Weird winter weather so far

Looks can be deceiving when you peek outside these days across Sunset Country.
Unusually mild weather just keeps hanging around and it looks more like late March out there than December. It’s certainly pleasant, but it’s not convenient for those of us who enjoy outdoor activities at this time of year.
Usually by early December, most of our lakes are ice-covered and the smaller bodies of water are safe to get out on and ice-fish. But that is not the case so far this winter.
A couple of my friends got into one of the smaller stocked brook trout lakes north of Kenora over the weekend and walked out on a few inches of ice. This is probably the smallest lake that I know of that people ice-fish and it barely was safe enough for walking.
The larger lakes, especially the trout lakes with deep water, are far from freezing.
In fact, it’s been mentioned a few times over the past week amongst some of my friends that anglers likely will be able to fish out of a boat for the New Year’s Day lake trout-opener, especially when you look at the long-range forecast for the next couple of weeks that is not predicting any cold weather.
Earlier in the week, I spoke to my friend, Ian Cooke, from Five Lakes Lodge up in Red Lake. A group of my friends and I have made it a tradition over the past several years to spend the last week of the moose season up there.
Cooke reported that things are way behind schedule as far as freezing up and that conditions for moose hunting were poor. There is not enough snow for snowmobile travel, which is how we normally get around up there.
He also noted that none of the lakes are safe for travel and that he even got stuck trying to get across some frozen puddles on a power line near his camp.
We’re planning to head up there next week so this was not really the news I was hoping to hear.
The cold weather, though uncomfortable, is great for moose hunting because it gets these animals on their feet and moving around a lot more to stay warm and find food.
When conditions are mild like they are, these big animals just will find a quiet area that they like and hunker down unless something bothers them.
The good news about the mild weather and lack of snow is that it’s great news for our struggling deer population outside of our urban areas.
The longer we go without deep snow on the ground, the better for these animals, who will have a much easier time finding food and staying away from the many wolves that constantly are hunting them.
If you are getting the urge to go ice-fishing, then my advice would be to just give it some more time. And when you do go, stick to those smaller lakes where you can walk out for stocked trout, crappie, or walleye.
At least until we get a good cold snap to really tighten things up.
We still have a long ways to go this winter and eventually everything will be tighten up, but it’s going to take longer than normal to get there. It isn’t worth taking any unnecessary risks just to catch a few fish.
Until we get that cold snap, just keep enjoying the mild weather and not having to shovel snow!

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