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Author Topic: Complete WDNR Outdoor Report as of January 22, 2015  (Read 1062 times)

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Offline mudbrook

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Complete WDNR Outdoor Report as of January 22, 2015
« on: February 01, 2015, 01:58:21 PM »
WDNR Outdoor Report as of January 22, 2015
While portions of southern and central Wisconsin did receive some snow in the last week, it was generally under 2 inches and not enough to improve winter outdoor recreation conditions in the state.  Snowmobile trails continue to remain open in only about a dozen northern counties with conditions fair to excellent.  Cross-country ski trails remain in fair to
good condition in about the northern half of the state. The only skiing in southern Wisconsin is at the one loop of the Lapham Peak Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest that is covered with man-made snow.
More seasonal and consistent weather this past weekend made for increased fishing activity. It was good weather for last weekend’s free ice fishing weekend, with excellent turnout at events across the state.  In the north, there were a few decent catches of crappie, perch and bluegill, and northern pike fishing has been fair but walleye action remained sporadic. There are some reports of walleyes being taken on the Wolf River system. Ice fishing on the Mississippi River has been sporadic with individuals having limited success for crappies, northern pike and bass.  Anglers on the Fox River were catching walleye, whitefish and some perch at Voyageur Park.
Ice depths are now a foot or more on Green Bay, but there were pockets of thinner ice mixed in so caution is warranted.  Whitefish were being caught at a variety of locations including Marinette and Oconto on the west shore and Little Sturgeon Bay and off Sugar Creek park on the east shore.
Snowy owls sightings continue to be reported and short-eared owls have also been spotted. Great horned owls are calling vigorously to verbally defend their territories from other owls of their own kind. Great horned owls will continue calling well into February. Egg laying typically takes place from late January through mid-February, and owlets are born about a month later. Ducks and geese are abundant in areas that retain open water.  There were 400-plus tundra swans reported at Lower Mud Lake and open water stretches along the Yahara River near McFarland in Dane County. Turnout was fantastic for Bald Eagle Days last weekend in the Sauk Prairie area, where good numbers of eagles continue to be seen despite large expanses of open water on the river now.
Mid-January is generally the onset of coyote and red fox breeding cycles. 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.
A candlelight hike last weekend at Horicon Marsh was an incredible success. Warmer temperatures encouraged more than 2,000 outdoor enthusiasts to participate. There are four candlelight events scheduled for this weekend, and if there is not enough snow for skiing most will be held as hikes. There are also six daytime snowshoe or winter hikes schedule for this weekend.  To find details, search the DNR website for keywords “Get Outdoors.”

Northern Region

Superior DNR Service Center area
Brule River State Forest - After Hours Ski Trail conditions are good with a 3-inch base and about 8 inches of snow cover in the woods. Skate lanes were groomed on Tuesday and conditions are still good. Skiers can expect to find some debris in some locations on the trails due to busy squirrels and a lack of recent snowfall. - Dan Kephart, ranger

Hayward DNR Service Center area
Sawyer County - Snowmobile trails are in good condition. Heavy traffic over the weekend did wear down some spots on trails, but over-all the trails are in good shape. Lakes still have some slush pockets, but if a person stays on main used trails across the lakes slush is not an issue. Snowmobilers are reminded that there is a nighttime maximum speed for operation at night of 55 mph. This is in all areas, public or private, on lands, trails or water. Fishing on area lakes has been relatively slow, but travel by most methods is good. Lac Courte Oreilles has been producing some walleye, northern and pan fish. The walleye bite is best at dusk, throughout the night and into early morning. After that, that northern and panfish bite picks up for daytime activity. Lac Courte Oreilles is a large, clear, structure filled lake with variable depths that produce fish. Pick a spot and fish for a period of time. If no activity move around. Minnows are working best for most species. There is a two daily bag limit for walleye on Lac Courte Oreilles and the minimum size limit is 15 inches. - Thomas Heisler Jr., conservation warden, Winter

Spooner DNR Service Center area
Crex Meadows State Wildlife Area - A few more birds are appearing on the property. The highlights are the snowy owl along County Highway F. There is a goshawk on Lincoln Road. Purple finches and redpolls are commonly seen at the visitor center. - Kristi Pupak, natural resources educator

Governor Knowles State Forest - Due to poor snow conditions the Governor Knowles State Forest ski trails are not groomed.  However people are enjoying the winter weather on our hiking trails.  A very popular starting point is parking lot at the wayside near the Hwy 70 bridge near the MN boarder. - Kyle Anderson, superintendent

Park Falls DNR Service Center area
Upper Chippewa Basin fisheries report (Price, Rusk, Sawyer Taylor and inland Ashland and Iron counties) - More seasonal and consistent weather this past weekend made for increased fishing activity on most waters across the Northwoods. Temperatures in the mid-20s with light winds seemed to bring out the panfish anglers this past weekend – but success was only reported as fair. Fishermen targeted most of the larger lakes in the area but many also spread out among the smaller lakes – and most had to move around quite a bit to find the active fish. There were a few decent catches of crappie, perch and bluegill, with the crappie and bluegill found suspended a couple feet off the bottom and perch right near the bottom. Crappie minnows or small teardrop jigs tipped with waxworms provided the best action. Tip-up fishing for walleye was once again sporadic during the past week, and many anglers were trying new areas in an attempt to find some active fish. Most anglers were getting a good number of flags, but many were short hits or perch flags. Most of the walleye caught have been in the 10 to 14-inch size, though a few nice ones in the 18 to 21-inch size were also reported. Golden shiners and medium suckers seemed to get most of the action, and were being fished in 6 to 12 feet of water in the 2 hours before dark. Northern pike fishing has been fair, most fish have been in the 20 to 27 inch size and the best success has come during the mid-day hours. Ice depths have reached the 12 to 16-inch range on most lakes in the area and there is still anywhere from 2 to 6 inches of windblown snow on top, with deeper drifts in scattered areas. Vehicle and ATV travel has been fair, and a lot of the ice travel has been limited to packed trails and plowed roads. A few lakes have still been reported to have some slush areas, so anglers should use caution if venturing into undisturbed areas or on lakes with no previous travel. - Skip Sommerfeldt, senior fisheries biologist, Park Falls

Woodruff DNR Service Center area
Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest – Cross-country ski trails could use some fresh snow to cover the tree debris that is starting to accumulate on the trails. Madeline, McNaughton and Escanaba trails were groomed and tracked Jan. 20 and are in good to very good condition. Raven Trail was groomed and tracked Jan. 16. There is tree debris under the heavy conifers on the Red and Yellow loops but otherwise good conditions. - Tony Martinez, forestry facilities worker

Antigo DNR Service Center area
Langlade County - In the Antigo Area snowmobile trails are open and in generally good condition. About 1 foot of snow on the ground is providing most wildlife a relatively moderate winter so far. Snowy Owls continue to be seen around the farm fields surrounding Antigo. - Eric J. Borchert, wildlife technician, Antigo

Council Grounds State Park - The ski trails were groomed and tracked on Tuesday, January 20, 2015, and are in excellent condition.  - Sara J. Gossfeld-Benzing, ranger-assistant property manager

Northeast Region

Northern Lake Michigan fisheries team report - Compiled by David Boyarski, fisheries supervisor, Sturgeon Bay
Anglers are reporting various ice conditions with some places having up to 12 inches of ice. However, there are pockets of thinner ice mixed in so caution is warranted. A variety of baits were used at all locations. Typical rigs for whitefish and perch include small spoons and jigging stick baits tipped 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 pound test for the whitefish and perch, and 4-6 pound test for the walleye.

Marinette County - Whitefish are being caught out at the Trout Bar with anglers taking 4 wheelers from the Little River Boat Launch. The bite has been pretty productive with anglers reporting limits of fish in a short amount of time. Swedish pimples with a secondary hook 8 inches above tipped with a wax worm has been deadly. Walleye are being caught below the Dam at Hattie Street using Jigging stick baits and small spoons tipped with minnows, fire tigers and blue and silver have been working well.  - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo

Oconto County - Fishing pressure from Geano Beach was moderate on Saturday with anglers heading south from the landing using 4 wheelers and snowmobiles heading for the reef. Walleye and whitefish are being targeted in 5 to 10 feet of water, jigs and minnows are working the best. Pike anglers are enjoying some success from Oconto Break water Park to Oconto Park II. A foot of ice has been reported in this area with anglers getting on to the ice using trucks. Dead whole smelt and large live shiner minnows are being fished in 5 to 12 feet of water have been producing some nice fish with one angler reporting a 36 inch pike. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo

Brown County - Anglers at Voyageur Park are catching walleye, whitefish and some perch. Most anglers are fishing in 8 to 10 feet of water using jigging stick baits and small spoons tipped with minnow heads. The best time to fish has been early morning 4 a.m. to 7:30 a.m. Long Tail and Sunset Beach anglers were targeting perch with limited success, jig and minnow fished with ice rods or with tip ups has been the most popular way to fish. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo

Door County - Many anglers took to advantage of the nice weather this week and were seen out in good numbers off of Bullhead Point with little to no luck, reporting 12 inches of ice. Anglers in the Sturgeon Bay area are still struggling to find perch. Anglers at Potawatomi Park were seen with trucks and ATVs on the ice. Over the weekend the number of anglers that used the High Cliff access increased greatly but no anglers were interviewed at this location. Anglers in the Little Sturgeon area are doing well for whitefish and are still struggling for perch. Anglers are reporting a minimum of 12 inches of ice at all locations. Anglers at Lime Kiln Road were doing well for whitefish using waxies, and anglers are also reporting a good whitefish bite at Wood Lane, Carmody, Clafins and Big Rock Place. A few anglers were using the Town Park Road access. - Emily Kurszewski, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay

Kewaunee County - Anglers were out in high numbers in Dyckesville and Red River Park. Many are driving on at both locations. Anglers were reporting small numbers of whitefish from Volk’s Landing all the way up to Rites Cove. A few anglers were lucky and caught their limits but were out fairly early in the morning. There has been no luck reported for perch anywhere but many are still out in search all along the coast. Anglers at Sugar Creek did well for whitefish but struggled for a perch bite there as well as Rites Cove. With the warmer temperatures this weekend the ice has gotten slushy on top so be careful. - Emily Kurszewski, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay

Peshtigo DNR Service Center area
Marinette County - Snowmobile trail conditions are very good to excellent.  The exception is the trails in the southern portion of the county.  Snowmobile clubs are constantly grooming and maintaining the trails.  Anglers are reporting anywhere from 12-16 inches of ice on area lakes.  As always, extreme caution should be used when traveling onto frozen water.  ATV riders are also reminded that not all trails are open during winter months.  Please reference the Marinette County Snowmobile/ATV trail map for details. - Tim Werner, conservation warden

Peshtigo River State Forest -
Shawano County - Snow conditions vary with most of the better snow conditions happening in Western Shawano County, Snowmobile trails are open on the western edge of the county. Ice fishing remains good with panfish and northern being the common fish caught on area waters. Some nice bluegills have been caught on area waters. - Jim Horne, conservation warden, Shawano

Governor Thompson State Park - The ski trails are open and groomed for both classic and skate skiers. The boat launch facilities on Caldron Falls are iced in. Ice fishermen are frequenting the south bay. Woods Lake is frozen over. - Maggie Kailhofer, park manager

Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center area
Peninsula State Park – The park has varying snow depths up to 2 inches. Icy, slippery conditions exist all over the park. Cross-country ski trails are in poor condition. No hiking, snowshoeing or pets allowed on ski trails. Showshoe/hiking trails are icy in areas. The sledding hill is closed. Snowmobile trails are closed. - Jane Barnowsky, visitor services associate

Wautoma DNR Service Center area
Waupaca County - There are about 3 inches of snow in central Wisconsin. We got a little this week and lost a little last weekend – a wash. Trails not groomed and in the case of snowmobile trails, not open. Wonderful conditions to just take a hike, even better if you take your dog with you. There are some reports of walleyes being taken on the Wolf River system, and some reports of northern pike biting on area lakes. Looks like a great forecast for the weekend just to stay out of the house and avoid cabin fever. - Karl Kramer, wildlife technician, Wautoma

Oshkosh DNR Service Center area
High Cliff State Park - Volunteer trail groomer checked the trails Jan. 20 and determined that grooming wasn't going to happen. High Cliff only received about a 1/2 inch snow. - Linda Guelig, park manager

Southeast Region

Milwaukee DNR Service Center area
Kettle Moraine State Forest, Lapham Peak Unit - The man-made loop was groomed Tuesday evening however Lapham Peak received approximately 1 inch of light, fluffy snow between 8 and 10 a.m. Jan. 21. The temperatures were 32 degrees and rising as groomers packed the skate lanes on the man-made loop and reset the snowed in track. Skate lanes are in good skiing conditions due to soft and inconsistent snow conditions (some areas are slow while others are fast). The new track is at full depth however due to immediate use and warm temps it was not able to set up therefore afternoon/evening skiers will likely find the edges worn but should still get good "kick". Conditions will vary greatly throughout the day as temps rise and fall. Conditions off of the man-made are very poor and skiing is not recommended, there is no intention to groom off of the man-made due to the ice and debris underneath the thin, inconsistent new snow cover. Ski lights are on until 10 p.m. The Wednesday night ski race will consist of a lap race on the man-made loop this evening. This coming Saturday morning Jan. 24 between 8:30 and 11 a.m., there is a Middle and High School race for Northern Kettle Moraine Nordic Ski Club where conditions will not allow them to hold their race at Greenbush as they had planned. - Brett Johanen, ranger

Kettle Moraine State Forest, Pike Lake Unit – Cross-country ski trails were groomed Jan. 16. Conditions are poor due to the heavy weekend use and warm temperatures. Track was set on all ski loops. Snow depth is shallow with spots of dirt and leaf material visible. Hikers are allowed on the trails west of Powder Hill Road because of cross country ski trails are currently groomed. Winter hiking/snowshoe conditions include 3 inches of snow with patches of ice. Red-tailed hawks continue their grand courtship displays.

Kettle Moraine State Forest, Southern Unit - Nordic, McMiller and Scuppernong cross-country ski trails were all impacted by warm temperatures on Saturday and Sunday. Bare spots, dirt, debris have all increased making the trails virtually unskiable. There are areas with decent snow cover, mostly in the hardwoods and open locations, but getting to them can be dicey. As temperatures drop the trails will become icy and with the thin snow cover the groomers do not have much to work with and likely will not be grooming until additional snow falls. If you know a snow dance, give it a try.- Paul Sandgren, property supervisor

Waukesha DNR Service Center area
Waukesha County - Late season archery hunting for deer remains open until the Jan. 31 in the metro sub-unit. Milder temperatures and sparse snow cover favor wildlife survival this winter. Coyotes are on the move as mating season begins. The winter waterfowl survey revealed low waterfowl numbers in the area, which is to be expected with most lakes being frozen over.- Kelly VanBeek, wildlife biologist, Waukesha

Plymouth DNR Service Center area
Sheboygan County - There is some open water in the Sheboygan Marina. Ice on Sheboygan County’s inland lakes is averaging around 6 – 8 inches but much thinner areas have been found; at least one snowmobile operator has broken through the ice on the Sheboygan Marsh recently (no injuries). Fishing has generally been slow the last few days.- Michael Clutter, conservation warden, southern Sheboygan County

South Central Region

Dodgeville DNR Service Center area
Lafayette County - The fish bite on Yellowstone Lake is still very slow. Many fishermen have been putting in long days and consider themselves lucky to walk away with a few fish. The crappies are near non-existent and the bluegills are really hit and miss. Now that the fall turkey and deer seasons are over turkeys and deer seem to be everywhere, with groups of 10 plus being common. It’s been quite a while since we’ve been this far into January without at least a short stretch of open snowmobile trails and there’s no significant snowfall in sight. - Nick Webster, conservation warden, Darlington

Horicon DNR Service Center area
Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area - The Candlelight Hike that was held on Saturday, January 17 at Horicon Marsh was an incredible success. Warmer temperatures encouraged well over 2,000 outdoor enthusiasts to participate. Over 50 dedicated volunteers, along with DNR staff members are to be commended to make this event so successful. Snowy owls continue to make appearances both on the marsh and on Beaver Dam Lake. Viewers are reminded to maintain a safe distance between yourself and the birds to ensure their safety and to prevent harassment issues. Short-eared owls have also been spotted between Beaver Dam and Juneau. Trappers on the Horicon Marsh continue to harvest muskrats and other furbearers. DNR staff, along with the Wisconsin Trappers Association will be hosting a “Learn to Trap” at the Horicon Marsh Education & Visitor Center. Please visit the DNR website to learn more details and to register for the class. Class size will be limited to the first 25 applicants and will include a Trapper’s Safety Certificate. - Jennifer Wirth, visitor services specialist

Fitchburg DNR Service Center area
Columbia County - This week’s snow brought 1-2 inches of snow on the ground in the county. Snowmobile trails remain closed. Last week brought multiple reports of a lone wolf, likely the same animal, traveling through the county. Ducks and geese are abundant in areas that retain open water, mostly along the Wisconsin River. Large turkey flocks can be spotted feasting in the picked crop fields. Last weekend’s Eagle Days were a huge success just across the river in Sauk Prairie. The nice weather brought record numbers of spectators out. The eagles really put on a show with their fishing tactics – even with the river being fairly open down to Spring Green, there are good numbers of eagles in the Sauk Prairie area right now. Dam Road, the VFW park, and the eagle lookout point are all great places to get a glimpse of these large birds of prey. - Sara Kehrli, wildlife biologist, Poynette

Dane County - There is very little snow left in fields or in the woodlands. Waterfowl viewing is still great with some eagles at open water points across Dane County. The best spots are Lower Mud Lake in McFarland (400-plus tundra swans) and open water stretches along the Yahara River. There are a few common redpolls (winter finch) showing up at feeders in Dane County. Starting to get daytime coyote and fox reports so I’m guessing that animals are seeking mates and guarding territories. - Andy Paulios, wildlife biologist, Fitchburg

Baldwin DNR Service Center area
St. Croix County - Ice conditions on most area lakes have improved and snow amounts are minimal so travel on lakes is pretty good. Fishing action has slowed, but anglers are still getting some pan fish and pike on area lakes. Upper end of Lake Pepin has been producing some nice perch. With minimal snow amounts all snowmobile trails remain closed. Coyote hunters have been active after some small fresh snowfalls for tracking. Cross Country ski trails are fair to poor due to the lack of snow. - David A. Hausman, warden supervisor, Baldwin

La Crosse DNR Service Center area
La Crosse County - Ice fishing on the Mississippi River in the La Crosse area has been sporadic with individuals having limited success for crappies, northern pike and bass. Ice conditions have improved with many areas having close to 20 inches of ice, but ice fishermen must still be cautious with varying ice conditions on the river. This weekend there will be two large ice fishing derbies taking place in the area, one on Lake Onalaska and the other one on Lake Neshonoc. With the forecast of warmer weather on the weekend, the fishing conditions should be mild and comfortable for participants. The snowmobile trails remain closed in La Crosse County as the area has very little snow cover. Individuals have had good success predator hunting using calls, especially during the recent cold stretch. One individual reported harvesting four coyotes on one night. - Dale Hochhausen, conservation warden, La Crosse

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. Great horned owls are calling vigorously. Owls are territorial, and one of the primary reasons that owls call is to verbally defend their territories from other owls of their own kind. Great horned owls will continue calling well into February. On still nights, listen for the deep WHOO, WHOO-WHOO, WHOO-WHOO, WHOO call of the male. Often the female mate will reply in a higher pitched WHOO, WHOO-WHOO-WHOO, WHOO-OO, WHOO-OO. The great horned owl is probably the most widely distributed breeding bird in North America, and it also occurs well south through Central America into South America. These owls rarely build their own nests. Instead they usually occupy nests formerly constructed by crows, Cooper's hawks, red-tailed hawks, red-shouldered hawks, or squirrels. Egg laying typically takes place from late January through mid-February, and owlets are born about a month later. - Dave Matheys, wildlife biologist, Viroqua

Black River Falls DNR Service Center area
Black River State Forest - Temperatures this weekend are expected to be in the high 30s with a slight chance of snow on Sunday. All trails are open for hiking and snowshoeing. Ski trails are in poor condition. There is not enough snow to pack or groom the trails. Snowshoers can also go anywhere on the state forest that is not a groomed trail for a different use such as skiing or snowmobiling. Winter ATV trails are now open. Snowmobile trails are partially open and in poor condition. UTVs are not allowed on winter trails due to their weight. Jackson County Forestry and Parks maintains and grooms all of the state forest's snowmobile and winter ATV trails. - Emily Alf, visitor services associate

Juneau County - Snowmobile trails are still closed in Juneau County as there is almost zero snow on the ground. Fishing action is slowing down. The best success has been on the Lemonweir River, where anglers have been catching pike and good numbers of panfish. The panfish on the Lemonweir tend to run small compared to what is caught on the Wisconsin River. Fishing on Castle Rock has been slow. Crappies and walleyes are being caught, just not in the numbers of early ice. Most of the walleyes caught are in the slot or too short. Ice conditions on Castle Rock are good overall. Some areas can be travelled by car/truck and others should only be travelled by snowmobile/ATV or on foot. There are cracks in many locations that everyone must be careful of, and a large heave separating the west side of the lake from the main lake. This heave should not be crossed. - Kyle Lynch, conservation warden, Mauston

Eau Claire DNR Service Center area
Brunet Island State Park - The Nordic cross-country ski trail has not been re-groomed since Jan. 9, but is still in fair to good shape. A few light dustings of snow have kept the tracks relatively stable, but they are starting to wear down a bit. We need a few inches of fresh snow in order to tune them up again. - Mike Rivers, park manager

Wisconsin Rapids DNR Service Center area
Buckhorn State Park - Trails are in great condition for hiking. A timber sale is taking place in the Buckhorn Wildlife Area around the Partridge Trail and portion of Turkey Hollow Trail. When we have a base of at least 8 inches of snow, ski trails will be groomed. People have been accessing the lake from the park to ice fish. Remember – we do not monitor ice conditions. - Heather Wolf, park manager

Roche-A-Cri State Park - The main gate and campground are closed for the season. Parking is in the winter lot on Czech Ave. Park stickers are still required; please use the self-registration. Please do not park in front of the main gate. - Heather Wolf, park manager
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