The warm temperatures the last few days gave wildlife and people a short break from the bitter cold we had been experiencing last week. Snow was falling Thursday in the north, with forecasts for some areas to possible get up to 8 or 9 inches. Unfortunately the precipitation in the south was rain and freezing rain. What little snow the south we had on the ground is all but gone. A candlelight ski at Lake Kegonsa scheduled for Saturday has been cancelled, but Wildcat Mountain will go ahead with a candlelight hike and astronomy program Saturday night.
Snowmobile trails remained open or partially open in just the norther tier of counties with conditions from fair to good. Cross-country ski conditions remained fair to good across roughly the northern third of the state. The additional snow falling Thursday and this weekend could improve conditions, so check the Department of Tourism Snow Conditions Report (exit DNR) for updates.
Ice depth on the northern lakes is reported to be between 16- 20 inches and 10 to 12 inches on central and southern lakes. More and more ice fisherman are being seen on lakes and the warmer weather has been great for folks wanting to get outside. Anglers report fish are starting to bite in the afternoon to evening, with crappie, perch and bluegill being caught.
Wolf River anglers near New London have been catching walleyes through the ice. Anglers are having luck catching a mixed bag of walleye, white bass, perch, and crappie through the ice on Lake Poygan. On Lake Winnebago, anglers are having some luck catching walleye and finding intermittent schools of white bass and perch. The 2018 lake sturgeon spearing season on the Winnebago Pool Lakes starts on Saturday, Feb. 10. DNR staff checked water clarity at a few locations on Lake Winnebago on Jan. 8 with clarity ranging from 7.5-10.5 feet.
Anglers are experiencing good ice on Green Bay with the primary target species of whitefish, walleye and perch. In Milwaukee the River Front ramp is open but access to the outer harbor is limited due to floating ice. Lake Shore lagoon is ice covered at the South end with people fishing browns and panfish. McKinley Marina is ice covered with catches of brown trout but the warmer temperatures had water coming over the ice.
Late season archery effort found some hunters able to arrow that elusive big buck they may have been chasing all fall. Deer have been seen in large numbers moving freely and taking advantage of harvested and unharvested corn fields and pawing through snow to get to alfalfa. Snowshoe hare and coyotes are abundant this year throughout the north.
Many animal species have been active recently with the warmer temperatures bringing raccoons, opossums and skunks out of their dens. Turkeys are moving around in large groups and feeding backyard bird feeders and in agricultural fields.
A midwinter waterfowl survey found more than 600 trumpeter swans and 5,000 Canada geese in the rivers and other open water areas. Healthy numbers of scaup, common goldeneye, and common merganser, as well as a handful of hooded merganser were seen along the Lake Michigan shoreline.
Reports of common redpolls surging to feeders statewide have been prevalent. Now is good time to look for flocks of horned larks, snow buntings, and Lapland longspurs along roadsides in open habitats across southern and central Wisconsin.
Bald eagles will take center stage with a variety of exciting events in the months ahead. Sauk Prairie’s Eagle Watching Days kicks things off this weekend Jan 12-13. For more details search the DNR website for “eagle watching.”
The Solunar Tables list top fishing times and days in the lunar month. For best results, begin fishing one hour before and continue for one hour after the times given:
Sunday, Jan. 14: Major — 8:47 a.m., 9:11 p.m. Minor — 2:35 a.m., 2:59 p.m.
Monday: Major — 9:31 a.m., 9:55 p.m. Minor — 3:19, 3:43 p.m.
Tuesday: Major — 10:17 a.m., 10:41 p.m. Minor — 4:05 a.m., 4:29 p.m.
Wednesday: Major — 11:05 a.m., 11:35 p.m. Minor — 4:53 a.m., 5:17 p.m.
Thursday: Major — 11:54 a.m., no major. Minor — 5:43 a.m., 6:06 p.m.
Friday: Major — 12:21 a.m., 12:44 p.m. Minor — 6:33 a.m., 6:56 p.m.
Saturday: Major — 1:12 a.m., 1:35 p.m. Minor — 7:24 a.m., 7:46 p.m.
Solunar Tables from www.anythingwisconsin.com