Excerpts from the February 20, 2017 Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report by Steve Suman:
The combination of unseasonably warm weather and rain is making winter activities in the North Woods a challenge. It is affecting ice fishing, snowmobiling, and cross-country skiing – especially this weekend’s American Birkebeiner, for which organizers are making a number of schedule changes. For the most current information, visit the Birkie website or call (715) 634-5025.
“Here we are in mid-February and it feels more like early spring,” says Pat at Happy Hooker. “With the sunshine and warmth, we are losing a lot of snow cover and making slush on the lakes. If you go fishing, wear waterproof boots!.. Walleye action is okay. Anglers are catching a few fish during the evening hours and at night with medium shiners on tip-ups set in 8-10 feet on the edges of weed beds and deep holes. The bigger lakes seem more productive. During the daytime, anglers are fishing deep water, jigging shiner and fathead parts. In the evening, they move to shallower weed edges and use tip-ups. The northern pike bite is still good all day on the deepest, greenest weeds you can find. Use shiners and northern suckers under tip-ups... Crappie anglers are finding fish in deep holes and electronics are a great aid in locating the fish. Search vertically – some days they will be way off the bottom. Use jigging rods with waxies and small minnows on small jigs. Bluegills are in weeds and provide good action for numbers of small fish. Perch are near bottom in deeper weeds and over mud flats, taking waxies and crappie minnows...
Bob at Hayward Bait says ice conditions remain solid, travel is good on the lakes, and ice fishing is getting better. “Walleyes are still active during ‘prime time’ hours, with anglers using spoons tipped with fatheads and setting tip-ups with shiners or walleye suckers. Northern pike fishing is good on tip-ups set along breaklines and weed edges... Bluegills are in deep basins and on deep weed and mud flats, depending on the lake, with waxies and spikes on tungsten jigs the most productive presentation.”
Reminder: Gamefish season closes March 5 – only two weekends remain!
Walleye: Walleye action continues to be fair to good, particularly on the larger lakes, and especially in evening hours into after dark. During the day, concentrate on deep holes and structure. In the evening, work the shallower (8-10 feet) edges of deep holes, weeds, and weedlines. Baits of choice include shiners and walleye suckers on tip-ups, and shiners and fatheads (or parts) on jigs and spoons.
Northern Pike: Northern pike remain active and you can fish for them all day. Fish the edges of deep, green weeds and breaklines with shiners and northern suckers on tip-ups.
Crappie: Crappie action is good to very good in deep water – once you locate the fish. Use electronics and check the entire water column, from top to bottom. Use small jigs tipped with crappie minnows, waxies, plastics, and Gulp! baits, downsizing tackle and line.
Bluegill: Bluegill fishing is good for smaller fish. Look for bluegills in deeper water areas such as weeds, lake basins, and mudflats. Top baits include waxies, spikes, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small tungsten jigs and teardrops.
Perch: Look for perch close to the bottom around deep weeds and on mudflats. Crappie minnows, fatheads, and waxies on small jigs or plain hooks should get their interest.