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Outdoor ReportPublished January 31, 2020

Crappie caught by an angler on an Iowa County lake - Photo credit: DNR
Crappie caught by an angler on an Iowa County lakePhoto credit: DNR

Outdoor Report is your weekly snapshot for all things outdoors from across the state. Here is a brief look at what Wisconsin has in store for you this week.

More heavy snow this past week in northern Wisconsin with warm temperatures has packed the already deep snow, even more, making for prime winter activities like snowshoeing, skiing and sledding. Southern Wisconsin is snow-covered but not enough for snowmobile trails to be open according to the Snow Conditions Report. However, cross-country ski conditions are fair to good in many southern state properties, including the northern and southern units of the Kettle Moraine State Forest.

The travel conditions on northern lakes and flowages suffered from the warm weather and heavy snow. Many lakes have ankle-deep or deeper slush under 8-10 inches of snow. Ice fishing season is well underway in southern Wisconsin with anglers targeting panfish having good luck with sizable fish being caught.

Some of the birds reported have been cardinals, woodpeckers, thrushes, northern harriers, snow buntings, tree sparrows and rough-legged hawks.

For more on Wisconsin's outdoors, check out the full Outdoor Report below.


Brown County

Anglers reported slow fishing along the east shore of Green Bay for whitefish this week. Early morning has been the best time with anglers report catching a few early morning and then fishing slowing way down, till the late afternoon bite. Standard sliding rigs with wax worms caught the majority of whitefish, and walleye being caught with jigging raps and jigging live minnows. 6-10" of ice up and down the shore have been reported by anglers, with a few spots of open water and thin ice farther out. Lots of rough ice and slush on top of the ice has slowed travel in some places.

Anglers reported catching walleye and whitefish out of Bayshore Park. Keeper walleye 16-20 inches with a few larger fish report being caught jigging with minnows. A few whitefish also are being caught on the standard sliding rigs with wax worms. Lots of lookers and short biters being reported out of Bayshore as well.

Good fishing for perch was seen this week along the west shore of Green Bay with reports of fast action at times. Most anglers were bringing home fish with some sorting of smaller perch being common. Some limits were seen with keeper perch ranging from 8 to 11 inches. Small jigging spoons tipped with wax worms or minnows were producing perch as well as tip downs with minnows. A few northern pike were also caught by perch anglers. Travel on the ice was more difficult over the weekend with slush and water being an issue on the ice.

Sunset Beach anglers were targeting perch and northern pike with no fish being reported caught. Slushy conditions were present over the weekend with travel being slow going on the ice.

Minimal angling effort was seen this past week at Longtail Point with only a couple of northern pike anglers out. Fishing was slow with no fish reported being caught.

Signs of ice fishing off Voyageur Park on the Fox River was seen this week, however open water still was seen in the main channel.

Door County

Heavy fishing pressure and slow fishing were reported at most spots along Little Sturgeon Bay on Saturday. Heavy fishing pressure was observed off of Lime Kiln Road over the weekend. Anglers report slow fishing with only one or two whitefish for half a day effort. Reports of 6-8 inches of ice with spots of open water further out.

Heavy fishing pressure over the weekend with over 50 vehicles seen at Big Rock Place and Clafins. Anglers report slow fishing for whitefish and perch. One angler interviewed had four whitefish and four perch but had to move around to get them.

Riley's Bay anglers reported catching a few whitefish but having to keep moving to get them. Sand Bay Resort anglers report slow fishing for whitefish in Sand Bay. Anglers that were stationary had a hard time catching any fish for an all-day sit, but anglers that were mobile and moved to find fish did decent with reported catches of 5 or more fish per angler for an all-day effort.

Sugar Creek and Chaudoir's Dock anglers reported slow fishing in both spots with only a few fish reported being caught.

Columbia County

Early catch and release trout fishing season is open on all trout streams in Columbia County. Anglers will find extensive public access and quality fishing opportunities at Rowan Creek in Poynette (Rowan Creek Fishery Area) and Spring Creek in Lodi (including Bohlman Branch; Lodi Spring Creek Fishery Area). Recent snowfall may impact parking, so please remember to check local conditions.

Iowa County

Ice fishing season is well underway in southern Wisconsin. Anglers have been reporting good ice conditions over the last week due to the recent cold front. Anglers targeting panfish have had good luck with sizable fish being caught. Good luck, and always be aware of changing ice conditions while fishing.

Kewaunee County

There was heavy fishing pressure out of Red River throughout the weekend. Anglers reported slow fishing for whitefish with many anglers coming in with 1 or 2 fish per guy for half a day fishing. A few walleyes were also reportedly caught out of Red River as well on jigging raps.

Marinette County

Slush, lots of slush. The travel conditions on lakes and flowages suffered from the warm weather and heavy snow. Many lakes have ankle-deep or deeper slush under 8-10 inches of snow. Fishing has been slow, with a few northern and panfish being caught. Ice thickness is highly variable, especially in areas with current. Please be careful and continue to check the ice as you move around on new bodies of water.

A few perch anglers were seen this week at Red Arrow Park with some fish being caught. Many small perch were caught as well as observed on underwater cameras. Reports of 5 to 15 keepers per group was common with minnows and wax worms catching fish.

Low angler effort on the Menominee River overall this past week. Warm weather and one gate open on the dam has kept ice from forming on the WI side just below the dam. There is the opportunity for shore fishing on both sides below the dam and off Hattie St. but no anglers have been seen.

Open water was still present out from the mouth of the Peshtigo River to the south in the bay. Anglers were fishing the area off the boat launch with very little success for both perch and northern pike.

Oconto County

Fishing at Oconto Park II was slow this week with anglers trying for perch and northern pike. A few perch were caught but were too small to keep. Northern pike anglers were fishing inside the piers and along the shore in the bay with minimal success. Open water was still present out in the bay as of the end of the week.

Anglers fishing the Oconto Harbor at the end of the pier were catching whitefish in good numbers. Slider rigs with either small jigging raps or spoons tipped with wax worms were taking fish. Early morning hours seemed to be best. A few anglers were trying for northern pike with minimal success. A large stretch of open water was still present out from the mouth of the river at the end of the week.

Oneida County

The recent warm weather and heavy snow has Rhinelander-area lakes covered with about 15 inches of snow with 5 inches of slush. The ice is 15 or more inches thick, but poor quality because of several weak layers of frozen slush. Several trucks have dropped through the ice in the last week. Anglers are reporting crappies and perch over deep water and mud flats. Tip-downs are working with the warmer weather, or jigs tipped with spikes, wax worms or beaver tail. Bluegill anglers are downsizing their offerings. A few anglers have been finding northern pike and walleye on the deeper weed edges, but the bite has been fairly slow.

Sauk County

Brown trout are biting on Devil's Lake with anglers finding success using small spoons or plain hooks tipped with a minnow in approximately 30 feet of water. Also, while recent cold temperatures have helped to improve ice conditions on area lakes, conditions remain variable, and anglers should remember that no ice is safe ice. Check local conditions before venturing out.

Sawyer County

In southwest Sawyer County, fish are semi-active with panfish producing the bulk of the catch.


Marinette County

Squirrel hunting and second season bobcat closes today. Fox and raccoon hunting remain open until Feb. 15. Rabbit hunting is allowed until the end of February. Crow hunting recently reopened and is now open until March 20. Coyote hunting remains open all year. What does all this mean? You can still get outside and put your hunting skills to the test! Maybe on a species you've never hunted before!


Milwaukee County

This month at Havenwoods State Forest, we have had reports of many wildlife, mainly birds. Some of the birds reported have been cardinals, woodpeckers, thrushes and more. There have also been reports of a buck running near the building.


Dodge County

Hiking trails at the Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center are snow-covered after a nice snow over the weekend. You can check out snowshoes at the education center free of charge. Northern Harrier, a few flocks of snow buntings, tree sparrows and rough-legged hawks are the sparse winter birds that are being seen.

Dunn County

Ice conditions are good, with trucks beginning to drive out on Lake Menomin. The fishing bite has been very slow. Snowmobile trail conditions vary greatly. Warmer conditions have deteriorated some trails while other Dunn county trails are in great shape. The weather and conditions have been great for snowshoeing and hiking.

Manitowoc County

Manitowoc County is experiencing warmer than normal temperatures for this time of the year. Snowmobile trails remain closed. If and when we get more snow, snowmobilers must check to confirm trails are open by calling 920-758-7669.

Anglers have ventured out onto the many lakes in Manitowoc County but are using extreme caution. Most have only accessed the lakes by foot traffic as the thickness of ice remains low. Please check with local sportsman's clubs and bait dealers for the latest ice conditions, use extreme caution and let someone know where you will be and when you plan to return.

Sawyer County

We have been getting more snow recently, which has made for excellent conditions if you are snowmobiling, snowshoeing, or cross-country skiing at Flambeau River State Forest. Snowmobile trails still have some wet spots in the swamp but overall are in good condition. The Flambeau Hill Ski Trails are in good condition. Area lakes were improving with ice depths, but now with the recent snow, there has been a lot of slush on top making for difficult travel. Areas with creeks flowing into the lake, points, bogs and some shorelines can still have open water. If going off-trail on water bodies, check as you go and use caution.

Vilas County

More heavy snow this past week in the Northern Highland American Legion State Forest with warm temperatures has packed the already deep snow, even more, making for prime winter activities like snowshoeing, skiing and sledding. Critters are having a hard time getting around unless you are a bird, and that is even challenging at times.

Washburn County

We have plenty of snow, and the weather has been great for enjoying the outdoors. It is great for skiing and snowshoeing. Some of the best tracking is near the Namekagon Barrens Wildlife Area, but bring you snowshoes or walk the town roads or snowmobile trail where the snow is packed down. Even walking the roads, you will find very little traffic.


Columbia County

There is a good snowpack of about a foot in depth at the MacKenzie Center. Several groups have already taken advantage of the trails for snowshoeing. Possible wildlife sightings include raptors, woodpeckers, sapsuckers and white-tailed deer.

Douglas County

There is plenty of snow at Pattison State Park. The ski trails are in excellent condition and will be groomed again this week. There is access to both Big and Little Manitou Falls. Most trails to the falls are not maintained in the winter, so wear appropriate footwear.

Heading into the last week of January, it appears the month's end temperatures will be quite mild for this time of year. Looking ahead to the weekend: the forecasted highs are in the low to mid 30s, and the longer-term predictions show that we could see close to 40 degrees by the end of next week. There has been considerably less snow falling this month as compared to what we endured in December. At the monitoring station near the Brule River State Forest Ranger Station, the last snow event left a fresh 7.5 inches and brought the month's total up to about 13.5 inches. Looking back through the measurement records, November and December's snow accumulation totaled 52.1 inches. Throughout the 2019 calendar year, there was 122.6 inches of snow observed in the state forest!

Iowa County

Snowfall from this past weekend has left the cross-country ski and snowshoe trails at Governor Dodge State Park in good condition. The forest is mostly quiet with the new snowfall accompanied by some chatter from chickadees and woodpeckers. Deer have also been spotted along the roadsides.

Lincoln County

We have plenty of snow for winter enthusiasts at Council Grounds State Park, but the unusually warm temperatures have impacted it. The cross-country ski trail has been groomed and tracked, but the dense wet snow didn't take the track well. Snowshoe conditions are a bit better, but there is still crusted snow. Despite the conditions, park users report that the new Northwest Trail is still a beautiful walk.

Marinette County

Snowmobile trails look to be in excellent condition for the most part near Pembine. Some stretches remain ungroomed due to wet ground, but those have been packed down by snowmobiles and are useable. Some area clubs are having fundraisers this weekend. Enjoy the trails, and stay safe!

Milwaukee County

At Havenwoods State Forest, snow conditions have improved on the trails allowing for more winter activities such as snowshoeing and skiing. Although we do not groom the trails for either, the recent snow has brought an increase in snowshoe rentals.

Sauk County

There are four to nine inches of snow on trails at Devil's Lake State Park, so conditions are such that you can XC ski or snowshoe (nothing groomed though). It looks possible that the lake may not freeze over completely this winter, but people have been ice fishing around the edges, especially at the south end.

Waupaca County

The up-and-down terrain at Skunk and Foster Lakes State Natural Area offers great conditions for a snowshoe hike on the Ice Age Trail that winds its way through the oaks and white pines.

Last Revised: Friday, January 31, 2020

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