Midway through March and the season is in change. Sixty-eight degrees last weekend; driving snow and chill by mid-week. Not unusual for March, perhaps, but confusing at a certain level. This is the time of the year when nothing quite seems to line up right. Then again, the weather of the past six months has been that way, enough out of sync to make one wonder what is normal.
What is normal in late March is that ice fishing, among all outdoor activities, is the most predictable. But even that is a bit off this year as concerns of ice quality now come to peoples’ minds. Ice is, for the most part, decent for late season but we continue to get reports of areas of low quality ice that cause concern. Ice can change dramatically this time of the season, so we always push for a cautious approach before going out.
Crappies continue to show the most consistent action of late. The fish are restless now, edging toward shallower water on many lakes. As is typical, there is not a one-size-fits-all rule for finding fish now. We had reports of crappies in 20+ feet of water and some in 6-8 feet of water on other lakes. Bottom line is the late season angler needs to be adaptable to change when it comes to finding fish.
Crappie minnows on jig pole rigs are effective now and tip-downs are always a good tool to have for late ice. We’ve had some people catching fish all day long; others report a very short window in late afternoon as the only time they’ll see action.
Bluegills are holding in mid-depths as a rule and showing steady action, as are perch. But crappies seem the main game this week.
The early shot of warm weather has many rivers wide open and running high. While open water always appeals to canoe and kayak enthusiasts, the cold water tempers things and most are waiting for warmer water before they break out the boats. Mountain bike riders are best to keep off trails to avoid damage to trails on too-soft ground. Maple syrup season should ramp up with the mix of freezing nights and mild days now working to drive sap.
And with the bare ground inevitably comes a crop of ticks. They’re out! A good tick spray on clothing and tick repellant on dogs is now necessary.
The Outdoor Report is provided by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post, downtown Rhinelander.