Thursday, January 28, 2010

Wisconsin Outdoor Report as of January 28, 2010

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


Last weekend’s warm temperatures and rain took a major toll on snow cover in the southern half of Wisconsin. Snow depths now range from an inch or less in the far south, to 4 to 8 inches through central Wisconsin, and 8 to 20 inches in the north. Snowmobile trails are now closed in most counties south of Highway 64, except for a few counties reporting poor to fair conditions on the Department of Tourism Snow Conditions Report (exit DNR).. Snowmobile trails in the northern third of the state are still being reported as generally good to excellent condition, with the best conditions in the Lake Superior snowbelt.

Cross-country ski trails faired somewhat better, except for the far southeast and areas along the Door County peninsula, where trails at some parks are now closed. Trail at all units of the Kettle Moraine State Forest remained mostly open, with conditions from poor to good. Ski trails through northern Wisconsin remain in good to excellent condition.

The mild weather and rain also combined to make for some very sloppy ice conditions on lakes and flowages. Northern lakes still have 12 to 16 inches of ice, but there was 4 to 8 inches of slush and snow on top of some waters. Ice fishing action seemed to move into the mid-winter doldrums in some areas, with success tapering off. Walleye action was fair, with small sucker minnows, fished in 8 to 12 feet of water at dusk providing the best action. Northern pike activity also slowed. Panfish action has been inconsistent, with anglers moving around quite a bit searching for the active fish.

On Green Bay, anglers were catching whitefish and perch, with most fishing in 10 to 30 feet of water at Little Sturgeon Bay, Henderson Point, and Sturgeon Bay. Perch up to 10 inches were being caught. There has not been much fishing activity going on farther south along Lake Michigan, as snowmelt and rain muddied tributaries and left the ice in most harbor ice is in rough shape. Open water anglers have been catching brown and occasional rainbow trout at Port Washington and browns and some northern pike at Milwaukee.

The Mississippi River rose after last weekend’s rain to 8.05 feet at Prairie du Chien, up about 4 inches from last week. Ice conditions deteriorated in some areas. The main channel remained frozen over, but travel is not recommended. After all the rain, there were large areas of standing water on the ice. Ice fishing was very good on some days during the warm stretch of weather, with nice catches of crappie, bluegill and perch reported.

With news earlier this week that traces of VHS fish disease have been found in low levels in fish from some parts of Lake Superior underscores the need, according to state fisheries officials, for anglers, boaters and bait harvesters to follow rules in place to prevent the spread of this disease.

Whitetail bucks have begun to shed their antlers, although some bucks could retain their antlers into March.

Increased winter activity around bird feeders has been attracting some northern shrikes to feeders. Because they lack talons, shrikes use their powerful bills to stun or kill small birds while in flight. They also have the unique habit of impaling their prey on sharp objects such as thorns or barbed wire fences, a predatory habit that earned this winter visitor the nickname "butcher bird."

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