OCONTO COUNTY - Anglers, listen up!
Wisconsin's fishing season opener is coming up on May 4, and there's still ice on many northern lakes.
"This pole is what I'll use for panfishing," said Josh Krezman of Townsend.
But by the looks of it, Josh Krezman won't be out on the Townsend Flowage in Oconto County on opening day.
"There's still a good foot to two feet of ice yet, but the shores are starting to melt. So slowly, slowly, it's coming," said Krezman.
Other area lakes and ponds up north, like Waubee Lake, are also under siege by Mother Nature.
On Wheeler Lake in Lakewood, DNR officials are measuring the ice depth, and it doesn't look like anglers will be launching their boats soon.
"As far as the fishing opener for next weekend, the guys will be ice fishing, probably," said DNR Conservation Warden Joe Paul.
Wheeler Lake is thick with ice. It's melting slightly, a little slushy in some spots, but Paul measured 21 inches of ice below the surface.
"It really hasn't been deteriorating much. We've had cold nights here so anything we lose during the day, we're gaining back at night," Paul said.
He predicts it will be a good week after the opener before the waters open up, and he doesn't expect opening week conditions until Memorial Day.
"Opening fishing day was always a big thing in my life until this year, and I won't be going fishing this year, and I'm really perturbed, but there's nothing I can do about it," said Matt Clark of Townsend.
Clark said he's rarely missed opening day for the past 45 years.
"It's unbelievable, I've never seen anything like it," Clark said.
We checked around and found Metonga Lake and Lake Minocqua each have about 20 inches.
Heading south looks more promising.
Shawano Lake is at 16 inches, but local bait shops expect that to be gone by opening day. Meanwhile, Lake Winnebago is wide open.
So if you stay north, you'll likely be stuck with ice.
"Makes me kind of sad I can't go," said Kenneth Boyle of Mountain. "I love fishing!"
DNR officials say people can still ice fish, however they warn if you do venture onto the ice, use extreme caution and wear a life jacket.
They add there are other fishing opportunities on opening day, including trout fishing - as area streams are flowing.
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