By all reckoning the worst of winter would seem behind us now. January, that month of long, dark nights and bitter cold, is about to turn. February now takes the stage with longer hours of daylight and temperatures on the rise. Not so quick: February will not leave without a bite. We will have cold and we will have snow. But by month’s end we will be over the hump for sure.
The mixed up month that was January brought the bitter cold we expected. It also brought last Friday and highs in the 40s. In between, we got enough snow that conditions are good and we had enough cold that lake ice is near what we’d expect. All of which sets us up for a good week ahead.
Skiing and snowmobiling got a positive shot last week with good snowfalls that were enough that the late week thaw did only minor damage. Midweek, about the time this paper is published, may show some more snow. But no matter what, the trails will be in good condition for the weekend to come.
Ski trails had some crust and ice after the thaw but by the weekend we expect them to be groomed and in good shape across the region. And we are fortunate for that; you don’t have to go very far south to see ski trails thin down alarmingly and, in the southern areas, there has not been enough snow to ski on all season.
The same is true for snowmobile trails. The good snow of last week combined with great grooming has brought the best conditions of the season and the cold weather this week will work to keep them. It’s still a good idea to check current reports and certainly to stay on marked trails, especially on lakes, but trails are good and if we get some snow will be in very nice shape.
The cold of January firmed up lake ice at long last. Ice fishing has been improving with northerns and crappies leading the way. Walleyes have been good, but not great. We keep getting overall good reports from anglers who finally have decent ice for the most part and warm enough weather to get out and spend some time. There are some areas of ice that are thinner as this year has seen very uneven ice formation so we would not go out to unfamiliar areas without checking ice along the way. But January did a lot to make things right on the ice.
Super Bowl weekend will inevitably cut some participation in the out of doors, but those who do make the time should find very nice conditions for whatever sport they pursue.
The Outdoor Report is provided by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post, downtown Rhinelander, where a variety of outdoor products is available.