On the opening day of fishing season in at least two upper Midwest states, ice fishing gear proved to be more useful than regular equipment.
Though lakes there continue to thaw, anglers in Minnesota and Wisconsin were met by unseasonably frozen waterways, when fishing typically begins for varieties such as walleye, northern pike, inland trout and bass.
On Lake Namakagon, a freshwater lake in northern Wisconsin, approximately 3,200 of its 3,369 acres were frozen, according to a report from the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel, requiring some anglers to resort to ice fishing.
Planning a fishing trip to Minnesota or Wisconsin soon? Here are four things you should know.
1. It’s been a long time since opening day conditions have been this cold in the region.
2. You can check which waterways are still frozen.
If you’re planning a fishing trip in Minnesota, check out this Department of Natural Resources map to see which of Minnesota’s waters are still frozen. And if you’re planning to hit Wisconsin, you can find conditions here.
3. Sturgeon are spawning later.
Unseasonably cold temperatures are causing sturgeons, which typically spawn from April 15 to May 1, to spawn later, according to Wisconsin’s DNR.
“What the fish really need to begin spawning is water temperatures between 54 and 60 degrees,” Sturgeon Biologist Ryan Koenigs said in a statement. “The later it gets in the season, the more likely they are to spawn in water a few degrees colder.”
4. Temperatures are warming up
The good news is that waterways continue to thaw, experts say. Dennis Mackedanz, the head of the governor’s opening day event, told Minnesota Public Radio that ice levels are decreasing.
"I can tell you that three weeks ago it was 30 inches, because we went out and did a few test holes, but we have lost a lot of ice in the last 24 to 48 hours, because yesterday it was over 70 degrees," Mackedanz said. "The ice is breaking up on a lot of our smaller lakes.”