Thursday, February 12, 2015

Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources Outdoor Report

Panorama view of the Kettle Moraine State Fore...
Panorama view of the Kettle Moraine State Forest, Pike Lake Unit near Hartford Wisconsin. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Cold weather to greet opening of Winnebago System sturgeon spearing season; cancels some candlelight events
Northern Wisconsin once again received up to 2 to 3 inches of snow in the last week with the south again missing out, causing counties in the south that had opened snowmobile trails to close them. Trails remain open in the most northern counties with conditions ranging from fair to excellent on the Wisconsin Department of Tourism's Snow Conditions Report (exit DNR).
The new snow that did fall allowed parks and forests to touch up cross-country ski trails and they generally remain good to very good in the north and poor to fair through central and southern parts of the state.  The Southern Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest and Blue Mound State Park continue to have some of the best conditions in the lower part of the state.
Very cold temperatures with wind chills in the forecast for this weekend have already triggered the cancellation of four candlelight events scheduled for thisSaturday, Feb. 14 at Kohler-Andrea, Lake Kegonsa and Newport state parks and the Peshtigo River State Forest. of Thursday, events were still scheduled for Interstate, Rib Mountain and Willow River state parks and the Pike Lake Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest. For details and updates on cancellations, search the DNR website for keywords "Get Outdoors."
The changing weather and often brisk conditions have kept ice fishing pressure down. The mid-winter doldrums have continued for walleye and action has been extremely erratic. Panfish have also continued to be difficult to find for many anglers, with just a few reports of perch and crappie being caught on local waters.  The perch are starting to utilize mayfly nymphs as food and anglers have been finding the fish just off the bottom in depths ranging from 5' to 16 feet of water.  Northern pike success has been fair, with the clear and sunny days producing the best action.
Action was also slow on Green Bay, where action for whitefish slowed some but some were still being caught along the Door County shore and off Oconto on the west shore. 
Sturgeon spearing begins this weekend and Thursday marks the initial time when spearers on the Winnebago System can begin cutting in holes. The season covers generations of sturgeon spearers and is a tradition like no other on the Winnebago System. Currently ice conditions are decent but there are numerous cracks on Lake Winnebago.  DNR crews have been checking water clarity that up to two weeks ago had been very good, but recent results showed the clarity seems to be extremely variable throughout the entire lake.  People can stay on top of sturgeon spearing activity and results by searching the DNR website for "sturgeon spearing."
Coyotes activity has remained very high as their breeding season continues. Shed hunters are beginning to find antlers but some bucks are still being seen holding antlers.  Raccoons and squirrels have also started breeding, and will soon be looking for den sites for their young.
Large numbers of turkeys are being seen congregated together picking away at open spots in farm fields and some turkeys are already beginning to display. Great-horned owls are already nesting and bald eagles are busy building nests.
And a sign that spring can't be too far off, songbirds such as cardinals, titmice, and chickadees have started their morning singing.