A late week snowfall (the Thursday forecast calls for up to five inches), if it comes, will top off already good snow conditions and have us heading into the weekend in very good shape for winter snow sports. Groundhog Day, set for Sunday, will give us our annual look ahead as we see if Peyton Manning or Russell Wilson sees his shadow. Or whatever.
We move into February this weekend and that is a month of significant change. We’ve had a hard ride this winter; cold followed by more cold in addition to even more cold. It has shown no sign of ending. But February brings, inevitably, longer days, a higher sun that packs more heat, and a turn toward winters end. We’ll have cold nights ahead but should also see some warmer weather.
Odds are that snow sports in February this year should be exceptional. We start the month with good snow and trails, both snowmobile and ski, in very good condition. This weekend and into the foreseeable future we expect very good snow for both motorized and silent sports. All trails will be very good (assuming good grooming post-snowfall).
Off-trail the snow is getting deep. For snowshoers and backcountry skiers that opens up a lot of opportunity. Snow depth now is enough that to head off trail without snowshoes or wide skis is a losing battle. For those who enjoy it though this is prime time.
If there is a downside to the added snow it comes on the lakes. A week ago we had some reports of slush; by last weekend far more. The snow this week will only add to the problem. Many lakes in the area have enough slush now to hamper travel and ice fishing has lagged accordingly.
We have seen, even without the reduced ice fish opportunity, a drop in walleye fishing success. That’s normal for this time of the year. Panfish showed a nice bump up in action over the past week or two and that also is typical. Bottom line today is that panfish will continue to be stronger as we move into February but if the slush issue does not abate ice fishing access will be reduced for many anglers.
The Outdoor Report is provided by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post in downtown Rhinelander.