Outdoor Report: Fishing conditions are getting better
Few things limit the success of early season anglers more than ice on lakes. When “open water fishing” lacks the “open water,” one can expect less than stellar results. So it was last weekend when the long-awaited day dawned and, in too many cases, first light revealed ice-covered lakes where the open water usually is.
Resourceful anglers had anticipated this and flocked to what open water there was, usually rivers, where they found, no surprise, long lines at many landings and crowded conditions on that rare open water. They also found fish, usually a nice mix of walleyes that, while rarely produced anything very large, did fill a few anglers’ limits. Other anglers found smaller lakes or parts of chains of lakes and they did decent as well.
But the best news about the opening is that it is behind us now and each day this week has brought improved fishing conditions. Some deep lakes north of us, mostly in Vilas County, still sport a top coat if darkening ice but most lakes in the area are open for the weekend.
What anglers will find is still a mystery. Water temperatures are very cold for May and walleyes’ spawning patterns have been thrown off. Shallower water will still be the best bet and slow lure presentations again the rule. We are getting reports of some crappie action and expect a mixed bag regarding walleyes as lake temperatures are still all over the board.
Warmer weather will help and the forecast looks decent. Anyone who fished here last May will find similar conditions this time with spawning fish delayed and the normal calendar of fish movement backed up a couple weeks. Do not expect fish to be where they would normally hang out in mid-May; we’re still a few weeks behind that.
Turkey season continues and reports of local hunts are mixed, but overall not as bad as a lot of hunters feared. And rainy weather has kept wooded trails too soft for most wheeled use, mountain bikes and ATVs come to mind. Spring, slowly, is progressing and we expect slow but steady movement to more normal conditions if the weather cooperates and warmer temperatures settle in.
The Outdoor Report is provided by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post in downtown Rhinelander.