In a normal year, we expect to see ice out on smaller lakes about mid-April. That, according to any calendar, would be this week. And that, according to every report we hear, isn’t close to happening soon. Ice depths vary, as they always do on any given lake, but we keep hearing that much lake ice is still in excess of 20 inches thick. There are exceptions and ice over springs or currents is always thinner, but there seems little sign of impeding open water across the North.
t’s been that kind of spring. Last year was an aberration; it was in the 70s in mid-March and spring came in a rush. This year has swung the opposite way and winter lingers stubbornly. Each passing week shows sign of thaw, but it’s a slow-moving process.
For now, ice fishing conditions remain passable on area lakes. Most ice is thick enough yet and there is very little, if any, open water along the edges, always the first sign of melt. There is slush on many lakes and that still limits anglers. But we are hearing of a slow (far slower than usual, we must add) increase in fishing success.
Crappies are staging off the shallows now on many lakes and perch. Some of them, decent-sized, are showing signs of life. But it remains slower than we’d expect and we are now hearing of low oxygen content on some lakes which brings concern short-term of poor fishing and longer term of winter kill. Time will tell but for now, ice fishing is doable but not red hot.
Turkey season opened this week under dreary skies and with much snow remaining. Turkeys are just beginning to disperse from their wintering areas and many birds still are holding in larger flocks than usual. The first hunt period, often the best, will certainly be hampered by snow and late wintery weather. As with so much of recreation in this area, the weather in the next weeks will determine the success or failure of most turkey hunting. For now, we expect a slow start and hunters will need to adapt and search out birds, as they may not be where they usually would be in mid-April.
All in all, outdoor activities have been slowed by the late winter and that will not change until, finally, winter fades from the scene.
The Outdoor Report is provided by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post in downtown Rhinelander.