Outdoor Notebook: Winter weather has even affected fishing in the south
Over the years there have been numerous conversation starters. Since November, the one topic that seems to come up everywhere across the country is the topic of the weather. Many folks have called the winter of 2014 a “Good Old Fashioned Winter.”
In our area winter really started about mid-November along with the Wisconsin gun-deer season.
Each evening as we gathered at the hunting shack we would talk about how much colder it was compared to other recent deer seasons. We discussed how mild the past several deer season had been and now we were experiencing a cold one. We even had snow all during deer season this year. During the muzzleloader season, it turned much colder and stayed that way into the Holiday Season.
Ever since December, the weather reports would talk about the big snowstorms that were blowing in. The unique aspect about the weather is that huge areas of the country were affected by those storms.
When we talk to local anglers around the northern portion of the area, we hear that ice fishing has almost ceased due to the snow cover. The weight of the thick layer of snow has pushed the ice down causing water to seep up through holes and cracks in the ice. This thick, heavy layer of slush on the ice is resulting in difficult travel conditions. As a result, anglers had a difficult time getting ice shacks off the ice by the deadline. In some areas of the state, the deadline to remove shacks from the ice was extended.
Over the years, we have tried to escape winter by spending some time in the state of Texas on the Gulf Coast. During previous trips, the climate there has been comfortably warm and we have caught a lot of fish. This year is different. When we arrived in Port Aransas in mid-February the water temperature was 58 degrees. Four days later, the water temperature had slipped to 52 degrees. We are almost ready to pack up our gear and the water temperature is still in the lower 50s. We are still waiting for the water to warm and the fish to start feeding. One satisfaction that we talk about is that we do not have to shovel the cool water.
One evening, during our stay in Texas, we took advantage of one of the programs in the lecture series hosted by the University of Texas Marine Science Institute (UTMSI). The program was moderated by Dr. Lee Fuiman who is associate director of the center. The panel consisted of Jeff Kaiser, a research science associate representing UTMSI and two representatives from the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, Dr. Robert Vega, Marine Enhancement Director, and Dr. Mark Fisher from the Rockport, Texas Marine Lab.
The general theme of the presentation was, “Why is Fishing Good in Texas?” The information presented by these gentlemen was extremely interesting and as the program progressed it became clear that the research at the university and quality management of the resource are credited with improving fishing. Last year, there were 20,852,098 Red Drum and 9,973,144 Spotted Sea Trout stocked by the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department in the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
Through extensive research, it was determined that 13.5 percent of the Red Drum caught in Texas evolved from the 1990s up to the present were hatchery produced. Texas has four million acres of salt water which attracts 900,000 recreational anglers.
As we review the extent of the frigid weather we have had in Wisconsin this winter I wonder what type of weather the summer will bring.
Longtime Northwoods outdoors personality Roger Sabota writes a bi-monthly column for the Star Journal.