We’re wrapping up 2020 with the first fishing report we’ve been able to post in quite some time. The past several months have been dedicated to more time outdoors, on the water, with family/friends, and less behind a screen. Social distancing has never been a difficult concept for us, and fish don’t seem to read the news… Our boat is put away for the winter, venison is in the freezer, and it’s time to plug back in for a bit to keep you up to date with what’s happening on the lakes in northwest Wisconsin. Erik Thue and Aron Kastern have been getting after it on the Hayward Lakes & Chequamegon Bay. Here’s what they have to say.
HAYWARD AREA LAKES
Erik Thue from Catch & Capture Guide Service has been hitting the hard water for a couple of weeks now, and he reports good ice conditions with 7″ – 10″ in most areas. A couple of recent snowfalls lately have slowed up foot travel a bit, but he says it isn’t bad. Smaller lakes are also good to go for snowmobie or ATV use. On larger bodies of water, err on the side of caution as there has been some open water or slushy spots hanging on near springs or current areas. Snowmobile trails are being staked out, and staying close to those are always best for machine travel. The panfish bite has been strong with the most active bluegills in 14′ – 26′. Crappies have been schooled and moving along main lake basins in 20′ – 30′. Use small jigs and spoons tipped with your favorite plastics or waxies/spikes. Rely on your electronics to give away fish locations, and don’t stop drilling holes until you’re seeing marks on the screen. Pike fishing has been consistent using suckers or shiners rigged on a quick set under tip ups over and along weed beds in 6′ – 12′. Walleyes have been a bit more inconsistent, and you have to take advantage of feeding windows with low light conditions usually your best bet. Have tip ups set with a walleye sucker or small shiner a foot from bottom in anywhere from 10′ – 25′ along points, mid lake structures, or weedlines. When flags start popping have a rod ready to go with baits like a Bait Rigs Herky Jerky to capitalize on aggressive fish while jigging. Between panfish, pike, and walleyes, you’ve got plenty of options to keep you busy right now around Hayward.
Warm temperatures in November slowed down the ice making machine on Chequamegon Bay, but the Ashland side is finally ready to go with 6″ – 9″ of ice from town to second landing and about 6″ of snow on top of it. Most people are still walking, but some are starting to venture out on ATV’s and snowmobiles. There’s a few narrow bands of pack ice to navigate, but they won’t keep you from getting where you want to go. The Washburn side south of town has recently skimmed over with ice, and there are a few people walking out on 3″ – 4″. With the recent snow fall, that ice shouldn’t be considered safe yet. North of town, there is 2″ or 3″ inches of ice covered with snow, so we’ll need some time and cold temperatures to make those areas accessible. Fishing on the Ashland side has started in typical fashion with most people focusing on the flats near the first break around 15′ – 20′. It’s a classic mixed bag bite with rattle spoons and jigs tipped with minnow heads producing walleyes, perch, pike, brown trout, and coho salmon. Set lines under tip ups or a bobber rigged with suckers and shiners will produce also fish. Aron recommends hot colors on your jigs and spoons during the day then switching to glow spoons for the early morning and evening walleye bite. If you can find a weed bed or a steep break into the flat, you should be into fish. It’s an anything and everything bite right now, so you’ll want to choose mid range size presentations on your jigging rods that will tempt whatever comes through the hole. Try larger minnows on your set lines to target bigger fish. With more ice forming over deeper water in the next few weeks, we should start seeing some whitefish hitting the ice as well. You name it, and you can catch it on the bay this time of year.
Big thanks to Erik and Aron for the update and pictures. Make sure you reach out to us if you’re looking to take a hard water adventure this winter, and we’ll connect you with some of the best in the business. Thank you as well to all who follow along with our reports, and stay tuned for more to come. We hope you have a safe and prosperous new year. Go Packers!