Thick ice could spoil fishing opener

Fishing season begins next week but ice on lakes could make it hard for northern Wisconsin
Published: Apr. 29, 2022 at 8:07 PM CDT
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MINOCQUA, Wis. (WSAW) - The fishing opener is 1 week away but some northern lakes are still frozen over.

“We’re faced with a lot of ice right now,” said Kurt Justice, owner of Kurt’s Island Sport Shop.

Fishing season is always the first Saturday in May. Some years it can be as early as the first of May, and in others it can be as late as the 7th of May depending on the weather.

“But the big issue this year is below normal temperatures,” said Mark Holley, chief meteorologist for NewsChannel 7.

Holley said the entire month of April has been almost 3 degrees below average. Some lakes in central Wisconsin are thawed and ready to fish, while others are still frozen.

“The below normal temperatures and lack of sunshine have made ice melting rather difficult across the Northwood. Especially north of highway 8,” said Holley.

Justice said this year’s opener is going to be very touch and go.

“Typically we would have had a good early ice out, long time for that water to warm up. Didn’t happen this year. It stayed cold for so long, we’re holding onto this ice and we’re not getting rid of it as fast as we’d like,” said Justice.

Anglers were still on the ice in Minocqua fishing for crappies, bluegills, and yellow perches.

“But with the opener in May, most of the focus is on Walleyes. Really good time to target Wisconsin’s favorite fish,” said Justice.

Justice said there are benefits to lakes not being thawed out.

“It’s mother nature. In some ways I look at it it protects the fish. They get a little longer reprieve from anglers targeting them,” said Justice.

The Wisconsin DNR is giving some tips about staying safe if you plan to fish.

“I definitely don’t recommend going out on the ice this time of season. Even though there could be up to 6 inches of ice. Who knows at this point. The edges are so soft and the middle of the lake is so iffy at this point,” said Adam Stennett, recreational warden for the Wisconsin DNR.

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