A year ago we had snow. Not much, but enough to cover the ground and weight the trees for one morning. It did not last. This year is balmy in comparison; 60s and 70s during the day remind one of early September. All of which seems to have slowed things down in the outdoor world. Leaf cover is still pretty thick as of midweek and lake temperatures have not dropped very far. That will all change some this weekend as overnight lows are predicted to drop and daytime highs drift lower as well.
All of which should bring more seasonable conditions to this area. With that, assuming it does come, we should see an improvement in much of hunting and fishing.
Fishing, to start with, should improve as water temperatures drop. Muskies and walleyes, the two preferred autumn targets of anglers, should begin their late fall feed. Having noted that, it is worth reporting that musky fishing this past weekend had some bright spots. We talked with one local guide who did very well on muskies in the 40-inch range. After striking out in deeper water, he moved to shallow areas and got into some good action. Most fish were on bucktails (always a good lure) and in water as shallow as two feet!
Walleyes are deeper than that, as are crappies. They’ll probably stay there until ice up when the walleyes will move in to shallower waters. Jigs and minnows are probably the best way to take walleyes now. There are always exceptions to the rule and it is still possible on some lakes to find walleyes near the edge of the drop-off.
We heard some reports of success in the Youth Deer Hunt last weekend and now archers should have a steadily improving situation as visibility improves with leaf drop and food sources narrow down as summer crops fade. The rut is a few weeks out, but bucks will start to get antsy soon.
Waterfowl season is at a low ebb. Early weeks have been slow and the warm weather has slowed migration. We did see reports of significant migration of smaller birds early in the week (songbirds and the like), so some birds are moving down but it’s slow. Redheads and ringnecks are usually coming in about now and with a good wind, we can expect some as soon as this week.
In the woods leaf cover is still fairly thick, cutting into grouse hunters’ success; birds are there but tough to see. A sharp, hard frost has yet to hit and when it does, leaves will drop and things will get better. Some woodcock have been on the move and a few hunters have had very good days on them.
The Outdoor Report is provided by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post in downtown Rhinelander.