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Wisconsin Outdoor Report and Calendar

February 26, 2015

The Wisconsin Outdoor Report is updated weekly by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
( Reports from conservation wardens, wildlife and fisheries staff and property managers from around the state )

Northern | Northeast | Southeast | South Central | West Central
Outdoor Calendar

A similar pattern repeated itself in the last week with minimal snowfall across the state and basically no change in snow recreation activities. The far north received several more inches of snow last weekend and the south got a dusting to 3 inches in the southwest, but not enough anywhere for additional counties to open snowmobile trails according to the Wisconsin Department of Tourism's Snow Conditions Report.

Snowmobile trails remain open in the northern tier of counties with the best conditions in the northeast and north central parts of the state. Cross-country ski trail conditions remain generally unchanged with good to very good conditions in the north, and poor to fair conditions in the south, where the snow pack has become harder and more debris and bares spots are being seen.

Candlelight events are winding down with just two hikes scheduled for this Saturday at Copper Culture and Yellowstone state parks. The last event of the winter will be Friday, March 6 at Rib Mountain State Park. Search the DNR website for "Get Outdoors," for details.

Cold temperatures have also kept ice fishing activity down, despite good ice cover across much of the state. A reminder that the general inland game fish season comes to an end this Sunday, March 1. Panfish and catfish remain open and game fish remain open on certain waters. Check the special regulations by county in the current Guide to Wisconsin Fishing Regulations for waters that remain open.

The Apostle Islands National Lakeshore is reporting that ice conditions on Lake Superior have finally improved to the point where they tentatively plan to open the ice caves this weekend. Check their National Parks Service website for latest updates.

A few walleye were being caught at Voyageur Park on the Fox River. Green Bay anglers report the whitefish bite continues to be fair to good along the east shore and at Sturgeon Bay. Along Lake Michigan, ice is impeding fishing in the Milwaukee harbor and river mouth. People are also being cautioned to stay away from construction areas on the Milwaukee River near Lincoln Park where a contamination cleanup project is going on and ice has become thin and unstable. Anglers there have been catching a few browns and rainbows at the south end of the Port Washington harbor, which stays open over the winter due to the power plant discharge.

As the days are becoming longer, deer are becoming more visible feeding in open areas at dusk. Some bucks are still being seen holding antlers, an indication that they are in good physical condition. But more have been dropping so this is a good time for shed hunting. A reminder that the rabbit season ends statewide this Saturday, Feb 28

It may cold and snowy now, but it is time to sign up for sharp-tailed grouse viewing this spring at the Namekagon Barrens Wildlife Area, a 5,050 acre property located in the northeast corner of Burnett County. Sharp-tailed grouse blinds provide excellent viewing of the unique sharp-tailed grouse dance that is part of their courtship behavior.

State Natural Area Workday update

Come help save a native goat prairie (and learn what that is) at Lodi Marsh State Natural Area Feb. 28 from 9 a.m. to noon. Work with volunteers from the Ice Age Trail Alliance and DNR staff to remove encroaching eastern red cedars and invasive brush. Meet at the Ice Age Trail parking lot with the kiosk on Lodi-Springfield Road in the Lodi Marsh State Wildlife Area. This is the parking lot about 3/4 mile north of the intersection of Lee and Lodi-Springfield roads in the Town of Dane. Watch for a sign directing you. Dress for the weather and wear clothes that are OK to get beat up: long pants, long sleeves, gloves (we will have extra), sturdy footwear, safety glasses (we will have extra.) Natural fabrics are preferable to synthetics when working near burning brush piles. Bring loppers (optional), drinking water and snacks, although some will be provided. If you are a certified sawyer, please contact Bridget Rathman to see how you can help. If the workday is canceled due to weather conditions, a message will be left at 608-434-2488 at least two hours before the event. If there is no cancellation message, the workday will continue as scheduled. If you are interested please contact Bridget Rathman at Bridget.Rathman@Wisconsin.gov, or 608-434-2488. But if you don't get around to notifying, come anyway. For details see the State Natural Areas Volunteer Program - Bridget Rathman, conservation biologist, Dane

2014 Wisconsin Deer Harvest Summary

With new rule changes this year, deer hunters throughout Wisconsin embraced the excitement of another deer hunting season in Wisconsin, and a continued commitment to safe hunting led to an all-time low for recorded hunting incidents during the nine-day season. This year's final harvest numbers and more information regarding deer hunting can be found at dnr.wi.gov, keyword "deer." - Sawyer Briel, communications specialist, Dane

A three-minute audio version of this report can be heard by calling 608-266-2277.
A new report is put online each week.


Statewide Birding Report as of February 5, 2015

Birdwatchers of all skill levels are needed to participate in the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas, a five-year statewide project that aims to document breeding bird distribution, abundance, and diversity across Wisconsin. A training conference will be held near Wausau Feb. 27 - Mar. 1. Are you a private landowner with property you'd like to enhance for birds and other wildlife? Find out how at the Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative's 2015 Annual Meeting in Chippewa Falls, March 19 - 21. Several rare birds across northwestern Wisconsin made headlines this week. Most notable was a brambling photographed in Bayfield County, marking only the third all-time state record and second eastern U.S. record in the last decade. This is a flashy finch species native to Eurasia. A black billed magpie was photographed in nearby Douglas County, where the common eider also continues to frequent open water near Superior. An American three toed woodpecker is being seen sporadically in Burnett County. - Ryan Brady, Bureau of Wildlife Management research scientist, Ashland

DNR Northern Region

Superior DNR Service Center area

Spooner DNR Service Center area

Burnett County - It may cold and snowy now, but it is time to sign up for sharp-tailed grouse viewing at the Namekagon Barrens Wildlife Area. Sharp-tailed grouse blind scheduling site now available. Spring will be here before we know it. If you've never watched the sharp-tailed grouse dance on the Namekagon Barrens Wildlife Area, you are missing out. Do not confuse this bird with the ruffed grouse, these are very different birds. Once you see them, you will never forget. The Namekagon Barrens Wildlife Area is a 5,050 acre property located in the northeast corner of Burnett County, northwestern Wisconsin. It is part of the Northwest Sands Area of northwest Wisconsin and is a pine/oak barrens community habitat. This community type is globally rare and includes rich and diverse prairie flora and fauna. - Christopher Spaight conservation warden, Grantsburg

Crex Meadows State Wildlife - The cold weather has set back the birding. Present: horned larks, bald eagles, red-bellied woodpeckers, downy woodpeckers, common redpolls, dark - eyed juncos, American goldfinches, northern shrikes were seen. There is a nice variety of birds at the visitor center bird feeders. - Kristi Pupak, natural resources educator

Governor Knowles State Forest - People have been taking advantage of the weather and low snow levels by hiking the trails on Governor Knowles State Forest. See the mighty St. Croix and Wood rivers in their winter stage. Listen closely and you may hear a great horned owl hooting as they're in the peak of their breeding season. - Kyle Anderson, superintendent

Woodruff DNR Service Center area

Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest - Ice thickness on area lakes averages about 18 inches. The ice thickness is still not uniform as the occasional light snowfalls we receive insulate the ice from cold temperatures above. The recent low temperatures have reduced the slush on lakes but a double layer of ice, with slush in between, can still be found. Ice fishing action is difficult to report as the frigid temperatures and high winds have kept a majority of anglers from venturing out. Walleye activity seems to be slow but northern pike and bass are providing some daylight action. A wave of pine siskins and redpolls cover the ground and bird feeders during this cold snap. The "cheeseburger" song of the chickadee puts a wish of spring in a hiker's heart. The grey squirrels are starting to pay more attention to each other as the days start to get longer and an occasional grouse can be seen struttin' their stuff to a lady somewhere within their eyesight! There are currently two campsites plowed at Clear Lake for winter campers. Use has been very light, so come on out - campers will likely have the campgrounds to themselves. Portions of the roadways in the Clear Lake and Crystal Lake Campgrounds are plowed for winter walking and leashed dogs are welcome. There are lots of opportunities to snowshoe on the forest. The Raven Snowshoe trail is packed and has several loops. Snowshoers can park at the Clear Lake Picnic area and boat landing off Hwy J. Also popular for snowshoeing are the Fallison, North Trout and Star Lake Nature trails, these trails are not groomed, but the lots are kept open for parking. - Kimberly Krawczyk, Visitor Services Associate

Cross-country ski trails were groomed again this week and are in good to very good condition. Escanaba was groomed and tracked Feb. 22 and is in very good condition. Madeline and Raven trails were groomed and tracked Feb. 24 and are in good condition. McNaughton trail skaters loop was groomed and classic loops tracked Feb. 25 and are in good condition. - Tony Martinez, forestry facilities worker

Antigo DNR Service Center area

Council Grounds State Park - Cross-country ski trails were last groomed and tracked on Saturday, Feb. 21, 2015, and are in fair condition. - Sara J. Gossfeld-Benzing, ranger-assistant property manager

DNR Northeast Region

Northern Lake Michigan fisheries team report

This past week saw cold temperatures which kept fishing pressure low. So for some locations we have limited information.

Marinette County - Anglers report the whitefish bite as being fair to good out at Young's Reef and the Trout Bar. Jig heads tipped with minnows or minnow heads are still working well. No anglers were observed at the Menominee River, but judging from the number of holes in the ice at the Hattie Street Dam fishermen are targeting walleye in the early mornings and evenings. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo

Oconto County - Oconto Breakwater to Oconto Park II saw a few anglers targeting pike again with limited success. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo

Brown County - A few walleye are being caught at Voyageur Park, cold weather kept most anglers away, jigging with small spoons, Jiggin Rap's, and jigs tipped with minnows are still catching fish. There were a couple of anglers at Long Tail trying for perch and walleye with limited success. . - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo

Door County - Anglers in Little Sturgeon have been out in good numbers at Sand Bay heading out to Larsen's Reef. Most are parking just on the ice and using ATVs to get to their fishing locations. Anglers at Big Rock Place continue to do well for whitefish. Many anglers have been seen from Clafins to Carmody Park. Recently gold spoons and wax worms have been the favorite bait. Typical rigs for whitefish and perch include small spoons and jigging stick baits with wax worm or minnow heads. Sometimes anglers tie an additional small ice jig baited with a wax worm further up the line which at times can produce more than the main lure. These same baits work for the walleye as well, anglers generally just use slightly larger sized baits for the walleye. The key is getting a bait that is heavy enough to fish in the under-ice current but not too big. In addition, using the lightest line possible that is of good quality and free of kinks and excess memory helps anglers better feel their baits to detect strikes. Typically that is 4 lb. test for the whitefish and perch, and 4 to 6 lb. test for the walleye. Anglers around Sturgeon Bay continue to do well for whitefish out of Stone Quarry with many limits being reported. Most anglers out of Stone Quarry and Potawatomi Park are using an ATV or sleds to access their fishing locations. Anglers fishing out of Potawatomi Park are catching small numbers of whitefish, yellow perch, and the occasional walleye. Over the weekend the canal was lined with shacks from Bullhead Point past Stone Quarry with anglers trying their luck for whitefish, perch and walleye. A few anglers have been seen at the Yacht Club in Sturgeon Bay and in town on the canal but no interviews were conducted. - David Boyarski, fisheries supervisor, Sturgeon Bay and Emily Kurszewski, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay

Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center area

Potawatomi State Park - Ski trails were last groomed on Sunday, February 22. Skate skiing conditions are generally good. Stride skiers will find fair conditions. - Lois M. Hanson, visitor services associate

Whitefish Dunes State Park - Cross-country ski trails are in fair to good condition. Recent grooming and track resetting done on Feb. 22, but not enough snow to groom trails closest to Clark Lake. Ski trails are groomed for classic skiing only. No dogs, hikers or bikers on the ski trails (Red, Yellow and Green). - Jaclyn Moeri, visitor services associate

Wautoma DNR Service Center area

Waupaca County - There is 4 inches of snow or less in this portion of central Wisconsin. All trails closed and/or should be closed. Open fields and south slopes are starting to get melted off as the sun gets higher. Turkeys are now congregating in these open areas to feed. Fishing update - very slow, the extended winter weather has given the fish a serious case of lockjaw. - Karl Kramer, wildlife technician, Wautoma

Waushara County - Waushara County is waiting for spring. Fishing has been decent for some of the local fisheries especially on Kusel Lake near Wild Rose and Pleasant Lake in Coloma. Multiple large fish and a good number of fish were caught during both events. Ice conditions have been reported to be good as well with the last blast of cold we have had - at this time I have not had reports of any questionable spots, but that does not mean they are not out there with all the springs we have in the county so go slow and check with a local bait shop or fishing club for reports! I heard the first cardinal calling of the "spring" this morning. Turkeys have started breaking up into their male and female/young of year flocks, but I have not noticed any strutting or fighting activity yet. Also I have noticed that bucks are beginning to lose their antlers so shed hunting season is here. There are multiple deer still wearing their headgear, but others have definitely lost theirs. With the little snow we have it may be a great time to get the family out for a walk in the woods and try to find these hidden treasures. - Ben Mott, conservation warden, Wautoma

DNR Southeast Region

Milwaukee DNR Service Center area

Milwaukee County - People Recreating on Milwaukee River in Lincoln Park are asked to stay away from areas were construction is taking place as part of the Milwaukee River cleanup. Contractors have observed people snowmobiling and skiing near the temporary dams (cofferdams) in the construction area. Construction activities impact ice thickness and safety. People recreating on the river are reminded that they recreate at their own risk but are urged to avoid construction areas. The contractors have begun treating and discharging water from the area to the west oxbow and downstream into the Milwaukee River. These discharges may affect ice thickness and safety in the vicinity of construction. Again, stay away from these areas. - Marsha Burzynski, water management specialist, Milwaukee

Kettle Moraine State Forest, Lapham Peak Unit - The cross-country ski trails were groomed Tuesday night. The track was not reset. There are a few thin areas and some debris coming through in a few areas, but overall the trails are snow covered and in good shape. Lights will be on until 10 p.m. Monday through Saturday. - Jay Abts, ranger

Kettle Moraine State Forest, Northern Unit - The Zillmer cross-country ski skating lanes were groomed Feb. 24. There is a very hard 2-inch base. Groomers did not do anything to the classic lanes. Some dirty spots and debris in places to contend with. Conditions are fair. - Reagan Arndt, ranger

Southern Lake Michigan fisheries team report - Compiled from creel clerks by Cheryl Masterson and Jeffrey Zinuticz, fisheries technicians, Milwaukee

Sheboygan County - Anglers fishing around the docks in Deland Marina report catching a few rainbows and browns. An occasional northern pike has also been taken through the ice.

Ozaukee County - The south end of the Port Washington harbor stays open over the winter due to the power plant discharge. This area provides a good open water fishing opportunity, and anglers there have been catching a few browns and rainbows. Spawn sacs remain the most effective bait.

Milwaukee County - In Milwaukee ice is impeding fishing in the harbor and river mouth. With cold weather in the forecast the rest of the week, the ice will continue to be an issue. When it becomes fishable again, the area under the Hoan Bridge should be producing a few browns and rainbows. Spawn, minnows, and Gulp are generally good baits to try. Ice anglers have been fishing in the lagoon at Lakeshore State Park as well as in McKinley Marina, but fishing has been spotty in both locations. The fishing pier at the Oak Creek Power Plant is scheduled to reopen for the season on March 15.

Racine County - In Racine the harbor in Reefpoint Marina remains frozen over. There are aerators running near some docks, so be aware of varying ice depths. Anglers fishing in Reefpoint have been catching a few browns on minnows, spawn sacs, and jigging Gulp. A few rainbow trout and northern pike are in the area as well.

Plymouth DNR Service Center area

Theresa Marsh State Wildlife Area - The county snowmobile trails are still closed due to lack of snow. On Jackson Marsh Wildlife Area, during the next couple of weeks a contractor will be doing some minor finishing work on the railings and approaches on a new bridge over Cedar Creek. The bridge location is a few hundred yards north and west of the Highway G/Highway 60 intersection. The bridge is part of the county snowmobile trail system, so if we would happen to get enough snow for the snowmobile trail to open, in March, the trail users might notice the work going on. The work won't affect the trail being opened or closed. As the days are becoming longer, deer are becoming more visible feeding in open areas at dusk. One large buck was seen yesterday that still had its antlers, an indication that it's still in good physical condition. Local turkey Learn to Hunt workshops and a free turkey clinic will be held soon, so people should consult the turkey hunting section of the DNR website for the dates and locations of those. The rabbit season ends statewide this Saturday (Feb 28). - Tom Isaac, wildlife biologist, Hartford

DNR South Central Region

Dodgeville DNR Service Center area

Richland County - Ice fishing conditions along the LWSR remain steady. Snowmobile trails remain closed in the area. Turkeys have been seen strutting along southern slopes on sunny days. - Michael Nice, conservation warden, Richland Center

DNR West Central Region

Black River Falls DNR Service Center area

Black River State Forest - Temperatures are expected to be slightly warmer than last week with highs in the mid-teens to high-twenties. Winter camping is available at the Castle Mound and Pigeon Creek campgrounds. All hiking and snowshoe trails are open. Trails will not be groomed again unless we get more snow. Trails are in poor condition; high winds over the last week caused drifting and covered them in debris. - Emily Alf, visitor services associate

Eau Claire DNR Service Center area

Eau Claire County - Coyote hunters and rabbit hunters have been taking advantage of the shallow snow depth to access hunting areas. Ice anglers report slow to medium fishing action on Lake Altoona. Some anglers have been dropping lines through the ice of the quarry ponds recently added to state ownership at the Lower Chippewa Natural Area - north end of Fuller Road at the Eau Claire County and Dunn County line north of Highway 85. Now is a great time to walk the Chippewa River State Trail to observe wildlife and wildlife tracks. - Scott Thiede, conservation warden, Eau Claire

Wisconsin Rapids DNR Service Center area

Buckhorn State Park - Cross-country ski trails are in fair to good condition as there has been no extra snow since Feb. 11. If enough snow falls over the weekend, ski trails will be regroomed. Check out the new campground trail by connecting to it from the barrens/pond trail or park at the boat launch in the park. We still have some openings for the accessible cabin. - Heather Wolf, park manager

DNR Find Wisconsin Lakes


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