April 6, 2015
Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report
Steve Suman

Ice is deteriorating on North Wood’s lakes, an encouraging sign of spring, yet we had a four-inch snowfall Easter Sunday night! Additional “precipitation” in the forecast this week will be short-lived, with high temperatures in the 40- to 60-degree range.

“This year,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “we should have a ‘real’ game fish opener May 2, as scheduled. Although main parts of the lakes remain frozen, there is a lot of movement on shorelines and in shallow bays.
“Do you have your new license? Have you checked your equipment? Charged boat batteries? Once the ice is gone, it will spur fish to feed!
“Look for warmer water in shallower lakes or shallow bays on deeper lakes and use smaller lures, lighter tackle, and slow retrieves. Fish walleyes with light line and light action rods with slow-moving jigs or small crankbaits. For crappies, use small jigs or minnow under bobbers.”
Guide Dave Dorazio at Outdoor Creations says ice fishing has ended on the Chippewa Flowage and most area lakes.
“Warm temperatures melted the ice along shorelines, making it tough to get on or off the ice, and with the water rising, most main lake ice is not safe.
“Lakes are opening and it is time to get the boat ready to go. You will find panfish active in the same areas as during late ice, but use extreme caution – the water is still very cold!”
Jim at Hayward Bait says the ice is off many area lakes.
“I have not heard of anyone on the ice for more than a week and have yet to hear of anyone getting on the open water. Be sure to get your new license – do it now to avoid the opening day rush.”
Mike at Jenk’s says the Chippewa Flowage water level is rising, but still down about six feet.
“The warm weather has significantly started to thaw the lakes. There is a lot of open water on the Chippewa Flowage, and Round Lake ice is starting to look rotten.”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses what the Ceded Territory Walleye Proposal means for this area.
“During the past couple weeks, the DNR has issued press releases about proposed walleye regulations in northern Wisconsin. The goal is to keep walleye daily bag limits at three fish – and to provide that consistency from year to year. To accomplish this goal requires changing many walleye size limits.
“The current default regulation – a 15-inch minimum length limit – would change to a slot in which anglers could harvest fish between 15-20 inches, including one fish more than 24 inches in their three-fish daily bag limit. Locally, this regulation would apply to most lakes, including Chippewa Flowage, Lost Land, Teal, and the Chippewa River upstream from Arpin Dam, all of which did not previously have minimum length limits.
“Moose Lake, the West Fork of the Chippewa River upstream from Moose, and Windigo Lake, would be the only waters with no minimum length limit, but allow only one walleye more than 14 inches.
“Other lakes with special regulations – Grindstone, Sand, Nelson, Whitefish, Sissabagama, Chetac, Black Dan, and Island – would stay at the same size limits with a three-fish daily bag limit.
DNR fisheries biologist Skip Sommerfeldt says that for all practical purposes, ice fishing season has ended in the North Woods.
“Recent mild temperatures really softened the ice cover and developed a lot of open water areas, especially around inlets, outlets, and south-facing shorelines. Some lakes were holding 10-12 inches of grainy, honeycombed ice prior to the warm spell, but access on/off the ice was iffy and there were several reports of anglers falling through the soft spots. So be safe – and wait for the open-water season!”

The DNR Spring Fish and Wildlife Hearings and Conservation Congress meetings are next Monday, April 13, starting at 7 p.m., in all counties. The Sawyer County meeting is at Hayward Middle School on Greenwood Lane. Do not miss this opportunity to voice your thoughts on proposed fish, wildlife, and trapping rule changes and advisory questions. This week, before the hearings, review the questions – there are 112 of them! The questionnaire is available on the DNR website and at DNR service centers.

Wisconsin’s Youth Turkey Hunt is April 11-12. The regular spring turkey season, open April 15 through May 26, consists of six seven-day time periods. According to DNR upland wildlife ecologist Scott Walter, wild turkeys had good production in 2014 and statewide surveys showed a 22-percent increase in broods and in brood size.

Black bears are emerging from their dens and the DNR offers tips on how to avoid conflicts with them. The DNR receives more than 800 bear related complaints each year and most are the result of attractants such as bird feeders, garbage cans, grills, and pet good containers left outside. Once homeowners remove all “food” sources, bears will usually stop their visits, though it might be several days to weeks. Homeowners in northern Wisconsin who are unable to resolve a bear conflict should call USDA-Wildlife Services (800-228-1368.)

Hayward Power Sports ATV trail report for April 1 says Sawyer County Forest ATV trails remain closed until further notice; however, Tuscobia, LCO, and town routes remain open. We again thank club members and volunteers for all of your work on our beautiful trails. If you have questions or want to help, give us a call!
Hayward Lakes Visitors & Convention Bureau ATV trail report for April 1 says most Sawyer County ATV trails will open on or before May 15, but trails open now include Tuscobia Trail, signed Town Roads, and 30 to 777 (Larson Road Trail) from LCO Casino to the Tuscobia Trail. Contact the Sawyer County Forest Department (715) 634-4846 for specific information. The DNR number is (715) 266-7032.
Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest trails remain closed until further notice. During this time, the Forest prohibits the use of wheeled motorized vehicles, mountain bikes, horses, or other pack or saddle animals on National Forest System trails. This seasonal closure during spring break-up reduces trail rutting and erosion. The closure does not affect ATV routes and trails designated by towns under state law. Trail users should check local regulations for trails they plan to use. Contact Chequamegon National Forest recreational trail manager Elzabeth Tichner by email: etichmer02@fs.fed.us.

What remains of the ice cover is unsafe and as a result, fishing reports are going on short hiatus until open water fishing is a viable option. Barring unseasonably cold temperatures (even colder than we are currently experiencing!), it could be a matter of a couple weeks – or a few days. Until then, spend time with pre-season prep so you are ready to go when gamefish seasons opens May 2!

Upcoming Events
March 31: Licenses for 2014-15 expired!
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.