Ice-Covered Lakes May Pose Problem For Fishing Opener

DNR Says Some Lakes Still Have Up To 15 Inches Of Ice


Another late spring in northern Wisconsin is likely to impact tourism and the state’s fishing opener, with many popular lakes still covered in ice.

While most of the state has thawed out, parts of northern Wisconsin are still looking very wintry. Snow is deep enough in spots that the Chequamegon Nicolet National Forest has delayed opening its campgrounds and hiking trails.

Anglers looking to head north for the opening of fishing season next weekend may find ice. Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Manager Bob Hujik says there’s still as much as 15 inches on some of the more popular northern lakes.

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“Hayward was the line,” said Hujik. “From Hayward north, there’s still snow in the woods and there’s a fair amount of ice on the lakes.”

Dennis Wystedt, who works at Hayward’s Bait and Bottle Shoppe, says the ice is thick enough that people are still ice fishing. He thinks the ice will likely have a negative impact on opening-weekend tourism.

“It definitely affects the business, because we get phone calls from people from out of town and they’ll ask, ‘Does Round Lake have ice on it?’” he said. “Well, when we tell them yes, then they delay their trip up here.”

Cable Area Chamber of Commerce Director James Bolen isn’t overly concerned. He says last spring had a slow start too but by late may hotel room tax collections were up 12%.

“So once the conditions did allow people to get up here, they were so cooped up they wanted to get here as badly as we wanted them here and so they came in much larger numbers,” said Bolen.” So, obviously that’s what we’re hoping happens.”

Another big tourism event, the Governor’s Fishing Opener, is still on for next weekend on Balsam Lake in Polk County. Local reports say there’s still ice on the lake but it’s expected to break up and move out just in time.