Ice making conditions continue to hold steady across Wisconsin as colder temperatures have added inches of ice, improving ice fishing safety, and kept the blanket of late December snow as a much needed base.

Snow depths range widely – from very poor to good or better — across the state.

Snowmobile trail conditions also vary – from north to south. Trails remain closed in many counties where wet heavy snow fell on unfrozen ground, which caused it to compact and not build up sufficient base for groomers.

Barron, Burnett, Rusk and Washburn counties, for example are all closed, but conditions in Florence and Marinette counties are good. In the south, Racine and Milwaukee county trials are closed, but Columbia, Green and Washington counties are good. To check conditions to the Wisconsin Department of Tourism’s Snow Conditions Report (exit DNR).

There is enough snow in most cases for candlelight events scheduled at Wisconsin state park properties this winter. Most of the events offer cross-country skiing, snowshoeing, hiking, or a combination of those activities along trails lit by hundreds of candles.

Candlelight events kick off Saturday with events at Blue Mound, Harrington Beach and Mirror Lake state parks.

Many of the events held throughout the winter include additional activities, such as bonfires and hot chocolate and other refreshments for sale. Some events offer grills for cooking food or roasting marshmallows. Many of the events are organized by friends groups for the parks, which provide the much of the volunteer labor for the events.

Lakes in the Northwood’s generally have at least 7 to 8 inches of ice, though some conditions always vary. Lakes in the south are beginning to freeze, but still trail the northern waters.

Calumet County ice conditions on Lake Winnebago are marginal right now and those venturing out should be very cautions. The ice in the Lakeshore Park lagoons is still too thin to safely ice fish and the same is true across the state in LaCrosse in the Mississippi River bays.

There has been some good early success for panfish including Langlade County and on the Mississippi River in the La Crosse area. Walleye have been the primary target for many early anglers on the Upper Chippewa Basin, where the ice sheet is solid, and catches have been somewhat sporadic for the tip-up fishermen. Fishing in Milwaukee recently has been rather slow. Some brown trout are being taken by both boat and shore anglers but not as many as previous weeks.

Late season archery hunters are taking advantage of their last chances to harvest a deer before the season closes Sunday.

Image courtesy Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources

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