Wisconsin DNR: Outdoor Report for March 16, 2018

Friday, March 16, 2018 | Wisconsin DNR |

With the exception of northern Iron County, which received 6-8 inches of snow early this week, the rest of the state has received no new snow and with the return of warmer weather snow and ice conditions are deteriorating rapidly.

Only about 10 counties in the far north still have snowmobile trails open on the Wisconsin Department of Tourism's Snow Conditions Report(exit DNR) and ski trails now remain open in only the far northern parks and forest, but with some still reporting good cross-country ski trail conditions. There is still one to two feet or more of snow on the ground throughout the Northwoods making for some very good snowshoeing.

Most northern lakes still have plenty of ice on allowing ice fishermen to continue ice fishing late into the season. While in the south open water fishing is picking up on the Wisconsin River below the Wisconsin Dells dam with good walleye action last weekend, but with the majority of the fish under the minimum 15-inch size limit. Water temps were still too cold for the actual fish run to begin. On the Fox River boat anglers continued to catch good numbers of walleye and there were still a lot of whitefish in the river.

A U.S. Coast Guard icebreaker broke ice from the Menominee River down to the Port of Green Bay this week. With the breaking up of the channel expect ice conditions to vary greatly on Green Bay. Several vehicles including cars, snowmobiles, and a truck have broken through in the Little Sturgeon Bay area over the last couple weeks. A reminder the last day to keep unoccupied shanties on the ice north of Highway 64 and on Green Bay is Sunday, March 18.

On the west shore anglers fishing off of Oconto report limits of whitefish still being caught along with the occasional bonus walleye but they have to sort through lots of smaller perch to find a few keepers. Along the east shore the whitefish bite has been decent from Sugar Creek north to Stone Quarry. Perch action has been slow. The last day of the season to keep perch on Green Bay waters is March 15.

The public can attend any of three public meetings on a proposed update to the Winnebago System Walleye Management Plan and update on the status of the system's walleye population. This is the first major update to the plan since it originated in 1991. The meetings will be March 19 in Oshkosh, March 20 in Chilton and March 28 in New London.

Turkeys are still grouped up but toms can be seen practicing their strutting and have begun gobbling on warmer sunny days. Bonus turkey harvest authorizations will go on sale the week of March 19 with each zone having a designated sales date. They can be purchased online through GoWild.Wi.Gov and at all license agents.

Following more than 22 years of elk management and reintroduction efforts, 2018 will mark Wisconsin's first managed elk hunt in state history. The area of the planned hunt is within the Clam Lake elk range with 10 tags issued for this first hunt.

Cool northerly winds slowed the bird migration across the state but the first whooping cranes have arrived. The snowy owl departure has commenced. Some pairs of great horned owls have already hatched young in the south. Hundreds of bald eagles are staging on the Mississippi River south of La Crosse with a report of 300-plus eagles and 200-plus American white pelicans simultaneously observed north of Prairie du Chien.

[Featured Photo: Ski trails in the north are still in good condition, like these at Pattison State Park thanks to some sunrise grooming efforts.Photo credit: Gervase Thompson, DNR]

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