February 16, 2015
Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report
Steve Suman

Cold temperatures continue through this week, moderating somewhat for Birkie weekend, and then moving to highs in the 20s next week – which is getting close to March!
This past Saturday, participants in the Walleyes for Northwestern Wisconsin family ice fishing event had to contend with subzero temperatures. There was a good turnout, however, and more than 150 youth and more than 50 adult anglers registered fish.

“For walleyes, fish break edges and mud flats out to 30 feet,” says Pat at Happy Hooker. “Use walleye suckers and shiners under tip-ups or jigging spoons tipped with minnow heads, and work baits near the bottom. Action peaks around sunset. Fish northern pike above the weeds or on weed edges in 5-10 feet with walleye suckers and shiners on tip-ups.
“Crappie, bluegill, and perch are in weeds in less than 10 feet or in 15-30 feet on mud flats, rocks, humps, cribs, and wood. Use crappie minnows, waxies, and plastic on small jigs or under slip bobbers.”
Guide Dave Dorazio at Outdoor Creations says Chippewa Flowage anglers continue to enjoy great northern pike action.
“Set tip-ups on weedlines and weed pockets, suspending suckers or shiners halfway down the water column.
“Crappie anglers are catching nice fish in 12-22 feet. Use electronics to find the fish and then experiment with different baits. Present them above the fish, trying crappie minnows, jigs with plastics or Gulp! baits, and Jigging Raps for larger fish. For bluegills mixed in with the crappies, downsize your offerings.”
Jim at Hayward Bait says walleye action is soft, though anglers are catching a few fish with walleye suckers and fatheads in 15-25 feet.
“Northern pike fishing is fair on suckers and shiners under tip-ups around weeds in 8-15 feet. Crappie action is good on crappie minnows, rosy reds, waxies, spikes, and plastics for suspending fish in 15-30 feet. Fish bluegills with waxies, spikes, and plastics in 6-20 feet.”

Carolyn at Anglers All in Ashland says whitefish remain the big draw for most anglers.
“In Chequamegon Bay, target 20-30 feet with jigs and spoons tipped with minnow heads or waxies. Anglers are also catching brown trout and an occasional coho. Walleye anglers report success off Shopko during low light hours.
“On the Washburn side and in deeper water off the Onion River, anglers are catching the same species, with larger whitefish in the Bay and smaller fish outside it. Lake trout anglers are fishing among the Islands, but dealing with ever-changing pack ice to get there.”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses the benefits of shoreline wood.
“A study in Illinois tracking juvenile muskellunge and the habitat they use found young muskellunge were attracted to shoreline wood with a moderate amount of branching. Researchers concluded this type of habitat offered muskellunge a comfortable mix of available prey, a good spot to ambush that prey, and protection from predators such as herons or larger fish. This puts muskellunge on the long list of species that benefit from woody shoreline habitat.
“Given the importance of muskellunge to our local fisheries, this should make ‘fish sticks’ or tree-drop type projects even more attractive to lake associations.”
DNR fisheries biologist Skip Sommerfeldt says most lakes have 14-16 inches of ice and fair travel. Strong winds created some large, solid drifts and most anglers stay near packed trails and plowed roads.
“Walleye fishing is erratic, with most catches in 6-12 feet in late afternoon, and some anglers downsized to fatheads and small suckers. Northern action is fair, with large golden shiners providing the best action on clear, sunny days.
“Anglers fishing just off bottom in 5-16 feet are catching perch feeding on mayfly nymphs.”

The American Birkebeiner this week runs from February 18-22. The annual event has come a long way since the first race in 1973 when 34 men and one woman took the starting line. Today, the Birkie attracts more than 13,000 skiers and more than 20,000 spectators to this area. For more information, visit the website or call (715) 634-5025.

Snowmobile Trail Reports
The February 14 Cable Area report says trails have a 10-inch base and are fair to good. Groomers maintain twice weekly and will groom regularly with more snowfall.
The February 13 Lakewoods report says lake trails are marked and in great shape. Ice is never completely safe, so stick to the marked areas and go prepared for emergencies, no matter the ice thickness.
The Hayward Lakes Visitors & Convention Bureau report for February 12 says all Sawyer County snowmobile trails are open and very good, especially in the Seeley Hills and Moose Lake areas. Trails in southern Sawyer County need more snow. The Chippewa Flowage and other lake trails are very good, but stay on marked trails and watch for ice heaves.
The February 12 Namakagon Trail Groomers report says trails are fair to good. The NTG Progressive Dinner ride is Sunday February 22.
Hayward Power Sports February 11 report says most Sawyer County trails are very good and groomers are grooming at night. Trails in the woods, especially the Seeley Hills and Moose Lake areas, are also very good. Southern Sawyer County trails and Tuscobia Trail are fair and need more snow.

Northwest Relic Riders Vintage Snowmobile Club is holding a “Ride to Lunch” event Thursday February 19, starting at 10:30 a.m. at the LCO snowmobile coral parking lot. The event is open to the public and the club welcomes riders of all sleds. For more information, contact Mike Wells (715) 634-4608; 520-8220.

Walleye action is slow and inconsistent, with the best bite just before dark. Look for near the bottom in 6-30 feet on breaks, transition areas, and mud flats, depending on the lake and time of day. The best presentations include walleye suckers, shiners, and fatheads under tip-ups, and jigging spoons tipped with minnow heads. If action is tough, try smaller offerings.

Northern Pike:
Northern pike fishing is fair to good, with best fishing all day on clear, sunny days. Set tip-ups with larger suckers and shiners in/on/over/along weeds and weedlines in 4-18 feet of water.

Crappie fishing is fair to good, but it might take some time to locate the fish. Concentrate on depths from 10-30 feet and deeper with weeds, wood, rock, gravel, humps, and cribs. Be sure to check the entire water column for suspending fish. Top baits include crappie minnows, rosy reds, waxies, spikes, plastics, and Gulp! baits on jig and under slip bobbers, and small jigging spoons.

Bluegill anglers report improving success fishing in 6-30 feet around weeds, wood, cribs, humps, and rock. Look for fish suspending at various locations in the water column. Waxies, spikes, plastics, and Gulp! baits on jigs, teardrops, and plain hooks will produce action. Try small minnows for larger bluegills.

Look for perch on the bottom, in 5-30 feet, on mud flats, rock, cribs, woods, humps, and weeds. Baits include crappie minnows, waxies, and plastics on small jigs. Note DNR fisheries biologist Skip Sommerfeldt says perch are starting to feed on mayfly nymphs.

Upcoming Events
Feb. 15: Seasons closed: Coyote trapping; Raccoon trapping/hunting; Red and gray fox trapping/hunting.
Feb. 19-22: American Birkebeiner (715-634-5025).
Feb. 19: Relic Riders “Ride to Lunch”; LCO Snowmobile Coral, 10:30 a.m. (715-634-4608; 520-8220).
Feb. 21: Gull Lake Ice Fishing Contest, Wolf Point Bar, Springbrook (800-367-3306).
Feb. 28: Seasons close: Cottontail rabbit; Mink trapping.
March 1: Game fish season closes on inland waters (see regs for exceptions).
March 7: Early catch-and-release only trout season opens statewide (see regs).
March 7: World’s Longest Weenie Roast, Lakewoods Resort (800-553-7454).

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.