You have probably noticed the rapid change to winter weather this last week. The change has been dramatic and it looks like it will continue.
Water temperatures are in the mid-40-degree range and dropping. Small ponds have skimmed over and will probably stay ice-locked with the 15-20 degree overnight lows and the daytime highs only projected to be in the 25-30 degree range.
Larger ponds will ice over soon, followed by smaller shallow lakes in the next week or so. Open water fishing will be limited to selective days now with the current weather. If the long range forecast for the next 15 days holds true, we may be ice fishing by Thanksgiving this year.
That is actually back to what has been more normal for us than what we have experienced the last few years fishing open water into December.
Being on open water when the air temps are just above freezing can be comfortable (when geared up properly) if we have some sunshine and no wind. Wind is a major player for comfort now, with water temps and the current weather pattern.
Temperatures around 40 degrees that can feel comfortable on shore or in the woods, can be brutal sitting on a lake with even a 10 or 15 mph wind. Even good gear and hardy individuals can be challenged when we get close to lakes icing over.
The wind sweeping across cold water acts like a super air conditioner. The wind leeches the body heat from any exposed skin, and is even worse if you are damp or wet. Wet hands will get cold fast and lose feeling and function in cold, windy conditions.
For some of us that have been continuing to fish the last couple weeks with this transition period, the rewards have been worth battling the weather, mostly the challenge of all the wind over the last couple of weeks.
Walleye fishing has been good for me, and the reports from those chasing musky are also good, with numerous fish over 50 inches getting caught in these tough conditions.
If you are going to take advantage of the few available open water days left, make sure you gear up properly, and stay safe out there. These water temps can create hypothermia in minutes and make this time of the year one of the most dangerous on the water.
Most outdoors people have deer hunting on the mind now. As soon as you get done with that, it is a good time to start prepping for the upcoming ice fishing season. It is much easier to take care of some of the outdoor organizing at 20 or 30 degrees than it is when it is below zero—and that is coming soon to your hometown!
You will have some time as we will have that “tweener season” (the time between open water season being done and being able to get on safe ice) happening soon.