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Wisconsin Outdoor Report and Calendar
March 7, 2018
The Wisconsin Outdoor Report is updated weekly by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
Wisconsin received another snowstorm last Saturday but has been relatively flurry free since. Snow depths range from just a couple of inches in the far southeast to more than 36 inches in areas of the north.
Snowmobile conditions continue to be good to excellent across the northern two-thirds of the state on the Wisconsin Department of Tourism's Snow Conditions Report. Cross-country ski conditions remain good to excellent across the north and are still good in many areas of the south. The ski trails at Zillmer and Greenbush in the northern Kettles are reported to perhaps be the best in years. The forest's mountain bike trails have seen dozens of fat bikers out in recent weeks.
But the forecast is calling for a significant warm up with a possible mix of rain and snow. Looking at the weekend forecast skiers, bikers and snowmobilers are urged to check to make sure the trails are open by calling properties or local snowmobile clubs or county snowmobile coordinators before heading out.
Snow and drifting is making for difficult to impossible travel on the ice. Low fishing pressure was observed in many places. The game fish season is now closed on most inland lakes but game fishing does remain open year-round on some waters. Many anglers are reporting over 2 feet of ice. There has been a decent panfish bite on several central Wisconsin lakes. The due date for shanty removal south of Highway 64 has past, yet there are still shanties on the ice. People who are having difficulty getting shanties off should contact the DNR Hotline to give them your information and they will get it to the local warden. The deadline for north of 64 is March 17.
Anglers fishing the west shore of Green Bay continue to report catching a few whitefish and some good catches of keeper perch if they can find the schools. Fishing pressure remained high at Voyageur Park on the Fox River with many anglers reporting catching several walleyes. The thickness of ice was reported to be anywhere from 11-18 inches. On the east shore, anglers fishing Little Sturgeon Bay reported catching some whitefish in the 17-20 inch range and there were some reports of northern pike fishing picking up, with a number of fish observed on the ice. Northern pike are one of the first game fish to begin spawning, starting in late March and early April with ice break-up. Anglers should note that ice breaking activity has recently occurred in waters of Sturgeon Bay, with a track being cut from the city of Sturgeon Bay south to Lake Michigan.
Deer have been congregating in cedar swamps and active timber sales. Turkeys are grouped up near food sources as well. For several years now, the Racine and Kenosha County area has had three active bald eagle nests. With these active nests there has been a steady increase in eagle sightings in the area. Red-winged blackbirds made an initial push into far southeastern counties, while sightings of American robins are difficult to decipher as new arrivals or overwintering birds.
There have been rumblings of people preparing for a maple sap run but no signs of life regarding any sap flowing or trees and shrubs budding.
A three-minute audio version of this report can be heard by calling 608-266-2277.
Statewide Birding Report
Snow, ice, and winter dominated the first week of March. Nonetheless, sandhill cranes continued their flight into southern Wisconsin as far north as La Crosse and Green Bay. Red-winged blackbirds made an initial push into far southeastern counties, while sightings of American robins are difficult to decipher as new arrivals or overwintering birds. Small numbers of waterfowl are trickling back, and viewing should be great if you can find sources of open water likely to congregate them. Horned larks were reported in good numbers, especially along roadsides in southern and central counties, but also as far north as Bayfield. Eagle migration is also underway as adult bald and golden eagles begin their trek to Canadian breeding grounds. Many bald eagles stay to nest in Wisconsin, of course, and pairs have been noted at nest sites in many areas. Great horned owls and red-tailed hawks were reported regularly at nest sites now as well.
Those who enjoy our winter birds should take advantage now as many winter specialties depart the state in earnest this month, including northern shrikes, rough-legged hawks, snowy owls, snow buntings, bohemian waxwings, and pine grosbeaks. Milder temperatures forecast for the week ahead lend promise to those eager for spring migration, although this will be tempered a bit by extensive snow and ice even well into the state's southern reaches. Nonetheless, in the south this week for more cranes, red-winged blackbirds, grackles, robins, a few great blue herons, and various waterfowl, including greater white-fronted geese. Northerners will have a wait a few more weeks, however. The past week's rarest finds included a Townsend's solitaire in Ozaukee, white-winged scoters in Dane, and the male Baltimore oriole that appears to have successfully overwintered at a feeder in Juneau. Help us track the migration by submitting your sightings to www.ebird.org/wi. Good birding! - Ryan Brady, conservation biologist, Ashland
Upcoming State Natural Area WorkdayMarch 13, 10 am - 3 pm, Oshkosh-Larsen Trail Prairie workday: Restoration is taking place on the trail prairies and your help is needed. The Northeast Wisconsin DNR State Natural Area crew has spent the past three years controlling brush and herbaceous weeds as well as prescribed burning. Stay warm by the fire as we cut, pile, and burn invasive brush. Removing brush will enhance the prairie habitat for many rare plants, insects, and bird species. If you cannot stay for the entire period, no problem, any amount of help is welcome! Bring a bag lunch, snack, and water.
No skills needed, you will be trained onsite. Check the State Natural Areas Volunteer Program page of the DNR website for details. - Jared Urban, conservation biologist, Dane. - Jared Urban, conservation biologist, Dane
Updated cross-country ski trail conditions as of March 7-2019Click on Cross-country ski conditions for all conditions or to sort by property or conditions. See property conditions below.
Blue Mound State Park - Trails are groomed for classic cross-country skiing and were tracked on Tuesday, March 05, 2019 at 8:00 AM. All trails were groomed and tracked today. John Minix Trail has one ice flow / stream crossing that is marked by a safety cone. Pleasure Valley Trail has two ice flow sections as well. Downhill's are becoming fast, so please use caution. Skate Skiing is permitted in the Campground loops and upper picnic area only.
Brule River State Forest - Trails are groomed for skate and classic cross-country skiing and were tracked on Tuesday, March 05, 2019 at 12:00 PM. The skate lanes and tracks were groomed today. The trails received two inches of fresh snow over the weekend and are in excellent condition. There is an 18 inch base and more than 2 feet of snow on the ground.
Copper Falls State Park - Trails are groomed for skate and classic cross-country skiing and were tracked on Tuesday, March 5. Meadow and pipeline tracked/groomed.
Flambeau River State Forest - Trails are groomed for skate and classic cross-country skiing and were tracked on Wednesday, March 6 and were in good condition.
Governor Knowles State Forest - The cross country ski trails are no longer being groomed due to the rising temperatures. As of March 7 they were in fair condition.
Hartman Creek State Park - Trails are groomed for classic cross-country skiing and were tracked on Sunday, March 03, 2019 at 9:30 AM. Pope Lake trail section was groomed on 3/3/19 and is in fair condition. The Oak Ridge Trails were groomed on 3/3/19 and are in good condition.
High Cliff State Park - Trails are groomed for skate and classic cross-country skiing and were tracked on Sunday, March 03, 2019 at 1:30 PM. Skate trail combed, classic trail packed and tracked.
Kettle Moraine State Forest - Lapham Peak Unit - All of the trails but the black loop were groomed Wednesday night March 6. The black loop is too steep and has too much ice under the snow layer for the grooming equipment to get around without getting stuck. The man-made loop is in the best shape of all of the trails. Lights will be on Thursday and Friday until 9 p.m. No lights Saturday due to predicted rains Saturday afternoon and night.
Kettle Moraine State Forest - Northern Unit - Zillmer trails: Trails are groomed for skate and classic cross-country skiing and were groomed (corduroy/levelled) on Tuesday, March 05, 2019 at 2:15 PM. Conditions for classic and skating are excellent throughout.
Kettle Moraine State Forest - Southern Unit - McMiller trails were groomed for skate and classic cross-country skiing and were groomed on Tuesday, March 5. Some of the unsavory classic track was reset as well, but there was not much moisture present for it to hold up properly. The lanes look great, but be aware that beneath most of the snow there is still a layer of ice (RED and BLUE are especially icy in spots). GREEN, WHITE, and ORANGE are looking the best right now. There is forest debris on the trails, especially in the pine plantations. Enjoy it before the warm up this weekend!
Kinnickinnic State Park - Trails are groomed for classic cross-country skiing and were tracked on Saturday, March 02, 2019 at 3:00 PM. Everything has been groomed and is in good shape. Some areas are experiencing some drifting.
Northern Highland American Legion State Forest - Trails are groomed for classic cross-country skiing and were tracked on Monday, March 4. All Escanaba loops groomed and tracked except the Mystery Lake by pass section. This section is too deep and drifted yet. Tracks on rest of trail are in good to very good condition. Would be excellent rating but pole plant a bit soft due to record large amounts of snowfall in February. All Madeline loops were leveled and tracked March 7. Except for the Red segment that has the first steep hill to the shelter- this was only leveled. Good conditions, a few leaves scattered on the trail. Equipment issues will delay grooming operations for Madeline Trail after a fresh snow. McNaughtonwere groomed early morning March 4 with the fresh couple inches of snow. Deck and tracks on classic loops are just a little on the soft side but these cold temps will firm them up in no time. The skaters sloop is only groomed out to the warming shelter. As it stands, the loop around the lake will remain closed unless conditions improve where the drifts settle down. Very little debris. Overall the trails are in great condition. Raven trails were groomed for classic skiing on Wednesday, March 6 and were in good condition.
Pattison State Park - Trails are groomed for classic cross-country skiing and were groomed (corduroy/levelled) on Tuesday, March 05, 2019 at 10:30 AM. Ski trails were groomed and tracked today and are in excellent shape. We have 12 + inches of base and 28 inches of snow in the woods. All tracks are at full depth. A vehicle admission sticker is required.
Peninsula State Park - All trails were groomed for skate and classic cross-country skiing Wednesday, March 6 and were inn excellent condition.
Perrot State Park - We hope to groom and track Wilber and the Bay trail before Saturday, March 9 but are waiting for snowmobile to be repaired. The Prairie View and Cedar Glade have not been packed.
Peshtigo River State Forest - Trails were groomed for skate and classic skiing on Wednesday, March 6. Big Oak, Aspen Ridge and Riverside Trail are all groomed and tracked and in excellent condition.
Point Beach State Forest - Trails are groomed for skate and classic cross-country skiing and were groomed (corduroy/levelled) on Saturday, March 7. The park received 7 inches of new fluffy snow. Skate lane was groomed in the morning and was in good condition. Classic tracks are in good condition.
Potawatomi State Park - Trails are groomed for skate and classic cross-country skiing and were tracked on Saturday, March 02, 2019 at 2:00 PM. Trails were groomed and tracked on Saturday, March 2 and are in good to excellent condition.
Whitefish Dunes State Park - All trails were groomed and track set Tuesday morning, March 5. Tracks are full depth, firm and mostly free of debris. Pole plant areas are firm. In many areas the trail base is 8-12 inches, most we have had in many years. Classic ski trails only.
DNR Northern RegionSuperior DNR Service Center area
Brule River State Forest - March is here! Some may say it came in like a lion with yet another storm system moving through the northland leaving us with another 2-4 inches depending on where you were located. This first week has been quite cold once again with temps dropping well below zero overnight, and daytime windchills rarely reaching the zero-degree mark! On a more optimistic note, days are becoming noticeably longer, adding more than three minutes of daylight each day, and growing. The increased angle and intensity of the sunshine is allowing for some melting, even with these below average temps. If the temperature does not reach 32 degrees by Friday March 8, it would mark 60 consecutive days (and nights) that we have been below the freezing mark. - Mitch Pauly, visitor services associate
Pattison State Park - Pattison State Park received two inches of snow over the weekend to help keep the ski trails in excellent condition. We have over 12 inches of ski base and 32 inches of snow in the woods. Apparently, this is not enough however, because Mother Nature is sending another winter storm our way this weekend. Both Big and Little Manitou Falls are open for viewing. Most of the paths to the falls are not maintained in the winter, so dress accordingly. Vehicle admission is required when visiting Pattison. - Gervase Thompson, ranger
Park Falls DNR Service Center area
Flambeau River State Forest - The Flambeau Hills Ski Trail was groomed for skate and classic cross country skiing on Tuesday March 6. Snowmobile trails are groomed and in good shape. We have 30-plusinches of snow, fluctuating due to the high winds, so make sure you stay on the trails and for safety carry a collapsible shovel. Saturday forecast is predicting more snow in the afternoon, Saturday night, Sunday night and again on Monday. Snow, snow, and more snow! The lakes are ice covered with 26-plus inches of ice. With the snowfall that we received the lakes are heavy with snow and travel on the lakes with vehicles, is limited. There have been a few brave fishermen out on both lakes enjoying limited success. They have been fishing for walleye on Connors Lake and crappies on Lake of the Pine. Mason and Evergreen Lakes are being fished for crappie, walleye and perch. Grab your family and friends and get out and experience ice fishing! - Diane Stowell, forestry technician advanced and visitor services associate
DNR Northeast RegionNorthern Lake Michigan fisheries team report
Snow and drifting snow is making for difficult to impossible travel on the ice this week. Low fishing pressure was observed at almost all the stops except the Fox River saw decent fishing pressure.
Oconto County - Anglers fishing to the north of the Oconto breakwater report catching a few whitefish in the morning using jigheads tipped with waxies. Anglers fishing northern report slow fishing, with a few coming in on tip-ups and shiners. Oconto Parks- Oconto Park 1 anglers report catching good catches of keeper perch if you can find the schools. A few whitefish are also being caught on jigging raps and jigs with waxies. Tip-ups are taking a few northern pike as well. With a 42" northern reported being caught. Oconto Park 2 anglers are still catching lots of little perch with no keepers. Geano beach anglers report catching a few whitefish off the reefs, and a few keeper perch away from the reefs using jigs and minnows.- Alexandria Keiler-Klein, fisheries technician, Green Bay and Ben Ewoldt, fisheries technician, Peshtigo
Brown County - Voyageur Park: High fishing pressure reported at Voyageur park. Many anglers reporting catching several walleyes. The thickness of ice was reported to be anywhere from 11-18 inches. Anglers were using shiners, jigging raps as well as minnow heads. Most anglers were located north of Fox Point, underneath highway 172. No interviews were recorded by those located underneath the highway. Long Tail Point: Extremely low fishing pressure. Anglers report catching nothing for an all-day outing Ice was recorded to be 20 inches thick. Sunset Beach Lane: Medium fishing pressure was recorded. Ice was recorded to be 16-18 inches thick. Hook Road: Low fishing pressure at Hook Road. Anglers report catching a few perch with some sorting of smaller fish. - Alexandria Keiler-Klein, fisheries technician, Green Bay and Ben Ewoldt, fisheries technician, Peshtigo
Door County - Sunday's snowfall and resulting poor roads resulted in low angler turnout last weekend. Anglers fishing Little Sturgeon Bay reported catching some whitefish in the 17-20 inch range. On angler fishing for pike and perch reported not catching anything.- Jeremiah Shrovnal, fisheries technician, Peshtigo
Peshtigo DNR Service Center area
Marinette County - Marinette county still has 24+ inches of snow on the ground and the snowmobile trails look to be in very good conditions. It's currently -21 but the forecast is calling for a significant warm up. I have heard rumblings of people preparing for a maple sap run. The first robins of the year made an appearance in Crivitz over the weekend. Access on many area lakes is tough due to deep snow and reports indicate the bite has been slow. Gamefish season is now closed on inland lakes but anglers can still fish for panfish. Youth turkey hunt is just 5 weeks away! Hopefully spring finds its way here by then. Deer have been congregating in cedar swamps and active timber sales. Turkeys are grouped up near food sources as well. - Aaron McCullough, wildlife technician, Wausaukee
Green Bay DNR Service Center area
Manitowoc County - Snowmobile trails are still open in the county. The trails are in good condition, but riders are urged to use caution when on them. Plowed fields in spots are rough and some areas are getting worn down. Also as the season goes on all riders need to remember to ride within their limits and that they are not the only person on the trails. There have been several accidents with property damage, injuries, and close calls in the recent weeks. Looking at the weekend forecast there is rain/snow mix with warmer temperatures predicted. Check to make sure the trails are open by calling 920-758-7669 before you head out. Cross country ski trails at Point Beach State Forest are in great conditions as well and now would be a great time to check them out. Spring will be here before we know it and there will be a new batch of outdoor activities to partake in, that's the great thing about Wisconsin. Enjoy the great outdoors - Alyssa R Neff-Miller, conservation warden, Mishicot
Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center area
Door County - Ice breaking activity has recently occurred in waters of Sturgeon Bay, with a track being cut from Bay Shipbuilding in the city of Sturgeon Bay, south to Lake Michigan. All Door County snowmobile trails are still listed as excellent. Northern Pike fishing through the ice appears to be picking in the Door Co area, with a number of fish observed on the ice. Northern Pike are one of the first game fish to begin spawning, starting in late March and early April with ice break-up.- Christopher Kratcha, conservation warden, Sturgeon Bay
Wautoma DNR Service Center area
Waupaca County - Ice conditions are still conducive to ice fishing. Many anglers are reporting over 2 feet of ice. There has been a decent panfish bite on several lakes in the Central Wisconsin area. Please check your regulations before placing food out for wild animals. Wardens have been reporting some people are concerned about our the wild animals because of the deep snow and cold temperatures. Snowmobiling, sledding, snowmobiling can still be enjoyed. Most snowmobile trails are in excellent condition currently. But please check if the trails are open before heading out. - Ted Dremel, conservation warden, Wautoma
Was four below zero in Waupaca this am. Absolutely no signs of life regarding any sap flowing or trees/shrubs budding. Still 24 inches of snow on the level throughout central WI. Trails are in excellent condition, have heard reports of the trail groomer getting stuck because the drifts are so deep. Little to no fishing pressure as snow is so deep on area lakes. One would need a fully tracked vehicle to get around. The only wildlife that seems to be moving are: Lots of eagles flying around and a couple pairs of Mallards on the Waupaca river. We need spring! - Karl Kramer, wildlife technician, Wautoma
Waushara County - Snowmobile trails have been the topic of conversation. The trails are the best they have been in years. How long they last will be the question now. Depending on whether we get snow or rain this weekend will determine the quality of the trails going forward. This late in the season it is always best to check the local snowmobile hotlines before you start each day. As a snowmobiling community we don't want to jeopardize the trail system in anyway so know before you go! I am getting mixed reports on ice conditions due to snow/slush/water on the ice. Remember the due date for shanty removal south of Highway 64 has past, yet there are still shanties on the ice. If one of those shanties is yours and you are having difficulty getting it off the ice make sure to contact the DNR Hotline to give them your information and they will get it to the local warden. At this point in the season folks with shanties are subject to fines if they are not working with the local warden. Please make every effort to get those shanties safely off the ice before the weather flips on us! The snow is deep and the temperatures appear to be moving in the right direction to get outside and enjoy the snow before it's gone. Strap on those snowshoes and get out for a hike on some of our great ice age trail segments! - Ben Mott, conservation warden, Wautoma
DNR Southeast RegionPlymouth DNR Service Center area
Kettle Moraine State Forest, Northern Unit - We're expecting this to be our last good week of winter skiing & fat biking as warm temps are expected Sunday onward. So be sure to get outside this weekend. The groomed ski trails at Zillmer and Greenbush are reported to be in excellent shape and perhaps the best in a few years. Zillmer was groomed/tracked on Tuesday March 5th and should be great Friday and Saturday morning. It is possible we might groom once more this week but that is weather/workload dependent, be sure to check DNR's skiing page for current conditions. A skier reported seeing a "slide" from an otter just off Zillmer's red loop. Those looking for places to hike/snowshoe should check out the Ice Age Trail with plowed parking lots at Greenbush Group/Picnic, Butler Lake, Mauthe Lake, and the snowmobile parking lot at Hwy 28. While people have been hiking the IAT, it is recommended you bring snowshoes. The snow is still deep in places. A hiker on the IAT saw a red-tailed hawk hunting down food near Backpack Shelter 2 just south of Mauthe. The mountain bike trails at Greenbush and New Fane should be great Friday and early Saturday for fat biking. Dozens have been seen enjoying the excellent conditions right now. This Saturday at the Ice Age Visitor Center, ½ mile west of Dundee on Hwy 67, there will be a program from 10am-11:30am on sandhill cranes. This program is best for ages 8 and older. - James Enigl, park ranger
Sturtevant DNR Service Center area
The Bong Wildlife Crew has been active this winter working on habitat projects on local public lands in Kenosha and Racine Counties. Wildlife Technicians have been clearing invasive brush with a forestry mower in wetland areas on the Tichigan Wildlife Area and Karcher Wildlife Area and oak woodland areas on the Bong Recreation Area. Crews will continue to mow brush on public lands thru mid-March. To complete the habitat work, woody re-sprouts will be treated with herbicides. Goal of the work is to reduce invasive brush (buckthorn, honeysuckle); enhance wet meadow habitat; encourage oak regeneration in the woodlands; and improve hunting cover. For several years now, the Racine and Kenosha County area has had 3 active Bald Eagle nests. With these active nests there has been a steady increase in eagle sightings in the area. This winter DNR staff observed 4 eagles on Tichigan Lake fighting over dead fish on the ice. Staff have also seen eagles along the Fox River roosting in trees and flying over the Bong Recreation Area. Good locations for local eagle viewing are open water areas on the Fox River or large lakes in the area, such as Tichigan Lake or Silver Lake. - Marty Johnson , wildlife biologist, Sturtevant
DNR South Central RegionLower Wisconsin State Riverway - Weekly Riverway Report
Fitchburg DNR Service Center area
Dane County - Despite the cold temps and snow there is some good birding in the McFarland/Dane County area. Lower Mud Lake and the Yahara river is hosting a good number of tundra swans, goldeneyes, mergansers, and some diving ducks including canvasbacks and redheads. Sandhill cranes are also returning despite the snow! - Andy Paulios, wildlife biologist, Fitchburg
DNR West Central RegionEau Claire DNR Service Center area
Lake Wissota State Park - Continual rounds of snow have most people tired of cold weather and snow removal after record setting snowfalls but this has resulted in great outdoor winter sport opportunities. We have a nice thick base of snow which results in good trail conditions. People have been enjoying our ski, multi-use and snowmobile trails. The snow has been a little much for ice fishermen. The deep snow makes travel on the lakes very difficult which has cause very light fishing pressure. Most of the recent activity on the lakes recently was not geared towards fishing but instead ice anglers were struggling to get their ice fishing shacks off of the ice through the deep snow. There have been no signs of spring yet but the long range forecast shows gradual warming trend and another round of snow and or rain for the weekend of March 9.- Nathan Fries, ranger
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