Outdoor Report for May 2, 2013 Published by the Central Office
View current conditions for Wisconsin State Parks, Trails and Forests
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The calendar says May but a fresh foot of snow has Copper Falls State Park in Ashland County looking more like January. An unusual spring snowstorm dropped from a few inches to a foot or more of snow in northwestern Wisconsin Wednesday into Thursday. And with the inland game fish opener this Saturday, lakes across much of the northern third of Wisconsin are still locked in ice.
Meanwhile in the south, things have dried out and the spring wildfire season, which has been very quiet so far, picked up considerably with 105 wildfires burning 236 acres in the past week in the portion of the state where DNR has fire suppression responsibility.
Most northern lakes have some open water areas near inlets and outlets and along some shorelines, but many boat landings were still iced in and inaccessible for boat launching. Anglers wanting to fish waters north of about Highway 64 should shift to "plan B," which may be fishing the major river systems such as the Wisconsin and Flambeau, or heading out after trout on small creeks and streams. While fisheries crews have been able to stock trout in some areas, the cold spring has delayed trout stocking on other waters. Ice anglers continue fishing on some northern lakes this week, but conservation wardens caution that ice is deteriorating and anyone who ventures out on the ice should use extreme caution.
With temperatures in the 70s sturgeon started spawning on the Wolf River. DNR fisheries crews handle more than 350 fish Wednesday at the Shawano dam. The fish spawning came on fast and will likely peak at the Shawano dam Friday into the weekend. Check the DNR website for sturgeon spawning and watching information.
DNR videographer Matt Ahrens shot this underwater video of sturgeon spawning near Shiocton on May 1.
Walleye spawning has ended on the Winnebago system and the white bass run has not started yet but should be coming quickly warmer temperatures return. The walleye run on the Wisconsin River is also winding down and fishing has been slow due to high water and the late spring, but anglers reported catching walleyes on the Bark and Rock rivers in Jefferson County.
The ice is almost all the way out on Green Bay and boaters were launching at a variety of locations, with most targeting walleye and brown trout. Water levels are dropping on Lake Michigan tributaries and steelhead action was slowing, but some were still being caught on the Sheboygan, Milwaukee, Root and other rivers.
With the warmer temperatures last weekend and early this week, turkey hunters were finally getting some more active birds with toms observed displaying and some better success at least in the south.
Warmer weather earlier this week brought the expected first large push of Neotropical migrants to southern Wisconsin. Birders are reporting 10-15 species of warblers in a morning including some show stoppers like blackburnian and Cape May warblers. In the north, open water is attracting large numbers of loons, grebes and waterfowl, but the additional 6-12 inches of snow on the ground as of Thursday will have swallows and other insectivores that have arrived struggling to find food.
Statewide Birding Report
Warmer weather earlier this week brought the expected first large push of Neotropical migrants to southern Wisconsin. Birders are reporting 10-15 species of warblers in a morning including some show stoppers like blackburnian and Cape May warblers. Backyard feeders are now flush with orioles, grosbeaks, white-throated sparrows and house wrens are occupying nest boxes. Most of the migratory waterfowl have pushed out of the south, but marshes are now holding Virginia and sora rails, bitterns and other nesting water birds. Grassland birds have pushed in with the latest fronts including grasshopper and Henslow's sparrow, bobolinks and upland sandpipers.
The story in northern Wisconsin is much different. Migration over the weekend brought some large pushes of water birds, raptors and sparrows. Open water is attracting large numbers of loons, grebes and waterfowl. Northern Wisconsin birders with active feeders are reporting fox sparrows, tree sparrows, juncos and white-throated sparrows. A few early warblers including pine and palm have shown up. Swallows and other insectivores that have arrived are likely struggling with an additional 6-12 inches of snow on the ground as of this Thursday. The woods are still quiet with a few territorial hermit thrushes, winter wrens and sapsuckers singing. Raptor migration was very good this past weekend with a few golden eagles, lots of red-tailed and broad-winged hawks.
The seven-day forecast suggests more migration to happen early next week. Birders should expect to see more warblers, thrushes, hummingbirds, orioles and other neotropical migrants to arrive in most habitat types. Birders should pay attention to the phenology of plants in their area for clues as to where the best warbler watching will be. Focus on woodlands with flowering trees and developing leaves. Forests with wetlands are also good right now as the hatching aquatic insects attract migrants. Shrubby edges to woodlands that have morning sunlight should also be good for pre-workday birding. - Andy Paulios, wildlife biologists and Wisconsin Bird Conservation Initiative coordinator
The DNR has primary fire suppression responsibility in about half the state. In those areas, 105 wildfires burned 236 acres in the past week. Ten structures burned and 71 others were threatened during these fires. The majority of the fires were caused by debris burning and equipment. The largest was a 35-acre fire in Eau Claire County which was caused when a debris pile, burned the night before, reignited and escaped.
The public is encouraged to put off debris burning projects this time of year. If not completely extinguished, burned debris piles can harbor smoldering embers in the ash for hours, days, or even weeks. Windy conditions in the spring can blow the ash around, exposing the embers and allowing them to become flames, sometimes with damaging consequences.
The DNR wants to remind everyone to be careful with anything that can start a wildfire when you're out fishing, hunting, camping, doing yard work, or looking for mushrooms. Fire danger can vary from one day to the next this time of the year, depending on weather and dryness of the vegetation. Check this site for current statewide fire danger, burning permit information, and to subscribe to fire news emails: dnr.wi.gov (search "fire danger").
Firewise Tip: Create firebreaks around your home. Keep the area 3 to 5 feet around your home "fuel free." Remove anything in this area that can burn, such as leaves, plants, mulch, or piled wood. Use rock and stone landscaping materials next to buildings instead of wood mulch. Keep your lawn raked free of debris and mowed short. Find out more at dnr.wi.gov (keyword "Firewise").
Ashland DNR Service Center area
Douglas County - Up to 8 inches of new snow fell Wednesday and Thursday, which replaced the snow that had melted earlier in the week. Most area lakes area lakes are expected to remain ice covered for Saturday's fishing opener, although some amount of open water near shorelines may occur. Daytime high temperatures are predicted to remain in the 30s through the weekend. - John Krull, conservation warden, Superior
Copper Falls State Park - More than 12 inches of heavy, wet snow fell Wednesday and Thursday, which is the equivalent of 1.57 inches of water. Highway 169 has reopened south of the park allowing people access to the park from the south. The barricades have simply been moved to the side of the road as we expect the river to come back up when this snow melts. If Tyler Forks floods to our north, all access points to Copper Falls will be closed. - Ben Bergey, superintendent
Pattison State Park - The snow melted, the snow reappeared. Both Big Manitou Falls and Little Manitou Falls are at peak flow and very impressive to see. Please call the park at 715-399-3111 for up to the minute park conditions. The camping season is on its way with reservations being taken for the weekend. The shower building and flush toilets are still not open at this time. - Phillip Brown, Ranger
Spooner DNR Service Center area
Polk County - Some lakes in southern Polk County appear close to having open water. Wetlands are open and full of water with many species of waterfowl present. - Shaun Tyznik conservation warden, Amery
The turkey harvest has been down significantly in Polk County during the first three time periods. Deep snow and winter storms have kept many of the birds flocked up and unavailable to many hunters. According to hunters birds are not responding well to calls either. Another snow storm will no doubt again impact turkey hunters. Some of the ice has started coming off the smaller shallower lakes as well as lakes that have creeks and rivers flowing into them. There will still be larger lakes in Polk County that may still have large areas of ice on them. In Polk County trout fishing may be a better option for opening weekend due to the ice conditions on many lakes. Many local streams have been stocked by the fisheries department. Anglers are reminded they are required to have an inland trout stamp as well as a fishing license to fish for trout, even if you don't plan on keeping them. - Jesse Ashton conservation warden, Luck
Crex Meadows State Wildlife - The flowages are mostly open and birds are coming through in numbers. Birds reported in the area this week include: Purple martins, whip-poor-will, belted kingfisher, eastern phoebe, dark eyed juncos, purple finches, bluebirds, and pine siskins. Thrushes, blackbirds, sparrows, and warblers are also being reported. Waterfowl are still migrating through including: red-necked and horned grebe, ruddy duck, northern shovelers, canvasbacks, widgeons, gadwalls, goldeneye, and red breasted mergansers. Shorebirds in the area include: Bonaparte's and franklin gulls, cormorants, American bittern, green heron, and lesser yellowlegs. Raptors are being reported such as: peregrine falcons, American kestrels, and short-eared owls. Sharp-tailed grouse were observed at Rices Lake, Murphy's Road, and James Road. Listen for western chorus frogs, wood frogs, and spring peepers around the smaller wetland areas. - Kristi Pupak, natural resources educator
Interstate Park - - 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. Come to Interstate Park on Saturday for a full day of bird activities for all ages. Join local birder Brian Collins from 7-9 a.m. for the 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, at the Ice Age Center. At 11 a.m., meet at the Skyline Shelter for Owl and the Mouse, a fun activity for the whole family. From 1-3 p.m., there will be a Round Robin of bird fun for everyone. Join our naturalists for a variety of drop-in bird-related activities at the Ice Age Center.- Julie Fox, natural resources educator
Park Falls DNR Service Center area
Upper Chippewa Basin fisheries report (Price, Rusk, Sawyer Taylor and inland Ashland and Iron counties) - As of Wednesday afternoon, nearly all lakes in Ashland, Iron, Price and Sawyer counties still had significant ice cover and would not likely be open for the fishing opener on Saturday. Most lakes did have some open water areas near the inlet and outlet areas and along the west and north shores, but many boat landings were still iced in and inaccessible for boat launching. Some Taylor County and southern Price County waters did have large areas of open water and may offer some open-water fishing opportunities on opening day. These waters included the Phillips Chain of Lakes in Price County, and Miller Dam and the Mondeaux Flowage in Taylor County. - Skip Sommerfeldt, senior fisheries biologist, Park Falls
Flambeau River State Forest - ATV trails are scheduled to open May 15. We were starting to look like spring, but winter refuses to go. Six-inches of snow had fallen by Thursday. We were hearing the spring peepers, chorus frogs and wood frogs. Geese are busy looking for nesting spots and things are greening up (underneath all this snow). - Judy Freeman, visitor services associate
Woodruff DNR Service Center area
Turtle-Flambeau Scenic Waters Area - It appears that the opening weekend of fishing on the Turtle Flambeau Flowage and the other lakes of Iron County will be a non-event. At this point all lakes are ice bound with short stretches of shoreline open. The ice is not safe for any kind of travel, including foot. Rivers are open and very full. The north fork of the Flambeau is currently running at twice the cfs of normal. The Manitowish and Bear rivers are outside the banks with very fast current. The water at Murray's Landing is open downstream to within 200 yards of Bonies Mound; however, the campsites in that area remain snow covered with 5-10 inches of new snow. Although fishing may not be in the plan, the woods are much less snow covered providing opportunity for shed hunting. Grouse have started drumming and turkeys have been seen displaying. This next storm is hopefully winter's last gasp for the year. - Christine Paulik, parks and recreation specialist, Mercer
Upper Wisconsin Basin fisheries report (Oneida, Vilas, Lincoln, Langlade, Forest and Florence counties) - The past weekend's summer-like temperatures put a big dent in the snow pack, before another snow storm, but it wasn't near enough to take out the ice on area lakes. With below freezing temperatures returning the next few nights, along with the new snow, it is unlikely there will be ice-free lakes by this weekend. Some smaller lakes in the southern parts of the area (Lincoln County) may have open water, but for everything north plan to have a "Plan B." Options might include trying to find a spot to fish on the Wisconsin River, or delaying your trip by a week. There are still ice anglers out in northern Vilas County, but that will be winding down soon. Fisheries survey crews will be on the lakes setting nets as soon as the ice leaves. - Mike Vogelsang, Jr., fisheries supervisor, Woodruff
Rhinelander DNR Service Center area
Oneida County - Ospreys were seen on nesting platforms last weekend. Bear complaints are starting to come in and people are reminded to remove garbage, food, and if the problem bear continues to cause problems, contact Animal Services. Turkey are active with the recent nice weather and several birds observed displaying along with grouse on the roadways. Ice anglers continue fishing on Rhinelander area lakes the week before the general fishing opener which is unusual to say the least. Use extreme caution if venturing onto the ice. - James Jung, conservation warden, Rhinelander
Antigo DNR Service Center area
Council Grounds State Park - Some trails are wet due to melting snow and rain. The docks are in at the boat landing. Many different species of migrating waterfowl can be seen on the Wisconsin River. The flush toilets will not be open until May 15. Water is available in the water fountains and at the dump station. - Sara J. Gossfeld-Benzing, ranger-assistant property manager, Council Grounds State Park
Peshtigo DNR Service Center area
Peshtigo River State Forest - The ice, for the most part, has melted and the flowages are back to open water. The maintenance crews are busy getting the boat landings back in shape for this weekend's fishing opener. The gates along the Peshtigo River will be opened for those wanting to try their hand at fly fishing. Old Veteran's Lake Campground is open for the season; however the water has not yet been turned on. Drinking water is available at our office. - Sara Pearson, Ranger/Assistant Manager
Marinette County - Catch rates of walleye at the dam in Peshtigo have slowed some as the number of suckers in the river has increased. Anglers in boats plying their trade at the Peshtigo River mouth have been doing well using jigs tipped with minnows. Shore fishermen at the Peshtigo Harbor have been catching walleye casting stick baits, zip lures. and jigs and twister tails. Pike fishermen on the lower Peshtigo are reporting little success casting spoons and fishing with dead smelt or large shiners. Trout fishermen out of Little River are reporting some browns being caught trolling large stick baits in 4-10 feet of water. The landing at Little River is extremely shallow so only small boats are being launched and fishermen in waders are walking their boats to deeper waters. Fishing pressure on the Menominee River was high this past week especially during the evening hours. The hot spots for walleye have been the Fishermen's walkway at Hattie Street, down river to Stephenson Island. Stick baits, zip lures and jigs and twister tails are being used. Boaters on the Menominee River have been concentrated above the Highway 41 bridge, the Turn Basin, and the mouth of the Menominee River. Vertical jigging with live bait and Gulp Alive has been working well; fishing with stick baits in the shallows is also working. As with the Oconto and the Peshtigo rivers the appearance of suckers in good numbers are starting to appear. - Kevin King, creel clerk
Oconto County - Stiles Dam on the Oconto River received the most fishing pressure with many fishermen catching their one walleye in less than an hour. About half the female walleye caught were spawned out. Catch rates have slowed this weekend with the appearance of suckers in significant numbers. Some walleye are being caught at Oconto Breakwater Park using Rapala's and other stick baits. Pike and trout catches have been low. A few boaters out of Oconto Park II report catching a few walleye in 4-10 feet of water trolling stick baits. - Kevin King, creel clerk
Governor Thompson State Park - All trails are open to hikers, but you might still find a patch or two of snow and ice on the trails. Sandhill cranes and spring peepers are the prominent sounds you will hear on the trails. The boat launch facilities are still iced-in on Caldron Falls Flowage, but we think the ice will be gone by the fishing opener this coming weekend. Woods Lake remains partially ice-covered. It is going to be 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 May 10 and reservations are being taken. The new South loop is scheduled to be open by Memorial Day Weekend. The South loop will add 40 non-electric campsites. The boat access campsites on Caldron Falls are open year-round. - Maggie Kailhofer, park manager
Green Bay DNR Service Center area
Brown County - During the past week, open water has returned to most of the bay of Green Bay. Boats have been launching off of Bayshore County Park (Brown County) and Chaudoirs, Wavepoint, and Potawatomi State Park (Door County) in the past week. Both Chaudoirs and Wavepoint have not yet put docks in so anglers have to be creative to get into their boats. Most anglers fishing from boats have been targeting walleyes, while the remainder of fisherman has been targeting northern pike or brown trout. Very little success has been seen; most fish that have been caught are walleyes in the mid-20 inch range. Suckers continue to run in good numbers at Red River Park. Anglers can fill up a 5-gallon bucket in very little time. Some suckers still remain in Sugar Creek, but anglers need to find deeper pockets and work a little to get a decent catch. Temperature increases over this past week also increased fishing pressure from last week. The ice is gone on the bay, boat ramps are in at the Suamico Landing and at the Green Bay Metro Launch. The ice at Geano Beach launch is also gone. Over the week the boat ramps were put in at the Suamico River, which has encouraged anglers to venture out this past weekend. Walleye were the targeted species. Anglers trolled 15-20 feet of water with a variety of crank baits but reported no luck as of yet. The water temperature on the bay was 44 degrees and it was 49 degrees at the mouth of the Suamico River. On the Fox River, fishing pressure was busy over the weekend. Boat and shore fishermen were targeting walleye using crank baits, Rapalas (blue, orange, perch), minnows, and artificial baits. Shore fishermen reported that fishing had been slow, while those anglers who had a boat reported better success. Fishermen were targeting 7-25 feet of water and reported that in addition to catching walleye, some whitefish, white bass, and cat fish were caught (all were released). The water temperature was 45 degrees. - Anthony Rieth, fisheries technician, Green Bay
Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center area
Door County - Door County is showing some signs of life this week. Boaters were hammering the canal pretty hard over the weekend for pike using suckers and golden shiners for bait. Some late night anglers also reported success catching walleye in the canal. High winds made fishing on Lake Michigan more difficult, but a few anglers brought in brown and lake trout using a variety of bait fishing in depths of 10-40 feet. Tributary action cooled as water levels dropped throughout the week. The ice is almost all the way out on Green Bay, so we expect action to pick up on that side next week. With water levels dropping and clear waters, tributary fishing effort for steelhead has really dropped. Northerns have now taken over Reiboldts Creek. Temperatures have risen and flow has decreased. The Sturgeon Bay ramp in town has been getting busier by the day, with nearly two dozen trailers at a time on Saturday. Lots of pike coming in with a few brown and lakers mixed in. Shore anglers have been spotted off the pier and at Bayview Park, without much success, and a few walleye anglers were launching from Sunset Park over the weekend. The ice is finally going out on the bay, so we expect the action to finally pick up over here next week. Some of the northern harbors still have slush in them, but most of the piers are completely open. The Bailey's Harbor brown trout tournament ran last week and, although weather was bad, they still reported a successful event. There were more than 120 trout weighed in, with the winner being 21.22 lbs. None of the other lakeside harbors have had any action. - David Boyarski, fisheries supervisor, Sturgeon Bay
Kewaunee County - The weather and waters have started warming up, and the water levels in the tributaries have begun to decrease. The Kewaunee and Ahnapee rivers have been seeing the most fishing effort, as well as Stony and Silver creeks. The catch rate for steelhead has seemed to drop, while the suckers have started to move upstream. Most success for steelhead has been at Stony Creek, under the dam on the Ahnapee, and below the hatchery on the Kewaunee. The Algoma ramp has opened and boats have been bringing in brown trout on stinger spoons, yellow and green spoons, and stick and crank baits at depths of 10-40 feet. Crank bait has also brought in a couple of lake trout. The water is really clear and low, and to further frustrate steelhead anglers, there are a ton of suckers in the water. It sounds like there are a small number of steelhead being caught by persistent anglers that know what holes to fish. There were also quite a few families showing up to the bridge at Clydes Hill to let their kids fish for the recently stocked fish, catching and releasing a couple. The water levels have dropped and steelhead are being caught just beneath the dam. Suckers are also being caught in both waters. Fishing pressure has remained moderate, but the catch rate has dropped for steelhead. A few are still being caught, and some suckers have been caught. There was no fishing pressure on the shores. Little to no fishing effort off the piers in either town. The Algoma ramp has opened and boats have been bringing in brown trout on stinger spoons, yellow and green spoons, and stick and crank baits at depths of 10-40 feet. Crank bait has also brought in a couple of lake trout. In Kewaunee, anglers reported success using Rapalas in shallower waters, from 6 to 16 feet. Average of about 1 fish per boat surveyed.- David Allen, conservation warden, Kewaunee
Wautoma DNR Service Center area
Waupaca County - Turkey hunters have had moderate success despite cold and wet weather. Most successful hunters have been trying to find food sources near the bird's roosts. Canada geese and sandhill cranes are now sitting on nests. Snow still persists in the northern portion of the county. Woodcock are actively peenting for the last week. - Ted Dremel, conservation warden, Wautoma
Sturgeon spawning rapidly reached peak this week and is expected to be winding down. Walleyes are biting on the Wolf River. No reports yet of panfish biting in the shallows yet, which is probably because the water is too cold. Woodcock are peenting and grouse are drumming like crazy.- Karl Kramer, wildlife technician, Wautoma
Hartman Creek State Park - All facilities, with the exception of Whispering Pines Picnic Area, will open on Friday. This includes the family and group campgrounds, the dump, and fill station and all horse, bike and hiking trails. The shower buildings in the family campground will also open Friday. Whispering Pines Picnic Area will open on May 10.- Michael Bergum, red Viste, ranger
Oshkosh DNR Service Center area
Lake Winnebago system fisheries report
UW-Stevens Point fisheries students with an 82-inch sturgeon.
Aaron Funseth Photo
The sturgeon started spawning at the Shawano Dam yesterday and DNR crews worked hard to handle over 350 fish on Wednesday! The spawn was just getting underway, in fact most of the females that we handled were still hard and not actively laying eggs. If this year holds true to form, these fish will have become much more active overnight and today (Thursday) and tomorrow will be the peak spawning days at the Shawano Dam. Continuing with the trend that we have been observing over the last few years, crews handled numerous trophy sturgeon today including many fish over 78 inches. The attached photo is of three fisheries students from the University of Wisconsin Stevens Point with the largest fish handled Wednesday: 82 inches. Over the last few years fisheries staff we have leaned pretty heavily on these students to provide physical support and we would not be able to handle nearly as many fish without their help. - Ryan P. Koenigs, fisheries biologist
Outagamie County - With temperatures in the 70s the walleye spawning has ended and the sturgeon spawning was fast and furious with numerous spawning sites active. As of Wednesday, the only spot with spawning fish would be at the Manawa and Shawano dams. These fish should finish spawning in a couple of days. The white bass run has not started yet but should be coming quickly as the temperatures stay high. With the fishing opener coming up many people will head north and miss out on some good fishing on the Winnebago system. - Mike Young, conservation warden, Shiocton
Milwaukee DNR Service Center area
Milwaukee County - The smallmouth bass bite is picking up along the Milwaukee River in Milwaukee. If you plan to fish the Milwaukee River, remember the bass season dates and the size limits, as the vast majority of the fish being caught are well undersize. - Nicholas Blankenheim, conservation warden, Milwaukee
Havenwoods State Forest - Violets and bloodroot are blooming, blue-winged teal and ring-necked ducks are hanging around the ponds, toads are trilling, the first warblers are here, the silver maples are flowering, and mushrooms are springing up all over the place. If you are planning to venture off the limestone trails, bring your boots. Several trails are flooded and the docks at the south pond are underwater. - Beth Mittermaier, natural resources educator
Kettle Moraine State Forest, Southern Unit - Pasque flowers and round lobed hepatica are both out. Watch for prairie smoke as well. The other highlight of this time of year is the arrival of summer birds. Rose breasted grosbeaks and orioles are in the area. This means that hummingbirds should be here in the next few days also. When driving around the Southern Unit, be sure to keep an eye out for sandhill cranes. They are often seen around Ottawa Lake Campground and in neighboring farm fields. - Amanda Prange, visitor services associate
Lake Michigan fisheries team report - Compiled from creel clerks by Cheryl Masterson and Jeffrey Zinuticz, fisheries technicians, Milwaukee
Sheboygan County - There has been a fair amount of activity on the Sheboygan River over the past few days; water levels have been dropping steadily. As water levels drop, the water temperature has been rising, from about 46 to 56 degrees over the past week. A few anglers have reported catches of steelhead near the Kohler Dam using spawn. Many are reporting catches of suckers, and many more are reporting nothing caught. Though water levels have dropped significantly, water clarity is still low and the flow is fast. Weedens Creek has experienced a similar drop in water levels and a rise in temperature from 46 to about 58 degrees over the past few days. Suckers are visible from the bank. The Pigeon River has gone down another 6 inches over the past week and water temperature has risen from 40 to 49 degrees, subsequently experiencing increased fishing pressure. The river is still a bit murky. White suckers and steelhead are moving upstream to spawn. A few fishermen have reported catches of small steelhead in areas around County Highway Y (using spawn), but most reports are catches of suckers or no catch at all. Many anglers have been fishing the south pier in Sheboygan. Water on the lake side of the piers is a bit murky, as is water in the harbor. 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.
Ozaukee County - In Port Washington a few boats were out this past weekend. Many groups were catching multiple browns, steelhead, and lake trout. Fish were caught anywhere from 15 to 50 feet of water, trolling plugs, spoons, and flies. Water within the marina is dirty, but an angler caught a few smallmouth bass casting near the power plant. The cleaning station at Port Washington Marina is now open. Fishing pressure is increasing along the shore in port. Anglers on the north pier have caught browns on shiners, and one fisherman reported a small coho, caught on a Berkeley minnow. A few large browns and steelhead continue to come out of the power plant discharge area on spawn, but anglers are mainly catching suckers, as well as some large carp. Water on the lake side of the piers is quite clear, but water in the marina remains murky. On Sauk Creek water levels are still a bit high, but clarity is increasing and the water temperature has risen to about 54 degrees. Fishing pressure remains steady, and a few steelhead have been caught near the high school on flies and spawn. Large suckers are a common sight at access points on the creek.
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 slowed in Oak Creek now that the water clarity has increased. Small flies have been the most productive bait. Trollers fishing out of Bender Park have reported a few brown trout caught on spoons in approximately 40 feet of water. The Milwaukee River has dropped down to a more normal level, and the water is fairly clear. The water temperature is now in the upper 40s to 50 degrees. Anglers have been fishing below the North Avenue dam for walleye, but catch rates have been low. Steelhead action upstream on the Milwaukee has also been slow. On the Menomonee River steelhead anglers near Miller Park have reported only a few fish. The Menomonee is approximately 52 degrees, and the water is crystal clear.
Racine County - In Racine the water clarity along the shoreline has improved. Anglers reported catching a few brown trout over the weekend while casting little spoons and crank baits from the south pier. A few anglers were seen casting spoons from the floating pier at Reichert Court with no reports of fish taken. At the Pershing Park boat launch, a group of trollers looking for coho returned empty handed after working the shoreline from the Racine water treatment plant to the North Pier. One group of boaters fishing outside the three mile reef marker reported landing a few coho while trolling spoons 15 feet below the surface in 35-40 feet of water. At the tip of the North Pier, a few anglers casting spoons and crank baits for coho and brown trout found schools of alewives swimming near the rocks instead. The surface temperature along the lakeshore was 52 degrees last Sunday. On the Root River, fishing pressure was up this past weekend. Water levels have finally dropped, but the river is still fairly cloudy. Most anglers this week were concentrated near the Horlick Dam, and nice catches of steelhead were reported on Saturday. One angler landed several nice size steelhead working the seams below the dam with a small caddis fly. The largest steelhead measured on Saturday tipped the scale at 10 pounds and was caught on a pink and white yarn fly. Earlier in the week, anglers casting dark colored wooly buggers had good luck landing steelhead from the gravel bar under the bridge. The river is filled with white suckers, and some anglers reported catching more than 20 in a day. Fishing pressure has been minimal in downstream locations. The water temperature averaged 51-52F over the weekend. Fish were processed at the Root River Steelhead Facility on April 29, and the facility is now shut down for the spring season. A total of 301 steelhead were handled at the facility this spring, and 179 were passed upriver.
Kenosha County - In Kenosha, the water clarity along the lakefront has steadily improved over the past week with visibility now at 8-10 feet. Last Sunday, boaters fishing for coho and perch reported little success while working the breakwater outside the harbor. Anglers fishing the harbor from the north pier reported some brown trout taken while casting green and white spoons. One angler reported landing a nice size northern pike while fishing with a pearl white plastic worm. Fishing was slow at Southport Marina as anglers fishing with minnows for perch caught only gobies instead. Anglers casting crank baits in the harbor near the Pike Creek discharge pipe reported no fish taken. The surface temperature of the water along the lakeshore averaged 52 degrees. On the Pike River the water level and flow has returned to normal this week, and water clarity has also improved. A few people were seen fishing at the mouth of the Pike with no reports of fish taken. The average water temperature was 56 degrees last Sunday.
Plymouth DNR Service Center area
Theresa Marsh State Wildlife Area - This week, Pike Lake Wildlife Management staff conducted two early morning pheasant crowing surveys (one in Washington, one in Ozaukee County). The surveys begin about 5 a.m. (when the birds start crowing) and end about 90 minutes after sunrise. We listened for 6 minutes at each of 30 pre-determined stops in the two counties. Sixteen pheasants were counted. This time of the year, sunrise and sunset are great times to hear many species of birds and frogs making their breeding calls (turkeys, snipe, woodcock, grouse, chorus frogs, sandhill cranes, Canada geese spring peepers, and other frogs and a multitude of songbirds). Suckers were still in their spawning run last week in some Ozaukee County streams, but have mostly ended. Water levels on the Theresa Marsh main pool (behind the dam) have been lowered to allow for cattail mat stabilization and removal, to allow clean out the dam. Record April rains resulted in very high water conditions on all area wetlands, uprooting many cattails. Last week, two 3-4 week old eaglets were killed along the Lake Michigan shoreline in Mequon when their nest tree fell over. The heavy April rains had saturated the bluff area where their nest tree was located, destabilizing its roots and causing it to fall. The Pike Lake and Plymouth DNR crews conducted several prescribed burns this week on Theresa and Nichols Creek Wildlife Areas. Burns will continue next week, weather permitting. Turkey hunters seemed to be having better success this week due to the warmer/dryer weather. - Tom Isaac, wildlife biologist, Hartford
Sturtevant DNR Service Center area
South Central Region
Dodgeville DNR Service Center area
Grant County - This past weekend the fishing has finally started to slowly pick up. White bass and a few nice yellow perch were being caught on the Mississippi River. With the nice sunny weather, the shore fishing areas were very busy with fishermen. The Miss. water levels were down several feet and this likely has helped the fishing success. It's still too cold for morels with no one reporting their harvest yet.- Martin R. Stone, conservation warden
Horicon DNR Service Center area
Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area - Horicon Marsh has a few large upcoming events including an Archeology Weekend, this weekend, and the annual Horicon Marsh Bird Festival May 10-13. For more information about the bird festival you can visit www.horiconmarshbirdclub.com. Migrating songbirds are beginning to come in larger numbers, including orioles, rose-breasted grosbeaks, white crowned and white throated sparrows, warblers, vireos and a variety of others songbirds. Trumpeter swans have been seen in multiple locations as well as Forster's terns. - Jennifer Wirth, visitor services specialist
Fitchburg DNR Service Center area
Jefferson County - Boat launches in the Fort Atkinson and Jefferson area remain closed. To get the current status of boat launch availability please call the Jefferson County Sheriff's Office at 920-674-7311. Anglers report catching walleyes on the Bark and Rock rivers throughout the county. Flat head catfish are also being caught, some of which are more than 20 pounds.- Ryan Ellifson, conservation warden, Jefferson County
Sauk County - The late spring has slowed the normal fishing activities. Anglers are starting to catch a few crappies. The spring walleye fishing on the Wisconsin River has been slow due to high water and the late spring. Many finches, buntings, grosbeaks and orioles have been showing up. - John Buss, conservation warden, Prairie du Sac
Lake Kegonsa State Park -All trails are open to hiking. Some areas may be muddy due to recent heavy rain. The campground and shower building are open for the season. The boat landing is open and the piers have been installed. We are nearing the end of construction on our new park office. During construction, all facilities and park roads will remain open. - Sarah Bolser, park manager
Janesville DNR Service Center area
Rock County - The Rock River are slowly coming down, but remains at flood levels. Slow-no-wake restrictions are in effect on the Rock River and several complaints of boats operating faster than slow no wake have been received. Boaters are responsible and can be held liable for damage that is caused by their wake. Crappies continue to bite at the Indianford Dam on the Rock River with minnows being the common bait. The Rock River is also producing catfish in the Beloit area. Stink-bait has been the most common bait used over the last week. Trout were being caught recently on minnows and power baits at Kiwanis and Lions Beach Ponds. 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 on Jan. 1 and closes Sept. 30 with a 3 fish bag limit and 9-inch size limit. Turkey hunters are finally getting some warmer weather for the later turkey seasons. Turkeys have been busy breeding and hens are nesting. Hunters can check out the DNR website for information on public properties to hunt. Several new properties were recently acquired in the Avon area and there are additional VPA-Voluntary Public Access properties throughout Rock County. Over the counter turkey permits are sold out in Rock County, however permits are still available for the last two seasons in turkey units to the west and north of Rock County. The combination of precipitation and warm weather is causing morel mushrooms to pop. Mushroom hunters should see a bumper crop this spring. - Boyd Richter, conservation warden, Janesville
West Central Region
Baldwin DNR Service Center area
Willow River State Park - The dense, heavy snow will have the expected result of more trees down on trails. Please report these so when we can drive on trails we'll clear them up. The river is still running high and cloudy. Any progress towards drying out the campsites will be set back by the rain and snow. - Jeffrey L. Bolte, visitor services associate
La Crosse DNR Service Center area
Vernon County - House wrens, brown thrashers, upland sandpipers, and grosbeaks are some of the recent songbird arrivals. Hummingbirds, orioles, bobolinks, and many warblers will be arriving soon. Speaking of hummingbirds, now is the time to put out hummingbird feeders so they are in place when the birds arrive. Fill hummingbird feeders with a nectar mixture of four parts water to one part cane sugar, which is boiled and left to cool. Turkey hunters are reporting mixed success. Needless to say, the unsettled weather is getting the blame for uncharacteristic turkey behavior and tough hunting conditions. - Dave Matheys, wildlife biologist, Viroqua
Merrick State Park - The river levels are rising due to the recent rains and additional snow in northern Wisconsin and Minnesota. The lower boat landing may close by the upcoming weekend. The upper boat landing will be open this weekend. The boat dock is not installed. All campsites in the north campground and the shower building are open. The south campground and island campgrounds will remain closed until the campsites dry out.
Perrot State Park - The hiking trails are open but you may find some muddy areas due to recent rains. Trempealeau Bay is filling with many migrating ducks, including 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. Early spring wildflowers are just beginning bloom, including Dutchman's breeches, bloodroot, blue violets, large-flowered bellwort, and a few fiddleheads.
Eau Claire DNR Service Center area
Chippewa County - Lakes in the northern half of the county are still ice covered, including Long Lake and Lake Holcombe. Pockets of access are open along the shoreline, making boating conditions marginal. Lake Wissota is completely ice free, however Excel Energy has released a public notice indicating that conditions were too harsh to install the boat warning cable near the dam. All boaters should use extreme caution and avoid the dam area. Flows on the river continue to increase with gauges reading above 30,000 CFS. Real time water data can be found on the USGS website at http://waterdata.usgs.gov/usa/nwis/rt. Fisheries biologists report that water temperatures indicate walleye spawning may have already occurred this past week. It is suggested that walleye anglers target oxbows or other areas that have calmer conditions to find fish. Chorus frogs began to singing this week. Soon, the northern leopard frogs, northern spring peepers, and wood frogs join in. Later in the spring American toads, and Cope's and eastern gray tree frogs can be heard. Green frogs, mink frogs, and bullfrogs start croaking in the very late spring and early summer.- Shaun Deeney, conservation warden, Chippewa Falls
Eau Claire County -A few anglers have been fishing from boats on the Chippewa River below the Dells Hydro Dam, but few fish are being harvested. Cold weather boaters are reminded to wear a life jacket or insulated float coat. Even experienced boaters can get into trouble during periods of swift currents and high water levels, so use caution. Ice is off local rivers and lakes. Turkey hunters willing to put in the time have been bagging some birds throughout the area. - Scott Thiede, conservation warden, Eau Claire
Lake Wissota State Park - The Red Cedar Trail and Chippewa River trail received a significant snowfall on Thursday and the trails are currently closed. In the next few days crews will be assessing trail damage from the heavy snow. We expect trail flooding, numerous down trees and limbs. In the next couple of weeks, crews will be cleaning up storm damage and working towards re-opening the trails. - Steve Erickson, park supervisor
Wausau DNR Service Center area
Wisconsin Rapids DNR Service Center area
Portage County - Water levels are still high but receding on the Wisconsin River in the Stevens Point area. Boaters are still urged to use caution when on the river. The walleye run on the Wisconsin River is winding down as well. Fishers are still catching walleyes but not at the rate they were before. Catfish are being caught in good numbers but crappies have not shown up yet in any numbers. The inland trout opener promises to be good. Normal to slightly higher water levels are a contrast to last year's low water levels - Barry Meister, conservation warden, Stevens Point
Buckhorn State Park - Campsites 8, 9, 16, sites A1-A4, A6-A8 and B1-B3 are open and reservable. Sites 10-12, 25, 23-24, 26-29 are open and available on a first come basis starting Saturday. Sites 20-22 and 30-33 will be open and reservable starting Saturday. Drinking water is available at the park office next to the restroom and in the outdoor group camp. Hunting maps for the spring season are available online and will be in the map box in the office lot. The Yellow River Wildlife Area is open for turkey hunting for Zone 1 permits. The state park and Buckhorn wildlife area is not open for any other spring turkey periods. Fishing and boat boarding piers will be put in on Monday. - 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. The park is not open for any other turkey periods. Join Friends of Roche-A-Cri for a Work and Play Day on Saturday from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Bring work gloves, rakes, dress for weather, lunch provided by Friends group. Call 608-565-2789 to sign up.
- Heather Wolf, park manager