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Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report

Steve Suman

More “winter-like” weather returns to the Hayward area this week when we get the full mix of snow, wind and subzero low temperatures. Cold and snow – in that order – could improve ice conditions for anglers and snowmobilers, and the snow will greatly enhance the (heavily used this past weekend) snowmobile and cross-country ski trails.

The DNR is hosting a meeting Tuesday, February 9, from 6-9 p.m., at the Hayward Veteran’s Center, to gather public feedback on a new, 10-year panfish plan to improve panfish opportunities for anglers. The plan includes restoring size structure, improving habitat, and panfish research. For more information, search “panfish plan” on the DNR website.

On Thursday February 25, from 6-7:30 p.m., the DNR will host its annual Sawyer County Fisheries Forum at Hayward High School. This year’s presentation focuses on how DNR management strategies are shifting toward habitat work and other projects following regulation changes and great strides in walleye and musky stocking.

“Walleye fishing is best during dark,” says Pat at Happy Hooker. “Fish near bottom, along weed edges, in 8-15 feet. During daylight, fish 20-30 feet. Use tip-ups with shiners and walleye suckers, or jig spoons with minnow heads. For northern, set tip-ups with shiners or suckers in various depths around weeds, structure, and panfish.

“Crappie fishing is best before dusk or in early morning for fish suspending over deeper water and mid-depth weeds. Jig small trebles with fatheads or crappie minnows, ice jigs with waxies or wigglers, and jigging spoons.

“Bluegills are near green weeds in 8-15 feet and near structure in 20-35 feet. Use waxies, wigglers, and plastics. Catch perch near bottom in deeper water with spikes or waxie on ice jigs, or small jigging spoons with minnow pieces.”

Guide Steve Genson at Hayward Bait says ice on most lakes is 8-12 inches, but slush is making travel more difficult, and they still not recommend driving vehicles on the ice.

“Walleye fishing is decent, with most action on Round, Grindstone, and LCO. Use tip-ups in 15-30 feet with walleye suckers and medium shiners. There is some action on jigging spoons tipped with minnow heads. Northern pike are active in cabbage beds in 5-15 feet on Nelson, Round, and Chippewa Flowage. Use large shiners under tip ups.

“The panfish bite is strong early and late in the day in 10-15 feet on tungsten jigs with waxies, spikes, or plastics.”

Carolyn at Anglers All in Ashland says anglers returned to Chequamegon Bay in force despite last week’s storm, the loss of all south channel ice, and a little slush. Travel is limited to foot, ATV, and snowmobile.

“Anglers are catching perch, with a few walleye and trout, off first and second landings. The lighthouse area is yielding nice catches of smelt, with a few trout, splake, northern, and whitefish. Trout anglers targeting the Washburn ice from the coal dock to Houghton Point report nice catches of whitefish, splake, brown trout, and occasional lake trout. As usual, lake shiners are the choice for jigging and golden shiners are popular for tip-ups.”

Ice conditions deteriorated a bit last week, says DNR fisheries biologist Skip Sommerfeldt, as snowfall worsened the slush layer on many lakes.

“There is still 8-10 inches of ice on most waters, but the deeper slush is hampering travel, bogging down many ATVs and snowmobiles.

“Walleye success remains quite variable, with fish found in a range of different depths and habitat. Smaller size baits such as extra large fatheads or small to medium suckers in 5-10 feet have the best success. Northern action is fair during mid-day hours on golden shiners or large suckers a few feet over old weed beds.

“Panfish anglers have to move around quite a bit to find active fish. Crappies are in deeper water and suspending 3-5 feet off the bottom. Perch are hitting small minnows just off the bottom of mid-depth mud flats.”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses public review of the Panfish Management Plan.


“Panfish are the most popular group of fish for Wisconsin anglers, yet there is no formal state panfish plan for guidance on how to manage them most effectively. In response, the DNR Panfish Team, consisting of biologists, researchers, and Conservation Congress Members, drafted a panfish management plan that is now out for public review and comment.

“The plan encompasses all aspects of panfish management including habitat, angler engagement, research, regulations, surveying, and stocking. It contains broad goals for the direction of panfish management, but also specific actions that biologists, lakeshore owners, outdoor groups, and anglers can pursue to improve panfish fishing on their favorite lakes.

“To read the plan, search ‘panfish plan’ on the DNR website. Please take a moment to check out the plan and email any comments to”

The 20th annual Walleyes for Northwest Wisconsin Family Fishing Event is this Saturday, February 13, from 8 a.m. through 2 p.m., on Lac Courte Oreilles. Register at the public boat landing off Highway K. The event offers thousands of dollars in raffle, adult, and youth fishing prizes awarded through drawings. Event buttons ($5 adults; $1 youth ages 13-17) and raffle tickets are available at Hayward Bait, Outdoor Creations, Hayward Home Center, and Stone Lake Bait. Youth 12 years and younger receive free entry thanks to Retreat Home Furniture sponsorship. Tickets for Grand Prize raffles cost $5 each or five/$20 – and you need not be present to win. A pre-event raffle ticket bundle ($130 value, limited to 200 bundles) costs $75. For more information, visit or contact Hayward Bait (715) 634-2921.



The February 8 Hayward Power Sports trail report says the area had a great weekend and the majority of Sawyer County trails are in very good to excellent condition. Approximately four inches of snow fell Sunday night/Monday morning and it continues to snow. Lake trails are in good condition, but with reports of ice heaves, so stay on marked trails for safety.

The February 3 Lakewoods trail report says the trails are holding up fairly well. Groomers are getting trails back into great condition and will continue to groom as necessary.

The Cable Area trail report for February 3 says trails are in good shape, with a solid base, the fresh snow is welcome, and riders can expect the best riding conditions of the winter season. Trail 90 closed due to logging in the area and a suggested reroute would be to take FR191 (Old Grade Road) to Trail 80.




Walleye action is inconsistent and in varied locations, but some anglers are doing well. Best action is after dark in 5-15 feet. Fish deeper water, out to 30 feet, during the day. Target weed edges and look for fish hugging the bottom. The most productive baits and presentations include walleye suckers, shiners, and fatheads on tip-ups, with some action on jigging spoons tipped with minnow heads.

Northern Pike:

Northern pike fishing is good to very good and the bite continues throughout the day. Concentrate your efforts over weeds, cabbage beds, structure, and near panfish schools in 5-20 feet, using tip-ups with large shiners and suckers.


Crappie action is fair to very good – be prepared to move – with the best bite windows early and late (just before sunset). Fish are suspending over mid-depths weeds and over deep water, holding a few feet off bottom. Check the entire water column. Top producing baits include small jigs or treble hooks with crappie minnows, waxies, wigglers, spikes, and plastics, or small Jigging Rap and Swedish Pimple spoons.


Bluegill fishing is good to very good, with best success early and late in the day. You can find fish in 8-30 feet around weeds and structure, with bigger fish close to the bottom. Baits of choice include small tungsten jigs tipped with waxies, wigglers, spikes, and plastics on light line.


Perch fishing is good in depths from 10 feet and deeper, on mud flats, with fish holding close to the bottom. Use ice jigs tipped with waxies, spikes, and plastics, or try jigging a jigging spoon with a piece of minnow.

Upcoming Events

Feb. 9: DNR public meeting on new 10-year panfish management plan; 6-9 p.m., Hayward Veteran’s Center.

Feb. 11: Relic Riders Ride to Lunch (715-634-4608; 520-8220).

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

Feb. 13: Relic Riders vintage snowmobile Ride; meet at Winter Huskies grooming shed (715-634-4608; 520-8220).

Feb. 15: Seasons close: Coyote trapping; Raccoon trapping/hunting; Red and gray fox gun and trapping.

Feb. 18: Relic Riders Ride to Lunch (715-634-4608; 520-8220).

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

Feb. 26-27: Lakewoods - World’s Longest Weenie Roast (715-794-2561).

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

March 4: 2016-17 hunting and fishing licenses go on sale.

March 6: Game fish season closes on inland waters (see regs for exceptions).

March 6: Anglers must remove ice fishing shelters from inland waters south of Hwy 64.

March 20: Winter crow season closes.

March 21-25: Remaining spring turkey permits on sale OTC.

March 26: Trout season opens on some Lake Superior tributaries.

March 31: Hunting/fishing licenses expire.

 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. 

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