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. That's good news for the 10 candlelight events that will be held this weekend at state park properties across the state. 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. While 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.
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
that 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
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, rough-legged 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.
Door County - Anglers continued to fill the Little Sturgeon area ramps, with the majority of them reporting high catch rates and good conditions. Whitefish continue to dominate the catch in the area and many anglers were able to catch bag limits in just a few hours on the lake. Being set up and fishing in the early morning hours proved to be key to catching those limits, while holding tight to any structure played a close second. Lime Kiln and Big Rock Place continue to be the launching point for the majority of anglers throughout the weekend. The large amount of open water in Sturgeon Bay shipping channels made for very little fishing and no interviews conducted this week. Potawatomi Park produced the majority of perch this week, with anglers reporting catches in the 40-50 fish per trip, however only 5-10 keepers. Once again wax worms fished near structure and just off bottom preformed the best. Reports of multiple large cracks just outside the park and also near Larsens has been keeping anglers vigilant when traveling out into the bay.