Anglers Play Risky Game on Thin Ice

With ice rescues becoming more common in recent years, one can’t help but wonder if social media and online fishing report pages are playing a role.

Anglers posting photos of early or late-season success – when ice conditions are sketchy at best – may be attracting less-experienced fishermen hungry for action.

It’s one thing to get stranded on the wrong side of a pressure crack in late January, when Green Bay ice cover is typically at its peak. It’s a whole different ballgame to go out on limited ice in December or March, especially with a strong offshore wind predicted.

No doubt temperatures were unusually cold in late November and early December, allowing protected bays, harbors and nearshore areas to make ice. But you’d think after a week-long thaw, lots of sun and strong winds Dec. 18, the dozen-plus anglers who had to be rescued in the Dyckesville area would have known better than to head out.

Colder temps in the past week have certainly helped, but the lack of frigid air in the forecast means we’re still a long way off from decent ice conditions. As I type this Christmas Eve day, another warmup and rain is predicted Thursday before a week-long drop into the 20s.

Bottom line? Be patient. Local fish markets have guaranteed catches and no fear of breaking through or going for an ice floe ride.

Meanwhile, on clear days, you can monitor ice formation online via satellite imagery available at

State Parks

Peninsula State Park is holding a Winter Birds program Sunday. Drop in between 11 am and 3 pm for a 10- to 20-minute presentation. The park naturalist will use photos, taxidermy specimens, and recordings to help you identify birds that winter at Peninsula.

• A First Day Hike is set for 9 am to noon New Year’s Day at Newport State Park. Meet at the end of Europe Bay Road. A three-mile hike will bring you along Europe Lake, with rolling hills along a forested sand dune. You can bring snowshoes if needed; poles or walking sticks are encouraged.

Cider and hot chocolate will be served in the Nature Center, Lot 1, after the hike. A 2019 vehicle admission sticker is needed; the park office has them.

• Candlelight ski and hike events are set for January 26, 5-8 pm at Whitefish Dunes State Park and Feb. 2, 5:30-8 pm at Peninsula State Park. Add snowshoes to the mix at Newport’s 29th annual candlelight night 5:30-8:30 pm Feb. 9.

Deer hunt update

It’s antlerless-only for all whitetail hunters through Jan. 1 in Door and Kewaunee counties due to a special nine-day firearm deer hunt. All hunters, except those participating in the late goose hunt, must follow blaze orange or blaze pink clothing rules.

Through Dec. 17, Door deer hunters had racked up 1,898 bucks and 2,497 antlerless deer, a total of 4,405. The crossbow (714) and bow (399) take combined for 1,113, and gun harvests 3,292.

Kewaunee County hunters reported 1,393 bucks and 1,895 antlerless, or 3,288 whitetails in all seasons. That included 760 with crossbow and bow, and 2,528 with firearms.

Bird counts

The longest-running citizen science survey in the world, Audubon’s 119th annual Christmas Bird Count, is underway.

Each count is held on a single day in an established 15-mile diameter circle. Wisconsin hosts more than 100 counts, including five done under bluebird conditions in mid-December in the Brussels, Dyckesville, Ephraim, Sturgeon Bay and Washington Island areas.

Kewaunee’s count is set for Jan. 3. To participate, contact Paul Schilke at (920) 639-6151 or [email protected].

Learn more about Wisconsin birding opportunities at or

Late goose hunt

A new late-season goose hunting opportunity is being offered on the K/D Peninsula. It began Dec. 16 and runs through Jan. 3, with a daily bag limit of three Canada geese and varying limits for other goose species.

While few hunters are taking advantage, thousands of geese are still hanging out in the area. The birds, many of them locally-raised, roost on water, shorelines and beaches in between feeding flights to farm fields.

Water levels

As of Dec. 21, Lake Michigan was 19 inches above its 100-year average, and two inches higher than last year at this time.

Water levels are nearly four feet above the all-time December low, set in 2012, but still about a foot and a half below the all-time high, set in 1986.

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