Outdoor Report: Enjoy the late winter
Winter lingers. Snow drifts deeper each week; temperatures in the dark of the night settle to zero or below. The first day of spring came and went this week; you may have missed it, given the snow and the cold. There are times when the first day of spring is a celebration, while other years it seems a bad joke. You can perhaps guess which feeling prevailed.
There is, in some quarters, a feeling that winter has overstayed its welcome, that it’s near the end of March, past St. Pat’s day and it’s time to give it up, this long winter season. People who took vacation to the south, to the warm latitudes, are returning to below-zero temperatures and new snow, and they seem a bit put off by it all.
So it goes. Last year it was 70 and people were in shorts and T-shirts. This year is the opposite. The middle ground between the two extremes is pretty close to the average.
Be that as it may, the fact remains that winter is holding tight and given the good snow, we may as well enjoy it. Winter came late and it appears it’s making up for it on this end. Snow came late as well, but now it’s here and there seems a good chance we’ll be skiing and possibly snowmobiling into April.
The ski trails are excellent right now and will stay that way into the weekend and early this upcoming week. There is a great base and grooming continues on most trails in this area, making for some very good skiing, far and away the best of the season.
Ditto for snowmobiling. After some very tough times into late January, trails now are exceptional. Riders are finding great snow and well-groomed trails, and those who are getting out are raving about it all.
Snow does not last, even though it seems it will never end this year. Great conditions in late March can falter and fail overnight. All that means that if you favor snow-related sports, you’d best not put things off. Right now it is very good, but that will not last forever.
Ice fishing has slowed, not because of uncooperative fish, but because of slush on many lakes. That has kept a lot of late-season anglers off the ice. Those who have gotten out (and many are walking versus driving) are finding some fish.
Crappies are a mainstay now and most lakes find them in deeper water, suspended off the bottom (how far off is variable). Some nice fish are being caught, but it has been a bit inconsistent. Perch are coming on with some good reports this week. Bluegills seem slow for the most part.
Tip-downs and jig poles are the ticket now, as well as testing various depths to find where fish are. If the slush is not too burdensome, fishing can be decent. And when the warm weather comes (and it will), the snow will firm up and slush should not be as big a factor as it now is.
The Outdoor Report is provided by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post in downtown Rhinelander.