January turns into long slog through the fog

DNR REPORT - Temperatures in the 30s and 40s and some steady drizzle, freezing rain and fog have reduced snow cover to minimal in the southern half of the state, and have left snowmobile trails open in only the northern tier of counties. But those counties continue to report good to excellent snowmobile conditions. On the Wisconsin Department of Tourism's Snow Conditions Report ski trails are also still in good condition in northern parks and forests, though warm conditions have made the trails soft.

Most trails in the southern half of the state are now closed, with the exception of the loop with man-made snow at the Lapham Peak Unit of the Kettle Moraine.

Freezing rain last week closed some park entrance roads but they have now reopened. Many parking areas remain icy, so anyone visiting properties should use caution. A candlelight event that had been scheduled last weekend at Governor Dodge and a snowshoe hike at the MacKenzie Center were both cancelled. However, candlelight hikes did go on at the Nordic Trail in the Southern Unit of the Kettle Moraine and at the Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center. Both properties are reporting trails are icy and urge people to wear appropriate footwear and crampons of some type.

Last weekend was also Free Fishing Weekend, and while a number of events were cancelled due to deteriorating ice conditions, many others went on as planned. No license was needed to fish on most waters of Wisconsin includ- ing Wisconsin portions of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River. All other rules such as bag and size limits still applied.

Anglers out on inland lakes continue to report a mixed bag of crappie, walleye and perch. Perch were being caught on Shawano Lake and anglers on Lake Altoona were catching nice sized panfish. Slush and water has formed over about 16 inches of Lake Altoona ice and anglers were removing permanent shelters to ensure they don't get frozen in the ice with the next cold snap.

Ice conditions on Green Bay can be treacherous due to large cracks that opened up last week, and ice has been broken up and refrozen, making entry onto the Bay difficult in places. There have been multiple reports of anglers getting stranded as cracks are opening and there have also been reports of vehicles and ATVs going through the ice.

Anglers at Voyageur Park report catching a mixed bag of walleye, perch, white fish, and white bass. Anglers took to the ice out of Stone Quarry with mixed success for whitefish reported.

Whitetail buck deer have begun to shed antlers. Good numbers of rough-legged hawks and northern shrikes are present. And mid- January generally announces the onset of coyote and red fox breeding cycles. These two members of the dog family typically breed between January and March. Cold, crisp winter nights afford opportunities to listen for the raspy barks of red fox or the high pitched yipping of coyotes


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