Is Wisconsin’s Spring fishing in danger of being effected by the lingering effects of this year’s harsh Winter?
Do extreme winters affect the fishing once the warm winds return, the snow dissipates and the ice melts? I put this question to Freshwater Fishing Hall of Famer Mr. Walleye, Gary Roach. He compared this winter to the winter of 1956 and stated that there must have been some global warming back then as well because one is a carbon copy of the other. Roach spoke of never-ending cold temperatures mixed with heavy snows and high winds. He said there was no escaping the raw extremes. There was no global warming to blame the weather on back then so the bitter feelings were directed at Mother Nature.
Roach was putting a few bucks in his pocket by working for a logging operation making fifty dollars a week. Unless the temperature dropped to 20 below zero you were cutting trees. The snow was so deep in some places it was hard to find the tree after it hit the ground. Clothing wasn’t as developed as today’s options so staying warm meant starting a fire every couple of hours to warm the spots where the frostbite was taking hold.
Roach credits this extreme winter of 1956 as the catalyst that pushed him into the U.S. Navy. Trying to get some feeling back into his extremities he headed for California where he joined the armed forces on his arrival.
According to Mr. Walleye the extreme winter the upper Midwest has experienced this year could create some difficult fishing conditions for anglers if temperatures rise too quickly. Roach is worried the winter will hold on like last year and then temperatures will rise quickly causing rapid snow melt and loads of runoff.
Rivers will rise rapidly and run fast which always makes boat control on moving water difficult. The spawning migration is also disrupted which can mean a weak year class and affect fishing for years down the road.
In lakes, water levels are also apt to rise and this will spread the fish out instead of concentrating them in tighter groups on the limited structure shallower water affords.
Roach says river anglers need to get out before the snow melts to take advantage of the upstream migration before water levels and current pushes anglers into backwater areas.
On lakes where water levels have risen use techniques that allow more areas to be searched, The objective is to cover ground looking for smaller schools of fish that are spread out on deeper weedlines and larger flats.
Roach is expecting a later than usual ice out this year because there is a lot of snow to melt off of most lakes before the ice begins to disappear. Late ice outs means later spawn and later post-spawn transitions. This means peak fishing periods, if they occur will be two to three weeks later than normal. Last year was a late peak period so the timing should be about the same.
One good thing to come from this winter is that anglers were limited in their spots during the ice fishing season so harvest levels are likely down on most lakes. That means more fish when the ice is gone.
Original Article: Outdoor News; TIM LESMEISTE
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