use northern suckers or golden shiners under tip-ups set on/along weedlines.

Crappie action is good and best during early morning or late afternoon, with fish suspending over deep water out to 25 feet or mid-depth weeds. Crappie minnows, waxies, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs, plain hooks, and small jigging spoons (for bigger fish) work, but baits choices can change each day.

Bluegill fishing is fair to good, but showing improvement. Look for fish in 5-20 feet of water near weeds, cribs, and other structure. Baits of choice include waxies, spikes, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs, teardrops, and plain hooks. Smaller is better, though for larger ‘gills try small minnows in deeper depths.

Perch fishing is fair to good, with fish in on the bottom and/or suspending in deeper water. Most action is on jigs and jigging spoons tipped with waxies or small minnows.

Upcoming Events
Jan. 31: Seasons closed: Squirrel; Ruffed grouse in northern zone; Bobcat Period 2 hunting/trapping.
Feb. 5: Relic Riders “Ride to Lunch”; Snowshoe Saloon, Hayward, 10:30 a.m. (715-634-4608; 520-8220).
Feb. 7: Flambeau River State Forest 23rd Annual Candlelight Ski (715-332-5271).
Feb. 7: Relic Riders 9th Annual Kaye Johnson Memorial Ride. Trails End Resort 9:30 a.m. (715-634-2423).
Feb. 7-8: Deerfoot Lodge Freeze Your Buns Off Crappie Ice Fishing Contest (715-462-3328).
Feb. 7: Cable Rod and Gun Club Ice Fishing Contest; Lake Namakagon, Loon Saloon (715-798-4459).
Feb. 8: AWSC Celebrate WI Snowmobiling Sport Show; LCO Convention Center. Free. (800-724-2992).
Feb. 14: Walleyes for Northwest Wisconsin Ice Fishing Tournament on Lac Courte Oreilles (715-462-3559).
Feb. 15: Seasons close: Coyote trapping; Raccoon trapping/hunting; Red and gray fox trapping/hunting.
Feb. 19-22: American Birkebeiner (715-634-5025).
Feb. 28: Seasons close: Cottontail rabbit; Mink trapping.
March 7: Early catch-and-release only trout season opens statewide (see regs).

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.