Outdoor Report: Early winter a gift for outdoor enthusiasts
Winter came in early this year; a late November cold snap that set the stage, followed by a cold, snowy December. Heating bills skyrocketed and snow shovels got a workout and those of summer persuasion found fertile ground for complaint and bellyaching. But those who find wintertime an enchanting season full of potential for festive times outdoors, those folks have had one very good month.
As it is, we head into the New Years week with wintery conditions that have left this area with as good a start to winter as we’ve seen in a while. Ski trails, snowmobile trails, ice fishing conditions, all of those are looking very good as we turn the corner to year’s end. The early cold locked up lakes and firmed up the ground; a series of small, manageable snowfalls topped it all off. We’re looking very good this weekend.
Skiers first: Trails should be in the best holiday weekend shape in ages. Groomers have been working hard, first to set a good base, then to track the new snow. There is probably a foot of snow in the woods; trails are packed firm to less than that but still plenty. A Christmas Day snowfall topped things off and we would expect that all skiers will find local trails in very good shape this week.
Snowmobilers started to ride in Oneida County more than a week ago and found trails here, and farther north, in good conditions. Since then a few small snowfalls have combined to freshen things up and added grooming should have snomo trails in very good shape this week. Granted, typical heavy holiday times use will wear down some areas but they will be the exception to the rule. Overall you’ll find very rideable trails this week.
The pre-Thanksgiving cold spell froze most area lakes hard and firm and more days and nights of cold have continued to make ice. Most lakes have very good ice now and ice anglers are taking advantage. The December walleye action has been steady with fish in the shallows a few weeks ago and now mixed with some fish having moved out to 10 feet or so of water (usually along the edge of drop-offs). Crappies are deeper but both species have been active.
The backwoods holds deeper snow, perfect for snowshoers and backcountry skiers.
The forecast calls for a bump up early this weekend before cold once again comes down. But hardy winter enthusiasts can handle it all and when they get out, they should find some wonderful times to be had.
The Outdoor Report is provided by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post in downtown Rhinelander.