State recreational safety specialists are reminding snowmobilers that it is trespass to use snowmobile trails before they are open. Opening of trails is done by county snowmobile trail coordinators based on recommendations from local snowmobile clubs that maintain the trails. Using the trails before they are open can make conditions more difficult for the volunteers, and can also jeopardize the easements that allow trails to cross private lands.
A few state parks and forests reported that they have rolled some cross-country ski trails, but there were no reports of snow deep enough to set track. Some cross-country skiers have been out, with “rock skis” recommended.
Unseasonably warm weather during and after the gun deer season has left most southern and central Wisconsin lake ice-free and prevented many northern lakes from freezing to a depth safe for foot travel. Colder weather during the past week began to form some good ice in the north, but the several inches of dry snow that fell last weekend formed an insulating blanket from the colder air above. As a result, the formation of safe ice (even for foot travel) is expected to take much longer than usual.
While ice fishing is delayed, there still are reports of open water anglers out, with some reports of good walleye catches on the Wolf River. The Root River was still producing a few brown trout and steelhead. And browns and steelhead were being caught out of Milwaukee, Port Washington and Sheboygan.
The snow was boon for deer hunters participating in last weekend’s antlerless hunt, making sight and tracking conditions much better. Late season archery deer hunters have also been taking advantage of the moderate temperatures and light snow cover; the season runs through Jan. 6.
The fifth of six wolf harvest zones will close Friday Dec. 14 after the quota for the zone was reached this week, bringing the statewide harvest to 107. That leaves only zone 3 open, with a quota of seven wolves remaining.
This season continues to be very good for many of the irruptive boreal finches. Pine siskins, redpolls, pine grosbeaks and both crossbills have been reported in higher than normal numbers. . Snowy owls were being reported in good numbers in Great Lakes harbors and a few open ag/grassland landscapes.