January wanes; the month is near passed and it’s been a tough one. If there was a color for the cold this January would have been painted with it. It’s been cold; then it’s been colder. January, this time, has lived up to its reputation as the month of bitter cold in Wisconsin. Now, less than a week to go before the page turns to February and February will make the turn toward winter end.
For now we’ll deal with the cold for another weekend; the forecast does not hold promise of any type of warmth in the short-term.
All that cold has cut into time out-of-doors for a lot of people. There is a limit to what people will take in terms of cold and this month we’ve topped that limit more often than we may have wanted to. So it goes. This is northern Wisconsin; it is January; and that’s the month of long nights and deep cold.
The good news: if you like snow sports, the snow hasn’t gone anywhere nor will it soon. Hard cold generally does not bring heavy snows but the past weeks have brought a few smaller snowfalls, enough to freshen up ski and snowmobile trails. This weekend should bring some great trail conditions across the north.
Snowmobile trails remain in very good shape. Groomers continue to ply their magic on a regular basis and any wear and tear on the trails is quickly repaired. Look for very good sledding in the foreseeable future on all trails across the north.
Same for cross country skiing; trails will be very good this weekend and into next week. Ski trail grooming is often done on open machines so the cold can reduce groomers’ time out there but right now trails remain good even if they are not touched up on a daily basis.
There was a significant uptick in ice fishing for panfish in the past week with good catches of bluegills leading the way. Walleyes remain slow and that’s no surprise; they generally taper off in January. Ice conditions are good for the most part but there has been an marked increase in slush on some lakes lately. That makes for difficult access so be mindful of that before you head out too far and bog down.
And the continued cold and deepening snow will continue to put the deer herd under increased stress. The next 30 days will be critical for deer survival and health. The size of the deer herd for the fall hunt will be determined in February and March and if this winter continues as it is we may see a much smaller herd.
The Outdoor Report is provided by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post in downtown Rhinelander.