Sturgeon season near but ice conditions variable

This past week saw snowfall, rain, sleet and the onset of colder temperatures across much of the state.

The heaviest bands of snow were across west central and northwestern Wisconsin, some spots receiving 8 to 10 inches. Lesser amounts of 4 to 6 inches fell across much of the rest of central and northern Wisconsin, while the south and southeast received mostly rain and sleet and some light snow.

Many more counties have now opened snowmobile trails, with the exception of the far southern and southeast counties, according to the Wisconsin Department of Tourism's Snow Conditions Report.

Park and forest staff have been busy grooming ski trails and ski conditions are now good to excellent in many areas.

Ice conditions have changed with the recent snow and rain and slush is hampering travel on northern lakes. Ice depths across the state remain extremely variable from county to county and lake to lake. Please continue to use caution and approach local bait shops, anglers and others in your area to get the most up to date information before venturing out.

Anglers statewide took advantage of this past weekend's sun and warmth, though the bite in many areas was reluctant.

Those fishing northern Lake Michigan had some luck for whitefish, walleye and pike, though catch rates for the latter were slow. Lack of water clarity seems to have hindered the perch bite in some areas, while those fishing the Northwoods area lakes are having better luck with panfish, but little success with walleye.

Sturgeon spearing is fast approaching and spearers out scouting are advised to use caution on Lake Winnebago. Ice conditions overall are good, but certain areas still have thinner ice.

As we move later into winter, many species will begin breeding, gathering food and moving in earnest. If the snow on the horizon is a little too blinding, keep your eye to the ground enjoy learning who, or what else has tread the trail before you.

The recent powder and cooler temperatures have given way to excellent tracking conditions. Watch for sightings or signs of deer, fox, mink, and more in woods or prairie.

Otter slides were common sightings on several of the larger kettle lakes at the Chippewa Moraine. If you're looking for a challenge, smaller mammals like mice and voles are also up and about, attracting the attention of the now whitecoated weasel, whose pale ermine fur keeps it insulated and under the radar.

Woodpeckers, finches and more are becoming more common at the feeder. Owls are calling as their mating season gets underway and while it may be hard to "think spring" with the recent snowfall, migrant Canada geese are already beginning to return at Horicon Marsh.


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