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Outdoor Report for April 25, 2013
View current conditions for Wisconsin State Parks, Trails and Forests
Check out the Wisconsin Department of Tourism (exit DNR).
Spring’s Jekyll and Hyde act appears to have had its -- now its spring, now its winter -- run. Warm weather and sun shine are in the forecast for the coming days. The remaining snow and ice across the northern part of the state are melting. Song birds are signing. Turkeys are finally starting to move. And, while much of the north is white, a little budding has begun in the south.
Forty-four inches of snow has fallen at the Brule Ranger Station the last two weeks in Douglas County, but to the west in Interstate Park, the St. Croix River is open and to south on Devil’s Lake, the ice is off the lake. This pattern, from north to south, and west to east, is repeated throughout the state.
Many northern waters remain ice covered, including the Upper Chippewa Basin, where 22-inches of ice remains and Forest, Langlade, Lincoln, Oneida and Vilas counties have as much or more frozen ice.
In addition to northern ice fishing opportunities, steelhead anglers have had success in Door and Milwaukee counties. Steelhead anglers near Miller Park were catching some on flies or floating spawn sacs. Walleye interest and action is also picking up in many places, including on the Oconto River were nice fish are being caught below the Stiles dam using crank baits. Walleye were also biting on the Wolf River.
Depending on where you are, and how much and how fast the snow melt, water levels are rising, or falling. Most of the snow has melted and Manitowoc County’s river by the same name is running high and fast. The Rock River in Rock County is running high. The Mississippi River in Grant County has stopped rising and the Grant and Platte rivers have returned to normal levels. In Sheboygan County, the Sheboygan River has gone down considerably in the past week.
As weather conditions improve, more turkey hunters are out in Washington County and there has been more turkey activity in Theresa Marsh State Wildlife Area, where more hunters have had success, but overall many hunters were frustrated last week.
Bears are also reacting to warm weather and hungry, so put your bird feeders up, or remove them. Western chorus frogs, spring peepers, and wood frogs have been heard in various wetlands. In Vernon County, some brown or Dekay's snakes are on the move.
Woodcock have been heard peenting in Marinette County. Across the south birders are reporting good numbers of kinglets, sparrows, hermit thrushes, and good numbers of yellow-rumped warblers.
Camping and trial conditions are sloppy, but conditions could rapidly improve with warm weather.
The prolonged spring conditions this year have produced an excellent maple syrup crop across Wisconsin in stark contrast to last season. Colder than normal conditions resulted in very high quality syrup being produced throughout the season, which translates into quantity and quality. Backyard hobbyist and large producers have been wrapping up syrup cooking in the southern and central portions of the state over the past week and the season is winding down in the north with warmer conditions predicted over the next week.
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A three-minute audio version of this report can be heard by calling (608) 266 2277.
A new report is put on the line each week.
Statewide Birding Report
Predicted south winds have birders across the state making plans for this weekend. This past week has brought new migrants into the southern and central parts of Wisconsin, but more snow to the north. Northern Wisconsin birders are focusing on what little open water exists and having some success with duck and water bird diversity. There has also been a trickle of the expected early April migrants into the north, but overall they are two to three weeks behind the normal migration patterns. Across the south birders are reporting good numbers of kinglets, sparrows, hermit thrushes, yellow-rumped warblers and the other expected mid-April migrants. Some birders have been lucky to detect three to four species of warblers in a morning. Most surprising have been the large number of typically western birds making appearances across the state. These include Franklin’s gulls, eared grebes, Eurasian widgeon, marbled godwits and piping plover. The high snows in the plains and the consistent jet stream flows out of Kansas are the likely reason for this phenomenon. Looking forward, the next few days of south winds should bring the first real push of Neotropical migrants including warblers, hummingbirds, orioles and rose-breasted grosbeaks. Tree phenology is behind so viewing should be good as birds forage at multiple heights within the forest. Focus on wooded wetlands for peak numbers of migrants as bug hatches from the water will augment food resources missing from the trees due to the late spring. Birders should also be checking wetlands and flooded agricultural fields in the upcoming week. Shorebird numbers should be starting to increase including your best chance for some of the larger shorebirds like avocets, willets and godwits. Wilson’s phalaropes have been reported this past week and should increase over the weekend. Grassland bird diversity should be on the increase as well with Henslow’s sparrows, grasshopper sparrows and upland sandpipers all arriving. In summary, dust off your oriole and hummingbird feeders, make sure your house wren box is cleaned and up and get out to your favorite local hotspot as spring migrants really pour through in the next 7 days. As always, check the DNR birding page for the latest information on birding and bird conservation efforts in Wisconsin. .Birding events, festivals and other opportunities are coming up across the AND consider taking part in the second Annual Great Wisconsin Birdathon. There are currently over 40 teams with more than 110 people participating to support the Bird Protection Fund - Andy Paulios, wildlife biologists and Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative coordinator
Superior DNR Service Center area
Brule River State Forest - Forty-four inches of snow has fallen at the Brule Ranger Station the last two weeks. A 6 year old was recently overheard saying: “I hope winter has its last finger on the cliff and someone stomps on it.” Quite a few people are relating to that analogy lately. It does appear that spring may finally be on the way with warmer temperature forecasted. Due to the extended winter-like conditions, migratory bird arrival is being delayed and ground nesting birds such as Canada geese, turkeys will have later hatching dates than normal. - Catherine Khalar, visitor services associate
Spooner DNR Service Center area
Crex Meadows State Wildlife - Numerous species of waterfowl are moving into the area and many of them can be found on Grettum Flowage at Fish Lake Wildlife Area. Greater yellow legs, coots, great blue heron, pied-billed grebes, hooded mergansers, and common mergansers are on the flowages. Loons located on refuge extension and Dike 1. Sandhill cranes have are scattered throughout the property. Hundreds of pelicans have been on Phantom Lake. Rough legged hawks and northern harriers are commonly spotted. Saw-whet owls, barred owls, and great horned owls are commonly heard. Sharp-tailed grouse survey conducted Thursday with a dozen birds located near the northeast corner of Crex. The snow is melting and with warmer temperatures more birds are expected to arrive soon. The ice is starting to come out of the flowages on Crex and Fish Lake Wildlife Areas. Turkey hunting has been frustratingly slow with the new snow last week. - Kristi Pupak, natural resources educator
Interstate Park - Hiking trails are open, although hiking is not recommended on the bluff trails until they are snow and ice-free. Ice conditions are variable on Lake O’ the Dalles. The St. Croix River is open. Bald eagles, turkey vultures and great blue herons are active overhead. Deer are also active and easy to see throughout the park. A coyote was spotted in the River Bottoms picnic area on Tuesday. Check at the park office for recent sightings and recommendations for best wildlife watching opportunities. Migrant songbirds are returning to northern Wisconsin and Interstate Park. Many species of birds will remain here while others are passing through on their way further north. Don’t miss the opportunity to view and listen to these messengers of spring. Please join us on Saturday, May 4, for a full day of activities about birds and for all ages. From 7-9 a.m. join local birder Brian Collins for a Spring Bird Walk on Silverbrook Trail. Meet at the Pines Group Camp, and bring binoculars and a bird field guide if possible. At 10 a.m. meet Aztec, a live owl, and Barb Walker, naturalist, at the Ice Age Center. At 11 a.m. join Barb at the Skyline Shelter for Owl and the Mouse, a fun activity for the whole family. In the afternoon, from 1:00-3:00pm, there will be a Round Robin of bird fun for everyone. Join naturalists Julie and Barb for a variety of drop-in bird-related activities at the Ice Age Center. There are other Birding Day activities scheduled for May 4 throughout the St. Croix River Valley. For more information contact Julie at 715-483-3747 or email@example.com. The Pines Group Camp and the South Campground are open. Vault toilets are available throughout the park. Water is available at the Ice Age Center and outside the Stone Building. - Julie Fox, natural resources educator
Cumberland DNR Service Center area
Baron County - The Cumberland area received more snow this past week, but the forecast calls for some warm weather to help melt snow and ice. Ice conditions were still good as of the beginning of the week with 22-inches or more on most lakes. Ice fishing success was okay with bluegills and crappies biting on the lakes. Warblers and sparrows have been observed in the area along with large flocks of robins searching for food. Spring fish run is very slow as the water temperatures in the creeks and streams are in the mid 30s. - Phil Dorn, conservation warden, Cumberland
Park Falls DNR Service Center area
Upper Chippewa Basin fisheries report (Price, Rusk, Sawyer Taylor and inland Ashland and Iron counties) - Ice conditions have not changed much in the last week and ice thickness still ranges from 20-22 inches on most northern lakes. In addition, 4-6 inches of heavy, wet snow has been added to the top of the ice and this has made for some very sloppy conditions on waters in the area. Most shorelines (especially along the north and west shores) have a lot of slush and very soft ice, and there are also some small areas of open water near inlets and outlets. As such, any anglers that may be trying some late season fishing should be extremely careful when venturing out on any of the lakes or flowages. And despite the sloppy conditions, a few panfish anglers have still been trying their luck. They have been having some fair success, with a few nice catches of crappie and perch being reported. With the current conditions, it is almost a given that most northern lakes will still have some ice cover for the May 4 fishing opener. As such, anglers should have alternate plans in case their favorite lake is still iced in. These could include some spring ponds or 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 range from very wet to snow covered. ATV trails are tentatively scheduled to open May 15, but please feel free to call ahead to check on conditions first due to the wet spring. Local lakes are still frozen over but both the north and south forks of the Flambeau River are open. Folks are catching red horse and we even saw a few early paddlers out this week. We received 6 inches of new snow Tuesday and ground cover varies from none to 12 inches in the woods. We are seeing lots of spring wildlife as well as pussy willows. Turkeys are gobbling and the robins are finally able to find open spots of earth to look for worms. - Judy Freeman, visitor services associate
Woodruff DNR Service Center area
Oneida County - There is still a lot of snow on the ground, along with 26-32 inches of ice, on Forest, Langlade, Lincoln, Oneida and Vilas counties. It appears temperatures will finally be more spring-like by the weekend and next week. It is very unlikely, however, that ice will be off many northern lakes for the fishing opener. Fisheries crews have begun working in Lincoln County as of today, but only on the Wisconsin River flowages. Lakes in the Tomahawk area are still very much socked in with ice. There’s still a fair amount of ice fishing going on here, but that will likely wind down toward the end of next week. Unfortunately the ice will most likely be unsafe to walk on for the opener, yet too thick for hope of launching a boat. - Mike Vogelsang, fisheries supervisor, Woodruff
Marinette County - Spring is starting to get a foothold in Marinette County. The majority of the county is snow free and frogs have begun calling. Woodcock are peenting and swallows have been feeding on insects near the Peshtigo River. The walleye have begun to run and fishermen are stacked shoulder to shoulder in the hopes of taking home their one fish. Yellow-rumped warblers are back in full force and very visible right now. Other birds, including kinglets, phoebes, white-throated sparrows, sapsuckers, flickers, osprey, red-shouldered hawks, and broad-winged hawks, have all been heard or seen this week. Early spring is a great time to find garlic mustard, because their basal leaves stay green all year. We have very little garlic mustard in the county and we want to keep it that way. If you find garlic mustard on public or private land in Marinette County, we would like to hear about it. Spring brings with it a few not so good things. Ticks are now out, so it is time to begin checking yourself and pets for ticks after outdoor recreation.- Aaron McCullough, wildlife technician, Wausaukee
Oconto County - Walleyes are the hottest ticket in the area right now with many nice fish being caught below the Stiles Dam using crank baits. Fishermen are cautioned that any foul hooked fish caught by hook and line must be released immediately. Turkeys have gotten more active this week and it should continue with the predicted warmer weather. The bay of Green Bay is opening up and some trollers are reporting success for walleyes and northern pike. Spring peepers have started their chorus in the area the last couple of nights. - Mike Stahl, conservation warden, Oconto Falls
Green Bay DNR Service Center area
Brown County – Along the lower west shore of the bay, the ice is breaking up more and you can see an ice shelf about a quarter- to a half-mile out. Both the river and the landing in Suamico are free of ice, but it might be a few days before boats can head out. At Geano Beach, the bay is largely free of ice, but the landing still has ice. Due to poor weather conditions, the Fox River was not very busy throughout the week. Shore and boat anglers were targeting walleye and were experiencing less success than in previous weeks. Anglers were using stick baits (fire tiger, black, gold, silver, and blue/orange in color), jigs with artificial twister tails, and crank baits (blue/silver in color) for bait. Boat fishermen were fishing in about 20 feet of water. Other species caught were whitefish and white suckers (very low in numbers) and all were released. Fishermen from shore reported that the average size walleye being caught were in the 18-20 inch range. Winter is slowly losing its grip on the eastern shore of Green Bay. As of Sunday there was open water from the mouth of the Fox River up to the Red River Park area (Kewaunee County). However, there remains a considerable amount of ice that starts on the shoreline and extends out into the Bay several hundred feet. Due to the ice shoves, shore fishing in the bay is impossible from Bayshore Park up to the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal. In addition, all harbors and boat ramps from Bayshore Park to the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal are ice locked and unusable. The only real action that was seen this week has been a small sucker run at Red River Park and Sugar Creek. Using dip nets, anglers have been able to catch a decent amount of fish, but no major run has occurred yet. Both the boat launch and the shoreline at Potawatomi State Park were ice locked for most of the week. As of Sunday morning, the boat launch and shoreline are now accessible to fishermen. Boaters should be wary of both the low water levels and floating ice chunks when leaving the boat launch. A few boats were seen trolling the shoreline with planer boards; no fish were caught. The fishing pier at Potawatomi State Park has not been placed in the water yet.- Andrew Rieth, fisheries technician, Green Bay
In Brown County, turkey hunting season has been slow due to the unseasonably cold weather. Turkeys can still be seen feeding in fields during late morning and early afternoon times. Tundra swans are still around the area in large numbers and can be seen along the bay of Green Bay and on inland fields. - Andy Lundin, conservation warden, Green Bay
Manitowoc County - The last of the snow is almost melted in forested areas and water levels vary from high to moderate throughout the region. High and fast water is still limiting angler success on the Manitowoc River from Clarks Mills to Manitowoc Rapids, though kayakers are capitalizing on this stretch, especially near Lower Cato Falls. Pike are starting to be taken near barriers and current breaks on the Manitowoc, though the 42 degree water temperatures are still a bit cold, and water a bit too fast for a consistent bite. Steelhead fishing on the Manitowoc has also been tough on account of the cold temperatures and high water. Channel cat fishing has been sporadic on the lower sections, though some large fish have been caught. Successful anglers are using spawn, night crawlers, and cut-bait. Steelhead fishing around the Shoto Dam on the West Twin River has been fairly consistent all spring. Water levels have dropped all week and there is now relatively good water clarity. Egg imitating flies, soft plastics, and spawn continue to produce fish. Most anglers are using strike indicators with a few split shots above the main presentation. When the water is lower there is more of a morning bite. The East Twin River has also given up quite a few steelhead. The dam in Mishicot has been the most productive, though there are some deep stretches and many areas under bridges downstream to access this water. Water clarity is also good, though there is considerable tannin staining from upriver wetland draining. There has been little action in open water for browns, partly because the weather hasn’t permitted most boats out. There has been some success north of Two Rivers near the power plant discharges. Shad style cranks and stick-baits have reportedly been productive. Anglers that have found shallow baitfish in 10 to 25 feet of water have had the best action. Very few salmon have reportedly been caught. The lake temperatures outside Manitowoc are around 39 degrees and there has been a 4 degree warm up in the last three weeks. There has been little action on the Two Rivers or Manitowoc piers or in the harbors so far except for anglers pre-fishing for the carp tournament in Two Rivers. Many carp were caught with some in the mid-20 pound range. A good warm up would help inshore and offshore fishing considerably. - Thomas Gerbyshak, fisheries technician, Mishicot
The Twin Rivers and Manitowoc River are producing steelhead. Most anglers are using spawn sacs but flies and other artificials are also working. Rivers and streams are high and fast flowing right now so please be careful while fishing. Suckers are also running in the Kewaunee and Manitowoc county streams with sucker anglers having great success in getting these bony but tasty fish In general, weather has not been very conducive to successful brown trout fishing but some fish are being caught off of Bailey’s Harbor and Manitowoc. There was very limited fishing activity out of the Kewaunee landing this past week and the Algoma (Olsen Park) ramp is currently closed due to damage. Up till now Green Bay ports have been iced in but after this past weekend many landings became ice free so anglers will surely be taking to the water to try brown trout fishing. - David Boyarski, fisheries supervisor, Sturgeon Bay
Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center area
Northern Lake Michigan fisheries report
Compiled by David Boyarski, fisheries supervisor, Sturgeon Bay. Northern Lake Michigan fishing hotline -- 920-746-2873
Wind, snow sleet, and cold temperatures could not deter anglers this past week. Spring is here and the various species of fish are running and biting. As of last week, ice still clogged some locations in Green Bay but this weekend saw a big breakup due to the winds so many locations that were iced-in are now open. Expect to see better access and more anglers over the next week. Steelhead fishing has remained good and is now also going strong in Door County streams as well as Kewaunee and Manitowoc streams. Look to all steelhead tributaries right now for steelhead action. Door County streams are in the high 30s to low 40s. Whitefish Bay, Hibbards, and Heins creeks are all producing fish. Stony Creek, Silver Creek, Ahnapee River, and Kewaunee River are all in the low 40s. Anglers are catching fish at all these locations.
Walleyes are running in Green Bay tributaries. This is their annual spring spawning run and unlike many inland waters walleye season is open on Green Bay and its tributaries to the first dam. The Fox River continues to see a strong run with lots of fish in the 18-22 inch size range with some larger fish in the mix. Fish are biting on crank baits, jig and minnow and jig and plastics. However, the Fox has either peaked or will peak soon. Other west shore Green Bay tributaries are getting warmer now and fish are running strong. These include the Menomonee, Oconto, and Peshtigo rivers. On the Oconto, Stiles Dam is a popular fishing location as is near the Highway 141 and County J bridges. In the Peshtigo River, just below the dam is very popular shore spot and there are also many boat anglers enjoying this productive fishery. A lot of fish in the 18-22 inch size range are being caught as well as some larger (mostly female) walleyes as
a bonus. The Menominee River is seeing its share of anglers also but catch rates have been a bit lower. Shore anglers are doing best during low light periods of early mornings & evenings casting crank baits and jig heads tipped with a minnow or soft plastic bait. Boaters on the Menominee River are concentrating from the Turn Basin to the mouth of the River using jig heads tipped with scented plastics or minnows. If you like walleye fishing now is the time to get out and go fishing. Also, now is also the time to get out and enjoy some shore fishing because later in the year shore fishing will not be nearly as productive.
Northern pike are spawning or just finished spawning in many locations throughout Green Bay and northern Lake Michigan. There are some very impressive 30 to 40 inch fish running up many of the streams. Northern pike season is open on Green Bay, Lake Michigan and major tributaries but closed on minor tributaries. This closure is to protect spawning populations in many of the very small locations that could easily be harmed by catching too many of these large fish. So in those locations look and enjoy the large fish but let them do their thing so that we will have strong populations into the future. Where open, anglers are having success on large northern pike by drifting live or dead bait (like suckers and shiners) and casting and trolling crank baits.
Potawatomi State Park - The campground faucets, fish cleaning station, and sanitary dump station are open for the season. All roads in the park are open to vehicles and bicyclists. The shower building will be open by May 1. Ice is out of Sawyer Harbor and Sturgeon Bay, but still visible in Green Bay. - Lois M. Hanson, visitor services associate
Wautoma DNR Service Center area
Green Lake County - A large number of sandhill cranes in the White River Marsh State Wildlife Area have been seen. There is also a pair of whooping cranes hanging out just east of the Berlin area. Another single whooping crane has been seen off of South Road west of Berlin. Most of the walleyes have spawned in local marshes and walleye fishing should continue to improve. Sturgeon spawning on the Fox River near Princeton is also expected by the end of the week. - Nate Ackerman, conservation warden
Waupaca County - Most area lakes still have some ice and inland fishing has been at a standstill. Walleyes are reportedly biting well on the Wolf River. Sturgeons are still not spawning. The water is still too cold. Turkeys still aren’t gobbling much and remain bunched up; their breeding season is well behind schedule. Greenup and tree budding have not started. Most migratory birds have returned for the summer. Water levels in area streams have been so high due to rains that trout fishing has been a non-event. - Karl Kramer, wildlife technician, Wautoma
Hartman Creek State Park - Horse trails and family bike trails remain closed at this time due to lingering snow and muddy conditions. Anticipated warmer weather this weekend may allow both trails to open sometime next week. The family campground and group campground are open for the season. The first loop of the family campground opened April 1 with the remaining loops opening May 3. The campground has two shower buildings, but one, the Pine shower building in the outer loop, may be delayed due to new tile being installed. The Orchard shower building, in the first loop should be open on May 3 barring any problems. Water is currently available near site #21 in the family campground and also at the park office. The park’s dump and fill station will not be operational until May 3. The park will update conditions on its website and here on its voice mail if there are any changes. Please call the park office, 715-258-2372, for further information. - Michael Bergum, park manager
Oshkosh DNR Service Center area
Outagamie County - With the cooler spring weather bear are becoming active and foraging for food that is not there and many are resorting to bird feeders and animal food left outside. If you are experiencing damaged bird feeders, quit feeding for a week or two and the bear should move on to greener pastures. Numerous geese and waterfowl are still in the Outagamie County area waiting for the spring thaw to move north. Yellow-rumped warblers are also being sighted in the area on their migration north. - Mike Young, conservation warden, Shiocton
Milwaukee DNR Service Center area
Lake Michigan fisheries team report - Compiled from creel clerks by Cheryl Masterson and Jeffrey Zinuticz, fisheries technicians, Milwaukee Southern Lake Michigan fishing hotline -- 414-382-7920
Sheboygan County - There has been little activity recently on the Sheboygan River due to high flows and dirty water. Water levels have gone down considerably in the past week, and the temperature is approaching 40 degrees. A few steelheaders were using flies and spinners over the weekend, but no fish were taken. Weedens Creek anglers have reported a few steelhead taken on spawn. Fishing activity has increased on the Pigeon River, and some steelhead have been taken on flies and spawn sacs. Dip netters have also been catching fair numbers of suckers in downstream locations. Pigeon River 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. Near shore water clarity is low around both piers. The fish cleaning station on South Pier Road is still closed, as is the 8th Street boat ramp. The 14th Street ramp, along the Sheboygan River, remains under a massive snow pile and will likely be unusable for at least the remainder of April.
Ozaukee County - In Port Washington fishing effort has been increasing recently. A few boats have been trolling in and around the harbor and have been catching brown trout. Crank baits fished in 15-20 feet of water have been the most productive. Shore anglers have been fishing the rocks north of the power plant, as well as near the mouth of Sauk Creek. They have reported catches of browns and steelhead on spawn at the power plant discharge. Sauk Creek has dropped to fishable levels and has a water temperature around 40 degrees. A few steelhead have been seen in the creek, but fishing has been slow. A couple of people netted for smelt at the base of the North Pier last week, but they did not catch any. The fish cleaning near the Port Washington marina remains closed, however the cleaning station near the mouth of Sauk Creek is open for the season.
Milwaukee County - In Milwaukee fishing has slowed for boaters trolling or jigging in the harbor for browns, and but fishing has improved for shore anglers working under the Hoan bridge at Summerfest and Jones Island. Effective presentations have been shiners or spawn sacs fished under a bobber as well as casting spoons. Steelhead fishing has improved in Oak Creek since the flows have dropped back down. Small flies have been the most productive bait. The Milwaukee River remains fairly high with low water clarity due to the recent rains. The water temperature is now 40-42 degrees. Anglers have been fishing below the North Avenue dam for walleye and northern pike, but catch rates have been low. Flows on the Menomonee River have dropped back down, and although water clarity has improved, it is still somewhat cloudy. Steelhead anglers near Miller Park were catching some on flies or floating spawn sacs in the slack water.
Racine County - In Racine boaters reported coho and brown trout taken while trolling near the Oak Creek power plant using fluorescent orange, or white land green spoons. The wooden boat dock has been installed around the Pershing Park boat harbor. Some anglers tried casting spinner baits from the pier while others fished with spawn sacks, with no reports of fish taken. The Reichert Court fishing pier in the harbor has been installed as well. Anglers who fished the north pier this week had their trips cut short by cold temperatures and stiff winds. The surface temperature on the lake was 42 degrees over the weekend. At the Horlick Dam, a few anglers tried fishing with spawn sacks close to the shoreline with reports of only suckers taken. The parking lot at Colonial Park is open, but the river was flowing over the some of the pathways over the weekend. Several anglers were casting bright green flies below the weir with reports of only a few suckers taken. The parking lot at Island Park is closed again due to high water. The river temperature was 41 degrees on Sunday. Fish were processed at the Root River Steelhead Facility April 15. 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 final processing day of the season is scheduled for Monday.
Kenosha County - In Kenosha a large amount of muddy water from the Pike River flowed into the lake this past week as another round of heavy rain moved through the area. The muddy water along the lakefront extended nearly a quarter-mile out from shore. Along the rail at the small boat harbor, anglers reported a few brown trout taken using wax worms, spikes, and tube jigs with a very slow presentation. A few anglers worked the rocky shoreline near the 50th Street bridge with no reports of fish taken. Anglers are waiting for the water to clear up along the lakefront and for the weather to return to normal. The Pike River was raging last week, but has now dropped back down to a fishable level. Petrifying Springs Park was closed on Thursday and Friday as the river flowed over the parking lots and into the golf course. The park reopened on Saturday as the water level quickly receded. Fly fishermen working the river on Saturday reported fast and dirty water with no fish taken. Anglers tried casting crank baits and soaking night crawlers at the mouth of the river with limited success. The average water temperature was 41 degree on Saturday.
Plymouth DNR Service Center area
Washington County - Lakes in Washington County are now ice free. With the more favorable weather recently, more turkey hunters have been observed hunting. There are still some large groups of turkeys hanging together, but smaller and smaller groups are being observed as the weather continues to become more seasonable. - Sean Neverman, conservation warden, Plymouth
Theresa Marsh State Wildlife Area - Area flowages and rivers are beginning to return to normal levels, including flooded areas on Theresa, Allenton and Jackson Marsh. The Pike Lake Wildlife Management crew will begin prescribed burns this week on Theresa Marsh with more burns planned for next week on area properties. Turkey activity is in full swing and hunter success has picked up now that the weather has moderated. Two early morning roadside pheasant crowing counts (one in Washington County, the other in Ozaukee County) will be completed during the next couple weeks. Most migrant Canada geese have left the area on their way to their breeding grounds in Canada- Tom Isaac, wildlife biologist, Hartford
South Central Region
Dodgeville DNR Service Center area
Grant County - The waters of the Mississippi River have stopped rising in the area, but many areas, lowlands and all of the boat landings remain under water. The area water levels are 5-7 feet higher than normal. The Grant and Platte rivers have returned to normal and the water has cleared. Anglers reported catching a few fish while fishing from the Eagle Point fishing barge, including sheep head, buffalo, red horse, carp and an occasional striped bass. Turkey hunters report less than ideal hunting conditions this past season and many toms were with several hens, which made for some stiff completion between the hunters calls and the real thing. Vegetation is delayed due to the weather and the woods have not started to green up yet. - Richard S. DeWitte, conservation warden, Cassville
Horicon DNR Service Center area
Dodge County – Good crappie fishing from shore on Beaver Dam Lake is being reported.- Paul Nell, conservation warden, Horicon
Fitchburg DNR Service Center area
Columbia County – Spring has finally arrived. Daffodils can be seen blooming as you drive through the county. Spring also means that wildlife management staff are busy conducting wildlife surveys and prescribed burns. Staff have burns planned at Mud Lake, Peter Helland, French Creek, Paradise Marsh and Pine Island Wildlife Areas, though the burn units at Pine Island are likely too wet to be burned this spring. The Baraboo River levels are receding some, but Wisconsin River levels have come up, meaning that most of Pine Island Wildlife Area is wet. The dog trial event planned for this weekend has been cancelled. - Sara Kehrli, wildlife biologist, Poynette
Devil's Lake State Park – Spring is reaching Devil’s Lake. The ice finally disappeared off the lake last Friday. With the ice out, lots of birds can be seen as they migrate through. There have been lots of ducks lately such as ruddy ducks, red-breasted mergansers, and lesser scaups. Visitors can also see a pair of loons on the lake as well. Last week, they could be seen doing their mating dance on the north end of the lake. The ospreys have been fishing in the lake and, if you’re lucky, you can see it come up with a fish. A visitor saw one this week eating a fish up in a tree by Messenger Creek on the south shore. The lake flies are just starting to emerge and there are lots of spring migrants taking advantage of them. Along the Tumbled Rock trail you can get close looks at ruby- and golden-crowed kinglets and yellow-rumped warblers. There are also lots of tree swallows flying over the lake feasting on the hatch of flies. Another exciting spring migrant was the Louisiana warbler inhabiting the stream along the north end of the East Bluff Woods trail. The spring flowers are slowly making an appearance and visitors can just start to see spring beauties, Dutchman’s breeches, mayapples, and hepatica all coming up in the woods. The “gobs” Dutchman’s breeches that sprout along the north shore entrance are still not quite up yet, but with the 70 degree weather predicted, they should start coming up soon. The frogs are singing as well, despite the recent chilly temperatures. Visitors can hear western chorus frogs, spring peepers, and wood frogs in the various wetlands throughout the park. Fish are starting to spawn in the lake as well. The northern pike and yellow perch have come up to lay eggs in the shallows. Once the water temperatures warm up, the pan fish will start moving into the shallows as well. - Sue Johansen, natural resources educator
Janesville DNR Service Center area
Rock County - Water levels on the Rock River remains at major flood levels and could remain high for many more weeks with spring rains. Slow-no-wake restrictions are in effect and boating on the river is not safe at this time because of the high, fast-flowing water. Many of the boat landings around Rock County are under water and currently closed. Crappies are being caught below the Indianford Dam on the Rock River with minnows being the common bait used. Buffalo carp and common carp are also abundant below the Indianford Dam and fishermen have been foul-hooking the carp, while fishing for walleye. Anglers are reminded that it is illegal to keep foul-hooked fish and they must be released back to the water. Game-fishing (walleye, northern pike, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, and muskellunge) is closed on all inland waters until May 4. The only open waters for game-fish in Rock County are the Rock River and Lake Koshkonong. Closed areas for game-fishing include all tributaries to the Rock River, such as Turtle Creek, Yahara River, and Traxler Pond. Kiwanis Pond and Lions Beach Pond have had increased fishing activity over the last couple weeks. Both ponds were recently stocked with trout. Anglers 16 years old and older are required to purchase a fishing license and inland trout stamp to fish for trout on these ponds. Trout fishing on Rock County lakes and ponds opened Jan.1 and closes Sept. 30 with a 3 fish bag limit and 9 inch size limit. The spring turkey season is now open and turkeys are starting to break away from the winter flocks. Hunters in the first two turkey seasons have seen cold and wet weather. Hunters have reported limited success because of the weather. Numerous flocks of turkeys around Rock County with most being in flocks of less than 10 birds. This is a good time of year for bird-watchers to get out and see migrating bird species. Loons have been seen on Kiwanis Pond in Janesville and Clear Lake in the Milton area. Brown Pelicans have been seen on the Rock River and Lake Koshkonong over the last week. Waterfowl are abundant all over Rock County because of the additional standing water in the area.- Boyd Richter, conservation warden, Janesville
West Central Region
Baldwin DNR Service Center area
Willow River State Park - Trails with snow cover are slippery. There will not be any trial grooming since all trails are open to pets and hiking. Mud season is approaching. The Willow River is running high and discolored. The river is running high and the dam is spilling extra water. Trout anglers can pretty much write off the Willow until the general opener. River gauge watchers may see an overnight surge as water comes down through the watershed. The 300 and Group campground loop openings will be delayed until May 9 due to snow and ice. The campsites will not be durable enough for use without damage until May 10. Reserved campers will be contacted by Reserveamerica. - Jeffrey L. Bolte, visitor services associate
La Crosse DNR Service Center area
Vernon County - Rufous-sided towhees, yellow-rumped warblers, white-crowned sparrows, field sparrows, and savanna sparrows have moved into the area. Some brown or Dekay's snakes are on the move. Generally, these snakes exhibit a major migration from their winter hibernacula in late April. These small, docile snakes feed on worms, slugs, and snails and are preyed upon by shrews, weasels, cats, other snakes, and some birds. Chorus frogs and spring peepers are finally singing, while spring ephemeral flowers are just beginning to appear. - Dave Matheys, wildlife biologist, Viroqua
Merrick State Park - The 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. The river is rising due to recent rains. The upper and lower boat landings are open. The dock has not been installed. All campsites in the north campground and the shower building are open. The south campground and island campgrounds are closed until the campsites dry out.- Lois Larson, park manager
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.
Black River Falls DNR Service Center area
Black River State Forest - Nicer weather is finally on the way. We are expecting temperatures in the 60s into the 70s in the coming days. Trails are closed and will reopen for the summer season on May 15 if conditions allow. It has been a wet spring and we still have ice and snow on the trails and have not been able to do any spring rehab work yet. 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. Jackson County Forestry and Parks Department grooms and maintains all ATV trails in the state forest. Please check their website for up to date trail conditions. East Fork campground has re-opened for the season. Pigeon Creek is also open for camping. Castle Mound campground will re-open in mid-May. We are nearing completion of the new office at Castle Mound; we will be completing the final steps of installing new sidewalks, blacktop, and seeding disturbed areas. Castle Mound, East Fork, and Pigeon are on the reservation system from Memorial Day through Labor Day weekend. The group camp is on the reservation system year round. - Peter Bakken, superintendent
Trempealeau County - A variety of duck species are being seen on the open waters of area lakes and ponds. Seen recently were redheads, buffleheads, scaup, hooded mergansers, and loons. Turkeys are being seen in good numbers in fields where the snow has finally melted off. This time of year many well-intentioned people rescue what they believe to be abandoned wild animal babies. Unlike humans, it is normal for wild animal mothers to leave their young alone for periods of time. Humans often discover a wild animal baby which they think has been abandoned, but in reality the baby’s mother is hiding from the human presence a short distance away. Please leave wild animal babies in the wild where they belong. The Buffalo River State Trail, which runs from Mondovi to Fairchild, has been opened for the use of UTVs. Operators of UTVs must be at least age 16 and have graduated a DNR-approved ATV Safety Course in order to legally operate UTVs on trails and ATV Routes. - Robin Barnhardt, conservation warden, Osseo
Eau Claire DNR Service Center area
Chippewa County - Spring turkey hunters have had a challenging spring in Chippewa County, with some reports of more than 18-inches of snow on the ground. Hunters who have had success are finding most toms coming in quiet to their calls or decoys. Spring bear sightings seem high, likely due to their visibility and lack of spring forage. Remember to keep bird feeders, trash and other human food sources stored away until their natural diet appears this spring. Anglers are gearing up for fishing season, however most of the lakes still have plenty of ice left. Walleye and smallmouth anglers might have better luck throwing crank baits or jigs in the river systems, especially below the dams. There have been complaints of anglers attempting to catch walleye prior to opener. Remember it is unlawful to actively attempt to fish for game fish during the closed season. Open pockets of water on Lake Wissota are holding several species of migratory birds, including swans, snow geese and a variety of diving ducks. - Shaun Deeney, conservation warden, Chippewa Falls
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. - Calvin Kunkel, ranger
Wausau DNR Service Center area
Buckhorn State Park - The bridge is 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. We are looking for a camp host for the month of July and for the first two weeks of October. Hunting maps for the spring season are available online and will be in the map box in the office lot. Turkey hunting – The whole area of Buckhorn State Park is Zone 1F – open for those drawn for the special permits for the first three periods (statewide youth turkey hunt in park - youth must have zone 1F permit). The Yellow River Wildlife Area is open for turkey hunting for Zone 1 permits Join Friends of Buckhorn for a work day on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Bring work gloves, dress for weather and help stain the woodshed, split wood, pick up litter, and other activities to be determined. Call 608-565-2789 to sign up. - Heather Wolf, park manager
Roche-A-Cri State Park - The main gate and campground are closed. Please do not block the main gate. The stairway is open from 6 a.m. until sunset . No food, drinks or pets are allowed and visitors are restricted to the stairway to protect the natural area. 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 for the first three periods. The main gate will open on Saturday, May 4. Join Friends of Roche-A-Cri for a Work and Play Day on Saturday, May 4 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Bring work gloves, rakes, and dress for weather. Lunch provided by Friends group. Call 608-565-2789 to sign up. - Heather Wolf, park manager