This winter has had it all, including snow and cold, rain and warm ups. It has been anything but consistent, making it a challenge to get out, or stay out on the trails or on the ice.
And this week has been no different. A late January storm brought 6 to 10 inches of snow to parts of Wisconsin and strong winds have, and likely will blow the snow around to further hamper travel and outdoor activities.
Temperatures have also plummeted and as the week winds down, highs will struggle to each single digits and wind chills could be a dangerous -25 to -40. But then expect some warmth to return to Wisconsin.
Still, there is winter fun to be had.
A host of candlelight events will occur this weekend in several Wisconsin state parks and forests, including Blue Mound, Peninsula, High Cliff, Interstate state parks and Black River, Flambeau River and Kettle Moraine State Forest Pike Lake Unit state forests.
Candlelight nights have become some of the most popular winter activities in state parks in recent years for many reasons, including they are family friendly and fun. A candlelight snowshoe hike at Rib Mountain State Park drew more than 450 people last Saturday and a candlelight ski and grand opening of a new warming shelter at Blue Mound State Park in January attracted more than 1,000 people.
There is also angling excitement on the state’s frozen waters, and for the 2013 sturgeon spearing seasons on the Lake Winnebago system. Prospects are good for spearing record-setting fish, state fish biologists say. The season opens on Saturday, Feb. 9 at 6:30 a.m.
In spring 2012, DNR crews captured, tagged and released an 87.5 inch, 240-pound sturgeon below the Shawano Dam and surveys show a large number of trophy fish, those over 100 pounds.
There is also success to be had ice angling, including in Brown County, where whitefish, perch, and walleye are being caught in the areas of Sturgeon Bay, south to Chaudoir’s Dock.
To the west and north on the Upper Chippewa Basin, some nice crappie, bluegill and perch are being pulled in with the best success has come from the deeper water areas with the fish suspended just off the bottom. Walleye activity also clicked up a notch in the last week and the tip-up fishermen are starting to see a little more consistent action on a day-to-day basis.
On the Mississippi River at Wyalusing State Park, ice anglers have been catching some crappies and bluegills. The anglers are fishing in 10-12 feet of water, downstream from the boat landing. The bluegills are near the bottom, but finicky as to what bait and jigs that they will respond to. A few crappies and small northern pike round out the fishing catch. One young angler reported while fishing in his ice shelter, he was surprised when a dog fish or bowfin jumped through the hole and landed in his shelter. He had occasionally seen a dogfish, come to the surface and look at him, but never jump out of the water.
Sightings at bird feeders include juncos, chickadees, white-breasted nuthatches, goldfinches, cardinals, blue jays purple finches and, red-bellied, downy and hairy woodpeckers.
Image courtesy Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources