Great weather in forecast for Free Ice Fishing Weekend and Eagle Watching Days this weekend
A snowstorm late last week brought an additional 2 to 4 inches of snow to the state, allowing for some additional cross-country skiing in Wisconsin, but not enough to allow additional counties to open snowmobile trails. Snowmobiling continues to be open in only about a dozen of the northern most counties, with conditions ranging from fair to excellent on the Wisconsin Department of Tourism’s Snow Conditions Report (exit DNR). Parks and forests through central and some southern counties were able to pack down ski trails, but in many cases there was not enough snow to set tracks. Ski conditions continue to be good to very good in the north. There will be a candlelight hike this weekend at the Horicon Marsh Education Center.
Ice conditions improved with the colder weather of the last week; however, warm weather is back in the forecast and every lake is different so people venturing out on frozen lakes should check locally for current ice conditions.
Northwoods lakes now have 12 to 15 inches of ice, with 5 to 8 inches of snow on top. Most of the slush areas that formed earlier have since frozen and there have been motorized vehicles venturing out on the lakes. The anglers that did get out last week were mostly targeting walleye and action was sporadic. The milder temperatures predicted should bring out lots of anglers the third annual Free Ice Fishing Weekend. On Jan. 17 and 18 people can ice fish with a license or Great Lakes trout stamp. In addition, fishing clinics are being held at a number of state park properties. The events are free but a park admission sticker may be required. Ice fishing gear is available at 19 loaner site, eight of which are at state parks with fishing access.
The sturgeon spearing season kicks off on Feb. 14th on both the Upper River Lakes and Lake Winnebago so many sturgeon enthusiast are getting gear and shanties ready. The sturgeon regulations are now available on the DNR website and people should read the regulations before participating.
Rabbit hunters report having good success with good snow conditions great for hunting rabbits and for tracking coyote and fox. Some deer hunters continue to take advantage of the milder temperatures and longer day lengths to late season archery hunt in the metro deer subunits.
Red tailed hawks have been seen doing their breeding rituals. Among the usual winter fare of chickadees, gold finches, nuthatches and wood peckers, one will see red poles and pine siskins from the north, and if you are lucky, a snowy owl – about 230 have been reported in the state. Grouse can be spotted budding in the trees at dusk, and turkeys and an occasional deer are visiting area bird feeders