Excerpts from the January 9, 2017 Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report by Steve Suman:
Snow continues to fall in the North Woods, though not in huge quantities. Still, accumulations will build if colder temperatures hold – more is on the way mid-week – but the forecast is for mid-20s on Sunday.
“The ice is not yet safe enough for vehicles,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “but people are taking out ATVs and snowmobiles... Walleye fishing is improving and anglers are catching some nice fish, especially in late afternoon/evening hours and after dark as fish come shallow to feed. Set tip-ups with sucker minnows or shiners on the edges of drop-offs and on weeds. On some deeper lakes, jigging fatheads is working in deeper water during afternoons... Northern anglers are catching pike on weeds and weedline edges with walleye suckers and shiners on tip-ups, or jig small shiners and fatheads... Panfish action improved now that anglers can fish the holes for crappies. Search vertically, as well as moving around, as they often suspend well off bottom. Use small jigs with crappie minnows and waxies. Bluegills are in the weeds, hitting waxies. Perch are in deep weeds, hitting anything small enough.”
Erik at Hayward Bait says ice conditions are good following holiday rainfall that melted snow and froze into a sold layer of ice... “This makes it great for folks who are dragging shacks to their favorite spots with little or no snow on the ice. Ice thickness varies from 9-10 inches on some lakes to more than 12 inches on other lakes... Anglers are getting walleyes during early mornings and evening hours on glow spoons with rattles and jigging baits such as Rattle Traps, Jigging Rap, and others... Pike anglers are having luck fishing off points, weedlines, and transition areas with sucker minnows and large to extra large shiners under tip-ups... Crappie and sunfish are active in deep lake basins, but the key is hole-hopping and staying on active fish. Use tungsten jigs tipped with waxies or spikes to get down quick to suspended fish or fish just off the bottom.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses trophy smallmouth growth... “For many years, Round Lake near Hayward has been a top spot for big smallmouth. A recent analysis of the lake’s smallmouth growth rates have revealed how long it takes to grow a big smallmouth... In Round Lake, smallmouth grow rapidly for the first few years of life, often reaching 14 inches within five years. However, getting smallmouth to that size is the easy part. Adding the next 6 inches to get the fish to 20 inches might take an additional 10 years... Late in life, smallmouth typically grow slowly, perhaps only a quarter-inch each year, and this makes 22- to 23-inch smallmouth so rare. They simply do not ‘pop up’ overnight... In addition to the time it takes to grow big smallmouth, you have to have low mortality in the population. Even a small amount of harvest, or delayed mortality from catch and release, can have negative impacts on a population, particularly when it comes to trophy potential.”
Walleye: Walleye action is good and improving, with best success in early morning, late afternoon, and evening into dark. During these hours, focus on shallower drop-off and weed edges. During daytime, try jigging deeper water. Best baits include walleye suckers, shiners, and fatheads on tip-ups and jigs. Jigging spoons and other jigging baits are also producing some catches.
Northern Pike: Northern pike fishing is good in/over weeds, on weedline edges, points, and breaklines/transition areas. Baits of choice include sucker minnows, shiners, and fatheads fished on tip-ups and jigs.
Crappie: Look for crappies in deep holes and suspending over deep water. Small jigs tipped with crappie minnows, waxies, plastics, and Gulp! baits work well. Check the entire water column with your electronics!
Bluegill: Bluegills are in deeper water, hitting small jigs tipped with waxies, spikes, plastics, and Gulp! baits.
Perch: Perch fishing is fair to good in and near deeper weeds, with fish just off the bottom. Use small jigs tipped with waxies and spikes.
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.