Freshwater Fishing photo

One of the most frequent questions I get from visitors and friends back in the Lower 48 is “What’s winter like?”

Well…it can be intense. And long. An average winter at this latitude delivers an easy 10 feet of snow, along with temperatures hovering around zero and frequently falling to minus 30. November daylight lasts about 6 hours until the winter Solstice on December 21, when we have the shortest day of the year at 4 hours and 55 minutes.

“Real” winter starts in early November, and typically ends in April. Amazingly, you get used to being out in this cold. When I return to the Midwest to bowhunt in late fall, I’m often more uncomfortable in the windy humid cold of Illinois than I am here at home.

The aurora borealis displays can be jaw-dropping, as are the two-foot snowstorms that can choke the driveway and access to your home. You must diligently remove the white stuff in a timely and planned method, because a single poor plowing will mandate the hiring of a front loader to reorganize the piles.

However, by April the temps rise into the upper forties, shedding the massive snow loads from the roof like a moderate earthquake. Each individual slide can represent 10,000 pounds of ice.

This is what Alaskans call breakup. Daylight lengths are now passing 15 hours a day, and you must wear a pair of rubber boots ideally with spikes, because everything refreezes at night when the temperatures fall to 20.

It’s remarkable what you’ll find in the yard during spring. As the snow retreats, rakes and shovels you’d set down in the yard the fall before miraculously reappear. Coffee cups that you assumed were left at someone’s house were just 20 feet from the front door.

However, the real bonus is the local rivers have unchained from their ice flows and run clear.

What breakup and extended daylight really signal is the time to fish for rainbows and the beginning of summer. We Alaskans are now about as jacked up as we get. You’re so enthralled that it’s time to fish, you’ll get over the broken railing on your deck caused by your roof shedding snow, and the household items you just found outside that you already replaced over the winter.