We approach the Ides of March, the ancient time of foreboding and gloom, then St. Patty’s Day, a day of raucous celebration and festivities. Thus is March; a mashup of a month in which most anything goes, the waning winter comes up against the growing strength of spring and nobody knows what to expect.
What we can expect is often written in the weather and the weather forecasts. For this week a typical representation of March: Lows in the single digits; highs in the 40s. Some sun, a dash of snow, a mixed-up blend that is what March is all about.
For snow sport enthusiasts the end of the season approaches. For skiers this will go down as a good one. First tracks were set in mid December and anyway you cut it we’ll be approaching 100 consecutive days of decent ski conditions for the cross country crowd. Now the trails are showing some wear but on warming days there are few better times to get the XC skis out and spend some time on snow.
Skiers can expect snow to linger, barring a huge thaw or heavy rains. We would expect diehards to have two weeks at least to glide on the lingering snows of a good winter.
Snowmobilers may not be so fortunate. Trails are variable and the best we can offer is to check for updates on a daily basis. Reports over the weekend were of fair to good conditions but this late in the year and with no snow in the forecast all bets are off.
Which leaves ice fishing and that is entering a key phase. We’re into the panfish-only season and for many anglers that’s as good as it gets. The chill weather of early week will set things back but the weekend looks good. Crappies are hanging in deeper water, 15’ to 20’ and showing some activity. Bluegills are shallower but are coming on, albeit slowly. Perch have been a mixed lot but typically they come on strong in the last weeks of March so better times ahead.
Lake ice conditions have not changed though the warmer weather sometimes will cause areas of slush to form and that can be a bother. But for now the weekend fishing should be pretty good.
We are down to the last few weeks of snow in all likelihood. It can change overnight on hard thaw or heavy rain but we expect it to dwindle gradually. There is still good snow cover in the wooded areas and for anyone with designs on skiing, snowshoeing or snowmobiling had best keep an eye on the weather and hope for a few more outings.
The Outdoor Report is provided by the staff of Mel’s Sporting Goods, downtown Rhinelander.