Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Outdoor Report summary for January 29, 2014
Complete DNR Outdoor Report (Reports from conservation wardens, wildlife and fisheries staff and property managers from around the state)
Snow conditions continue to be good in far north for snowmobiling and skiing but conditions marginal in the south
A mid-week snowfall brought anywhere from a dusting to 3 or 4 inches of snow to Wisconsin, but once again the larger amounts were in the north and minimal amounts fell in the south. The snow was welcome in the north where it freshened up snowmobile trails and allowed groomers to improve conditions for snowmobilers and cross-country skiers. It was not enough to allow additional counties to open snowmobile trails or for most parks and forests in the southern half of the state to groom ski trails.
Snowmobile trails remain open in about a dozen northern counties with conditions ranging from good to excellent on the Wisconsin Department of Tourism’s Snow Conditions Report (exit DNR). Cross-country ski trails are in very good condition at the Brule River and Northern Highland-American Legion state forests. In the south, there was just enough snow for groomers to pack down trails at Blue Mound State Park where conditions were fair and in the Kettle Moraine State Forest where conditions were generally poor in the southern unit but good on the man-made snow loop of the Lapham Peak unit.
Ice thickness on most lakes across the Northwoods varies from 12 to 16 inches and recent snows have added 2 to 3 inches on top of the 6 inches that was already on the ice, making ice travel a bit more difficult. Green Bay is mostly frozen over now with ice up to a foot in some areas, but still areas with ice 6 inches or less.
For fishing action, it seems that the mid-winter winter doldrums have set in and success has tapered off for most species in the north. Walleye action could be considered fair for this mid-winter time and most anglers are experiencing just enough action to keep them interested. Panfish action has been inconsistent and anglers have been moving around quite a bit searching for active fish with success quite variable.
Action also seemed to slow some this week for anglers fishing Green Bay, with the best action still coming from whitefish and some northern pike, but very little for perch. The best spots where out of Stone Quarry and Larsen’s Reef on the east shore and off Oconto on the west shore. Anglers fishing open water areas of southeastern harbors were catching some brown and rainbow trout at Port Washington near the power plant discharge and Milwaukee near the mouth of the river. Angles at the Racine harbor were fishing through the ice and catching a few browns.
With the warmer weather there have been lots of wildlife sightings such as porcupines up in trees, otters out and about coyotes being very active. The light snows in the past couple of weeks have provided great opportunities to see their tracks. The majority of white-tailed bucks have lost their antlers, although there are some reports of bucks with one antler still hanging on. The squirrel season closes Saturday, Jan. 31 and rabbit hunting remains open through Feb. 28.
Tree sparrows, dark-eyed juncos, cardinals, black-capped chickadees, woodpeckers, horned larks, white-breasted nuthatches, blue jays, American goldfinches, and tufted titmice are the majority of songbirds currently active. Many people in the south who feed songbirds have reported sporadic feeding activity at their feeders this winter, as the lack of snow has allowed songbirds the luxury of obtaining enough food from the fields and forests.
There are six candlelight events being held this weekend and at this time all have indicated they will be held as hikes if there is not enough snow for skiing or snowshoeing. For details, search the DNR website for “Get outdoors.”