March 30, 2015
Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report
Steve Suman

A wet start to what appears will be a wet week with fluctuating temperatures. The temperatures are generally moving in the right direction (i.e., warmer!), though with a few setbacks now and then. Keep in mind we are enjoying spring weather earlier than in the past two years!

“Pay attention to conditions around shorelines, current, and structure,” says Pat at Happy Hooker. “This is the time ice can quickly become unsafe.
“Look for crappie, bluegill, and perch around humps, cribs, and wood on mudflats or basins in 15-20 feet, or inside 10 feet on weed and break edges. Perch are tight to bottom; crappies and bluegills are suspending in the upper half of the water column. Try crappie minnows, waxies, micro-plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs or under slip bobbers.
“Some anglers are fishing the rivers for walleye and whitefish, but check the regulations – some rivers have closed seasons. Try jigs with fatheads, walleye suckers, shiners, and Twister Tails, or minnows on split shot or Lindy Rigs with floating jig heads.”
Guide Dave Dorazio at Outdoor Creations reminds anglers their 2014-15 licenses expire March 31.
“Chippewa Flowage crappie anglers are doing well, though getting on and off the ice can be a problem, with shorelines open in many areas and some current areas opening. Use caution!
“Most crappies are suspending in 12-25 feet and easy to see on electronics. Crappies feed upwards, so work your baits above them. Crappie minnows work on negative fish, but jigging out-produces live bait for active fish. Tip tungsten jigs with plastics, waxies, or Gulp! baits. Jigging #3 Jigging Rapalas will produce crappies of a larger average size.
“Downsize to smaller tungsten jigs tipped with spikes to target the nice bluegills in with the crappies.”
Bob at Hayward Bait says ice conditions are quickly deteriorating and ice fishing is coming to an end.
“A few anglers are still getting some panfish, but if you venture out, use extreme caution.
“Catch-and-release trout fishing is open and we are hearing some decent reports, and steelhead season opened on the Brule this past weekend. Try drifting spawn sacs, waxies, or crawlers, though small spoons and spinners work as well.
“Start thinking about open water season – this is the time to check gear, spool new line, and start re-stocking the tackle box.”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter encourages anglers to participate in the 2015 DNR Spring Fish and Wildlife Hearings and Conservation Congress meetings Monday, April 13.
“Make your voice heard on fish and wildlife management in our area by marking Monday April 13 on your calendar and attending the DNR Spring Hearings and Conservation Congress meetings. Held in every county throughout the state, the hearings offer hunters and anglers the opportunity to cast an advisory ballot on DNR and Conservation Congress proposals on hunting and fishing rules and regulations.
“The Sawyer County meeting begins at 7 p.m. at the Hayward Middle school. There are many proposed changes to area fishing regulations, with proposals related to panfish, trout, bass, walleye, and muskellunge.
“You can find detailed information on these proposed changes in the Conservation Congress section on the DNR website and in the spring hearing questionnaire available at DNR offices.
“It is important that sportsmen and sportswomen make their voices heard on these kinds of proposals and this is your chance to do so!”
DNR fisheries biologist Skip Sommerfeldt says colder temperatures last week firmed the ice surface and most lakes have 10-14 inches of cover.
“Areas around inlets, access sites, and south-facing shorelines still have spots of open water, however, and anglers should be very cautious. Ice conditions can deteriorate very quickly on warm, sunny days, so stay aware of changing conditions.
“A few anglers are still fishing and they report fair crappie and perch success with small minnows on tip-downs. Crappies are suspending 4-6 feet off bottom in deeper water, while perch are on mudflats in 6-12 feet.”

The County Deer Advisory Councils (CDAC) will release in April their preliminary recommendations for antlerless harvest quotas and permit levels. There is a public comment period April 1-15. The DNR also welcomes public comments as it reviews the recommendations April 20-23.

Before you burn debris or start a fire, check the DNR burning restrictions each day after 11 a.m. to learn the day’s fire danger, permit requirements, and burning restrictions. When disposing of fireplace and wood heater ash outdoors, use extra caution and make sure ashes are completely cold to the touch, as embers can smolder in ash for long periods.

Following a 45-day quarantine period in Kentucky, 26 elk have reached their new Wisconsin home near Black River Falls in Jackson County. This is the first year of a five-year agreement with Kentucky to provide up to 150 wild elk. The DNR will release all elk in Jackson County in 2015, but in future years will release animals in both Jackson County and Clam Lake. For more information, visit the elk page on the DNR website.

The Tuscobia Trails ATV Association provides a lengthy list of local ATV trail openings and closures on its website, but notes opening and closure dates are subject to change due to ground conditions. The Association welcomes new members and more information is available on the website.

Your 2014-15 fishing license expires March 31!
Ice fishing continues, but the clock is ticking as the wind, sun, and moderating weather takes their toll on ice conditions. Anglers are still doing well on panfish – just use extreme caution and common sense when venturing out onto the ice. Open water fishing season is just around the corner!

Crappie action is good and improving with fish suspending at various points in depths to more than 25 feet. As always, but particularly now, check the ENTIRE water column with your electronics. Concentrate on weeds, wood, humps, cribs, and mud flats. Top baits include crappie minnows, plastics, waxies, and Gulp! baits on small tungsten jigs and/or with tip-downs, and jigging spoons/baits. As guide Dave Dorazio continues to advise, crappies feed upward so work your baits above them!

Bluegills are suspending in depths to 20 feet and deeper water, holding around weeds, wood, cribs, breaks, and over mud flats, often swimming with the crappies. Baits of choice include waxies, spikes, plastics, Gulp! baits on small jigs and teardrops. Small minnows can work well for larger ‘gills.

Look for perch on the bottom, in depths out to 22 feet, near wood, weeds, breaks, cribs, and mud flats. The most productive baits include small jigs tipped with crappie minnows, waxies, plastics, and Gulp! baits, or smaller minnows on tip-downs.

Upcoming Events
March 28: Trout season opened on some Lake Superior tributaries. (See trout regs).
March 31: Licenses for 2014-15 expire.
April 11-12: Youth turkey hunt.
April 13: DNR Spring Fish and Wildlife Hearings and Conservation Congress meetings.
April 15 through July 31: Illegal to allow dogs to run on DNR lands and Federal WPA (see regs for exceptions).
April 26: Early inland trout season closes.
April 30: Seasons close in north zone: Otter trapping; Beaver trapping.
May 2: General inland waters game fish opener (check regs for exceptions). Frog season opens.

Spring turkey hunting periods
A: April 15-21; B: April 22-28; C: April 29-May 5; D: May 6-12; E: May 13-19; F: May 20-26.

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.