Is ice fishing really over in Michigan?

Is ice fishing really over in Michigan?

Michigan, USA – Ice fishing is a popular winter activity across the Great Lakes. However, this winter has presented challenges for entertaining, with the window shrinking as the season progresses.

Its impact has been felt by enthusiasts and the businesses that rely on it. Johnson’s Great Outdoors, a sporting goods store in Montagu, has been directly impacted by the lack of persistent cold this winter.

“The weather here has never been winter,” owner Mitch Johnson said. “We probably had four or five days where we were ice fishing. It’s the same as it was last year.”

Great Lakes ice cover averaged 6% for the entire month of January 2024, representing one of the lowest ice coverage on record for the month of January. Putting it in perspective, the long-term January average over the past 50 years is about 20%. Although February is in full swing, there is still time for recovery.

“On average, our highest lake ice percentages come at the end of February and early March. Right now, that’s the long-term average,” said Brian Morozka, a physicist at the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory.

Credit: 13 On Your Side

Small inland lakes respond quicker to any intrusion of cold air, but time is shrinking for safe ice fishing across West Michigan. This shrinking window presents a challenge for Johnson and his store.

“It hurts. Winter is probably one of our best times of the year where we make a lot of our money,” Johnson said. “You come here on the weekend, we have snow, and there are (people) lined up out the door. I come here on a Saturday now, we get maybe five or six people for maybe an hour.

The forecast remains unsupportive for ice fishing through the end of the week with temperatures climbing into the 50s on Thursday and Friday (February 8 and 9). Temperatures will cool to near average by mid-month, with a greater likelihood of remaining near average at the beginning of March. As February progresses, the average highs increase from the lower 30s to the upper 30s, and the average lows increase from the upper 10s to the lower 20s.

Credit: 13 On Your Side

Credit: 13 On Your Side

“I’m not looking for an extended ice fishing season here in the Great Lakes. If that happens, it will be on a very small scale and very short periods of time,” Morozka said. “What type of environment will really impact the lack of ice this year is up in the air.” Fairly likely at this point.”

The uncertainty of continued ice fishing before the end of winter has some at Johnson’s Great Outdoors thinking about the future.

“They (customers) are buying things for the spring and summer right now. “With the way the winters are going this way, we’re going to have to start thinking a little bit out of the hat and start moving forward a little bit without the winter stuff,” Johnson said. “It hurts everyone.” something. Restaurants and gas stations have a trickle-down effect.”

Over the past 50 years, the Great Lakes have lost about 5% of their maximum ice coverage per decade. Volatility will continue from year to year, but this trend is not expected to end.

“We’re seeing more low-ice winters than high-ice winters, but that doesn’t mean next winter won’t be a high-ice season. It means those high-ice years are becoming less frequent over time,” Morozka said. “The trend is definitely off.” About Saleh the Ice Fisherman.”

While the ice fishing season is shrinking, Johnson remains confident as long as his customers can fish on the ice or on boats.

“I’ll be positive. I can tell you that. Our thing is, if you can get out and go fishing, you should take advantage of that.”

Credit: 13 On Your Side

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