Excerpts from the March 19, 2018 Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report by Steve Suman:
If Tuesday’s forecast meets “expectations,” it will not seem like the official first day of spring (vernal equinox)! However, the remainder of the week looks mostly good, particularly for March in the North Woods.
Erik at Hayward Bait says warmer temperatures created some slush areas on the ice, making for difficult travel. Conditions are best in early morning after overnight, sub-freezing lows firm and freeze the slush... “There is still plenty of ice on the lakes, with up to 30 inches and more on some lakes... Anglers chasing panfish are using small spoons to teardrops, depending on the bite that day. Crappies are in 16-22 feet and occasionally with the bluegills. Use small jigs, tungsten jigs, and various spoons. On ‘touchy bite’ days, downsize presentations and bait, using waxies and spikes. In early morning or in the late evening hours, tip panfish spoons with crappie minnows or rosy reds... For bluegills, use small jigs, tungsten jigs, panfish spoons tipped with waxies, spikes, and various plastics that imitate aquatic insects on which bluegills feed.”
Mike at Jenk’s says panfish fishing is now the only game in town on the Chippewa Flowage... "Be careful on the ice, as some areas are getting a little sloppy. Ice depth is about 17 inches. There is no open water yet, but several folks report seeing some water breaking through by shorelines... Bluegills are fairly quiet, but crappies remain fairly active, with crappie minnows and various smaller plastics the way to go.”
This week, DNR fisheries biologist Max Wolter discusses paddlefish in Wisconsin. “Anglers in Wisconsin might spend their entire lives fishing and still never see a paddlefish, one of Wisconsin’s most interesting and prehistoric fish. Paddlefish are native to large rivers in Wisconsin and found in the Lower St. Croix, Lower Chippewa, Lower Wisconsin, and Mississippi rivers... The paddlefish is unique in both its appearance and biology. Its name comes from the paddle-shaped snout that makes up nearly one-third of a fish’s total length. Another unique trait is a gill cover that extends back to a point. Adults can grow large and other states have recorded paddlefish weighing more than 100 pounds. Paddlefish mature later than most other fish species, with males maturing around 7 years old and females at 9-10 years... A paddlefish’s gaping mouth and specialized gills are adaptations for filter-feeding on plankton. Paddlefish will sit in current and sway their heads side-to-side, funneling large volumes of water into their mouths, filtering for microscopic food. The ‘paddle’ of a paddlefish is a sensory organ, believed capable of sensing plankton density and may serve some function in stabilizing the fish while it feeds in current... Because the paddlefish is a drift feeding species, intentionally catching a paddlefish on hook and line is nearly impossible. Paddlefish will not actively chase baits and most anglers catch paddlefish by inadvertent snagging.”
Reminders: Current fishing licenses are valid through March 31, but 2018-19 licenses are now available and valid immediately. The 2018 inland gamefish season opens Saturday, May 5.
Crappie: Crappie fishing is good around weeds in 12-25 feet, with the most productive baits sometimes fluctuating day to day. Top baits include crappie minnows, rosy reds, waxies, spikes, and plastics on small jig and teardrops, as well as spoons tipped with live bait. Check the entire water column!
Bluegill: Bluegill action is fair to good around weeds and structure out to 18 feet, with waxies, spikes, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small jigs, teardrops, and spoons producing the most hits.
Perch: Perch action is fair to good around weeds and soft bottoms out to 25 feet. Best success is on small jigs, rattle spoons, and Jigging Raps combined with crappie minnows, fatheads, waxies, spikes, and plastics.
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.