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Ice Condition Along the East Shore of Lake Winnebago

February 6, 2012

Weather ForecastIt’s about time for temperatures to drop into the 20s and below!  Thankfully we’ll have some colder weather in the final days before the season opens.  Before I ramble about my findings, check out Good Day Wisconsin’s ice condition update from Oshkosh:  Fishing club preps for sturgeon season.  Also, have you heard about the sturgeon spearing season on Black Lake in Michigan?  The season started and ended on February 4th and spearers hit the two-sturgeon limit in a matter of hours.  Here’s an interesting read on Michigan’s season:  Sturgeon fishers down, 2-fish limit lessens angler turnout.  Can you imagine a limit of two fish?!?

I spent Saturday driving the east shore of Lake Winnebago from Menasha down to Pipe and stopped at just about every boat landing and bar to get the latest scoop.  As you probably expected, the ice isn’t looking too good, but I did see some activity on the lake.  The north end (from Firelane 8 and Sherwood) of the lake was fairly deserted, although there were a few shanties already out on the ice.  I watched a couple people hauling shacks out with ATVs, but for the most part the only action was along the shoreline.  I traveled south and stopped at the boat landing on Faro Springs Rd.  Coming down the hill I thought I saw open water, but of course it turned out to be dark ice.  I was told fishermen found areas of ice ranging from about 2″ to 12″.  I did see a few ATVs as seen in the photo, but overall there wasn’t any action in the area.

View of Lake Winnebago from Menasha

View of Lake Winnebago from Firelane 8 in Menasha looking toward High Cliff.

Lake Winnebago from Sherwood Boat Landing

View of Lake Winnebago from boat landing in Sherwood (off State Park Rd.) looking toward the west.

Lake Winnebago from Faro Springs Rd. in Hilbert

View of Lake Winnebago from the top of the hill on Faro Springs Rd. in Hilbert.

I headed down to Calumet County Park next, but again didn’t find too much.  I ran into the Brickyard Fishing Club and Joe Mader, President, informed me that the ice thickness varies heavily in the area.  The guys were out marking a patch of ice near the boat landing that was only 6″ thick, so stay away from those downed pine trees!  They found the ice was anywhere from 6″-11″ and were busy posting warning signs about the thin ice and emphasized the need to be aware of how much ice is under you at all times.  You can’t trust what anyone says–find out for yourself!  I then drove down to the Harbor Bar and Quinney Quencher where I saw a few shacks out on the ice, but again not much action.  I saw the most shanties one the lake between Brothertown and Pipe.  The boat landing in Pipe near Jim & Linda’s Lakeview Supper Club and Columbia Park was hopping with activity.  As I stated, the ice thickness varies so drastically around the lake that it is nearly impossible to even give a range of thickness after talking with folks along the way.  Your best bet still is to keep your vehicle off the lake and travel by foot or ATV.  We’ll see if things change in the last few days before the season opens.  I also heard a lot of different opinions on the water clarity, but overall it doesn’t sound too impressive.

View of Lake Winnebago from Pipe

View of Lake Winnebago from the tower in Columbia Park in Pipe looking north.

I’ll continue to post as I learn more.  Tomorrow I plan on posting some info about sturgeon spearing gear and apparel for sale, the sturgeon derby, and a few other things I learned on my road trip along the east shore.  In the meantime, stay safe on that ice!  Feel free to share your own updates and photos!

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