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Dick Ellis Blog:
7/16/2019
Kevin Wallenfang and his tournament winning, 46-inch musky just prior to release Fishing has been as hot as the weather for our circle of family and friends, and anglers participating in the 16th Annual Bob Ellis Row Trolling Classic. The Classic was started in 2003 by fishing guide Patricia Strutz to memorialize Bob Ellis, a legendary northern Wisconsin row troller inducted into the National Freshwater Fishing Hall of Fame in 2008 for his im...
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Colder weather and snow in southern WI should bring birds to feeders

Statewide Birding Report

The mid-winter birding scene remains relatively unchanged from recent weeks. However, a pending cold spell combined with new snow in southern Wisconsin should increase feeder activity at least somewhat. Clear snow from feeders, provide sheltered areas out of wind for feeding, and offer sunflower seeds, suet, and other favorites and you should be rewarded with some happy feathered friends. Keep an eye out for Carolina wrens, a southern species that fares well during mild winters. Sightings have been reported of late as far north as Portage and Brown counties.

New flocks of Bohemian waxwings have appeared across the north, suggesting fruit sources even farther north are waning. Towns with known flocks this week included Tomahawk, Minocqua, Eagle River, Rhinelander, Ashland, Cornucopia, and Sister Bay. Pine grosbeaks are often found in the same areas. Waterbird watching has been decent along Lake Michigan, the mild weather yielding open water and variety of waterfowl at various lakeshore points. Gull diversity is also good this time of year there, including great black-backed, Iceland, and glaucous amid the many herring gulls. Want to learn how to identify different gull species? Join an expert-led field trip in the Fox Valley on Jan. 26 - learn more https://bit.ly/2CuvkQP .

Bohemian waxwings are turning up at fruit sources in some northern towns. Look for their slightly larger size, grayer bodies, more extensive wing markings, and rusty undertail coverts to separate from the more familiar cedar waxwing. A flock of Bohemian waxwings takes flight after descending on fallen crabapples, a favorite food source.  - Photo credit: Ryan Brady
Bohemian waxwings are turning up at fruit sources in some northern towns. Look for their slightly larger size, grayer bodies, more extensive wing markings, and rusty undertail coverts to separate from the more familiar cedar waxwing. A flock of Bohemian waxwings takes flight after descending on fallen crabapples, a favorite food source.Photo credit: Ryan Brady

Other winter favorites being seen right now include various raptors such as bald eagles, red-tailed hawks, Cooper's and sharp-shinned hawks, American kestrels, and great horned owls. Rarities were few this week, most notably including a female harlequin duck in Sheboygan, common yellowthroat in Dane, and beautiful male Baltimore oriole coming to a feeder in Juneau. Find out what others are seeing and report your finds to www.ebird.org/wi. Good birding! - Ryan Brady, conservation biologist, Ashland

 

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Upcoming featured events at Wisconsin recreational properties

Jan. 19-20 is free winter fishing weekend in Wisconsin and both Kettle Moraine north and south are offering fishing clinics on Saturday. MacKenzie is also holding one that requires preregistration.  Clinic at Devil's Lake and Richard Bong have been cancelled due to poor ice conditions. Anyone can fish without a license this weekend but all other regulations apply. Despite the lack of snow, candlelight events will go on Saturday night at the southern Kettles, Horicon Marsh and for a special fee at Heritage Hill. Note that shuttles are recommend for Horicon, which has been extremely popular in the past and has very limited parking. Candlelight events have been cancelled for Saturday at Governor Dodge, Lake Wissota and Rib Mountain due to icy conditions. On Sunday night visitors to Harrington Beach can view the lunar eclipse from the observatory near Puckett's Pond if skies are clear. Click on the links below for highlighted programs this weekend or click on Get Outdoors," for a complete listing of events.
Saturday, January 19, 2019

Sunday, January 20, 2019

For all events search Get Outdoors

 

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Upcoming State Natural Area Workday

 

Jan 19, 9 a.m.-noon: Rocky Run - Get exercise and enjoy the brush pile fire at Rocky Run SNA! Help cut and burn brush and cedar trees and learn something in the process. Rocky Run has sand prairie and oak savanna that has been taken over by invasive shrubs and cedar trees which reduce the native understory diversity. Remove these trees to encourage rare animals and plants on the site. There will be an optional potluck lunch afterwards!

Jan 19, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. Chiwaukee Praire Workday: Cutting and burning brush - Help Chiwaukee Prairie Preservation Fund volunteers during our monthly workdays on the third Saturday and enjoy the beauty of this rich prairie in the process. We will be removing invasive brush that can dominate the prairie and displace native plants.

Jan 24, 9 a.m.-noon: Bluff Creek Workday: Cutting and burning brush - Get outside and cut up buckthorn at Bluff Creek SNA. Come enjoy spring weather and help volunteers during our monthly Southern Kettle Moraine SNA workdays on the second Saturday. Enjoy a short hike, then help cut and pile brush, learn something, meet knowledgeable people, and enjoy the beauty of this fen area in the process. We will remove buckthorn that can spread and shade out rare fen and savanna plants at this site.

No skills needed you will be trained onsite. Check the State Natural Areas Volunteer Program page of the DNR website for details. - Jared Urban, conservation biologist, Dane. - Jared Urban, conservation biologist, Dane

 

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Northern Region

Superior DNR Service Center area

Brule River State Forest - Temperatures this week started out mild and some light rain and mist in the area have made roads and access areas very slippery. There is no significant snow in our forecast, but there is some very cold weather coming our way with highs barely above zero. The Bayfield Trail parking lot has been opened if you're looking for a one mile loop to check out with your snowshoes. It's Free Fishing Weekend Jan. 19-20. For those of you looking to get out the ice fishing gear or stop in at some events throughout the state, visit the DNR's website for all the details.  Recent warm temps and light mist have iced over the AfterHours Ski Trail system. The ski trails will be ripped up and regroomed for this upcoming weekend. Brave the environment carefully in the coming days or just bundle up and find something to do indoors! You can also check the trail conditions and find updates at Skinny Ski: http://skinnyski.com/ Links for trail condition reports on the local snowmobile trails are Douglas County: Douglascountywi.org or call 715-378-4528 and Bayfield County: Bayfieldcounty.org - Matt Leischer, ranger

Pattison State Park - Quite a mixture of weather in the past week. Warmer temperatures over the weekend is going to give way to very cold temperatures by this coming weekend. In between, we have seen rain, snow and freezing drizzle. The cross-country ski trails were groomed Wednesday, Jan. 16 and are in great shape. We have about 4-5 inches of base and 12 inches of snow in the woods. Both Big and Little Manitou falls are ice covered with the exception of a little window of water showing near the bottom of Big Manitou Falls. Expect mother nature to close that window by the weekend with cold temperatures. Please remember that a vehicle admission sticker is required.- Gervase Thompson, ranger

Ashland DNR Service Center area

Iron County - Take advantage of Iron County's snow. Ski and snowmobile trails are still in good condition. Groomers are hoping for more snow to come throughout the rest of the week. Ice is still thick and ice fishing has remained stable. Freezing temperatures toward the end of the week will continue to make ice. Make sure you dress warm in layers with a non-cotton base layer. During cold spells like this, it's important to have a backup plan and to let others know where you're going before going out alone. Pine siskins, red polls and grosbeaks are being seen more often at feeders. - Jenna Kosnicki, wildlife biologist, Mercer

Copper Falls State Park - Cross-country ski trails were groomed for skate and classic cross-country skiing and were tracked on Monday, Jan. 14 and are in fair condition. Groomer is currently down so trails will probably not be groomed again before the weekend.

Turtle-Flambeau Scenic Waters Area - Once again our great crew was out battling the elements to bring everyone some of the best skiing in Northern Wisconsin. The MECCA trail was totally groomed with new tracks set and is in excellent condition. Trails are traditionally groomed on Fridays. - Brett Bockhop, parks and recreation specialist

Spooner DNR Service Center area

Snow conditions in northwest Wisconsin varies. In Burnett/Washburn counties there is 4-5 inches of hard crusty snow, Barron/Polk less but still Icey. Douglas/Bayfield near a foot. Crusty snow makes it difficult for tracking conditions. Coyotes, otter, and other furbearers are staying on top of the hard crust snow leaving very little tracking sign. Grouse are moving around freely but they lack any good roosting snow. Turkeys are often seen in fields feeding in snow swept areas or in spots where manure was spread. Deer are moving around freely and feeding primarily on winter browse. - Mike Zeckmeister, wildlife management, Spooner

Park Falls DNR Service Center area

Flambeau River State Forest - The lakes are ice covered with 14 inches or more of ice. Folks are placing their buckets and ice shanty's in strategic positions and heaters are a desired commodity out on the ice with the cold temperatures we are experiencing. They have been fishing for walleye on Connors Lake and crappies on Lake of the Pine. Mason and Evergreen Lakes are being fished for crappie, walleye and perch. To learn more about ice safety, go to the DNR website and type in "ice safety." A total lunar eclipse will appear overnight from Sunday Jan. 20 to Monday Jan. 21. The potentially copper colored moon (blood moon) will appear. Hopefully the cloud coverage will be light enough to get a view. There are 17 active logging sales at this time on the Flambeau River State Forest. Conditions are good for winter logging. Be aware of large logging trucks on the roads and the roads are extremely icy and slippery. The weather forecast for the weekend calls for Friday to be mostly cloudy with a high of 11 and a low of -1. Saturday, mostly sunny with a high of 11 and a low of -1. Sunday, mostly sunny with a high of 11 and a low of -2. Monday, Martin Luther King Day, is forecasted as partly sunny with a chance of snow and highs of 17 and a low of 12. - Diane Stowell, forestry technician advanced and visitor services associate

The Flambeau Hills cross-country ski trails have not been groomed but were packed (rolled/compacted) on Friday, Jan. 4. The trail has a solid packed base but is in poor condition. Lack of fresh snow has resulted in the trail not being groomed yet. - Chris Bender, forestry specialist

Woodruff DNR Service Center area

Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest - The Madeline and Raven cross-country ski trails were groomed for classic skiing and were tracked on Tuesday, Jan. 15 and are in fair to good condition. Madeline loops have a lot of debris, especially the outer loops. Tracks are not perfect with no new snow, they are a bit powdery but if the temp drops they should set nicely. Surprisingly the Red Loop, is the best loop right now, with the back of the Red being nicely tracked. Be careful because the hills are slick! Don't bring your best skis. The Raven Red loop up to the shelter, Blue and Green loops have been cut and tracked. Leafy debris on all loops. Fair/Good conditions. The Yellow loop has not been freshly groomed due to low snow conditions on the trails under the heavy conifers. Escanaba trails were groomed for classic skiing and were tracked on Monday, Jan.14. Good conditions with some thin spots under pines but no bare ground evident. Ten inches of snow on picnic table near Research Station. Weasel and fisher tracks observed today. Some debris in track but rather minor. - Dan Jacoby and Tony Martinez, park and recreation specialists

 

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Northeast Region

Northern Lake Michigan fisheries team report

Marinette County - Anglers fishing off the Sixth Street slip on the Menominee River report catching a few keeper perch for an all day of fishing. - Benjamin Ewoldt, fisheries technician, Peshtigo

Oconto County - A few anglers were out at Geano Beach with tip-downs and tip-ups. A few decent sized perch were seen caught on the tip-downs. Anglers fishing the Oconto breakwater and harbor report catching lots of small perch in the 5-inch range and a few pike in the 20 inches were also caught on tip-ups. Anglers fishing Oconto Park 2 (North Bayshore Park) report catching lots of smaller perch with a few keepers mixed in. Using minnows and jigging aggressively seems to be the ticket to avoiding the smaller perch and catching the bigger ones. - Benjamin Ewoldt, fisheries technician, Peshtigo

Brown County - Little to no ice was observed early in the week at Volk's Landing though winds were pushing in large sheets of shove. By Saturday those sheets of ice had frozen together which made the walk out to either side of the reef difficult. The ice had frozen 3-4 inches and only a few whitefish anglers were spotted in shanties. All of the whitefish was reported on the south side of the reef with cams. Things picked up by the weekend at Bayshore Park as 40 folks and shanties were spotted out. Many trying for whitefish were skunked though some whitefish and perch were spotted on cams. Ice depts of 8-9 inches were reported. - Aeden White, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay

The Fox River at Voyageurs Park is mostly open water with some thin ice forming. Anglers fishing the lock canal earlier in the week report catching perch and small walleye open water fishing, while anglers fishing the 2 inches of ice that formed later in the week report not catching anything. Longtail anglers report slow fishing for perch and pike with very few of each caught. The perch that were reported caught ran in the 5-6 inch range and no keepers reported. Anglers reported 8 inches of ice off on Longtail Beach Road. Off Harbor Lights Road open water was seen early in the week directly in front of the access point. Hook Road anglers report catching good numbers of perch with some anglers coming in with over 20 fish for two anglers for a half a day fishing. Few anglers were out at Sunset Beach Lane; a large pile of ice right off the access point makes walking and getting onto the ice tricky. Anglers report slow fishing here as well. Anglers reported 6 inches of ice with some pockets of thinner ice. - Benjamin Ewoldt, fisheries technician, Peshtigo

Door County - At Little Sturgeon Bay large ice shoves were observed this week along Lime Kiln Road with some reaching over 2 feet. The ice was flat and smooth off the access off Henderson Point. Very few anglers used this as an entry unless out a couple feet to jig for perch on a bucket. Riley's Bay has remained flat and level with shove observed much farther at the mouth. Most of the anglers were going out from Riley Bay Road. Around 20 shanties were observed farther in on Riley's Bay with some folks out for pike but no luck. Perch anglers fared better. A few folks were coming in from Stevenson Pier Road. East on the bay was flat and smooth while northwest toward the mouth there was much rougher shove. There were about 40 shanties on Little Sturgeon Bay with many out for perch. The catch was consistent though small. Carmody Park continues to be an active spot with relatively even and uniform ice. Folks stayed away from the mouth and got most of their catch inside the bay. Ice was reported to be around 7-8 inches. There were good reports on perch using minnows, though much of the catch was fairly small. At Red River the ice was fairly irregular but folks were able to make it out. 23 shacks were spotted way out with an additional 30 folks out fishing. Tip ups were spotted though success for whitefish was minimal. 6-8 inches of ice was reported. Ice near shore at Sugar Creek was relatively smooth. Higher shove could be seen much further out though pockets of a good freeze could still be used. About 5 shacks with and additions 20 anglers were spotted out with many going for whitefish. The catch rate was poor and many folks are waiting for better ice coverage.- Aeden White, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay

Peshtigo DNR Service Center area

Marinette County - We haven't received any new snow since the last report but most of the snowmobile trails are now open. Kirby Hills ski trails west of Crivitz have a base set and appear to be skiable. Squirrel and rabbit hunting season remain open. Ice fishing activity has picked up but many anglers report lethargic and finicky fish. Lake Noquebay ice depths (and likely other lakes with flow) vary considerably and there is still open water on the far west end near the dam. Be extremely cautious when traveling on any frozen lake. The snow levels are perfect for getting out and enjoying some winter hiking without snowshoes. - Aaron McCullough, wildlife technician, Wausaukee

Ice conditions are improving but anglers should still use caution because ice thickness has been reported to be variable on some lakes. Some lakes have more snow cover on the ice. We are likely to pick up more ice as the 10-day forecast is calling for highs in the lower teens during the day and single digits at night. Not much snow on the ground the closer you get to the bay; what snow is on the ground has frozen (more like ice than snow). Seeing turkeys mid-day making their way on and off the roadways; some bigger flocks feeding in cornfields too. Saw a coyote just after dark. A few local ducks still hanging around on what open water is left. - Chip Long, fisheries biologist, Peshtigo

Oconto County - Snowmobile trails north of Mountain are open. There is about 8 inches of snow and trails can be icy. Please check Oconto County Toursim website trail report. Individuals are ice fishing on the Machickanee Flowage, Oconto River in Oconto Falls, and Kelly Lake. Ice can be unsafe in some areas so be careful where you go. - Paul Hartrick, conservation warden, Oconto Falls

Green Bay DNR Service Center area

Manitowoc County - The county currently does not have any snow covering and it doesn't look like we will get any within the next week. The hiking and biking trails throughout Point Beach State Forest are ice covered; if you venture out on them take your time and wear ice cleats. The lakes are starting to freeze up much better than the past weeks and anglers are taking to the ice for fishing. A huge reminder that no ice is safe ice. That couldn't be more true this year with the warm ups we have had. Check the ice before you go out especially if you want to take any type of motorized vehicles on the ice. Anglers have been having success throughout the county noting nice catches for panfish and northern pike. We have cold weather predicted for the end of the week which will help build good ice. Don't let the cold weather keep you inside over the weekend, its Free Fishing Weekend. - Alyssa R Neff-Miller, conservation warden, Mishicot

Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center area

Potawatomi State Park - Cross-country ski trails were rolled Jan. 2 but no track set and are in poor condition. Advise to use rock skis. - Jaclyn Moeri, visitor services associate

Whitefish Dunes State Park - The ski trails are very icy and in poor condition. New snow is needed for grooming. This is a great time of year for birding at the park. Buffleheads are easy to view by the office deck and many woodpeckers such as downy, hairy, and pileated woodpeckers are frequently seen on the Black trail. Snowshoeing and hiking is allowed on the Black trail and also the new loop parking in the Pine lot and walking to Whitefish Creek. The Black Trail offers scenic views of cliffs along the Lake Michigan shoreline. - Jaclyn Moeri, visitor services associate

Wautoma DNR Service Center area

Waupaca County - Trail conditions are very slippery and treacherous. Trail users may want to consider using ice cleats if they decide to walk on the trail. Off trail conditions are ok, and not as icy. Ice conditions are not very good in central Wisconsin. The ice is also very slick and anglers/ice travelers certainly need ice cleats to traverse the ice. There is still a lot of eagles in the area. Keep an eye out for these birds near open water or a food source. Eagles have been seen engaged in their in flight courting behavior. - Ted Dremel, conservation warden, Wautoma

Snow sports are nonexistent to date this winter. Ice on larger lakes suspect at best. Some panfishing and northern pike success on smaller lakes. - Karl Kramer, wildlife technician, Wautoma

Waushara County - Looks like it will be a chilly weekend here in Waushara County, but that should just help sure up some of the ice that has been somewhat questionable the last month or so with all the rain and warm weather. There are aerators in use on a few of the lakes in the county due to high water and potential damage to personal property so be careful and keep your eyes on the lookout. The snow is all but gone except some areas and making the fields easy to walk if you are out and about. There have been some great sunrise and sunsets with some of the increased daylight. Get out and enjoy what Waushara County has to offer. - Ben Mott, conservation warden, Wautoma

 

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Southeast Region

Milwaukee DNR Service Center area

Lakeshore State Park - Lakeshore State Park continues to have very little ice formation. Open water fishing from the shore during the Free Fishing Weekend is possible in the north basin of the lagoon, below the pedestrian bridge, along both the harbor and lake side at the south entrance behind Summerfest's amphitheater, and at limited spots along the Summerfest lake walk. There are still some stray coho and king being pulled in, as well as rainbow and brown trout. Panfish are scarce this time of the year. Red-breasted mergansers, lesser and greater scaup, and goldeneyes continue to populate open water areas of the lagoon. - Angela Vickio, naturalist, Milwaukee

Waukesha DNR Service Center area

Kettle Moraine State Forest - Lapham Peak Unit - Cross-country ski trails at Lapham Peak were groomed Tuesday night and are in good shape. The new sections of trail were tilled today and will be opened to skiing Wednesday, after the snow has a chance to firm up. The new sections will be two way traffic until the final segment is complete. The final segment should be completed sometime next week. Lights will be on every night until 9 p.m. except Sunday. No lights on Sunday.

Plymouth DNR Service Center area

Kettle Moraine State Forest - Northern Unit - Things haven't changed much from last week. Although most of the snow has left us, there are patches of ice still left on the trails that were heavily used. Some snowfall is predicted for Friday night so we'll see what happens. Hikers have been spotted on Ice Age trail and also at Long Lake & Mauthe Lake campgrounds. Since it's been icy, it is recommended that anyone hiking this weekend bring along some sort of traction device for your footwear. The cross country ski trails are ice covered and remain closed to hikers. The bike trails still have some ice where the snow packed down, so plan accordingly. Fat bikers, with studded tires on their bikes, were spotted enjoying the Greenbush system today. Greenbush loops 1, 2, and north part of 3 were icy. Loop 4, which experiences less usage, was the best despite conditions being in such poor shape. This Saturday and Sunday is the winter Free Fishing Weekend. On Saturday Forest staff will be holding a Learn to Ice Fish clinic at Mauthe Lake in the afternoon from 12:30-2:30 p.m. A special event called the Frozen Otter Ultra Trek (exit DNR) is taking place on Saturday at Mauthe Lake. It starts at Mauthe and participants traverse 64 miles of the Ice Age Trail. The Ice Age Visitor Center will be open Saturday only, this weekend, from 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m. - James Enigl, park ranger

 

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South Central Region

Horicon DNR Service Center area

Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area - There has been a lot of interest expressed via social media for attending the 2019 Horicon Marsh Candlelight Hike this Saturday, Jan. 19, including 23,000 people interested on Facebook. Parking is limited at the education center and will be prioritized for people with disabilities and families with small children. The center strongly recommends using the shuttles. Free shuttles will be available from Mayville and Horicon from 4:30-9:30 p.m. The Mayville Shuttle will be located at Theiler Park, N8282 County Road TW, Mayville. The Horicon Shuttle will be located in the Bethesda parking lot, 620 Washington St, Horicon. Dogs will be allowed on the shuttles. The weather is looking cold and windy with wind chills below zero. Hiking by candlelight, a roaring bonfire, roasted marshmallows and warm refreshments from 5-9 p.m. The event is sponsored and hosted by the Friends of Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center and Wisconsin DNR. The Education Center will be open for people to warm up. There are also snacks available for purchase and the Flyway Gift Shop is open for shopping. The Horicon Marsh Explorium will also be open at a discounted rate for people to learn about Horicon Marsh through these new interactive displays. The Northern Cross Science Foundation astronomers will be on site to help you view the night sky through telescopes or to talk about the stars if it is cloudy. Members of the Horicon Marsh Bird Club will be on the trail conducting short owl talks and calling for owls. Warm beverages and light snacks will be available inside the center as well as a bake sale. There are two trails available. One trail is 1.5 miles and another "Family Loop" is only .36 miles. Admission to the event is free; however, please consider bringing a non-perishable food item or hats/gloves/mittens for our food drive and mitten campaign to be donated to local schools and food pantries. Multiple baskets will also be raffled off to help support the Friends group and future candlelight events. For more information, call 920-387-7893 or go to www.horiconmarsh.org. - Elizabeth Herzmann, natural resources educator

 

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West Central Region

No reports.

Wisconsin Rapids DNR Service Center area

Buckhorn State Park - Snow has melted off trails again with the warmer weather and rain. Trails are icy where there is still some snow. People have been accessing the lake from launch A and launch C. Park staff do not monitor ice conditions. - Heather Wolf, park manager

Roche-A-Cri State Park - Trails are icy at this time. The stairway is not maintained for winter use. - Heather Wolf, park manager

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Last Revised: Thursday, January 17, 2019
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