Late March looks a lot like late January and feels a lot like late February. This weekend proves the point as temperatures are forecast to dip to near zero and rise only into the 20s, both extremes well below the average for this time of the year. Still, highs in the 20s will feel pretty good after a long winter and with daylight now extending into early evening the scene is set for a good weekend.
Snow sports fans are still having a good year. Warming temperatures, no matter how slow they’ve developed, have started to compact the standing snow. Trails, both snowmobile and ski, have seen snow start to degrade to crust and some ice. That does not mean all is lost, on the contrary. Good grooming can bust up crust and ice and leave a very good trail.
Having noted all that, this time of the season trail conditions can vary a lot from day to day. Snowmobile trails will hold in good condition this weekend as the big groomers can work up the crust and machines can handle it all very well. There will be some thin areas in those places where direct afternoon sun combined with heavy traffic can beat things up. But as long as groomers can get out and work things over snowmobiling will be good.
A caution on the snowmobiles: Keep on marked and prepared trails. Snow off the trail can be deep in wooded areas and lakes are marked by slush in many areas. Stray from the trails and you will risk mishap.
Ski trails in the area are good but variable depending on grooming. Crusty snow can be worked up nicely but harder ice cannot. We’ve seen good skiing this week and expect that to continue into next week at the very least. Early morning conditions, before the sun has warmed and softened snow, can be very icy and difficult. Best to wait for warmer temps to provide better trail conditions.
Ice fishing continues to be mostly a walking game now as slushy areas are common. High, waterproof boots are a necessity now but panfish action for those who venture out on lakes has been improving. Panfish are still in deeper water on most lakes but we have heard of some decent crappie action. Bluegills seem slower as do perch. The best news is that fishing will get better when we get some serious warming.
The Outdoor Report is provided by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post in downtown Rhinelander.