Ice fishing obsession faces peril in changing Wisconsin climate

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Madison is defined by its lakes, and in the winter when the water freezes over, those lakes become spotted with hundreds of people ice fishing.

Most of them will tell you the best part of the winter activity is the community — “like a secret society,” one angler told the Cap Times — and the escape from being cooped up indoors. But lately that escape hasn’t lasted long.

Year by year, local lakes are freezing later into the winter and starting to thaw earlier, according to data from the Wisconsin State Climatology Office. This year’s season has been particularly short, with Madison lakes not freezing over until Jan. 15 — the latest date since 2005 — and pockets of ice melting as early as mid-February.