Outdoorsmen are ready for ice.
Matt Modjeski, Department of Natural Resources conservation warden for Monroe County, said little is going on in the outdoor world as anglers wait for a hard freeze.
The trend will continue until there’s a thick layer of ice on local fishing holes, Modjeski said.
“The weather’s turning colder. I did notice that Lake Tomah, I think on Saturday, was two-thirds frozen over,” he said. “Talking about ice safety, if I didn’t see anybody out there, then thank goodness, but yesterday I saw people on Perch Lake in Sparta − that’s still not good. People should be using their best judgement and not venture out until we’ve have enough ice for a long period of time.”
Don Roscovius, owner of Rosco’s Live Bait, is glad to see some ice developing.
“This week I’m happy to see cold weather,” he said. “However I got a mixed review from people that have been going out and checking (ice depths). Yesterday I had somebody check Lake Tomah, and they stepped through the ice and got a wet foot. ... I had a customer come in today and told me some of the cranberry marshes in the Warrens area had four inches and people fishing on them.”
Roscovius said people have to be aware that ice depth varies from place to place. For example, Roscovius got a report of marshes flooding their beds, so while ice is being made, there’s no water underneath. People need to be cautious, he said.
“It’s kind of a complicated mess right now with telling people what to expect on these waters,” he said. “So take a spot, be careful and check your ice before you go, because you can’t just give the idea there’s plenty of ice because each place is different.”
In Hatfield, Chris Abbott, owner of Hatfield Sports Shop, said he has gotten reports of ice depth on the south end of Lake Arbutus anywhere from two to 2⅓ inches, but the whole lake hasn’t iced over.
“Friday evening half of the lake was still open,” he said. “The lower half of the lake it was blowing so hard it kept it open. This snow doesn’t really help us. It looks like it’s supposed to get cold ... and stay below freezing, so hopefully in a week the ice (will be thick enough).”
In other outdoors news, the muzzleloader season ended Dec. 6 and the antlerless season ended Sunday, Dec. 10.
Deer hunting is wrapping up, Roscovius said, as late archery is all that’s still going on, and Monroe County isn’t part of the antlerless-only holiday hunt. Late archery ends Jan. 7.
“It was a slow muzzleloader (season), and there was little to report on doe for our local area,” Roscovius said. “I think we’re only seen a handful of hunters during the doe hunt that were successful.”
Matt Modjeski said rabbit and squirrel hunting should pick up now that there’s snow covering the ground.
“You can see the fresh tracks and it’s easier to see those smaller critters,” he said.
Tom Popp, chairman of the Monroe County Snowmobile Association, said the snow covering the ground is only a teaser, as the trails can’t open until there’s at least eight inches of snow on the ground. Until that time, the routes are mowed and groomed up and signs are being installed.
“I don’t see anything in the near future that’s going to make me think we’re going to open the trails anytime soon,” he said. “On the bright side, if it doesn’t warm up much above freezing, at least we’ll have a white Christmas. But right now it’s just wait and see.”