WINTER IN THE NORTH is comprised of two elements: Cold and snow. This week takes care of the first; we wait impatiently for the latter. The cold sets it all up; lakes freeze clean and clear and the frost in the ground drives deeper. That frost in the ground provides a cold, hard base for snow. Falling snow on warm ground is wasted, melting as it lands. New snow over hard ground sticks around and skiers and snowmobilers take heart.
As it stands the ice forming on area lakes is a good sign. We saw that a month ago with an early November cold snap but that ice turned soft in late November with balmy weather. Now we’ll start over and do so with good ice.
There have been some ice anglers in the area that have been on ice for a few weeks now, fishing the sheltered bays that have frozen up hard and safe. But the majority of water has not yet frozen over thick enough to support weight. That will be changing now as cold weather is here and ice is forming.
Having noted that the age-old caution remains: Do not assume all ice is safe. If you get out, test it. For now we expect shallow lakes and bays to be coming along. That makes some of the flowages fishable soon. But larger, deeper lakes are a long way from being safe.
Deer season continues this weekend with an antlerless rifle hunt for those with appropriate tags. That four day season runs through Sunday. Archery season is good for another month.
Late season grouse hunters still have time to get out, though bird numbers this fall have been down. December grouse often can be in small groups so while they may be few and far between once a hunter comes up on one there are often more in that area.
Skiers, snowshoers and snowmobilers are left on the sidelines in the immediate area though snowfalls within a few hours’ drive will leave some trails open and ready to go. For skiers, look to the Birkebeiner trails in the Cable/Hayward area where they got good snow this week.
For now we are only slowly moving into winter. Lake ice is a good start but we wait, less patiently now, for snowfalls.
The Outdoor Report is provided by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post, downtown Rhinelander, where a variety of outdoor products is available.