DNR Outdoor Report: Little Snow | Environment
With no significant snowfall since late December and last week’s rain and warm temperatures, snow sports have basically come to a halt across most of the state. Snowmobile trails are closed in most counties, with a few northern counties continuing to report tails are open but in very poor condition. A handful of locations are still reporting adequate snow for cross-country skiing, including Blue Mound State Park and the Northern and Lapham Peak units of the Kettle Moraine State Forest, with the latter only on one loop where there is snow-making equipment. Rib Mountain State Park is still reporting adequate snow for their snowshoe trails.
Brunet Island and Governor Dodge state parks have both cancelled candlelight ski events scheduled for this Saturday, due to the icy trail condition. A candlelight hike is still scheduled to proceed at the Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area, with the education center open and many other activities planned.
The warm temperatures and rain melted snow on lakes across the state and this week’s cold temperatures have improved ice conditions on many lakes. Many areas are reporting the ice refroze quite smooth, making excellent conditions for ice skating.
The improved ice conditions are very timely for Wisconsin’s first free ice fishing weekend this Saturday and Sunday. Residents and nonresidents can fish without a license and it includes all inland waters and Wisconsin’s side of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River. Size and bag limits are still in place, as are fishing season dates. People can check the DNR’s online fishing regulations to look up the rules for inland lakes. Nearly 20 of DNR’s tackle loaner sites across the state have ice fishing tip-ups and jigging rods available for people to borrow. People will need to use their own ice auger, take over an abandoned hole or ask the angler fishing near you on the ice to drill a hole or let you borrow their auger.
The variable weather conditions in the last week have made for some continued erratic fishing. In the north, walleye anglers continue to report sporadic action. Northern pike action has been fair and panfish anglers report some nice crappie, perch and bluegill being found suspended off the bottom in deeper water. In the south, ice conditions have been improving, but there are still areas of open water on larger lakes an anglers continue to need to be very cautions. There has still been some open water fishing reported on both Lake Michigan and the Mississippi River.
Snowy owls continue to be reported at a number of locations around the state and great horned owls are now calling vigorously to verbally defend their territories. And a winter aerial bald eagle survey conducted Jan. 8 along the lower Wisconsin River found 434 adult and juvenile bald eagles, more than double the number found last year and third highest on record. This should indicated excellent eagle viewing opportunities for this weekend’s Bald Eagle Watching Days at Sauk City and Prairie du Sac. Additional eagle watching activities are planned later this month and next. Check the DNR website for details.
Ashland County - We had more odd weather again last week when the temperatures rose and it rained. Trapping is active as well as hunting of bobcats. Ice fishing is also very active with mixed reports of success. Ice conditions very greatly--be sure to check the ice before venturing out
- Matt Mackenzie, conservation warden, Ashland
Douglas County - Although the winter trail system is open for use in the county, due to an almost complete lack of snow, only ATV use is occurring. Ice conditions around the area remain good even with last week’s warm weather and rain. A number of archery deer hunters continue to take advantage of the extended deer season in metro deer unit 1M.
- John Krull, conservation warden, Superior
Copper Falls State Park - Winter it seems has taken a vacation at Copper Falls. Rising temperatures this past week into the 40s along with rain make it feel more like spring. Even though the park has received more than 20 inches of snow so far this year, Mother Nature has reduced ski trail base into a layer of ice. Ski trails, both classic and skate, are in poor condition and were last groomed and tracked on Jan. 4. The Multi-use Waterfall and Red Granite Falls trails were rolled as well. The park currently has about a 0-2 inch base, mainly of ice. Please call the park at 715-274-5123 for up to the minute grooming report as trails are continually groomed as new snow falls. Temperatures are expected to fall throughout the week and reach the single digits above and below zero. At this time there is very little new snow in the future forecast. Over the past few years the park has increased the winter trail system and now offers 21.9 km of classic trail, 10.5 km of skate trail, and 5.5 km of multi-use trail.
- Greg Behling, ranger
Pattison State Park - The park currently has no measurable amount of snow on the ground. The ski trails have been reduced to an icy base with no snow in most areas. The trails were last groomed on Jan. 5. Please call the park at 715-399-3111 for up to the minute grooming report as trails are continually groomed as new snow falls. We have had a few winter campers over the past few weeks. Pattison State Park maintains 1 electric and 1 non electric site for winter campers.
- Phillip Brown, ranger
Burnett County - The cold weather of recent days has put a small amount of snow on the ground to aid in wildlife viewing. A good variety of canine traces can be viewed on many rural roads. Fair numbers of deer, grouse, and turkeys have been making appearances on the road sides. Snowmobile trails are closed and cross-country ski trails in the area are not groomed. Ice conditions vary across the county with 10- 14 inches on most lakes. Use caution when traveling on any frozen lakes. Fishing activity on area lakes has slowed down.
- Christopher Spaight conservation warden, Grantsburg
Crex Meadows State Wildlife - Animal tracks can be found and identified easier with fresh snow. Many wolf tracks have been spotted east of Crex near Kyllingstad and Klarquist Road as well as the northwest corner of Crex Meadows. Other tracks reported include fisher, coyote, fox, bobcat, and mink. There is a Candlelight Night scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 26 from 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. at Crex Meadows Wildlife Area. Check out our website for more details. www.crexmeadows.org/events.htm
- Heidi Rusch, natural resources educator
Washburn County – With colder temperatures and no snow, ice conditions are improving. Ice anglers are now driving trucks on many Washburn County lakes. Several reports of good crappie action reported. Northern pike and bass have been biting well.
- Dave Swanson, conservation warden, Minong
Upper Chippewa Basin fisheries report (Price, Rusk, Sawyer Taylor and inland Ashland and Iron counties) - The rain and warm weather of last weekend made for some sloppy ice conditions for a few days, but recent cold temperatures have firmed up the ice cover once again and most lakes now have between 10 and 12 inches of clear and solid ice. Most of the snow cover has melted off of the surface and the re-freezing has made for some rather smooth and slick conditions. There has been some light snow cover in the last few days, but ice creepers and traction devices might still be a good idea for any travel on the ice. The variable weather conditions in the last week have made for some continued erratic fishing. Walleye have been one of the main species of interest and most anglers report sporadic action. About one in three trips seem to produce any reliable action and the best success has come on the cloudy days, when temperatures reach into the 20's. Medium suckers and extra-large fatheads have been the preferred baits, and the best bite has been in the hour before dark with tip-ups in 5 to 12 feet of water. With many of the lakes in the area having stained water, after-dark fishing has been very slow. Northern pike action has also been generally fair, and many anglers reporting that the “picklers” have kept them from getting skunked on a trip. Large shiners and sucker minnows fished near any green weeds have produced the best success, though most fish have been on the small side. Panfish anglers have seen some fair action, with some nice crappie, perch and bluegill being found in deeper water and often suspended 1 to 3 feet off the bottom.
- Skip Sommerfeldt, senior fisheries biologist, Park Falls