Outdoor Report for December 27, 2012
View current conditions for Wisconsin State Parks, Trails and Forests
Check out the Wisconsin Department of Tourism (exit DNR).
For current statewide information on statewide snow conditions, log onto the Wisconsin Department of Tourism’s Snow Conditions Report (exit DNR).
Colder temperatures in the last week have allowed the snow that fell Dec. 19-20 to remain on the ground in most areas and are making ice on lakes across the state. Snow depths range from just an inch or two in far southeastern Wisconsin, to a foot or more in some south central areas of the state. The north generally received less snow, and has snow depths ranging from 4 to 10 inches.
Snowmobile trails are open in some central and southern Wisconsin counties, and across the northern tier of counties, with conditions fair to good in some locations and poor in others, on the Wisconsin Department of Tourism’s Snow Conditions Report (exit DNR). Trails remain closed in many counties, because the wet heavy snow fell in many areas on unfrozen ground, which caused it to compact and not build up sufficient base for groomers. Conservation wardens are again reminding people to please stay off closed trails, as using these trails only makes it more difficult for the volunteer snowmobile clubs to maintain them when adequate snow does arrive.
Many state parks and forests were able to groom cross-country ski trails, but in some cases there has not been enough snow to set track. The heavy snow brought down a lot of tree branches and other litter that has made it difficult to groom some trails. However, some trails in the north, such as Copper Falls State Park and the Brule River State Forest are being reported in very good condition, as are some of the southern trails, including Lake Kegonsa, Governor Nelson and Mirror Lake state parks.
Lakes in the Northwoods generally have upwards of 6 to 7 inches of ice, though some still have just 4 to 5 inches. Lakes in the south are beginning to freeze, with Devil’s Lake freezing over this week. Beaver Dam and Fox lakes have 3-5 inches of ice. Lake Monona has started to freeze over but Lake Mendota remains open.
Reports from early season anglers indicate some very erratic walleye fishing in the north. Angling pressure for northern pike is beginning to pick up and success for that species has been fair. There has been some good early success for panfish, as a few anglers have found some decent bluegill after moving around a bit to find the active fish. Panfish are biting on the Mississippi River in the La Crosse area, but the ice is still thin in areas so anglers are encouraged to be extra careful when venturing out.
Late season archery hunters are taking advantage of their last chances to harvest a deer. Oak ridges look like they have been tilled up in many locations due to the deer and turkey pawing and scratching around for the acorns. Most hunters are reporting earlier movement of the deer as well, during daylight hours. Some locations have bucks dropping their antlers already and getting shed hunters out in the woods.
With the open water still along the shore of Green Bay, waterfowl viewing has been good with some swans still around along with mergansers and goldeneyes. Rough-legged hawks are being observed throughout the Coulee Region. These large soaring hawks breed in the Arctic tundra and migrate to and winter primarily in the lower 48 states. They get their name from their furry-looking legs, which are feathered to their toes with soft feathers.