Frozen fishing opener approaches in the state

By: Olga Michail Email
By: Olga Michail Email

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. (WEAU) -- The weather might get in the way of one of the biggest weekends for many people in Wisconsin.

Many popular fishing destinations up North are covered in ice. While in the Eau Claire area things are looking a little better, it still doesn't look like a typical fishing opener weekend.

The DNR says most lakes in the Eau Claire area are open for fishing Saturday, the weather of course is still not the best and the DNR says the turn out of the fishing opener is unknown, but all agree, this fishing weekend will be a unique experience.

“I've been working here 15 years and we've never had ice out here this late in May,” said DNR Senior Fisheries Biologist, Heath Benike.

“The leaches aren't available yet; and this is the first time in 28 years when I don't have leaches for opening weekend,” said the Owner of Burokers Michael Buroker.

Buroker said the day before fishing opener is typically the busiest day for his bait shop, but Friday was a different story.

“Winter has been long this year, people want to get out there, and now they're dealing with so more winter,” added Buroker.

The DNR says lake Wissota is the biggest fishing spot in this area, and most of it is not ready for fishermen yet.

The State Park area will be open tomorrow, but the main basin is still covered in ice.

“The fish spawning is a little behind right now; it's a very late spring for our area, so there could be some delays there as far as the fish spawning goes,” said Benike.

And anglers say the cold and the ice won't dampen the long standing Wisconsin tradition.

“It's important. It's just a part of who we are here in this part of the state; this part of Wisconsin,” said fisherman Nick Nequette.

“As long as there is open water people are going to be there regardless of the weather,” said Benike.

“The worst it is, the more it makes you want to say I still went fishing,” added Nequette.

Many resorts in northern Wisconsin have had some cancelations, but owners say this won't hurt them in the long run.

“It's just one hurdle that we have to get across and I'm sure everyone will. A lot of this people are re-booking you know for next weekend, or just roll their deposit over to next season, to the fishing opener next year.

The DNR says water levels are really high at this point, and caution everyone to wear a life jacket and be careful.

Also they say the ice on the lakes is too thin to go ice fishing, so if you plan to attend the fishing opener, stick to the open water.

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