By Mark Schram
After several days of subzero air temperatures, Lake Winnebago is 85% frozen over as of the morning of Thursday, Dec. 19, 2019.
The ice depth is variable over the main lake, ranging from 7” of ice down to open water. Most reports are coming in from less than a mile from shore and venturing beyond this point can be extremely dangerous. The south end has no snow cover, while the north end has minimal snow cover.
There is a massive open water hole on Lake Winnebago, about 1.5 miles north of Lakeside Park (Stinky Point) in Fond du Lac. This hole is being kept open by hundreds of ducks and geese, and this should be noted for future reference when ATVs and vehicles start venturing out.
Water clarity remains clear, with better than 6 feet of visibility on Lake Winnebago. Big crappie and bluegill catches have occurred this week. The perch bite is stable. Walleyes have been fickle, with downsized presentations working best. Pockets of white bass are not uncommon,
On Lake Poygan, the first foot activity was seen this week. Most anglers are venturing out on foot, with a spud. However, ATV’s were observed on Thursday. Ice depth is reported at 5-6”. Poygan is known for inconsistent ice, so caution is urged. Some reliable reports of small walleyes are coming in from Lake Poygan.
The extended forecast is calling for above freezing temperatures. The warm weather is a bad omen for the lake’s ice, with the long-range forecast with little change. Expect changing conditions daily, and especially if there are substantial winds.
The ice is never 100% safe, but with the inconsistency of the system, be sure to spud your way along the trail, or stay in the bays where better ice is present. Stay tuned for more information in the coming days. If you care to share a report, my email is email@example.com.