Fun in the snow is hard to find

Wisconsin is lacking snow for outdoor winter fun

After another week with minimal to no snowfall and unseasonably warm temperature, snow depth has been going backwards. Some rain and slushy snow this week did not improve the situation.

Santa paid a visit this week to Amnicon and Pattison state parks, which he said are two of his favorites.  Happy Holidays from the Wisconsin DNR. - Photo credit: Kevin Feind

Photo credit: Kevin Feind

Iron County remains the only county with any snowmobile trails open and the warm up hit hard last weekend with a lot of melting and trails lost a lot of snow and are in poor condition according to the the Wisconsin Department of Tourism's Snow Conditions Report . About the only state owned cross-country ski trails that are skiable are the MECCA trails in Turtle-Flambeau Scenic Waters Area and the man-made snow loop at the Lapham Peak Unit of Kettle Moraine State Forest. The trails are a bit soggy but so far are holding up to the rain and warm temps. Some other trails are skiable but there are exposed rocks, roots and other debris that could damage skis. However, the lack of snow has been a gift to hikers who have been out in force at many parks and forests. Even some horseback riders have been out this week and properties have seen an uptick in winter campers.

Ice continues to be thick enough in the far north for fisherman to be successful in catching game and panfish. Many positive reports from fishermen indicated good fishing conditions last week. With the mild temps, lake ice has not developed much in the last week in central and southern Wisconsin and some lakes have even started to open up and many channels on flowages remain open water. The Wolf River near New London has been very good for northern pike and some smaller lakes in central Wisconsin have been producing bluegills and crappies. The Bay of Green Bay is open and not safe. Fifteen anglers had to be rescued this week after ice they were fishing on broke off from shore and was blown into the bay.

Deer are moving well during daylight hours and archery hunters have reported some success. Select farmland zone counties of the state have an antlerless only rifle season over the holidays from Dec. 24 through Jan. 1. All hunters in this zone must wear blaze orange/pink including archers. Only antlerless deer may be harvested in the farmland hunt regardless of weapon. Any counties not holding a Holiday Hunt firearm season follow normal archery and crossbow regulations, so archers hunting in those parts of the state can harvest any deer they have a tag for and they do not need to wear blaze.

The mild conditions are allowing for a variety of lingering species such as sparrows, flickers, meadowlarks, ruby-crowned kinglets and various water birds, including at least 11 species of waterfowl as far north as Lake Superior, while numbers of most winter finches, such as grosbeaks, redpolls, and crossbills, remain modest at best.