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Outdoor Report for April 18, 2013
View current conditions for Wisconsin State Parks, Trails and Forests
Check out the Wisconsin Department of Tourism (exit DNR).
Snow remains deep and the ice thick in the Northwoods while rain continues to fall and rivers continue to rise in the south. And most everywhere conditions have been cold and soggy, which has made many anglers and turkey hunters understandably surly.
Turkeys, more often than not, are bunched up and hunters have had limited success. Rain, snow and cold have frustrated turkey hunters from Bayfield to Pepin counties, but there have been some successful hunts in Grant, Lafayette and Sauk counties.
Sandhill cranes foraging this week through the snow in the Brule River State Forest
Photo by Catherine Khalar
Lake Superior is open along the south shore in Bayfield County, but Chequamegon Bay is still locked in ice.
Anglers are reporting limited success, overall, and miserable weather conditions.
Ice fishing is still an option in many northern regions, including the Turtle-Flambeau Scenic Waters Area, where up to 36-inches of ice remains, along with 17-inches of snow on the ground. Anglers there have had some success with panfish.
Elsewhere, including, where rivers are high, anglers are finding steelhead opportunities and success on tributary streams of Lake Michigan and several anglers are doing well fishing just outside the harbors for brown trout on Lake Michigan. Inland lakes still are covered in ice, although they have begun to show signs of melting around the edges. In Racine and surrounding Lake Michigan counties, rivers are discharging large amounts of muddy water into the lake, resulting in a cloudy mess along the lakefront.
The Mississippi River is also on the rise and fishing activity has been heavy, but with limited success. The Wisconsin River is high, fast and boating and fishing is not advised.
Forest migrants arriving back included sapsuckers, winter wren, hermit thrush, kinglets, fox sparrows and yellow-rumped warblers. Birders also reported the first few early warblers of the spring including yellow, palm and pine warblers.
A pair of bald eagles is setting up house in Theresa Marsh Wildlife Area. A pair of ospreys was also confirmed nesting in an old hawk nest on the west side of the Theresa Marsh. Robins are being seen everywhere, including Brule River State Forest.
Chorus frogs were heard this week, but amphibian activity has been low. Some white-tailed bucks have been spotted with new antler growth visible. Coyote pups have been born over the last week. Wildflowers have been slow to bloom, but spring beauties pasque flowers have been seen emerging, but not blooming yet.
There are more opportunities for people to work and play at state parks this weekend, with Work*Play*Earth Day events scheduled this Saturday, April 20 at Big Foot Beach State Park near Lake Geneva, the Hank Aaron State Trail in Milwaukee, Kohler Andrae State Park near Sheboygan, Lakeshore State Park in Milwaukee, the Lapham Peak Unit Kettle Moraine State Forest near Delafield and Newport State Park near Ellison Bay.
The maple syrup season is in full swing in northern Wisconsin with snow covering most of the north making for high quality sap. A very successful season is winding down in central and southern Wisconsin with many producers reporting higher than normal sugar content and excellent sap runs this year. The weather forecast will likely extend the maple syrup season in northern Wisconsin for at least another week.
Statewide Birding Report
Warm fronts early in the week finally brought the expected push of mid-April migrants into southern and central Wisconsin, but northern Wisconsin birders are still firmly entrenched in the throes of a very late spring. Forest migrants arriving this week included sapsuckers, winter wren, hermit thrush, kinglets, fox sparrows and yellow-rumped warblers. Birders also reported our first few early warblers of the spring including yellow, parula, water thrushes, palm and pine warblers. These birds should linger in high numbers as the northern half of the state is locked in ice and snow. With recent rains there is an abundance of sheet water in farm fields and very high water levels in area wetlands. Recent migrants include American bittern, great egret, Virginia rail and swamp sparrows. Our first shorebird reports are coming in including avocets, godwits and a black-necked stilt at Horicon Marsh. High water levels and cooler temps should produce excellent shorebird viewing conditions in farm fields and lowlands across most of southern and central Wisconsin. Lakes are open now south of the tension zone bringing large numbers of loons, grebes, waterfowl, pelicans and our first Forster's terns and Bonaparte's gulls of the year. Large flocks of tundra swans are still feeding in flooded fields in western and northeast Wisconsin. South winds on Monday and Tuesday brought our first broad-winged hawks of the year along with a nice push of accipiters, red-tails and immature red-shouldered hawks. Grasslands are beginning to pick up with meadowlarks, field sparrows, savanna sparrows, vesper sparrows and harriers all back on territory. Look for Henslow's sparrows and upland sandpipers to arrive on the next warm front. Canada geese, sandhill and whooping cranes, American robins and other early nesters are now sitting on eggs while great-horned owlets are starting to leave their nests in the south. Look for a large push of birds across all habitat types on the next warm front. Hopefully this will bring some hope to those birders still feeding redpolls in northern Wisconsin. As always, please report your sightings to Wisconsin eBird www.ebird.org/WI exit DNR) so that we can better track our migratory bird populations.- Andy Paulios, wildlife biologists and Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative coordinator
Superior DNR Service Center area
Brule River State Forest - It may be cold and snowy but that is not enough to cool the romance in the air. Male red-winged black birds, woodcock, and robins are setting up their territories before the females make their way up north. Male sharp tail grouse are displaying on their leks (dancing grounds) and tom turkeys are still gobbling, trying to attract hens. Other birds that have come back recently are turkey vultures and killdeer, and sand hill cranes. The Bois Brule River is open (other than shelf ice), yet area lakes remain ice covered. The ground remains snow covered and more snow is expected. The Douglas County Fish and Game League will be hosting their annual Sports Show April 19, 20, and 21 at Wessman Arena. - Catherine Khalar, visitor services associate
Ashland DNR Service Center area
Ashland County - Last week saw even more snow. Ice conditions on Lake Superior are not good. Approaches are melting out and open areas are starting to appear at predicted locations as well as many unpredicted locations. So, extreme caution should be used on the ice. Deer are starting to show up in large numbers along road ditches and out in open fields where grass is starting to show. The area is under several inches of snow and robins can be seen waiting in trees and on wires for a chance to find food. So robins along with many humans are confused by this Northwood's spring weather pattern we are stuck in. - Matt Mackenzie, conservation warden, Ashland
Bayfield County - The area keeps getting snow. Last week some areas of the peninsula had 20-inches of snow with more to come with the latest storm. Some of the tributary streams opened a few weeks ago, but with the snow so deep not many people have been fishing them as of yet. Lake Superior is open along the south shore, but Chequamegon Bay is still locked in and it is expected to be a couple weeks before any kind of smelting may be done. Turkey hunters have been having a hard time in the north trying to find the birds as well as wanting to have to sit out in the present conditions. - Amie Egstad, conservation warden, Bayfield
Douglas County - Spring is still not in sight for the northwest corner of the state. An additional 10-inches of wet snow is predicted for the end of this week. Fishing is almost non-existent around the area as it appears most anglers have put their ice fishing equipment away for the year. Period A turkey hunters were faced with terrible conditions, although a few birds were reportedly taken in southern Douglas County. Walleye spawning is easily two or three weeks away, and that assumes a return to seasonable conditions. - John Krull, conservation warden, Superior
Copper Falls State Park - All of the trails are still trying to break free of winter. With the crazy weather this spring at the park the trails are still left snow covered and slippery. All ski trails are closed for the season and are currently open to hikers and snowshoers. Access to the trails is still limited to the winter access parking lots. Anyone wanting to see Copper Falls and Brownstone Falls should limit their hike to the designated winter trail. There are several rock steps along the Doughboy Trail that are snow covered and icy. Visitors are advised to not traverse these areas. Visitors are still able to view both of the falls and Tyler Forks Cascades from the designated winter loop. The local lakes are still under a sheet of ice with the shorelines starting to show open water edges. Visitors are advised to stay off of the ice at this time of year. The waterfalls within the park have just started to break open from under the ice that locked them in time over winter. We have yet to see high amounts of runoff to raise water levels to normal springtime conditions. We expect that good viewing of spring waterfall conditions to begin by the weekend of April 26. We still need to see a warming trend in the weather in order for the local rivers to rise to spring like conditions. There are still only 6 plowed winter camping sites due to the amount of snow within the park. More than 8 inches of snow remains on the ground. As the weather hopefully warms and melts the snow, more sites will open as they become accessible for availability. Due to the freezing weather conditions, the pressurized water systems to the campgrounds and picnic areas remain shut down. Visitors can access drinking water at the parks maintenance building located near the North Campground. - Emily Anderson, visitor services associate
Pattison State Park - With the recent snowfall, the park currently has 8 inches of snow on the ground. The ski trails are now closed for the season and are open once again for hiking as well as snowshoeing. Both Big Manitou Falls and Little Manitou Falls are starting to open up and running water is visible once again. The hiking trails are snow covered and slippery going to Little and Big Manitou Falls from the park office parking lot. The trail to Big Manitou Falls from the parking lot on County Highway B is currently cleared of snow. Please call the park at 715-399-3111 for up to the minute park conditions. The number of campers has increased over the past month with the onset of spring approaching. - Phillip Brown, Ranger
Hayward DNR Service Center area
Spooner DNR Service Center area
Crex Meadows State Wildlife - Spring is slowly arriving. Some highlights include: black ducks spotted on Middle North Fork, common mergansers spotted on Dike 6, several ring-neck ducks and hooded mergansers on open water, yellow-rumped warbler, American tree sparrow, vesper sparrow, and fox sparrow. The northern part of Phantom Lake has a good amount of open water as well as the south end of the refuge (Main Dike Road). Other flowages are spotty with open water on the edges. Grettum Flowage on Fish Lake Wildlife Area has high numbers of a variety of ducks as well as coots. In celebration of Earth Day, there will be a showing of "Green Fire: Aldo Leopold and a Land Ethic for Our Time," Monday, April 22 at 6 p.m. To learn more, visit http://www.crexmeadows.org/events.htm - Heidi Rusch, natural resources educator
Washburn County - Although the weather is tough on all of us and is postponing wildlife activity, the osprey are all back to Washburn County and sharp-tailed grouse are still dancing at the Namekagon Barrens Wildlife Area, although not as much as they will once the weather improves. - Nancy Christel, wildlife biologist, Spooner
Cumberland DNR Service Center area
Baron County - The second turkey period started with similar conditions to last week. Temperatures were in the low thirties with a good layer of crusty snow across the Cumberland area. Some reports of success are coming, but turkeys area still grouped up in larger numbers. The deer are being observed in agricultural fields during the mid-afternoon hours searching for food in areas where the snow is melting away. The ice is still over 20-inches thick on most area lakes and fishermen are still getting on the lakes for some panfish action. - Phil Dorn, conservation warden, Cumberland
Ladysmith DNR Service Center area
Upper Chippewa Basin fisheries report (Price, Rusk, Sawyer Taylor and inland Ashland and Iron counties) - Ice conditions are slowly deteriorating on waters across the Northwoods, but most lakes still have 20-to-22 inches of ice cover. Most of the snow on top of the ice has melted down and refrozen to form some decent walking conditions. There are some soft spots in the ice along the north and west shores and near the access areas, and there are also some small areas of open water near inlets and outlets. A few panfish anglers have still been out on the ice trying their luck and have been seeing some fair success, with a few decent catches of crappie, perch and bluegill being reported. The big question in the Northwoods is whether the ice cover will be gone for the opening of fishing season on May 4. Given the current conditions and weather forecast for the next week, it is anticipated that many, if not all lakes, will still have some ice cover for the fishing opener. As such, anglers should have alternate plans in case their favorite lake is still iced in. These could include some smaller lakes which usually see ice-out before the larger lakes, and area streams and rivers, which will be running high but should be fully open. A comment often heard with late ice-out conditions is that the fish will just spawn under the ice, which for the most part is just not true. While some northern pike and walleye do run up streams and rivers to spawn, the majority of them spawn in the shallows of lakes and flowages just after the ice goes out. Water temperature is the key to spawning for these species, and temperatures under the ice are only in the 32-to-36 degree range. Once the ice does go out, water temperatures quickly rise and this triggers the spawning urge for the fish. With late ice-outs, this usually happens very quickly and most spawning is then completed in just a matter of days. - Skip Sommerfeldt, senior fisheries biologist, Park Falls
Flambeau River State Forest - Trails are very wet. The Flambeau River State Forest ATV trails are tentatively planned to open back up on May 15, but due to wet conditions please call ahead before heading out. Local lakes still are ice covered, but both the north and south forks of the Flambeau River are open. Early paddlers are likely going to experience lots of ice going down the river and very cold conditions, please use caution. There is still 6-12 inches of snow in the woods. Most banks and tree bases where the sun is hitting have melted off and lots of open patches are showing in lawns. Robins, wood ducks and geese are being seen in the area. The woodcock is doing its spring dance. Turkeys are gobbling and it definitely sounds like spring even if it doesn't look like it just yet. Local maple syrup makers are reporting a good sap run with high sugar content in the sap. Lake of the Pines Campground is open, but still has snow cover in much of the campgrounds. Expect very wet conditions. - Judy Freeman, visitor services associate
Woodruff DNR Service Center area
Turtle-Flambeau Scenic Waters Area - With 17 inches of snow still on the ground and more forecasted, spring is nowhere in sight. Early mornings provide great snowshoeing before the snow softens. The early turkey seasons prove to be tough this year, requiring snow camouflage and lots of snowshoeing to find birds. We hear some reports of toms strutting in the middle of roads since it is the only bare ground available. Some of the smaller creeks are running and ice free. With 30-36 inches of ice on the lakes, ice fishing for panfish can still be done. Vehicle traffic is not recommended on the flowage. Based on future weather forecasts, the May opener for fishing will be an ice fishing experience rather than open water. - Christine Paulik, parks and recreation specialist, Mercer
Marinette County - Rain has melted almost all the snow in southern Marinette County and in open areas in the north. Some wooded areas have a foot of snow yet, but that is becoming more the exception than the rule. Turkey hunters are having a rough go of it with some crusty snow, large groups of birds, and nasty weather. Toms gobble a little on the roost at daybreak and then all the birds are nearly silent. Successful hunters are finding the birds' pattern and getting in their way, then using soft calling to convince the birds within range. Some ice anglers have been seen on Noquebay, but the open water near shore and prediction of 1.5 inches of rain this week will likely put an end to lake access. Woodcock are back in good numbers now and can be heard peenting during low light periods. No frogs calling yet and most plants have yet to begin growing. - Aaron McCullough, wildlife technician, Wausaukee
Water temperatures at the dam in Peshtigo rose last week from 34 degrees to 38 degrees. Catch rates and fishing pressure were both moderate to heavy, with fish in the 20-30 inch range being caught using Rapala's (fire tigers) and jig heads and twister bodies working well. The Menominee River is starting to produce walleye, whitefish and brown trout from the dam at Hattie Street to Stephenson Island. Boaters are launching from Boom Landing and fishing down river to the mouth with some success catching walleye and whitefish. - Kevin King, creel clerk
Oconto County - Northern pike are up in most west shore ditches for the annual spring spawning run, which is about 2-3 weeks later than normal. The walleye run is also heating up with several 8-10 pound fish being caught below the Stiles Dam. Crank baits seem to be the preferred baits. Swans seem to be staging in the area as they wait for ice and snow to leave farther north. A number of fields have swans in feeding and getting ready for the rest of their migration. Turkey hunters for the first period said hunting was poor at best, but some hunters did reports some success between the rains and snow. - Mike Stahl, conservation warden, Oconto Falls
The walleye bite at the Stiles Dam is starting to improve. Most anglers are using stick baits fished in the current with a very slow retrieve. Others are using live bait presentations such as the Carolina rig or slip bobbers and jig heads tipped with minnows. Fish are ranging between 21-30 inches. Some fish are being caught at the mouth of the Oconto River. Oconto Park II is still frozen. - Kevin King, creel clerk
Shawano County - There is still ice out on most of the area lakes with anglers still walking out on Shawano Lake and fishing. Some panfish are being caught. Anglers are reminded that wearing a life jacket is a very good idea. Lots of migrating birds are moving in, including swans flying west and geese and ducks flying north. Fish are starting to spawn in area waters with walleye and northern starting first. Turkey hunters are having a hard time with cold and rain. Snow on the ground has made it harder to get out and about. When the sun comes out the birds are displaying but those moments are few and far between. - Jim Horne, conservation warden, Shawano
Governor Thompson State Park - It is April, but you can't tell that by looking out the window here. Winter's snowy grip is still felt here. All trails are open to hikers, but most are still covered in snow and ice. Snowshoes are recommended for hiking. It's a late spring this year and the ground is still too frozen to turn on the campground water system. The east and north loops of the family campground will open on Friday, May 10 and reservations are being taken - Maggie Kailhofer, park manager
Green Bay DNR Service Center area
Manitowoc County - High and fast river conditions have affected fishing. On many stretches of Manitowoc County tributaries the flood stage conditions are a double edged sword that is limiting fishing success. There's much more water moving through the river, lowering the odds that an angler's bait or lure will cross the path of an active fish and also making it more difficult to present properly. Secondly, the suspended sediment in the water reduces visibility to the point where a fish is unable to see your presentation. It's not all bad news though; there are areas where fish are concentrating in relatively high numbers on account of their spring spawning migrations, and they can be caught, high water and all. The Shoto Dam, on the West Twin River is holding the most steelhead in the area. Steelhead spawn and other tied spawn sacs are the most productive baits, followed by egg mimicking soft plastics and flies. Most successful presentations are being fished under floats. Since water temperatures are still in the upper 30s range, floating a stretch of water with your presentation many times may be needed to trigger a strike. The Mishicot Dam on the East Twin River is also holding fish and there is more area to fish downstream. The water levels on the Branch River, Little Manitowoc River, and Silver Creek have begun to recede and are somewhat fishable, though limited success has been reported. The Manitowoc River is still under a flood warning and would be difficult to fish in most areas, and dangerous if wading. Some channel catfish have been caught in Manitowoc harbor and a few browns have been caught on spoons or spawn off the piers. There have been few boats venturing out because of the poor weather, though some boats north of Two Rivers are having success with brown trout in 10-25 feet of water with minnow imitating lures. Few if any kings have been caught yet. - Thomas Gerbyshak, fisheries technician, Mishicot
Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center area
Door County - Fishing pressure has still been relatively low due to bad weather and frozen conditions on most of the Green Bay side. Temperatures ranged from low 30s to low 40s, with some heavy precipitation mid-week that made fishing conditions even worse. Nevertheless, a few anglers are fishing in the creeks for steelhead and off the piers for browns. A few anglers have been spotted fishing the creeks for steelhead and, although there has not been great success, they are reporting seeing both trout and northern pike in the waters. The creeks have come down some from the rain earlier in the week but are still running high and wide, flooded in some places. Water temperatures remain in the low to mid 30s, except for Heins Creek, which is running just above 40 degrees. Several anglers have been fishing off the piers in Sturgeon Bay for brown trout, but we haven't heard of anything being caught out there yet. The other piers in the county are either completely iced in, or barely have open water, and have not seen any pressure. Shore access is also limited in the area, with ice over most of the Green Bay side. The canal looks really good, but we have not seen any anglers on its shores yet. Boats still can't launch from the frozen harbors on the Green Bay side. With the weather conditions, the ramp in Sturgeon Bay was not accessible for the majority of the week, but there were a few boats out on Sunday. Baileys Harbor had a trailer or two this week as well, but we were not able to find out for sure if they were having success. - David Boyarski, fisheries supervisor, Sturgeon Bay
Overall temperatures are slowly staying in 30s and low 40s with rain/snow all week. Fishing pressure this week was a slower than that last few weeks. The shoreline at Geano Beach and the Suamico River are open now. On the Lower West Shore of the Bay, fishing pressure was very slow. Along the Fox River, fishing pressure was moderate. There were more people fishing off of the shore than boats. Walleye numbers were lower this week than past weeks. Fishermen were targeting walleye using minnows, stick baits (blue, gold, silver in color) for bait and in about 3-25 feet of water. Walleyes were anywhere from 16 inches up to 28 inches. - Elizabeth Turos, fisheries technician, Green Bay
Winter continues to hold on in northern Door County. The bay of Green Bay is still ice covered with ice that is not safe to venture out on. With recent warm temperatures the spring runoff has brought decent amounts of flow to numerous streams in the county allowing fish to beginning their spring migrations up to spawn. Anglers should be reminded that northern pike fishing is closer in all of the tributary streams north of Manitowoc County along the Lake Michigan and Green Bay shorelines. Angles should also exercise extreme caution if venturing out into the waters of Green Bay or Lake Michigan as ice has begun to move and may impede safe travel.- Neal Patrick, conservation warden, Sister Bay
The Bay of Green Bay is still pretty well ice covered and I believe ice fishing has come to an end as the ice near shore is deteriorating. There are anglers launching boats out of Sturgeon Bay and Baileys Harbor but as the moment they can only fish the Lake Michigan side. Trolling the Lake Michigan shorelines has been starting to produce some nice catches of brown trout when the wind doesn't blow and anglers can get out. No word on smelt runs but the streams are flowing pretty strong and stream anglers are targeting Steelhead. Turkeys are starting to gobble and the hen / tom groups are starting to break up. Migratory birds are starting to move back thru the area when the rains not coming down. - Brandon Bastar, fisheries research vessel captain, Sturgeon Bay
Kewaunee County - Poor weather still plagues turkey hunters, although toms have become more responsive than the last few weeks. Rivers remain running high and are providing steelhead fishing opportunities on the tributary streams of Lake Michigan and several anglers are doing well fishing just outside the harbors for brown trout on Lake Michigan. Inland lakes still are covered in ice, although they have begun to show signs of melting around the edges and should not be trusted to walk or fish on. - David Allen, conservation warden, Kewaunee
Wautoma DNR Service Center area
Marguett County - Turkey hunters are reporting difficulty in harvesting birds with continual rain and windy conditions. Hunters are stating the birds are still in their winter flocks and have not been responding very well to calls. The ice is off area lakes and rivers, but the marshes and small ponds are still partially ice covered. The water level on the Fox River is high, but fishermen are catching some nice walleyes near Montello. - Judi Nigbor, conservation warden, Wautoma
Waupaca County - The Wisconsin River is high and fast. The water temperatures are hanging around 35 degrees which seems to be keeping the fish bite relatively slow below the Nekoosa dam. Some anglers are finding a few keepers, but most are going home empty handed. - Bryan R. Lockman, conservation warden, New London
Spring is trying to arrive. It is very wet and river levels high. Even with bad weather conditions, walleyes are still biting on the Wolf New London on downstream. Ducks are back in large numbers including blue-winged teal, normally a late arrival. Poygan Wildlife Area would be a good place for waterfowl viewing right now. Very little green up has happened to date and the only vegetation that has started to grow here is Skunk Cabbage. Ice is still present on most area lakes but is looking downright ugly. - Karl Kramer, wildlife technician, Wautoma
Waushara County - Rain and cold has slowed any early trout fishing in Waushara County. The turkey hunters report things are slow and quiet in the woods. Birds have been starting to gobble more, but only for a short time in the morning. I would like to remind folks that a majority of state property restricts vehicle access and unless you have specific permission from the property manager to stay in the parking areas with your vehicles. The wet conditions can tear up the ground quickly and really impact the resources. - Ben Mott, conservation warden, Wautoma
Oshkosh DNR Service Center area
Winnebago County - Even though it doesn't seem much like spring it is here and with spring comes new wildlife. In the animal world many mothers will be having young and people are encouraged to keep their distance. Wildlife animals work in different ways and although one may think the baby animal is abandoned it more than likely is not. Viewing baby animals from a distance with little disturbance is the appropriate way to enjoy their presence. However, people should not be touching or picking up baby animals. More than likely the mother is around but keeping her distance to keep predators away. People should leave these baby animals in the wild and handling them or raising them without specific licenses is illegal. It is more appropriate to enjoy them in their natural environment and let nature take its course. If someone believes strongly that the baby is abandoned then they should contact a licensed local animal rehabilitation facility by going to the DNR website and searching for the rehabilitation directory. The directory lists the licensed rehabilitation centers by county including animals the can or will take in. - Jason Higgins, conservation warden, Oshkosh
Milwaukee DNR Service Center area
Lake Michigan fisheries team report - Compiled from creel clerks by Cheryl Masterson and Jeffrey Zinuticz, fisheries technicians, Milwaukee
Sheboygan County - In Sheboygan there has been no activity recently on the Sheboygan River due to high, fast, dirty water. Water levels have gone down approximately three-feet over the past week, with a water temperature around 34 degrees. The river is largely confined to its banks, but current is still fast with very low clarity. Weedens Creek has experienced a similar drop in water levels, but water remains dirty and cold (around 36 degrees). There has been no activity on the Pigeon River for the past few days due to high, fast, dirty water. Water levels have gone down approximately two feet over the past week, with water temperature around 38 degrees. The river is still high, fast, and dirty and covers near shore areas, but the trails at Maywood Environmental Park are exposed and accessible. Access at Evergreen Park is still blocked, as is the wayside on County Highway LS. On the Sheboygan piers there has been light fishing pressure over the past few days. This past weekend anglers mainly targeted the South Pier using shiners and spoons for browns and rainbows, but nothing was caught. Water on the lake side of both piers is quite clear, while water in the marina has very low clarity. The fish cleaning station on South Pier Road is still closed, as is the 8th Street ramp. The 14th Street ramp, along the Sheboygan River, remains under a massive snow pile and will likely be unusable for the remainder of April.
Ozaukee County - In Port Washington fishing pressure is low because of high water levels in Sauk Creek and overall cold weather conditions. Like other streams in the area, Sauk Creek has dropped considerably over the past week and has a water temperature around 38 degrees. Water within the Port marina is dirty, but water on the lake side of the pier has increased in clarity. A couple of people netted for smelt at the base of the North Pier over the weekend, but they did not catch any. The fish cleaning stations in port are still closed.
Milwaukee County - In Milwaukee the McKinley, Riverfront, and South Shore boat launches are all open. Fishing has slowed for boaters trolling or jigging in the harbor for browns, and fishing has also been slow for shore anglers working under the Hoan bridge at Summerfest and Jones Island. Steelhead fishing has improved in Oak Creek since the flows have dropped back down to a fishable level. The Milwaukee River remains high with low water clarity due to the recent rains. The water temperature is 38-40 degrees. Before the high flows, anglers below the North Avenue dam were reporting some steelhead being caught on spawn sacs, and a few walleye and northern pike had been caught as well. Flows on the Menomonee River have dropped back down, but the water remains turbid with temperatures in the upper 30s. Fishing on the Menomonee has been slow.
Racine County - In Racine the Root River discharged a large amount of muddy water into the lake for several days, transforming the water along the lakefront into a cloudy mess. After the thunderstorms moved out, anglers were challenged by strong winds gusting at 20-25 mph, temperatures in the 30s, and snow flurries. Only a few boats were seen leaving the Pershing Park boat ramps. Some anglers tried casting spoons and crank baits for brown trout off South Pier and around Reefpoint Marina with no reports of fish taken. Anglers fishing the marina and boat launch area with spawn sacks reported little success. The surface temperature on the lake was 38 degrees over the weekend. The Root River was at flood stage late last week, and although flows have dropped down, the river is still high. A few anglers tried to fish the fast and muddy water below the dam with no reports of fish taken. The road to Colonial Park and the parking lot at Island Park were still barricaded on Sunday due to high water. Anglers at Washington Park were casting flies and spinner baits with limited success. The river temperature was 40-41 degrees on Sunday. Fish were processed at the Root River Steelhead Facility on Monday. Both Chambers Creek and Ganaraska strains were spawned, and 89 steelhead were released upstream. A total of 164 steelhead have been passed upriver so far this spring, and the next processing day is scheduled for Monday, April 22.
Kenosha County - In Kenosha a few browns have been taken by both boaters and shore anglers in the harbor. Crank baits have produced the best, and browns up to 15 pounds have been reported. Fishing pressure on the Pike River has been very light since last week's heavy rain and thunderstorms. On Saturday, the water level was still near the top of the banks on some of the bends at Petrifying Springs Park. The water was fast with the bottom visible at 6-8 inches. Some anglers were seen working the river around the bridges on Hwy A with no reports of fish taken.
Waukesha DNR Service Center area
Plymouth DNR Service Center area
Theresa Marsh State Wildlife Area - Rain arrived and if the forecasts are accurate we will receive several inches of rain in the area over the next few days, resulting in localized flooding. Theresa, Allenton and Jackson Marsh Wildlife Areas will be affected since river water levels are already very high due to snow/ice runoff and heavy April rains. Turkey hunters can expect a few road closures and/or standing water in the areas where they have turkey hunted in past years. Advanced scouting is advised to make sure access is available, and you can also call (262-670-3409) about conditions on the three properties. A pair of bald eagles continues to be seen nesting west of Highway 41 and north of Highway 28. A pair of ospreys was also confirmed nesting in an old hawk nest on the west side of the Theresa Marsh. Now is a great time to view the abundant waterfowl, wading birds and shore birds on the many flooded fields and wetlands surrounding the marsh. A large flooded area south of the junction of Highway DD and N. Pole Road is being used by large numbers of blue-winged teal, coots, hooded mergansers, northern shovelers, and other waterfowl. Several harriers, otter, mink have also been seen at the main dam area. - Tom Isaac, wildlife biologist, Hartford
South Central Region
Lower Wisconsin State Riverway - There hasn't been much activity lately due to the amount of rain we received and the cold weather. The water levels are very high and much of the low river bottoms are submerged. The high water has negatively impacted much of the fishing activity throughout the riverway. Several gates are open at the Prairie Du Sac dam and there is a lot of water moving through. It is not recommended to launch a boat during these conditions. Shore fishing at night below the dam has had mixed results with best luck using crank baits or twister tails. Turkey hunting is occurring throughout the riverway and hikers are encouraged to wear bright colored clothing. - Matt Sequin, property manager
Dodgeville DNR Service Center area
Grant County - The weekend in Grant County was cold and windy. Youth turkey hunting was difficult with the lingering cold weather. Many folks were out trying to get the youth a turkey. However, the bluebirds are back despite the cold. Area rivers are running high. Fishing was fair.- Martin Stone
With the addition of the past rainfalls and the spring melt water from the north, most all of the rivers and streams are at or near flood stage. The Wisconsin and Mississippi Rivers continue to rise. Most all of the boat landings along the Mississippi have been closed due to the flooding. Fishing has stopped for most of the area, with the exception of the backwaters known as O'Leary Lake below lock and dam #11 near Dubuque, with anglers reporting varying success. Turkey permit holders for week 2 are not overly optimistic about hunting opportunities for this week based on the weather forecast. - Richard S. DeWitte, conservation warden, Cassville
The Wisconsin River flow at Muscoda is currently 34,600 cfs, or about twice the normal flow rate for this time of year. The river is approaching action stage, which happens when the gage height at Muscoda reaches 7.0 feet. What this means for resource users is that most of the boat landings and parking areas along the river are under water. Boating should not be considered. The first turkey season was slow and soggy, but some hunters had success despite the conditions. Most of the riverway properties saw less hunter pressure than in recent years. Toms are actively strutting, fighting with jakes, and tending flocks of hens. Turkeys are obviously not being found in the bottomland forests. However, ducks are enjoying the conditions. Great rafts of the demure coot have descended upon the marshes, with a few hooded mergansers, mallards, buffleheads, northern shovelers, blue-winged teal and even some redheads mixed in. There are currently several trumpeter swans and great egrets visiting the marsh below the Highway 61 bridge in Boscobel. Some Canada geese began laying eggs last week. Others are searching for a new place to build a dry nest. - Daniel Goltz, wildlife biologist, Boscobel
Iowa County - Rain and more rain expected through the weekend and into next week. Rivers and streams are all high, with fast moving water. Second season turkey hunters best chance for dry weather appears to be Saturday, although it will be chilly. More rain is expected after that. Turkey hunters are reporting that birds become very active during the short dry windows we have had, and hunters should try to take advantage of these as best they can. Otherwise, expect to have a difficult time calling in birds as they seem to be hunkered down and keeping quiet. Chorus frogs were heard on Tuesday, when it was warm, but amphibian activity has been low. Deer activity has been reported often, with deer sighted in ditches eating green grass. Some bucks have been sighted with new antler growth now visible. Coyote pups have been born over the last week. Wildflowers have been slow to bloom, but spring beauties have been sighted and pasque flowers are up, but neither are blooming yet. Some early season violets are popping up as well. Leaf buds on lilacs are swelling, but not opening up yet. A reminder: oak trees are susceptible to oak wilt from now until a hard freeze. Trimming or pruning any oak trees should be avoided. - Travis Anderson, wildlife biologist, Dodgeville
Lafayette County - The ice is completely out all around the area. Turkey hunters have been doing well despite the wet weather. Area residences who want to get a good look at some birds we don't get to see hang around the area very long can travel to Yellowstone Lake to see loons as well as common and hooded mergansers. - Nick Webster, conservation warden, Darlington
Lots of migratory waterfowl present in Lafayette County especially in flooded fields. Turkey hunting is slow due to the weather but should pick up if the rain quits. Frog are just starting to sing. - Bruce Folley, wildlife biologist, Darlington
Wyalusing State Park - Both the Mississippi and Wisconsin Rivers are above normal. Mississippi River is expected to be above flood stage next week. Mississippi River Stage at Prairie du Chien on Thursday, April 18 is 15.3. Flood stage at Prairie du Chien is 16 feet. Trails should be free of snow (at least for now) but with the recent rain, they will be wet and in places muddy. A mix of slushy snow up to half an inch is forecast for tonight. Bird activity at the office feeders has certainly slacked off. A few chickadees, goldfinches, blue jays, woodpeckers and cardinals (especially in late afternoon, early evening) are all that remain. Feeders are taken down at night to eliminate destruction by raccoons. Bluebirds are setting up housekeeping in the parks bluebird boxes. Dorothy Messner, bluebird box monitor and volunteer has left the area, leaving that volunteer job vacant. If anyone would like to take her place, please contact Bev at the park office. Open waters of the Mississippi and Wisconsin Rivers are teeming with waterfowl - ducks, geese, swans, blue herons and gulls. Recent bird arrivals include: Henslow sparrow, hermit thrush, belted kingfisher, eastern phoebe, field sparrow, chipping sparrow, song sparrow, bluebird, hermit thrush, northern flicker. Waterfowl at the park boat landing included: ring necked duck, lesser scaup, pied billed grebe, mallards.Last year on April 16, yellow-throated warblers were reported. To date, there have been no reports of "early arrival" warblers, including yellow-rumped. - Beverly Pozega, visitor services associate
Fitchburg DNR Service Center area
Columbia County - Some snow continues to hold out in shaded north facing aspects, but for the most part the ground is snow free and ice is fading fast from area lakes. Area rivers are swollen and with predicted heavy rains over the next few days, many areas will likely see flooding. Garter snakes were reported to be emerging from their winter hibernacula this week and a loon was spotted on the Wisconsin River near Sauk City. Waterfowl continue to provide excellent birding opportunities on flooded farm fields. White pelicans were spotted this week at Okee Bay on Lake Wisconsin. Turkey hunters had mixed reports of success with the poor hunting weather the first season hunters were served. The forecast for the early part of Period B doesn't look much better. Some areas of the county are still reporting birds that are flocked up. Wildlife staff conducted pheasant surveys this week, with completely new pheasant survey routes in effect this year. Pheasants were heard crowing on all routes, though numbers seem low on many of the routes. The best bet for hearing wild pheasants crowing is around the Goose Pond Sanctuary near Arlington. - Sara Kehrli, wildlife biologist, Poynette
Water levels are continuing to rise. Local creeks and streams are at full bank or above. The Wisconsin River is being closely watched as predictions are moving closer to record levels especially with rain this week in the 2-4 inch range. Roads in the Blackhawk Park area are already underwater. Turkeys are still in the large winter flocks yet. Fishing is hard to do with the high fast water. Most lakes are now ice free.- Paul Nadolski, conservation warden, Portage
Dane County - Opportunities are great for viewing waterfowl. With wetlands replenished and flooded farm fields, pairs can be found just about anywhere right now. - Nancy Frost, wildlife biologist, Madison
Jefferson County - A no wake restriction is in effect due to the high water levels on all bodies of water in Jefferson County. In addition, all boat launches on the Rock River in the cities of Jefferson and Fort Atkinson are closed until the river levels recede. Jefferson County Emergency Management has requested the closing of the boat launch at Koshkonong Wildlife Area, under the South 26 bypass. This boat launch is expected to close. Barricades and signs will be in place to inform the public. - Ryan Ellifson, conservation warden, Jefferson County
Sauk County - Several turkey hunters had success despite the cold raining weather last week. Fishing has been slow below the Prairie du Sac dam due to the high water levels and the cold water temperatures. Last week the water temperature in the Wisconsin River was 38 degrees. The bluebirds are back and they are building nests in the nesting houses - John Buss, conservation warden, Prairie du Sac
With the recent rains, the Baraboo River is up near flood stage but holding steady despite any future rains. Narrows Creek has receded back within its banks. Flocks of northern ducks and swans can been seen across the area. Redheads, bluebills, ring necks, and even a loon were observed on Dutch Hollow Lake. Several flocks of swans flying through the area and resting out in flooded farm fields were also seen. Large groups of sandhill cranes are hanging out at the old Sauk County Health Care center ponds. Large flocks of turkeys are still hanging together in the fields. Some turkey hunters have had good success the first period despite the unfavorable weather conditions. Fishing in the Reedsburg and La Valle area has been limited on the Baraboo River due to the high water. All the snow on the 400 State Trail is melted and the bed of the trail is very soft with the wet conditions at this time. - David Horzewski, conservation warden, Reedsburg
Devil's Lake State Park - It's been soggy and cold at Devil's Lake State Park with spring popping up here and there. The lake still has ice on it, but it looks like any day now it will finally break open. The trails are, for the most part, open but there are still some icy, snow covered spots in shady areas, but the majority of the trails are open. The trails in the Steinke Basin and Johnson Moraine area are pretty muddy and wet in spots as everything is thawing and with the rains we are having. The colder weather has set the spring flowers back a bit but you can just start to see Dutchman's breeches, skunk cabbages, and mayapples popping up. The frogs don't seem to be deterred by the cooler weather. You can hear western chorus frogs, spring peepers, and wood frogs in the kettle ponds on the Johnson Moraine Trail. Birds are starting to return and you can hear golden and rub-crowed kinglets signing in the woods. Song sparrows, eastern meadow larks, sandhill cranes, red-wing black birds, flycatchers, eastern phoebes, brown-headed cowbirds, tree swallows, turkey vultures, great blue herons, wild turkeys, and osprey can be seen in various parts of the part. Hopefully, when the lake opens the ducks, gulls, and loons will inhabit the lake for a bit. - Sue Johansen, natural resources educator
West Central Region
Baldwin DNR Service Center area
St. Croix County - Most area lakes still have plenty of ice. Flowages on the Willow River and Apple River are partially open. The St. Croix River still is has ice cover, but not safe to go out on. Fishing activity has been heavy on the Mississippi River near Lock and Dam 3, but success has been limited. River levels here have increased, but no flooding yet. Migrating waterfowl are present in good numbers on shallow marshes and sheet water from melting snow. Some coyote hunting is still going on with recent fresh snows. Black bears are active and hitting bird feeders and garbage cans so it is a good idea to remove these food sources now. - David A. Hausman, warden supervisor, Baldwin
Willow River State Park - For the moment, the Willow River water level is stable and clearing on Wednesday. Trout anglers have 12 more days of the catch and release season including today. However, the National Weather Service has a Flood Watch up for the area with the rain that is predicted to roll in. With that in mind, Little Falls Lake is not a storage basin. What comes in must go through. There is no set pattern to when flood gates are opened. The river rises quickly and it goes down slowly. Little Falls Lake is beginning to open up. It is slippery out there anywhere that has snow cover. The Willow Falls Hill is mostly snow covered this morning. Trekking poles or ski poles would be a help. Trails in general are going to have wet snow, puddles, wet and dry ground. Mud season is not far off. It's really tough to run in that mixed condition and keep feet reasonably dry. Runners might want to stick to road shoulders for a while yet. - Jeffrey L. Bolte, visitor services associate
La Crosse DNR Service Center area
Pepin County - Turkey hunters are frustrated with the weather. Rain, snow and wind have hampered their efforts. Some hunters have talked about knee deep snow in some areas and claim their decoy stakes are not long enough. Most lakes are ice covered yet with the Chippewa River hovering near flood stage. This has limited fishing efforts. - Bill Wrasse, conservation warden, Durand
Vernon County - Turkey hunters reported fair success during the first spring turkey hunting season. Unsettled, variable weather created difficulty for some hunters in their efforts to anticipate turkey behavior. Rufous-sided towhees, yellow-rumped warblers, white-crowned sparrows, and savanna sparrows are songbirds that should rapidly move into the area as soon as the cold, wet weather breaks. - Dave Matheys, wildlife biologist, Viroqua
Great River State Trail - The trail is very soft due to recent rains and the late spring thaw. Please stay off of the trail when it is soft to minimize damage to the trail surface. Spring grading and packing is much more effective when the trail is not deeply rutted.
Merrick State Park - The river is rising due to recent rains. The upper and lower boat landings are open. The dock has not been installed. Trails are open but muddy due to recent rains. Egrets and great blue herons are back and can be seen in the backwaters in the south campground. Early morning is a good time to see the vultures drying off their wings in the sunshine. Pelicans are starting to arrive and many of the migrating ducks are still in the area. All campsites in the north campground and the shower building are open beginning April 19. The south campground and island campgrounds are closed until the campsites dry out.
Perrot State Park - The hiking trails are open but very soft and muddy due to recent rains. There are some trails on the north side of the bluffs that still have areas of snow and ice. The boat landing is open but the dock has not been installed due to rising water. Check out Trempealeau Bay for the many migrating ducks that are still here: shovelers, golden eye, bufflehead, mergansers, gadwall, and canvasbacks. Local mallards and wood ducks can also be seen. The bluebirds are back at their boxes in the park looking to get started on their nests. Yellow-rumped warblers, phoebes, and swallows are here. Watch for the pelicans circling along the bluffs and make sure to look for the eagles sitting on their nests. Campsites 1-50 and the group campsites are open. The flush toilet bathroom by site #2 is open and the hot water is on. The shower building in the Bay loop will be open by April 26.
Black River Falls DNR Service Center area
Black River State Forest - The area received two inches of snow on Sunday. Temperatures are expected to remain 10-15 degrees below normal through this week with a wintry mix predicted for Thursday. Trails are closed and will reopen for the summer season on May 15. We will be working on the Pray connector this spring to improve three key wetland crossings. This work helps maintain the long term sustainability of the trail system. Due to flooding and snow East Fork campground did not reopen on its normal date of April 15. We hope to have it open by next week. Castle Mound campground will re-open in mid-May. - Peter Bakken, superintendent
Eau Claire DNR Service Center area
Lake Wissota State Park - The woodlands are still holding snow, over one foot deep in some areas. With the frost leaving the ground in some areas, maple sugaring has been productive this year. The rivers have open water, as do a few of the larger lakes. Small lakes and most bays continue to hold well over one foot of ice. Species of birds seen or heard include: Goldfinches, ravens, crows, phoebes, northern juncos, chickadees, nuthatches, red headed and pileated woodpeckers, great horned and barred owls, mourning doves, and blue jays. The bald eagles are moving back into the area and have been seen feeding along the roadsides. The barred owls have been aggressively trading territorial calls during the early night hours. The sandhill cranes, robins and red winged blackbirds have begun to arrive. - Dave Hladilek, park manager
Chippewa River State Trail - Due to flooding along the Chippewa River, the Chippewa River State Trail will be temporarily closed between Jopke Road and Porterville Road in Eau Claire County. Water is currently flowing over the trail near mile marker 5, which is intended to happen during high water events. Barricades and signs have been placed along the trail. The river level is predicted to stay above the trail for at least the next week. Once the river recedes, DNR staff will inspect the trail for any damage and for any further closures or openings.
Wausau DNR Service Center area
Buckhorn State Park - It still looks like winter by the lake. There is still some ice on the lake, even with all the rain. There are open areas by the Buckhorn Bridge where people have started shore fishing. The bridge is also a great early morning bird watching spot. Piers will not be out until the lake is back up to normal level as they are floating piers. Hunting maps for the spring season are available online and will be in the map box in the office lot. The whole area of Buckhorn State Park is Zone 1F and open for holders if special turkey permits for the first three periods. - Heather Wolf, park manager
Roche-A-Cri State Park - The main gate and campground are still closed. Hunting maps for the spring season are available online and will be in the map box in the winter lot. Check out maps before going out turkey hunting. The park is open for the first three periods. - Heather Wolf, park manager