Outdoor Report: Ice on lakes put a chill on opening day
It is difficult to put much of a positive spin on an opening weekend of fishing season that will dawn on a fair number of lakes still covered with ice. Or so that seems late week with a forecast that does not hold the heavy heat to break things up. As with last year, we expect to find small lakes open (many broke free of ice this week) but larger, deeper water will probably have ice on large areas.
Any open water on lakes will be cold; that much is certain. Smaller, darker lakes will be warmer but only by a little bit; this week has been too cloudy to bring any real heat to those waters. Cold water means slow moving fish; that again is certain. And slow moving fish dictate tactics; light tackle, small lures, very slow retrieve.
That last tactic, the slow retrieve, cannot be overemphasized. Cold water fish simply do not have the drive to move fast. A fast retrieve will produce little or nothing. Small, slow moving lures will be the only chance of taking fish on what open lake water you may find.
On some lakes that hold ice over large areas but have open water along the shoreline, wading may be a good option. Walleyes and other fish may well be in the shallows and an angler fishing along shorelines can do well.
River fishing may well be the best option as waters there have been open for some time and fish will be more active, if not immediately this weekend then certainly into the upcoming week. The problem here may be with heavy pressure from other fishermen looking for the same opportunity.
The best that might be said for this weekend is that it will give anglers a chance to get out, check gear and, with some luck, find a walleye or two. But given late ice out and inconsistent conditions it’s difficult to expect a lot more than that.
One other thing: Check walleye limits closely as they have been adjusted on many lakes. Some lakes have a one fish limit and it is imperative to check the limits on whatever water you wish to fish.
Other than that we continue with a late spring that has left the ground soggy (keep off mountain bike trails for now) and delayed leaf out. Turkey hunters are doing fairly well with toms responding to calls. That hunt continues for the next several weeks.
The Outdoor Report is provided by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post in downtown Rhinelander.