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Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report

Steve Suman

 A warm and windy Sunday brightened the spirits of many, but not necessarily snowmobilers and cross-country skiers. Ice anglers, too, will have to deal with less than ideal conditions this week as the warm temperatures and rain will continue to affect the ice cover.

Daylight Saving Time starts this weekend (technically March 13) so do not forget to turn the clocks ahead one hour!

“With the Sunday March 6 close of game fish season and these warm temperatures, we may be down to the last days of ice fishing,” says Pat at Happy Hooker.

“Walleye fishing was inconsistent at the end, though with some catches in late afternoon into dark on shiners and sucker minnows on tip-ups. Northern fishing remained good on shiners and sucker minnows around greed weeds.

“Panfish action is very inconsistent and electronics are necessary to locate schools of fish. Crappie fishing should improve later, as it always does. Bluegills are taking waxies in shallow water and perch fishing is decent, though large fish are tough to find. Try fishing wigglers over deep mud flats.”

Sonya and Bob at Hayward Bait say game fish season closed March 6, but panfish fishing remains open.

“Walleye action was slow at the close, with shiners and suckers providing the best opportunities. Northern pike fishing was decent on suckers and shiners in weed-related waters.

“Crappies are in deep water, suspending as much as halfway up from the bottom, and anglers are using crappie minnows, waxies, spikes, and plastics. Bluegills and perch are shallower, in 8-12 feet, and hitting crappie minnows, rosy reds, waxies, spikes, mousies, and plastics.”

According to DNR fisheries biologist Skip Sommerfeldt, fishing pressure spiked up with the warm weather this past weekend and the Sunday March 6 close of game fish season.

“Walleye anglers fishing fatheads and small suckers on tip-ups had most of the action. Northern pike fishing was variable, though with a few reports of fish up to 30 inches.

“Panfish action is hit or miss, with anglers moving around a lot to find active fish. Crappies are suspending a couple feet off bottom in deeper water and perch are on mid-depth mud and weed flats.”

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses artificial-only fishing for walleye.

“Fisheries biologists typically use size limits, bag limits, and seasons to control fish harvest and ensure that overfishing does not occur, but other, less common, strategies to limit harvest are available as well.

“At the 2016 Wisconsin Chapter of the American Fisheries Society meeting, DNR researcher Chris Bailey presented results of a study looking at whether applying an ‘artificial lures only’ regulation to walleye would reduce harvest.

“Bailey simulated angling harvest on Escanaba Lake after looking at past creel data records. He concluded that harvest would have been 78 percent lower if regulations allowed only artificial baits because catch rates were considerably lower with artificials than with live bait.

“While it is not likely these types of regulations would see broad scale application, they may present another option to fisheries managers for certain situations.”

The Sawyer County Deer Advisory Council (CDAC) meeting is March 14, from 6-8 p.m., at the Hayward DNR Service Center. During the March meetings, County Deer Advisory Councils will review deer population data, 2015 harvest results, assess winter severity, and other information to develop preliminary antlerless quota and permit level recommendations for public and private lands. The meetings are open to the public and councils will accept public comments prior to forming preliminary and final recommendations. For more information, visit the CDAC page on the DNR website.

Just in time for turkey season, Sawyer County Outdoor Projects & Education (SCOPE) and the DNR is offering a Hunter Education Course in Hayward March 29, 31, April 2, and April 5. Anyone born on or after January 1, 1973, must complete a hunter education course to purchase any hunting license. Participants must attend all class sessions and pass written and hands-on tests to complete the course successfully. Cost is $10, which includes all materials and bonus items. The course requires advance registration and is limited to 30 students. To register, email with your name, age, and telephone number, and indicate you would like to register for this class. You will receive additional class information by return e-mail. For more information, contact Chris Wunrow (715) 558-5371.



The March 7 Hayward Power Sports trail report says Sawyer County snowmobile trails are open, but in poor condition and bare along roads and in open areas. There is still a fair amount of snow on trails in the woods. Lake trails are no longer safe and crews are in the process of pulling the stakes. A big thank you to all club members, volunteers, and groomers for their hard work in providing great trails to ride!

The March 7 Runamuk Rides trail report says the snow and trails took quite a hit with the warm temperatures and it looks as if the snowmobile season is drawing to a close. The ATV riding is still good and depending on the county, ATV season generally opens between May 1 and May 15.


Anglers should be aware that the Wisconsin inland waters fishing season closed Sunday March 6 (check the regulations for exceptions), though panfish fishing continues and 2015-16 fishing licenses are valid through March 31. In addition, the DNR is reminding anglers they must remove their ice fishing shelters from inland water north of Hwy 64 by March 13 – with the warm weather this week, sooner might be better than later!


Crappie action is a challenge and you have to be on the right lake at the right time for the good bite window. Look for fish suspending over deeper water and be sure to check the entire water column from top to bottom. Really – no foolin’! Baits of choice include crappie minnows, waxies, spikes, and plastics. Try downsizing baits to improve success and if fishing is slow, experiment with different presentations.


Bluegill fishing is erratic and it takes some searching to locate fish. Search shallower weeds (to 15 feet) and use waxies, spikes, mousies, and plastics on small ice jigs, teardrops, etc. Downsizing can improve action; small minnows work for larger ‘gills.


Perch fishing is fair to good, but as with other panfish, anglers have to work (i.e., move around) to find the fish. Look for perch in depths to 12 feet and deeper around mud and weed flats. Crappie minnows, rosy reds, waxies, wigglers, spikes, mousies, and plastics are all producing action.

Upcoming Events

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

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

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

March 13: Daylight Saving Time starts – turn clocks ahead one hour.

March 13: Anglers must remove ice fishing shelters from inland waters north of Hwy 64.

March 14-24: County Deer Advisory Councils (CDAC) meetings.

March 18: NWTF Hunting Heritage Banquet - Hayward VFW (715-763-3381).

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 29-April 5: Hunter Education Course in Hayward (715-558-5371).

March 31: 2015-16 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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