4 Ways a Frigid Winter Could Affect Midwest Fishing This Spring & Summer

News & Tips: 4 Ways a Frigid Winter Could Affect Midwest Fishing This Spring & Summer...
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Though some northern lakes are still frozen from the frigid winter, anglers can still make the most of the situation.

Across the country, it was a long, colder-than-average winter. With the polar vortex, many parts of the country saw low temperatures they had never seen before—bodies of water that people didn’t know could freeze did.

USA Today reported that the ice on Lake Superior may last all the way until July. Here are a few things to expect from the still-frozen lakes.

Winterkill – When Fish Suffocate

When the water doesn’t thaw like usual, the ice can actually block oxygen from the water. This phenomenon, in which fish suffocate in the water, is called winterkill. Walleye and bass are particularly in danger. It only occurs within inland lakes, particularly those that are shallow and filled with weeds and other growth. Winterkill has the potential to devastate a lake’s ecosystem. It could take years to see the population grow to its normal size again. If winterkill is a threat in your area, your local DNR is your best resource to learn more. 

Protected Eggs – A Boom in the Species

On the other hand, for some fish, frozen lakes could mean a boom for their species. The eggs of some fish—like lake whitefish—are often vulnerable to winds and waves. The ice, though, could act as a blanket to allow the eggs to actually reach maturity. So in the future, after these fish mature, you could find yourself catching a lot more fish.

Smaller Catches – Bait Robbers Instead of Monsters

If winterkill does become an issue, once the ice melts, you’ll probably be catching quite a few smaller fish. Mature fish will be working hard to repopulate the lakes, and that means lots of little bait-robbers instead of monsters.

At the same time, the colder waters will actually slow the bodily functions of fish down—meaning they’ll be more hesitant to go running after that crankbait. They move and eat less in order to preserve the warmth in their bodies.

Delayed Start – Waiting for the Right Water Temperatures

If nothing else, the frozen lakes are just going to prevent antsy people from getting out on the water. While a lot of the water temps are around the mid-30s, you won’t see many fish biting until around 50 degrees or so.

On the bright side, we’re seeing warming temperatures throughout the country now, so we should see even the northernmost ice melting soon. So it won’t be long until we can get out on the water and do some fishing and boating.

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