Here is what one would expect in late March. We’d expect ice fishing season to be red hot. We’d expect crappies to be hammering anything put in front of them, and perch coming on, big ones, jumbo perch that are as sweet as walleyes and easy to catch in spring. We’d not be surprised to see some late season cross-country skiing in late March. That’s pretty common; last year we skied into April. We might see some early season cycling and paddling, but only for the hardy who push the season.
That, in a typical March, is what we’d expect. This time around? Not even close. The unbelievably warm weather of the past days has thrown things into a tizzy. Skiing, so good a week ago, is shot. Snowmobiling? Hope you got out a week ago Saturday. That was the last hurrah. If your fun time includes snow, your season is over.
Ice fishing should be very good right now. Should be. But the wheels started to come off that season two weeks ago, when the big snow loaded lakes with heavy snow that produced slush on many lakes. The warm weather that followed brought snow melt on top of ice, and if you did not have knee-high rubber boots, you got wet. Lakes were near impassible with the snow and the slush, and anglers stayed off the ice.
Ice fishing may still rebound; it should be good, it usually is this time of the year. But we’re not going to offer up any real report this week. It is simply too unpredictable, based on the weather forecast, to make any recommendation save for one: Be very cautious if you have any interest in going on the ice.
We are concerned about the ice conditions this weekend, and very much concerned based on a weather forecast that calls for 60’s and 70’s next week. That may change and ice travel may be fine. We may have a week or two or three of good fishing. We hope so. But the reality is that ice conditions are changing rapidly, and changing for the worse. This weather is out of kilter, and the only thing that seems likely is an early ice out.
There will still be fish caught through the ice this year, but a lot of anglers are holding back due to concerns about ice quality and travel on lakes that are slush covered. The choice, as always, is up to each individual. We’d simply be very careful.
The Outdoor Report is provided by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post in downtown Rhinelander.