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Outdoor Report for February 11, 2016Published by the Central Office

Subscribe to DNR website updates.

View current conditions for Wisconsin State Parks, Trails and Forests
Check out the Wisconsin Department of Tourism (exit DNR).

For current statewide information on statewide snow conditions, log onto the Wisconsin Department of Tourism's Snow Conditions Report (exit DNR).

Cold temperatures this week are helping to preserve snow conditions for ski and snowmobile trails, and are helping to build up ice on lakes, which is good news for the Winnebago System lake sturgeon spearing season that kicks off at 7 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 13. The system boasts one of the largest, self-sustaining lake sturgeon populations in North America and the largest recreational harvest of this species through spearing. Water clarity, the biggest predictor of success, has been improving over the last few weeks. Ice conditions are extremely variable, but for there is 12 to 17 inches of ice in most areas of the lake. Spearers and spectators should use caution when going out. People interested in seeing sturgeon and learning more about the spear fishery can visit one of the 11 DNR operated registration stations throughout the Winnebago region.

For those people interested in getting younger folks interested in more traditional ice fishing, the 25th annual Kids' Ice Fishing Clinics will be held Saturday, Feb. 13, at park lagoons in Milwaukee and Waukesha counties. Kids 15-years-old and younger are invited to discover the joys of ice fishing at the free clinics held from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Participants will receive instruction on the proper use of equipment and techniques, such as knot tying, ice safety and much more.

Ice depths have been holding at 8 to 10 inches on northern lakes, but slush conditions have worsened, with 4 to 6 inches on some waters. For anglers that have been able to get out on the ice, walleye activity did seem to spike up and a few anglers were having some good success on small suckers. Panfish have continued to provide the most consistent success, with some good catches of perch. With the nice weather last weekend fishing pressure was heavy along Green Bay, with some success for whitefish and northern pike, but not much success with legal size perch.

Snowmobile trails remain open through much of the northern half of the state and in good condition, according to the Wisconsin Department of Tourism's Snow Conditions Report (exit DNR). Cross-country ski trails are generally good to excellent in the northern part of the state, and fair to good through central area and poor to fair in the southeast. There are seven candlelight events this weekend, with one cancelled at Lake Kegonsa State Park due to icy conditions. This is the second to last weekend of candlelight events. Some of these events have been attracting a thousand or more visitors and park gates will close if parking reaches capacity so plan on arriving early if attending one.

Deer have been visiting the logging sales, chowing down on the tree limbs from harvested trees. Initial reports indicate deer are doing well so far this winter, with reports of bucks still sporting antlers. Grouse have been seen scooting and flying up out of their snow roost. Chickadees, nuthatches, wood peckers and red poles are busy at area feeders and it will be a great weekend for the Backyard Bird count. For details on participating, search the Internet for Great Backyard Bird Count [http://gbbc.birdcount.org] (exit DNR).

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2015 Wisconsin deer harvest summary now available

With all 2015 deer hunting seasons officially closed, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources staff would like to thank hunters for another great season in the field. This year's final registration numbers can be found at dnr.wi.gov, keywords "weekly totals." For more information regarding deer hunting in Wisconsin, search keyword "deer."

Participate in a County Deer Advisory Council this spring

While this year's deer hunt is over, those interested in deer management in Wisconsin are encouraged to attend a County Deer Advisory Council meeting in your area. Councils are active in 71 of Wisconsin's 72 counties, and provide input and recommendations to the department regarding deer management. Council meetings provide opportunities to give feedback, review population data and deer impacts on forests and agriculture, develop three-year population objective recommendations and develop annual antlerless harvest quotas. For more information, search keyword "CDAC."

Manage your land for deer and other wildlife with help from DMAP

The Deer Management Assistance Program provides habitat and herd management assistance to landowners interested in managing their property for wildlife. While Level 1 program applications are accepted on a continuous basis, the deadline for Level 2 and 3 enrollment is March 1, 2016. In DMAP's first year, the department accepted 114 applications and worked with nearly 300 landowners. In 2015, an additional 248 applications were received, and the department is currently working with over 700 landowners on nearly 88,000 acres of land. For more information regarding DMAP or to complete an application, search keyword "DMAP."

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Upcoming State Natural Area Workdays

Walworth County - Get outside and cut and burn buckthorn at Whitewater Oak Opening State Natural Area at a volunteer workday Feb. 13 [PDF] from 9 a.m. to noon. Help volunteers protect some majestic oaks in the process. Buckthorn can spread and shade out savanna plants at this site. No skills needed -- you will be trained onsite. If you are planning to come, please contact Jared Urban at jared.urban@wisconsin.gov or 608-228-4349. But if you don't get around to notifying, come anyway! - Jared Urban, conservation biologist, Dane

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Sturgeon Spearing Preview

The Winnebago System boasts one of the largest, self-sustaining lake sturgeon populations in North America and is also home to the largest recreational harvest of this species through an annual spear fishery. This year's Winnebago System lake sturgeon spearing season kicks off at 7 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 13 and will run for either 16 days or until one or more of the preset harvest caps are reached. Water clarity is the biggest predictor of sturgeon spearing success and the water clarity has been improving over the last few weeks. Currently visibility is a consistent 7 feet on the Upriver Lakes (Butte des Morts, Winneconne, and Poygan) and ranges from 7 to 10 feet on Lake Winnebago, which is a 2 to 3 foot increase over readings taken just two weeks earlier. Ice conditions are extremely variable this year, but for there is 12 to 17 inches of ice in most areas of the lake. Spearers and spectators should use caution when going out on the ice and make sure they know what conditions are where they plan to venture. Folks interested in seeing sturgeon and learning more about the spear fishery can visit one of the 11 DNR operated registration stations throughout the Winnebago region. We wish all spearers a safe and successful spearing season! - Ryan Koenigs, fisheries biologist, Winnebago

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Northern Region

Superior DNR Service Center area

Brule River State Forest - The past two weekends have been incredibly warm with temperatures dropping during the week. The Afterhours cross-country ski trails were completely groomed Monday through Wednesday, Feb. 8-10, and are currently in very good condition. This past weekend was the candlelight ski event and an estimated 100 plus people showed up to enjoy the incredible weather and family fun event. The Riverview Loppet will be held Feb. 27: Sponsored jointly by the Brule Valley Ski Club, the Brule River State Forest, and the Brule Lions Club, this event includes cross-country ski races for youths and adults in the skate and classic styles and a 5 K snowshoe event. Register 7:30-9 a.m. at the Brule Town Hall, race starts at 10 a.m. Wolves, coyotes and foxes are at the peak of their mating season and most of them are paired up by now and people may see more frequent activity by these creatures. Wildlife staff are busy doing track surveys to get population estimates of different predators in the area. Staff indicated that populations of various animals were doing well; however, there was a notable increase in fisher populations compared to subsequent years. Snowmobile trail conditions are available at Douglascountywi.org; keyword "trail conditions" or call 715-378-4528 or Bayfieldcounty.org; Keyword "trail conditions" or call 1800-472-6338. - Edwin Koepp, visitor services associate

Ashland DNR Service Center area

Amnicon Falls State Park - Thanks to recent snowfall, there is a decent base layer of about 10 inches on the snowshoe trail which has been getting packed down from use. There may be slippery areas on both trails due to terrain and compaction of snow. Pets are allowed on all trails throughout the park, but remember that they must be leashed at all times and cleaned up after. The falls are mostly frozen, but there are still areas where the river is open. Much of the river is frozen with only some spots open and flowing, but due to moving water, ice conditions are very unpredictable. This is another reason to make sure all pets are kept on leashes at all times. - Natalie Brown, ranger

Hayward DNR Service Center area

Sawyer County - Fishing has slowed down for the most part on area lakes. Panfish have been the go-to for fishing action. The Chippewa Flowage and Big Chetac have been producing most of the fish. Individuals hole hopping have been producing more and larger fish as once the action slows, they move. If fish seem picky, switch up your presentations from minnows to wax-worms to just plastics. See what the fish prefer. Most of the lakes have accumulated a number of large slush pockets due to the slowly accumulating snow on top. If you find a spot with no slush, it will be present after drilling a few holes. Snowmobile trails are in good conditions. Heavy activity makes them rough within a couple days. Snowmobilers are reminded to obey all signs when on trails and roads. This included speed limit signs and stop signs. When riding at night, the maximum speed limit everywhere is 55 mph. For those trapping beaver, the snow and warmer weather has made it easier for chopping ice. Around the houses and active areas, the ice remains thin to very thin. Prices for beaver pelts have been very low, so most trapping are just trapping problem locations or to taking care of cabin fever by trapping a couple spots. Trappers are reminded to always check the traps for their trap tags after a catch to make sure they didn't come off. If they did, replace them. All traps are required to have the operators name and address or customer I.D. number on them. Beaver trapping season in Zone A and Zone B ends April 30, 2016. Trappers are also reminded to call the DNR hotline or their local warden if they catch an incidental otter that is deceased in their trap before removing it. - Thomas Heisler Jr., conservation warden, Winter

Spooner DNR Service Center area

Washburn County - Maybe it's weird timing, but it's time to sign up to view sharp-tailed grouse viewing at the Namekagon Barrens Wildlife Area. http://www.fnbwa.org/blinds (exit DNR). The calendar is filling up fast. With the snow we got recently, skiing and snowmobiling is better. Trumpeter swans are being seen on the rivers and snow buntings in the fields. - Nancy Christel, wildlife biologist, Spooner

Park Falls DNR Service Center area

Upper Chippewa Basin fisheries report (Price, Rusk, Sawyer Taylor and inland Ashland and Iron counties) - With more snowfall in the last week, snow depths have increased on lakes across the northern-most part of the region and worsened the slush conditions found on most lakes. Ice depths have been holding at 8 to 10 inches but the slush layer is up to 4 to 6 inches on some of the area waters. Motor vehicle travel has pretty much been curtailed and even some snowmobiles and ATVs are getting mired in the deep slush. Lakes south of Highway 8 seem to have less snow and minimal slush, but most lakes in Price, Sawyer, Ashland, Iron and Bayfield counties have slush problems. For anglers that have been able to get out on the ice, fishing did show a little more consistency in the past week. Walleye activity did seem to spike up and a few anglers were having some good success on the mid-depth break lines and mud flats in 5 to 10 feet of water. The best action has been on small suckers or XL fatheads in the hour or so before dark. Most of the walleye have been in the 12 to 16-inch range, but a few in the low 20-inch size have also been reported. Panfish have continued to provide the most consistent success, though anglers still have to move around quite a bit to find the active fish. Some good catches of perch have been made over the mud flats and near weed beds, with small fatheads producing the best action. Crappie have been found suspended up off the bottom in the deeper water areas, with finesse baits and small minnows both catching fish. Northern pike fishing has been okay, with some decent catches of 20 to 26-inch fish being made on large golden shiners fished near old weed beds in 4 to 6 feet of water. - Skip Sommerfeldt, senior fisheries biologist, Park Falls

Flambeau River State Forest - The 14 mile Flambeau Hills Ski Trail was groomed Feb. 9. We received 8 inches of snow last week and about 3 inches this week. The trail is in very good condition. Temperatures for this week will be in the single digits to 19 degrees on Sunday for Valentines Day. Nights will be below zero. The base of the ski trail is 6 inches deep and with the cold temps skiers will move very fast. The trail meanders through a mixture of hills of hardwoods and conifers and it crosses three bridges and provides an occasional glimpse of the Flambeau River. There is about 12 inches of snow in the woods. The snowshoe trails are open for use. The snowmobile trail is in good condition. Folks have been enjoying the Flambeau experience and groups of snowmobilers are visiting the forest amenities. Fishing has been slow. Ice fishing shacks are dotted on the lakes. We have been encouraging users to not take vehicles out on the ice as it varies in depth at different locations. The parking lots on Connors and Lake of the Pines are plowed and ready for use. Grouse have been seen scooting and flying up out of their snow roost. Deer have been visiting the logging sales, chowing down on the tree limbs from harvested trees. The elk have been utilizing the open wildlife areas and old logging sites. Predators have also been seen in these areas, doing what predators do best. The increased snow depth makes it a bit tougher for critters to get around, but this won't last, it's already February. The woodpeckers are especially noticeable. The Staff and friends of the Flambeau River State Forest would like to extend a heart warmed "thank you" to all of you who participated in this years' Candlelight Ski. Over 400 folks came to enjoy the beautiful candle lit trail, cookies, cakes, homemade cheese, sausage, hot chili, charcoal grilled hot dogs and hot drinks. It was just the best candlelight ski yet. Next year will be the 25th Candlelight Ski so keep it in mind. - Diane Stowell, visitor services associate

Woodruff DNR Service Center area

Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest - It is truly a winter wonderland in the forest now. Trout Lake forestry headquarters near the town of Boulder Junction has about 13 inches of snow on the ground. The frequent minor snowfalls recently have resulted in slush deposits on area lakes. Snow depths are great for skiing and snowshoeing and one does not have to worry about the slush on the area lakes when you are out in the woods! Chickadees, nuthatches, wood peckers and red poles are busy at area feeders and it will be a great weekend for the Backyard Bird count. Shrikes, ermine and bunnies are also frequenting feeders and possibly a bobcat if one has a suet feeder out. The lake ice has been poor in quality most of the year and vehicle travel has been limited with exceptions. Pelican Lake south of the Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest had 16 inches of ice, with vehicle traffic with four wheel drive able to move about fairly easily last Saturday. The current cold spell should freeze some of the slush areas enough to improve access and fishing conditions. Ice fishing tournaments are going strong. Contact area bait shops or Chambers of Commerce for information on fishing and other winter activities. We still have a couple of openings for volunteer campground hosts for the coming summer - one at Cunard Lake mid-summer, and one at Clear Lake in fall. Contact Joe Fieweger at 715-385-3355 ext 113 or joseph.fieweger@wi.gov if interested. - Kimberly Krawczyk, Visitor Services Associate

Cross-country ski trail conditions: Escanaba Trail -All loops tracked Feb. 7. Very good conditions. Madeline Trail all loops tracked Feb. 9. Very good conditions. McNaughton Trail -Skaters loop leveled and groomed Feb. 10. All other loops leveled, cut and tracked. Good conditions. Raven Trail - All loops tracked Feb. 8. Good conditions. - Tony Martinez, forestry facilities worker

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Northeast Region

Northern Lake Michigan fisheries team report

This report is for the week of Jan. 31 to Feb. 6. Weather conditions were ideal for outdoor activity's this past week and many individuals took advantage of it.

Marinette County - Anglers are fishing north of the Peshtigo River mouth and targeting walleye, pike and white fish. No anglers have ventured out of Little River boat launch yet this year due to ice concerns. The hot spot on the Menominee River remains to be Sixth Street slip with walleye being the target species. Anglers are jigging in 30 feet of water using minnows and plastics, electronics have been helpful. Some trout are being caught open water by the dam above Hattie Street with small spoons and stick baits working well. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo

Oconto County - Pike anglers fishing the shore line from Oconto Breakwater Park to Oconto Park II report some success fishing in 5 to 12 feet of water using tip ups with large shiner minnow or dead smelt in the round fished on bottom or close to it. A few white fish are being caught in the vicinity of the Oconto River mouth jigging with minnow heads or wax worms. Oconto Park II anglers fishing in the boat launch area are still catching a variety of pan fish jigging mainly with wax worms. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo

Brown County - Anglers at Voyageur Park are dealing with current and a lack of ice. Two gates at the dam above Voyageur Park have been open for the best part of a week. The middle of the Fox River is open all the way to the 172 Highway Bridge and only a few anglers were fishing. Anglers at Long Tail Point and Sunset Beach report fishing slow with poor water clarity. With the nice weather again at the end of this week many anglers took to the ice on the east shore of Green Bay. Anglers in and around the Dyckesville/Bayshore Park area were out in high numbers but reports were of low numbers of whitefish and perch. A few anglers had success around the Sugar Creek and Rites Cove area for Whitefish. - Emily Kurszewski, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay

Door County - Anglers in the Little Sturgeon area were out in high numbers with anglers walking on at Lime Kiln Road and Big Rock Place with some success for whitefish. Anglers off of Riley Bay Road and out of Sand Bay really picked up this week with better ice. Those fishing out of Carmody Park are driving on or using ATVs or sleds and a small number of anglers reported low numbers of small perch being caught in the beginning of the week. The south side of Sturgeon Bay saw a lot of action toward the end of the week. Sawyer Harbor is packed with shacks, many people accessing the ice from Idlewild and Potawatomi Park using sleds or ATVs. Anglers have reported catching perch but many not large enough to keep. Those out for northern pike have seen a steady bite from Sawyer Harbor to the Yacht Club on the canal. Anglers off of Oak Ave are driving on or using ATVs to access the ice and have come in with lower numbers of whitefish. Cabot's Point saw and increase of anglers this week with high pressure over the weekend, no anglers were interviewed here but were seen fishing not too far from shore. Those fishing off of Bullhead Point in the canal reported no success for Northern Pike and low success for perch. - Emily Kurszewski, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay

Peshtigo DNR Service Center area

Marinette County - Snow in the woods in Marinette County is still fairly shallow with 5-9inches across most of the county. Walking in the woods is still very doable without snowshoes. Most, if not all, of the snowmobile trails are groomed and open for use. Now is a good time to walk your favorite hunting spot and locate where the deer are bedding, find a shed antler, or even discover fresh tracks of an animal you never knew was there (ie otter, fisher, bobcat). Ice fishing has been very slow but access onto the lakes remains good. Squirrel season is now closed, leaving rabbit, grouse, coyote, and snowshoe hare about the only hunting seasons still open. Male cardinals have been heard singing in an early attempt to attract a mate. Believe it or not, some birds are likely nesting right now, or will be soon! Great-horned owls typically begin nesting in late January to early February but do not build their own nests. These big birds utilize stick nest built previously by other species like raven, goshawks, or red-shouldered hawks. If you are looking for a great excuse to get outside at night, Governor Thompson State park is hosting a candlelight ski and hike on Saturday Feb. 20. Get out and enjoy winter while it's here--before you know it spring will be here! - Aaron McCullough, wildlife technician, Wausaukee

Green Bay DNR Service Center area

Manitowoc County - As of Monday, Feb. 8, all of the snowmobile trails in Manitowoc County are officially closed. The trails have been closed due to warming temperatures and long days of sunshine which rapidly diminished snow cover on the trails. Snowmobilers are reminded to show respect for the land owners by abiding by the closings and wait until snow conditions improve. Snowmobilers can go to http://www.co.manitowoc.wi.us/recreation/ or call 1-920- 758-7669, for the latest information about Manitowoc County's snowmobile trail conditions. All snowmobiles, resident and non-resident, are required to display a trail pass on the front windshield when operating on trails or corridors; when they are open. Ice conditions are good in the county and good panfish fishing has been reported on the lakes in the southwest part of the county. - Jacob Bolks, conservation warden, Fort Mccoy

Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center area

Peninsula State Park - The Yellow, Red, Green, Blue and Purple cross-country ski trails loops are in fair to poor condition. Sections of the trails may be icy. - Jane Barnowsky, visitor services associate

Potawatomi State Park - Ski trails were last groomed on Monday, Feb. 8. With cold temperatures predicted through the weekend, trails may be hard and icy. Snowmobile trails are also open. Fishermen report catching whitefish and perch in Sawyer Harbor and along the park's shoreline south of the harbor. - Lois M. Hanson, visitor services associate

Wautoma DNR Service Center area

Waupaca County - Excellent trail conditions for both cross-country skis and snowmobiles. There is enough snow on the level (12-plus inches) that it is a good idea to wear snowshoes when going afield. Ice fisherman reporting decent success on northern pike on area lakes. Area lakes currently have 12 to 20 inches of ice. Trout streams remain unfishable due to ice. Critters are all hunkered down and not moving during this cold snap, so not much of a wildlife update. - Karl Kramer, wildlife technician, Wautoma

Waushara County - The area is still seeing variable snow and ice conditions. Most trails have remained open after the warm temperatures, but still in fair conditions and changing as each day progresses. Remember to be sure to contact the county snowmobile hotline before heading out on the trails to know where you can and can't go. As a reminder if the trail is closed and you operate on it anyway it can be a trespass to each and every different property you ride on as well as putting that portion of the trail's future at risk. Stay off trails when closed and stay ON the actual trail when they are open--don't ride out into open fields. Ice conditions are better than they have been, but lakes are bumpy, and the ice thickness is variable. Always check with a local bait store or fishing club before you go. A very seasoned ice fisherman put the front end of his truck through on Silver Lake a week and a half ago so go slow and always check before you go! Fishing on the other hand is still slow on most lakes. Some are doing alright across the county, but they are definitely working for their fish. After the cold snap, warmer temperatures look to be on the horizon making for some great time to enjoy some snowshoe hikes on one of the numerous trails and state lands. Take time to get out and enjoy. - Ben Mott, conservation warden, Wautoma

Oshkosh DNR Service Center area

Winnebago County - Typically we check water clarity at least twice leading up to the sturgeon spearing season. The first check was roughly two weeks ago and we had 4 to 7 feet of visibility throughout Lake Winnebago, 3 to 6 feet of clarity on Lake Poygan and 1.5 to 3.5 feet on Lake Butte des Morts. Our second check was today and included more locations throughout Lake Winnebago. Overall, clarity has improved everywhere. As of today we observed 7 to 10 feet of clarity on Lake Winnebago with the clearest water found in the central part of the lake. There was a consistent 7 feet of clarity throughout the Upriver Lakes. So it appears that clarity has improved on the average 2 to 3 feet over the last two weeks. We will have to wait and see how much more conditions improve over the next few days and into the season. Good luck to those of you going out spearing Saturday and beyond! I hope to see you at one of our registration stations. - Ryan Koenigs, fisheries biologist, Oshkosh

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Southeast Region

Milwaukee DNR Service Center area

Kettle Moraine State Forest, Lapham Peak Unit - The cross-country ski trails received about 2 inches of snow this week. There was an attempt to pack that 2 inches on top of the icy trails; however, the snow would not bind to the icy surface underneath it. Therefore the trails are still too icy to safely ski off of the man-made loop. The skate lanes on the man-made loop have been groomed and are in excellent condition. Please be aware that Magic Carpet Ride is almost completely ice covered. A new track will be set tonight on the man-made loop. - Brian Fitzpatrick, facilities worker

Kettle Moraine State Forest, Northern Unit - As of Feb 10, more winter-like temperatures have returned, and the forest received up to 2 inches of new snow Tuesday night and Wednesday. The Zillmer and Greenbush ski trails were groomed and re-tracked on Tuesday. The Zillmer skate lanes rated very good, while the classical tracks are good with some thin and icy spots. The Greenbush trails got a bit more snow and are rated very good to excellent. Groomers will attempt to touch up both trail systems again before the weekend. - Deb Harder, visitor services associate

Southern Lake Michigan fisheries team report - Compiled from creel clerks by Cheryl Masterson and Jeffrey Zinuticz, fisheries technicians, Milwaukee

DNR does not verify or guarantee the reported ice conditions, and anglers should proceed at their own risk. Please use extreme caution as conditions can change rapidly.

Sheboygan County - In Sheboygan, the harbor is iced over in portions of Harbor Centre Marina, and anglers have been seen fishing off of the docks. Fishing has been slow.

Ozaukee County - The Port Washington harbor is open near the power plant discharge. Brown trout and occasional steelhead are being caught, and anglers have been using a variety of baits such as spawn, shiners, and crank baits.

Milwaukee County - In Milwaukee the lagoon behind Lakeshore State Park is ice covered, and although some areas have ice thick enough to walk on, there is still open water in parts of the lagoon as well. McKinley Marina is iced over, and anglers have reported up to 9 inches of ice, but ice cover does vary greatly. Fishing in McKinley has been slow.

Racine County - Racine ice anglers report spotty success in Reefpoint marina. Occasional northerns, browns, and rainbows have been caught on a variety of baits.

Kenosha County - In Kenosha there is not enough ice in the harbor for ice fishing, and there are pockets of open water near the boat ramp. South of the bridge the harbor is open water, so anglers could fish from shore near the hotel or off the walls. Browns and rainbows should be in the area this time of year.

Plymouth DNR Service Center area

Theresa Marsh State Wildlife Area - Washington County snowmobile trails remain closed. Cold temperatures the rest of this week may improve ice conditions on local lakes. The DNR and Conservation Congress are still looking for two qualified individuals to represent "Forestry" and "Transportation" stakeholders on the Washington County Deer Advisory Council. To apply, visit "CDAC" on the DNR website. Coyotes have become more active, as it's their mating season. A coyote "chat" will take place at noon on Feb. 23 on the DNR website to answer questions about coyotes. - Tom Isaac, wildlife biologist, Hartford

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South Central Region

Dodgeville DNR Service Center area

Lafayette County - The lakes have been making ice well. That said, as always you can never assume ice is safe. Safety precautions always need to be taken. Snowmobile trails are closed and the coyote hunters are having good luck. - Nick Webster, conservation warden, Darlington

Blue Mound State Park - All cross-country ski trails were groomed and tracked Feb. 8 and are in good to excellent condition. There are some icy spots located in Pleasure Valley. The down hills are becoming a bit fast with a few icy spots so please use caution. With the temperatures dropping this week, expect the track to be fairly fast this week. Skate skiing is allowed in the campground and picnic area.- park staff

Fitchburg DNR Service Center area

Columbia County - Snowmobile trails are closed after this past warm weekend. Fishing has been slow with a few people catching small numbers of panfish. Ice conditions are generally good on most lakes. - Paul Nadolski, conservation warden, Portage

Mirror Lake State Park -Warm weather and very high use over the weekend have left cross-country ski trails in rough condition. Trails are still skiable; however, icy and rough surfaces are common across the property. Staff will be working on grooming activities as weather allows. We expect fair to good conditions for the weekend if no problems are encountered. The Hastings Trail remains closed for timber harvest activities. - Becky Green, park manager

Lake Kegonsa State Park - The candlelight ski scheduled for this Saturday, Feb. 13 has been cancelled because cross-country ski trails have minimal snow and are icy. - Sarah Bolser, park manager

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West Central Region

La Crosse DNR Service Center area

Vernon County - Cottontail rabbit hunting season remains open through Feb. 29. With the continuation of a snowy landscape, rabbit hunting conditions are ideal, and rabbit hunters are taking advantage of the conditions. Rabbits remain numerous throughout the area, and the daily bag limit is three rabbits. Watch for a network of rabbit trails in cottontail rabbit habitat, including sparse wooded areas with numerous brush thickets, grassy wetland edges, hayfields, weedy cornfields, and shrubby fencerows. Cottontails often rest in a "form," a shallow depression in the ground hidden beneath a pile of brush or grassy clump. Due to their locations, forms offer protection from predators and weather extremes. Regardless of the time of year, cottontails may be distinguished from snowshoe hares or jackrabbits by their rusty orange or reddish brown patch of hair on the nape of their necks. - Dave Matheys, wildlife biologist, Viroqua

Black River Falls DNR Service Center area

Black River State Forest - Warmer temperatures this past weekend melted much of the new snow we had received in last week's snowstorm but enough snow still remains for winter recreation. Colder temperatures are expected this weekend with highs in the single digits to mid-teens with a chance of snow on Sunday. Ski trails were groomed on Wednesday, Feb. 10. Trails are in fairly good condition with a hard base. ATV and snowmobile trails are open and are in fair condition. - Emily Alf, visitor services associate

Eau Claire DNR Service Center area

Brunet Island State Park - The cross-country ski trail was groomed last Thursday and is in excellent condition. There have been a couple light dustings of snow since but the track is still in great shape. - Mike Rivers, park manager

Wisconsin Rapids DNR Service Center area

Buckhorn State Park - Ski trails are groomed and in good condition. Park visitors over the weekend skied and used their own snowshoes or checked out pairs from the park office. Dates are still available for the accessible cabin for this year. Applications can be mailed to the park or faxed to 608-565-8033. Keyword search "cabin" on dnr.wi.gov. Mark your calendar for a "Learn to Ice Fish" program on Feb. 26 from 10 a.m.-2 p.m. - Heather Wolf, park manager



Last Revised: Thursday, February 11, 2016

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