We will have a White Christmas. Snow cover is full, the world looks like a Christmas card. We will also have a cold Christmas if the forecast holds. Moderate temperatures promise a nice enough weekend but the upcoming week is another story. There is no certainty to a Wisconsin winter and the snow offers up great opportunities even as the cold reduces them.
Let’s start with what we know; we have good snow conditions going into the holiday week. Cross country ski trails are open and conditions range from fair to very good. The “fair” areas are in lowlands and marshy sections of the trail, typical thin in early season. But forested areas have held good snow and are in very good condition. Skiers and snowshoers, will find very enjoyable trail conditions for the upcoming week. That’s the good news.
Snowmobile trails in Oneida County, with some exceptions, opened this past Thursday. But be aware: There are exceptions and not all trails are fully opened. As with ski trails those areas in more open woodlands are open and in decent shape. But as of this report no trails that cross lakes are open due to poor ice conditions on many lakes. This may change, but for now the best advice is to check updated reports as they are available in upcoming days.
Ice conditions on lakes in this region are inconsistent at best. Warm weather in late November did major damage to what had been good ice and high winds prevented consistent ice development. Ice anglers are very cautious as lake ice on many lakes is simply not safe. That has resulted in the snowmobile trails not being open and has cut ice fishing for many anglers on many lakes.
Simply put, do not assume that the ice is safe. We are in early season conditions and that suggests anyone going out on ice be very cautious and test ice as they go. Granted, some lakes and some areas on certain lakes are good enough for safe angling but do not assume all ice is safe; it is not.
The inconsistent ice has slowed what can be a very productive time for anglers and as of this week there is simply not much to report on in lakes in the immediate Rhinelander area. The bitter cold of the week ahead should improve conditions but until it does, caution is the key word.
Christmas week should be a good one for skiers and snowshoers and, if things pan out, it should improve for snowmobilers and ice anglers.
The Outdoor Report is provided by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post, downtown Rhinelander, where a variety of outdoor products is available.