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Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report

Steve Suman

Though not unusual for spring in the North Woods, the weather made quite a swing over the weekend, going from 70 degrees Saturday to the lower 30s Sunday morning. The temperature drop also brought along snow flurries, with some people saying they saw the largest snowflakes of their lives, though there was no accumulation. The forecast continues to fluctuate, but for now, it appears we can expect the week ahead to be cool and wet.

“Opening day game fish season is less than two weeks away,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “so get prepared! Repair or replace equipment, clean and organize tackle boxes, and throw out rusted hooks and melted plastic worms. Also – and this comes from experience – charge your boat batteries. There is nothing worse than spending opening day on the lake in a boat that will not start!

“A few anglers are trying to catch crappies as the fish begin moving towards shallower water. Soon, as the water starts warming, they will be in the shallows to spawn. Water temperatures are currently in the 40- to 45-degree range, depending on the area.

“The north ends of lakes and shallower bays where the water warms faster will be prime locations for panfish. Using light line and light to ultralight rods, fish small hooks and crappie minnows or small tube jigs in 8-10 feet. Anglers are also catching some perch in the shallow water. The perch are in to spawn and crappies will follow close behind.”

Guide Steve Genson at Hayward Bait says water temperatures are slowly rising, with current reports in the upper 40- to lower 50-degree range.

“There is some action on crappies on the smaller, dark water lakes. On warm days, anglers should focus on the bays and emergent vegetation. On the cool days, concentrate on deeper edges. This time of year, it is hard to beat small plastics under fixed floats, but be sure to take some crappie minnows with you as well. We are not yet hearing too much on bluegills, but that action should pick up soon – use leaf worms and waxies.

“Trout anglers fishing the local streams during this early catch and release season report success, with some nice catches of brook and brown trout in the past week.

“Anglers trolling on Lake Superior are making good to very good catches of coho and brown trout, primarily by trolling stickbaits and spoons behind planer boards.

“First period turkey hunters reported some decent success filling tags in the past week.”

Carolyn at Anglers All in Ashland Chequamegon Bay reports the smelting run is slowing, but fishing is great, with loads of brown trout throughout the Bay.

This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses how law enforcement strategies affect compliance.

“Effective enforcement of fishing regulations is a common concern of both anglers and fisheries biologists. A study of enforcement effectiveness in Alberta, Canada details how different enforcement strategies can help achieve angler compliance.

“Resource managers and wardens designed an ‘enhanced enforcement strategy’ consisting of two complementary components – strongly worded signs and additional warden patrols.

“Signs describing fines effectively increased angler awareness of the potential severity of punishment for violations, while the additional warden patrols increased angler perception of the likelihood of being caught if they violated.

“Interestingly enough, wardens only needed to stop about 3 percent of the anglers on a lake to make their presence known and influence angler mindset about the probability of getting caught for violations.

“These results demonstrate that awareness of consequences and fear of being caught is often all that is needed to drive high rates of compliance with fishing regulations.”

Beginning with the May 6 game fish opener, the DNR will offer a new live release record fish program. The program recognizes fish by length only and anglers can experience the satisfaction of accomplishing both a state record and a successful live release. Anglers must submit several photos, taken from different perspectives, including one with the fish on its side beside a measuring device with the length number clearly visible. Another photo must show the angler with the fish. Biologists will identify the species from the photos and if unable to make a conclusive identification, will not consider the record claim. The program is honor-based and does not require witnesses. For more information, search “live release records.”

Each spring, DNR staff and volunteers complete surveys to learn more about pheasants, ruffed grouse, frogs, and many other species. Biologists and volunteers work together to complete annual roadside surveys where they listen or look for wildlife and record their findings. Surveys take place on designated roadside routes during all hours, requiring biologists to make frequent stops, and motorists should be aware of these efforts. Search “reports” on the DNR website for more information.

Through May 10, the DNR is accepting public comment on variances within the Tuscobia State Trail and Flambeau River State Forest master plans aimed at increased motorized recreation opportunities. A variance to the Flambeau River State Forest master plan would authorize approximately five miles of Hervas Road as an ATV/UTV route and designate 300 feet of the Connors Lake boat landing road for winter-only ATV/UTV use. The variance to the Price County section of the Tuscobia Trail would expand ATV/UTV use to year-round, with proposed open/closing dates mirroring dates in other counties. To submit comments, search “master planning” on the DNR website.

The April 21 HLVCB ATV trail report says Sawyer County has more than 200 miles of funded trails, plus miles and miles of road routes, which includes trails throughout the Chequamegon National Forest, Flambeau State Forest, and Sawyer County Forest, the Tuscobia State Trail, and Lac Courte Oreilles trails. Although the April 1-May 15 county forest trails and roads spring trail closure is in effect, this does not mean you cannot currently ride ATVs/UTVs in Sawyer County. Check the trail map and you see trails marked by green, with white lines running alongside some trails. The white lines indicate routes you can ride now, including: Tuscobia Trail from Birchwood to the Price County line; 9-Mile Loop (Trail 11); LCO Trail from the Casino to Tuscobia Trail (Trail 777); Trail 30 from the Casino into Hayward; the railroad grade (63/77) from Phipps to Seeley; parts of trails 31 and 19 in the Seeley Hills; and town roads/ATV/UTV routes, as they generally do not have a spring closure. New ATV routes in the city allow access out of the city limits.

Hayward Lakes Chapter-Muskies, Inc. is holding a meeting Tuesday, May 2, starting at 7 a.m., at the Grid Iron Pub and Grub restaurant on Main Street in Hayward. The meeting’s special guest speaker is DNR fisheries biologist Tim Parks, who conducts the PIT tag program, and he will present information gathered by the tagging and scanning efforts. Admission is free and the Chapter not only welcomes the public, it offers anyone attending the meeting who is interested in joining Muskies Inc. the opportunity to purchase an annual membership for half price. For more information, call Mike Persson (715) 634-4543.



Inconsistent weather patterns are somewhat suppressing angler interest, but anglers who are getting on the water are finding some success for crappie and perch, as well as catch and release trout fishing. Crappies are moving toward shallower, warmer water bays and shorelines for spawning. Plain hooks with crappie minnows and small jigs with plastics, with or without bobbers, are effective in 6-12 feet. Fish for bluegills in the same general areas and near weeds, with leaf worms, waxies, and Gulp! baits. Perch are also in the shallows. This is a good time to get tackle organized and ready to go for the May 6 game fish opener.

Reminder: If you have not already done so, it is time to get a new license!

Upcoming Events

April 19-25: Period A spring turkey season.

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

April 29: Crex Meadows Wildlife Area “Wild Edibles” workshop (715-463-2739).

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

May 2: Hayward Lakes Chapter Muskies, Inc. 7 p.m. meeting at Grid Iron Pub and Grub (715-634-4543).

May 3-9: Period C spring turkey season.

May 5: Early catch and release trout season closes.

May 5-6: Free Outdoor Exp at Lakewoods (715-798-3833; 794-2561).

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

May 10-16: Period D spring turkey season.

May 17-23: Period E spring turkey season.

May 19-20: Fishing Has No BoundariesHayward Event (800-243-3462).

May 19-21: Musky Tale ResortNorthern Encounter (715-462-3838).

May 24-30: Period F spring turkey season.

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

May 27: Muskellunge season opens north of Highway 10.

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

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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