Excerpts from the January 21, 2019 Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report by Steve Suman:
This week’s forecast predicts some snow, temperatures significantly below average, and wind chill concerns all week. If you intend to enjoy some outdoor recreation, dress appropriately, go prepared, and use good sense! A slight warming trend begins the first of February and continues through the month (so “they” say).
“The bite was up and down last week due to weather changes,” says Pat at Happy Hooker. “Now we have the onset of some real winter weather and unless you have a shelter, ice fishing will be more difficult... Ice conditions have not changed much in the last two weeks, though some areas have slightly thicker ice. Most lakes now have vehicle traffic, but use caution, as always... Lately, the time of day is most important for the bite, which appears to be late afternoon into dusk. Walleye anglers are catching a few fish at dusk and it is important to spread out the tip-ups. Northern pike and bass anglers are taking some fish during daylight hours... Panfish anglers are catching fish in shallower, less-pressured areas having vegetation and transitioning to deeper basins. Small jigs and spoons tipped with minnows, waxies, and plastics are taking fish. If you cannot find fish willing bite it is time to change locations.”
Erik at Hayward Bait says ice conditions remain great, ranging from 11-14 inches... “Walleye anglers using a ‘run and gun’ approach are still having success. If that is not your preferred method, try a good spread of tip-ups with fluorocarbon leaders, small treble hooks, and walleye suckers suspended just off the bottom. Jigging is still very effective, with flutter and rattle spoons tipped with minnow heads in 22-27 feet ideal at this time... Northern pike anglers are finding good success in 6-12 feet fishing tip-ups with northern suckers and quick strike rigs with large shiners... The panfish bite is steady, with anglers finding fish in 22-28 feet in some lakes and roaming fish in lakes with deeper basins. Tungsten jigs get down quickly, especially to panfish in deeper water, but do not overlook lead jigs if the bite becomes difficult. Lead gives more flutter and a slower fall when jigging. Tip your jigs with crappie minnows, waxies, and spikes.”
Ice conditions remain good, with ice depths 14 inches and deeper on some lakes, and some anglers are now driving vehicles on the lakes. The lack of snow and incoming subzero temperatures this week should develop more ice thickness, but anyone going on the ice should still use great caution. Check with your favorite bait shop on the way to the lake for the most current information.
Walleye: Walleye fishing is fair to good, but inconsistent. Best action is during low light periods such as late afternoon into dark. Tip-ups suspending walleye suckers near the bottom in 22-27 feet work well, as does jigging rattle and flutter spoons tipped with minnow heads. Work shallower water in the evening hours.
Northern Pike: Northern pike fishing is good to very good during the day. Concentrate on weedy areas in 6-12 feet, using northern suckers on tip-ups and shiners on quick-strike rigs.
Crappie: Crappie fishing is good to very good in 20-30 feet and around shallow weeds adjacent to deeper water. Use lead and tungsten jigs, jigging spoons, and plain hooks tipped with crappie minnows, waxies, and plastics. Be sure to check the entire water column, from bottom to top, and plan to keep on the move to stay with the schools.
Bluegill: Bluegill fishing is good in the same areas as for crappie – 20-30 feet and around shallow weeds adjacent to deeper water. The best presentations include lead and tungsten jigs, teardrops, and small jigging spoons, tipping all with waxies, spikes, and plastics. Try small minnows for larger ‘gills.