The New Year starts out as the old one ended: very cold and showing no mercy from the chill. It is tough going and the cold weather over the holiday week certainly cut participation in outdoor activities. Sub-zero cold and stiff breezes are a bad combination and we had it this past week.
The week ahead looks like a repeat early in the week with warming toward the weekend. The key question in the forecast is will we get snow? It does not look promising at this date, a shame as trails are getting thin and we could use more. Even with the bitter cold we continue to get reports of poor ice on some lakes. Snowmobile trails are open in the Rhinelander area and to the north but we do need snow. Some trails that cross lakes are now open but double-check the latest updates as some lake crossings remain closed. Stay only on clearly marked trails! Lakes continue to be behind on ice formation.
Overall, snowmobile trails are reported to be in fair to good condition.
The same can be said, overall, for XC ski trails; fair to good. There are some exceptions, with good reports from the Washburn Trails but for skate only; there are no classic tracks. Most other trails are decent but getting thin. The cold weather cut the number of skiers on trails this week but those that got out did have good times and were often pleasantly surprised to find good conditions.
Ice fishing remains a slow starter, in part due to poor ice, in part due cold weather. There simply are not as many people getting out. Cautions remain for anyone going out on ice; check it as you go. Things are better than a week ago but not universally good. Be careful!
Those anglers that have gotten out have done well on walleyes (mostly in the evenings) and northerns. Panfish are spotty, but overall good. Again, cold weather and so-so ice have kept a lot of people at home. We expect more reports toward the weekend when temperatures moderate.
The Outdoor Report is provided by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post, downtown Rhinelander, where a variety of outdoor products is available.