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Outdoor Report for February 28, 2013

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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).

As the curtain comes down on February and up on March, there is still plenty to do outdoors from cross-country skiing and snowmobiling on trails with fresh snow, to ice fishing for at least a few more day, or preparing for the switch to spring and new outdoor options and opportunities.

The Wisconsin early inland catch-and-release trout season opens Saturday at 5 a.m. and runs to midnight on April 27, so get your gear ready in addition to your state fishing license, purchase an inland trout stamp.

Most trout streams are open to early fishing with the exception of most Lake Superior tributaries and the majority streams in northeast Wisconsin. To find the open streams, check the printed current trout fishing regulations pamphlet for specific waters. Anglers are required to use artificial lures and flies; barbless hooks are not required. All trout caught must be immediately released. With some heavy snowfall across southern Wisconsin this week, access will be difficult in some areas for the opener.

Wisconsin hunting, fishing, trapping and other licenses for the 2013-14 seasons go on sale Wednesday, March 6. Annual licenses are valid from April 1, 2013, through March 31, 2014. Hunting and fishing licenses for the 2012-13 license year expire March 31, 2013.

The new license sales coincide with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Sport Show, where Wisconsin DNR has a large presence with exhibits, informational displays, and of course, the very popular license booth. The Sports Show runs from Wednesday, March 6, through Sunday, March 10, at the Wisconsin State Fair Park in West Allis.

With this week's snowfall, snow depths range from 4 to 6 inches in the south to more than 2 feet in the north. Snowmobile trials have reopened in many counties and are in fair to good riding condition in the south and good to excellent condition in the north. Cross-country ski trails are generally the same, being reported as excellent in many northern areas, but just fair to good in the south.

Fishing action ranges from excellent to iffy across the state. Sawyer County anglers on Lac Courte Oreilles have been doing extremely well catching northern and panfish (mainly blue gill). The northern are being caught on tip-ups with large suckers or shiners. Panfish are biting elsewhere, including Dunn and Shawano counties. In Brown County the whitefish bite has been excellent. Anglers were catching high numbers of whitefish in about 49-feet of water using wax worms as the main source of bait. In the southeast on Lake Michigan, fishing conditions are variable, and it has been hit-or-miss for brown trout and steelhead.

Meetings continue throughout March on a new panfish management plan. Check the DNR website for more details, to find meeting dates and locations and to take a survey.

Birders and the general public have been enjoying an "irruption" of northern owls species over the last month. Boreal owls have been reported now from a handful of northern counties along with a few northern hawk owls and more recently some great gray owls. Eagles continue to soar above the Mississippi River, but others have already arrived in the Northwoods to reclaim nesting territories. Swans and sandhill cranes are here and continue to arrive daily. Cardinals and chickadees are singing their spring songs and red-winged black birds are returning to tall grass.

Statewide Birding Report

The birding headlines this week are all about northern owls visiting from the north even as migration marches on with recent arrivals of short-distance migrants to our south. Birders and the general public have been enjoying an "irruption" of northern owls species over the last month. Boreal owls have been reported now from a handful of northern counties along with a few northern hawk owls and more recently some great gray owls. Birders and the public are encouraged to report these sightings to Wisconsin eBird (www.ebird.org/WI) so that we can document this irruption event. Meanwhile across the southern tier of counties we've seen our first good movements of waterfowl, sandhill cranes, horned larks and killdeer. As we approach the first week of March, expect more waterfowl and gulls to arrive and linger around open water areas including Lake Michigan. Open fields should see some killdeer, red-winged blackbirds, larks and buntings as well as our first push of meadowlarks. Backyard birders can expect to hear the first signs of spring as robins should begin to arrive over the next two weeks and stake out territories. On warmer sunny days, expect to see our first good pushes of eagles and some early vultures and red-shouldered hawks. - Andy Paulios, wildlife biologists and Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative coordinator

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Northern Region

Superior DNR Service Center area

Brule River State Forest - The After Hours Ski Trail is in excellent condition for skate and classic skiing. The skate deck was groomed Monday. The classic track was still in great shape for over 80 percent of the trail, so didn't need to be reset. The 18th annual River View Loppet Cross Country Ski Race at the Afterhours Ski Trail will be held Saturday. There will be 12- and 24-Km classic and freestyle races with wave starts by gender. A 5-K Family Fun Tour event is free for kids 13 and under and $10 for accompanying parents or guardians. Registration and bib pickup will be at the Brule Town Hall from 7:30-9 a.m. Races begin at 10 a.m. More information can be found on the Brule Valley Ski Club site at brulexcski.com/event-schedule (exit DNR). The Afterhours trail system will be closed to non-racers until 1 p.m. on race day. Occasional warm days in winter bring people out of their homes, along with some wildlife. Some animals that have been seen recently are skunks, and raccoons. These animals are not true hibernators; they will slow down their metabolism and take long winter rests. Animals such as skunks and raccoons will congregate together (one male and several females) in a communal den. This is beneficial for both warmth and breeding purposes (their breeding season is in February and March). They will awake from their dens during warm spells and venture out to find food or a potential mate. - Catherine Khalar, visitor services associate

Ashland DNR Service Center area

Ashland County - Ice fishing has slowed with deeper snow and slush on the lakes. The bite has been slow at times too. - Matt Mackenzie, conservation warden, Ashland

Pattison State Park - The park currently has about 9 inches of snow on the ground. The cross-country ski trails are still in good condition despite the loss of snow due to the recent warmer weather. The trails were last groomed Wednesday. Please call the park at (715) 399-3111 for an 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 an electric and a non-electric site for winter campers. - Phillip Brown, Ranger

Hayward DNR Service Center area

Sawyer County - Anglers on Lac Courte Oreilles having been doing extremely well on northern and panfish (mainly bluegill). The northern were being caught on tip-ups with large suckers or shiners. Most are fishing 2-3 feet off bottom or above the weeds if the weeds extend higher than that. Some of the northern have been in the upper 20-inch to lower 30-inch range. Mid-morning and early afternoon has been the best time for action with the northern. Fishing for bluegill has mostly consisted of using small ice jigs with wax worms. Most fish have been in the deeper weed pockets or edges between 8-18 feet of water. The bite has been fairly consistent through-out the day, with some heavy spurts in-between. Individuals are picking up an occasional crappie with the blue gills, especially those using minnows. - Thomas Heisler Jr., conservation warden, Winter

Spooner DNR Service Center area

Burnett County - The Grantsburg area was coated with a blanket of snow last week giving us approximately 15-inches of snow on the ground. Wildlife viewing in the area has been good. Deer and turkeys have been visible along roadsides and south facing slopes. Snowmobile trails in the area are currently open, but are in rough shape due to the powerful spring sun. Ice conditions vary across the county with 20-28 inches on most lakes. Use caution when traveling on any frozen lakes. Panfishing on area lakes has been improving over the last week. - Christopher Spaight conservation warden, Grantsburg

Crex Meadows State Wildlife - March is filled with new programs and events at Crex Meadows Wildlife Area. Itching to get out of the house and try something new? Join in the Cabin Fever Mini Series. Winter Carnivore Tracks will be on Sunday at 1 p.m. with an overview of what the tracks look like. We will then caravan into the field to try to find tracks of these animals. Space is limited, so please pre-register. The Big Year at Crex Meadows is underway. Identify birds by sight or sound on DNR Wildlife Area properties in Burnett County. Further details of the Big Year birding challenge and the brochure can be found online or e-mail BigYear@CrexMeadows.org. For more information about Crex Meadows and events, please call 715-463-2739, visit www.crexmeadows.org, or find us on Facebook. Friends of Crex support this and other programs. You can support these types of programs and be more involved by joining the Friends of Crex. - 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 have been holding in the 18-20 inch range and the recent heavy snows have made for some pretty sloppy conditions on most of the lakes. Not only is the 8-10 inches of snow restricting travel, but some areas of deep slush have also been showing up. A 4WD vehicle is a necessity to get off of plowed/packed trails, and even then many are still finding some rather deep ruts and rough travel. With the difficult access conditions, angling pressure has been a bit light in the last week. Some of the diehard panfish and walleye anglers have still been giving it a try and success has been mixed. Panfish have provided a little consistency, and some decent catches of perch, crappie and bluegill have been made. The perch have been found just off the bottom in 8-16 feet of water, and the crappies have been caught about 3 to 5 feet off the bottom in the deep water areas. Walleye have continued their erratic trend of the winter and reports of success have been hard to come by. A good number of anglers have been getting skunked, and it seems that about every third day provides some mediocre success. The hour before dark has provided most of the action, with medium suckers or large fathead fished in 8-12 feet of water. - Skip Sommerfeldt, senior fisheries biologist, Park Falls

Flambeau River State Forest - The entire trail was groomed and tracked on Monday, and is in excellent condition. If conditions permit, plans are to groom on Friday. Snowmobile trails are also in great condition. Ice anglers need to remember to remove their ice shanties from local lakes by March 17. Eagles are occupying their territories. Great horned owls are nesting. Coyotes, wolves and foxes are done mating and will be having pups in early to mid-April. Snow fleas (springtails) are out. Next few weeks should be good for shed hunters. Big bull elk should start dropping their antlers about mid-March. - Judy Freeman, visitor services associate

Woodruff DNR Service Center area

Vilas County - Trumpeter swans have been observed flying over Vilas County. - Mike Selander, conservation warden, St. Germain

Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest - All cross-country ski trails were leveled cut and groomed and tracked. Conditions are very good. - Dan Jacoby, facilities worker

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Northeast Region

Peshtigo DNR Service Center area

Peshtigo River State Forest - Recent snowfalls have made for excellent outdoor winter recreation sports in the area. Trails in the area are open, and are in good condition. Local snowmobile clubs groom and maintain the trails in the state forest. Please check Marinette County's website for up to date conditions and any closings: www.marinettecounty.com/departments/?department=321926de5dc1&subdepartment=2674f01f2c9d. Ski trails are in excellent condition. Recent snowfall has allowed staff to groom the trails into excellent condition. Trails were groomed Thursday. Check out current trail conditions here: www.skinnyski.com/trails/ Snowshoeing is allowed anywhere in the forest with the exception of groomed ski trails. - Sara Pearson, Ranger/Assistant Manager

Marinette County - Pike fishermen had a slow week with some fish being caught off Pond Road in 5-8 feet of water. Whitefish are being caught on the Trout Bar out of Little River using jigs and wax worms. No activity to report on the Menominee River this past week. - Calhoun Derbush, creel clerk

More snow fell Wednesday adding to about a foot of snow on the ground. Inland lakes are starting to get pretty sloppy with a thick layer of snow and slush making walking difficult. Many area lakes have 18-20 inches of ice, but fishing has been slow. The snow still has a significant crust on it early in the morning making for prime snowshoeing, but by afternoon the crust weakens. A few small flocks of Canada geese have been seen heading north and redpolls are again being reported at feeders. Local wildlife and warden staff will be hosting a Learn to Bear Hunt Clinic in Crivitz on Saturday, March 9. Anyone interested in learning about management, biology and hunting of bears is encouraged to contact Warden Dave Oginski @ David.Oginskijr@wisconsin.gov - Aaron McCullough, wildlife technician, Wausaukee

Oconto County - Snowmobile trails are reported to be open and in good to excellent condition. Fishing is still spotty with reports of whitefish on Green Bay the most promising. Some nice northern are starting to cruise the shallows in preparation of the spring thaw and their spawning season. Dead smelt or shiners are the best baits. Owls have been very active the last few nights with their calls being heard throughout the night. - Mike Stahl, conservation warden, Oconto Falls

Most of the activity at Geano Beach is taking place about 3 miles south of the landing where decent numbers of white are being caught, jigs tipped with wax worms have been working well. Oconto Breakwater has also been producing some nice numbers of white fish at the mouth of the Oconto River. Jigging is the method of choice. Pike fishing has been slow this past week from Pensaukee to Oconto Park II. Fishermen have been concentrating in 3-8 feet of water using tip ups with large shiner minnows or smelt fished in the round. - Calhoun Derbush, creel clerk

Snowmobile trails remain in very good condition in northern Oconto County which should make for another excellent weekend of snowmobiling. Corners may be icy. Cross country ski trails also continue to be groomed weekly and are in excellent condition. Anglers will find it difficult to drive on area lakes with snow depth levels making travel by vehicle a bear. Beware of ice conditions as two vehicles have gone through the ice on Boot Lake by the rock bar. - Joe Paul, conservation warden, Lakewood

Shawano County - Snowmobile trails are in good conditions and many of the Snowmobilers are getting out and using them as the past two years have not been very good here in Shawano County. Ice conditions are still fair with pressure cracks and landings taking a beating. Most of the ice shacks on the area lakes have been removed this past weekend with the deadline this coming weekend. Fishing has been good with good numbers of panfish and some northern being caught - Jim Horne, conservation warden, Shawano

Governor Thompson State Park - The 6-mile cross-country ski trail system is open and groomed. Very good to excellent-both skate lanes and classic track. More snow covered the northland Thursday and trails were groomed and tracked. A lot of needles on the trail in the plantation area, but overall great conditions for the weekend. Please remember, no hiking or pets are allowed on the ski trails. If you wish to ski with your pet, the Otter Trail is groomed flat and open to skiers, hikers and pets. Ice fishermen are fishing on the south bay of Caldron Falls and on Woods Lake. - Maggie Kailhofer, park manager

Green Bay DNR Service Center area

Brown County - The snow over the week slowed down fishing pressure across the east shore of the bay, but by the weekend fishing was back full swing. Ice conditions continue to improve with about 16-20 inches on the lower half of the east shore to almost 40-inches, anglers were reporting up on Little Sturgeon Bay. It was very busy on Little Sturgeon Bay over the weekend. At Sand Bay Resort, fishing activity was very high and they were targeting whitefish. At about 2 miles out, a group of fishermen were catching high numbers of whitefish in about 49-feet of water using wax worms as the main source of bait. The ice conditions at 2 miles out are in good condition with about 24-28 inches of ice. At Lime Kiln Road, fishing activity was high with fishermen targeting whitefish. Whitefish numbers were not has high, but fishermen were catching close to their limits. Ice conditions were good and the fishermen were fishing in about 20-35 feet of water using wax worms. Most fishermen were only about three-tenths of a mile offshore. At Big Rock Place, fishing activity was high and fishermen were targeting whitefish. Whitefish numbers were not very good and a few Perch were caught, but thrown back. Fishermen were fishing in about 40-feet of water using wax worms for bait. At Clafins, fishing activity was high out on the ice. A few fishermen were looking for perch and whitefish, with the majority of fishermen targeting whitefish. There was no luck for perch and whitefish numbers were good for some fishermen and low for others. Fishermen that were fishing in about 25-feet of water did not have much luck, but the fishermen that were fishing at 40-feet had high numbers of whitefish. They were using wax worms for their main source of bait. A gobie was also caught and released. At Carmody's Landing, fishing activity was high with fishermen targeting walleye and northern without success. Fishermen were fishing in about 12-15 feet of water using smelt, suckers, and roaches for bait. At Woodlane, fishing activity was moderate with fishermen targeting perch. Perch numbers were high and the average length was about 5-7 inches. Fishermen were using minnows for bait in about 45 feet of water. 2 Whitefish were also caught, but released. At Riley's Bay fishing activity was a little slow, but fishermen were targeting whitefish and getting their limits. They were using Rapala jigs and grubs for bait in about 50 feet of water. In Sawyer Harbor, fishing activity was doing well. Fishermen were targeting perch and whitefish in Pot. Park. Perch numbers were high. Fishermen were using minnows for bait in about 15-feet of water. For whitefish, numbers were very good. The average sizes of the whitefish were around 16-inches. Anglers were fishing in about 75-feet of water using wax worms, Berkly Gulps, and Swedish pimples for bait. A few gobies were also caught and released. At Idlewild, a fishing party was targeting northern and perch. Only a few perch were caught, using minnows and wax worms for bait. For the northern, they were using large and smaller shiners. They were fishing in about 16-feet of water. - Elizabeth Turos, fisheries technician, Green Bay

Fishing pressure at Voyageur Park was moderate to heavy this past week with walleye and white fish being the main fish being pursued by anglers. Jigging with spoons and Rattlin Rap's tipped with minnows or wax worms were the baits of choice. Duck Creek has construction going on and as a consequence no fishermen. Perch fishing has been hit or miss at Sunset Beach with most fishermen plying their trade in 7 to 9 feet of water jigs and minnows or wax worms are what they are using. - Calhoun Derbush - creel clerk

Manitowoc County - All snowmobile trails in Manitowoc and Kewaunee County are open. Significant snowfall (up to 13-inches) fell in the area on Tuesday and Wednesday. Trails are in very good condition. - Ryan Volenberg, conservation warden, Mishicot

Manitowoc County was blasted with another storm. Snowmobile trails remain open and in great condition. A fisher was killed by a vehicle near Two Rivers. Fishers are periodically, but very seldom, seen in the county, so some of these animals continue to surprise nature lovers by showing up in strange spots. - Robert Stroess, conservation warden, Mishicot

Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center area

Potawatomi State Park - Ski and snowmobile trails were groomed following another four-inches of wet snowfall on Wednesday. Trails should be in good shape for this weekend. Fishermen have been catching some perch, walleye and whitefish. - Lois M. Hanson, visitor services associate

Wautoma DNR Service Center area

Waupaca County - Snowmobile trails in the area are open and in relatively good shape. Check with the Waupaca County snowmobile trails website for updates. www.waupacacountyparks.com/SnowInfo.aspx (exit DNR) - Ted Dremel, conservation warden, Wautoma

Still plenty of ice left on trout streams, it will be a tough early opener.- Karl Kramer, wildlife technician, Wautoma

Hartman Creek State Park - Ski trails are in very good condition. The park received approximately 6-inches of snow on Feb. 21-22. Pope Lake and Oak Ridge trails were groomed and tracked on February 22-23. A park vehicle admission sticker and trail pass are required to utilize the ski trails. - Mike Bergum, park manager

Oshkosh DNR Service Center area

High Cliff State Park - Sturgeon spearing wrapped up last weekend on Lake Winnebago so anglers are now focusing on white bass and having good luck south of High Cliff on the east shore. Cross-country skiing is still good in the park, however snowmobile trails are spotty and bare in stretches with some sections in the county are closed. Cardinals and chickadees are singing their spring songs and bets are being taken on what date in March the Red-winged black birds will return to break winter's quiet. Sap is starting to run on select days, so our naturalist will be tapping a few Box elder trees this weekend for educational purposes to cook up some Box elder syrup in March. - Cynthia Mueller, naturalist

Outagamie County - Snowmobile trails in Outagamie County are still open wide. Call (920) 832-4790 for information on the trails. Some areas are icy so snowmobilers should use caution. Many snowmobiles are running on the Wolf River caution is always recommended on the ice. Open water areas are common and ice depth can change in short distances. - Mike Young, conservation warden, Shiocton

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Southeast Region

Milwaukee DNR Service Center area

Lakeshore State Park - Lakeshore has over a mile of concrete-paved trails. The eastern Loop trail and the Summerfest grounds trail are open and in good condition. The western trail is ice covered and slippery, and will not be plowed for the rest of the winter. There is insufficient snow for snowshoes or cross-country skis. 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.The 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, and can also be viewed close-up in the open water under the pedestrian bridge. Snowy owls have been spotted in the area. - Thomas Kroeger, parks and recreation specialist, Milwaukee

Kettle Moraine State Forest, Lapham Peak Unit - Lapham Peak received a wet snow overnight and into Wednesday. All the trails were groomed and a new track was set Wednesday morning. Snow is still falling at the time of this report. All the trails are in good shape, but a bit soft. Grooming tonight and colder temps should make for excellent conditions Thursday morning. Lights are on until 10 p.m. Monday-Saturday.

Kettle Moraine State Forest, Southern Unit - All trails at the Southern Unit have been groomed and classical tracks have been set. Conditions are generally good or better. The air temperatures at the time you are skiing will have an impact on the conditions. - Paul Sandgren, property manager

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

Sheboygan County - Anglers have been in the marina, however brown trout and steelhead fishing has been spotty. Ice conditions have been changing, so use extra caution or fish off of the docks. 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 near Rotary Park. The power plant discharge has also given up a few small browns; spawn sacs have worked best.

Milwaukee County - Ice anglers have been fishing the harbor at McKinley Marina and 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 some fishable open water on the Milwaukee River in Kletzsch Park, and anglers floating spawn sacs have a chance at catching a brown trout or steelhead. On the lower Milwaukee River, conditions have been changing daily at Riverfront Ramp and under the Hoan Bridge. That stretch is currently free of ice, and when boats can 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 open water below the Horlick dam and into Quarry Lake Park, and stream flows have finally dropped down to a fishable level.

Waukesha DNR Service Center area

Waukesha County - Ice conditions remain good on most Waukesha area lakes. Anglers are reporting catching some walleye on Pewaukee Lake using tip-ups and minnows at night. Anglers are also catching northern pike on Pine Lake using tip-ups baited with shiners near the weed edges. The season closes for bass, northern, and walleye on most inland bodies of water on Sunday. - Matt Groppi, conservation warden, Waukesha

Plymouth DNR Service Center area

Washington County - Snowmobile trails in Ozaukee and Washington Counties are closed at this time. Trail openings and closings are regulated at the local level and for trail conditions you may call (262) 284-8259 for Ozaukee County and (262) 334-6061 for Washington County. Ice fishing activity continues to be high on local lakes in Washington County. It is important to remember that the game fish season closes this Sunday. Check the fishing regulations booklet for specific water body regulations. It is also important to remember that all permanent ice shacks must be removed from the ice after Sunday, however anglers may continue to use a portable ice shacks if removed daily. - Sean Neverman, conservation warden, Plymouth

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South Central Region

Lower Wisconsin State Riverway - The Lower Wisconsin State Riverway received several inches of fresh snow this week which should make for some very good cross country skiing and snowshoeing conditions. The hike to the top of the ridge within the black hawk unit will provide a very beautiful view of the snow covered Wisconsin River Valley. It has been reported that blue birds have returned to the area and four swans are in the Bakken Pond area. A sandhill crane has also been seen in the Helena Unit. Fishermen have reported success catching northern on tip ups. - Matt Seguin, property manager

Dodgeville DNR Service Center area

Grant County - Snowmobile trails in northern Grant County are in poor condition after a weekend of heavy use and warm temperatures. The trails in the northeast also had many areas of ice remaining from the previous warm weather which made for difficult hill and corner conditions. Several snowmobiles slid off the trail and into nearby trees and brush. Tuesday's snowfall added 3-5 inches of new snow and should improve trail conditions. Ice fishing remains slow with a few bluegills and crappies caught below the Lock and Dam #10 spillway near the first island, and at Bertom Lake South of Cassville. Early sauger anglers have ventured out below the Lock and Dam #11 at Dubuque using the northeast parking lot and launching into the O Leary Lake cut. A few small saugers have been caught on the Iowa side near the bull nose and along the lock wall of the Lock and Dam. Hawthorne boat landing on the Iowa side remains iced in. - Richard S. DeWitte, conservation warden, Cassville

Iowa County - Anglers are reporting that the bluegill and crappie fishing has slowed on Birch Lake. Some nice sized crappies have been caught in the past week at Long Lake west of Spring Green. Anglers are reporting that they have been catching perch on tip-ups at Long Lake. The fishing has slowed down at Helen Lake off of Hwy. 14 as well. Northern have been biting at Helen Lake off of Hwy. 14 and at Bakkens Pond as well. - David Youngquist, conservation warden, Dodgeville

Blue Mound State Park - Cross County Ski trails are open and in good condition. They were last groomed and tracked on Feb. 22. Pleasure Valley has a few icy areas. A state park trail pass is required and can be purchased at the self-registration station at the office or trail head kiosk. 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. The campground is open year-round. - Kevin Swenson, acting park manager

Wyalusing State Park -Trails are snow and ice covered. Currently cross country ski trails are in good condition. Turkey Hollow and Whitetail Meadow Trails were groomed on Monday and groomed Thursday. Sand Cave Trail and Sentinel Ridge Trail are popular trails for those park visitors with snowshoes. Bird sightings at park office feeders include: juncos, chickadees, white-breasted nuthatches, goldfinches, cardinals, blue jays, red-bellied, downy and hairy woodpeckers, and purple finches. A flock of cedar waxwings frequents the trees across from the park office about once or twice a week. Spring must not be too far away as the cardinals have been singing their "what cheer" song in the mornings. Four opossums visit the feeders daily, making use of the seed that falls to the ground. Eagles are often sighted from the park overlooks and Wisconsin Ridge Campground. The Washington Street Bridge, St. Feriole Island and the Regional Tourism Center (Hwy. 18 W) in Prairie du Chien are usually known for eagle sightings this time of year. Mississippi River level at Prairie du Chien is at 7.9. The boat landing is a popular place for ice anglers. Number of anglers on the ice late last week and over the weekend must mean that the fishing report was good. Local anglers report that fishing was not as good early this week as it was over the weekend. We do not monitor ice conditions. If there are any questions about the condition of the road to the boat landing due to snow or ice, please call the park office at (608) 996-2261. - Beverly Pozega, visitor services associate

Horicon DNR Service Center area

Dodge County - The Dodge County Snowmobile Trail System is now open. Please note that there is ice under the snow and on corners and trails may have drifting due to high winds and some signs may be snow covered. Riders are cautioned to stay on marked trails and not cut corners or risk having the trail system shut down. Traveling off the marked trails can cause damage, trespass complaints, and safety concerns. Do your part and ride smart and keep others in your group doing the same. Trail information, including a map with zone locations is available at www.dodgeparks.com

Fitchburg DNR Service Center area

Columbia County - Due to pressure ridges and cracks and thin ice due to water current near the railroad trestle, 3 snowmobiles and an ATV went through the ice last Saturday night. Fortunately, everyone made it out, but one subject was transported via Med Flight to UW Hospital for treatment. This particular area of Lake Wisconsin is very dangerous. We remind everyone that there is no such thing as "safe ice." As we go forward into spring with freeze/thaw cycles, the ice will continue to degrade. If you must go on the ice, please wear a life jacket and let someone know where you are going and what time you will be back.- Paul Nadolski, conservation warden, Portage

Sauk County - Angler are reminded that ice shelters need to be removed from the area lakes by Sunday. Ice fishing across the area lakes is slow. Some crappies are biting on white plastic baits as well as jigs baited with wax worms. Bluegills fishing has been slow with the majority of the bluegills that are being caught are small in size. Some nice size perch have been caught on the west side of the lake along drop offs. Those have success catching perch have been using jigs baited with minnows. Schools of gizzard shad are prevalent across Lake Redstone. Some walleyes have been caught at night on Dutch Hollow Lake. Despite the recent snow the Sauk County snowmobile trails along with the 400 State Trail remains closed until additional snowfall is received. - David Horzewski, conservation warden, Reedsburg

Devil's Lake State Park - The mid-week storm brought more snow than expected to Devil's Lake State Park. We have a fresh coating of at least 3-4 inches on the ground, perfect for snowshoeing and skiing. The snow may not last long with warmer temperatures predicted for next week. There is still plenty of ice on the lake and many are still enjoying ice fishing. Be careful on the south end of the lake, near Messenger Creek. There are natural springs there that weaken the ice, making it thinner than the rest of the lake. The trails are still snow covered and easy to move around on with snowshoes. If you don't have snowshoes, you can still get on the trails, it's just more of a workout. Not too many new wildlife sightings this week. The pileated woodpeckers have still been frequenting the suet feeder at the Nature Center. The pine siskins, black-capped chickadees, tufted titmouse, white-breasted nuthatches, downy and hairy woodpeckers, red-bellied woodpeckers, and American goldfinches are still regulars at the feeders as well. North of the park, sandhill cranes have been spotted, a sure sign that spring will be here soon. - Sue Johansen, natural resources educator

Lake Kegonsa State Park -Cross country ski trails are in good condition and were last groomed and tracked on Thursday, Feb. 28. Some areas are icy - please use caution. Hiking, snowshoeing and pets are prohibited on all cross country ski trails. - Sarah Bolser, park manager

New Glarus Woods State Park - Song birds are active and the sounds of spring are near. The "springs here" whistle of the chickadee, "what cheer" call of the cardinal and frequent drumming of the woodpeckers is inspired by longer daylight and gives us the inclination that spring is near. Skunks and ground hogs can be seen wallowing about on the warmer days. Owls are active in the forest calling early in the evening and late into the night. The larger, great horned owls are now on their nests with eggs as the barred and screech owls continue their mating calls and prepare their late winter nesting spots. Deer and fox move about during the day and evening. Many tracks and traces of animals can be discovered along the trails, through the woods and prairies. Vole and mouse burrows can be seen as twisting tunnels and chutes through the remaining snow and ice as it slowly melts into the ground. - Brad Bates, ranger/assistant manger

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West Central Region

La Crosse DNR Service Center area

Vernon County - Warmer nights have increased opossum activity levels. These interesting marsupial mammals mate in mid- to late-winter, and most young are born in March and early April after a rapid 13-day gestation period. New-born opossums are partially developed, lacking fully formed hearts, lungs, and kidneys. They climb into their mother's protective pouch, known as a marsupium, and remain there for 60-70 days, suckling continuously, undergoing further growth and development. Commonly believed to possess minimal intelligence, opossums rank above dogs in intelligence when subjected to learning tests. Adult opossums possess 50 teeth, more than any other mammal in Wisconsin and are immune to rattlesnake venom. They serve an important function in food chain as they consume many harmful insects and clean up lots of carrion. - Dave Matheys, wildlife biologist, Viroqua

Merrick State Park - We received about 5 inches of new snow. The trails are snow covered but there is ice underneath the snow in some locations. - Lois Larson, park manager

Perrot State Park - The cross-country ski trails are in fair condition. The trails have been packed and groomed. Trails not groomed for cross-country skiing are open for hiking and snowshoeing. These include the Riverview, Black Walnut, Brady's Bluff, and Perrot Ridge trails. These trails are in good condition.- Lois Larson, park manager

Wildcat Mountain State Park - About 3 inches new snow fell on Wednesday, Feb. 27. Cross-country ski trails have not been groomed yet due to near/above freezing temps. With colder temps predicted for Thursday night, we plan to groom Friday morning (March 1) to get trails in good shape for the weekend. 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 some icy areas. - Joseph K Fieweger, park manager

Black River Falls DNR Service Center area

Black River State Forest - The warm-up has started somewhat but we still have a fair snow base in many areas of the forest. Trails are open but will likely be icy in some areas. We attempted to groom the trails on Tuesday, but temperatures were too warm. We plan on trying again Friday. Snowshoeing is allowed anywhere in the forest, other than groomed trails. A new 1.5-mile snowshoe trail is available at the Smrekar trailhead. Additional trails for snowshoeing include the two-mile Castle Mound trail and the five mile trail from Pigeon Creek to Smrekar Road. 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 conditions. - Peter Bakken, superintendent

Trempealeau County - The snowmobile trails in Trempealeau and Jackson Counties are currently open. With warmer temperatures forecasted for the end of the week, the trail status may change. For trail conditions in Trempealeau County, call (715) 538-2311, ext. 205. For trail conditions in Jackson County, consult the website at: www.co.jackson.wi.us. Ice anglers are having some success with panfish in the area. Bluegills are being found off the bottom, but crappies are hitting while suspended under the ice. Use a yellow or orange jig with a wax worm. Game fish action on tip ups has been slow. - Robin Barnhardt, conservation warden, Osseo

Eau Claire DNR Service Center area

Dunn County - In northern Dunn County ice conditions are good on Tainter Lake, walleye and panfish success has increased. Snowmobile trails are open, but the snow is melting rapidly and the trail conditions are becoming poor. Swans have been observed on the Red Cedar River. - James Cleven, conservation warden, Menomonie

Wausau DNR Service Center area

Portage County - Despite above freezing temperatures and heavy use, all snowmobile trails remain open in Portage County. Fresh snow will be needed in the not-too-distant future to ensure good trail conditions and extend the length of time the trails remain open. Fishing remains spotty. Some walleyes and panfish are being caught on the Wisconsin River System, especially in the early morning and evening hours. Anglers and other recreationalists are reminded to watch for deteriorating ice conditions as the days become warmer and longer. Anglers need to remember that fishing shanties need to be off the ice by Sunday on all waters south of state highway 64. Portable shanties may continue to be used but must be removed from the ice daily. - Barry Meister, conservation warden, Stevens Point

Wood County - All snowmobile trails are open, conditions vary, so please use caution and stay on marked trails. - 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 do not monitor ice conditions. Visitors over the weekend were skiing and snowshoeing. Cross country ski trails are in fair to good condition - ice under the snow and torn up trails on the peninsula from illegal snowmobile use. With the snow falling on Wednesday, trails will be repaired and regroomed when the snow stops falling. When there is at least 6 inches of snow, the office has adult sized snowshoes to check out to use in the park. We do not have child size snowshoes yet. We are looking for a camp host for the month of July and for the first two weeks of October. This Saturday at 2 p.m. is a "Learn to Snowshoe and Geocache event" on the Ranger Rick geocache trail. Three new caches on the trail will be published for the event as well as three others in the park area. Snacks, coffee and hot chocolate provided after the hike. We have gps units and 150 to up to 250 lb snowshoes available for the event. First come, first served. - 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. 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

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Last Revised: Thursday, February 28, 2013