March 12, 2018
Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report
Steve Suman

Spring is slowly moving into the North Woods, but there is plenty of time to experience additional “interesting” weather before it actually feels like spring is in for keeps. This week’s forecast looks quite pleasant and the following week’ forecast indicates (at this time) a nice warm-up period! For now, however, winter activities continue!

“Fishing is slow,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “with anglers reporting difficulty accessing the lakes, whether walking or driving, due to the snow and slush. Fishing from now until May is for panfish only and anglers are reporting moderate success.
“We are in the beginning of ‘brown time’ in the North Woods, the transition time between winter and spring. There is still a lot of snow cover on the ground and on the lakes. Daytime warmth compresses the snow, creating pools of water underneath that freeze at night, creating a hazard for walking anywhere.
“Snowmobile trails are good, with some areas not ideal, but certainly passable, including road connectors, roadside trails, and trails in the open and/or in direct sunlight. Wooded trails still have a base of 10-15 inches and the lakes are good. There are some reports of snowmobiles and four-wheelers stuck in the slush, so stay on the trails!”

Erik at Hayward Bait says there is plenty of ice and conditions are great!
“Depending on the lake, it is a good idea to bring an auger extension, and some of the recent snowfall made getting around ‘challenging’ on some lakes.
“Gamefish season closed March 4 and anglers will now be chasing only panfish through the ice. Crappies are in 15-26 feet, often mixed in with bluegills, and anglers can use much of the same tackle. Crappie minnows and rosy reds work well for slab crappies. If fish are active, use aggressive presentations such as Ultra Light Rippin’ Raps, smaller Jigging Raps, Slab Raps, Acme Hyper Glides, and small spoons. If fish are actively feeding, plastics work great, too.
“Bluegill fishing is good in 12-16 feet near weed beds, off mid-lake hump, and the inside turns of bays. Anglers should use various types of jigs tipped with waxies and spikes.
“Perch can be a great species to chase this time of year. Try using small lead or tungsten jigs, small spoons, and chandelier-style baits such as a Perch Talker, Halis, and others. To improve success, tip your baits with waxies and spikes or even crappie minnows and fatheads.”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses the mouth types of Wisconsin fish species.
“Wisconsin fish species not only come in all different shapes, sizes, and colors, they have a variety of different mouth types. Understanding why different mouth types evolved will help you understand how fish feed – and that just might help you catch more fish!
“The ‘terminal’ mouth type, one of the most common, is situated right at the front of the head, pointing straight forward, and found on walleye, bass, and most panfish. Terminal mouths are versatile and used to eat a wide range of prey, from insects to other fish. Sometimes terminal mouths have large teeth; sometimes they have very small teeth.
“Set just a little lower on the head are ‘subterminal’ mouths, such as on whitefish and freshwater drum.
“Then there are ‘inferior’ mouths found on the underside of the head. Examples of fish with this mouth type include suckers, redhorse, and sturgeon. Inferior mouth types are highly specialized to feed on the bottom for insects and crustaceans and are often ‘protrusible’ as well, meaning the fish can extend its mouth outward to reach food. It is rare to see large teeth in fish with subterminal and inferior mouth types, meaning very few specialize in eating other fish.”

Wisconsin’s County Deer Advisory Councils (CDAC) mid-March meetings are the start of the antlerless harvest quota and permit-setting process for the 2018 season. The Sawyer County CDAC meeting is Tuesday, March 20, from 7-10 p.m., at the Hayward DNR Service Center. Meetings are open to the public. From April 2-12, the public can comment on preliminary recommendations in an online survey. In May, the DNR will present final recommendations to the Natural Resources Board for approval. For more information, search “CDAC” on the DNR website.

The DNR begins the sale of remaining spring turkey harvest authorizations at 10 a.m. Monday, March 19. Each zone has a designated sales date, with sales starting at 10 a.m. each day and running through midnight. Sales run five consecutive days, with customers able to purchase one harvest authorization per day. Remaining harvest authorizations for all zones go on sale (one per day) March 24. (Note: There are no remaining permits for Zone 6.) The cost is $10/residents and $15/non-residents. Please note that at the time you purchase you must possess or purchase a spring turkey license and stamp. The 2018 spring Youth Turkey Hunt is April 14-15. Regular turkey season begins the following Wednesday, April 18, and consists of six seven-day periods, running through May 29. For more information, search “turkey” on the DNR website or call (888) 936-7463.

Hayward Bass Club (HBC) is holding a club meeting this Wednesday, March 14, starting at 7 p.m., at Hayward Rod & Gun Club, to discuss which lakes league members would most like to fish during their weekly outings this season. The meeting is open to the public and Hayward Bass Club always welcomes new members. For more information, contact Wayne Balsavich by email at or call (715) 699-1015.

The DNR reminds snowmobilers to make sure snowmobile registrations are current and snowmobiles display a valid snowmobile trail pass. Wisconsin requires a trail pass to operate on all public snowmobile trails. You can order trail passes online, as well as renew registrations.

The March 12 HLVCB trail report says snowmobile trails are open and in typical spring condition due to the warming, melting days, but still cold nights. Wooded trails are good, but trails through open areas, road crossings, and along the roadways have large bare patches. The lakes are still good EXCEPT Lake Hayward, which has several areas of open water and is NO LONGER SAFE!

The March 12 Travel Wisconsin trail report for Washburn County says all Washburn County snowmobile trails are open and in good condition, with a base of 5-10 inches. Quite a few days of warmer weather has taken away from the great base existing at the beginning of last week and road crossings are slim, with a snow/dirt mixture. Volunteers are out grooming the trails daily, so always ride with caution!

The March 8 Namakagon Trail Groomers trail report says all Namakagon Trails are in good to very good condition and they are holding up well with the lighter traffic and great base.

The 55 miles of snowmobile trails on Flambeau River State Forest are in fair condition. The trails link to the Tuscobia Trail and trail systems in Sawyer, Rusk, and Price counties.

Reminders: Inland gamefish season closed March 4. For anglers fishing panfish, current licenses are valid through March 31, but 2018-19 licenses are now available and valid immediately. Anglers fishing inland waters north of Highway 64 must remove ice shanties by March 18.

Crappie fishing is good to very good once you find them. Look for fish around weeds and other structure or suspending in 12-28 feet. Be sure to check the entire water column, as they could be anywhere from top to bottom. Best baits include crappie minnows, rosy reds, plastics, Gulp! baits, spoons, Jigging Raps, Rippin’ Raps, and similar baits.

Bluegill fishing is good in 8-20 feet on weeds/weed beds, mid-lake humps, and the inside turns of bays. Use small jigs, teardrops, and plain hooks tipped with waxies, spikes, and plastics.

Perch fishing is good – if ice conditions allow you to access their locations. Look for fish around weeds and on soft bottoms in 8-28 feet. Best presentations include small jigs, rattle spoons, and Jigging Raps tipped with crappie minnows, fatheads, waxies, spikes, and plastics,

Upcoming Events
March 11: Daylight Saving Time began (are you finding yourself an hour late for everything?)
March 15: Crex Meadows State Wildlife Area snowshoe adventure, 11 a.m.-noon (715-463-2739).
March 18: Must remove ice fishing shelters from north of Hwy 64, Lake Superior, WI-MI boundary waters.
March 19-23: Remaining spring turkey harvest authorizations sales begin by zone (888-936-7463).
March 20: Sawyer County CDAC meeting, 7-10 p.m., Hayward DNR Service Center (715-634-2688).
March 20: Crow season closes.
March 31: Trout season opens on some Lake Superior tributaries (see regs).
March 31: 2017 licenses expire.
April 15: Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame and Museum open (715-634-4440).

For more information on area events and activities, visit the Hayward Lakes Visitor and Convention Bureau website, view its Calendar of Events, or call 800-724-2992.