Outdoor Report: Great days for winter sports
A long weekend awaits; President’s Day weekend, a three-day break for many and given what winter has (finally) delivered, a potentially great weekend in the north. We have snow, have pretty good ice, have longer days now that February is underway; what else is there? Well, perhaps some warmer temps but we can’t get greedy. After a pretty slow start to winter, things have gotten darn good of late.
Snowmobile trails are as good as they’ve been this year, freshened up with early-week snow, buffed by good grooming, and not going anywhere given the colder nights. It’s been tougher sleddin’ than good this year, but this late winter (or mid-winter if you are an optimist) weather pattern has set things up for a good weekend. We expect very good trails for this weekend and into next week, and riders should be in for a fine time.
The same can be said for skiers. Cross country trails are dialed just right now. The snowfalls we’ve had have been enough to build the base without being too much for groomers to handle. Skate ski and classic skiing both will be as good as they’ve been all season. With the American Birkebeiner looming next weekend, we expect an influx of downstate skiers looking to put in some miles of training; conditions down south have taken a beating and we’ve fielded calls looking for good snow. Anyone on skis should find fine trail conditions on all area ski trails this weekend.
Up until a few weeks ago, snowshoes really were not necessary. Now they are. Off-trail and on packed trails, snowshoe enthusiasts should all find very good conditions in the next days.
Needless to say, snow is not all that drives winter recreation. Ice fishing is going on strong as we start the count-down to the end of the season for walleye, bass and northern pike that date being the first Sunday of March, now only a couple weeks away. Walleye and bass fishing have lagged of late, but northerns have been steady. Of most interest is fishing for panfish, an activity that will get better every week. Already crappies have been coming on with some bluegill action. Perch are quieter on most lakes; they come on hard at the very end of the ice season.
With longer days and more active panfish, the ice fishing season still has a lot to offer.
All in all, we are arguably at the peak of winter sports in the Northwoods for this season. Good snow and good ice, combined with longer days and soon-to-come warmer weather, should make the next week or two very nice indeed to be outside.
The Outdoor Report is provided by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post in downtown Rhinelander.