Winter comes this week. Hard cold and snow and wind. We coasted through a mild autumn knowing each week should bring change. It never did. Lakes stayed open; migrating ducks held to the north; deer season was temperate and had little snow. We dodged the winter bullet all fall. Until this week.
By the time you read this we suspect ice anglers will have tested the ice in the hunt for larger, early ice walleyes. Small bays, shallow lakes, all should have some ice on it by the weekend. The lure of early ice fishing is strong, strong enough that more than one angler throws caution and good sense to the wind. We always advise caution. Early ice is often a fickle thing, thick enough to support weight at one step, too thin at the next. We always urge using an ice spud to test the ice, to never assume safe ice and, if in doubt, to stay ashore.
Having noted that we are equally certain some anglers will be out on the ice. If the norm holds there will be some big walleyes and they will be in the shallows. But time will tell and for now we’re taking it day by day in terms of watching ice form and thicken.
What is equally important to lake ice formation is that the ground is freezing hard. That is a critical step in the ski and snowmobile trails for the upcoming season. If the low lands and swamp areas do not freeze up early they will be messy all season.
The dry cold of the week ahead would seem to hold promise that the ground will be hard when the snow does come. We will not have snow sufficient to track trails but this week should guarantee that when it does come it will be good to go for skiers and snowmobilers. In that is cause to feel good.
Hunting seasons are waning; only the hard-core hunt late for deer and upland. On a mild December day, should one occur, it may be nice to get out but those days are few and far between and for all intents the hunt season is winding down for most.
Bottom line this weekend is that winter is coming in fast and winter sport is near at hand.
A variety of outdoor products is available at Mel’s Trading Post, downtown Rhinelander.