Outdoor Report: An early spring in the Northwoods
A string of above average temperatures, including, by our count, seven consecutive days of record highs, have left little reason to doubt that spring has come early and with a vengeance. By this weekend, lakes in the area should all be free of ice, most of them earlier by weeks than previous early ice-out. Ice fishing, normally in full swing, is a memory. Skiing (we skied into April last year and many before) is history. Day after day reminds one of May, not March.
All of which puts us in the position of being in a transition season, too late for winter activities, too early for most true springtime pursuits. We are, in March, in what usually would pass for Mud Season. Trouble is, this year with hardly any rain of late, there’s little mud. It is, by all accounts, a March that we have not seen before, and have never dreamed possible. A day or two in the 70s is not unheard of for March; two weeks borders on the absurd.
But it’s what we’ve got, and life goes on. Fishing is now open water only. Hard as it is to believe, but only a week ago ice fishing was still possible, albeit not the smartest thing to do. We are still looking at near six` weeks before gamefish season opens on inland lakes; now it’s all panfish. Truth be known, most anglers are not ready for open water, and fishing is at a low ebb.
Still, crappies should be vulnerable to slip-bobber rigs in shallower water, the same places they’d be if ice covered the water. Perch should be on the verge of a heavy bite as waters continue to warm up. We expect increased angling as boats are launched and fishermen take to the water.
Walleyes are legal game on portions of the Wisconsin River down from Tomahawk (check regs for specific locations). Early reports are of small fish, but that will change if temperatures remain high.
Open water is inviting for all boaters, and we expect to see boat traffic from fishermen to kayakers and canoeists this week. As good as the water looks, it is still very cold, and caution need be taken. Sensible clothing and PFDs worn, rather than just carried, are good ideas. It will be a while before water temps are at all comfortable.
And this dry spring so far, the lack of greenery and ongoing breezes all combine to increase the danger of wildfires. A small fire can get to be large and out of control in a short time, so be careful on that front.
A look at the weather forecast for the next week shows more of the same, with highs tabbed for the mid-60s. This strangest of strange Marches seems to show no sign of changing.
The Outdoor Report is provided by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post in downtown Rhinelander.