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Dick Ellis Blog:
Mourning Doves serve as door to new seasons Micah and I will walk again into a new hunting season this afternoon like we’ve walked together into eight Septembers before. Mourning doves are calling us now, more as a way to shake the dust off and welcome a new autumn than anything else. Later it will be more “serious” pursuits of pheasant and duck. Almost certainly, my brother John and his lab Dylan will join us again today as th...
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Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report

April 3, 2017

Steve Suman

Following a wet start, this week should provide somewhat mild temperatures and partly cloudy skies – and quite a warm-up during the weekend and into the following week. Might be time to shift spring clothing to the front of the closet, though it might be a good idea not to move winter clothing to storage since it is still early spring in the North Woods!

Guide Steve Genson at Hayward Bait says the weather is decent and the Hayward area is enjoying some nice spring temperatures.

“Ice fishing is definitely over for the season. Most lakes are opening quickly and should continue to do so with temperatures in the 50s this week. It should not be too long before anglers in boats go after panfish. Remember that your 2016 fishing licenses expired March 31, so make sure you purchase a new license before heading to the water.

“Lake Superior tributaries are open for steelhead fishing, though so far we have few reports. Still, it is always worth the effort to go and enjoy the great fishing there. Small crankbaits and spinners will get some bites, but it is hard to beat spawn sacks suspended under slip floats, especially if you target current breaks and the head and tail ends of the holes.

“Turkey season is coming up soon and the birds are starting to get active. We had reports here in the last week of toms strutting and gobbling. Good luck and get out there and enjoy the spring weather!”

Carolyn at Anglers All in Ashland says it is spring on Chequamegon Bay, but the Bay still holds ice.

“The head of the Bay is open and the waters of Long Bridge and Short Bridge met last Tuesday, March 28. According to the old locals here, when that occurs, it is two weeks until ice-out – and it is usually close. There is open water behind Anglers All out to the breakwall, as well as open water off Pikes Bay. Remember that the ice moves and just because it was open today does not mean it will be open tomorrow. That is a quote from Mother Nature!

“The trollers are out in Saxon Harbor – you can also get in at Cornucopia – and they are doing well on brown trout and coho. Most trollers are flatlining planer boards and running stickbaits in the shallow water.

“Steelhead anglers are doing okay in the tributary streams, although Fish Creek and the Sioux River are a little high and cold with runoff. Most anglers report success using spawn, as the odor seems to attract more fish in the cloudy water. The steelhead will become more active as the water warms – and it would not hurt if we get a little rain!

“If you are a smelter, expect smelting to happen as it normally does around the second or third week of April.”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses the case for trolling.

“In 2015, Hayward area anglers saw changes to trolling rules that included allowing trolling for one line per angler, but no more than two lines trolled per boat, on all waters that previously prohibited trolling. The rule included a three-year sunset date for reevaluation at that time. With that three-year period closing, a 2017 Conservation Congress question will determine what trolling rule is in effect in Sawyer County going forward.

“Anglers can choose the rule as it currently exists (one line per angler and two lines per boat) or a rule that allows anglers to fish their three legal lines in whatever means they choose, including trolling.

“There are cases to be made against allowing trolling, based primarily on social concerns and an argument about what our fishing culture should be.

“There is a strong case for why we should allow people to troll if they choose to do so.

“For starters, research shows there is no impact on fish populations based on whether or not we allow trolling. Trolling is a legitimate, legal form of fishing in all counties neighboring Sawyer and in the rest of country. Where trolling is legal, only about one in 10 anglers troll, however, trolling is a useful method for older anglers, disabled anglers, and people who fish with kids. We think we should do whatever we can to make fishing easier for these groups.

“Trolling does not impact wildlife, speed erosion, or lead to higher rates of invasive plant species. Local law enforcement staff report there have been few issues related to trolling, including on local lakes where it has been legal for decades. This begs the question: Why are we asking our wardens to enforce the current rule that has no biological or public safety reasoning?

“This is why we propose the option to eliminate the confusing and biologically unnecessary restrictions on trolling in Sawyer County and allow anglers to fish their allowed lines however they choose.

“The Spring Hearing for Sawyer County is April 10, starting at 7 p.m., at Hayward High School.”

The 2017 Youth Turkey Hunt is April 15-16 and youth hunters 12-15 years of age who have completed hunter education may hunt if accompanied by an adult older than 18 years of age. In addition, under the Mentored Hunting Program, turkey hunters 10-11 years of age may participate in the 2017 youth turkey hunt without first completing hunter education. To do so, they must hunt with a qualified adult mentor and follow the program rules. For more information, search “mentored hunting” and “youth turkey hunt” on the DNR website.

The Wisconsin DNR is holding the annual Spring Hearings and Conservation Congress meetings Monday, April 10, starting at 7 p.m., in each county. Individuals interested in natural resources management have the opportunity to offer their input, by non-binding vote and testimony, to the DNRNRB, and Conservation Congress on proposed rule changes and advisory questions regarding fish and wildlife management. In addition, county residents have the option to run for Conservation Congress seats, elect county delegates to represent their views regarding natural resources on the Conservation Congress, and to bring to the attention of the Conservation Congress new conservation issues of a statewide nature. Prior to the hearings and meetings, people can review and offer comments on the Spring Hearing fish and wildlife rule proposals by visiting the website A complete list of meeting locations is available on the website as well. The DNR will summarize written comments, submitted electronically or by U.S. mail, for the Natural Resources Board, however, they will not tally the comments with the votes received at county hearings.

In Flambeau River State ForestLake of the Pines Campground opens April 15 and Connors Lake Campground opens May 25, the Thursday before Memorial Day weekend. All Connors Lake Campground campsites are reservable, and many Lake of the Pines Campsites are reservable, by registering at or calling (888) 947-2757. In addition to the campgrounds, Flambeau River State Forest operates and maintains 14 river sites on the North Fork of the Flambeau River. The sites have up to three camping units at each site and include a picnic table, fire ring, and toilet facilities. For more information on Flambeau River State Forest, call (715) 332-5271.

Upcoming Events

April 10Statewide spring hearings and Conservation Congress county meetings.

April 15-16Youth Turkey Hunt.

April 15-July 31: Illegal to allow unleashed dogs to run on DNR lands and FWPAs (see regs for exceptions).

April 15Fishing Hall of Fame opens for season.

April 17: Sawyer County CDAC meeting 7-9 p.m., Hayward DNR Service Center.

April 19-25: Period A spring turkey season.

April 26-May 2: Period B spring turkey season.

April 30: Seasons close: Beaver and otter trapping in North Zone.

May 3-9: Period C spring turkey season.

May 5: Early catch and release trout season closes.

May 6Inland waters gamefish season opens (see regs).

May 10-16: Period D spring turkey season.

May 17-23: Period E spring turkey season.

May 19-20Fishing Has No Boundaries – Hayward Event (800-243-3462).

May 19-21Musky Tale Resort – Northern Encounter (715-462-3838).

May 24-30: Period F spring turkey season.

May 24-25Fishing Has No Boundaries Kid’s Event at Nelson Lake (715-634-3185).

May 27: Muskellunge season opens north of Highway 10.

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.