NewsLocal NewsIn Your NeighborhoodOshkosh


Warm winter dampers fishing on Lake Winnebago, hurts Oshkosh businesses

Posted at 6:16 PM, Mar 09, 2023
and last updated 2023-03-12 11:54:41-04

OSHKOSH (NBC 26) — The ice on Lake Winnebago in Oshkosh remains thick in many places, but close to shore, weak spots and cracks are beginning to pop up, prompting Otter Street fishing club to pull their ATV bridges from the lake, signaling an unofficial end to the ice fishing season.

“It’s been a short year," said Otter Street Fishing Club board member Don Herman, "Mother Nature wasn’t good to ice fisherman this year.”

Herman said the ice conditions on the lake were unusually poor this winter. His club was unable to put out truck bridges and open the ice roads to car traffic this winter, which Herman says is a nearly unprecedented occurance.

“I’ve been doing this 48 years," he said, "the only times we weren’t able to put the bridges out was 2011 and 2023.”

According to Herman, the poor ice conditions likely scared away many anglers from participating in events like the "Battle on 'Bago," ice fishing tournament, which he says sold 3,000 to 4,000 fewer tickets than normal this year.

Over at Jerry's Bar—Headquarters of the Otter Street Fishing Club—owner and longtime club member Scott Engel says the decreased turnout for such a major event really hurt the whole community.

“I would think it affects everybody in this area," Engel said, "this is Wisconsin, winter is…what we survive on. Whether it’s skiing up north, the fishing, the hunting, all the different things that go with being in Wisconsin.”

As his club pulls ATV bridges from the lake at an unusually early date, Engel urges people to avoid going out on the ice.

"I don't think its safe at all right now," he said.

Engel notes, however, that the loss of the ice won't stop fishermen from going out on the lake, it will just change how they get there.

“At this point when the ice-fishing season’s really over, bring on spring let’s get out on the water.”