Following freezing temperatures across the state, most counties are starting to return to a warmer pattern this week, which is good news for those looking for relief from cabin fever.
Areas in northern Wisconsin did received snowfall but snow depths currently vary considerably across the state with minimal snow cover in the southwest to more than a foot in far northern Wisconsin. Many park and forest ski trails are groomed and ready for cross-country skiers; however, many hikers are still able to traverse trails without needing snowshoes. Snowmobile trails remain open in about a dozen counties, mostly in the far northern and west central parts of the state on the Wisconsin Department of Tourism’s Snow Conditions Report (exit DNR).
Colder temperatures were around long enough to freeze many previously partially-open water bodies around the state and open them up to eager ice anglers, though larger bodies remain open in patches and all ice should be treated as suspect until known otherwise. Northern pike anglers reported success, an improvement compared to the still reluctant walleye bite. There have been reports of fair to moderate perch, bluegill and crappie success.
Ice has finally moved in to most areas along the east shore of Green Bay with the recent streak of cold temperatures. Anglers at Voyageur Park reported 6 to 8 inches of ice and catching some walleye and perch jigging in 6 to 10 feet of water. Anglers that took to the ice in Little Sturgeon at Lime Kiln Road and Big Rock Place did fairly well for whitefish with some limits being reported at both locations. Closer to Sturgeon Bay anglers haven’t been seen on the ice yet as open water was still seen on the west end of the canal last week.
Canines like foxes and coyotes are beginning their breeding seasons along with beavers and squirrels. Whitetail bucks are beginning to shed antlers, and deer and turkeys are being seen actively feeding in stubble fields during the day.
Grouse and squirrel hunting is still open until the end of the month and rabbit season runs until Feb 29. The metro archery season is still open within Milwaukee County, providing hunters additional opportunities until Jan. 31.
Great horned owls are very talkative most nights/early mornings, as are barred owls. They are both beginning courtship activity. In addition to those residents, juncos and a variety of sparrows are popping up at the feeder, rough-legged hawks are appearing in hayfields and a portion of the eagle population is hanging around as a result of a relatively mild winter so far.
There are a half dozen snowshoe and cross country ski events scheduled for this weekend, including a candlelight skis at Governor Dodge State Park and the Storrs Lake Wildlife Area. For a complete list of events, search the DNR website for “Get Outdoors.”