Hello MWAers, hope everyone is having a wonderful winter.  Been a bit of a weather roller coaster the last few weeks.  January was cool and dry, most of February was snowy, and the past week or so felt like April!

In January the lake and ponds were getting a lot of use with skating, hockey, ice boating, and fishing.  MLK weekend was amazing with large numbers of folks enjoying the glass smooth ice.  February’s snowy weather brought good snowmobiling, snowshoeing and xc-skiing around the Watershed.

Last week Megunticook Lake has 5 inches of snow and 14 inches of ice. The ice settled under the weight of the snow and some slushy spots were around. On Norton pond I found 5 inches of snow, then water on top of the ice.  The slushy spots show up as darker looking areas on the snow surface. Snowmobilers should always be careful when stopping on the lake not to get stuck in the slush.

Fishing has been very good with reports of 2 lb. Rainbows and 14 inch Brook Trout caught on worms and shiners (small bait fish).  On the River at Hodson Park folks were  fishing with rod and reel.  Their kids were playing in the snow while the adults fished the open water below the bridge

BUT   warm weather over the last week has caused the snow, and lake and pond ice, to melt.  Temperatures from 40 to over 50 degrees melted most of the snow and opened up the brooks. The rise in water level has lifted the ice away from the shore.  Open water can be seen along the edges of all the local lakes and ponds.  Reports over the weekend showed ice depths falling to 6 to 10 inches.  The rain in the forecast over the next few days will mean more melting, unstable ice.

Have fun in the Watershed and catch big fish; and keep a sharp watch for the Bald Eagles around the shore line sitting in the tops of trees.

BUT   Be safe, extra caution should be used on the ice, especially near the shore.

Warden Dale Dougherty