Thursday, December 18, 2008

Wisconsin Outdoor Report as of December 18, 2008

Click on State Park Current Conditions Reports to check on current conditions at various Wisconsin State Parks, Trails and Forests.

Click here to reach the Wisconsin Department of Tourism Web site

For current statewide information on statewide snow conditions, log onto the Wisconsin Department of Tourism’s Snow Conditions Report. For current statewide information on statewide fall color, log onto the Wisconsin Department of Tourism’s Fall Color Report

GENERAL Northern Region Northeast Region Southeast Region South Central Region West Central Region

Wisconsin has experienced some rapidly changing weather conditions in the last week and more changes are forecast for later this week, with a winter storm warning for southern Wisconsin predicting anywhere from 4 to 12 inches of snow Thursday into Friday. After a winter storm dropped up to a foot of snow last week in the south, allowing some ski and snowmobile trails to open, temperatures shot up and much of the snow melted in many areas. Temperatures then plummeted to sub zero, and another snow storm left 3 to 5 inches in the south, and up to nearly a foot in some areas of the north.

The rapidly changing conditions have made it a challenge for park and forest crews to maintain skiing conditions, but as of Thursday most areas of the state were reporting fair to good conditions, though a few areas were reporting conditions as poor. Snowmobile trails have now opened through most of the northern tier of counties, and a few other scattered counties across the state, according to the Department of Tourism Snow Conditions Report .

Despite last weekend’s break in the cold weather, below-average temperatures have helped to increase ice depths to a thickness of 7 to 10 inches in the north and 4 to 6 inches in the south, though some of the larger lakes in the south still had some open water as of this week. Much of Lake Mendota in Dane County appeared to have iced over in the last couple of days.

Fishing pressure has been on the light side due to the cold weather, but hardy ice anglers are out daily. Reports indicate that fishing has been generally fair. Walleye have been the primary target in the north and most anglers and catches have been sporadic for the tip-up anglers. Some angling pressure has also been seen for northern pike and action could only be termed fair, as the cloudy and colder weather seems to have held their activity down. Bluegills and crappies are being caught over the tops of weeds near deep water, and on the weed lines.

There are 6 to 8 inches of ice found in some bays of Lake Winnebago and 5 to 6 inches have been reported in the middle areas of the lake. Numerous cracks measuring several feet wide are found on Lake Winnebago. Anglers on Lake Poygan have been having some success with walleyes. The channels of Lake Butte des Morts are seeing some bluegill action. Anglers on Jefferson and Dane county lakes were having fair success catching panfish by jigging with spikes or waxworms. Most lakes in the south have now frozen over, but some of the larger lakes, still have areas of open water.

Ice is forming in the Sheboygan harbor also, but there are still pockets of open water. In Milwaukee, the river under the Hoan bridge has been covered with skim ice in the mornings, but the ice has been moving out later in the day. Shore anglers there have been catching a few brown trout. The Small Boat Harbor in Kenosha is frozen over, and ice anglers have been catching brown trout. Southport Marina has some ice cover, but there is still open water in places.

Some late season deer hunters had success getting antlerless deer during the 4 day Dec. antlerless hunt. The snow aided the hunters in following fresh tracks until they kicked up deer that were otherwise not moving.

Turkey's are bunching up for the winter season; a group of 88 were spotted recently in the Wautoma area. Gold finches, purple finches, chickadees, nuthatches, juncos, blue jays, cardinals and a variety of woodpeckers are now visiting bird and suet feeders. And as lakes have pretty much frozen over, bald eagles have begun congregating around dams along the Mississippi, Wisconsin and other rivers where water stays open during cold spells. A few goldeneyes, red breasted mergansers and some mallards also remain on these open waters.

Due to the upcoming state holidays on Dec. 25 and Jan. 1, the next DNR Outdoor Report will not be until January 8, 2009. Check the Department of Tourism Snow Conditions Report and Wisconsin State Parks Current Conditions Reports pages for updates on ski and snowmobile trails.

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