So far it’s been a very brown winter across much of Northeast Wisconsin, and for some winter sports enthusiasts — and businesses that rely on them — it’s beginning to cause some concern.
Among those affected are upcoming fish derbies. Some starting as early as this weekend are having to relocate to the shoreline.
“There’s a few fisherees the first week of January that they’re probably going to have to change their plans,” Don Herman, an ice expert with Sunk? Dive and Ice Rescue, said.
Along the shore of Lake Winnebago, there’s only about four inches of ice. Out farther, where it’s clear, it’s less than an inch thick.
As a result, some fishing clubs are having to make changes as tournament time approaches.
“We’re all worried right now,” Herman said. “I mean, even Otter Street is worried. Our fisheree is the first week of February, and unless we get some cold weather I’m sure we are going to be having it on land or do some alternate plans of having it somewhere instead of on the bay.”
Some fisherees start as early as this weekend, including one held by the Bonduel Lions on Shawano Lake. Organizers say it won’t be canceled.
In Neenah, sturgeon spearing is a huge draw.
Jamie Prey is a member of the Paynes Point Hook and Spear Club.
“A lot of people are concerned if we’re going to have sturgeon spearing,” Prey said, “but it’s only getting into January right now. We have New Year’s, you have some time for the weather to give us good ice to still be safe for sturgeon spearing.”
Right now the thickness of the ice is about two weeks behind schedule from where it should be for late December. It’s a situation many of these fishing clubs haven’t dealt with since 2004.
To avoid moving on shore, fisheree organizers say at least ten days of consistent temperatures between five below and ten above are necessary.
“People like to come out on the ice and have a good time on the ice for the fisheree, and when you have it on land it takes kind of the fun away,” Herman said.