Warm early winter delaying ice fishing along rivers, lakes

PORT HURON (AP) - Unusually warm early-winter weather has allowed anglers to cast lines from seawalls along the St. Clair River while leaving some to question how long it will be before fishing can be done through holes on top of lake ice.

Brian King has cut back on ice fishing gear for his Ira Township bait shop in St. Clair County, the Times Herald of Port Huron reported.

King said he is "absolutely hoping" for ice and is seeing water instead of shanties, snowmobiles and all-terrain vehicles on Anchor Bay, northeast of Detroit.

"Everybody's wondering if it's going to happen or not," he said.

Temperatures haven't dipped below freezing too often in December and the outlook calls for warmer weather to continue this winter, National Weather Service meteorologist Dan Thompson said.

This is a strong El Nino year characterized by warm water temperatures in the central and east central equatorial Pacific, he added.

"It's likely due to El Nino," Thompson said of the warmer Michigan weather. "It's hard to point to one specific factor because there's a lot of things working. But in an El Nino year, warmer temperatures are favored and certainly that is what we're seeing this year."

Angler's Outfitters owner Bill Barrons said he has put off buying portable ice shanties and other larger items until later this winter.

"I don't expect ice this year, I really don't," he told the newspaper.

But John Johnson was more optimistic as he bought ice fishing gear from Barrons' shop in St. Clair.

"There's going to be some sort of ice, probably on the canals," Johnson said.

Published: Tue, Dec 29, 2015