Thursday, March 17, 2016

Wisconsin Outdoor Report

The Bad River in Copper Falls State Park, nort...
The Bad River in Copper Falls State Park, north of Mellen in Ashland County, Wisconsin (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Go Wild system for issuing licenses and more now on line; ice rapidly going out from lakes across the state
An end-of-winter snowstorm dropped up to 6 inches of snow in the far northwestern part of the state, with lesser amounts falling as far south as Park Falls, but warmer temperatures continue in the forecast and the snow is not expected to stay around long.
High water associated with rain and snow closed a portion of Highway 169 leading to Copper Falls State Park from Mellon, but the park remains accessible from the east. The rains also washed out a section of the Tuscobia State Trail near Park Falls and barricades have been put in place at the washout.
Wisconsin's new Go Wild system for issuing fishing, hunting, conservation patron and other licenses and permits went on line March 17. By the end of March, people will also be able to use the system to register boats, all-terrain vehicles and snowmobiles and to sign up for hunter and other safety education classes. The online system is accessible through personal computers, smart phone and other mobile devices and at more than 1,000 vendors statewide throughhttp://GoWild.Wi.Gov.
The system went online in time for spring turkey hunters to purchase their turkey licenses, which they need to purchase leftover spring turkey permits that go on sale starting March 21 and are issued for sale by zone, one zone per day through March 25. For information search the DNR website for spring turkey leftover permit availability.
Ice is rapidly going out from lakes across Wisconsin. Lake Mendota in Madison opened this week with just 62 days of ice on the lake during the winter of 2015-2016. With the recent mild weather and heavy rains, ice conditions on nearly all lakes across the Northwoods are now unsafe for any kind of travel. Shoreline areas and inlets and outlets have developed large areas of open water and the ice cover is likely well honeycombed and soft.
On Green Bay the ice in and around Sturgeon Bay is quickly diminishing. The canal is open for the most part, with just some remaining ice from Bay Ship to the Stone Quarry. Southeast Wisconsin received significant rainfall over the past few days, and area tributaries are high and muddy. Smaller streams like the Pike River, Oak Creek, Menomonee River, Sauk Creek, and the Pigeon River will be the first to return to more favorable fishing conditions. Decent numbers of steelhead have been reported in the Root River in the past couple of weeks. The Root River Steelhead Facility is now up and running and DNR crews will begin processing fish next week.
Turkeys are still grouped up in winter flocks but they are displaying and showing breeding activity. Canada geese are staking out nesting territories and will likely commence nesting in the next week or so.
Wetlands are teeming with ducks right now of all species. Whooping cranes have returned to the Necedah National Wildlife Refuge. American woodcock are doing their sky dances and breeding displays.
The first mourning cloak butterflies were sighted this weekend. There have been numerous reports of leopard frogs and salamanders active as well as some painted turtles with the warmer weather this past weekend. Maple syrup production has come to a standstill this past week with warm temperatures.