Outdoor Report: Heading into March
Last weekend’s thaw has passed but the impact on area snow sports remains. Temperatures remained above freezing and rain fell off and on for several days. We have enough snow to survive that combination but not enough to feel totally comfortable with it.
We go into this weekend with snowmobile trails holding their own. They are thinner now than they were a week ago and most are in fair condition with some thin areas starting to show. This may all change as Saturday temperatures are predicted to top 40 and that will soften all trails. Lakes saw a lot of slush and standing water last week. That has frozen up but it remains important to stay on marked trails. Overall we’re looking at trail conditions that may deteriorate should the forecast prove true.
Ski trails had the same issues. Warm, wet weather froze hard and it’s now all about what the trail groomers can do. Snow cover remains good but there may be a significant variation in trails this weekend. Two scenarios seem to exist. The first is that trails may be fairly icy in some sections and that means skiers need to keep it slow and easy. The other possibility is that the spike in temperatures forecast will soften trails to the point that they are too soft to ski. We’re going into the weekend with cautious optimism but prepared to back off if things get too warm.
Ice fishing is steady of late. The thaw worked to reduce snow cover and travel is as easy now as it has been all season. If temperatures reach the 40s this weekend things will be pretty sloppy so best prepare for that possibility. Ice conditions remain generally good but there is simply less ice than we’d expect for late February.
Walleyes have been pretty good with late afternoon and evening hours being best. We’ve heard best fishing in 10 to 12 feet of water on most lakes. Tip-ups and minnows are still the most consistent. Walleye season closes soon so time is running out for ice action.
Northern pike have been steady, nothing real big but lots of action. Panfish are coming on slowly with most in deeper waters, generally several feet off the bottom. Tip-downs will be more important now as panfish become the primary game fish.
March arrives this week with less snow and less lake ice than we usually have. Conditions can change quickly under late winter heat and possible rain. Keep that in mind going forward and expect some deterioration in snow and ice both should warm weather move in.
The Outdoor Report is provided by the staff at Mel’s Trading Post, downtown Rhinelander.