Outdoor Report for September 18, 2014 Published by the Central Office
View current conditions for Wisconsin State Parks, Trails and Forests
Check out the Wisconsin Department of Tourism (exit DNR).
For current statewide information on statewide fall color, log onto the Wisconsin Department of Tourism's Fall Color Report (exit DNR).
Cooler temperatures in the last week had many people thinking autumn, which will officially arrive next Monday with the autumnal equinox. Although most trees are still green, leaves are starting to change colors, with some maples and sumac showing reds and ash trees starting to turn yellow and purple. Colors have reached about 25 percent in some counties on the Department of Tourism's Fall Color Report (exit DNR).
Warm evening rains during this time tend to encourage salamanders to migrate towards their wintering sites.
Catherine Khalar Photo
Most trails are once again in good condition with repairs from recent storm damage completed. Washouts on the popular Sunset Bike Trail at Peninsula State Park have been filled and the trail reopened. The Black River State Forest and Jackson County ATVs trails are open and in good condition.
Water levels have started to drop on the lakes, rivers and streams, but they still remain high for this time of year. With high water levels and cool temperatures, fishing pressure has shown a sharp decline on most waters across the Northwoods. Bass fishing continues to be especially erratic and both largemouth and smallmouth have been tough to find. There have still been a fair number of musky anglers getting out and for the last few days, they have been enjoying some decent weather conditions and pretty good success. In the south, there have been some good catches of walleyes in the Rock River.
Poor weather also kept fishing pressure down on Green Bay, but there was some good musky fishing along the west shore with multiple catches reported by some boats. Along Lake Michigan, salmon and trout continue to move in along shore and fishing pressure was heavy on some piers and harbors, but there have only been a few reports of fish moving upstream on the Kewaunee and Ahnapee rivers.
The archery and crossbow opener had many reports of successful hunters bagging nice bucks, including quite a few with antlers still in velvet and hunters are reminded to contact a conservation warden for a permit if they want to keep those antlers. Many bucks are also being seen with polished antlers now. Cool weather has deer very active and deer movement will increase as the ground vegetation begins to turn brown and deer start thinking about breeding.
Many birds can be seen preparing for migration, while others are well on their way. Cranes and geese have been spotted gathering in fields in large numbers in the Sauk Prairie area. Robins and other resident birds are beginning to group up getting ready to head south. The migratory Canada geese that nest in Canada and migrate through Wisconsin in spring and fall are starting to build up in the Horicon and Theresa marsh areas.
Warm evening rains during this time tend to encourage frogs, toads and salamanders to migrate towards their wintering sites. On sunny days, you can expect to see snakes sunning themselves on the trails and travelling toward their winter hibernating spots. Monarch butterflies are gathering in small groups called flutters and the best time to see them is late afternoonson sunny, warm days.
Purple, blue, yellow, and white explosions of asters and goldenrods have come to life in the grasslands. Bonesets and brown-eyed susans are also still blooming.
Superior DNR Service Center area
A handful of blue spotted salamanders.
Catherine Khalar Photo
Brule River State Forest - Activity on the Brule River State Forest is gradually shifting to fall-time activities. Bear, deer, turkey, goose, grouse, and small game hunters, trout fishermen, hikers, and some fall campers are out taking advantage of the cooler days in the forest. The fall colors are becoming a little more pronounced, but the majority of the color is still green. There are some sporadic colorful pockets here and there to view but we will have to wait a while longer for the full color show. Reptiles and amphibians on the move. Warm evening rains during this time of year tend to encourage frogs, toads, and secretive salamanders to migrate to their wintering sites. Hatchling turtles can be on the move as well. The late winter, followed by our cool summer created cooler than normal soil temperatures, increasing the time to incubate the turtle eggs. Wood turtles will be emerging from their nests. Snapping turtles and painted turtles may or may not emerge out of their nests this year -- these turtles can tolerate freezing temperatures, so some may overwinter in their nests and make their appearance next spring. Northern geese and ducks are making an appearance as well. More will be making their way through the area in the next few weeks. Red-humped oakworms were seen in the forest feeding on an oak leaf. These colorful caterpillars will eventually turn into a much less colorful moth. See more information about them at bugguide.net/node/view/37293 (exit DNR). - Catherine Khalar, visitor services associate
Red-humped oakworms were seen in the forest feeding on an oak leaf.
Catherine Khalar Photo
Park Falls DNR Service Center area
Upper Chippewa Basin fisheries report (Price, Rusk, Sawyer Taylor and inland Ashland and Iron counties) - With nearly all of the major hunting seasons open, and combined with the high water levels and cool temperatures, fishing pressure has shown a sharp decline on most waters across the Northwoods. Water levels have started to drop on the lakes, rivers and streams, but they still remain high for this time of year. There have still been a fair number of musky anglers getting out and for the last few days, they have been enjoying some decent weather conditions and pretty good success. Artificial baits such as bucktails, top-waters and plastic swim baits continue to be the lures of choice, and have produced a fair amount of action along the deeper weed edges. This is generally the time of year when many musky anglers begin dragging suckers around - but there seems to be a shortage of musky suckers in the north this year. As such, anglers may have to adjust their fall fishing tactics and use more slow-moving artificial lures as the fall progresses. Pressure for walleye has been light, but action has been steadily improving with greater numbers of fish have been showing up in the shallows as the weeds are beginning to die back. Jig and minnow combinations worked on the deep edges and crank baits in the shallows near dark have produced the best success. With the high water levels, bass fishing continues to be especially erratic and both largemouth and smallmouth have been tough to find. Some modest largemouth success has occurred in the late afternoon hours after the water has warmed up over the course of the day. Soft plastics and finesse techniques have been used to entice the fish. Very few panfish anglers have been out and reports of success have been scant. Anglers are reminded that the general trout season closes on Sept. 30 with most streams, rivers, and spring ponds closed to trout fishing. Many stocked trout lakes do remain open and those can be found in the Wisconsin Trout Fishing Regulations and Guide pamphlet. - Skip Sommerfeldt, senior fisheries biologist, Park Falls
Flambeau River State Forest - Both the North & South Forks of the Flambeau River are at a good level for paddlers. Visitors are starting to see lots of fall colors and at about 50 percent to peak. The peak on the forest will likely be the last week of September going into October. The maples are getting close to peak and the rest of the trees are starting to follow. It is a beautiful drive along Hwy. W from Phillips toward Winter. We are seeing lots of geese and a healthy population of turkeys. - Judy Freeman, visitor services associate
Woodruff DNR Service Center area
Oneida County - After last week's cold spell, robins and other resident birds are beginning to group up getting ready to head south (hummingbirds are long gone). Robins are spending large amounts of time foraging among the berry producing trees like mountain ash, elderberry, and cherry trees and searching out bugs in the grasses. This year's young robins still have traces of spotting in their plumage. Look also for northern flickers, pileated woodpeckers, turkeys and other foraging birds along roadways and in the backyard. There is also an increased amount of musical warbler activity as migrating birds are moving through the area. Most of the bucks have shed their velvet and are out and about showing off their new racks. Before we know it, we'll start to see increased deer movement as the ground vegetation begins to turn brown and deer start thinking about breeding. The time of year to be wary of deer crossing highways is fast approaching. - Michele Woodford, wildlife biologist, Woodruff
Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest - The cool winds and rains of autumn are making the forest change colors from lush green to harvest golds, reds and browns. Golden rods and asters are dotting the landscape with their lavenders and yellows. Ferns and dogbane are turning yellow and brown. Red maples are dotting the lowlands with their red coats and pin cherry and sumac are starting to show red also. Leaves will start to turn fast after a week of frosty temperatures in the north. Bear hunters are out and about and many of the fall hunting seasons start this weekend. Cunard, Plum and South Trout campgrounds are now closed for the season. East Star, Buffalo, Sandy Beach, Starrett and Upper Gresham will close for the season on Tuesday, October 14. Many of the others will go to self-registration and will remain open until the snow flies. Dump stations are still open. - Rosalie Richter, visitor services associate
Antigo DNR Service Center area
Langlade County - In the Antigo Area water levels have begun to recede a bit after 10-plus inches of rain in the last three weeks. This is setting up good conditions for the youth waterfowl hunt and exterior zone goose season. Large flocks of mallard ducks have been observed feeding in harvested grain fields around the County. Migrant flocks of Canada geese should be arriving from their breeding grounds in Canada very soon. Local breeding geese are still abundant. The fall colors continue to increase across the area. About 30 percent of the maples have begun to show fall color with little to no color occurring with other tree species. - Eric J. Borchert, wildlife technician, Antigo
Northern Lake Michigan fisheries team report - Compiled by David Boyarski, fisheries supervisor, Sturgeon Bay
Marinette County - No anglers were seen on the Peshtigo River this past week due to high water, rain, and windy conditions. Anglers were targeting smallmouth bass on the Menominee River, fishing the structure around the mouth of the river. Jigging with plastics and casting large cranks were producing some very nice fish. Most shore anglers were at the Hattie Street dam catching and releasing sturgeon. The number of salmon fishermen was low with nothing to report yet. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo
Oconto County - High water from the Stiles Dam down river kept fishermen away. Walleye were still being caught on the Bay with anglers targeting under water structure and jigging with Zip lures and jigging Rap's. Perch fishermen were few and far between. Smallmouth bass were being caught in and around the mouth of the Oconto River casting crank baits and jigging. Musky anglers out of Geano Beach reported good results this week including multiple catches in some boats. Bucktails were the most common lure with the fire-tiger color patterns working well. Ten feet of water and less was the range. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo
Brown County - Shore fishermen on Duck Creek continue to catch good numbers of yellow perch by floating worm pieces under a bobber or off of the bottom with a river rig. Most of the perch caught are in the 5 inch range, but a few 7 inchers and up are also being hooked. Some anglers are going through as many as 40 only to find a couple worth keeping. Shore anglers in Voyager Park stated that they are still waiting for the fall walleye to come in. The bait of choice was worms floated off the bottom with a sinker. Other anglers stated that they are still catching fair numbers of smallmouth bass. Channel catfish were also pulled in by those fishing on or near the bottom with live bait. A fairly high percentage of Suamico River musky boats continued to land fish this week. It was mentioned that last Saturday's musky tournament had about 20 boats and more than a half-dozen land the choice fish (the winner landed two). Big bucktails continue to be a favorite lure. Ten feet of water and less is the target zone. Perch anglers this week were more frustrated than excited. The best luck was a couple of handfuls between two fishermen. The average yellow perch measured this week was about 9.4 inches. Heavy wind and large waves kept the majority of anglers away from Bayshore Park this week. Perch fishermen had some success during the early part of the week using minnows fished one foot off bottom in 20-22 feet of water. Luck played a huge role this week with anglers reporting being forced to not only find schools of fish but having to find them in clear water. Almost no perch were reported caught when turbid water was passing through the area. Most sizes hovered in the 5-7 inch range with very few fish over 10 inches. Walleye fishermen were also few and far between. The only reported catches this week came on trolling cranks in 12-16 feet of water. As with the perch fishermen, walleye anglers were not catching fish while passing though the more turbid areas. The few fish that were brought in averaged around 26 inches. - John Taylor, Adrian Meseberg, fisheries technicians, Green Bay
Door County - Poor weather and high winds have made fishing difficult over the past week and kept many anglers off the water. There have been scattered reports of smallmouth bass being caught around the peninsula from the piers and out on the water. Most reports from piers have been coming from between Egg Harbor and Sister Bay catching bass of variable size typically using worms. Those out on the water have been catching bass of variable size fishing at a variety of depths using tubes, drop-shots, and crank baits with varying success. Trout and salmon anglers out of Sturgeon Bay were still catching rainbow trout and chinook salmon offshore and also catching a few chinook off or piers and trolling in the canal. In northern Door County there have been reports of salmon running up some of the streams. The streams throughout the county continue to have good clarity, high flow, water levels of about 2 to 3 feet, and temperatures in the 50s. - Dan Olson, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay
Very little pressure was seen in Little Sturgeon Bay this week. Cranks and night crawlers were the only used techniques recorded this week and all that was produced was freshwater drum. The end of the week continued to see higher winds; however, wave action was low due to wind direction. Water temps ranged between 64 and 68 degrees. And the bay remained very clear. The drastic increase in wind, coupled with poor weather, kept fishermen away from Sawyer Harbor this week. The few that braved the weather had mixed success. Few smallmouth bass were reported with the majority of catches coming on pumpkin colored tubes. 14-18 feet of water with underlying structure was the only producing areas. Perch anglers also had a hard time this week with anglers reporting difficulty detecting bites in the choppy waters. Only a handful of perch were brought in and that was utilizing minnows fished just off bottom. 22-25 feet of water was said to be the only location schools were found and sizes continued to be in the 5-7 inch range. One angler was interviewed toward the end of the week that had great success in catching northern pike along the Potawatomi park shoreline. Cranks baits tolled just off shore in 5-7 feet of water was their key to success, netting them multiple fish over 30 inches. - John Taylor, Adrian Meseberg, fisheries technicians, Green Bay
Kewaunee County - Pier anglers in Algoma have been out in high numbers this past week. Some anglers interviewed were using spawn and others spoons with mixed results. Anglers were successful on both piers mostly at dawn but reports of fish being caught throughout the day. Some anglers fishing on the lake stayed in shallow around 25 feet and others were out in up to 220 feet of water fishing 40-60 feet down, reporting that they were biting on everything. As the salmon are moving up the Ahnapee River more anglers are trying their luck. Some anglers had success in Forestville using spawn sacks, others tried along the river with no reports of catches. Pier anglers in Kewaunee were out in high numbers over the weekend as well, with a few of them catching fish. Anglers were throwing all different lures from spoons and spawn, to stick baits to try to get a bite. Anglers fishing the lake are having mixed success. Some boats chose to stay shallow and fish the mouth of the river for salmon and others chose to go out up 230 feet catching king salmon, coho and steelhead. Anglers fishing the Kewaunee River have had moderate success this week for king salmon and brown trout. Anglers were using spoons, spawn sacks, worms and fly fishing. The Kewaunee is 53 degrees, good flow, normal height and moderate clarity. - Emily Kurszewski, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay
Green Bay DNR Service Center area
Brown County - As the weather starts to feel more like fall and the hunting seasons start, we remind hunters to follow the four rules of firearm safety. Treat every firearm as if it were loaded, always point your muzzle in a safe direction, be certain of your target and what is beyond and keep your finger out of the trigger guard until you are ready to shoot. Another reminder to archery hunters, in the city taking advantage of ACT 71, to get permissions to retrieve deer on neighboring property before you go out hunting. All hunters should be considerate of the other hunters and non-hunters around them. The 10 p.m. -7 a.m. shinning prohibition started on Monday and will go until Dec. 31t.- Cara Kamke, conservation warden, Green Bay
Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center area
Peninsula State Park - The Sunset Bike Trail has reopened after storm damage has been repaired. Nicolet Beach is also now completely open. All hiking trails are open though there might be standing water and muddy conditions. The off-road mountain bike trails remain closed due to standing water.- Jane Barnowsky, visitor services associate
Potawatomi State Park - Trees are starting to turn color. There are still a lot of green leaves, but yellows and oranges are starting to appear. - Lois M. Hanson, visitor services associate
Wautoma DNR Service Center area
Waupaca County - Woodcock season starts Saturday - not too many migrants in yet, just our local birds. Very sporty gunning for grouse and woodcock as we have not lost any leaves yet. Some bucks have polished antlers, some still have velvet. Fawns have lost most of their spots and starting to look like mom. Deer hunting prospects look excellent in central Wisconsin; the cool weather has them very active. Only a couple weeks of trout fishing left. Streams look great and fishing can be excellent this time of year. Geese are still actively hitting stubble fields. Lots of turkeys around with some broods with only Ruffed Grouse sized poults. - Karl Kramer, wildlife technician, Wautoma
Oshkosh DNR Service Center area
Outagamie County - Archers are finding some success on the opening week of bow hunting. Several bucks in velvet were taken and hunters are reminded that they need to obtain a tag in order to possess those antlers the same would be true for a deer with a spotted coat. The recent rains brought the Wolf River levels up almost to spring levels. This certainly will make the navigation easier but it does make fishing success harder. Setliners are reminded that the season ends on Sept. 30 and all lines must be removed from the waterways. With the past cloudy days trees are starting to change a little still a few weeks from peak colors. - Mike Young, conservation warden, Shiocton
Milwaukee DNR Service Center area
Havenwoods State Forest - Wildlife, plants, and people are responding to the cooler temperatures. Monarch butterflies are gathering in small groups. (A group of butterflies is called a flutter!) The best time to see them is late afternoon (between 3 and 6) on sunny, warm days. While you are out, watch for small flocks of flickers and other migrating birds. It's not too late to catch the purple, blue, yellow, and white explosions of asters and goldenrods in the grasslands. Bonesets and brown-eyed susans are also blooming. Bees, chipmunks, and squirrels are busily gathering the abundance of fall before the temperatures really drop. On sunny days, you can expect to see snakes sunning themselves on the trails and travelling toward their winter hibernating spots. - Beth Mittermaier, natural resources educator
Southern Lake Michigan fisheries team report - Compiled from creel clerks by Cheryl Masterson and Jeffrey Zinuticz, fisheries technicians, Milwaukee
Sheboygan County - In Sheboygan over the weekend numerous boats were fishing near the gap of the harbor, the boats were picking up some chinook while trolling around the piers and gap. Most anglers had some success catching chinook on spoons ran off of planer boards. Shore anglers fishing off of the piers had action off of both piers over the weekend some anglers reported having the best luck catching chinooks and a few browns early in the morning on the harbor side of the south pier. There was numerous anglers fishing on the south side of the Sheboygan River over the weekend, most of the anglers were casting spoons, spinner baits, and crank baits. Some fishermen were also catching chinooks using a small chunk of a white twister tail or spawn fished off of bottom on a slip sinker or 3-way rig. Anglers were also catching large chinook by the 14th street ramp, crank baits and inline spinners were the best lures.
Ozaukee County - In Port Washington access to the north pier is not allowed. There are signs that have been posted at the entrance to the pier to remind the public that no one is allowed on the pier for their own safety. Fishing slowed some over the weekend but there was still some action for both chinook salmon and brown trout early in the morning. The WE energies discharge and the Rotary Park rocks were the most productive areas with the south pier along the coal dock giving up several fish as well. The north and west slips had some activity but overall fishing was slower than previous weeks. Best presentations were a little bit of everything from spoons, to crank-baits, and spawn fished below a bobber or near bottom. The water has cooled and fish seem to be near bottom and deep diving lures or spoons jigged off of bottom have been the most productive. Boat trollers were still heading out to 140-170 feet of water and having action catching a mixed bag of trout and salmon, flashers and flys and spoons ran off of lead core or dipsy divers worked shallow in the top 30-40 feet of water was best.
Milwaukee County - Fishing in Milwaukee was slower over the weekend, most shore anglers caught a few fish from the Mckinley Pier or the Summerfest grounds early in the morning some chinooks and primarily browns were biting on spoons, crankbaits, and spawn fished off bottom. Fishing should improve as more and more fish move into the harbor and river in the coming weeks. Many boat trollers were out over the weekend and were having success getting mostly browns with an occasional chinook. Most boats were fishing the gaps and the inner harbor up into the mouth of the Milwaukee River, the most productive lures have been bright colored spoons or j-plugs fished shallow off of dipsy divers or leadcore and planer boards. A few fish have also been taken by anglers drifting and casting jigs and plastics or jigging spoons in the harbor and marina area. The area rivers are still running low and warm and no fish have been observed beyond the mouths of the streams, with some rain and cooler river temperatures more and more fish will begin to head up stream on their spawning migration in the up-coming weeks.
Racine County - In Racine traffic at the Pershing Park boat launch was heavy over the weekend with 27 trailers counted in the parking lot on Sunday most boats were fishing the mouth of the Root River over the weekend. Overall fishing was slow with only a few fish being caught trolling crank and stick baits in the Root River up to the Main Street Bridge early or late in the day. Fishing pressure on the piers has been steady with the majority of anglers showing up for the early morning and late evening bite. The south pier has been the best with most anglers getting a fish or two in a few hours, best lures have been spoons in silver and blue or silver and orange, jigging spoons off bottom has been the most successful method. Some fish have also been taken off of the north pier but overall action has been hit or miss, and the bite changes daily from one pier to the other. Shore fishing pressure was low during the week but increased on the weekend. The Reichert Court fishing pier and the shoreline along the mouth of the Root River received most of the pressure. Some anglers on the Reichert Court pier tried fishing for perch on Tuesday with minnows under slip bobbers but reported no luck; some fishermen were getting a few chinooks casting spoons at the mouth of the river and also up river as far as the Fifth Street boat club. The best fishing seems to be in the lower sections of the root out into the harbor area. The Root River is running low and clear and no fish were seen or reported being caught over the weekend, some rain will be needed to increase flow and draw fish further up river. In Kenosha fishing has been slow, with the best luck coming from the beach at the mouth of the Pike River, there anglers were catching chinooks and browns on spoons or spawn sacs fished off bottom.
Plymouth DNR Service Center area
Washington County - The first County Deer Advisory Council meeting for Washington County was held Sept. 16 at the Daniel Boone Conservation League. It was the first of a series of three meetings that will set deer management goals for the next three years. The next two meetings will be Oct. 21 and Dec. 9. The public is encouraged to attend, submit comments, and learn about deer management in the county. More information is on the Deer Advisory Councils is available on the DNR website.
An open house public meeting covering the revised Master Plans for the Cedarburg Bog State Natural Area and Theresa, Allenton and Jackson Wildlife Areas is Thursday, Sept. 25, from 5 to 7:30 p.m., (presentation starts at 6 p.m.) in room 113 A/B of the Washington County Public Agency Center at 333 E. Washington Street, West Bend. The draft plan and information on how to submit comments about it are on the DNR website.
Theresa Marsh State Wildlife Area - Floating cattail bogs may cause access problems for waterfowl hunters on Theresa Marsh Wildlife Area above the marsh dam. Record rains and flooding last April dislodged many bogs in the main pool. The main problem areas are in the "ox-bow" area in front of the dam, and the main river channel about a quarter mile upstream from the dam. It's possible to get through both areas with a canoe if you work at it, but it's difficult. The DNR crew will be attempting remove the blockages with an airboat during the week of Sept 21. The work would be done between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. Contact Wildlife Management at the Pike Lake DNR office for a current update about the cattail issues at 262-670-3409, or email email@example.com. Other habitat conditions on the Theresa Marsh and at Allenton and Jackson Marsh and all around the area are good, with good water levels and abundant natural food. Smartweed production on the mud flats in the Theresa Marsh north refuge was excellent this year and should attract and hold waterfowl. Farmers are starting to harvest silage corn. Several hundred ducks (about two-thirds woodies, plus mallards and teal) and hundreds of sandhill cranes are using the south refuge and sub impoundments in the refuge south of Hwy. 28. The "Interior" subspecies of Canada geese that nest in Canada and migrate through Wisconsin in spring and fall are starting to build up Theresa Marsh and other locations around the area including other wetlands, parks, golf courses and farm fields. Some of the geese are congregating in the north refuge (mostly north of Hwy. 28) and several hundred more in the south refuge (north of the Mowhawk Road overlook). Goose numbers will slowly on the property will slowly increase between now and freeze-up in November. - Tom Isaac, wildlife biologist, Hartford
Ozaukee County - The first County Deer Advisory Council meeting for Ozaukee County is Monday, Sept. 22 from 7 to 9 p.m. at Riveredge Nature Center. The public is encouraged to attend to learn about current and proposed deer management in the county. An open house public meeting covering the revised Master Plans for the Cedarburg Bog State Natural Area and Theresa, Allenton and Jackson Wildlife Areas is Thursday, Sept. 25, from 5 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., (presentation starts at 6 p.m.) in room 113 A/B of the Washington County Public Agency Center at 333 E. Washington Street, West Bend. The draft plan and information on how to submit comments about it are on the DNR website.
Sturtevant DNR Service Center area
Kenosha County - Recently a 110-acre Volunteer Public Access site, on the north side of the New Munster Wildlife Area, was removed from the program and is no longer open to the public. The property is located on the south side of State Hwy. 50, west of County Hwy. W. Kenosha County still has two other VPA sites. There is a 40 acre field approximately .7 of mile south of State Hwy. 50 on County HWY KD adjacent to the New Munster Wildlife Area. The second site is a 36.16 acre field on the north side of State Hwy. 50, approximately .8 mile west of County HWY B. You can obtain more site information and area maps of these and other VPA sites around the state at the Volunteer Public Access on the DNR website.
Racine County - Water levels on the ponds/wetlands at the Richard Bong Recreation are up, meaning good hunting conditions for this weekend's youth waterfowl hunt. Hunters will be able to enjoy the newly constructed blinds that have been installed. Vern Wolf Lake is still drawn down, so blinds on the lake will not be available this fall. For the first time since 2009 the park refuge is full again and has developed good cover, which will provide a quality resting area for waterfowl during the fall season. - Marty Johnson, wildlife biologist, Sturtevant
South Central Region
Lower Wisconsin State Riverway - The water level on Sept. 18, at the Prairie Du Sac dam was 11,289 CFS. The water levels are beginning to recede and some sandbars are beginning to reappear. Please call 1-800-242-1077 for current river flow at the Prairie Du Sac dam. There are many hunting opportunities within the Riverway and hikers are encouraged to wear bright colored clothing when afield. The hiking and horse trails are all in good shape. - Matt Seguin, property manager
Dodgeville DNR Service Center area
New Glarus Woods State Park - All hiking and interpretive trails are open. The forest is starting to drop its leaves although the color change is very subtle. Lots of walnuts, acorns and hickory nuts can be found as they fall from the branches. Birds can be seen in groups preparing for migration. Late summer and fall wildflowers such as asters are in bloom and fox, raccoons and deer move about enjoying the cold evenings and warm days. - Brad Bates, park ranger
Horicon DNR Service Center area
Dodge County - There have been good catches of walleyes in the Rock River around the Hustisford area. - Paul Nell, conservation warden, Horicon
Fitchburg DNR Service Center area
Columbia County - Autumn is definitely in the air. Many birds can be seen preparing for migration, while others are well on their way. Geese and mourning doves are on the move, providing hunters with excellent opportunities. Turkey and pheasant young of the year are just about adult-sized, and young male pheasants may be already showing their flashy plumage. Many reports of successful bow hunters bagging nice bucks are coming in from the archery opening weekend. Wooly bear caterpillars are being seen crossing area roads. Since woolly bears are so noticeable in September and October, theories circulate over their ability to predict of the coming winter's severity. Rumor has it that the wider the black bands, the colder the winter. Also, some believe the hairier the critter, the harsher the winter. - Sara Kehrli, wildlife biologist, Poynette
Sauk Prairie Recreation Area - Migration is in full swing. Cranes and geese are gathering in fields in large numbers. Prairies are blooming with asters, goldenrods, and sunflowers. Fall hunting seasons have begun. - Nancy Frost, wildlife biologist, Madison
Governor Nelson State Park - For fall colors, there are some Ash Trees and Sumac that are now turning brilliant colors. The park boat landing and accessible fishing piers are still on the lake. All but one boat landing pier will be removed the first week of October. The beach building restrooms are now closed for the season but the boat landing restrooms will remain open for the fall colors. - Rene' Lee - park manager
West Central Region
Baldwin DNR Service Center area
La Crosse DNR Service Center area
Wildcat Mountain State Park - There are hints of fall colors at this time. Hiking and horseback riding trails are open and in good condition. Horseback trails close for the season Nov. 14. The Kickapoo River is currently at normal conditions. The family campground shower building and dump station is currently open but will be closed for the season mid-October, pending weather. Cross-country ski trails are being prepared for the upcoming ski season. - Robert E. Ramsey, park manager
Black River Falls DNR Service Center area
Black River State Forest - Leaves are starting to show a little more color now. So far we have been seeing mostly reds and purples with a few areas starting to show hints of yellow. Temperatures this weekend are expected to be in the low 70s with a chance of rain Friday and Saturday. ATV trails are open. The southern trails were groomed last week and are in good condition. The northern trails are a little rough. Please remember to stay on the marked trails at all times. - Emily Alf, visitor services associate
Trempealeau County - Due to the above average rainfall this summer, the small ponds and wetlands in the area are full of water. Many of them are holding good numbers of ducks, especially wood ducks, teal, and mallards. Scout these areas before the duck season opens to identify which ponds are holding ducks. Geese are also plentiful in the area for the same reason. Be sure to ask for permission before entering private property. The Jackson County ATV trails are open and the trails are in good condition. This is a great time of year to take a trail ride, since trail use drops off after Labor Day, and the trails will be less busy. For current trail conditions go the Jackson County website at:www.co.jackson.wi.us (exit DNR). Deer shining remains a popular recreational activity in the area. Deer shiners are encouraged to be courteous to their rural neighbors by refraining from shining into houses and barns. Deer shiners are reminded that shining after 10 p.m. is prohibited through Dec. 31. - Robin Barnhardt, conservation warden, Osseo
Eau Claire DNR Service Center area
Chippewa River State Trail - Trail is open the entire length and in good condition. Restrooms and drinking fountains are closed for the season at the Highway 85 wayside. Restrooms and drinking fountain remain open at Caryville. The Friends of the Chippewa River State Trail have leased a port-a-potty again this year and is available at the Meridean parking lot. The Chippewa River is running near flood stage between Eau Claire and Durand and is presenting hazardous conditions for boaters and especially canoers. Many of the sand bars are under water so use extreme caution if planning to camp on any public islands as river levels can change quickly. - Calvin Kunkel, ranger
Red Cedar State Trail - Trail is open and in good condition. Heavy rains in June caused multiple landslides between mile 3 and 5. Repair work is complete. New tread material was placed and packed in that area but it may remain soft for a while. The Red Cedar River is running high due to recent heavy rains. Use caution if planning a canoe and bike trip and be aware that there are still a lot of overhanging trees and submerged logs along and within the river. The Chippewa River is running near flood stage between Eau Claire and Durand and is presenting hazardous conditions for boaters and especially canoers. Many of the sand bars are under water so use extreme caution if planning to camp on any public islands as river levels can change quickly. - Calvin Kunkel, ranger
Wausau DNR Service Center area
Marathon County - We've received numerous calls since the start of the bow season here in Wausau regarding bucks killed during the archery season with antlers in velvet. Bucks with velvet antlers are legal game provided they are killed by legal methods; however, if the hunters wish to retain the velvet antlers, they need to contact their local conservation warden and obtain a tag. This is done to ensure that bucks were taken legally since season framework (season dates) generally doesn't allow deer with velvet antlers to be taken, other than some bucks still having their velvet during the start of the archery season. - Benjamin Herzfeldt, conservation warden, Wausau
Wisconsin Rapids DNR Service Center area
Buckhorn State Park - Fall colors are starting in the barrens, prairies and in the park. The lake has been busy with boating and fishing. Boat boarding piers and fishing pier will be removed after Oct. 15.Canoes and kayaks are available to rent for use on the canoe interpretive trail and at the beach. Check out a GPS unit at the park office or bring your own to discover the Ranger Rick Geocaches or history of Buckhorn caches. Hunting is occurring in the Yellow River Wildlife Area and Buckhorn Wildlife Area. Bowhunting has started in the park and wildlife areas as of Sept. 13. Check out hunting maps online or at the park office. Deer can be registered at the park office during open office hours. Park and wildlife areas are in Central Forest, buck only unless a hunter purchased an antlerless public tag for central forest. Saturday, Sept. 20 is the last interpretive program of the season. Join UW-Madison astronomy students for "Universe in the Park". Meet at the amphitheater at 7:30 pm- Heather Wolf, park manager
Roche-A-Cri State Park - Fall colors are starting in the prairie and in the park Trails are in great shape for hiking and geocaching. GPS units are available to check out at the park office. Horseshoes and volleyball are available to check out to use at the mound shelter. Many picnic areas in the park to enjoy the start of fall weather. Hunting in Roche-A-Cri will start Nov. 15. There are areas outside the park open for early bow hunting, small game and trapping. - Heather Wolf, park manager