|(Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Snow and cold across much of the state improved late winter recreation opportunities, especially in northern Wisconsin, including ice fishing, snowmobiling and skiing.
Snow conditions are good to excellent in Bayfield and Sawyer counties for the American Birkebeiner Race this weekend. The largest cross-country ski race in North America is expected to attract 10,000 skiers this weekend. Snowmobile trials are also in good riding condition across most of the northern half of the state, with the best conditions in the northern tier of counties. Potawatomi State Park received more than 3-inches of snow so far this week and snowmobile trials are open. They are also open in Flambeau River State Forest, where conditions are good to excellent.
Many others to the south are in poor condition, or closed, including Sauk County’s 400 State Trail.
While ice depths are good in the 18-20 inch range on most Northwood’s lakes, fishing success has been sporadic. Ice fishing has been fair in Oneida County with anglers reporting mixed bags of multiple species on the Willow Flowage.
Panfishing has picked up this past week, along with crappie, bluegill and perch on many Bayfield County lakes with jigs and wax worms as a topper working best for bluegills and smaller minnows on a jig has been working best when catching both perch and crappie. On Lake Minocqua anglers have had decent panfish action.Some nice panfish have also been caught in Shawano County.
A few browns and rainbows have been caught on spawn sacs and shiners off Racine County. In Brown County, perch are the species of choice at Sunset Beach in Suamico, jigging with minnows or wax worms. Anglers report the bite has been sporadic with mornings been the best time to fish.
The 16-day Winnebago sturgeon season will wrap up this weekend. As of Wednesday, on Lake Winnebago, 246 sturgeon had been taken despite poor water clarity in many areas.
Panfish anglers still have time to can catch one of the nearly 30 panfish plan meetings statewide February and March. The public meetings mark the opening phases of efforts by DNR fisheries management to better connect with anglers in Wisconsin. Those attending meetings will be asked to fill out a short questionnaire to help DNR understand their concerns, issues and priorities for panfish. The questionnaire and background materials presented at the meeting are available online.
The 2013 Great Backyard Bird Count concluded on February 18 with more than 3,400 checklists of 134 birds species submitted across Wisconsin. Eagle Appreciation Day is Saturday in Prairie du Chien. And eagles can be seen from the park overlooks and Wisconsin Ridge Campground. They have also been seen soaring over Flambeau River State Forest this week. Turkeys have been seen and heard this week in Oconto, Sauk and Richland counties.
Birders reported significant signs of spring this past week, including singing northern cardinals and black-capped chickadees, drumming woodpeckers, courtship flights of common ravens, and trumpeter swans north all the way to Lake Superior. Sandhill cranes returned to the state in good numbers across southern Wisconsin on Monday, and, bluebirds, a sure sign of warmer, greener days ahead, are here, or on their way, so make sure you put up, or clean out bluebird houses.