January 25, 2018
Snow landed across several northern counties this past week, allowing more counties to open snowmobile trails and additional properties to groom ski trails. There now are about 20 counties that have snowmobile trails open or partially open across the north on the Wisconsin Department of Tourism’s Snow Conditions Report (exit DNR). Snowmobiles have been out in force over the past couple weeks, taking advantage of the snowfall and amazing trail conditions.
There should be some excellent snowshoeing this weekend in areas like the Northern Highland American Legion State Forest and in Iron County. Cross-country ski conditions range from fair to excellent across the north. Southern Wisconsin received some snow this week, but not enough in most areas to groom ski trails. The Kettle Moraine southern unit groomed some trails, but there were many wet areas at the bottom of hills.
Cross-country ski conditions were very good at Pattison State Park after the area received about 10 inches of snow this week.Photo credit: DNR
Despite the recent warm-up, multiple reports of strong ice fishing have come in from properties across the state. Slush remains on many Northwoods lakes and plenty of snow on others. Crappies have been biting on the Turtle Flambeau Flowage and on lakes in the Flambeau River State Forest. Anglers at Straight Lake are landing trout and those dipping into lakes in Oconto County are finding perch, northern pike and largemouth bass. There is pretty good ice on most of the Bay of Green Bay ranging from 12-18 inches. Anglers pursuing whitefish have been doing pretty well but yellow perch fishing has been spotty.
The beautiful weather last weekend had lots of people taking advantage of free fishing weekend. Fishing was great in some areas and poor in others. Anglers reported catching northern on tip-ups, a variety of panfish, and even a few trout.
The northern zone grouse season remains open for one more week, closing on Jan. 31 and a few hunters got their dogs some exercise over the weekend but not many reported any shooting. The combination of recent snow and warming temperatures also has wildlife up and moving around. Turkeys have been spotted from roadsides and deer have been loitering in active timber harvests, chewing on fresh buds. Along with continuing reports of snowy owls, large numbers of bald eagles have been spotted and a variety of woodpeckers can be seen digging into trees. Tracks and animal sign are particularly visible and abundant currently.
Jan. 31 is the second full moon of January–a “blue moon.” This full moon will be closest to the earth in its orbit, making it a “super moon.” There will also be a lunar eclipse in the early morning hours of Jan. 31. The eclipse makes the moon appear orange-red in color, hence the nickname the “blood moon.”
The largest numbers of candlelight events at state properties will be held over the next three weekends, with six this weekend and eight the next two weekends. This Friday people can ski, snowshoe or hike the Red Cedar State Trail to an illuminated ice wall thanks to 10 inches of snow the trail received this week. On Saturday, Hartmann Creek, Lake Wissota, Point Beach and Rib Mountain will hold events. One schedule for Whitefish Dunes was cancelled due to poor trail conditions and one at Lapham Peak has sold out. We’re also moving into the peak of the owl mating season and Richard Bong and Kettle Moraine South are both holding hikes to listen for owl’s territorial calling. For all details and a complete list of activities search the DNR website for “Get Outdoors.”