Outdoor Report: Winter holds on but spring maybe on the horizon
It is difficult to recall the last time a weekend’s forecast showed temperatures above freezing on both days. Difficult, also, to remember a 10-day forecast that did not show a low temperature in the single digits or colder. But that’s what we have as we look forward to the upcoming weekend and week ahead. It’s been a long time coming but there is hope that a spring will follow the seemingly never-ending winter.
Be that as it may, this weekend will look for more wintery than spring-like. Snow is still deep, bare spots rare, and for all appearances, we may as well be looking at March 1 rather than April 1. Any reports of recreation need focus more on winter activities than spring frolics.
The snow in late season is affected by thaw and freeze cycles; crust and ice are common in the morning even as afternoon brings corn snow and melt. Skiers need be aware of this as a morning outing can turn into a terrifying experience on fast, icy trails that give the impression of roller coaster rides. Many area trails will not be groomed after this weekend so it’s catch as catch can for skiers. Conditions will vary day to day.
Most skiers will be best to wait until the temperatures warm enough to hold a ski edge. Then trails will be skiable though it will be late season skiing and expect marginal conditions now on all trails.
Snowmobile trails in Oneida and Vilas County close March 31 which effectively shuts down the season for many riders. This weekend will probably offer up some good late season riding.
Fishing has been slow most of the winter with access limited by large expanses of slush and deep snow. But the thaw weather of late, limited as it has been, has started to work to compact snow and slush and in the past 10 days, we are finally starting to see some signs of life in the ice fishing community. Those anglers who have gotten out, and their numbers are growing, have been catching crappies and bluegills and doing so with some consistency.
The gradual warming in the weather will make ice fishing conditions far more favorable now. Crappies and bluegills will both continue to be active and will usually take small jigs tipped with either natural or plastic waxies similar. Perch usually come on later but we think the next few weeks will see a quick move toward peak panfish activity.
Maple syrup season has been delayed by the weather; it should start this week. Turkey hunting opens April 12 with the youth hunt but the harsh winter will reduce the number of birds available.
The Outdoor Report is provided by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post in downtown Rhinelander.