Evanston news delivered free to your inbox! 

 There is not much fishing going on right now. Most area lakes that have ice have dangerous ice, and most folks are staying off, which is probably not a bad idea. I have checked reports from a number of area waters: Half of Lake Geneva has open water, and guys are out in their boats; most of the lakes in the Fox Chain of Lakes have open edges and are probably not safe to be out on. Similar reports are coming in from around the area. Lake Michigan has not really had any ice cap this year, unlike the two previous winters, when real ice caps on the Great Lakes lasted well into springtime.

Prior to the last two winters, Lake Michigan had the longest period of low lake levels ever recorded, with no increase in 19 years. The scientific community looked for reasons for the long drop in depth, which produced the lowest-ever water level in 2013. They found long drought periods in the Great Lakes basin, very active El Niño weather patterns and long periods of evaporation.

These low levels were welcomed by beachgoers but caused large problems for boaters, sportsmen, environmentalists and the shipping industry. The loss of a single inch of water depth in the lakes means ships need to reduce their payloads by 270 tons. Ships coming out of Lake Superior with ore shipments and ships coming in from the Atlantic with material during the lowest levels were only carrying half loads, which increased the cost of goods to the consumer.

The good news is that in the last two years Lake Michigan regained 3 feet of water depth. That was a welcome surprise to everyone except the beachgoers, who lost several feet of beachfront to the rising lake. Even with the 3-foot gain, the lake has not reached its average depth. Folks are watching this spring to see the results of a mild winter with no ice cap in the Great Lake basin. The lake may lose some of the 3 feet it gained – just how much will not be clear for another month or so.

Until next time…keep a tight line.

Contact Dick at hookedonfishing@comcast.net.