Excerpts from the January 1, 2018 Hayward Lakes Area Outdoor Report by Steve Suman:
The cold and snow continues, but if you can survive until Sunday, the forecast shows a warming trend. The high numbers will still be very similar – but they will be above zero!
“This cold weather made some great ice,” says Pat at Happy Hooker, “and crews are finally able to stake the lakes... Many anglers favor early ice walleyes when fish cruise the shallows in low light conditions. Target 6-12 feet outside of old weed beds or structure with a gradual drop-off. Set up before sunrise or sunset to avoid spooking fish from the area. Use small suckers or fatheads, or try jigging spoons and minnows on the drop-offs to find the most aggressive fish... Anglers fishing walleyes off old weed beds with shiners and suckers on tip-ups are taking some nice northern pike... Panfish are on structure and in deep holes. Use small jigs tipped with waxies and plastics. Fish are now in big numbers and very aggressive.
Erik at Hayward Bait says the Arctic temperatures are not keeping anglers off the ice!... “Ice conditions are improving thanks to this cold weather, with reports of up to 10 inches, but thickness varies. There are some anglers now taking out ATVs and snowmobiles, but be sure to exercise caution!... Fishing action remains mixed, though there are decent walleye reports. Focus on the primary break and nearby sunken humps. Walleye suckers and medium shiners under tip-ups remain the preferred method, but always try jigging as well, and rattle spoons tipped with minnow heads should do the job... Northern pike are active in the weeds, with large shiners on tip-ups working well... Panfish action is good on waxies, spikes, and small plastics on tungsten jigs for both crappies and bluegills. Mobility is the key to success – keep moving until you start hitting fish.”
Pat’s Landing Resort on the Chippewa Flowage will host its 6th Annual Tipper Tourney Saturday, January 6, from 8 a.m. through 4 p.m., and anglers must register all fish by 4:30 p.m. The contest limits fishing to the west side of the Flowage, excluding Crane Creek and Crane Lake. Contest officials measure fish to the nearest quarter-inch, rounded down, and award prizes for the longest northern pike, longest largemouth bass, and longest combination of the two. There are randomly drawn door prizes and you must be present to win. The entry fee is $15. For more information, visit www.treelandresorts.com or call (715) 945-2511.
More anglers are hitting the ice now that ice depths are increasing with the very cold weather. It is still necessary to use caution when on the ice, however, as the snow is insulating some areas and ice depths can still vary significantly in short distances on the same lake. Check with your favorite bait and tackle shop for the most current information.
Walleye: Walleye fishing is good out to 15 feet or so, with the best success during low light conditions in early morning and late afternoon into after dark. Work the edges of drop-offs, weedlines, breaklines, humps, and other structure with walleye suckers, fatheads, and shiners on tip-ups, or jig Jigging Rapalas or rattle spoons tipped with minnow heads.
Northern Pike: Northern pike fishing is good to very good and anglers are icing some bigger fish around weeds and weed beds with large shiners and northern suckers under tip-ups. As always, go deeper with bigger baits for trophy pike.
Crappie: Crappie fishing is good to very good once you find the fish, which could take some searching to locate them. Look for deep holes and structure. Baits of choice include crappie minnows, waxies, spikes, plastics, and Gulp! baits on small/tungsten jigs.
Bluegill: Bluegill fishing is fair to good and improving. Concentrate on deep holes and structure with waxies, spikes, and plastics on small/tungsten jigs and teardrops. Be prepared to move to find the fish.
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.