Outdoor Report for July 17, 2014

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Cooler weather this week led to a drop in recreational activity on lakes and rivers across the state, which gave anglers more opportunities to be out and about fishing.

Periodic rain showers continue to keep water levels above average summer levels, but major river systems have been dropping. The Mississippi River dropped 4 feet in the last week and slow-no-wake rules have been rescinded, but the river is still 4 feet above average at La Crosse. Increasing numbers of sandbars are now appearing on the lower Wisconsin River.

Water levels on Lake Superior are up this year, causing some issues at boat launches and docks, and Lake Superior surface water temperatures are still a chilly 48 to 54 degrees. Some trollers out on Lake Superior have been getting near limits of lake trout. On Lake Michigan, chinook salmon fishing really started to take off over the past week along Door County, with anglers were having luck up and down the peninsula fishing. However, perch fishing has generally been slow with mostly smaller perch being caught and released. At southern Lake Michigan harbors, trollers have been scattered and have had varied success, with some chinook and mixed bags reported.

The cool down slowed bass action on Northwoods lakes this week, but fishing for walleye action remained consistent and musky fishing has also been steady and several anglers have reported multiple catches per trip. Panfish success has continued to be generally good, with some nice bluegill, crappie and perch reported. Walleye and perch were being caught on Lake Winnebago.

The drop in water levels on the Mississippi River caused fishing to pick up dramatically, with and lots of fish being caught, including walleyes, saugers, northern pike, bass, bluegills and crappies.

The berry crop is starting in with blueberries and wild strawberries ripening in the north and blackcap and red raspberries ripening in central and southern parts of the state. Berry pickers in northern and even through central Wisconsin are being reminded they might not be the only ones in the berry patches. Black bears are being seen feeding heavily on berry crops, so be sure to make a lot of noise when picking and just back away slowly if you encounter a bear. They will be more interested in the berries than the berry pickers.

Blueberries are ripening at Governor Thompson State Park.
WDNR Photo

Bird fledgling activity is very high now and family groups are more noticeable as adult birds frantically forage to feed begging young. And while it's just midsummer, the southbound shorebird migration is already in full swing as adult birds have arrived from boreal forest and high arctic breeding grounds. Dominant species now include lesser and greater yellowlegs, solitary, least, and pectoral sandpipers, short-billed dowitcher, and others. The first Tennessee warbler, usually among the first southbound land bird migrants, was reported this week in Bayfield.

Many prairie wildflowers are now blooming including butterfly weed, yellow and pale purple coneflowers, false sunflower, wild bergamot, prairie blazing-star, wild petunia and purple prairie clovers.

Statewide Birding Report

Nesting season continues at full speed. Although bird song has declined significantly in most areas, fledgling activity is much greater now. Family groups are more noticeable as adult birds frantically forage to feed begging young. Some trees and shrubs are also starting to develop fruits (e.g. juneberry/serviceberry), providing excellent places to look for birds this time of year. Bird baths and other water features are also being utilized as days grow hotter and natural sources dry up. Believe it or not, southbound shorebird migration is in full swing as adult birds have arrived from boreal forest and high arctic breeding grounds. Dominant species now include lesser and greater yellowlegs, solitary, least, and pectoral sandpipers, short-billed dowitcher, and others. Numbers will build through the end of the month at mudflats, shorelines, and shallow marshes. With high water levels statewide, flooded agriculture fields are also serving as prime habitat now, especially in southeastern Wisconsin. The first Tennessee warbler, usually among our first southbound land bird migrants, was reported this week in Bayfield. Backyard birders should also be on the lookout for adult male rufous hummingbirds. This rare fall visitor can sometimes be spotted from mid-July into mid-August. However, the majority of land bird migration won't get underway in earnest until early August. Birders near lakes and wetlands are also reporting wandering non-breeding waterfowl, such as redheads, scaup, pintail, and various other species roaming various parts of the state, while resident goose numbers build as family groups assemble at prime feeding sites. Rare birds spotted this week include little and laughing gulls along Lake Michigan, white-faced ibises in Winnebago County, yellow-crowned night-heron in Milwaukee, and blue grosbeak in Sauk. As always, help us track bird populations and find out what others are seeing at www.ebird.org/wi (exit DNR). - Ryan Brady, Bureau of Wildlife Management research scientist, Ashland


Northern Region

Ashland DNR Service Center area

Bayfield County - The weather has been cool. Blueberries and wild strawberries are beginning to ripen. Bears have been seen hanging out in berry patches. Sport trollers are catching close to their limit in lake trout out near the Outer Island Refuge but are not catching any fish of great size. Robins are on their second round of egg-laying for the summer. Water levels on Lake Superior are currently high, causing issues at boat launches and docks. Lake Superior surface water temperatures are still 48-54 degrees so it is important to wear your lifejacket out on the boat. - Lynna Gurnoe, conservation warden, Bayfield

Amnicon Falls
Water has been flowing at Amnicon Falls State Park.
WDNR Photo

Amnicon and Pattison state parks - Timely rains have kept the falls at both Pattison and Amnicon Falls just beautiful this summer. Amnicon Falls is attracting a lot of day-use swimmers to the falls. They call them natural jacuzzi's. Both park campgrounds were full last weekend. The first of two Rivet Run 5k races was held at Pattison State Park this last Sunday. There were 49 participants who ran or walked the route. All proceeds came back to the park. The next Rivet Run is scheduled for November 9. Leah Holmes from Superior won the race. Emerald ash borer traps have been put up at both Amnicon Falls and Pattison State Parks to help track the spread of this invasive exotic beetle. - Kevin Feind, property supervisor

Hayward DNR Service Center area

Sawyer County - Rivers and streams are back to normal levels and the fishing is good for multiple species, including catfish. Fish are starting to hold more in the deeper holes now that the water levels have dropped. Live and artificial baits are working. Fish are hitting surface lures which add extra excitement this time of year. Canoeing and kayaking on the North Fork of the Flambeau has increased due to the water levels being just right. Mid-week trips will see less activity while the weekends are seeing a high volume of individuals floating the rivers for both recreational purposes and fishing. Those floating and camping on the North Fork of the Flambeau River going through the Flambeau River State Forest are reminded that camping is only allowed at designated sites on the river. ATV trails are in good conditions with heavy activity on the weekends. The cooler damp year thus far has kept the trail dust at a minimum. There is trail work being done on the Tuscobia State Trail in the area of the Price/Sawyer Line. Operators are reminded to stay on legal routes, slow down and ride sober as trail conditions are always changing. - Thomas Heisler Jr., conservation warden, Winter

Park Falls DNR Service Center area

Upper Chippewa Basin fisheries report (Price, Rusk, Sawyer Taylor and inland Ashland and Iron counties) - The multiple cold fronts, periodic rain showers and breezy conditions in the past week have kept anglers guessing in the Northwoods of Wisconsin, but fishing action has remained relatively steady. The cooler weather has dropped water temperatures into the mid to upper-60s range and this has limited recreational boating quite a bit in the last week. Stream and rivers levels continue to run a little high, and lake levels remain a few inches above normal as well. And as has been true for most of the summer season so far, the generally wet conditions have maintained the biting insects at a high level, with lots of mosquitos, ankle-biters, deerflies and horseflies still around. With the constantly changing weather, the fish activity has remained relatively consistent. The biggest drop-off in success was with the largemouth and smallmouth bass. The cooling water temperatures seem to have changed up their feeding patterns and anglers have had to work at finding the active fish. Largemouth still seem to be holding on the mid-depth weed edges and near lily pad beds, though more and more have been moving to solid overhead cover like stumps, logs, bog edges and docks. Finesse techniques with soft plastics have been able to produce some decent catches, though the surface and frog bite just hasn't seemed to develop yet this year. Smallmouth bass have also becoming more wood oriented and some decent fish have been found near structure in deeper water. Walleye fishing has stayed rather consistent for the past few weeks and some nice catches of fish in the 12 to 16 inch size have been made in the mid-depth weeds and along the deep-side weed edges. Slip bobbers with a leech or nightcrawler half have been the most productive technique. Musky action has also been steady and several anglers have reported multiple catches per trip. Most of the fish have been in the 30 to 38 inch size but a few up to the mid-40 inch size have also been landed. With the cooling water temperatures of the past week, northern pike action spiked up a bit and many bass anglers were being kept busy with small to medium-size pike. Most types of bait fished along the weed edges have been producing these smaller northern. Panfish success has continued to be generally good, with some nice bluegill, crappie and perch being found on the deeper mud flats and along the deeper weed edges as well. Wax worms and nightcrawler pieces fished below a slip bobber have produced some decent catches. - Skip Sommerfeldt, senior fisheries biologist, Park Falls

Flambeau River State Forest - The South Fork of the Flambeau River is in good shape for paddlers; the North Fork is at a normal level and paddlers are reporting great paddling conditions. Deerflies are out, and the mosquitoes are much more tolerable. We are seeing lots of butterflies, and milkweed is blooming so we are seeing quite a few monarch butterflies. Fawns are active and we are seeing quite a few broods of grouse and turkeys. - Judy Freeman, visitor services associate

Woodruff DNR Service Center area

Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest - The lush green forest awaits visitors. Daisies, hawkweed, St. John's wart and the many clovers are brightening up the roadsides, trails and openings. Many of the grasses are getting ripe and are providing lush samples for those who can identify them. A few ripe raspberries are appearing and the wild strawberries are being carried away by the foraging chipmunks. Red berried elder is attracting the blue jays! A watchful eye may catch a brood of turkeys or a tiny grouse or two along the roads, and many songbirds are busy feeding their young, even though they are the same size as the adults! Dusk still brings out those wonderful mosquitos to feed on any warm body, but the numbers don't seem as great. - Rosalie Richter, visitor services associate


Northeast Region

Northern Lake Michigan fisheries team report

Marinette County - Anglers at the Peshtigo Harbor are catching catfish, walleye and smallmouth at the river mouth using crawlers and minnows fished on bottom. Menominee River anglers are reporting some walleye t in the evenings trolling with stick baits or crawler/harness from the mouth of the river to Stephenson Island. Shore anglers on the Menominee River are catching some sheepshead, bass, catfish, and rock bass. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo

Oconto County - Anglers were having some success for bluegill below the Stiles Dam fishing with worms and crawlers, many small fish were being caught. Anglers were also catching some bass, mostly small using fly rods and streamers or casting small crank baits. Boaters from Pensaukee Landing to Oconto Park II are now reporting some perch being caught in 9 to 14 feet of water using minnows or crawler chunks, many small fish being caught. Weed beds are your best bet. Trolling with crawler/harness is starting to produce some walleye in the same areas. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo

Brown County - Boaters at the mouth Fox River area continue to work hard with limited success. Perch numbers are increasing, with minnows being the most successful bait so far. Deeper holes in the bay are holding the largest amounts; however, the fish have been finicky. Shore anglers near the pipeline have begun to catch black crappie in greater numbers, with larger fish biting on suspended leeches. The water in the Voyager Park area of the Fox River has been fairly clear with limited flow. Water temps immediately below the dam have been hovering in the 68 degree range with bays increasing to near 74 degrees. Large numbers of drum and catfish persist in the area. The most common set-ups continue to utilize the 3-way swivel with night crawlers. Bass fishermen also continue to do well in the area, with green buzz baits and cranks hooking the most fish. Slack water on the north edge of the park and continuing along the Fox are holding the most fish. - Adrian Meseberg, fisheries technician, Green Bay

Door County - The fishing was hot this past week throughout the peninsula. On the bay side, anglers were catching plenty of smallmouth bass, typically in 8 to 12 foot of water using everything from tubes, to grubs, to worms and minnows with a slow presentation. Catching smallmouth in the 16 inch plus range was not uncommon. Along with the smallmouth bass, anglers have been catching rock bass and the occasional perch. Rock bass have biting best on worm while the perch bite has been best with minnows. From shore, anglers are having just as much luck catching smallmouth and rock bass as those fishing farther out. The best bait is still tubes and grubs although worms have also been working quite well. Anglers have also been catching the occasional perch. On the lake side, anglers are having the best luck catching smallmouth from shore and from boats at Rowleys Bay. Same as on the bay side, the best results are being seen using tubes and grubs with worms also producing good results. The chinook salmon fishing has really started to take off over the past week. Catches of 2 to 4 are typical with 7 or 8 not unheard of. Anglers were having luck up and down the peninsula fishing in 100 to 200 foot of water and anywhere from 90 to 150 feet down. The chinook salmon were biting on dodger flies, flasher flies, and spoons. The key seemed to be to have at least some green in the lures. Along with the kings, anglers have reported caching some rainbow trout and the occasional coho salmon. - Daniel Olson, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay

Pier anglers at Sawyer Harbor fishing out of Potawatomi State Park were catching perch, smallmouth bass, rock bass, and gobies. A few of the perch were decent size (10 inches) as well as many of the rock bass. The smallmouth bass were on the smaller end. The water was rather clear most days this week and groups of fish could be seen. Boaters targeting smallmouth bass had mixed results. While some had a tough time finding these fish, others reported catching up to 20. Four- and 5-pounders were reported by more than one boat angler. Boaters were using tubes, shad raps, and wacky worms. Lucky anglers were in less than 12 feet of water. Boaters were also catching some perch using minnows and night crawlers. Most chose to release what they caught as the sizes were reported in the 4-8 inch range. Other fish caught included rock bass, sunfish and gobies. Pier anglers fishing at Little Sturgeon Bay were catching decent numbers of perch. Most of them in the 4-8 inch range. Worms seemed to work best. Other fish being caught off the pier were bullheads, smallmouth, gobies and a 22-inch bowfin. Boaters looking for smallmouth bass reported having a tough week. Musky anglers were also having a hard time finding their target, although one angler stated he caught a 42-inch musky a week earlier. - Adrian Meseberg, fisheries technician, Green Bay

Anglers at Bay View Park and Stone Quarry in search of smallmouth bass reported low numbers and action this week using worms, leeches, minnows for live baits and jerk baits, tube jigs for artificial. Perch anglers are still struggling to get a good bite using worms and night crawlers. Anglers in search of salmon and trout off of the coast guard piers had low success but reported being able to see them in the water. Salmon anglers on the lake are bringing in good numbers of rainbows and kings in 150-350 feet of water using dodger flies and spoons. - Emily Kurszewski, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay

Kewaunee County - This past weekend was Trout Fest tournament in Kewaunee with 30 boats participating. High numbers of kings and rainbows were caught with many boats bringing in bag limits. Largest fish was a king at 19.4 pounds and the largest bag was 124.8 pounds for 10 fish. Anglers in Algoma and Kewaunee have had high success for trout and salmon. Many limits were being reported with large fishing coming in. Steelhead have been producing higher numbers than kings, and they are biting mostly on dodger flies with silver or green flashers. Spoons seemed to not produce well this week. Anglers were out in 150-400 feet of water catching them from 70-100 feet down. Surface water temp is 50 degrees out at 100 feet. The full moon produced high number for anglers overnight on glow spoons. Pier fishing has had low pressure with anglers reporting little success. Shore anglers in search of catfish were having little success. - Emily Kurszewski, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay

Peshtigo DNR Service Center area

Governor Thompson State Park - The 16 mile mowed hiking trail system is open. The blueberries are ripe! Remember its picking season for the wildlife too, so be mindful of bears. It is tick season, so remember to check for those little critters after hiking our trails. The boat launch facilities are open at Caldron Falls Flowage. Woods Lake and Huber Lake are carry-in, no motor lakes. - Maggie Kailhofer, park manager

Green Bay DNR Service Center area

Brown County - Fishing on southern Green Bay has been rough. Walleyes are spotty at best, musky fishing is non-existent and the yellow perch have not kicked in yet. Sheapshead and catfish are the most common fish being caught at this point in the summer. As a result there is a lot of open water to be fished with very little pressure. At some point the fish will cooperate and everyone will be back. Recreational boating has also been pretty tame. The weather has not been the best for boating with cool temperatures and windy conditions. Please be careful boating on Green Bay. We have had some close calls where people have been caught on the water in some quick moving storms. Wear your life jackets or at least have them out and ready to go. Make sure your marine radio is functional. If you don't have a marine radio, make sure you have a cell phone charged. Know where you are, and having readily available GPS coordinates will help in a rescue situation. If you don't have GPS, pay attention to buoy numbers or land marks. It seems simple but when it is a life or death situation it might not be as simple as you think. Make a conscience effort to know where you are at. - Darren Kuhn, marine unit conservation warden, Green Bay

Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center area

Potawatomi State Park - Milkweed is in bloom. Pelicans are frequently visiting Sawyer Harbor. - Lois M. Hanson, visitor services associate

Whitefish Dunes State Park - All trails are open for hiking. Chickadees and nuthatches can be seen in large numbers throughout the forested dunes. A hike along the black or brachiopod trail will provide a glimpse of various woodpeckers; redheaded, pileated, downy and hairy. Be sure to bring a camera along to try and catch a glimpse of wildlife sightings. Stroll along the shoreline for views of migratory waterfowl. Don't forget to bring some warmer clothes as winds off the lake can be brisk. Watch diving ducks such as buffleheads, common mergansers and golden eyes hunt for food in the water. Be sure to check out the tall pine trees to possibly spot an eagle perched on a limb looking for fish. Early in the morning pelicans have been spotted near the swim area.- Jaclyn Moeri, visitor services associate

Wautoma DNR Service Center area

Waupaca County - Blackcaps and wild raspberries are now ripe and yields will be heavy. Area trout streams have near normal water levels and reports are that the trout are biting well. Largemouth bass and northern pike are hitting well on smaller area lakes. Bugs have really died off with drier weather as of late and that makes for very pleasant going in the outdoors. Tis the season for small fuzzy and furry things. There are baby rabbits, fawns, turkeys and geese everywhere. Weather has been heavenly, great time to be in central Wisconsin. Have a good weekend. - Karl Kramer, wildlife technician, Wautoma

Waushara County - Cool weather has slowed the traffic on area lakes, but it has meant more time for anglers to be out and about. Fish on some lakes are responding well and some trout anglers are experiencing some luck with the relief from the bugs early in the morning. Fawns are starting to be seen more regularly and are getting pretty big for the time of year. The next week should be great for picking berries. Just remember we are not the only ones that enjoy fresh berries. We have had a fair number of black bear sightings this spring throughout the central and western portion of the county. If you are headed out into the brush to do some berry picking just remember you may not be the first one to the patch. Be sure to make a lot of noise and back away slowly if you encounter a bear. Do not charge at it and do not turn and run away. - Ben Mott, conservation warden, Wautoma

Oshkosh DNR Service Center area

Outagamie County - Anglers on Winnebago have been catching perch on the east shore near High Cliff and have been catching walleye trolling on the west shore near Neenah. The blue green algae blooms have continued and has been causing many recreational boaters to limit their tubing activities. Shore anglers have been catching a good number of catfish and smallmouth bass along the Fox River. - Ryan Propson, conservation warden, Appleton


Southeast Region

Milwaukee DNR Service Center area

Milwaukee County - Baby wildlife are being seen all over Milwaukee County, with parents and young leaving dens and nests in search of food and real life learning experiences. There are bird fledglings, or baby birds out of the nest, bouncing around and trying to fly all over the county. If you see a baby bird and are worried about its safety, contact your local wildlife rehab center or the DNR Customer Service Hotline at 1-888-936-7463 before you pick it up. Damselflies and dragonflies are in overdrive, feeding on the increased mosquito population from the higher amounts of rain we've been getting. Wildflowers are in bloom, with cup plant, Culver's root, asters and milkweeds blooming right now. Keep your eyes open for blackberries and raspberries on your hiking trips this week. They are starting to ripen and can provide a quick snack on the road. But leave some for the wildlife, too! - Dianne Robinson, wildlife biologist & regional educator, Waukesha

Richard Bong State Recreation Area - Trails are open to hikers. The Blue Trail is closed near the failed water control structure (old dam). As of July 16, horse trails and all-terrain vehicle trails were closed due to the recent extreme wet weather and National Model Rocketry Event July 17-16. Trails are open depending on trail conditions; call 262-878-5600 for availability. Sunrise and Sunset campgrounds are open. Group campsites are open. Many ash trees have been cut in the park due to the discovery of the emerald ash borer. Swimming is not recommended due to low lake levels and the lake water not being tested for bacteria. No pets are allowed in the beach area. Non-motorized boats are permitted on Vern Wolf Lake; however, lake levels are low. Launch at your own risk. Fishing will also be impaired by low lake levels; however plans for lake restoration are underway for fall 2014.

Harrington Beach State Park - The Quarry trail is dry without flooded areas. Other trails in the wooded areas may be flooded or muddy for hiking, particularly the White Cedar Swamp and Nature Trail. Turkey poults can be seen in the park early in the morning on the Shuttle Trail. This year's fawns are up and running and the bucks have begun growing velvet covered antlers! If you take a walk down the North Lakeview Trail, you may see some of the beautiful red-headed woodpeckers. - Robin Miller, ranger

Southern Lake Michigan fisheries team report - Compiled from creel clerks by Cheryl Masterson and Jeffrey Zinuticz, fisheries technicians, Milwaukee

Sheboygan County - Success for trollers in Sheboygan dropped somewhat this past week compared to the previous week. The anglers that had the most success were fishing southeast of town in 180 to 220 feet of water. Others were in 80 to 90 feet of water straight east of the harbor. Shore fishing has picked up off of the south pier. Anglers fished the lake side of the pier with green or glow spoons and reported catching 1-3 brown trout and an occasional lake trout. Water clarity is still poor in the harbor near the river due to the heavy rainfall. Lakeside the visibility goes approximately 3 feet down.

Ozaukee County - In Port Washington the north pier is closed to public access. Signs have been posted at the entrance to the pier to remind the public that no one is allowed on the pier because it has stability issues. Numbers of alewives in the area have tapered off, but there are still a few lingering around. The harbor water has cleared up, and shore fishing has improved near the power plant and around Rotary Park. Browns and a few rainbows have been taken on white tube jigs, night crawlers, alewives, spinners and spoons. Trollers fishing out of Port Washington had the best action straight east or northeast of town in 110 to 170 feet of water. Coho have been hitting flashers and champagne flies, and lake trout been taken off of dipsy divers and downriggers that were set about 40 feet down.

Milwaukee County - In Milwaukee fishing effort has increased in the past week, and catch rates have slowly shown signs of improvement. Trollers have been catching some chinooks, and fish have been spread out relatively evenly from 60 feet of water and deeper. Shore anglers have been catching both steelhead and browns off McKinley pier, both on the inside and the outside of the pier. Live bait and spoons have both been productive. Alewives have produced a few browns behind the Summerfest grounds, and a few small ones have also been caught at Grant Park on spoons and spinners. Browns and steelhead have also been taken by anglers fishing at the Oak Creek Power Plant fishing pier, but numbers of fish here have been lower than the north side of Milwaukee. Perch fishing around Milwaukee County has been slow, with very few fish reported from Cupertino Pier, South Shore Marina and the Bender Park shoreline. Boaters have been catching a few perch off of the South Milwaukee boils on minnows fished early in the day.

Racine County - Trollers in Racine have been scattered and have had varied success. Some have caught a mixed bag of fish in water around 55 feet, and browns have been taken shallower in 30 to 35 feet of water. Other trollers have been fishing farther offshore, in 250 to 300 feet of water or deeper. A few browns and coho have been taken off the piers, and anglers have been using a variety of baits including alewives, spawn sacks, and glow in the dark spoons and spinners. Shore anglers in Racine have taken a few nice size browns while casting spoons near the water treatment plant. Perch fishing has been relatively slow both for shore anglers and boaters alike. Fishing pressure in Racine has been high and is expected to remain above average through next weekend due to the Salmon-a-Rama fishing tournament.

Kenosha County - Kenosha trollers have had to head out to deep water to find fish, and even then fishing has been relatively slow. Coho and rainbows have been taken 50 feet down in 250 feet of water, and other trollers have been fishing out to 300 feet of water. Perch fishing has been relatively slow for boaters working the breakwall, the bubbler and the mouth of South Port Marina. Shore anglers, however, have been able to catch some perch off the piers and off the rocks between the south pier and Southport Marina. The bite has been light, but small minnows or small jigs and plastics have taken fish. A few perch limits were reported over the weekend. Shore anglers in Kenosha have also been catching a few browns in the harbor and off the piers. White tube jigs tipped with wax worms fished under a slip bobber has been effective, as have green and silver spoons.

Waukesha DNR Service Center area

Waukesha County - Wildlife sightings on state properties remain high, with many opportunities to view fledgling waterfowl and songbirds. Turkey broods have also been seen flying into trees. Dove banding in Waukesha and Walworth counties is underway. Wildflowers are in full bloom in prairies, including an abundance of spiderwort this year. The Bark River Unit of Paradise Valley wildlife area continues to impress local birders with hundreds of pelicans, egrets and herons. - Kelly VanBeek, wildlife biologist, Waukesha

Plymouth DNR Service Center area

Theresa Marsh State Wildlife Area - Many of our "warm-season grass" nesting fields are getting showier for viewing, with the mid/late summer prairie flowers in bloom or beginning to bloom. Now through about the first week in August is a great time to view and photograph prairie fields. A Caspian tern was reported using the Trinity Creek wetland habitat in Mequon last week. Two or three pelicans continue to be seen on Theresa Marsh Wildlife Area, along with numerous duck (wood duck, mallard, and blue-winged teal) and goose broods and nesting black terns. Water levels on the Theresa Marsh main pool will kept low throughout July to allow "moist soil" food plants (smart weed/bidens) to grow on the mud flats and to allow dam repairs and clean out to be completed. We will begin to bring water levels on the main pool back up about the first week in August. Hunters are reminded not to forget the August 1 deadlines for many applications (fall turkey, furbearer permits, bobcat, and wolf). - Tom Isaac, wildlife biologist, Hartford


South Central Region

Lower Wisconsin State Riverway - The water levels on July 17, at the Prairie Du Sac dam was 6,794 CFS. Please call 1-800-242-1077 for current river flow at the Prairie Du Sac dam. The sandbars have reappeared throughout the Riverway providing good locations for camping. The blackcap raspberries have ripened and there are plenty for the picking. Please remember that camping is restricted to no more than three days on state-owned islands and sandbars. Camping at these locations is restricted to persons and their equipment arrived by watercraft only. A camping permit is not required. Boaters should use caution when operating along the Riverway due to the ever changing water levels which expose new sandbars and other hazards. The Lower Wisconsin State Riverway has a "carry-in, carry-out" policy which means people must take the trash they create with them. - Matt Seguin, property manager

Dodgeville DNR Service Center area

Iowa County - Biting flies (gnats) have made a re-appearance in recent days, so be sure to pack the bug repellant when venturing out. Many prairie wildflowers are now blooming including butterfly weed, yellow coneflower, false sunflower, wild bergamot, prairie blazing-star, wild petunia, pale purple coneflower and white/purple prairie clovers. Turkeys are being sited with poults. - Travis Anderson, wildlife biologist, Dodgeville

Lafayette County - With the recent consistent rains the mosquitos have flourished and are in no short supply. Fishing activity has been relatively slow compared to the occasional strong bites we'd like to see in Lafayette County. The Tri-County ATV trail has seen normal traffic as well as the same dusty conditions it always has. Does and fawns are becoming a regular sight as well as quite a few decent bucks in velvet. - Nick Webster, conservation warden, Darlington


West Central Region

Baldwin DNR Service Center area

St. Croix County - Water levels are dropping on area rivers and the slow no wake restriction is now lifted on the St. Croix and Mississippi rivers in Pierce County. Water is still high and some boat landings are still closed so check ahead. Walleye and sauger action has picked up on Lake Pepin and the Mississippi River. Trout streams are very fishable again also. Panfish and bass are providing action on inland waters. Best lakes to try are Cedar Lake and Nugget Lake in Pierce County and Menomin Lake in Dunn County. - David A. Hausman, warden supervisor, Baldwin

La Crosse DNR Service Center area

La Crosse County - The Mississippi River in the La Crosse area has dropped over 4 feet in the last two weeks. The water level is now below flood stage, but still about 4 feet above the normal level for this time of year. The fishing has picked up dramatically and lots of fish are being caught, including walleyes, saugers, northern pike, bass, bluegills and crappies. The fishing float below Dresbach (lock & dam 7) also has been seeing good fishing with walleyes, saugers and white bass being caught regularly. Anglers are having the best success fishing with worms or night crawlers. Bluegills are being caught off the weed edges adjacent to deeper water and walleyes are being caught with crawler harnesses in eight to twelve feet of water. - Dale Hochhausen, conservation warden, La Crosse

Vernon County - American goldfinches are busy nesting. These cheery, easily-recognized, black and gold songbirds are one of the last species to nest in Wisconsin. Their nesting efforts are timed to coincide with the seed production of milkweed, thistle, dandelion and other plants that have fibrous seeds, which goldfinches incorporate into their nests and also feed their young. Goldfinches are among the strictest vegetarians in the bird world, selecting an entirely vegetable diet and only inadvertently swallowing an occasional insect. When brown-headed cowbirds lay eggs in an American goldfinch nest, the cowbird egg may hatch but the nestling seldom survives longer than three days. The cowbird chick simply can't survive on the all-seed diet that goldfinches feed their young. American goldfinches are found throughout Wisconsin, especially in cultivated lands, roadsides, orchards, old fields, suburban areas and early successional growth habitats. - Dave Matheys, wildlife biologist, Viroqua

Black River Falls DNR Service Center area

Jackson County -Rain continues to fall near the Black River Falls area. The ATV trails are all open but there are some areas which are under water. Please proceed with caution when entering the water holes with ATVs. The Black River water level is higher than normal but fishermen are still catching numerous muskies below the Hatfield dam. The Hatfield Canal is nearly empty due to water structure repairs which are occurring throughout the summer. Bear hunters are underway baiting their lucky spots on public lands in Jackson County. Remember to have your Class A or Class B bear license before you assist in bear baiting or running bear hounds. Lake Wazee Recreation Area near Black River Falls has a great handicapped accessible pier located within the park. Many people are catching bluegills and bass from the pier. Don't forget to take that special friend fishing who hasn't gone fishing a while due to not being able to get their wheel chair close to the water. - Kurt Haas, conservation warden, Black River Falls

Monroe County - It's time to go after largemouth bass as they are biting on spinner baits, crank baits and plastics. Remember to bring along the bug spray as it will be needed. Also don't forget to bring along your dedicated fish cooler with ice or frozen containers of water to keep your fish fresh until you get home. It is unlawful to transport live fish or lake, river or stream water. - Matt Modjeski, conservation warden, Sparta

Eau Claire DNR Service Center area

Chippewa River State Trail - Trail is in good condition and open the entire length. The Chippewa River is still running higher than normal for this time of year. As always use caution and always wear a life jacket if planning a canoe and bike trip on the river. Many of the public sand bars are now accessible as well. Restrooms at the Highway 85 wayside are now open for the season and drinking water is available. - Calvin Kunkel, ranger

Hoffman Hills State Recreation Area - Maintenance staff have been busy cleaning up trails from recent June storm damage. Trails are passible but there is standing water in some spots. You may notice additional colors on some trees along the trails beside green. Parks and Forestry staff are marking trees as part of a timber sale. Forest management practices are being setup to promote forest regeneration, remove hazard trees, and to site prep for additional trail work to be completed in the next year or so. You can view some recent forest regeneration cuts east of the group camp to see the benefits of improved trails and the oak/aspen regeneration. - 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 at or a little above normal flow. If planning a canoe and bike trip be aware that there are still a lot of overhanging trees and submerged logs along and within the river. The Chippewa River is also a little high for this time of year but most of the sandbar near the trail at the Dunnville Wildlife Area is accessible. As always use caution and keep an eye on children and pets at all times around water. Bug spray is still recommended as there is plenty of standing water along the trail for mosquitoes and flies. - Calvin Kunkel, ranger

Wisconsin Rapids DNR Service Center area

Buckhorn State Park - There are some more mosquitoes with the rain occurring last weekend, but cooler temperatures at night will help. It is still a good idea to bring spray, screen tents or thermocells. Drop in at the beach on Wednesdays between 1and 4 p.m. for nature activities. On July 18, at 8:45 p.m. at the amphitheater is "Universe in the Park." Come for a slide show and check out the stars with a telescope with UW-Madison Astronomy students. On Saturday, July 19 at 10 a.m. at the amphitheater is "Wetland Metaphors." - Heather Wolf, park manager

Roche-A-Cri State Park - Not too many bugs at this time! On Saturday, July 19 at 2 p.m. at the kiosk shelter is "Wetland Metaphors." - Heather Wolf, park manager

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Last Revised: Thursday, July 17, 2014