Fishing opener in question in northern parts of the state - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Fishing opener in question in northern parts of the state


Chetek (WQOW)- The fishing opener is Saturday, but ice on lakes, especially in the northern part in the state could mean a tough opener for anglers. 

That could happen on lakes in our area in places like Half Moon Lake where conditions are ripe to catch some fish.

But Mother Nature has had other ideas for the northern part of the state, where lakes are still covered in ice.

"We've been up here 16 years and this is the latest I've seen ice," notes Don Freeman, who lives on Lake Chetek.  "Last year I think it went out probably about three weeks before this time."

Lake Chetek is one of those lakes that remains covered and area fishermen aren't counting their bobbers before they hatch.

"Some of the back bays are open but there is still a lot of ice.  I don't see it happening by Saturday," Freeman relents.

We've received some beautiful weather here in the 70's this week but meteorologists expect temps to go back down to the 30's and 40's; which could mean problems come Saturday if the ice is still there.

Wisconsin Indian Head Country in Chetek knows it has its hands full putting together the Governor's Fishing Opener on Lake Namakagon on Saturday.  The tourism center hopes the same lake fares better than it did for the event about 17 years ago.

"We have never canceled a fishing opener.  We had to move it one year.  That was 1996 when it was held up on Lake Namakagon.  We moved it over to middle Eau Claire," says Wisconsin Indian Head Country's Harlan Becker.

"1996 was the year we moved up here.  We bought the house in December of 1995 and that winter was incredible.  I thought I was moving to Alaska or something like that," laughs Freeman.

The ice has forced some anglers to cancel reservations at northern Wisconsin resorts. That's a big blow to the tourism industry.

"We are hearing from a lot of people that businesses have even stayed closed.  They are not going to open up until the water softens and the ice is gone," Becker points out.  "When you start talking that people aren't coming up to fish, you never make up what you lose that first weekend."

Nothing is guaranteed at this point.  A little sun here, a little wind there and it is possible Saturday's opener will go off without a hitch.

"If it does, you'll have people out there fishing because they've got the itch," smiles Becker.  "They've got the boats ready to run.  Let's go."

For those of you who do find open water on Saturday, the DNR says walleye should be biting because they're ready to spawn and area trout streams are also expected to be a hotspot.  Also, at this point, the Governor's Fishing opener in cable is still on as scheduled.

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