Panfish are biting, but keep an eye on the ice
Any hopes for an extended snow sport season were washed away by the rains of early week and blown to tatters by the wind that followed. The wind storm that raged was as powerful as this area has seen for a while and, had it come in a week earlier, would have given some teeth to the idea of March coming in like a lion. In the wake of the warm weather, rain and high winds we can pretty much say snow season is over and done with.
That fact reduces the chances for outdoor recreation as skiers and snowmobilers can now put their gear up until next winter. It was not a banner snow year what with a late start, meager snowfalls, two major thaws and an inglorious end to it this week. So it goes.
That leaves ice fishing as the remaining major winter sport available. After the warm temps followed by rain and wind most area lakes are glare ice and anyone who leaves dry land without the aid of some traction device on their boots is pushing their luck. Ice conditions have been dicey all year and we are now into the time when they can deteriorate rapidly. All signs point to an early ice out this year and any anglers need be aware that lake ice may change from good to marginal overnight.
Be that as it may this is the time for panfish and all reports show a major uptick in action on that front. Crappies are leading the parade with some very nice catches coming in now. Bluegills are a bit behind crappies for most anglers and perch are slower yet. Perch fishing will improve in the next weeks but crappies should be good right now. Crappies in 12 feet or so of water have been the norm but they’ll move shallower as the weeks progress. Anglers need be ready to follow them as a place that was good one day may not be the next.
It is early for water sports but some rivers are opening up and early season paddlers are on the edge of getting out. We always advise waiting for warmer weather and warmer water before dusting off the kayaks and canoes.
Outside of that the next activity may well be collecting maple sap in the sugar woods, a short but intense season of hard work followed by sweet syrup.
The Outdoor Report is prepared by the staff of Mel’s Trading Post, downtown Rhinelander, where a variety of outdoor products is available.