Excerpts from the February 19, 2018 Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report by Steve Suman:
Snow and wind to start the week, a few days with “milder” weather, followed by more snow just in time for the 44th Annual American Birkebeiner Saturday February 24. Cross-country ski trails are in good condition and snowmobile trails are good to very good. Finally, although there is surely plenty of winter remaining, anglers should be aware that game fish season closes in less than two weeks (March 4).
“A mid-week warm-up brought a few anglers onto the lakes last week,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “but this week, skiers and snowmobilers welcomed fresh snow to their respective trails... Walleye action is slow, with the best time late evening just before dusk and into dark. Use fatheads or walleye suckers on tip-ups, setting up over weeds or just off weed edges in 6-8 feet to catch the fish as they come in to feed... Northern pike anglers are catching pike on medium shiners and walleye suckers fished under tip-ups set in 8-10 feet over green weeds... During the past week, the best bite on inland lakes was for crappies and bluegills. If you can find an active daytime ‘honey hole’ for bluegills, stick with it until late afternoon to dusk when you will find some crappies. Crappie minnows work best, followed by soft plastics. Use light tackle and small jigs. The fish are also hitting waxies and Crappie Nibbles.”
Erik at Hayward Bait says anglers are getting out for the last few weeks of game fish season... “For some walleye anglers, the season has been a roller coaster ride, but some report success using medium shiners on glow hook trebles under tip-ups. Jigging spoons are still effective, as are Jigging Raps and Hyper Glides. Tip your jigs with fatheads for dead sticking or with just the heads for active jigging... Northern pike and panfish are producing the most angler success... Northern pike fishing is going well for anglers using medium and large shiners. Make a good spread with your tip-ups, setting them from shallow weed edges to deeper water (10-15 feet) and vary bait depths from 3-7 feet below the ice... Crappie action is the most consistent in deeper lake basins and being mobile will put more fish on the ice. Try jigging small tungsten jigs with waxies and spikes, or trying fishing smaller spoons tipped with crappie minnows during the morning and last light evening bites. The key to bluegill success is hole-hopping and fishing weed beds with waxies and spikes on your favorite jigs.”
Walleye: Walleye action is slow and inconsistent, with the best time late evening into dark. Suspend fatheads, shiners, and walleye suckers under tip-ups set over/on the edge of weeds and weed beds, or try Jigging Raps and jigging spoons tipped with fatheads/fathead heads. During the day, fish deeper humps and holes.
Northern Pike: Northern pike action is good to very good and they offer an all-day bite. Use northern suckers, walleye suckers, and shiners on tip-ups set on/over shallow weeds and weed edges in 6-15 feet. Vary the depth of your bait and fish bigger baits in deeper water for trophy pike.
Crappie: Crappie action is fair to very good on most lakes. Look for them in deeper water – stay on the move – and make sure to check over the entire water column, from top to bottom. Top baits and presentations, on light tackles, include crappie minnows, waxies, spikes, soft plastics, and Gulp! baits on tungsten jigs, teardrops, plain hooks, and small jigging spoons. The best bite is in the later afternoon into evening hours.
Bluegill: Bluegill fishing is good in and near weeds and weed beds for anglers using waxies, spikes, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs, teardrops, and plain hooks.
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.