March 2, 2015
Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report
Steve Suman

Mild Monday temperatures offer a preview of late week weather, but there are a few bumps (moguls?) on the trail between now and then. Night lows remain cold, but the forecast for next Sunday indicates highs in the upper 30s. For winter fans, “enjoy it while you’ve got it.” For those who are “wintered-out,” there is light at the end of the tunnel!

“Last week was good for ice fishing,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “with most panfish action in 8-12 feet. There is 20-24 inches of ice on most lakes, but be careful of thinner ice around stream inlets and areas with current.
“Knowing how to use your electronics is essential for finding structure, fish, and seeing how fish respond to lure presentation – all critical to catching both size and numbers.
“Anglers should note game fish season closed March 1, new licenses go on sale March 4, and the 2014-15 licenses expire March 31.”
Guide Dave Dorazio at Outdoor Creations says with game fish season closed, most Chippewa Flowage anglers are targeting crappies.
“Use your electronics to search for fish on deep wooded flats. Many fish are suspending and easy to mark. Fish baits just above crappies as they feed upwards. Use jigs with plastics, waxies, and Gulp! baits, or crappie minnows for fussy fish. To catch bluegills mixed in with the crappies, downsize your offerings.”
Jim at Hayward Bait says there is a good crappie bite on Nelson, Smith, LCO, and Sissabagama.
“Look for fish suspending in deeper water. Crappie minnows, rosy reds, waxies, and plastics all work well. Bluegill fishing is good in 5-20 feet on most lakes with waxies, spikes, and small plastics. Perch action is good in 5-15 feet with small jigging spoons tipped with minnow heads, rosy reds, fatheads, and waxies.”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses ‘walleye homing.’
“Anglers sometimes ask if walleyes use the same spawning locations from one year to the next. Several studies from New York and Canada that used clipped or tagged walleyes tell us the answer is yes, walleyes are likely to return to the same spawning area the next year.
“This makes walleye fairly predictable in the spring, but can create management problems. Wiping out a group of walleye that spawn on a prime spawning bar means it is less likely new fish will come in and replace them, leading to lower walleye production in the lake.
“A known local example is the formerly large population of walleye that used to spawn near Sisko’s Resort on the Chippewa Flowage. Despite good habitat, very few walleyes now spawn in that area.”

It is time to sign up for sharp-tailed grouse viewing on the 5,050-acre Namekagon Barrens Wildlife Area. Warden Christopher Spaight says people are missing out if they have never watched sharp-tailed grouse dance on the Barrens: “Once you see them, you will never forget.”

Apostle Islands National Lakeshore reported ice conditions on Lake Superior have improved and they planned to open the ice caves this past weekend. Check the NPS website for the latest update.

Lakewoods Resort’s annual World’s Longest Weenie Roast fundraiser for Great Divide Ambulance Service, Namakagon Volunteer Fire Department, and other area charities is March 6-8. The event holds the world record for the longest line of hot dog cookers over one fire! There is fun for everyone, with snowmobile speed runs, ice bowling, outlaw drags, and the Frozen Weenie Polar Plunge into Lake Namakagon! For information, call (800) 553-7454.

Snowmobile Trail Reports
The March 2 Cable Area snowmobile trails report says the Namakagon Trail Groomers ran continuously throughout the weekend and trails held up fairly well. Corners are slick with the minimal snow cover and riders should slow down heading into turns. The area could receive five inches of wet, heavy snow by Tuesday night and groomers will run Tuesday evening to lay down the new snow. It will be a great weekend for snowmobiling in the Cable Area!
The February 25 Hayward Lakes Visitors & Convention Bureau report says all Sawyer County trails are open, with most groomed and in very good condition. Watch for rough spots on spur trails. Southern Sawyer County trails are snow covered and good. Lake trails are very good. Stay on the marked trails and watch for ice heaves. Reminder: ATV trails are also open and offer great riding!
The Lakewoods report for February 25 says trails are in very good condition following the previous week’s cold temperatures. Groomers will continue to keep trails in the very best condition they can throughout the remainder of the season. Lake trails are in great shape. Stick to the marked areas and be prepared for emergencies no matter the ice thickness. The World's Longest Weenie Roast is this weekend March 6-8, the longest party on Lake Namakagon ice!
The Namakagon Trail Groomers report for February 24 says trails are in fair to good condition. The “Dream Machine” is now onsite and the groomers will be test-driving it on the trails. Come on up and enjoy the trails – there are still five riding weekends remaining!

Northwest Relic Riders Vintage Snowmobile Club is holding a “Ride to Lunch” event March 5, meeting at Snowshoe Saloon at 10:30 a.m. For more information, contact Mike Wells (715) 634-4608; 520-8220. On March 7, do not miss the First Annual Elitest Snowmobile Expo at Big Musky Resort.

NOTE: Game fish season closed March 1 on inland waters. Check the fishing regulations for exceptions. Early catch-and-release-only trout season opens statewide March 7 and runs through April 26. Check the trout fishing regulations for exceptions and restrictions. Anglers must use artificial lures and flies, but barbless hooks are not required.

Crappie action is good and getting better. Look for fish suspending in deeper water over weeds and wooded flats. The most productive baits include crappie minnows, rosy reds, waxies, plastics, and Gulp! baits.

Bluegill fishing is very good and improving. The ‘gills are in 4-22 feet of water and often in with the crappies. Baits of choice include waxies, spikes, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs, teardrops, and plain hooks. Going smaller can increase catch rates.

Perch activity is also improving on area lakes. Look for perch in 4-18 feet of water (depending on the lake) near weeds and on flats. Best baits include waxies, fatheads, rosy reds, and minnow heads on small jigging spoons.

Upcoming Events
Feb. 28: Seasons closed: Cottontail rabbit; Mink trapping.
March 1: Game fish season closed on inland waters (see regs for exceptions).
March 4: New licenses for 2015-16 on sale.
March 5: Northwest Relic Riders Ride to Lunch, Snowshoe Saloon; (715-634-4608; 520-8220).
March 6-8: World's Longest Weenie Roast, Lakewoods Resort (800-553-7454).
March 7: Early catch-and-release only trout season opens statewide (see regs).
March 7: First Annual Elitest Snowmobile Expo at Big Musky Resort; (217-202-8408).
March 13-15: Hot Air for Hearts Balloon Rally, Lakewoods (715-794-2561).
March 14: Lanes and Links on the Lake; turkey bowling and ice golf at Pat’s Landing.
March 15: Remove ice fishing shelters from inland lakes north of Highway 64.
March 17: Sno-Trails annual picnic, 12-4 p.m., Lac Courte Oreilles boat launch.
March 23: Leftover spring turkey tags goes on sale.
March 25: Hayward Bass Club meeting, Hayward Rod and Gun Club, 7 p.m. (715-699-1015).
March 31: Licenses for 2014-15 expire.

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.