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Outdoor Report for February 14, 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).
Wisconsin weather forecasters are getting a work out early in the year. Rain and snow. Wind and calm. Warm and cold. Wisconsin weather has once again run the gamut in the last week, impacting ski and snowmobile trials, along with ice fishing conditions.
Some trials are slushy and many waters are murky, but one thing is clear as we begin the second half of the shortest calendar month - spring is inching closer. The days are getting longer. Birds, including chickadees, have noticed the sun is rising a little earlier and setting a little later each day. They are singing more, eagles are soaring in their search for food and mates, turkeys are on the move.
Despite recent rain, many trails, both ski and snowmobile, are in good to excellent condition across the northern half of the state, and could get better if predicted snow falls. Buckhorn and Copper Falls state parks, along Flambeau River State Forest are among those reporting good skiing. Snowmobile trails are closed throughout the southern half of the state and cross-country ski conditions are marginal, with many trails icy.
Fishing success, like the weather, has been mixed. Ice depths continue to hold in the 15-17 inch range on most Northwoods lakes and there is now about 8-10 inches of snow on the ice cover. With the difficult travel conditions on the ice, fishing pressure has been relatively light, with a few panfish and walleye anglers venturing out. Panfish have provided the most consistent action and a few anglers have reported some decent catches of bluegill, perch and crappie. Some nice panfish have been caught in Shawano County and some on the small size in Grant County. In Milwaukee ice anglers have been fishing the harbors at McKinley Marina and South Shore Park, as well as the lagoon at Lakeshore State Park. Water clarity has been relatively poor, and success has been hit-or-miss for brown trout and steelhead.
Anglers interested in panfish can catch one of the nearly 30 panfish plan meetings statewide February and March. The public meetings mark the opening phases of efforts by DNR fisheries management to better connect with anglers in Wisconsin. Those attending meetings will be asked to fill out a short questionnaire to help DNR understand their concerns, issues and priorities for panfish. The questionnaire and background materials presented at the meeting are available online.
The upriver lakes sturgeon season closed this week, but the Winnebago sturgeon season remains open, where poor water clarity has slowed the harvest and set the table for spearers to have the full 16-days to get their fish.
Nine of the top 10 fish in the record books were taken between 2004 and 2013, including the 80-inch, 179-pound fish harvested on opening day, which is the sixth largest fish reported. Photos of other top 10 fish and more on sturgeon growth patterns are found on DNR's Record Sturgeon feature Web page.
Coyotes across the state from Columbia and Grant counties to Crex Meadows and Theresa Marsh state wildlife areas are increasingly active as their breeding season has begun. In Polk County, pheasants and turkeys have seen in picked corn fields. At Rib Mountain State Park, deer, turkeys and woodchucks can be seen.
The annual Great Backyard Bird Count, sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, www.birdsource.org/gbbc, begins this weekend. Birders are encouraged to head out to record birds seen in their yards and local parks.
Statewide Birding Report
Let the birding begin. The annual Great Backyard Bird Count, sponsored by the Cornell Lab of Ornithology, www.birdsource.org/gbbc/, begins this weekend. Birders are encouraged to head out this weekend to record birds seen in their yards and local parks. In 2012, Wisconsin birders reported 138 species on more than 2,400 checklists. This survey has proven to be an effective way to track annual and seasonal movements of many wintering and migrant bird species. This year should be an interesting one in Wisconsin as we have a good number of winter finches present around the state. Redpolls are being seen statewide and pine siskins have been around southern Wisconsin since early fall. The past week has also seen many reports of white-winged and red crossbills at feeders. Birders have reported 20 varied thrushes in Wisconsin, making this one of the best seasons ever for this species from the Northwest. We are also starting to get reports of northern owls including some hawk owls and boreal owls across the north. Birders should look for boreal owls hunting near bird feeders during low light conditions and are encouraged to report sightings with a picture to the GBBC and Wisconsin eBird (www.ebird.org/WI). With rains across the southern portion of the state last week, along with more daylight, we are starting to see some waterfowl migration and breeding behavior. Check open water for ducks, geese and trumpeter and tundra swans. Enjoy the birds this weekend and let's see if we can beat our 2012 numbers for the Great Backyard Bird Count. - Andy Paulios, wildlife biologists and Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative coordinator
Ashland DNR Service Center area
Copper Falls State Park - Five- to 10-inches of snow is predicted for today and Friday. Lake effect snows tend to be light and fluffy. Temperatures are predicted to be in the mid-teens Friday and Saturday. Sunday is expected to have rising temperatures into the mid-20s with snowfall again predicted for Monday. All cross-country ski, snowshoe and multi-use trails are in excellent condition with a great base set. The trails were last groomed on Tuesday. Staff will be monitoring trail conditions and will groom the trails on Friday for the weekend. - Gregory Behling, ranger
Hayward DNR Service Center area
Tuscobia State Trail - There is a nice base on the trail and regular grooming for snowmobiling is taking place. Watch out for folks out hiking and snowshoeing. The chickadees are singing their spring song. Listen for the first high note followed by sometimes two, but usually three lower notes. If you whistle back in even a crude imitation, you will get a response. - Todd Hintz, ranger
Spooner DNR Service Center area
Polk County - Ice conditions are very good throughout Polk County. Most lakes have 20-plus inches of good ice. The snow is starting to get deep and drift on many lakes which is getting some vehicles stuck when they get off the main travel areas. Fishing has been slow the past couple of weeks. Many anglers believe unstable weather is to blame for the poor bite. Snowmobile trails are in good condition. Last Sunday 5-inches of snow fell adding to a solid base on the trail. Out of state riders are reminded that they are required to have non-resident trail passes to operate on public trails.Wildlife seems to be doing well during the winter months. Deer, pheasants and turkeys have been very visible feeding out in picked corn fields throughout the county. - Jesse Ashton conservation warden, Luck
Crex Meadows State Wildlife - Breeding season has begun for many animals. Look for raised leg urination from wolves, coyotes and other canids. Keep an eye and ear out for owls hooting, signaling their mating season. Deer sheds can be found on the ground. Bird sightings include: red crossbills, rough-legged hawks, redpolls, goldfinches, and tree sparrows. Chickadees have increased their spring vocalization as well. Participate in the Big Year at Crex Meadows by identifying birds at Crex. Learn more at http://www.crexmeadows.org/wildlifehighlights.htm Bluebirds are a special bird and many look forward to their arrival in spring. We can help you get them to take residence in your yard. Learn about bluebirds, the importance of their homes, and how to build a bluebird house. On Saturday, Feb. 23 from 9 a.m. to noon join expert Iler Anderson from the Bluebird Restoration Association of Wisconsin as he shares his experiences about bluebirds. And create your own bluebird house to take with you. This workshop is free, however space is limited. Please pre-register by calling 715-463-2739. - Heidi Rusch, natural resources educator
Park Falls DNR Service Center area
Upper Chippewa Basin fisheries report (Price, Rusk, Sawyer Taylor and inland Ashland and Iron counties) - Ice depths continue to hold in the 15-17 inch range on most lakes and there is now about 8-10 inches of snow on the ice cover. Some significant snow drifts have also formed and, along with some areas of slush, this has made for very difficult travel conditions on area waters. Some daring anglers with 4WD vehicles have started to venture out, but vehicle travel on the ice will be tough until plowed paths or packed trails develop. Snowmobilers have been enjoying the fresh deep snow, but some are also getting bogged down in the slushy areas. With the difficult travel conditions on the ice, fishing pressure has been relatively light in the last week. A few panfish and walleye anglers have been venturing out, but success has been spotty. Panfish have provided the most consistent action and a few anglers have reported some decent catches of bluegill, perch and crappie. The fish have been found suspended just off the bottom near the deep-water areas, and a small ice jig tipped with a wax worm has provided the best action. Walleye fishing has continued its generally erratic trend of this winter and success stories have been tough to come by in the last few weeks. A few anglers have been able to pick up some small walleye in the late afternoon hours, with the best bait being a medium sucker or large fathead minnow fished near structure or break lines in 8-12 feet of water. - Skip Sommerfeldt, senior fisheries biologist, Park Falls
Flambeau River State Forest - Ski trails, which were packed Wednesday and groomed today for skate and traditional skiing, should be in excellent condition. Snowmobile trails are also in excellent condition. Outdoor enthusiasts should also try the snowshoe trails that have been designated and signed. Call the office for more information on those trails, 715-332-5271, ext. 101. There is still some open water in spots on the South Fork of the Flambeau River while the North Fork appears to be frozen over. The forest received about 6-inches of heavy, wet snow over the past week with new snow falling today. It's looking quite wintery with all the plants and trees heavy with a white layer of snow/ice. There is approximately 13-inches of snow on the ground. - Judy Freeman, visitor services associate
Woodruff DNR Service Center area
Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest - All trails and loops have been leveled and tracked and are in very good condition. - Tony Martinez, forestry facilities worker
Rhinelander DNR Service Center area
Oneida County - The trails around Rhinelander are in good shape and there is another 1-4 inches of snow predicted this week. Ice fishing tournaments are occurring on George Lake on Saturday and on Pelican Lake on Feb. 23. Northern, crappie, perch and bluegills are the most common catches observed on the ice this time of year. Cross-country ski trails west of Rhinelander are also in good shape and are located on Oneida County Forestry property. - James Jung, conservation warden, Rhinelander
Peshtigo DNR Service Center area
Marinette County - Heavy rain on Sunday made a mess of local roads and reduced the snow cover. The remaining 8-inches of snow have a pretty good crust and are better for snowshoeing. Ice fishing has been slow with few fishermen reporting good luck. A few people are finding small numbers of whitefish on the bay of Green Bay, and some are having sporadic success on inland lakes for panfish and northern. Some local birders have reported seeing rare winter sightings, including hermit thrushes. And redwing blackbirds, woodcock, geese, robins and many other welcome signs of spring is just around the corner. - Aaron McCullough, wildlife technician, Wausaukee
Oconto County - Snowmobile trails in the area took a beating with Sunday's rain. Trails in the southern half of the county are closed. Travel on ice bound waters is also treacherous due to the melting of most of the snow on the ice. Whitefish have been caught in Oconto and at Geano Beach. Inland water fishing continues to be spotty with some panfish success on area flowages. - Calhoun Derbush, creel clerk
Snowmobile trails remain in good condition in northern Oconto County despite plenty of rain on Sunday. A fresh 1-2 inches Thursday should improve weekend conditions. Beware of thin ice and possible open water on Boot Lake and on the rock bar next to the island where a vehicle went through the ice last weekend. - Joe Paul, conservation warden, Lakewood
Shawano County - Ice conditions are fair. Recent rain, followed by cold resulted in slush freezing and rough ice. There still are some significant heaves and cracks where travel is hazardous. If we get some snow the snowmobile trails should be in excellent condition, but right now they are mostly ice or bare dirt. Fishing has been pretty good with some nice panfish being caught. - Jim Horne, conservation warden, Shawano
Green Bay DNR Service Center area
Brown County - The ice along the east shore of the bay, from Volk's Landing up to Little Harbor, is in good condition, ranging from 12-16 inches and Birmingham anglers are reporting 19-20 inches of ice. The overall fishing pressure was moderate this week with a few places busier than others. Over the weekend, most shanties have been moved out far from shore with the majority of anglers driving out on to the ice. It was very busy along the lower east side of the bay. It was also very busy at Rites Cove, Bayshore Park, Sugar Creek, Red River, Dykesville, and Volk's Landing. At Red River, fishermen were looking for whitefish while jigging with wax worms in about 8-feet of water with no luck. At Dykesville, fishermen were going straight out onto the ice or heading more south towards Bayshore Park. Anglers were looking for perch and catching small numbers of them on wax worms. At Bayshore Park, it was very busy with fishermen targeting whitefish using wax worms in 10-16 feet of water. Numbers were not very high. At Volk's Landing, fishermen were looking for whitefish using wax worms and Swedish Pimples. Numbers were low for whitefish. At Birmingham's, there were a few fishermen looking for perch catching low numbers of them on minnows in about 30-feet of water. - Elizabeth Turos, fisheries technician, Green Bay
Manitowoc County - Rain and warm weather earlier in the week caused snow conditions to deteriorate. Snowmobile trails are now closed in Manitowoc and Kewaunee counties. Trout and northern pike are being caught in the Manitowoc Marina as well as on the Kewaunee and Ahnapee rivers. - Ryan Volenberg, conservation warden, Mishicot
Ice fishing has been busy on inland lakes. Harpt Lake has produced some nice ruler-length crappies. Silver Lake has been producing walleyes well over legal length. Snowmobile trails closed due to the rain melting the snow base. Otters have been leaving plenty of signs on waterways throughout the county. - Robert Stroess, conservation warden, Mishicot
Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center area
Door County - On Little Sturgeon Bay, the busiest places were Lime Kiln Road, Big Rock Place, and Sand Bay Resort. At Wood Lane and Carmody's Landing, a few fishermen were looking for perch using minnows but did not have much luck. A few whitefish were also caught using minnows, but numbers were low. At Lime Kiln Road at the beginning of the week, anglers were targeting whitefish. Numbers were not high, but they were catching them in about 10-feet of water using minnows. At Big Rock Place it was very busy with fishermen targeting whitefish. Whitefish numbers were high with fishermen catching their limits in about 10-feet of water using wax worms and minnows for bait. At the Sturgeon Bay Yacht Club, near the water treatment plant, there were a few anglers looking for northern pike using lake shiners for bait in about 18-feet of water without success. The ice is open by the docks still and a few fishermen are on the ice close to the open water. Park anglers were targeting perch and caught moderate numbers using wax worms and minnows for bait in about 10-12 feet of water. - Elizabeth Turos, fisheries technician, Green Bay
Kewaunee County - Snowmobilers had a good run over the past week with all trails in Kewaunee County opening up for the about a week, but warm weather and rain quickly diminished the trails on Sunday and trails were closed again. Fishing on inland waters of Kewaunee County remain spotty with fishermen some doing good and others not so well. On the southern inland lakes, wax worms prove to be best bait for panfish. - David Allen, conservation warden, Kewaunee
Wautoma DNR Service Center area
Marguett County - Ice fishing activity has been slow throughout most of the county, but anglers have been catching some nice crappies on Lake Emery and largemouth bass on Wood Lake. Snowmobile trails remain open in the county, but have deteriorated since the recent rainfall. - Judi Nigbor, conservation warden, Wautoma
Waupaca County - Snowmobile trails in zones 1 and 2 in Waupaca County will be open Friday. Trail conditions are icy and there may be some open water in lower areas. Ice fishing in the Waupaca area continues to be slow, but due to the recent rain, the ice is very slick. Ice users are encouraged to use ice cleats for foot travel. - Ted Dremel, conservation warden, Wautoma
Deer and turkeys are actively out feeding now during daylight hours. There is up to 18-inches of ice on area lakes, but fishing success has been slow lately. Snowshoeing conditions are excellent as snow has firmed up after the rains. Spring is definitely coming as days are getting longer. - Karl Kramer, wildlife technician, Wautoma
Hartman Creek State Park - The ski trails are in poor to fair condition. The trails have deteriorated following freezing rain and warm temperatures. Portions of the ski trails may be icy and contain bare spots. Please use caution when using the trails. Please call 715-258-2372 for updated information as trail conditions can change rapidly. The Deer Path Trail, north of Hartman Lake, and the Hillview Trail system are open for hiking, walking or snowshoeing. - Fred Viste, ranger
Oshkosh DNR Service Center area
Calumet County - The annual sturgeon spearing season got underway last Saturday. Despite the fog, weather, and ice conditions were good. However, less than ideal water clarity made for a long day along the east shore of Lake Winnebago in Calumet County. Most spear fishermen were driving trucks and cars to access their shanties with some choosing instead to use ATVs and snowmobiles. Many anglers spent the day staring into cloudy or murky water, but a few lucky anglers were able to see and spear a sturgeon. Thirty-nine fish were taken on opening day. Sunday started out much the same, but by mid-morning, some anglers pulled their shanties off the lake when rain and high winds moved into the area. So far, water clarity has not improved making it appear that the season will go for the full 16-days. Spear fishermen are reminded to use caution on the traveled lake roads and around bridge crossings due to deteriorating conditions caused by the rain and melted snow - Michael Disher, conservation warden - Stockbridge
High Cliff State Park - After a brief opening, Calumet County snowmobile trails closed due to loss of snow, which was replaced by ice and bare ground. Cross-country ski trails have also degraded significantly; watch for icy stretches. Lake Winnebago sturgeon spearing off of High Cliff and the north shore has been slow due to poor water clarity and uncertain ice conditions. Many shacks have been pulled in and fisherman are either on the move or are taking a wait and see approach as the 16-day season on the lake is expected to run in its entirety.
Whitetails are shedding antlers; great-horned owls are sitting on eggs, and bald eagle sightings are still common on the Winnebago system, many, however, are leaving to return to nesting grounds. - Cynthia Mueller, naturalist
Fond du Lac County - Sturgeon spearing season is in full swing on Lake Winnebago, but the harvest has been slowed by poor water clarity and variable ice conditions. After Sunday's rain the lake has lost most of the snow cover, but the water on the surface has frozen and helped to seal up some small cracks. As always use caution when traveling on ice and be sure to check in with local fishing clubs or other fisherman for the most up to date ice conditions. Hopefully weather conditions and water clarity will improve by the weekend. All snowmobile trails are still closed due to lack of snow. - Alan D. Erickson, conservation warden, Fond du Lac
Heavy snow fall, followed by warm weather and rain prior to sturgeon spearing on the Winnebago system created a sloppy mess on Lake Winnebago. There are still open holes and weak spots where individuals have had shanties. Travel with caution and stay off previously used ice roads where water and usage has created weaker ice. - Kyle Kosin, conservation warden, Campbellsport
Outagamie County - Despite the recent rain and warm-up, ice conditions on Lake Winnebago have been holding out, although some of the landings are getting fairly beat up from vehicle traffic. Spearers on the lake have been reporting 16-20 inches of ice throughout most of the lake and water clarity has nearly doubled in the past few days to more than 10-feet in places. Those venturing out on the lake should be cautious for unmarked spearing holes as the recent rain caused a large number of wooden laths to fall over. Anglers have been catching a few perch on the east side of Winnebago, both jigging and using tip-ups. - Ryan Propson, conservation warden, Appleton
Winnebago County - Sturgeon spearers had a successful and safe weekend on the upriver lakes. Unlike the two-day season in 2012, this year's upriver lakes season was slightly longer. Spearers still waiting for a sturgeon were glad to hear this news, and many planned to head out for a third day of spearing. Sturgeon spearing is a fun tradition and a challenge, but wardens want to remind spearers they should know the regulations and consider the safety of others. Holes larger than 12 inches cut in the ice must be marked with two wood lathes (or similar wood markers) so the hole is clearly visible when the spearing shanty is removed. These lathes are available for free at many lake access points, thanks to local clubs. An expanded version of the 2013 sturgeon spearing regulations can be found online at: http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/fishing/documents/regulations/2013WinnebagoSturgeonSpearingRegulations.pdf - Tom Truman, conservation warden, Oshkosh
The sturgeon spearing season tradition continues on Lake Winnebago. With the upper river lakes closed Lake Winnebago remains open. Unless something drastic happens it will remain open for the full 16 days. There have been 2 days on Lake Winnebago we did not reach the double digit mark. Water clarity remains a large problem although there seems to be more pockets on the lake that are clearing up. Ice conditions have remained steady even after the rain. We anticipate the second weekend will result in far more people spearing and hopefully an increase in the harvest. So if you venture out be safe and good luck. - Jason Higgins, conservation warden, Oshkosh
Milwaukee DNR Service Center area
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 using spawn sacks and minnows. Ice anglers are fishing on the south end of the lagoon and are having success with browns and steelheads using spawn sacks. Temperatures are rising, and ice conditions change daily. Extreme care should be taken when considering fishing on the ice. Grey and red foxes are still regular visitors at the park. Large flocks of scaups, mergansers and goldeneyes are present in the inner harbor. These same species can also be viewed close-up in the open water under the pedestrian bridge. Snowy owls have been spotted in the area. Lake Michigan water levels are at record lows 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 - Ice anglers have been in the marina, but brown trout and steelhead fishing has been spotty. The harbor water is murky, making fishing difficult. The Sheboygan River near 8th Street is frozen over, but there are areas of open water towards the river mouth.
Ozaukee County - Fishing in Port Washington has been slow overall with only a few browns and rainbows 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 have worked best.
Milwaukee County - In Milwaukee ice anglers have been fishing the harbors at McKinley Marina and South Shore Park, as well as the lagoon at Lakeshore State Park. Water clarity has been relatively poor, and success has been hit-or-miss for brown trout and steelhead. There is fishable open water on the Menomonee River near the MMSD office, but fishing there has been fairly slow. Conditions have been changing daily at Riverfront Ramp and on the Milwaukee River under the Hoan bridge. The lower river is currently free of ice. When boats have been able to get out in the harbor, brown trout have been biting.
Racine County - In the Racine harbor the water is fairly turbid, and ice fishing has been slow recently. A few browns and rainbows have been caught on spawn sacs and shiners. The Root River has some open water below the Horlick dam and into Quarry Lake Park, but water levels are currently high.
Waukesha DNR Service Center area
Waukesha County - Some anglers fishing in the evening on Pewaukee Lake are catching walleye. Most anglers are not catching a lot of fish, but the ones being caught are larger fish around 20-25 inches. Many anglers are driving vehicles on the ice, but caution is advised with weak spots on the ice still being found. - Matt Groppi, conservation warden, Waukesha
The snowmobile trails in Waukesha County closed after Sunday's warm weather and rain. Ice is solid in most areas, but caution is needed due to areas of runoff creating weak spots. A snowmobiler went through the ice on Lake Okauchee Saturday in just such an area. The driver, fortunately, was able to get out of the water and onto the ice. The machine was lost. - Doug Zeihen, conservation warden, Delafield
Plymouth DNR Service Center area
Theresa Marsh State Wildlife Area - Updating of Master Plans for Theresa, Allenton and Jackson Marsh Wildlife Areas is underway. Public input meetings will be scheduled for early summer. Mallards and Canada geese have been seen using some of the shallow temporary wetlands created during last week's heavy rains. Ducks are in their colorful breeding plumage and are very active with their courtship behavior. The breeding season for coyotes is underway and they are very active and visible, with coyote encounters with large dogs and other pets more frequent. Mergansers and diving duck species, etc. are very visible along open areas of the Lake Michigan shoreline and the canal area down town. - Tom Isaac, wildlife biologist, Hartford
South Central Region
Lower Wisconsin State Riverway - Wildlife viewing along the riverway has been very good recently with large flocks of turkeys being seen in farm fields. There has also been a lot of eagle activity with the beginning of their mating season. Open water along the riverway gives the eagles opportunities to find fresh fish and to congregate in the hopes of finding a mate. Many whitetail deer bucks are shedding their antlers giving the occasional hiker an opportunity to find one. - Matthew Seguin, property manager
Dodgeville DNR Service Center area
Grant County - Ice fishing activity has tapered off on the Wisconsin River backwaters. A few small panfish are still being caught at Goodweiler and Jones lakes. Large stretches of the Wisconsin River are open and bald eagles are moving up and down the river, presumably to capitalize on the best fishing opportunities. Coyotes are responding to calling by predator hunters and some trappers are still getting after beaver and muskrat. Winter birds, mostly chickadees, nuthatches, woodpeckers and juncos, have been consuming lots of seed at local bird feeders. There were great skiing conditions at the end of last week, but that quickly changed with the warm weather, rain, and then freezing temperatures. Snowmobile trails are showing bare ground or sheets of ice. - Daniel Goltz, wildlife biologist, Boscobel
Lafayette County - Green and Lafayette counties have poor ice conditions in some areas, so never assume the ice is safe. Ice anglers are doing well but still not as good as last year. The crappies out at Yellowstone are typically in the 9.5 inch range with some nice walleyes being caught outside the slot. - Nick Webster, conservation warden, Darlington
Richland County - Extreme weather conditions throughout the area have limited outdoor activities. Fishing on the Lower Wisconsin Riverway has been slowed by fluctuating water levels due to runoff. Snowmobile trails are closed throughout the area after significant rains fell. Turkeys and deer can be seen feeding on south facing slopes as food is sparse in the woods. - Michael Nice, conservation warden, Richland Center
Fitchburg DNR Service Center area
Columbia County - With the nice weather we've been having, it's an excellent time to get outside and do some winter wildlife watching. One excellent place to observe bald eagles in the area is in Prairie du Sac/Sauk City, where the eagles have been extremely active and putting on quite a show this week. Spring is just around the corner, as evidenced by the sound of chickadees singing their spring mating call and bluebirds looking for nesting cavities. Now's the time to get those bluebird nest boxes installed. - Sara Kehrli, wildlife biologist, Poynette
Snowmobile trails were open and in good condition this past Friday and Saturday, but due to rain on Sunday, most trails are impassable due to standing water. A few fish were observed being caught on Columbia County lakes. Slush on the ice is making it hard to get around on area lakes as well. Hopefully some colder weather will help freeze that back to solid. Coyotes have been active due to breeding season. - Paul Nadolski, conservation warden, Portage
Jefferson County - The snowmobile trails in Jefferson County were closed last Sunday. The annual backyard bird count is about to begin. If you were unaware of this event this is a great time to start watching birds that frequent you area. Detailed information on the backyard bird count and other bird watching information are available on the DNR website. A bird feeder is a great way to get the entire family involved in an outdoor type activity when cold temperatures keep you inside. - Ryan Ellifson, conservation warden, Jefferson County
Sauk County - Area snowmobile trails and ski trails are in poor winter condition. Viewing of bald eagles in the Prairie du Sac area has been excellent. The bald eagles will be in the area for another week or two depending on weather. The ice fishing activity has remained slow, but always subject to daily change. - John Buss, conservation warden, Prairie du Sac
With the warm up and rain, the Sauk County snowmobile trails are closed and ice conditions on area lakes is poor. Vehicle ruts in the soft slushy snow has now refroze making for rough driving conditions. Fishing on area lakes has been slow. Some bluegills and crappies have been caught, but they have not been jumping out of the holes. - David Horzewski, conservation warden, Reedsburg
Mirror Lake State Park -Snow cover remains on the trials, but was impacted by rain and warm weather early in the week, which left the remaining snow very soft and slushy. - Becky Green, park manager
Lake Kegonsa State Park -Cross-country ski trails are in poor condition following last weekend's rain. Trails remain closed to hiking, pets and snowshoeing. - Sarah Bolser, park manager
West Central Region
La Crosse DNR Service Center area
Merrick State Park - The trails are snow covered but icy due to recent rain and warm temperatures.
Perrot State Park - The cross-country ski trails are in poor condition. Due to recent rains and warm temperatures, many of the trails had standing water which has turned to ice. There are scattered bare spots in open areas.Trails not groomed for cross-country skiing are open for hiking and snowshoeing. These trails are currently in fair condition with icy spots especially those in open areas. Snowshoe rentals are available at the park headquarters. Please call ahead for availability and to connect with a staff person to assist you with the rental. - Lois Larson, park manager
Wildcat Mountain State Park - Rain last Sunday took a toll on the trails. Trails remain mostly snow/ice covered, but conditions are poor and more snow is needed before grooming will resume. Hikers, snowshoers, and dogs are not allowed on groomed ski trails. A portion of the Old Settler's Trail is closed due to a timber harvest in progress. All other hiking trails are open, with icy areas due to the recent rain. Winter camping is available in the family campground on a first-come basis. Sites 1-4 are plowed. Water is available at the maintenance building. The shower building is closed for the season.- Joseph K Fieweger, park manager
Wausau DNR Service Center area
Marathon County - Snowmobile trails in the county should be in good to excellent condition after the Valentine's Day snowfall. Check the Marathon County snowmobile trail webpage for current information. Cardinals and chickadees can be heard giving their territorial/breeding calls, especially on sunny days. - Michael J. Rader, conservation warden, Wausau
Due to the rain, snowmobile trails are icy but are currently still open. More snow is forecast for Thursday, which could improve conditions this weekend. Ice conditions are good throughout the area, with 20-26 inches reported. There's always a chance of bad ice in certain locations and the possibility of some slush on top of the ice due to the recent rain. A fishing derby on Pike Lake Saturday is expected to draw a good number of anglers. There are some hunter education classes available in the area in the upcoming months. The course offered in Weston will also offer a turkey learn to hunt for those interested. Check online for class dates and availability. - Benjamin Herzfeldt, conservation warden, Wausau
Rib Mountain State Park - Lots of deer, woodchucks and even an occasional turkey can be seen. Trails are open and in good condition for hiking or snowshoeing. - Bill Bursaw, property manager
Wisconsin Rapids DNR Service Center area
Wood County - Snowmobile trail conditions can vary widely over short distances. Extra caution should be used in plowed fields as trails may be rough and reduce your speed on corners and curves due to icy conditions. - Barry Fetting, conservation warden
Buckhorn State Park - People have been ice fishing on the lake. The power company has started the Castle Rock Lake drawdown and should be completed by March 15. Park staff does not monitor ice conditions. Visitors over the weekend were skiing and snowshoeing. Cross-country ski trails are in good condition - track is still set but trails are icy after the freezing rain. When there is at least 6-inches of snow, the office has adult snowshoes to check out to use in the park. We do not have child size snowshoes yet. - 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. The stairway is open from 6 a.m. until sunset and is not maintained for winter use. Visitors have been snowshoeing and cross-country skiing in the park. We are not grooming trails at this time. Hunting maps for the spring season are available online and will be in the map box in the winter lot. - Heather Wolf, park manager