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Spring is taking root. And if we can believe the long-range forecast, it appears spring may actually linger. Snow and ice are melting rapidly in the Northwoods, but there was still a lot of snow on the ground and ice on the lakes. To the south, most areas are bare ground in Madison finally, but the lakes are still ice covered.
Spring wild turkey hunting begins this weekend with a two-day special youth hunt Saturday and Sunday April 6 and 7 and the first of six 7-day regular spring turkey hunting periods begins on April 10. Each time period begins on a Wednesday and goes to the following Tuesday. The 2013 season closes on May 21. Wildlife biologists say that hunters should look forward to a good season, thanks in large part to last year's mild winter and early spring. Male turkeys are gobbling in the Brule River State Park and have been seen strutting or looking for food in Columbia, Dunn, Washington and Waupaca counties.
Turkey hunters considering hunting in a state park are reminded that the previous 16 state parks that were open to turkey hunting by permit only remain open only to those hunters who have permits to hunt in those parks. Other state park properties are open to any hunter who has a permit for the zone in which the state park is located. State parks are only open for the first three hunting periods.
The early trout season opened on some stretches of Lake Superior tributaries last week and it was a wet, cool opener, creating lighter than normal fishing pressure. Anglers did get out reported that they did catch some steelhead and browns. Along Lake Michigan, fishing at Port Washington has improved. Both rainbows and brown trout were caught during the week. Steelhead fishing had picked up considerably on the East Twin and West Twin rivers in Manitowoc County, but most other tributaries were running high and still fairly cold, with some action reported on the Sheboygan and Root rivers.
While spotty due to remaining ice and snow on many waters, ice fishing was still going on in the north where a few bluegill, perch and crappie have been caught.
Open water fishing season on the Wisconsin River has begun, especially below the various dams. Some keeper walleyes are being taken by anglers but with waters temperatures in the mid-30s, the actual walleye run is some time away.
There has been a large influx of song birds in the last week across the Badgerland, including robins, killdeer and red-winged blackbirds. Ducks, geese, swans and sandhill cranes continue to arrive in numbers. Eagle migration has peaked and resident birds have initiated nesting activities .
Loons were being seen on open water in southern Wisconsin this week, waiting for the lakes to open farther north. Where you won't see a loon this season is on the Wisconsin income tax form. Wisconsinites can no longer "look for the loon" to donate to the state Endangered Resources Fund, as all images have been removed from the form, but there is still a line for making your donations.
Warm weather late last week resulted in decent sap runs in southwest and east central areas of Wisconsin. Cold temperatures starting last Saturday have limited sap flow with the exception of the southwest portions of the state where there have been decent runs. Some producers are reporting the quantity of maple sap seems to be down a bit this year, but high sugar content is some areas have resulted in extra sweet sap making up for the reduced sap flows. Northern Wisconsin is still in the grips of winter with only a couple of small sap runs reported last week. Warmer temperatures are predicted for later this week which should jump start sap flows in the north, but nighttime temperatures above freezing in the south may slow sap flows in that part of the state.
EDITOR'S ADVISORY: The DNR will host an online chat about implementation the Deer Trustee Report and the ongoing action team discussions. Input is sought on implementation from hunter and non-hunters. The chat is one way to provide thoughts aboaut enhancing deer management in the state and ask questions of DNR experts. The chat starts at noon on Monday, April 8. To participate, visit the DNR home page, dnr.wi.us click on the link for "ask the experts."
Spring is finally making headway across much of Wisconsin. Early migrants such as American robins, common grackles, killdeer, great blue herons, and red-winged blackbirds have reached north to Lake Superior. Birders in southern Wisconsin are seeing their first eastern phoebes, fox sparrows, rusty blackbirds, Yellow-rumped warblers, ospreys, and both kinglet species. Ice prevails across many bodies of water but flooded fields and other areas of open water are hosting many waterfowl as numbers build and peak in the next few weeks. Tundra swans made a major move into the eastern half of the state this past week with 2,000-3,000 being seen near Green Bay. Eagle migration has peaked and resident birds have initiated nesting activities. Spring raptor migration will very soon pick up as red-tailed hawks, turkey vultures, red-shouldered hawks, sharp-shinned hawks, and other species head north. Mid-late April also marks the best time to witness the elaborative courtship displays of American woodcock statewide, greater prairie chickens near Buena Vista, spruce grouse in northern conifer bogs, and sharp-tailed grouse in the sand barrens of northwestern Wisconsin. Owls continue to make headlines, including great gray owls in Middleton, Mauston, and the far northwest. Other rare birds reported this week include ruff and Eurasian wigeon in Dodge County. Expect increases in bird diversity and abundance ahead of each warm weather front over the next two months. As always, help us track the migration by reporting our observations to Wisconsin eBird at www.ebird.org/wi. - Ryan Brady, Bureau of Wildlife Management research scientist, Ashland
EDITOR'S ADVISORY: Join DNR birding specialists Andy Paulios and Ryan Brady for a live online chat through the DNR website from noon to 1 p.m. Wendesday, April 10 to ask questions and learn more about spring birding activities in Wisconsin. To participate, visit the DNR home page, dnr.wi.us click on the link for "ask the experts."
Superior DNR Service Center area
Brule River State Forest - Fishing on the river started last weekend from Highway 2 to the mouth of the river. It was a wet, cool opener that landed on Easter weekend, creating lighter than normal fishing pressure. Anglers did get out reported that they did catch some steelhead and browns. Snow may still be on the ground and we may still be getting some brisk mornings, but it is indeed spring. More signs of spring are becoming more apparent as the season progresses. A few robins are back in the area as are kestrels, Canada geese, and woodcock. Trumpeter swans are staging near their frozen breeding sites, waiting for the warmer weather to melt the lakes and ponds. Male turkeys are gobbling, trying to attract hens. It has been noted this year that a large amount of maple trees are being girdled by gray squirrels, looking to get the sap. It is possible that the snow and ice may have much of their normal food sources covered so they are taking advantage of the delectable treat in the woods. - Catherine Khalar, visitor services associate
Ashland DNR Service Center area
Pattison State Park - The park still has a few inches snow cover in most areas, but there are a few spots with no snow cover at all. The ski trails are now closed for the season and are open for hiking. Both Big Manitou Falls and Little Manitou Falls are starting to open up and running water is visible once again. Please call the park at 715-399-3111 for up to the minute park conditions. The number of campers has increased over the past month. - Phillip Brown, Ranger
Spooner DNR Service Center area
Crex Meadows State Wildlife - There is a little open water on Crex Meadows near Dike 1 and the pump house. Diving ducks are starting to appear such as buffleheads and hooded mergansers. Kestrels, northern harriers, and sandhill cranes have been spotted. More spring migrants are expected in the coming weeks with warming temperatures and melting ice. - Heidi Rusch, natural resources educator
Washburn County - Otter are up on the ice enjoying the sun. Hooded mergansers, killdeer, and pie-billed grebe are now back sharing the rivers with trumpeter swans, geese and mallards. Kestrels and horned larks are in the fields.- Nancy Christel, wildlife biologist, Spooner
Cumberland DNR Service Center area
Baron County - Canada geese pairs have arrived and laid claim to their ponds this week in the Cumberland area. Recent cold nights have slowed ice melt and travel on area lakes remains tricky. The ice is still more than 20 inches thick on most lakes. Fishing success has been spotty with some moderate success for bluegills observed.- Phil Dorn, conservation warden, Cumberland
Ladysmith DNR Service Center area
Upper Chippewa Basin fisheries report (Price, Rusk, Sawyer Taylor and inland Ashland and Iron counties) - Ice conditions have remained relatively stable in the last week with most lakes still registering about 18-20 inches of ice. The snowpack on top has settled and melted down a bit, but there is still 6-8 inches of snow and quite a bit of slush yet in many areas of the lakes. This has continued to make for difficult travel conditions and has kept fishing pressure at a minimum. There have been a few panfish anglers venturing out, but success has been spotty. A few bluegill, perch and crappie have been caught, and they've been found suspended off the bottom near deep water areas yet. - Skip Sommerfeldt, senior fisheries biologist, Park Falls
Flambeau River State Forest - Crews had hoped to groom cross-country ski trails one last time this week, but the rain and the refreeze has created very icy conditions and attempts to groom would be ineffective. So grooming has been suspended for the season. The trail remains open to skiing and is now open to other non-motorized activities including hiking, snowshoeing, and biking. The snowmobile season has also ended. The forest has the largest snowpack on record this spring with about 12 inches of snow still on the ground. Visitors are starting to see some signs of spring even though winter still has its grip on us. Red-winged blackbirds, geese, and skunks and bears are starting to make their appearance.- Judy Freeman, visitor services associate
Woodruff DNR Service Center area
Oneida County - At least 12 inches of snow remains in the woods in most locations. Some south facing slopes are becoming visible. A few learn to hunt program hunters have reported hearing one or two turkeys gobble in the mornings, although the birds have not been responding to calls. The lakes continue to keep their snow cover and vehicle travel remains difficult. Despite the ice and snow cover migratory birds have been arriving. Canada geese, wood ducks, mallards, blue herons, and sand hill cranes have all been seen. - Tim Ebert, conservation warden, Woodruff
Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest - Forest visitors had a good ski season this year with adequate snowfall to keep the trails in very good condition. All good things must come to an end. Crews are done grooming for the season. - Tony Martinez, forestry facilities worker
Peshtigo DNR Service Center area
Marinette County - There is still fairly deep snow in the woods with thick crust. The lakes are frozen with in some cases with 20-inches of ice. Some of the flowages have open water in the channels though, so be careful. Early migrants began to show up over the weekend with robins, red-winged blackbirds, sandhill cranes, killdeer, geese, and a variety of ducks making an appearance. Water in the rivers is still very cold and walleye are not running yet. Maple sap has been running considerably better this year, and looks like it will continue to run for a while - Aaron McCullough, wildlife technician, Wausaukee
Oconto County - Canada geese are setting up their territories and staking out prime nesting spots even though most ponds are still ice covered. Some wood ducks and pintails have been seen in the Oconto Marsh. Tundra swans have been in the area but the bay of Green Bay is still ice covered. Panfishing on the Machickanee Flowage has been picking up but beware of ice conditions as it is changing daily. The Lower Oconto River is open all the way to the breakwall in Oconto. Some brown trout are being caught with an occasional rainbow. Walleye fishing below the Stiles dam is still slow. - Mike Stahl, conservation warden, Oconto Falls
Green Bay DNR Service Center area
Manitowoc County - Steelhead fishing had picked up considerably on the East Twin and West Twin Rivers. High waters from snowmelt have brought fish up to the first dams. Water clarity is low and bright colored egg imitations and spawn sacs under floats have been the most productive. Fish are being caught from a variety of locations, from just below the dams in fast water, to current breaks and areas where fish can rest. Catch rates are about one fish for every two hours of fishing and most rainbows are in the four pound range with some running larger. Most stretches of the Branch River are fishable, but water levels are quite high. The Manitowoc is not entirely fishable. Ice is still covering the river from Rapids Road to downtown Manitowoc, though there is less ice daily. Steelhead may not have reached Clark Mills Dam or the Cato Falls areas yet. There has been some open water activity on Manitowoc piers and harbors. Browns have been caught on spawn with some anglers also using shrimp, though fishing continues to be slow. The ice fishing in Manitowoc Harbor has continued to be slow and ice should be unsafe soon. Sea Gull Marina boat ramp in Two Rivers is one of the few boat landings useable in the area. A few boats have been having some success trolling shallow water for brown trout. Stick baits behind planer boards have been the ticket to limit spooking the wary browns in shallow water. Most fish caught have been from 1 to 3 pounds. Boats have generally been trolling north of Two Rivers.- Thomas Gerbyshak, fisheries technician, Mishicot
Swans were flying south over the weekend. There are some pairs on ponds in Manitowoc County. Killdeer have also returned. - Robert Stroess, conservation warden, Mishicot
Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center area
Door County - Temperatures this week are starting to rise which also increased fishing activity on the Fox River. The Lower West side of the Bay is very quiet, but lots of snow is melting on the ice. There are no open patches of water you can see from shore yet. The Fox River was very busy this week with fishermen targeting walleye. The main baits used were various types of minnows, jigs with minnows, and plastics (chartreuse and other various colors). Fishing depths ranged anywhere from 15-22 feet and the water temperatures were around 40-43 degrees. Other species caught were whitefish, suckers, catfish, sheep head, carp, white bass, and a few saugers. Shore fishermen were also targeting walleye, but the numbers were low. They were also using various kinds of minnows and jigs for bait. - Elizabeth Turos, fisheries technician, Green Bay
Rock Island State Park, Washington Island - Local anglers have been getting a few brown trout and northern pike casting in open water when it can be found or through the ice. Three trumpeter swans have been seen hanging around Jackson Harbor the last few days much to the delight of local bird watchers. Evening entertainment has been American woodcock peenting. Turkeys are starting to fan and strut their stuff. Turkey population on the islands is high with people "seeing them everywhere." Rooster pheasants challenge my car when I pull in the driveway and along highway ditches where their girlfriends are hanging out in the bushes. Maple sap has been running but said to be slow and sugar content is dropping as spring progresses. Lots of snow left in the woods but ice in the shallow harbors has become unsafe for travel. Deer are showing up in increasing numbers in the fields as snow melts open spots. Chicagoans have been calling to find out what time the ferry to Rock Island runs and are surprised there's still 3-feet of ice between the islands. - Randall Holm, ranger
Kewaunee County - The changing weather the past couple weeks has slowed fishing for panfish on the inland waters of Kewaunee County and fishermen who have reported catching fish have stated they have all been small fish. Large flocks of turkeys are still being seen on fields as the snow melts and provide easier access to food sources. Several sportsmen groups reported that during their learn-to-hunt turkey events, calling birds away from the large flocks has been difficult, but warmer temps have improved the young hunters success this past weekend.- David Allen, conservation warden, Kewaunee
Wautoma DNR Service Center area
Waupaca County - Weather has finally started to warm up. Robins, woodducks, mallards, geese (they never really leave anymore), and sandhill cranes are here in good numbers. Fields are just starting to open up and deer are out foraging at all hours of the day after a tough late winter stretch. Turkeys now just starting to strut and the toms are starting to follow hens around. No fishing report this week. We have not observed anyone trout fishing or ice fishing. - Karl Kramer, wildlife technician, Wautoma
Hartman Creek State Park - The park has been experiencing above freezing temperatures over the last few weeks. The cross-country ski trails are in poor condition and may be icy in areas. Please call 715-258-2372 for updated information as trail conditions can change rapidly. The park's family campground officially opened April 1. However, 8-10 inches of snow remain in some areas making it difficult to move around on the campsites - Fred Viste, ranger
Oshkosh DNR Service Center area
Calumet County - Temperatures are slowing warming up along the east shore of Lake Winnebago in Calumet County. While the lake still has more than 20-inches of ice in many areas, the shorelines are rapidly deteriorating leaving most hard-water anglers with limited access. Robins and other birds are finding things to eat as snow piles slowly melt from lawns in the area. The Killsnake Wildlife Area is currently flooded and many different species of waterfowl are enjoying themselves. Mallards, pintails, and swans have been seen in large numbers on the property. An eagle was seen adding sticks to a nest along the Lake Winnebago shoreline near Brothertown in recent days. Maple trees are still tapped in the area with the hopes of making more syrup this year than last - Michael Disher, conservation warden - Stockbridge
Milwaukee DNR Service Center area
Lake Michigan fisheries team report - Compiled from creel clerks by Cheryl Masterson and Jeffrey Zinuticz, fisheries technicians, Milwaukee
Sheboygan County - Winter is finally starting to loosen its grip on southeast Wisconsin. The Sheboygan River is still high although flows are currently dropping. Water clarity is poor, the temperature is around 34 degrees, and there has been very little fishing effort on the river. The Pigeon River is almost completely ice free, with a water temperature of 34 degrees on Wednesday. River levels have dropped since the weekend and water clarity has increased. A few anglers have been seen targeting the Pigeon with the occasional steelhead being caught. The Sheboygan piers have seen a lot of anglers and some decent action lately. Anglers have been doing better on spawn sacs or by casting spoons. It seems that on slightly warmer days the action picks up, but as soon as the air temperature drops so does the fishing success. Anglers hoping to catch a few fish should watch the forecast and plan their fishing trips accordingly. For those hoping to get the boats out, the launch docks have now been put in the water at the Deland boat ramp.
Ozaukee County - Fishing in the Port Washington area has improved since the weekend. Both rainbows and brown trout were caught from the utility discharge out to the lighthouse during the week. Most fish were in the 3 pound range with the occasional 6 pound fish. Two of the ramps have now been installed in the Port Washington harbor and are available to help make boat launching easier. Water levels in Sauk Creek have dropped, and clarity has increased since the weekend. The water temperature on Wednesday was 34 degrees. Anglers fishing Sauk Creek found little success, but the occasional steelhead could be caught by patient anglers.
Milwaukee County - In Milwaukee the ice in McKinley harbor has broken up, but as of Wednesday there was still a large ice floe near the launch so boaters should remain cautious. The Riverfront and South Shore boat launches are clear of ice and open for launching. When the winds have been light, boats were reporting a good number of brown trout and a few lake trout being caught either jigging or trolling the gaps with spoons. Anglers fishing the Summerfest area were reporting a few browns caught on medium golden shiners under a float. Shore fishing has been best when the winds have been light. A few fishermen were under the Hoan Bridge at Jones Island fishing for browns, and a few fish have been reported caught on live bait. There were some steelheaders in Oak Creek, but fishing was slow with only a few seen in the creek. The Oak Creek power plant has slowed down in recent days due to the discharge not being on all the time, but a few browns and rainbows are being caught on spawn and Gulp. The Milwaukee River is at moderate to high levels with low water clarity due to the recent snowmelt. The water temperature was 36-39 degrees. Anglers below the North Avenue dam were reporting some steelhead being caught on spawn sacs, and a few walleye and northern pike have been caught as well. Upstream of the dam fishing has been slow. The Menomonee River is running higher than normal but is still fishable with fairly clear water. The water temperature was 38-40 degrees in the shallows. A few anglers were catching some brown trout over at MMSD; however, anglers targeting perch were reporting minimal catches. Fly fishermen at Miller Park caught a few rainbows, and not many fish were seen in the area.
Racine County - In Racine over the weekend boaters headed to the Oak Creek Power Plant with good catches of brown trout reported. Successful anglers were trolling crank baits in 10-20 feet of water. On the Root River anglers concentrated at the Horlick Dam as the water level continued to rise from melting snow. Steelhead up to 31 inches in length and some brown trout were reported taken. Successful anglers used floating spawn sacks in the areas of slow water. One angler took some nice steelhead averaging 8 to 10 pounds on Sunday casting a pink fly with silver flash in the pools near the base of the dam. The river temperature warmed to 39 degrees. Fish were processed at the Root River Steelhead Facility on April 1. A total of 22 steelhead were passed upstream, and our next processing day is scheduled for Monday, April 8.
Kenosha County - The Kenosha boat launch was active on Saturday as the docks have been installed for the season. Boaters were seen trolling in the harbor near the piers and shoreline. Some boaters reported good catches of brown trout while trolling crank baits, but others fishing for perch and coho along the lakeshore reported limited success. Casting crank baits from the North and South piers produced some nice size brown trout, and one angler landed an 8 and a 15 pound brown. The best bait colors used were white and olive green. Fishing pressure on the Pike River has been light. Water temperatures have been slowly rising from 34-38F. The flow on the river remained fast and the water was muddy due to continued melting of snow. Fly fishermen were seen near the mouth of the river and along the 13th Avenue bridge with no report of fish being taken. The air temperature in Kenosha had warmed to 57 degrees on Saturday.
Plymouth DNR Service Center area
Washington County - Local anglers have been getting a few brown trout and northerns casting in open water when it can be found or through the ice. Three trumpeter swans have been seen hanging around Jackson Harbor the last few days much to the delight of local bird watchers. Evening entertainment has been American woodcock peenting. Turkeys are starting to fan and strut their stuff. Turkey population on the islands is high with people "seeing them everywhere." Rooster pheasants challenge my car when I pull in the driveway and along highway ditches where their girlfriends are hanging out in the bushes. Maple sap has been running but said to be slow and sugar content is dropping as spring progresses. Lots of snow left in the woods but ice in the shallow harbors has become unsafe for travel. Deer are showing up in increasing numbers in the fields as snow melts open spots. Chicagoans have been calling to find out what time the ferry to Rock Island runs and are surprised there's still 3-feet of ice between the islands. - Randall Holm, ranger
With the recent arrival of warmer weather ice conditions in Washington County have been changing rapidly. Some late ice anglers can still be found on area lakes; however anglers are reminded to use extreme caution and to check ice conditions before venturing out on the ice. Anglers that are out are still reporting catching some panfish. Snow cover is nearly gone in most areas of Southeast Wisconsin. The ice has left rivers and creeks and large volumes of water are continuing to flow due to the continued melting. Spring turkey hunting is open this weekend for youth hunters and opens April 10 for period A permit holders. Turkeys in the area have been seen in good numbers with most turkeys still grouped up and tom turkeys strutting. - Sean Neverman, conservation warden, Plymouth
Theresa Marsh State Wildlife Area - Migrant waterfowl that have shown up in large numbers in wetlands and run off ponds over the last couple weeks include sandhill cranes, wood ducks, and most other dabbling and diving duck species. Several groups of tundra swans were seen this week on several local ponds and Theresa Marsh Wildlife Area. The Pike Lake DNR burn crew expects to start doing prescribed burns the week of April 8. Parcels to be burned are on Theresa, Allenton and Jackson Wildlife Area, the Pike Lake Unit, Havenwoods State Forest, and other sites. Burning will continue into May. The floating boat ramps and cattail boom at Theresa Marsh dam will be re-installed by mid-April provided most ice has disappeared. Water levels are very high on and around Theresa, Allenton and Jackson Marsh and are expected to remain that way over the next few weeks due to the large volume of runoff from snow and ice melt still making its way down stream. - Tom Isaac, wildlife biologist, Hartford
Dodgeville DNR Service Center area
Lafayette County - The water temperatures in the area have been slowly increasing and the ice conditions around the area have been quickly degrading. Sandhill cranes, geese, robins and red wing black birds are back in high numbers and people looking for blue birds, Great blue herons and vultures have been having luck.
Wyalusing State Park - With spring break, park visitation has certainly increased. Earlier this week, there were still a few brave anglers on the remaining ice. Some trails remain snow and ice covered. Warmer temps are in the forecast for the rest of this week and early next week. Highs are expected to reach mid-50s to low 60s, with night time temperatures above freezing. Hopefully the spring-like temperatures will hasten the arrival of spring. Bird activity at the office feeders has certainly slacked off. A few chickadees, blue jays, woodpeckers and cardinals (especially in late afternoon, early evening) are all that remain. Feeders are taken down at night to eliminate destruction by raccoons. A song sparrow was spotted near the park office earlier this week as were bluebirds. Open waters of the Mississippi and Wisconsin rivers are teeming with waterfowl - ducks, geese, swans, blue herons and gulls. Driftless Land Stewardship is preparing to do controlled burns in the park. Wyalusing State Park will also have a herd of goats soon to control brushy vegetation such as honeysuckle. Concession stand is being revamped with new ceiling, counters and cupboards. - Beverly Pozega, visitor services associate
Horicon DNR Service Center area
Dodge County - Waterfowl are being seen in large numbers including Canda geese, White-fronted geese and tundra swans. Tundra swans are being seen in large numbers in flooded corn fields. We are getting near the peak of duck migration. Open water and flooded farm fields seem to be holding the most waterfowl. Species of duck include hooded merganser, pintail, green-winged teal, wood ducks, goldeneye, canvasback, scaup, bufflehead and a variety of others. A Eurasian shorebird called a ruff has been seen in southern Dodge County and has been bringing in birders from across the Midwest. An osprey has been reported on the nesting platform near the Horicon Marsh Education Center. Whooping Cranes have returned to the Horicon area as well. - Elizabeth Herzmann, natural resources educator, Horicon
Fitchburg DNR Service Center area
Columbia County - Water levels are up in the Wisconsin River system. Open water down to Lake Wisconsin. Walleyes are starting to move upstream. Turkeys are still in their winter flocks. Ice fishermen are still catching panfish on local lakes. Paul Nadolski, conservation warden, Portage
Jefferson County - Effective Wednesday, Jefferson County is under a slow no wake status. The headwaters of the Rock River at Newville have reached a level of 779.5. Walleyes and crappies are being caught from Lake Koshkonong to the dam in Jefferson on the Rock River. The ice has gone out enough for anglers to launch their boats at the new boat launch in the City of Jefferson. The new launch is located near the water treatment plant on East Riverview Dr. in the City of Jefferson. Anglers have also reported catching some catfish on the Rock River as well.- Ryan Ellifson, conservation warden, Jefferson County
Mirror Lake State Park -Snow still remains with end of the season ski conditions on the Fern Dell and Hastings Trails. No further grooming will be done. The trails on the north side of Fern Dell Road (the park office side) have been opened up for hiking due to poor skiing conditions. For the most up-to-date conditions, please contact the park at 608-254-2333. The Sandstone loop is an easy 2-mile trail. The Wild Rice Trail is an easy .6-mile trail at the west end of the lake. All of the trails on the North side of Fern Dell Road (the park office and campground side) have also been opened for hiking/snowshoeing. Expect a mix of conditions on the trails to include snow, standing water, and ice. Hikers and snowshoers are reminded that there is no walking on the cross-country ski trails which at this time are the Hastings and Fern Dell Trails. - Becky Green, park manager
Janesville DNR Service Center area
Rock County - Water levels on the Rock River are high causing slow-no-wake restrictions on the Rock River. The walleye run is on, and action has been average so far. Fishing should pick up in the next couple weeks. Most of the fish being caught are males and minnows with jigs have been the best bait. Some northern pike are also being caught below the dams on the Rock River. Game Fishing is closed on all inland waters until the first Saturday in May. The only open waters for game-fish in Rock County are the Rock River and Lake Koshkonong. Traxler Pond has seen some recent crappie fishing action. Several hunter and boater education classes are being offered in the county over the next couple months. Check the DNR webpage for class details and contact numbers. The spring fish and game hearing is coming up on April 8 in the evening in Rock County and will be held at the Milton High School Auditorium. The hearings will also be held at different locations on the same date around the state. Geese are starting to pair up on local potholes. The wet spring we have had so far has been great for ducks and geese. - Boyd Richter, conservation warden, Janesville
Willow River State Park - The present weather trend is freeze and thaw with a lot of snow pack. Trail conditions change daily. It could be solid footing with a crunchy top layer when frozen to most anything else. The top entry to the Willow Falls Hill trail has started to ice up. Trekking poles or ski poles will be a big help at this time of year. Ice fishing continued throughout the weekend. Turbid water will end that before thin ice does. Again, the freeze-thaw cycle is holding the river level relatively normal. Typical ice out is around April 15, but not his year with the extended cold season. Rain is predicted through the weekend so those planning a specific activity should arrive with a back-up plan. These three trails are fully contained in the open hunting area for the month of April: Nelson Farm, Burkhardt, and Mound. - Jeffrey L. Bolte, visitor services associate
La Crosse DNR Service Center area
Wildcat Mountain State Park - All hiking trails are open. Trails are still snow covered in most areas with many icy spots due to melting and refreezing. The cross-country skiing season has come to an end. Bare spots on the ski trails are growing and the remaining snow base is very icy. Winter camping is available in the family campground on a first-come, first-served basis. Sites 1-4 are plowed. Water is available at the maintenance building. - Joseph K Fieweger, park manager
Eau Claire DNR Service Center area
Dunn County - In northern Dunn County the snow is slowly melting, but we still have a lot of snow on the ground. On Tainter Lake there has been very little ice fishing activity, the snow melting on the lake has prevented vehicles from operating on the lake, as they can become stuck. No trout fishing activity has been observed on area streams. It has been too cold for the sucker run, therefore no one has been fishing on the Red Cedar River. There has been a lot of sugar bush activity in northern Dunn County, with the freezing at night and warmer temperatures in the day. Geese are everywhere, they are paired up, and I have seen them on frozen ponds competing for future nesting sites. I have seen lots of migrating ducks on the Red Cedar River. On south facing slopes where the snow has melted there are numerous turkeys and deer searching for food. - James Cleven, conservation warden, Menomonie
Red Cedar State Trail - Grooming operations have ended for the season. The trail is still snow covered but is in poor condition for skiing.- Calvin Kunkel, ranger
Wausau DNR Service Center area
Marathon County - Significant snow cover still remains in many areas in northwest Marathon County, particularly those areas not exposed to direct sunlight. Lakes and streams are starting to thaw, but significant ice still remains. Lake Wausau and parts of the Wisconsin River are still frozen, but the river is starting to open up in many locations particularly below the dams. Typical spring migrants are being seen in the area, including great blue herons, Canada geese, sandhill cranes, robins, and red-winged blackbirds. Ducks can be seen in areas with open water, including common and hooded mergansers, scaup, ring-necked ducks, northern shovelers, goldeneye, and bufflehead. Many of these ducks have been sighted below the Moon Dam at the Big Eau Pleine Reservoir off of Dam Rd. near Mosinee. In addition, bald eagles can be seen frequenting areas with open water. - Michael J. Rader, conservation warden, Wausau
Wisconsin River temperatures in the Marathon County area are around 37 to 39 degrees. People are starting to catch a few walleyes but the water is still a little cold yet. There are some people catching crappies through the ice yet on the frozen water bodies.- Benjamin Herzfeldt, conservation warden, Wausau
Wisconsin Rapids DNR Service Center area
Portage County - Recent warmer weather has eroded ice conditions on lakes and rivers in the Stevens Point and surrounding areas. No one should be driving any type of vehicle on the ice any more this season and foot traffic is highly discouraged. The open water fishing season on the Wisconsin River has begun, especially below the various dams. Some keeper walleyes are being taken by anglers but with waters temperatures in the mid 30's, the actual walleye run is some time away. Anglers are encouraged to use caution, especially around dams and also when the water begins to rise due to runoff. Swift currents can be very dangerous, even to experienced boaters. Never anchor off the stern of your boat and always wear your life jacket.- Barry Meister, conservation warden, Stevens Point
Robins are back in the Central Wisconsin area and walleyes are starting to run on the Wisconsin River.- Jon E. Scharbarth, conservation warden
Buckhorn State Park - It still looks like winter by the lake. There are open areas by the Buckhorn Bridge where people have started shore fishing. The bridge is also a good early morning bird watching spot. The whole area of Buckhorn State Park is Zone 1F is open for those drawn for the special permits for the first three periods (statewide youth turkey hunt in park, youth must have zone 1F permit). The Yellow River Wildlife Area is open for turkey hunting for Zone 1 permits. Statewide Youth Turkey hunt this weekend in Zone 1, Yellow River Wildlife Area and other areas of Zone 1. - Heather Wolf, park manager