March is winding down and heading into the books as one of record-breaking temperatures, extremely rapid snow melt, very early ice out and mostly dry conditions after a major snowfall that started the month off. It has been, by any measure, a month of strangeness, weatherwise.
All that weather has had a significant impact on outdoor recreation. Snow is long-gone; ice a memory; 70 degree temperatures boring in their sameness. What was expected in a normal month, late season skiing, the best ice fishing of the season, a maple sap run, all that was cut off short this time. What we are left with is outdoor conditions more typical of mid to late April.
This time of the year is usually the mud season, a time when snow and frost retreat, the ground is saturated and sloppy and muddy conditions rule the day. Not in 2012. Now we have mud season but without the mud. What’s left to do outside?
Well, panfish are legal game for fishermen, that and walleyes downriver from the Tomahawk area. Trouble is, neither of those categories of fish has done much. We’ve had mixed reports from panfishmen locally, but it seems that nobody had really gotten on them with any consistency. We’d expect perch to be hitting, but as of yet that does not seem the case. Nor is it happening with crappies, at least with any regularity. The short of it is that all bets seem off, and anglers are having to work pretty hard to find fish. Warm weather is predicted to move in this weekend, and that may bring better fishing.
Turkey season is getting closer, and with the early spring the first hunt periods look a good bet. One advantage of this weather is that turkey hunters will be able to scout for birds and sight in their shotguns, taking advantage of the good weather to do both. Turkeys are dispersing from their over-winter grounds, and will be showing up in their springtime haunts soon.
For kayak and canoe enthusiasts, as well as bicyclists, the early spring has extended their season by weeks. Water is still cold in spite of warm air temps, so we do urge caution. Cold water can really rob body temperature quickly, so if you do go out, make certain it is with a companion who can give aid if need be. A tipped boat can be a serious matter in cold water.
Mostly this upcoming week will be one of transition as we move from a false spring in March to true spring in the next weeks. Days are growing longer, and the opportunities for springtime recreation will increase with each passing week.
The Outdoor Report is provided by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post in downtown Rhinelander.