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Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report

Steve Suman

The Hayward forecast shows moderate temperatures this week, with highs and lows primarily in the 20s and 30s. The trade-off is a chance of snow every day, though so far not much for accumulation. We have plenty of good ice and decent snow cover, so all winter recreation is a “go” at this time.

“Severe cold the past couple weeks made ice thicker,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “and we are seeing many more anglers getting out there.

“Walleye fishing is good for both numbers and a few big fish. The best action is in late afternoon until after dark, with the best action at dusk. Set tip-ups with shiner on drop-offs, intercepting fish as they move shallow to feed. After dark, move tip-ups to shallow weeds. Northern action is good on walleye suckers and shiners on tip-ups set over weeds – and pike bite all day.

“Crappie anglers are catching fish on crappie minnows over deeper water, with fish often just off bottom. Bluegill action is decent in weeds with spikes and waxies on very light line and small teardrop jigs. Catch perch a little deeper in the weeds on crappie minnows and waxies.”

At Hayward Bait, Kelly, Sonya, and Bob say ice depths are 10-12 inches on some lakes and up to 9 inches on the larger lakes, but they still do not recommend vehicle travel on the lakes.

“Anglers using suckers and shiners are catching walleye and northern on most lakes. Panfish anglers are using waxies, spikes, mousies, crappie minnows, rosy reds, and plastic, with pink and white working well.

“Look for walleyes in about 12 feet, depending on the lake. Panfish and northern pike are in weeds in depths around 10 feet or so.”

Mike at Jenk’s says Chippewa Flowage ice depths are between 8-11 inches, but there are some areas of slush where there is likely less ice.

“Northern pike are very active near shallow cover and crappie fishing is great all day in depths more than 17 feet.

“Ice depths on Round, Grindstone, and Lac Courte Oreilles are anywhere from 7-12 inches, depending on location. Walleye fishing on Round, Grindstone, LCO, and Lost Land/Teal is awesome on shallow rocks in early morning and evening hours. During the day, work deeper water and around weed edges.”


This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses hook removal techniques.

“Corey Deboom and some fellow researchers in Illinois examined the effects of different hook removal techniques on the mortality of deeply hooked largemouth bass.

“Researchers examined fish caught on live bait and used four separate deep-hook removal strategies: leave the hook in and cut the line; standard removal with a barbed hook; removal of a barbless hook; and turn the hook out behind the gills. Fish hooked normally in the mouth served as controls.

“After catching fish and removing hooks, the researchers held the fish in ponds for observation. The results may be somewhat surprising.

“Fish that had the hook removed with the gill technique started eating sooner than fish experiencing the other techniques. Overall, there was no difference in either short-term or long-term (11 months) mortality of the deep-hooked fish, and overall mortality was relatively low.

“This study shows deep-hooked fish may have a good chance at survival after release, good news for catch and release oriented anglers.”

Even with the recent cold weather, says DNR fisheries biologist Skip Sommerfeldt, ice conditions remain extremely variable on the lakes, with some slush spots, and anglers should be very careful when venturing on the ice.

“Walleye anglers report best success during low light periods on breaklines and mud flats in 6-10 feet. Northern pike are near weeds in 4-8 feet. Active panfish are tough to find. Anglers report a few decent catches of perch and bluegill on teardrops tipped with waxies fished just off bottom in deeper water.”


Elk Country ATV Club’s 8th annual ice fishing contest on Upper Clam Lake is this Saturday, January 30, from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. Raffle prizes include a fish locator, ice shack, ice auger, and a Honda TRX 420 Rancher ATV. Contest species include walleye, northern, crappie, bluegill, and perch. There is a youth division for kids age 12 and younger. The entry fee is $5 (100 percent payback) and there will be food and refreshments available.


Deer Run Resort’s 4th annual All Women’s Ice Fishing Fundraiser for Kids with Cancer is this Sunday, January 31, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. The event raises money to help fight cancer for kids. The entry fee is $10 and there are raffle tickets, hot dogs, and hot drinks sold on the ice. For more information, call (715) 462-3276.



The Hayward Power Sports report for January 25 says northern Sawyer County trails are in very good to excellent condition, with all major lake trails frozen, staked, and ready to ride. There is always a chance of ice heaves, so stay on marked trails. The Tuscobia Trail is groomed and flat, but needs a little more snow. Spur trails off the Tuscobia have snow and are rideable, but not groomed due to the swamps.

The January 22 Hayward Lakes Visitors & Convention Bureau report says the majority of trails in northern Sawyer County are groomed and in very good to excellent condition. All major lake trails are frozen and staked, including Nelson, Tiger Cat, Spider, Lost Land, Moose, Round, Grindstone, Lac Courte Oreilles, Chippewa Flowage, Sand, Chetac, and Long Lake. Crews have NOT staked Lake Hayward at this time due to unsafe conditions. Be alert for ice heaves, stay on marked trails, ride safe, and have fun!

The Runamuk Rides report for January 20 says Sawyer and Bayfield county trails have a nice base and are holding up well. The heaviest base is in the northern half of Sawyer County and southern Bayfield County. Trails around Seeley Hills, Chippewa Flowage, Cable, Namakagon, and Drummond are in great shape and regularly groomed. Most lakes are open to snowmobiles, but as always – go ONLY on staked lakes and stay close to the stakes.




Walleye fishing is decent and improving, with anglers experiencing the most action during low light conditions in morning, evening, on overcast days, and after dark. You will find walleyes in depths to 15 feet or so, with fish deeper during the day and shallower in the evening. Target mud flats, breaklines, weeds, and weed edges.


Northern Pike:

Northern pike are actively feeding and providing anglers an all-day bite. Look for fish around weeds and other cover in depths to 12 feet, as well as near schools of panfish. Use walleye suckers, northern suckers, and shiners under tip-ups.



Crappie action is fair to very good – once you find the fish. Look for them in 8-20 feet and check the entire water column, especially near the bottom. Baits of choice include crappie minnows, rosy reds, waxies, and plastics on small jigs or plain hooks.



Bluegills are in the same general locations as crappies, hitting waxies, spikes, mousies, and plastics on very small jigs and teardrops. Downsize tackle and baits to improve success.



Perch are in deeper weeds and/or suspending near the bottom. Top baits include crappie minnows, fatheads, and waxies.


Upcoming Events

Jan. 24: Winter crow season opened.

Jan. 26: Relic Riders club ride to lunch; meet at The Hutt, Hayward (715-634-4608; 520-8220).

Jan. 30: Elk Country ATV Club’s 8th annual ice fishing contest on Upper Clam Lake.

Jan. 31: Deer Run Resort 4th Annual ALL Women’s Ice Fishing Fundraiser for Kids with Cancer (715-462-3276).

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

Feb. 6: Flambeau River State Forest Candlelight Ski (715-332-5271).

Feb. 6: Relic Riders - 10th Annual Johnson Memorial vintage snowmobile ride (715-634-4608; 520-8220).

Feb. 13: Walleyes for Northwest Wisconsin 20th Annual Family Ice Fishing Event.

Feb. 18-21: American Birkebeiner (715-634-5025).


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. 

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