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Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report April 23, 2012

By Steve Suman

Just one week ago, a light layer of snow covered the Hayward area. Today, the temperature is pushing 60 degrees and this week’s forecast promises highs in the 50s or 60s for each day. Now that is more like it!

“Fishing remains a hit and miss proposition,” says Pat at Happy Hooker. “Varying weather conditions contribute to the cause, affecting both the fish and angler willingness to be on the water.

“Panfish, currently the only legal species in area lakes, are difficult to pattern. On warmer, sunny days, water temperatures rise and crappies move closer to the shallows, but when it cools, they move out, as do the perch. Look to dark water lake backwaters as the place to go for panfish.”

At Hayward Bait, Dennis says that with turkey hunting in full swing, hunters and other outdoor enthusiasts should check for ticks – they are already out in full force.

“Panfish action will improve with warmer weather, and we could have a very good walleye opener due to the early spawning this spring. Until then, this is the perfect time to prepare equipment for opening weekend.”

Guide Dave Dorazio at Outdoor Creations says crappies are biting on crappie minnows and jigs. Most are in deeper water, though they move shallow on warm, sunny afternoons. Bluegills are taking jigs and plastics.

“Walleyes appear to be done spawning on the Chippewa Flowage. There are still some males in the shallows, but the females are recuperating in deeper water.”

At Anglers All in Ashland, Carolyn says smelting wound down on the Ashland side of Chequamegon Bay, but there are a few reports of smelting activity on the Washburn side.

“Most anglers are flat-lining stickbaits and catching brown trout, coho, and steelhead, those fishing the Islands and south channel are also picking up lake trout in the mix, and rain brought more steelhead into tributary streams.”

DNR fisheries biologist Skip Sommerfeldt says that even though ice cover has been gone from the lakes for almost a month, water temperatures have been slow to warm. Most lakes are holding in the upper 40-degree range.

“Walleye spawning started very quickly, but the unsettled weather and cold water temperatures extended the spawning time and a few ripe male and female walleye are still found near spawning grounds.

“The muskie spawning period gets in full gear when the water temp nears 50 degrees. A few fish are in the shallows, but it will still be a week or two until muskie spawning really picks up. Largemouth and smallmouth bass have just begun to show up near the shallows, but their spawning seasons are still several weeks away yet.

“As the water warms into the low 50s, panfish will move shallow in greater numbers, especially in dark-bottom bays that receive a lot of sun. Perch are in the middle of their annual spawning, crappies will begin as the water warms to the low 60s, and bluegills start when the water hits the mid to upper 60s.”

Period C, the third of six, seven-day spring turkey season periods, opens Wednesday April 25 and runs through Tuesday May 5. As of April 23, permits remain available in Zone 1 (periods E, F), Zone 3 (periods D, E, F), Zone 4 (E, F), and Zone 5 (F). Hunters harvesting a turkey must register it by phone (1-888-486-8947) or online by 5 p.m. the day after harvest.

A new Wisconsin law, effective July 1, provides for permanent registration and updated regulation of utility terrain vehicles (UTVs). The law grew from popular UTV pilot programs the DNR conducted during the last several years. Any UTV registered during the pilot program will continue with the previously assigned registration identification number and registration period. Beginning July 1, registrations and annual trail passes will expire March 31. For details on the new UTV laws, visit the DNR website.

The ever-growing Hayward Bass Club still has room for additional members and teams, but sign up soon – the club outings start May 9 and run through the end of August. This year, the club is dividing teams into two groups that will fish alternate Wednesdays. Teams may trade their scheduled nights with a team from the other division to accommodate scheduling conflicts. Contact Wayne Balsavich at (715) 699-1015, or email haywardbassclub@charter.net.

The Hayward Lakes Chapter Muskies, Inc. meeting May 1 is a tour of the Tommy G. Thompson Fish Hatchery in Spooner, and as always, the Chapter welcomes the public to attend and participate. Club members and people interested in joining the hatchery tour will meet at 7 p.m. in the hatchery parking lot on the south side of Hwy 70. For more information, contact Mike Persson (715) 634-4543.

Openings remain for the 28th Annual Treeland Walleye Challenge May 11-13, a three-day family fishing event on the Chippewa Flowage. Treeland’s is continuing to honor early entry fees – $70 single, $125 with spouse, and $15 per child with parent(s) – but registration is limited to the first 300 adult entries. The Grand Prize is a $3000 Cabela’s gift certificate; the first three places win cash awards. Grand door prizes include a Humminbird sonar donated by Jenk’s Bait and Tackle, and three $100 cash prizes. For more information, visit www.treelandresorts.com, or call (715) 462-3874.

Upcoming Events

April 29: Early inland trout season closes.

April 30: Otter trapping season closes in north zone.

May 1: Hayward Lakes Chapter Muskies, Inc. meeting. Spooner Hatchery tour. (715-634-4543).

May 1: Frog season opens.

May 5: General game fish season opener (see regs).

May 11-13: Treeland Walleye Challenge (Still honoring early entry fees; 715-462-3874).

May 18-20: Fishing Has No Boundaries (715-634-3185).

May 26: Muskie season opens north of Hwy 10.

June 2-3: Free Fishing Weekend.

Spring turkey hunting periods

C: April 25-May 1; D: May 2-8; E: May 9-15; F: May 16-22.

For more information on area events and activities, visit the Hayward Lakes Visitor and Convention Bureau website, view its Calendar of Events or call 1-800-724-2992.

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