Outdoor Report: Fishing season off to a slow start
Fishing season opened to less fanfare than usual a week ago. That’s what winter-like ice that still covered more than a few lakes will do. If last year established new records for early ice out, this stanza moved the market in the opposite direction; many lakes opened up at or near record-setting late dates this year. Warming weather now has taken hold and lakes in the immediate Rhinelander area are open. But as of mid-week, one did not have to venture too far north to find many key lakes still locked up under ice. A week ago, we’d figured that many smaller and shallower lakes would be open and that was the case. And those lakes, along with the rivers in the area, most notably the Wisconsin, all got heavy angling pressure.
This week, we are near normal in terms of open water and fishing should be far more accessible to all. As is the case with ice recently going out, water is cold which slows fish activity. Warmer water will spur fish to feed so the key, as in all springs, is to find that water in shallower lakes or shallow bays on deep lakes that has warmed up faster. If fish are to be had, that’s the place to start.
We had reports of some very good walleye fishing on the Wisconsin River and some decent crappie action on a few local lakes. That should continue, but add to that mix the newly-opened lakes where the warmer, shallower water should hold fish. We’d fish those areas with slow-moving jigs or small crankbaits for walleyes and the typical small jigs for crappies. Last week, the walleyes hit on jig and minnows as well as jigs tipped with Gulp or similar synthetics. That will be the case this week as well. We expect some good-to-very-good fishing for those anglers who can locate fish and have the patience to use a very slow retrieve.
That open water in the area now opens up options for boaters, both power boats and kayaks and canoes. Water is still chilly so caution is advised, but it’s warming up quickly on these 70-degree afternoons.
And at the risk of putting a damper on things, we did get reports of the year’s first mosquitoes this week! Between them and the ticks (which have been out for some time) don’t leave the home without some repellant.
The Outdoor Report is provided by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post in downtown Rhinelander.