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1-27-14 Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report

Steve Suman

The forecast predicts more snow, cold, and wind, though with some slight improvement later in the week. Snowmobilers should take note: Riders report trail conditions across northwest Wisconsin are the best in years.

“This will be a winter to remember,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “with wind chill advisories of -25 to -35 degrees for nearly the entire month of January!

“The good news is we have plenty of ice and people are driving their trucks onto the lakes. Be aware there is slush on some lakes. Anglers are all using heated shacks or shelters and report fair fishing, picking up some perch, crappie, northern, and an occasional walleye, but nothing consistent.”

Jim at Hayward Bait says vehicle travel on many lakes is becoming more difficult due to snow depth and drifting and venturing off established trails gets very difficult.

“Fish walleyes in 15-30 feet of water on the edges of deep weedlines or structure changes such as rock changing to sand. Minnows on tip-ups and jigging spoons tipped with minnow heads work best, and early morning and late afternoon is the best time.”

Guide Dave Dorazio at Outdoor Creations says most Chippewa Flowage angling pressure is towards panfish.

“Anglers willing to cover a big area are doing well on crappies. You will find many areas seemingly devoid of fish, and then find areas loaded with them.

“Drill numerous holes and use electronics to locate crappies. They seem to feed upward, so fish just above them. Try plain hook/split shot rigs with crappie minnows, but jigs tipped with waxies or plastics seem to take more fish.”

Randy at Jenk’s says ice depths now averages about 20 inches

“Fishing pressure is on the light side because of the weather. Anglers who do venture out are catching crappies and bluegills in 18-24 feet of water with minnows and waxies, and some northern on bigger minnows near deeper weeds.”

Carolyn at Anglers All in Ashland says fishing is most productive in 20-30 feet of water in the channel and drop-off into the channel.

“Anglers fishing off the Sioux and Onion rivers, the tip of Long Island, Blackhawk Marina, and Red Cliff are doing well in 30 -60 feet of water with lake shiners. Tip-up anglers often use golden shiners.”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter explains how the DNR estimates the number of fish in a lake.

“To get an estimate there is an initial tagging period where all captured fish receive some distinguishing mark/tag and then released. Later, during a second survey, the proportion of fish with a tag from the first survey allows us to estimate the total population size.

“For example, let us say we tag 200 walleye in a lake. When we return, we capture 100 walleye, including 10 with the tag. We know that when we tagged 200 fish that was about 10 percent of the total population (measured during the second survey) so we estimate there are approximately 200x10 walleye in the lake.”

DNR fisheries biologist Skip Sommerfeldt says ice thickness is holding about 15-17 inches on most lakes in the North Woods, but with 8-12 inches of snow on top.

“This makes vehicle travel rather tough. Stick to packed trails, since there have been some stuck 4WD vehicles due to the frozen ruts and deep snow. Slush areas are showing up on many lakes, contributing to the difficult travel conditions.”

Walleyes for Northwest Wisconsin will host its 18th annual Family Fishing Event Saturday February 8, from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m., on Lac Courte Oreilles. Register at the public boat landing off Highway K. Event buttons cost $5/adults, $1/youth 13-17 years of age, and youth 12 years and younger receive free entry. Buttons and tickets are available at Hayward Bait, Outdoor Creations, Hayward Home Center, and Stone Lake Bait.

Cable Rod & Gun Club is holding its annual Ice Fishing Tourney Saturday February 1, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., on Lake Namakagon. Loon Saloon is event headquarters. Fish registration begins at 10 a.m. There are cash awards for the biggest walleye, northern pike, crappie, bluegill, and perch. The entry fee is $5 and raffle tickets are available at Andry Rasmussen’s, Cable Cafe, R Place Cafe, and the Loon Saloon. For more information, call Kathy (715) 798-4459.

Northwest Relic Riders Vintage Snowmobile Club’s 8th Annual Kaye Johnson Memorial Vintage Snowmobile Ride is February 1 – and one of the largest vintage rides in Wisconsin. Sign-in at 9:30 a.m. at Trails End Resort off Hwy K, six miles from Hwy 27. For more information, call (715) 634-2423. The annual Big Boyz Toyz Vintage Snowmobile Ride is February 8 at the Winter Huskies grooming shed (more than 100 sleds present last year!)

The January 23 Cable Area snowmobile trails report says riders are raving about the great trails, some of the best they have ridden in years! The January 22 Hayward Lakes Visitors & Convention Bureau snowmobile trail report says trails are in very good to excellent condition and the scenery is picture perfect! Once again, a reminder to watch for ice heaves on the lakes and for stumps on Chippewa Flowage.




Walleye action is inconsistent, with best success in early mornings and late afternoons. Depths vary from 6-30 feet, depending on the lake and time of day. Target weedline edges, rock bars, grass flats, mud bottoms, and mid-depth to deep breaklines and drop-offs with walleye suckers or large fatheads on tip-ups or jigging spoons with minnow heads.


Northern fishing is generally fair and best with a shining sun. You will find pike in 4-20 feet of water, close to green weeds and weedlines. Use large northern suckers or shiners under tip-ups. For trophy pike, fish larger bait in deeper water.


Crappie fishing can be very good once you – surprise! – find the fish. Go prepared to drill many holes, be on the move, and run electronics. Be sure to check the entire water column. Look for fish suspending in 18-30 feet of water. Baits of choice include crappie minnows, waxies, and plastics fished on tip-downs, plain hooks, and small jigs.


Bluegill action is good, but few anglers are chasing them due to weather and travel conditions. If you go, look for fish in 5-24 feet of water, suspending over deeper water, close to green weeds, and swimming with crappies. Top baits include waxies, spikes, mousies, and plastics tipped on teardrops or small jigs.


Perch action is improving and you will find them just off bottom in 5-20 of water and along weedlines. Use tip-downs with crappie minnows or rosy reds, or try tipping small jigging spoons with minnow heads or waxies.

Upcoming Events

Jan. 31: Seasons close: Ruffed grouse (Northern Zone); Squirrel; Bobcat (Period 2).

Feb. 1Northwest Relic Riders 8th Annual Kaye Johnson Memorial Snowmobile Ride (715-634-2423).

Feb. 1Cable Rod & Gun Club Ice Fishing Tourney (715-798-4459).

Feb. 8Walleyes for Northwest Wisconsin 18th Annual Family Ice Fishing Event (715-634-2921).

Feb. 8-9Deerfoot Lodge Freeze Your Buns Off crappie tournament (715-462-3328).

Feb. 14-17Great Backyard Bird Count.

Feb. 15: Seasons close: Fox trapping; Coyote trapping; Raccoon hunting/trapping.

Feb. 15Namekagon River Valley Chapter RMEF banquet (715-634-1742).

Feb. 19: DNR Sawyer County fish management forum, Hayward High School, 7-9 p.m.

Feb. 20-23American Birkebeiner (715-634-5025).

Feb. 28: Seasons close: Mink trapping; Muskrat trapping; Cottontail rabbit.

 For more information on area events and activities, visit the Hayward Lakes Visitor and Convention Bureauwebsite, view its Calendar of Events, or call 1-800-724-2992.