A prolonged period of frigid temperatures dropping down into the double-digit subzero range at night and just above zero during the day have put the freeze on many activities across Wisconsin in the last week. That is expected to change with temperatures forecast to rise into the 30s by this weekend.
Very little new snow has fallen in the last week, with only the far north receiving 2 to 3 inches last weekend. Snow depths now range from 4 to 6 inches in the south to 2 to 3 feet in the far north. Snowmobile trails are open in most northern counties and range from good to excellent condition, according to the Department snow conditions report. Snowmobile trails are open in some central and southern counties, with conditions ranging from fair to poor.
Cross-country ski trails are also in good to excellent condition in the north, but many trails in the south are also in need of new snow, with a lot of debris being reported on trails.
Action was pretty slow on most other Northwoods lakes that now have about 14 inches of ice with 4 to 8 inches of snow on top. One good thing about the severe cold temperatures is that very little slush is reported on lakes, but that could change with the warm-up in the forecast.
Green Bay has fairly good ice cover with reports of some shanties now as far as a half a mile to a mile off shore. Anglers were using minnows and are hoping to catch whitefish, perch, northern pike, and walleye, but with limited success. The Winnebago system has pretty good ice but with high winds the ice can shift and cracks open and close. Anglers on Lake Winnebago can experience crossing a frozen crack in the morning only to find it is open 4-feet wide when leaving. There has been some success for crappies, perch, bluegill and whitefish.
The cold spell concentrated wild turkeys into large winter flocks. These flocks tend to roam over several square miles of habitat in search of food. The cold is also making for excellent bald eagle watching as eagles are congregated around what open water they can find below dams. Very few ducks and geese remain but some mergansers, goldeneyes and scaup are being seen along the Lake Michigan shoreline. Most ducks are in bright breeding plumage and now is a good time to watch them do their annual courtship rituals.