April 27, 2015
Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report
Steve Suman

Forecasts promise great weather heading into Wisconsin’s May 2 game fish opener this weekend. A few days indicate minimal chances of rain, but all show high temperatures in the 60- to 70-degree range! Get your tackle ready – and make sure you have a current license!

“Regulation changes brought good news for anglers,” says Pat at Happy Hooker.
“The DNR raised the walleye limit to three fish and for the first time in many years, largemouth bass season begins opening day. Smallmouth bass remain catch and release until June 20. Be sure to check new regulation details and signage at landings for special lake-specific regulations.
“Walleyes finished spawning and will slowly return to feeding. Fishing is best during early morning and late evening when fish come shallow to feed. During the day, fish deeper holes, humps, and cribs. Work fatheads, walleye suckers, soft plastics, and small crankbaits on light line, with slow retrieves.
“For northern pike, fish shallow weed edges with spinnerbaits, crankbaits, plastics, and large minnows under bobbers. Crappies are staging for spawn and will be moving into the shallows. Fish small hooks or jigs tipped with crappie minnows under small slip bobbers, or cast small plastics, starting deep and working towards the shallows.”
Guide Dave Dorazio at Outdoor Creations says the Chippewa Flowage water level is about 3.5 feet below full pool, but rising steadily, and some rain will help.
“Boat landings are low, though useable, but be careful of shallow spots on the lake!
“Some anglers are finding crappies deep and moving shallow in the afternoon. Look for fish holding on weeds or wood in mud-bottom bays. Crappie minnows will produce, but hair and marabou jigs, and jigs tipped with plastics, are more efficient.
“For the opener, some walleyes will still be shallow and some male fish will remain shallow after the spawn. To cover shallow areas, cast crankbaits and jig/minnow combinations. For deeper fish, try 1/4-ounce jigs tipped with fatheads. Try different areas until you locate fish. Good luck!”
Bob at Hayward Bait says the lakes are ice free, water temperatures are climbing, and we should have a “normal” opener!
“Crappie and bluegill fishing is improving and fish may be moving shallower on some lakes. Brule River trout fishing is fair, the Namakagon good, and Lake Superior trout and salmon fishing is good.
“Heading into opener, with post-spawn walleyes chomping at the bit, jigs/minnows, leeches, and crankbaits are the baits of choice. Check walleye size limits and slots for the lake(s) you fish. The 2015-16 Ceded Territory walleye size limits information is available on the DNR website. Northern action should be good with live bait, spinnerbaits, and spoons.
“Good luck to our Governor and all who are fishing for a safe and successful opener!”

Carolyn at Anglers All in Ashland says Chequamegon Bay anglers are registering some legal sturgeon and whitefish action is good by the lighthouse.
“The perch bite is decent off the ore dock and anglers are catching a few northerns along Ashland’s shoreline.
“Trollers flatlining stickbaits over 20-60 feet of water in the Bay and the triangle from Houghton Point to Long Island to the Onion River are catching good numbers of coho and brown trout. Fish often come up after shallow runners, but try deeper running shad baits on deeper drops.
“Smallmouth action should be excellent in sand cut as the water warms and clears and jigs – and Twister Tails are always a sure bet. Stream fishing is good for steelhead and should be good for browns and brookies on the opener.”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter touches on the game fish opener.
“The fishing opener is finally here!
“This year, unlike the last couple years, walleye and pike are mostly done spawning and should be moving into post-spawn locations and ready to eat. Panfish will be staging in shallow, dark-bottom bays, with crappies likely nesting soon.
“There are new walleye regulations on most waterbodies this spring, so please check the signs at the boat ramps or online at http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/fishing/regulations/index.html.
“Make sure you have enough life jackets in your boat (kids wearing theirs!) and check your fire extinguishers. It is easy to forget these things the first time out each year.
“The Hayward DNR Fish Team wishes everyone a safe, fun, and successful weekend!”
“Walleye spawning started quickly,” says DNR fisheries biologist Skip Sommerfeldt, “but unsettled weather and cold water temperatures extended their spawning time and a few ripe males and females are still near spawning areas. Perch are in the middle of spawning.
“Muskie spawning gets in full gear when the water temperature reaches the low 50-degree range. A few fish are in the shallows, but it may be a week or two until muskie spawning increases on larger waters.
“Largemouth and smallmouth bass are nearing the shallows, but spawning activity is several weeks away.
“As the water warms into the low 50s, panfish will move shallow in greater numbers, especially in dark-bottom bays that get a lot of sun.
“Crappies begin spawning as the water warms to the low 60s. Bluegills begin when water hits the mid to upper 60s.”

The application deadline is May 27 for Wisconsin’s Learn to Hunt Bear program. The program, featuring classroom and field instruction and a real hunt with skilled mentors, is for people who might not otherwise have an opportunity to experience bear hunting. It is open to anyone age 10 and older who has not participated in a Learn to Hunt Bear event, previously purchased a Class A or B bear license, or applied for preference points. Program officials will evaluate applications and notify winners in mid-June. Other Learn to Hunt opportunities include turkey, deer, pheasant, upland game, and waterfowl.

Artists have until July 24 to submit artwork to the DNR’s stamp design contest for the 2016 Wisconsin wild turkey, pheasant, and waterfowl stamps. Judging takes place July 31 and the top three entries for each stamp will be on display August 6-16 at the Wisconsin State Fair.

The DNR’s “Wisconsin’s Coolest Fish Contest” is underway, with 64 fish vying for your vote. The contest runs through June 8, with a new bracket of contenders every five days. Visit www.facebook.com\WIDNR and click “Coolest Fish Contest.” One person, randomly selected from all entries, will win a custom-made, wall-mount fish sculpture of the winner’s choice. The DNR will announce the winner and winning fish June 9.

Hayward Lakes Chapter Muskies, Inc. will hold its monthly meeting Tuesday, May 5, at Coop’s Pizza in Hayward, starting at 7 p.m. The Chapter invites the public to attend and visitor are always welcome. Non-members attending the meeting can purchase a one-year membership to Muskie, Inc., for half price! For more information, call (715) 634-4543).

Crappie and bluegill fishing is good on area waters, though you might have to follow the fish from deep to the shallows as they move toward warmer water during the day. Most action seems to be from shallow water out to 12-15 feet, primarily in darker, shallow bays warmed by sunshine (look for structure, such as wood, that absorbs heat). Top bait choices include various types of small jigs tipped with crappie minnows, plastics, and Gulp! baits.

Upcoming Events
April 26: Early inland trout season closed.
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.
May 5: Hayward Lakes Chapter Muskies, Inc. business meeting; Coop’s Pizza, 7 p.m. (715-634-4543).
May 8-10: 31st Annual Treeland Challenge (715-462-3874).
May 15-16: Fishing Has No Boundaries on Chippewa Flowage (715-634-3185).
May 15-17: Musky Tale Resort’s Northern Encounter (715-462-3838).
Through July 31: Illegal to allow dogs to run on DNR lands and Federal WPA (see regs for exceptions).

Spring turkey hunting periods
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.