By the time you are reading this, we will already be a couple of days into another unseasonably warm weather situation. This February thaw will eliminate a significant amount of our snow cover. When we lose our snow, we also trend toward warming weather. The snow reflects the sun's warming rays, and the darker ground absorbs more of the sun's warming power.
I will be a little "all over the map" this week as we close in on the middle of February.
We are down to the last three weeks of the gamefish season (walleye, northern, bass), but the open season for panfish continues until it is not safe on the ice any more. Thursday, the groundhog saw his shadow, so we have at least six more weeks of winter yet! The bite for walleyes in this area in February is considerably slowed between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m., not that some don't get caught during the day, but odds are not in our favor.
The unseasonably warm January thaw of the last week or 10 days has knocked the snow cover on the lakes to almost nothing on the majority of our area lakes. During the warm stretch, fishing the lake conditions was slushy, wet, and flooding occurred around heavier permanent houses (nothing that blocking up houses couldn't fix).
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.