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Wisconsin Outdoor Report and Calendar
January 19, 2017
The Wisconsin Outdoor Report is updated weekly by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
Warm weather and rain have literally put a damper on winter recreation activities across much of Wisconsin, and have led to the cancellation of a number of activities planned for this weekend.
Temperatures in the 30s and 40s and some steady drizzle, freezing rain and fog have reduced snow cover to minimal in the southern half of the state, and have left snowmobile trails open in only the northern tier of counties, but those counties continue to report good to excellent snowmobile conditions on the Wisconsin Department of Tourism's Snow Conditions Report. Ski trails are also still in good condition in northern parks and forests, though warm conditions have made the trails soft. Most trails in the southern half of the state are now closed, with the exception of the loop with man-made snow at the Lapham Peak Unit of the Kettle Moraine, which as of Thursday was still planning on going ahead with the Lapham Loppet Ski Races this Saturday.
Freezing rain this week closed some park entrance roads earlier in the week but they have now reopened. Many parking areas remain icy, so anyone visiting properties this weekend should use caution. A candlelight event that had been scheduled this weekend at Governor Dodge and a snowshoe hike at the MacKenzie Center have both been cancelled. However, candlelight hikes will go on this weekend at the Nordic Trail in the Southern Unit of the Kettle Moraine and at the Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center. Both properties are reporting trails are icy and urge people to wear appropriate footwear and crampons of some type. Shuttles will be available for the Horicon event and anyone attending is strongly encourage to use the shuttles as parking areas are icy and muddy, and parking is limited.
This weekend is also Free Fishing Weekend, and while a number of events have been cancelled due to deteriorating ice conditions, many others will go on as planned. No license is needed to fish on most waters of Wisconsin including Wisconsin portions of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River. All other rules such as bag and size limits still apply.
Anglers out on inland lakes continue to report mixed bag of crappie, walleye and perch. Perch were being caught on Shawano Lake and anglers on Lake Altoona were catching nice sized panfish. Slush and water has formed over about 16 inches of Lake Altoona ice and anglers were removing permanent shelters to ensure they don't get frozen in the ice with the next cold snap.
Ice conditions on Green Bay can be treacherous due to large cracks that opened up last week, and ice has been broken up and re froze, making entry onto the Bay difficult in places. There have been multiple reports of anglers getting stranded as cracks are opening and there have also been reports of vehicles and ATVs going through the ice.
Anglers at Voyageur Park report catching a mixed bag of walleye, perch, white fish, and white bass. Anglers took to the ice out of Stone Quarry this week with mixed success for whitefish reported. There were an abundance of anglers seen off of Volk's landing this week, with mixed success for whitefish and perch.
Whitetail buck deer have begun to shed antlers. Good numbers of rough-legged hawks and northern shrikes are present. And mid-January generally announces the onset of coyote and red fox breeding cycles. These two members of the dog family typically breed between January and March. Cold, crisp winter nights afford opportunities to listen for the raspy barks of red fox or the high pitched yipping of coyotes.
A three-minute audio version of this report can be heard by calling 608-266-2277.
Upcoming State Natural Area Workday
Saturday, Jan 21, 9 am to noon Get exercise and enjoy the brush pile fire at Rocky Run SNA! Help cut and burn brush and cedar trees and learn something in the process. Rocky Run has sand prairie and oak savanna that has been taken over by invasive shrubs and cedar trees which reduce the native understory diversity. Remove these trees to encourage rare animals and plants on the site. There will be a potluck lunch afterwards. No skills needed you will be trained onsite.
Saturday, Jan 21, 9 am to noon Restore Chiwaukee Prairie! Help Chiwaukee Prairie Preservation Fund volunteers during our monthly workdays on the third Saturday and enjoy the beauty of this rich prairie in the process. Remove invasive brush threatening the prairie. Bring a bag lunch to eat afterwards. No skills needed you will be trained onsite.
Check the State Natural Areas Volunteer Program page of the DNR website for details. - Jared Urban, conservation biologist, Dane. - Jared Urban, conservation biologist, Dane
Statewide Birding Report as of January 12, 2017
Northwoods birding is remarkably "average" this year with relatively little open water and modest numbers of woodland and feeder birds. American goldfinches and purple finches are the predominant "winter finches" at feeders while common redpolls, white-winged crossbills, pine grosbeaks, and bohemian waxwings are scattered elsewhere across northern-tier counties. A few new snowy owls were found in the past couple of weeks, though overall they remain relatively scarce statewide this winter. A few counties with recent sightings include Dodge, Douglas, Dunn, Outagamie, and Brown. Bald eagles are concentrating at open water sites with the onset of colder weather. Eagle viewing opportunities commence in Sauk Prairie on January 13 with Bald Eagle Days. - Ryan Brady, Bureau of Wildlife Management research scientist, Ashland
DNR Northern RegionSuperior DNR Service Center area
Brule River State Forest - A January thaw is in full swing as we have seen temperatures in the last few days in the 30s and even 40s. Some rain is forecast for the weekend, hopefully we don't see a repeat of the Christmas weekend ice event. You can fish without a license or trout stamp on Free Fishing Weekend. All regulations and seasonal restrictions are in force. It's a great opportunity to try your hand at ice-fishing or to get your friends and family "hooked" on the sport! However, with the recent warm temperatures, please exercise caution when heading out on the ice. The Afterhours ski trails are in great shape and the weather has been beautiful for skiing or snow-shoeing. Ski conditions are excellent. Below are links to trail condition reports on the local snowmobile trails. The warm weather has caused some trails to be closed. Check on conditions and trail closings before you head out. Douglas County: Douglascountywi.org or call 715-378-4528 Bayfield County: Bayfieldcounty.org. - Diane Gobin, visitor services associate
Ashland DNR Service Center area
Amnicon Falls State Park - It is beautiful up here. The ski trail (Pattison) was groomed last Friday and is in excellent condition. The snowshoe trail at Amnicon Falls is getting some use and is in great condition. - Kevin Feind, property supervisor
Pattison State Park - It is beautiful up here. The ski trail was groomed last Friday and is in excellent condition. - Kevin Feind, property supervisor
Spooner DNR Service Center area
Crex Meadows State Wildlife - Since the first week of January, bird activity increased slightly at Crex Meadows and surrounding areas. Bird numbers were the worst they had been in years during the end of December and very beginning of January. Temperatures in Northern Wisconsin have finally risen about 40 degrees after a few weeks of being in the negatives. Birds are still scarce, but some are beginning to frequent the feeders. However, this week was good for birding because of the rare sightings that were reported. The two bird highlights for the week were a golden eagle and a short-eared owl. The golden eagle has been hanging around off of East Refuge Road, and the Short-eared owl has been seen in the same areas. Good numbers of rough-legged hawks and northern shrikes are present. There seems to be an abnormally high population of ring-necked pheasants. Still no blue jays or redpolls have been seen.
Park Falls DNR Service Center area
Flambeau River State Forest - The Flambeau Hills Cross Country Ski Trail will be groomed and tracked this week weather permitting. We received another inch of snow Monday night but temps will be warming up. The tracker is being repaired and will be in working order by Wednesday of this week. Snowmobile Trails have been groomed and are in good condition. The trails received some use this last weekend and the south trails into Price and Rusk counties were groomed Monday and the north trails will be groomed Wednesday. There is a culvert lifting up on the trail about 1 mile south of the Tuscobia Trail. There are hazard cones on the trail so use caution in that area especially. Drive safely. Connors Lake and Lake of the Pines have about 13 inches of ice. There has been some folks out on both lakes fishing and I understand they have caught some walleyes, crappies and northerns on Connors and lots of crappies on Lake of the Pines. Ice shacks are being placed in strategic positions on the lakes. Mason and Evergreen Lakes are being fished for crappie, walleye and perch. This coming weekend is Free Fishing Weekend in Wisconsin so get out there and catch some fish. The last quarter moon will be occurring on Thursday the 19. Logging operations on the Forest are going full speed ahead. Conditions will be warming considerably this week so they are working furiously. There is 16 inches of snow in the woods. The deer and elk are conserving their energy and aggressively browsing in logging areas. The deer have begun dropping their antlers. The weather forecast for this week indicates a low of 18 warming to 39 Thursday and 42 by Friday. Saturday there is a chance of rain/snow with a high of 40 and Sunday a high of 42 and a chance of rain/snow Sunday night. - Diane Stowell, forestry technician advanced and visitor services associate
Woodruff DNR Service Center area
Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest - This January thaw is a welcome relief from the sub- zero temperatures the north experienced the past month. Snow levels are settling but there is still plenty on the ground for cross-country skiing and snowshoeing, hiking and hunting, and of course building snowmen. Trails and roads will get icy as the week progresses so please remember to be safe and wear those yack tracks to prevent falls. Slush will start to appear on area lakes and snowmobile trails are showing some thin spots. The song birds are liking the warmth and the squirrels seem to be pretty frisky so get outside and play! - Rosalie Richter, visitor services associate
The warming temperatures will have the conditions of the ski trails changing rapidly. The base and tracks will be softer. Escanaba trail was tracked Jan. 19 and has good conditions. Madeline trail had all loops tracked Nov. 14 and had very good conditions. Raven and McNaughton trails had all loops tracked Jan. 17. All loops have good coverage of snow and very good conditions. The McNaughton skaters loop was groomed Jan. 18 and had good conditions. Tony Martinez, trails coordinator
DNR Northeast RegionNorthern Lake Michigan fisheries team report
This report is for the week of January 8-15. Fishing pressure was light during the week but heavy by the week end. Most anglers report adequate ice conditions.
Marinette County - A few anglers report catching pike south of the Peshtigo River mouth using dead smelt or large shiner minnows. The ice has been broken up and re froze, making entry onto the Bay difficult in places. There has been no fishing activity out of Little River. A nice mixed bag of fish are being caught out of the 6th Street Slip on the Menominee River. Some perch, crappie, walleye, and whitefish are being caught in 18 feet of water jigging with minnows and wax worms. Anglers fishing the slough at Harbor Town Marina also report having some success catching panfish. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo
Oconto County - Anglers at Oconto Breakwater Park report catching whitefish in and around the mouth of the Oconto River, Swedish pimples and jig and stick baits tipped with minnow heads or wax worms are being used. Ice conditions by the mouth of the Oconto River can be treacherous due to a large crack that opened up last week. Pike fishermen have been having some success from the mouth of the Oconto River to Oconto Park II fishing in 3 to 9 feet of water using dead smelt in the round fished on bottom or large shiner minnows. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo
Brown County - Anglers at Voyageur Park report catching a mixed bag of walleye, perch, white fish, and white bass. Anglers are using different jigs and jigging raps tipped with minnows, minnow heads, or wax worms. Long Tail is producing some perch although fishing was a bit slow this week end. Anglers are fishing in 9 feet of water using jigs and minnows or wax worms. Fishing for perch off Sunset Beach has also slowed according to angler interviews. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo
Door County - A reminder to use caution when taking to the ice. Many anglers have been on the ice in the past week and a few have found themselves in not great conditions. There have been multiple reports of anglers getting stranded as cracks are opening up every day and conditions can change in a matter of minutes. There have also been reports of vehicles and ATVs going through the ice, so please know your ice conditions before taking to the ice. As a reminder the US Coast Guard is still out breaking ice in the shipping channels, which causes the ice to move and crack without notice. The weather has been less than cooperative for good ice conditions as well, so what ice was safe yesterday may not be today. Many anglers took to the ice out of Stone Quarry this week with mixed success for whitefish reported. They were fishing off of the break wall in the canal not far from shore and fishing with wax worms seemed to be a favorite. Those anglers reported ice thicknesses up to 18 inches, but the ice breaker went through on Saturday so ice conditions may have changed. A few anglers were seen at Murphy Park early in the day and reported decent catches earlier in the week for whitefish. There appeared to be ice moving in the canal in front of Bay Ship on Saturday as the ice breaker went through. - Emily Kurszewski, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay
Brown and Kewaunee counties - There were an abundance of anglers seen off of Volk's landing this week, with mixed success for whitefish and perch. The ice looked smooth near shore and looked rough further out, with a crack reported just outside where the shacks were and anglers reporting ice thicknesses varying between 12-18 inches. Bayshore and Dyckesville had a fair number of anglers out. Those out in Dyckesville were parking just on the ice and some chose to drive out, no interviews were conducted. Bayshore Park proved to be a busy location this weekend with low success reported for whitefish. A low number of anglers were seen at Red River and Sugar Creek, open water was seen where Sugar Creek flows into the bay and a truck went through the ice last week at Red River. So use caution as ice conditions are always changing. Anglers were seen at Rite's Cove and all seemed to stay inside the ice shoves.- Emily Kurszewski, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay
Peshtigo DNR Service Center area
Shawano County - Perch are biting on Shawano Lake. If you're looking to pull some perch through the ice, the southwest bay of Shawano Lake is the spot to go. Ice fishermen have been able to find some weed structure and have been working the weed edges at around six to nine feet deep. A reminder that the minimum size limit for walleye is now 18 inches on Shawano Lake. If you're looking for something bigger, White Clay Lake has some nice northern pike. There have been some large crappie coming out of White Clay Lake as well. Keep in mind that the special regulations on White Clay Lake allow you to keep 25 panfish, but only up to 10 of each species. As of earlier this week snowmobile trails were still in good condition, although the upcoming warm weather may change that. As the weather and trail conditions change, so do the open trails. An updated list of open trails can be found on the Shawano County website. A trail pass is required for all snowmobiles operating on a trail or corridor. These stickers can be purchased on GoWild, or any DNR licensing agent. - Clark Delzer, conservation warden, Shawano
Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center area
Peninsula State Park - With the wintery mix we received the ski trails are in poor condition. We haven't heard from the county on snowmobile closures, but I'm sure that will be just a matter of time. We have temporarily closed the roads in Peninsula due to glare ice and will re-evaluate conditions throughout the day. The public will still have access to the headquarters building at the Fish Creek entrance. - Jessica Doell, visitor services associate
Whitefish Dunes State Park - This week there was freezing rain and above average temperatures melting a lot of snow. Right now the best hiking is on the beach which has minimal ice and a great spot to view the waves. - Jaclyn Moeri, visitor services associate
Wautoma DNR Service Center area
Waupaca County - About 6 inches of very slushy snow left. I suspect all trails are closed or will be closed shortly. Forecasted highs are to be in the low to mid forties, so it will be a sloppy mess by the weekend. Plenty of people out ice fishing but have heard no reports of fish biting anywhere. With warmer weather coming, might be a good weekend to go catch and release trout fishing. No unusual wildlife sightings to report this week. - Karl Kramer, wildlife technician, Wautoma
Waushara County - Waushara County has taken a good hit from Mother Nature this week with warmer than normal temperatures and ice, sleet, and rain. The snowmobile trails have all shut down and travel through the county has been dangerous. The roads are improving, but still if you are coming to visit give yourself plenty of time! The warm weather has made for some good time to enjoy the ice, but always check with local bait shops and other fishermen to get an updated ice report. The rain and sleet on top of the exposed ice has polished it making it extra slick so make sure to take some sort of yaktrax or spikes for your boots! Take care and be careful out there! - Ben Mott, conservation warden, Wautoma
DNR Southeast RegionMilwaukee DNR Service Center area
Kettle Moraine State Forest, Lapham Peak Unit - The entire man-made loop is skiable. There is only one area of concern on the east side but you can ski out onto the Nordic Playground area to get around it. Skate skiers should just follow along side the classic track as it meanders through it. The skate lane is in great condition considering the warm temps and rain but expect soft/slow snow. Classic tracks were set and are at full depth but soft sides with icy bases so only in good condition all things considered. Trail lights are on until 9 p.m. every night expect Sundays. Things are looking good for the annual Lapham Loppet on Saturday, an annual fundraiser for the Friends of Lapham Peak. - Brett Johanen, ranger
Kettle Moraine State Forest, Southern Unit - The candlelight hike is still on for Saturday at the Nordic trail system. Conditions are icy so bring appropriate footwear for winter hiking. Crampons strongly encouraged. - Amanda Prange, visitor services associate
Plymouth DNR Service Center area
Kettle Moraine State Forest, Northern Unit - Due to the warm temperatures, the cross country ski trails are closed at both Zillmer and Greenbush until further notice. - Megan Sina, ranger
DNR South Central RegionLower Wisconsin State Riverway, Weekly Riverway Video Report
Warm temperatures are melting snow and ice. Southwestern Wisconsin is currently not good for snow sports. But there are still lots of hiking and eagle watching opportunities along the riverway. - Mark Cupp, executive director Lower Wisconsin State Riverway Board
Horicon DNR Service Center area
Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area - The candlelight hike is still on for this Saturday, but conditions are icy. Anyone planning on attending the event should consider using the provided shuttles. Parking lots are currently icy and muddy, and parking is limited. Hikers are strongly encourage to wear crampons as trails are icy.- Elizabeth Herzmann, natural resources educator
Fitchburg DNR Service Center area
Devil's Lake State Park - Free fishing weekend events have been cancelled for this Saturday due to poor ice conditions. There is very little snow remaining for the Family Snow Day but some alternative activities will still be available. - Sue Johansen, natural resources educator
Mirror Lake State Park - As of last weekend, Fern Dell, Turtleville, and Hastings trails remained open for skiing with poor conditions. These are the trails south of the Park Office. Due to deteriorating snow conditions we have opened the trails to the north for hiking until we get more snow. When more snow is received, we will begin grooming the cross-country ski trails and hiking and snowshoeing will no longer be permitted on the trails designated for skiing. - Becky Green, park manager
Lake Kegonsa State Park - The cross country ski trails are closed. All trails are open to hiking, but many areas are icy. - Sarah Bolser, park manager
DNR West Central RegionLa Crosse DNR Service Center area
Vernon County - Mid-January generally announces the onset of coyote and red fox breeding cycles. These two members of the dog family have one annual estrus cycle and typically breed between January and March. Cold, crisp winter nights afford opportunities to listen for the raspy barks of red fox or the high pitched yipping of coyotes. Pup litters of both species are born in March or April in a natal den or burrow, but red foxes generally avoid raising pups in areas where coyotes have established territories. - Dave Matheys, wildlife biologist, Viroqua
Perrot State Park - The cross-country ski trails are in fair to poor condition. With the recent rain and freezing rain the trails are soft and have multiple icy spots. Snowshoe and hiking trails are soft and you may find puddles on top of ice so watch your step. Trails open for hiking and snowshoeing include the Riverview trail, Black Walnut, West Brady's, East Brady's, and Perrot Ridge. Owls have been heard at twilight near the nature center. The pileated woodpeckers are often seen in the area around the East Brady's and Perrot Post trailheads. - Lois Larson, park manager
Eau Claire DNR Service Center area
Eau Claire County - As a result of the January thaw, all snowmobile trails are closed in Eau Claire County. Warmer air temperatures make for enjoyable walks on the Chippewa River State Trail. An abundance of deer, turkey and eagles can be seen while exploring the winter landscape. Anglers on Lake Altoona are catching some nice sized panfish. Slush and water has formed over about 16 inches of Lake Altoona ice - use caution along the shoreline and areas of flowing water. - Scott Thiede, conservation warden, Eau Claire
Hoffman Hills State Recreation Area - Ski trails are still in good condition but any use of the trails will cause damage during this warm spell. Skiing isn't advised until it cools back down. - Calvin Kunkel, ranger
Red Cedar State Trail - Conditions are looking pretty unfavorable for skiing anytime soon. Trail is still in good condition and we do have a decent snow pack but skiing on the trail in this warm weather will cause damage. It would be best to ski the early hours to limit damage to trail or not ski at all. Expect some debris on the trail and icy spots. Volunteers won't be grooming until we get cooler weather. - Calvin Kunkel, ranger
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