Monroe County’s snowmobile trails are finally open.

It marks the first time in two years that riders will have access to the county trail system.

Tom Popp, chairman of the Monroe County Snowmobile Association, said lack of snow depth has delayed the trails opening in the past. He said there needs to be at least eight inches of snow on the ground to open the trails. After four to six inches fell last week, the six to 10 inches that fell Monday were enough to create a sufficient base.

“Had we not lost the snow in December, we would have awesome trails (now),” he said.

Popp is excited to have the trails open.

“Everybody put a lot of time and effort in getting the trails ready ... especially on the bike trial, getting that all rerouted and working around the flood damage,” he said. “It feels good to finally use what we’ve worked so hard to do all fall.”

While the trails are open, Popp asks snowmobilers to take it easy until the trails can be groomed.

“There might be some hazards under the snow since we marked the trails and when we opened them, so take it easy for a while,” he said.

As of Tuesday, the only portion of Monroe County trail that remained closed was from Leon to Middle Ridge.

Trails in Juneau County are partially open with the 400 Trail south of Elroy closed to the Sauk County line.

All trails are open in Jackson County and reported in good condition.

In fishing news, it has been pretty quiet because of the colder temperatures, said Don Roscovius, owner of Rosco’s Live Bait.

“Saturday was pretty decent as far as business goes, a few guys were going out,” he said. “On Lake Tomah a guy was catching enough for a meal of crappies and bluegills, which were pretty decent keepers. A few guys managed to get a few.”

A few northern pike were also taken on the lake, Roscovius said. He heard about a 33-inch pike that was caught and released. The size limit for northern pike is 32 inches on Lake Tomah.

Fishermen have been avoiding local marshes, Roscovius said, as cranberry growers are flooding the beds. He said it takes a few days after beds are flooded for fishing conditions to settle down.

At Petenwell Flowage, fishermen who ventured out were catching some walleyes in deep water, about 30 feet down using jigs and minnows, Roscovius said.

Castle Rock Flowage was quiet, he said, but added that perch were biting on the Mississippi River at Onalaska.

Matt Modjeski, a Department of Natural Resources conservation warden in Monroe County, said besides some activity on Lake Tomah, few fishermen have ventured out into the cold.

“There’s not much else going on; it’s bitterly cold,” he said. “Fishermen out there all had heaters going ... to make the inside more enjoyable and less trying to fight the cold in those permanent shacks ... but people had to move around to find the fish.”

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Meghan Flynn can be reached at meghan.flynn@lee.net.

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