- Contact information
- Bill Cosh
Director of Communications
Outdoor Report for January 17, 2013
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).
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 DNR Service Center area
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
Spooner DNR Service Center area
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
Polk County - Anglers were having some success catching panfish using small jigs and wax worms ice fishing on southern Polk County lakes. Snowmobile trails are closed in Polk County - Shaun Tyznik conservation warden, Amery
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
Park Falls DNR Service Center area
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
Flambeau River State Forest - Cross-country ski trail conditions have deteriorated and most are not skiable. There is light snow in the forecast for Friday afternoon into Saturday with highs in the upper 20s then highs will be near zero thru next week.
Woodruff DNR Service Center area
Oneida County - Fishing seems to be improving over much of the area. Warm weather this past weekend provided a great opportunity for anglers to get out and enjoy the weather. Anglers were catching a few fish on the Willow Flowage. Most anglers on the flowage seem to be catching small northern pike and an occasional walleye on tip-ups. Find the weedlines and breaks for fish. Ice conditions are improving after the warm spell. The recent cold temperatures have solidified most lakes. Ice depths average 7-10 inches on most lakes. However, caution should always be used when venturing out onto ice. Extra caution should be used in areas where creeks or rivers flow into lakes, as current can make ice very thin in these spots. - Tim Werner, conservation warden recruit
Bearskin State Trail - The trail has a one-half inch icy base after last week's warm weather. While the trail is "white" it is in poor condition for snowmobiling or skiing. The bright sunshine on the trail makes for a great hike. Watch for chickadees, nuthatches, blue jays, and grosbeaks looking for a winter meal along the trail. Grouse are easy to spot in the aspen trees as they eat the buds, especially late in the afternoon. Turkeys are also taking advantage of the lack of snow to pick grit on the trail. - Todd Hintz, ranger
Fishing pressure was light this past week, rain and windy conditions made for less than ideal ice .
Peshtigo DNR Service Center area
Marinette County - Rain on Thursday melted almost all the snow. Lakes were very wet and sloppy on Friday. Cold air settled in after the rain and refroze the surface of area lakes by Sunday. Most lakes have around 8 inches of ice, with a very slick snow-free surface. Anglers venturing out are finding creepers to be beneficial. Fishing has been slow and spotty with the best panfishing being right before dark. Archery deer season has been closed a couple of weeks now. However, hunters can still get out and enjoy the snow-free woods while hunting a variety of small game (squirrels, rabbits, grouse, etc.). The conditions are right to regenerate old alder stands by cutting them down with a chainsaw or brush mowing equipment. Young alder is great habitat for woodcock, grouse, and a variety of other birds. - Aaron McCullough, wildlife technician, Wausaukee
Ice thickness is still and issue on the Menominee River. Most anglers are congregated below the Hattie Street Dam in search of walleye. Low light periods have the best, jigging with minnows. A few open water anglers around Stephenson Island have fly fishing for trout with little success. - Calhoun Derbush, creel clerk
Oconto County - Some squirrel and rabbit hunters have been taking advantage of the warm weather and it is a great opportunity to take a child hunting. With the recent cold snap, ice has really started forming on the west shore of Green Bay. The ice is only a couple of inches thick. Inland lakes have firmed up but fishing results have been slow. Most snowmobile trails are currently closed in Oconto County. - Mike Stahl, conservation warden, Oconto Falls
People have been walking out on the ice from Geano Beach in search of northern pike and whitefish, catch information is hard to come by due to a lack of interviews. Anglers at Oconto Breakwater were fishing in the river channel for perch (which were running small), northern pike and whitefish. - Calhoun Derbush, creel clerk
Shawano County - Ice conditions are getting better with the cold but folks are cautioned to be careful as ice thicknesses are variable. Hopefully we will get some snow soon so the trails can get groomed. Trails are closed and some people are running on them anyway and upsetting landowners. Several citations have been issued and there are two trails that have been permanently closed due to trespassing and damage done. - Jim Horne, conservation warden, Shawano
Green Bay DNR Service Center area
Brown County - Anglers at Voyageur Park are reporting about 4 inches of ice on the Fox River. Whitefish, perch, and walleye were being taken. Jigging with wax worms and minnows has been working well. Anglers at Sunset Beach have been targeting perch and northern pike. Fishing has been a bit slow. - Calhoun Derbush - creel clerk
A week ago Monday multiple people were rescued from a floating piece of ice after it broke off from shore. The Bay of Green Bay continues to be open leaving very few places on the Bay where the ice is accessible. People are urged to stay off what ice there is until normal winter temperature conditions return. The ice is going to need multiple days of below freezing temperatures to make the ice ready for foot traffic. ATVs and snowmobiles should stay home hopefully only for the time being. - Darren Kuhn, marine unit conservation warden, Green Bay
Manitowoc County - Ice fishing on the tributaries in Kewaunee County has been fairly good despite poor ice conditions. Anglers have had good luck catching steelhead and brown trout on the Ahnapee River near the Fourth Street bridge in Algoma and the Kewaunee River near the county highways E, C, and F bridges. - Ryan Volenberg, conservation warden, Mishicot
Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center area
Door County - Ice conditions are not good in the outlying waters of Door County. There are always concerns with ice conditions and particularly on big waters, but this year especially.
Potawatomi State Park - Most park users are hiking or running since there is no snow on the ground. Cold temperatures are causing ice formation on Sawyer Harbor, but water levels are very low. - Lois M. Hanson, visitor services associate
Wautoma DNR Service Center area
Waupaca County - With the recent snow melt and cooler temperatures, ice conditions are improving. Ice users should still use caution when traveling on the ice – and in the Waupaca area- ice cleats are suggested. With the rain last week, most of the snow is ice covered, causing the trails to be in poor condition. All snowmobile/ATV trails in Waupaca County are currently closed. A golden eagle has been seen north of Waupaca (about 4 miles north). This bird has a radio telemetry transmitter attached to it to keep track of its movement. - Ted Dremel, conservation warden, Wautoma
Still almost full snow cover although all trails are now down to bare soil and closed. Eagles seem to be everywhere. Should finally be making some good ice as the snow cover is gone from lakes and colder temps have arrived. Fishing on area lakes is reported to be very slow. Welcome to January!- Karl Kramer, wildlife technician, Wautoma
Hartman Creek State Park - The ski trails are in poor condition. The trails have rapidly deteriorated this past week due to freezing rain and above freezing temperatures. Portions of the ski trails may be icy and contain bare spots. Please use caution when using the trails. Call ahead for updated information. (715/258-2372) The annual candlelight ski/hike/snowshoe is scheduled for Saturday, Jan. 26, 5 to 8 p.m. Call the park office for more details.- Fred Viste, ranger
Oshkosh DNR Service Center area
High Cliff State Park - Most of the snow has melted at High Cliff, but the park remains very busy on weekends with hikers and some hearty winter picnickers and campers. Winter naturalist programs will resume in early February. Several white-tailed bucks are still sporting antlers and are in good shape. Lake Winnebago is back to making ice after high winds and rain, however officials warn extreme caution before venturing out for any fishing outings. High Cliff does not provide ice condition reports to the public. - Cynthia Mueller, naturalist
Outagamie County - With cold weather and little snow on the ground snow activities are nonexistent. The ice is firming up nicely on area lakes and river bayous. Some catches of panfish are being taken. Snowmobile racing events are still on at the Outagamie Conservation club on the ice covered track On Saturday Jan. 19. - Mike Young, conservation warden, Shiocton
With the changes in the weather over the past week, lowland areas are now flooding with ice over the top of those wetlands. In many cases there are multiple layers of ice making it difficult to walk in those areas. Underneath those layers it is hollow causing strenuous activity as well as opportunities for injuries to legs. Over the past mild weekend, numerous people were visiting the Fox Cities looking for eagles. Most activity was centered around Thousand Island Nature Center in Kaukauna, near Doyle Park in Little Chute and near the College Avenue and Lawe Street bridges in Appleton. Eagles were found in all four sites with the most sightings at Kaukauna and Little Chute. While results from the past weekend’s eagle survey covering 39 miles of stream from Neenah to the Bay of Green Bay are not in from volunteers, there was plenty of activity in the areas mentioned. Earlier last week more than 150 eagles were seen in the 24 mile stretch from Neenah to Kaukauna prior to the Saturday Jan. 12 survey. Note the survey on Saturday has been completed since 1975 on the Fox River and since 2009 has been coordinated on a Volunteer basis with Northeast Wisconsin Alliance assistance from DNR to do all sites at once during a specified time period. With the river refreezing, eagles will be more concentrated again at the areas mentioned. Eagles Days on the Fox River is coming up on Jan. 26 with viewing points highlighted in the eagle day brochure [PDF] (exit DNR) for viewing spots with volunteers to assist people. - Dick Nikolai, wildlife biologist, Appleton
Winnebago County - With unusually warm daytime temperatures last week, ice anglers were seeing reduced solid ice on which to fish. Ice heaves and large cracks have formed, making traversing the ice dangerous in some locations. As always the DNR advises citizens to plan ahead, check the weather and consider ice conditions before walking or driving on Wisconsin’s frozen waters. Public snowmobile trails were recently closed due to increasing temperatures and poor trail conditions in Winnebago and Waushara counties. Before planning a snowmobile trip, make sure to check resources like www.travelwisconsin.com or by contacting the Winnebago County Parks Department. Operating on closed public trails is unlawful and harmful to snowmobiler/community relations, so we encourage people to plan ahead for a safe and enjoyable snowmobile season! - Tom Truman, conservation warden, Winneconne
Milwaukee DNR Service Center area
Havenwoods State Forest - Recent storms have left the trails very icy! Be especially watchful in the morning since ice that melted the previous day is refreezing in smooth, slippery patches. If you do head out, you may be rewarded with a rare sight. Since coyotes moved into Havenwoods, we have not seen any red foxes. A few days ago, a visitor reported seeing a healthy red fox in the south woods. Keep your eyes open for northern shrike, too! - Beth Mittermaier, natural resources educator
Harrington Beach State Park - Trails currently have no snow cover. With the recent January thaw, wildlife has been very active. Grey squirrels can be seen scampering along the forest floor while the reds scurry among the cedars. Many ducks, such as the common goldeneye and red-breasted merganser, can be observed off the point separating the north and south beaches. Mid-morning is an excellent time to observe numerous deer along the shuttle trail. - Robin Miller, ranger
Kettle Moraine State Forest, Lapham Peak Unit - The 1.5 kilometer trail covered with man-made snow has a 1-2 feet base. The trail is groomed each day and conditions are good for both skate and classical skiers. The daily grooming has gotten into and worked up some of the less icy snow that was a little deeper layer. Snow quality on the top layer is less icy than it was right after the meltdown. - Paul Sandgren, forest supervisor
Kettle Moraine State Forest, Northern Unit – Cross-country ski trails at the Zillmer trail were renovated Jan. 16. All loops are in good or very good condition. A few spots are bare on the loops. Better than 95 percent coverage on all loops. Snow is dirty on most of the trails. No tracks are set because of the snow conditions. Overall trails are well worth the trip.- Reagan Arndt, ranger
Lakeshore State Park - Fishing has been generally slow in southeast Lake Michigan, but shore and boat anglers have had some success with brown trout at the Lakeshore lagoons and under the Hoan Bridge using spawn sacks and minnows. Ice anglers have been fishing on the south end of the lagoon and have had success with browns and steelheads using spawn sacks. As of Jan. 14, the ice thickness was approximately 4 to 5 inches at the south end of the lagoon. Ice conditions can change daily, however, and extreme care should be taken when considering fishing on the ice. The short-grass prairie demonstration gardens are in their late fall phase, with the tan to reddish prairie grasses contrasting nicely with the blue, white and purple asters. Best viewing times are early mornings or evenings, when the sun shines through the little bluestem and highlights the fluffy white seeds. The grey and red foxes are still regular visitors to the park. Bird activity is fairly quiet, but the winter arrivals are starting. Scaups, golden-eyes, long-tailed ducks, mergansers, scoters, coots and bufflehead were present. Snow buntings are now present along the lakefront, and snowy owls have been spotted in the area. Two bald eagles were spotted at Lakeshore over the New Year weekend. Water levels in Lake Michigan are approaching the record low, and additional drops are expected over the next several months. The lake bed below the stone rip-rap has been exposed several times, presenting an opportunity to see the zebra/quagga mussels carpeting the lagoon bottom. - Thomas Kroeger, parks and recreation specialist, Milwaukee
Lake Michigan fisheries team report - Compiled from creel clerks by Cheryl Masterson and Jeffrey Zinuticz, fisheries technicians, Milwaukee
Sheboygan County - : In Sheboygan fishing was slow with only few brown trout being caught off the docks in the marina. Minnows or spawn under a bobber has been best early in the day; colder weather will be needed before ice will be safe enough for fishing.
Ozaukee County - Fishing in Port Washington has been slow overall with only a few brown and rainbow trout being caught by shore anglers fishing off of the Rotary Park rocks or the white railing area. The power plant discharge has also given up a few small browns; spawn sacs fished near bottom or casting bright colored crankbaits has worked best early or late in the day.
Milwaukee County - Fishing in Milwaukee recently has been rather slow. Some brown trout were being taken by both boat and shore anglers but not as many as previous weeks. The Summerfest Grounds and under the Hoan Bridge areas have been best for browns, and a few perch have been caught as well. There is no safe ice yet on the lagoon or marina; several more weeks of cold will be needed before there is fishable ice. Boat anglers, when able to get out, were also seeing slower action with only a few browns and steelhead being taken early in the day. Most boat anglers were casting jigs and plastics or soaking minnows and spawn under a float. Shore anglers were having luck using three-way rigs off the bottom with small minnows or spawn; minnows under a bobber were also working along with casting crank baits and spoons.
Racine County - In the Racine harbor and lower Root River, ice is not safe enough for foot travel. A few days or weeks of cold will be needed to improve conditions. Some of the open pockets in the river and around the marina docks are giving up a few brown trout and pike; minnows under a float or casting crank baits and jigs and plastics have been the best presentations.
Waukesha DNR Service Center area
Waukesha County - Ice on the Oconomowoc area lakes is solid in some areas but nonexistent in others…no fish is worth a January swim! - Doug Zeihen, conservation warden, Delafield
Sturtevant DNR Service Center area
Walworth County - Most anglers have been fishing the inlet, the launch and Lake Lawn. Ice conditions are very rough. Most of Delavan Lake is still wide open with shore lines the same. A lot of anglers were still finding ways to the water though. Be careful when and if you go out. January started off hot. Anglers were catching limit on panfish in only a few hours with good size to the fish. Swedish Pimple has been the bait of choice. People have talked about having as many as 20 flags a day with tip-ups and landing anywhere from 5-10 northern pike, 23-28 inches in length. The middle of January is starting to bring on some troubles. Anglers were stating that the bite is over and not a lot of fish are being landed. Some will say it is the weather, some will say it is the bait. - Michael Katzenberg, conservation warden, Delevan
South Central Region
Dodgeville DNR Service Center area
Lafayette County – The county has very little snow. Ice conditions may improve but an ice shack went through Yellowstone Lake Monday. There are bald eagles and other raptors present throughout the county in good numbers. - Bruce Folley, wildlife biologist, Darlington
The fur bearing animals from raccoon to otters have been moving but sporadically with the wide range in weather in Green and Lafayette counties. Fishing pressure has been heating up on Yellowstone Lake as well as other area waters. Birders have been seeing a wide variety of song birds and are continuing to see a few of the more rare ones to the areas. Deer hunters who are getting ready for next year already have been reporting seeing bucks tending does. - Nick Webster, conservation warden, Darlington
Richland County - Snow conditions remain scattered in the area and snowmobile trails remain closed. Colder weather conditions has ice building on local backwaters of the Wisconsin River. Ice fishing activity has been slowed due to fluctuating water levels on the river. - Michael Nice, conservation warden, Richland Center
Blue Mound State Park - Cross-county ski trails were open and in good condition as of Jan. 15. No track was set due to shallow base levels. Pleasure Valley has a few open and thin areas, but the rest of the trails are snow covered. For current up to date conditions, please call the park at 608-437-5711. Please note it is prohibited to have pets, hike, bike or snowshoe on groomed ski trails. A separate designated trail is open for these uses. - Kevin Swenson, park manager
Wyalusing State Park -Very little snow remains at the park. Cross-country ski trails are mostly bare. Northern wooded slopes will still have some snow, but most trails are free of snow. Expected temperature of mid to upper 40s on Friday and Saturday will most likely do away with any remaining snow cover. Sightings at park office feeders include: juncos, chickadees, white-breasted nuthatches, goldfinches, cardinals, blue jays, red-bellied, downy and hairy woodpeckers, and purple finches. An opossum is a regular visitor to the office feeders, cleaning up the spilled seed. Mississippi River level at Prairie du Chien was at 7.4 Jan. 17, down 0.1 from Wednesday. The boat landing is a popular place for ice anglers. - Beverly Pozega, visitor services associate
Horicon DNR Service Center area
Dodge County - The ATV trail on the Wild Goose State Trail has been reopened. Colder temperatures have frozen the trail sufficiently to allow reopening of the ATV trail in Dodge County from Hwy. 60 to Hwy. 49. The ATV trail can remain open as long as the trail surface is sufficiently frozen to avoid damage from riding. The Dodge County Snowmobile Trail System remains closed. Additional snowfall is needed to re-establish a sufficient trail riding base. 24 hour trail status message: 920-386-3705.
Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area - Hiking by candlelight, a roaring bonfire, and complimentary warm refreshments will be offered Saturday, Jan. 19. The Education Center will also be open for people to warm up, view the 20-minute “Horicon Marsh Story,” visit the gift shop or have the kids do a fun craft to bring home. The Northern Cross Science Foundation astronomers will be on site to help visitors view the night sky through telescopes or to talk about the stars if it is cloudy. Members of the Horicon Marsh Bird Club will be on the trail conducting short owl talks and calling for owls. The lighted trail starts at the trailhead behind the education center. New this year: there will be two trails available. One trail is 1.5 miles and another “Family Loop” is only 0.4 miles. Hiking is free and open to the public. Pets are allowed on the trails but not in the building. The center is located at N7725 Highway 28, between Horicon and Mayville. 6-9 p.m. Call 920-387-7893 for more information. - Elizabeth Herzmann, natural resources educator
Fitchburg DNR Service Center area
Columbia County - Numerous anglers have been out fishing on glare ice. Most areas were thick enough for walking on and a few people starting to take ATVs out; however, they reported that the ice was cracking around where they were driving. If venturing out on the ice, wearing a life jacket and “ice creepers” would be encouraged. - Paul Nadolski, conservation warden, Portage
Dane County - The annual mid-winter waterfowl survey was flown last week and there are large groups of swans on the lakes. One good location to find swans, geese, and a variety of ducks is Mud Lake. Legion Memorial Park in McFarland has a great viewing platform. Bring binoculars or spotting scope for the best viewing. - Nancy Frost, wildlife biologist, Madison
Sauk County - Ice fishing reports are spotty. Anglers have been catching some crappies on Lake Redstone with limited success. Anglers have been using plastics and working the brush piles and submerged logs. Bluegill and perch fishing has been slow as well. The recent warm weather has melted the snow on the lakes and they are once again smooth for the most part. If you like to ice skate, the lakes are one big ice skating rink. People are still urged to use caution when venturing out on to the ice of area waters. Deer are being observed working the exposed fields in the evenings. Bucks have been also reported to be shedding their antlers. Shed hunters are finding antlers out in the woods and fields with the melted snow cover. - David Horzewski, conservation warden, Reedsburg
Devil's Lake State Park - The early January rain did melt some of the snow at Devil’s Lake (the picnic tables no longer look like snowy marshmallows), but there is still snow in the park, especially in the wooded area. You can still use snowshoes, but there are thin spots along the trails where the snow was blown earlier in the winter season. The ski trails were a bit slushy with the rain and then froze again and are a bit icy. The bluff trails are going to be a bit treacherous as well, especially once the weather turns colder later next week. The lake is completely frozen, but with the thawing, the thinner ice in the middle of the lake is a bit unstable. There are still people ice fishing but extreme caution should be taken as it is hard to determine how thick the ice is around the outer edges of the lake. Wildlife has been a bit quite with the colder January days. Deer and coyote tracks have been spotted in the snow. Eagles have been seen flying over the park, but now that the lake is frozen they have moved to places that have open water. The winter birds have been busy feeding at the nature center’s feeders. You can spot tufted titmice, black-capped chickadees, red-bellied woodpeckers, downy woodpeckers, hairy woodpeckers, dark-eyed juncos, gold finches, pine siskins, and white-breasted nuthatches. We even had one brave pileated woodpecker land on the suet feed! The gray squirrels are busy cleaning up under the feeders during the day and the raccoons come at night to finish what the squirrels haven’t. - Sue Johansen, natural resources educator
Mirror Lake State Park -Cross-country ski trails are deteriorating due to the fog and warmer temperatures last week. For the most up to date trail conditions please contact the park at (608) 254-2333. Snowshoeing and hiking trails are in good winter condition. The Wild Rice Trail is an ungroomed, easy 0.6-mile trail at the west end of the lake. This trail has about 3-6 inches of unpacked snow cover. Hikers and snowshoers are reminded that there is no walking on the cross-country ski trails. - Becky Green, park manager
West Central Region
Baldwin DNR Service Center area
Pierce County - Snowmobile trails are currently closed due to lack of snow. Ice fishing has been slow with few fish being caught on area lakes. The Mississippi River has seen several anglers in boats catching mostly saugers and a few walleye mixed in the bag. A few anglers are venturing out on the ice on Lake Pepin but the bite has been slow lately. - Brad Peterson, conservation warden, Baldwin
Willow River State Park - Rain fell overnight last Thursday and into the next day coating the park road and any packed snow with ice. The road has been treated and it is passable but it’s not in real great condition. Parking lots are icy. Sloped entries to parking lots have been sanded. Trail hikers may need to go off trail on hills. Ski trails were groomed Saturday with better than expected results but it is still only fair for skating at best. The surface was scratched up enough to provide marginal skating on top of a rock hard trail. The remaining classic track is all ice. Best results were on the Red main loop and on the Green trails. There is not enough base to chop up the ice and start over like two years ago. A bit of snow on Sunday helped but a for real snowfall is needed. A red tailed hawk was reported by a visitor over the weekend. - Jeffrey L. Bolte, visitor services associate
La Crosse DNR Service Center area
Vernon County - The recent snow melt has made for very good winter walking conditions. Now is a great time to take advantage of these open conditions and explore some new areas of your property or public lands that may be somewhat inaccessible at other times of the year. Go exploring and find new grouse coverts, deer bedding areas, winter wild turkey roosts, abandoned bird nests, or the large oblong holes in trees indicating the presence of a pileated woodpecker. And make sure to take a youngster along with you on your trek. 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
Wildcat Mountain State Park – Cross-country ski trails are unskiable. Significant bare stretches. Remaining base is very hard/icy. Waiting for more snow. A portion of the Old Settler’s Trail is closed due to a timber harvest in progress. All other hiking trails are open, but have some very icy spots due to the recent melting. - Joseph K Fieweger, park manager
Black River Falls DNR Service Center area
Black River State Forest - Temperatures last Thursday and Friday were in the 40s. Rain fell on Thursday night. With the drop in temperatures, trails have become icy. The rain resulted in non-skiable conditions on cross-country ski trails. Colder weather resulted in what snow is left being quite icy. Snowmobile trails are closed and all-terrain vehicle trails are open. Jackson County Forestry and Parks Department grooms and maintains all winter snowmobile and ATV trails in the state forest. Please check their websites for up to date trail openings and closings: - Peter Bakken, superintendent
Trempealeau County - Snowmobile trails in both Trempealeau and Jackson Counties are closed at this time. Jackson County ATV trails are open but conditions are reported as very icy and caution is advised. Jackson County prohibits the operation of UTVs on the trails system during the winter months. Ice fishing on area waters has been slow. Anglers report marking lots of fish near the bottom but they are not biting. Most area waters have about 8 inches of ice. Please use caution on the ice as conditions and ice quality may change rapidly. Ice anglers are reminded that it is illegal to leave an ice shack on the ice unoccupied unless the owner’s name and address are printed on the exterior of the shack in 1-inch block letters. - Robin Barnhardt, conservation warden, Osseo
Eau Claire DNR Service Center area
Dunn County - In Northern Dunn County ice anglers have been harvesting, walleye, perch and bluegills. The snowmobile trails are closed and the cross-country ski trails are in poor shape at Hoffman Hills State Park. - James Cleven, conservation warden, Menomonie
Eau Claire County -Eagle watchers will enjoy traveling the roads along the Chippewa River to view numerous bald eagles in the trees and on the ice along open water areas downriver of the Interstate-94 Bridge. Fishing action is slow on Lake Altoona, but the persistent anglers were still catching some huge perch and crappies. Lake Altoona is a 720 acre lake located north of the City of Altoona. It has a maximum depth of 25 feet. Visitors have access to the lake from public boat landings, a public beach and public park lands. Fish include panfish, smallmouth bass and walleye. - Scott Thiede, conservation warden, Eau Claire
Hoffman Hills State Recreation Area - The ski trails are in very poor shape due to recent warm weather and rains. Some of the interior trails still have some snow on them but many trails are very icy. Use extreme caution if you plan to ski as many trails at Hoffman are very challenging even in perfect conditions. - Calvin Kunkel, ranger
Red Cedar State Trail - The ski trail is in poor condition due to the recent warm weather and rain. There’s a thin ice base with a snow crust on top and a little bit of snow at some point will really help out. Hopefully we’ll get some this week. - Calvin Kunkel, ranger
Wausau DNR Service Center area
Rib Mountain State Park - Even with the recent snowmelt there is plenty of snow on the ground to do a little snowshoeing. Enjoy the forest from a winter perspective. Join the Friends of Rib Mountain State Park on Saturday Jan. 26 from 6 to 8 p.m. for a candlelight snowshoe hike. The snowshoe event will begin at the concession stand.
Wisconsin Rapids DNR Service Center area
Buckhorn State Park – Cross-country ski trails are in poor condition with bare spots and are icy with the rain/warmer weather and now freezing temps. Trails will be groomed when we have sufficient snow again. - Heather Wolf, park manager
Roche-A-Cri State Park - The main gate and campground are closed. Parking is in the winter lot and park stickers are still required. Please do not block the main gate. - Heather Wolf, park manager