Late winter and early spring leave many of us wondering what to do for outdoor fun. While the best skiing and snowshoeing may be past, there could still be some late ice fishing opportunities available. If you are traveling to fish, calling ahead to local bait or sport shops for ice conditions and checking the Wisconsin DNR’s weekly outdoor report can help you find the best places to fish.
For those hardy trout anglers who’ve been tying flies all winter while looking out the window at snowdrifts, March 1 signaled the start of the early trout season catch and release. Starting from the Namekagon River in the Northwoods and going down to the West Fork of the Kickapoo River in the southwest, here are six waterways to try when you’re out trout fishing. And, beginning the last week of March, the Thursday Night Hiking Club gets going at the Kettle Moraine State Forest - Southern Unit. The night hike happens every Thursday starting March 27 through May 22. If that sounds like fun, contact the state forest office at 262-594-6200.
The MacKenzie Center’s Maple Syrup Festival takes place on April 5 this year. The festival offers guided tours of the sugar bush, demonstrations on tapping maple trees and a pancake breakfast (with maple syrup).
Earth Day comes in April each year and many state parks will again schedule Work-Play-Earth Day events throughout the month. Contact your favorite state park if you are interested in helping with a park project and having some outdoor fun at the same time.
The first of six spring wild turkey hunting periods opens April 16. This hunting season has become phenomenally popular and while most permits are sold by lottery any leftover permits are now on sale over the counter, or online. Spring turkey activity typically begins to pick up first in the southern parts of the state, but there are plenty of public wildlife areas to choose from. Find more information on public hunting lands here.
May is a great month for outdoor activity. The first Saturday is opening day of the 2014 fishing season. The second Saturday in May is International Migratory Bird Day, which celebrates the return of spring and millions of migratory birds from places such as Costa Rica, Mexico, Panama and the Gulf Coast. Don’t you wish you could have spent the winter in one of those places? Horicon Marsh Visitor and Education Center will have special family-fun programs on IMBD day. Contact them at 920-387-7860 for details.
And for the ultimate in natural resource freebies, come on out for free fishing, free trail hiking and free state park entry on June 7 and 8. This special weekend has been expanded and waives normal fees and license requirements for all three activities for the entire weekend. If you’re looking for a weekend to get out and explore, this will be a great opportunity to see what our state has for outdoor fun.
Robert Manwell is the public affairs manager for the Department of Natural Resources south central region. He is a 20-year DNR employee and in addition to a background in forestry and journalism, he likes to hunt, fish, ski, snowshoe, camp, paddle, hike and bike throughout Wisconsin.