Anglers in Northwoods may see ice for opening weekend - WFXS, MyFoxWausau - News and Weather for Wausau, WI

Anglers in Northwoods may see ice for opening weekend

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MINOCQUA (WAOW) -

Many anglers will head to Wisconsin waterways this weekend for the start of the fishing season opener, but there is still thick ice on lakes in the Northwoods.

There is open water on the Wisconsin River in Wauasu, but the warm weather we've seen hasn't been enough to melt ice on some Northwoods lakes.

That has some bait shop owners worried their business will be hurting for the season opener.

Fishermen were excited to hit the water for last year's season opener, and bait shop owners were anxious to make up for lost profits from a short winter.

But this year, it's a different story. In the Northwoods, ice covers many of the lakes.

"I think we are caught in a spot between not having enough open water to boat fish, but not enough ice to get out on the water to ice fish," said Kurt's Island Sports Shop owner Kurt Justice.

Justice said business was busy this winter during the ice fishing season. He still has ice fishing equipment on display.

"It's extended, we've had almost a month and a half longer than last year, so that's helped," Justice told Newsline 9.

Justice says he's ready to switch over and focus on the open water season.

"Usually this week we'd be very busy with people coming in, looking at new rods and reels for the year, and getting the hottest new lures, and we're not seeing that," said Justice.

Department of Natural Resources officials say many Northwoods lakes still have 20 inches of ice on them. That's why they're urging safety when anglers head out this weekend.

"The ice is starting to pull away from some of the north shores, that's going to be the worst ice first, and you should use extreme caution," said Wisconsin DNR Fisheries Biologist Steve Gilbert.

As for justice, he says he's not too optimistic about business for the season opener.

"People are just going to look at the weather, look at the conditions and say, we're going to wait. And unfortunately we never get those days back, once they're gone, they're gone," said Justice.

Not all lakes in the Northwoods are frozen. In Price Country, officials there say some lakes are ready for the season opener.

DNR officials say the best way to find out lake conditions is to contact local bait shops.

Again, they urge safety when heading out on any waterway this weekend.

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