Conditions improving for sturgeon season

DNR REPORT - Snowfalls ranging from 3 to 6-plus inches that fell in the last week continued to improve snowmobile and ski trail conditions. Snowmobile trails are now open and in fair to excellent condition in about the northern quarter of the state, and partially open with fair condition in many central Wisconsin counties on the Wisconsin Department of Tourism's Snow Conditions Report.

Many state park and forest properties were able to re-groom cross-country ski trails and in many areas set tracks for diagonal stride skiing, with conditions good to excellent in many locations. In the Northwoods there is a hard crust under the snow, so outdoor enthusiasts can go just about anywhere with little need for snowshoes.

Ice conditions on northern lakes are good, but vary depending on the water body. Travel has improved with the thaw and then re-freeze of the snow and water on top of the ice from the warm spell and there are now fewer slush spots.

In the south, the previous mild temperatures have still caused some lakes to have open water in spots.

Anglers are catching panfish on northern lakes but are having to move frequently to find active fish. Walleye have been slow with the morning and evening bite the best.

Ice conditions along the east shore of Lake Winnebago are firming up with the recent cold snap. Ice shoves are creating some access issues and fishing clubs have been busy moving bridges and creating new tree lines in recent days.

White bass were being caught in large numbers for anglers willing to move and follow the fish. The cold weather and snow cover is a welcome sight for people gearing up for the upcoming sturgeon season, potentially maintaining water clarity and improving travel conditions on the ice.

Anglers were having success catching whitefish, perch and walleye on the Fox River at Voyageur Park. On Green Bay, anglers fishing at Long Tail report catching good numbers of perch.

Anglers continued to fill the Little Sturgeon area ramps, with the majority of them reporting high catch rates with whitefish continuing to dominate the catch and many anglers were able to catch bag limits in just a few hours.

Anglers off Potawatomi Park were having success with perch. Reports of multiple large cracks just outside the park are keeping anglers vigilant when traveling out into the bay.

Most bucks have now dropped their antlers, but a few are still holding onto one side or another.

Coyotes are now primarily running in pairs as the mating season is about at hand and numerous red foxes have been seen during daytime. The fresh snow has acted like a fresh painter's pallet making it a great time of the year to head out and look for fresh tracks of ruffed grouse, turkeys, deer, coyote, fox, fisher, weasel, bobcat and wolves.

Cottontail rabbit hunting season remains open through Tuesday, Feb. 28. With the return of a cold and snowy landscape, rabbit hunting conditions are ideal, and rabbit hunters are taking advantage of these conditions.

Northern shrike, roughlegged hawk, and American kestrel and other raptors such as red-tailed and Cooper's hawks have been dominating the bird scene.

Southern birders noted the first uptick in numbers of the earliest "spring" migrant, the horned lark. And bald eagles are starting to tend nests in preparation for breeding season.

A good diversity of waterfowl are being seen where open water remains, including common goldeneye, all three merganser species, scaup, redheads, mallards, and above-average numbers of northern pintail.


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