Both last winter, and this winter, have been years of late-developing ice. We are coming into the first full weekend of the new year, and finally have enough ice for full size trucks to venture onto area lakes. Last year, with a late ice start, and an early ice out, we had limited weeks of the ice fishing season.
Hard to believe we are at Christmas already and the ice season is really just getting going. The ice has been walkable for a couple weeks now, and safe for sleds, wheelers, or side-by-sides for the last week.
Ice thicknesses on area lakes range from about 6 to 9 inches and continues to develop well with the severe cold of the last week. Areas that have no or minimal snow have thicker ice, since the snow acts as an insulator and slows ice development. Through this weekend and the rest of the week, there should be no truck traffic on any of the area lakes. It would be prudent to limit travel on the lakes to foot, wheelers, and sleds. The lakes are not ready for any large permanent houses yet, either. Stick to portables or small, light, skid or single-axle houses until next weekend.
The ice is here! I am proud to say I was right on with my prediction. It would be better if we got the snow after we had a good week or two of ice, but the good thing about this storm is all the wind. The strong winds of Tuesday through Thursday should help blow most of the snow off the new ice and keep snow load to a minimum.
Well, here we are, December, and still no ice on the lakes. Even I am starting to get impatient for ice now. I was on a couple different lakes Monday and Tuesday and lake temperatures dropped from 48 to 40 degrees in a week with the cold and snow. Tuesday fishing in that snowfall was beautiful. The air temperature was 34 degrees, but it was still very pleasant as there was no wind. It also helps when the walleyes are biting, and they were, especially the last hour before sunset.
Not much to report for fishing this last week as we have been dominated by the severe cold front that has brought cold, wind, freezing rain, and snow.
The weather this fall is buying us more time to prepare for winter when it comes to closing out our open water season. It looks good for us making it a least a couple more weeks before the lakes are ready to skim over with ice. Water temperatures are at 48 degrees, and surface temperatures have cooled slowly the last two weeks. It looks like a continued slow cooling process if the current forecast holds true.The fall bite continues to be good.
Water temperatures have dropped into the high 40s and continue to drop with the shorter days. We have been unseasonably warm for the last week or so and it looks like next week will continue to provide open water fishing opportunities.
When we get to this time of year and the surface temps of the water have cooled to 50 degrees, don't get fooled into thinking the fish become lethargic. They are extremely comfortable with these water temperatures and can be aggressive biters and fighters. They will chase after reaction baits casted or trolled even until we skim with ice. Even when ice fishing, fish can have fish activity periods with high fish aggression reacting to aggressively jigged baits. Cold fronts and pressure changes have more to do with causing fish to have less aggressive feeding than the water temps.
Water temperatures have dropped into the high- to mid-50 degree range and continue to drop with the cold nights and shorter daylight hours. The multiple days of high winds turned lakes over before the lakes' surface temperatures got to 50 degrees, which is when we usually experience our fall turnover. With the fall changes, also come changes in walleye location from just a few weeks ago. Look for the sharp breaks on extended shoreline points, close to shoreline humps, and sharp breaks to deep water basin areas off the larger flats to locate fall fish.