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Outdoor Report for June 6, 2013
View current conditions for Wisconsin State Parks, Trails and Forests
Check out the Wisconsin Department of Tourism (exit DNR).
Cool, wet conditions have dampened outdoor enthusiasm for many across Wisconsin, and the weather has had a lingering effect on later than usual budding, blooming and bird arrivals.
Several weeks after one of the biggest wildfires in Wisconsin history, the Germann Road Fire has officially declared 100 percent extinguished. Mop-up crews routinely patrolled the fire from the ground looking for smoke and spraying water on any burning debris or stumps continuing to smolder. Recent precipitation, resulting in low fire danger, has also helped.
Water levels are very high on the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway and most of the sandbars along the river are underwater and finding a place to camp along the river can be difficult. Mississippi River water levels slowly dropping but boaters and anglers should expect to see “high” water for quite some time. Many boat landings remain under water and the docks are not usable.
Water temperatures are still quite variable and have ranged from the mid-60s and down to the low to mid-50s on some of the large and deep lakes in the north. Both largemouth and smallmouth bass have been getting more active and many are now in the middle of their spring nesting period. Smallmouth are especially vulnerable to anglers when they are on their nests, so anglers should use discretion if trying for this species.
On Lake Superior, anglers have been having good success catching a lot of coho salmon with a few brown trout mixed in around the Apostle Islands. Lake Michigan trollers have been getting a mixed bag of coho and chinook salmon along with some brown and lake trout. Anglers report walleye fishing has been good on Green Bay from the Peshtigo Harbor to the Menominee River. Smallmouth bass are still biting well in many locations on Green Bay from Little Harbor up to Sister Bay.
Inland trout fishing in Grant County area streams has remained very good with many anglers having good success. Anglers are having success with crappie and the walleye bite is picking up on the east shore of Lake Winnebago.
There has been a variety of wildlife sightings across the state, including fox kits in Crex Meadows Wildlife Area. Fawns have been seen in Grant, Outagamie and Waupaca counties. An otter pup was also seen near the Theresa Marsh State Wildlife Area. On the downside, mosquitoes have definitely arrived across the state.
Bears also continue to be on the move, so if you see bears in your area remove bird feeds, or move them higher. Don’t leave your pet food bowls out on the porch and secure garbage cans, or put them inside. Bears are interesting creatures and their cubs are cute, but they are wild, so don’t get between a sow and her cubs.
Early June traditionally marks the end of spring migration and increased breeding activity across Wisconsin. Northern Wisconsin experienced several migration events this past week, most notably on May 30 when large numbers of warblers, flycatchers, and other land birds were found along Lake Superior’s south shore. Late migrants such as olive-sided and yellow-bellied flycatchers, black-billed cuckoos, cedar waxwings, and common nighthawks are still on the move.
Statewide Birding Report
Early June traditionally marks the end of spring migration and increased breeding activity across Wisconsin. Northern Wisconsin experienced several migration events this past week, most notably on May 30 when large numbers of warblers, flycatchers, and other land birds were found along Lake Superior’s south shore. Late migrants such as olive-sided and yellow-bellied flycatchers, black-billed cuckoos, cedar waxwings, and common nighthawks are still on the move. Expect this migration activity to wind down over the next week. Birders at concentration points such as Door County reported hundreds of kettling broad-winged hawks this week. These are immature birds that probably won’t nest in their first summer and thus aren’t in a hurry to reach northern breeding areas from their tropical wintering grounds. Shorebird migration is typically a highlight of late spring but few concentrations have been found this year. Federally-endangered piping plovers are nesting again on Lake Superior’s Long Island, while Kirtland’s warbler nesting activities also are underway at their Adams County nesting sites. Wyalusing State Park in southwest Wisconsin has been a popular destination for birders as they seek out nesting species hard to find elsewhere in the state, such as Louisiana waterthrush, Acadian flycatcher, and Kentucky, prothonotary, cerulean, and yellow-throated warblers. Statewide volunteers are gearing up to survey the state’s 92 federal Breeding Bird Survey routes this month. This survey is the single best source of population trends for many breeding species in Wisconsin and the entire country. Rarities spotted this week include scissor-tailed flycatcher in Marathon County, northern mockingbirds at many locations, Pacific loon in Bayfield County, several ibises at Horicon Marsh, and a bonanza of rare gulls at Sheboygan’s North Point, including a laughing gull, franklin’s gull, and up to four little gulls. As always, help us track bird migration and population changes by reporting your sightings to Wisconsin eBird (www.ebird.org/wi). - Ryan Brady, Bureau of Wildlife Management research scientist, Ashland
Several weeks after one of the biggest wildfires in Wisconsin history, the Germann Road Fire is officially declared 100 percent extinguished. On the afternoon June 3, fire control resources made their final patrol of the fire to observe any remaining hot spots or smoke. Patrols recommended that there is no indication of any remaining burning debris within the perimeter of the fire. The DNR has been monitoring the burned area with patrol planes adapted with infrared technology to look for hot spots from the air. Mop-up crews routinely patrolled the fire from the ground looking for smoke and spraying water on any burning debris or stumps continuing to smolder. Within the fire control line, fires of this size typically have vegetative debris that burn for days, even weeks. Recent precipitation, resulting in low fire danger, has also contributed to a successful extinguishment. Updates to the Germann Road Fire map have now confirmed the size of the fire to total 7,442 acres burned. The fire destroyed 47 structures (17 of them residences) in the Towns of Gordon and Highland in Douglas County. The fire began around 2:45 p.m. on May 14, 2013, burning a swath nearly 10 miles long and a mile and a half wide before being declared 100% contained on May 15 at 9 p.m. The fire was started unintentionally from a logging crew harvesting timber on industrial timber lands. For continued updates to the Germann Road Fire, visit dnr.wi.gov keyword “Germann Road Fire.” Homeowners impacted by the Germann Road Fire are urged to contact the Barnes Ranger Station at 715-795-2565 (8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Monday through Friday).
Ashland DNR Service Center area
Ashland County - Wet weather has been the rule right now in the Ashland but fishing has been good on area lakes. Birding has been thinning out. - Matt Mackenzie, conservation warden, Ashland
Bayfield County - Cool temperatures and plenty of rain in recent weeks has kept outdoor activity to a minimum. On the bright side, the late snow melt this spring, combined with a lot of rain in May, has brought water levels up on Lake Superior as well as inland lakes. ATV trails are now open and in good shape. Traffic on the trails has been fairly light so far. Remember that ATV registration expires June 30. In many areas around the Apostle Islands, anglers have been having good success catching a lot of coho salmon with a few brown trout mixed in. If you are out trolling on Lake Superior, be sure to keep an eye out for, and avoid, trolling near commercial nets, which are marked with flagged buoys. - Brandon Smith, conservation warden recruit
Spooner DNR Service Center area
Polk County - Fishing has been slow in southern Polk County in May. Some crappies were being caught in shallow water with minnows. - Shaun Tyznik conservation warden, Amery
Crex Meadows State Wildlife Area – Fox kits have been reported. Eagle, goose, and swan young are hatching. Cygnets have been reported on the L Dikes. Watch for pairs of sandhill cranes in the sedge meadows. Begin watching for turtles coming out of the marshes to lay eggs in the upland areas. Lupine, hoary puccoon, heart-leaved golden Alexanders, corydalis, bird’s-foot violet and other early summer wildflowers are blooming. - Kristi Pupak, wildlife conservation educator
Park Falls DNR Service Center area
Upper Chippewa Basin fisheries report (Price, Rusk, Sawyer Taylor and inland Ashland and Iron counties) - The constantly changing weather and scattered rain and thunderstorms have continued to keep anglers guessing and has made for some erratic fishing success. Water temperatures are still quite variable and have ranged from the mid-60s and down to the low to mid-50s on some of the large and deep lakes in the area. On lakes with temps up into the 60s, both smallmouth and largemouth bass have started their spring spawning rituals and quite a few nests have been observed in the shallows. For panfish, many crappie are still in the spawning mode, but bluegill and panfish are just startiing to congregate in anticipation of their spawning period. Walleye have still been the main target for many anglers in the area and action has been generally good. Live bait combinations have produced the best success but casting crank baits along the shoreline have also produced some good catches. The walleye bite has started to slow in the last few days and look for it to get a little tougher when the mayflies start to hatch out in the next few weeks. Musky action has been fair with most fishermen casting small bucktails and stick baits along and over any newly forming weed beds. Quite a few catches of musky in the 30 to 38 inch size have been reported, with fish up to 46 inches also being landed. Both largemouth and smallmouth bass have been getting more active and many are now in the middle of their spring nesting period. Smallmouth are especially vulnerable to anglers when they are on their nests, so anglers should use discretion if trying for this species. For panfish, crappie have provided the best action when the weather permits. Bluegill have also become more active and some nice fish have been showing near the shallows in anticipation of spawning. With perch finishing up their spawning period in the last couple weeks, nicer fish have been showing up on the mid-depth mud flats and starting to key on the mayfly nymphs that are getting ready to hatch. - Skip Sommerfeldt, senior fisheries biologist, Park Falls
Antigo DNR Service Center area
Langlade County - Angler’s reported excellent catch and release largemouth bass last weekend. During the catch and release season, fishermen are reminded to play fish as little as possible and to return them to the water as soon as possible. - Tim Otto, conservation warden, Antigo
Marinette County - Smallmouth are being caught in the Peshtigo River from the dam to the mouth in fair numbers with anglers using tube jigs and crank baits. Goby brown has been working well. The bay from the Peshtigo Harbor to the Menominee River mouth has been fishing well for walleye using crawler/harness and stick baits trolling in 8 to 14 feet of water. The occasional brown and catfish are also being caught while trolling. Anglers at the dam at Hattie Street are also reporting some walleye being caught with the best fishing being during periods of low light. - Kevin King, creel clerk
Oconto County - Bluegills are finally working their way to their spawning beds. This week’s cold may slow this some. Fishermen using fly rods and poppers are having some success and worms continue to be a good bet. Turkeys are still very active with strutting observed almost every day. Mosquitoes in the area are horrendous and the use of some type of insect spray is recommended. The puddle ducks seem to be hatching with a number of “little fuzz balls” seen this week. Walleye fishing on Green Bay remains very good with night crawler harnesses working well in the 8-12 foot range. - Mike Stahl, conservation warden, Oconto Falls
The Stiles Dam area has been producing a few smallmouth with anglers using crank baits, spinners and live bait being drifted in the current, a few brown trout are also being caught using these methods mainly down stream from the Highway 141 ridge. Red horse suckers are still being caught around the Iron Bridge mostly on live bait. Walleye anglers are reporting good success from Pensaukee to Oconto Park II using crawler/harness and stick baits fished at varies depths. Most fish are being caught in the 8 to 14 foot range with purple and orange and green being hot colors. - Kevin King, creel clerk
Shawano County - Lots of baby animals can be seen around the area. Ducks and geese are walking to waterways. Fox and fawns can be seen in the fields. Wild animals aren’t always in the company of mom, but they are often nearby and won’t show themselves until you leave. Wild animals belong in the wild and if you pick them up and bring them home you are most often giving them a death sentence. Water is finally starting to warm up enough to bring the panfish in the shallows. Sunfish are spawning and bluegills should be in the shallows if not spawning soon. Fishing has been very good with nice catches of not only panfish but walleyes and northern too. Lots of young geese and ducks can be seen on or along area waters. The mosquitos and ticks are very thick in the area. - Jim Horne, conservation warden, Shawano
Green Bay DNR Service Center area
Brown County - Bayshore Park: Fishing pressure ranged from moderate to low due in part to rain and isolated thunderstorms throughout the week. Anglers reported some success in catching walleye, using crank bait and night crawlers in a depth of 12-14 feet of water. By mid-week a few anglers reported catching yellow perch, using grubs and crawlers, at a depth of 18 feet. Water temperature held steady all week at 53-55 degrees. Red River: No fishing pressure was reported or observed due in part to low water levels making the launch ramp difficult to access. Chaudoir's Dock: Fishing pressure was low due in part to rain and isolated thunderstorms throughout the week. Some anglers reported success catching walleye with night crawlers in about 20 feet of water. Water temperatures hovered at 54-55 degrees all week. Sugar Creek: No fishing pressure was reported or observed due in part to low water levels which made the launch ramp difficult to access. Fish Haven/Rite's Cove: No fishing pressure was observed or reported at this time. Low water levels in the bay continue to make this launch ramp to be used at anglers' own risk. Little Sturgeon Bay: Fishing pressure was moderate with anglers catching smallmouth bass, using grubs and jigs of various colors, in an average depth of 6-feet. Anglers reported large spawns of carp by week's end. Ester temperature rose from 55 to 58 degrees by the end of the week. Sawyer's Harbor: Fishing pressure remained low this week due to rain and isolated thunderstorms in the region. A few anglers reported success catching smallmouth bass with night crawlers in 3-6 ft. of water. Water temperature rose from 55 to about 58 degrees by the end of the week. - Steve Hogler, senior fisheries Biologist, Green Bay
Manitowoc County - Overall fishing continues to be slow on Lake Michigan waters out Manitowoc and Two Rivers. The steelhead run is over except for a few stragglers, so anglers after trout or salmon are left with the challenges of fishing the big lake. Challenge 1: bad weather. Lately with strong east winds and storms rolling through, all but the largest boats are finding it tough to find a day to get out. Challenge 2: cold water. Surface temperatures are cold in many areas from Kewaunee to Sheboygan County for this time of the year. Some warmer temperatures in the mid-50 degree range were seen at times this week out of Two Rivers on thermo-imagery from the Sea Grant web page, www.coastwatch.msu.edu/twomichigans.html, a handy tool if water temperatures factor into your desired fishing location. Most surface temperatures are still in the mid to upper 40’s. Challenge 3: Alewife numbers in shore. The alewives are on their annual spawning migration into shorelines and harbors. It’s hard to compete with this abundant food source while using spoons or crankbaits. Few brown trout or salmon have been caught from piers, harbors, or boats in the last two weeks. Angler pressure is low. Many anglers are catching quite a few carp and bullheads in river areas and harbors in Two Rivers. Using corn for carp, or night crawlers for bullheads and occasional channel catfish have been the baits of choice. Spinners, lipless crank baits, and plastics have been effective near current breaks and dams on rivers for smallmouth as well as northern pike. Panfish and bass species may be close to spawning in cover, shallow areas, or slack water depending on the water body. Angler pressure is low. - Thomas Gerbyshak, fisheries technician, Mishicot
Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center area
Door County - Heavy fog patches and wind early in the week combined with intermittent downpours over the weekend making it tough for anglers, but free fishing weekend encouraged some to get out and try some of the places that haven’t seen a lot of effort so far, like Weborgs Point in Peninsula State Park, where they were catching lots of bass. There are some surveyors that have been seen at the ramps in Kewaunee and Door counties asking boaters about cleaning their rigs after use to help stop the spread of invasive species, so please remember to get all the lake water off and out of your boat before you leave the launch area. The little bit of salmon action reported is coming from south of Sturgeon Bay, but warmer weather should have them continuing to move north. Many lake and a few brown trout are still being caught in the transition areas in on rapalas, thundersticks, husky jerks and spoons. Bass are still biting on a variety of bait; tubes, grubs, husky jerks to name a few; and have continued to be extremely hot at Rowley’s Bay, but also seen at Baileys Harbor. Smallmouth bass are still biting well in many locations on Green Bay from Little Harbor up to Sister Bay, mainly fishing the bottom in 3-8 feet of water. Casting cleos and crocodiles from the piers could bring luck for some trout, especially along a nice sharp drop off. The flats down to Little Sturgeon has been great for walleye and bass lately; however, the perch bite has been really slow, with some being caught around Sugar Creek and Chaudoirs Dock. A few musky have been caught in Little Sturgeon on big spinner bait and magnum crank bait. Musky and northern pike can often be found on the edges of newly formed weed beds. Walleye have been biting hard all week, mostly south of Henderson’s Point to Chaudoirs Dock. In the afternoons, 12-18 feet of water and the same at night on flasher and smash shads, reef runners, deep diving husky jerks, and trolling spoons. The color purple comes highly recommended. - David Boyarski, fisheries supervisor, Sturgeon Bay
ATV and UTV operators should dkow the law before operating on roadways. The pleasant temperatures that kick off summer seem to invite seasonal residents and landowners to take rides through the countryside, or use an ATV/UTV as a means of transportation to a neighboring home or business. In most cases, ATV/UTV operation on the roadway is illegal unless the road is designated and signed as a route, or the operators are following the agricultural law exemptions. Other exemptions do exist, but are highly restricted, and can be found by reviewing the ATV/UTV regulations handbook at: http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/atv/ . Vehicle traffic does not expect to see and is not on the lookout for ATV’s and UTV’s traveling on the roads and ditches, and the result can be a collision with tragic results. - Christopher J. Kratcha, conservation warden, Sturgeon Bay
Kewaunee County - Heavy rains over the last few days have probably coaxed the last of the Steelhead back out to the big lake after their spring spawning run. Report of Salmon are slow, but should pick up any day, and Brown and especially Lake Trout are still biting well. Charters in both Kewaunee and Algoma have been coming and going throughout the day now. The reports are that a few salmon are biting early in the day on flasher flies and spoons within a few miles of shore. One charter did report catching seven “kings” and a laker between Sturgeon Bay and Algoma. Local guides are predicting the Lake will turn over any day now bringing warm water, and big fish, closer to shore. Alewives and some smaller trout have been seen off the end of the piers in both towns, which is another indicator that the larger fish should be here soon. Charters are also reporting quite a few lake trout and some brown trout being caught in 10 to 40 feet of water. As for the steelhead, once they finish moving back out to Lake Michigan and recover from their spawning period, they should be found in about 30 feet of water biting on spoons.
Wautoma DNR Service Center area
Waupaca County - Trout streams in great shape with slightly elevated water levels and fish are biting well. Bring bug repellent, excellent hatch of various blood sucking insects. Bluegills not yet spawning in great numbers, too much cloudy cool weather. Tis the season of fuzzy things, new fawns, goslings, and bunnies are all over the place. - Karl Kramer, wildlife technician, Wautoma
Oshkosh DNR Service Center area
Outagamie County - Despite turkey season winding down, there are still toms strutting all over. Anglers are still picking up crappie all over and the walleye bite is picking up on the east shore of Winnebago. Wildflowers are blooming all over and baby animals are everywhere. Please remember to leave all animals where you found them as it’s likely the parents are nearby and are waiting for you to leave. - Ryan Propson, conservation warden, Appleton
The cool wet weather has placed a damper (pun intended) on outdoor activities in Outagamie County. Those willing to venture outside have most areas to themselves. Fawns are being observed and people are reminded that those lone fawns are not abandoned. The doe leaves the fawns who are generally scentless to protect them and will return throughout the day to feed them. This is the general rule for most small animals and should be let alone without being handled. Fishing has been slow on the Wolf River but the canoes and kayaks have been enjoying the upper stretch of the river.- 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
Sheboygan County - In Sheboygan only a few boat trailers have been seen in the Deland ramp parking lot at any one time. Success for trollers has been spotty, with some concentrating nearshore in 30 to 40 feet of water and others working further out in water over 150 feet. A few steelhead and lake trout were caught on flies and spoons in 160 feet of water. The constantly shifting wind direction and variable weather patterns are making it difficult to target fish. The 8th Street ramp remains closed. Fishing pressure remains low on the piers, again likely due to unstable weather conditions. The wind shift to a predominantly south or southeast direction made fishing on the South Pier difficult as waves were washing onto the rocks. On the river side, anglers reported a couple strikes, but no fish were caught. Because of wave action and rains, water clarity in and around the harbor is very low overall, but clarity along North Pier is good.
Ozaukee County - In Port Washington good numbers of coho are being caught by trollers. Most are targeting about 150 feet of water, but some fish have been caught as deep as 275 feet and some as shallow as 40 feet. The lure of choice is still peanut flies, and limits of fish are being taken, especially in the morning. Water clarity on the lake side of the pier has improved, but fishing pressure has remained relatively low. Schools of alewives can be seen outside the pier, as well as some trout. The path to Fisherman’s Park is still closed for construction. Anglers can reach the park by walking down Wisconsin Street (north of Sauk Creek) and following the Harborwalk along the West Slip.
Milwaukee County - Milwaukee trollers continue to catch good numbers of coho, along with a few small chinook and lake trout. Trollers were having success fishing in 70 to 120 feet of water, between 25 and 50 feet down. The best presentations were large or small orange flashers paired with peanut files in variety of colors. Blue and green flies seemed to produce the most coho. Fishermen off of McKinley pier also caught coho on alewives, and casting small spoons has produced a few additional coho in the early morning hours. The Oak Creek power plant has produced a few browns on alewives under a float or casting plastics or crank baits off the end of the pier. A few coho have been taken there also, but the numbers have dropped in recent days. Bender Park is officially closed for boat launching until further notice. The County is dredging the harbor and has blocked all the launches with equipment and even installed a fence in the harbor to prevent boats from either entering or leaving the harbor. There desired completion timeframe is at least 3 weeks of good working weather. Strong east winds will delay the project due to high waves.
Racine County - In Racine trollers have been catching good numbers of coho and a few Chinooks and lake trout. Limit catches have been common. The coho have moved nearshore again, and most fish have been taken on flasher and fly or dodger and fly combinations, with green and silver flies producing well. Fishing pressure along the Racine shoreline has increased with the return of the coho. Good numbers have been caught off the end of the north pier, and a few coho have been caught off the south pier as well. The majority of fish have been taken on alewives fished on the bottom, but a few have also been caught on spoons. The surface temperature at the lakefront was 49 degrees over the weekend.
Kenosha County - Trollers in Kenosha were catching lower numbers of coho over the weekend, as the fish seem to have scattered. The most successful trollers were working the waters off Racine. Coho fishing for the pier anglers in Kenosha also slowed. Anglers are still catching alewives from the piers, but the gamefish haven’t been hitting them since early last week. The most productive fishing conditions over the past few weeks have been calm to light winds out of the south, clear water, and 51-53F surface temperature.
Waukesha DNR Service Center area
Waukesha County - Anglers are catching walleye, bass, and some crappie on Pine Lake. - Matt Groppi, conservation warden, Waukesha
Plymouth DNR Service Center area
Theresa Marsh State Wildlife Area - We had several unusual wildlife sitings this past week from around the area. A mostly albino robin was reported along Church Rd., north of Cedar Creek, in the Jackson Marsh Wildlife Area. An otter pup showed up in someone’s fenceline in the Cedarburg area. And a family of badgers has taken up residence in Port Washington. The mosquitoes have definitely come out in full force. On Theresa Marsh Wildlife Area, we are slowly bring water levels up in preparation for cattail removal the week of June 17. We will also be banding resident Canada geese around the area the week of the 17. - Tom Isaac, wildlife biologist, Hartford
South Central Region
Lower Wisconsin State Riverway - The water level at the Prairie Du Sac dam was at 29,992 CFS, which is high. Most of the sandbars along the river are underwater and finding a place to camp along the river can be difficult. Other options for camping would be some of the private and public campgrounds along the riverway. Fishing reports have had mixed results. Mosquitoes are still quite active within the river bottoms and bug spray would be recommended. It appears that the time to harvest morel mushrooms have past and very few are still being found. Baby geese have hatched and can be seen on many of the backwater sloughs. The turtles are looking for places to lay their eggs and are crossing many of the roads within the riverway. Drivers should use caution to avoid the turtles. - Matt Sequin, property manager
Dodgeville DNR Service Center area
Grant County - Water levels on the Mississippi River are continuing to decline, but at a slow pace. Levels have been dropping 0.1 to 0.5 feet per day. With the new rain falls up river, the levels are expected to continue to decline, but boaters and fishermen should expect to see “high” water for quite some time. Many boat landings remain under water and the docks are not usable. Fishing has been slow through-out the pools due to the high water and high volume flows. Some anglers have reported catching “hand sized and larger” blue gills in backwater areas, with little to any current. Bass fisherman have reported that the high water has made for good bass fishing in areas with flooded grass and vegetation. Anglers at Potosi Point have been fishing along the flooded roadway, casting surface plugs into the weeds and caught many bass, several in the 15-18 inch range. Inland streams for trout and bass fishing have slowed, due to the muddy stream conditions and continual rains. - Richard S. DeWitte, conservation warden, Cassville
Recent rains have swollen the Wisconsin River again. Area trout streams are also running high and muddy. Mosquitoes and recently black flies are making themselves known. Fawns are being born and trying to remain hidden from view. Some Canada geese goslings are showing up, but it has been a rough spring for other wetland-nesting species like trumpeter swans. Early nesting attempts were probably flooded out when the rivers and backwaters came up quickly a few weeks ago. There have been a few reports of late morels found on north slopes earlier in the week. Enjoy the sunshine this weekend. - Daniel Goltz, wildlife biologist, Boscobel
Fishing in Grant County has been slow this past weekend, with just small numbers caught in the Mississippi and Wisconsin rivers. Trout fishing in area streams has remained very good with most fishermen reporting good success. The morels seem to be hard to find at this point, and are likely done. - Martin Stone, conservation warden
Wyalusing State Park -Trails should be in good hiking condition, but will be wet and sodden due to the recent rains of the last few days. Forecast for today is 80 per cent chance of rain with a 50 percent forecast for tonight. Thursday’s forecast calls for 40 percent chance of showers with a high near 66. Thursday night has a 20 percent chance of showers with a low around 50. Friday the chance of rain stays at 20 percent with a high near 67 and a low near 50. Saturday the skies will clear and be mostly sunny and temps will rise into the 70s. Sunday, showers and thunderstorms will return to the area. Campsite availability is good for non-electric sites for this coming weekend. Electrical campsites will be difficult to get as all reservable electric sites have been reserved. There are many nice tent sites available in the Homestead Campground for this weekend as well as a number of nonreservable bluff sites in the Wisconsin Ridge Campground. There are no showers or flush toilets at this time in Homestead Campground. Campers are welcome to drive to the Wisconsin Ridge Campground for showers and flush toilets. Concession stand will begin their regular summer hours this weekend. Friday the concession stand will be open from 3-8 p.m. and starting Saturday, June 8th through Labor Day Weekend hours will be from 8 a.m. – 8 p.m. Due to the high water levels on the Mississippi River, the concession stand is not renting canoes or kayaks at this time. Mississippi River Level at Prairie du Chien: The Mississippi River level today at Prairie du Chien is 15.25 and is expected to stay steady through this weekend. River level is expected to drop to 14.8 on Sunday. Recent bird sightings include: spotted sandpiper, yellow-billed cuckoo, black-billed cuckoo, all of the woodpeckers, eastern wood pewee, Acadian flycatcher, eastern phoebe, great crested flycatcher, tree swallow, n. rough-winged swallow, red-breasted nuthatch, white-breasted nuthatch, house wren, ruby-crowned kinglet, blue grey gnatcatcher, eastern bluebird, veery, gray-cheeked thrush, Swainson’s thrush, wood thrush, gray catbird, brown thrasher, white-eyed vireo, solitary vireo, yellow-throated vireo, warbling vireo, red-eyed vireo, rose-breasted grosbeaks, indigo bunting, eastern towhee, chipping sparrow, field sparrow, Henslow’s sparrow, song sparrow, white-throated sparrow, white crowned sparrow, Harris’ sparrow, Baltimore oriole, American goldfinch. Warblers seen: all of the warblers on the birds of Wyalusing State Park checklist were spotted except the following: golden-winged warbler, black-throated blue, prairie, worm-eating, hooded and yellow-breasted chat. On May 25 the Lawrence’s warbler was spotted on Turkey Hollow Trail. A Lawrence Warbler is a cross between a golden winged warbler and a blue winged warbler. Please keep in mind that some of these birds were only here for a while as they head north to their summer breeding territory. - Beverly Pozega, visitor services associate
Iowa County - Fishing has been slow on the Wisconsin River due to the high water. Some anglers have been reporting bass being caught on Helen Lake near Hwy. 14. Anglers are also reporting that the bluegills have been biting on Crystal Lake. Some bass are being caught near Lone Rock. Wisconsin River users are being cautioned that the mosquitos are extremely prolific and numerous lately and the poison ivy is growing well too in the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway. Camping is non-existent on the river due to the high water on the river and the lack of islands and sandbars to camp on. It is illegal to camp on the state owned bank of the Wisconsin River. Now is the time to get your hummingbird feeders out, the Ruby Throats are back in force looking for food and nesting. - David Youngquist, conservation warden, Dodgeville
Fitchburg DNR Service Center area
Columbia County - Multiple bear sightings and bird feeder damage have been rolling in with bears sighted in rural areas near Portage, Wyocena and Columbus. These are likely young bears that have been kicked out of their mother’s territory and are out “on their own” for the first time. Many of these bears eventually make their way back up north, but until then may wander around Columbia County for a bit. It’s a good idea to bring bird feeders and trash in overnight especially if there is a bear sighted near your property. While viewing black bears is an amazing experience, promoting such behavior by intentionally feeding the bears is not wise – once bears get acclimated to humans they can be a very dangerous wild animal. Sandhill cranes are beginning to be seen with their young, and in the prairies, shooting star, prairie smoke and lupine are all blooming. - Sara Kehrli, wildlife biologist, Poynette
Fishermen have been catching fish on many of the local rivers and lakes. High water on the Wisconsin River makes the fishing tough but gets better on Lake Wisconsin. High water has also eliminated many camping opportunities on the Alliant Energy properties/islands along the Wisconsin River. Many of the cabins in the Blackhawk Park area are under due to the flood water levels. - Paul Nadolski, conservation warden, Portage
Jefferson County – Anglers are reporting good fishing on most bodies of water in Jefferson County. The white bass, blue gills, crappies and catfish have been biting well. The Walleyes are still biting, although not as aggressively as a month ago. The walleyes are being caught on Rock River near Blackhawk Island and trolling on Lake Koshkonong. Female turtles are searching for locations to lay their eggs. Motorists are asked to please look out for the turtles and avoid hitting them if possible. The endangered Blanding’s turtle also calls Jefferson County home and do cross roads to get to nesting locations. - Ryan Ellifson, conservation warden, Jefferson County
West Central Region
Baldwin DNR Service Center area
Willow River State Park - Water levels on the Willow seem to have settled down at around 175 cubic feet per second. With all the rain that fell in May (five-plus inches) the water appears to be a little closer to past years levels without a drought and prior to a stream flow gauge. It is bug season so prepare accordingly and check for ticks as needed. Willow has the wood tick and the deer tick. The deer tick can deliver a painful bite which acts as a tip to check the soreness. Camping demand on weekends remains strong. Weekday camping has been light but there are still some schools in session due to snow days. Remember, if you do not arrive for your campsite by 3 p.m. on the day after your scheduled arrival, and you don’t call us to tell us about a late arrival, you lose your campsite and your money. - Jeffrey L. Bolte, visitor services associate
La Crosse DNR Service Center area
Vernon County - Now that spring is in full swing and the bugs haven't hatched yet, it's time to patrol your property for invasive species. Invasive species invade nearly 2 million acres a year in Wisconsin, resulting in millions of dollars a year in control costs and severe degradation to our nature plant and animal communities. Please take the time to educate yourself on the identification and control of invasive species. Garlic mustard, honeysuckle, buckthorn, and dames rocket are very visible at this time of year and should be controlled. Go to the DNR website (www.dnr.wi.gov/topic/Invasives/) for more information on controlling invasive species on your property. Many songbirds are fledging their first clutches of nestlings. As these young birds leave their nests, it will take several additional weeks before they become proficient flyers. Until then, they are vulnerable to predators, such as crows, raccoons, coyotes, fox, cats, and dogs. Young rabbits, squirrels, coyotes, and foxes have also been reported in the area. Fawn reports are increasing as well. - Dave Matheys, wildlife biologist, Viroqua
Merrick State Park - The trails are open and in good condition. Most of the migrating ducks have moved out of the area but the great blue herons and egrets are still in the south campground. Some of the early wildflowers are starting to bloom including trillium, wild geranium, anemone, and bellwort. Orioles are often seen in the blooming wild plums. Indigo bunting have been spotted in the prairie by the Nature Center. The river levels are stabilizing but still above normal levels. The upper boat landing will be open but the boat dock is not yet installed. The lower boat landing is open but might be difficult to launch from until the water goes down. All campsites in the north campground and the shower building are open. The south and island campground is open but a few campsites are closed due to standing water and muddy conditions.- Lois Larson
Perrot State Park - The boat landing is open and the dock is installed for the season. Recent rains have brought some extra water into Trempealeau Bay so you can still take a canoe or kayak into the middle channels of the bay. Many of the summer songbirds have arrived. Scarlet tanager, indigo bunting, redstart, and towhees have been seen by park visitors. The hummingbirds and orioles are back and enjoying our feeders at the headquarters building. The spring wildflowers are in full bloom: trillium, wild geranium, columbine, jack-in-the-pulpit, blue phlox, and anemones, Our shooting stars are just finishing up their spring blooming along the West Brady’s Trail. - Lois Larson
Eau Claire DNR Service Center area
Chippewa County - Fishing is getting better each day in Chippewa County. Walleye are hitting hard, try using a pink jig head tipped with a minnow. Below the dams on the river are good locations, including Holcombe and Chippewa Falls. Catfish are starting to come into shallower areas and taking cut baits. The local conservation warden is seeing more anglers using live baitfish and wild caught bluegills as bait. The WDNR reminds anglers that using bluegills as bait is legal, however the fish must be used in the same water they are caught from. Taking bait fish from one water and using them in another poses disease risks…this includes using frozen fish from different waters. Anglers must use methods of preservation that does not include freezing, which is not allowed and does not necessarily kill the harmful vectors of disease in our waters. Smallmouth are also hitting spinner baits along Jim Falls, Old Abe Lake, Chippewa Falls Flowage, and Lake Wissota on the Yellow River. Littering continues to be a real nuisance along the river in Chippewa Falls, especially below the NSP dam in the parking area. If you observe littering, please try to get a description or license plates of the parties involved. You can help hold them accountable by calling the WDNR’s violation hotline at 1-800-TIP-WDNR. Shaun Deeney – Shaun Deeney, conservation warden, Chippewa Falls
Black River Falls DNR Service Center area
Black River State Forest - We have received a lot of rain over the last week but are expecting a dry Friday and Saturday, but rain on Sunday. Highs are predicted to be 70 for the weekend. Trails are closed due to excessive rainfall in the area. There are numerous long stretches of the trail that are solid water and completely impassable. Trails will re-open once conditions improve. All campgrounds are currently open. Castle Mound, East Fork and Pigeon campgrounds are on the reservation system through Labor Day weekend. The indoor group camp is on the reservation system year-round. To make a reservation, use the Web or call 888-947-2757, TTY 800-274-7275.
Backpackers may use our online permit [exit DNR]. - Peter Bakken, superintendent
Juneau County - Mushroom hunters had great success during the month of May finding morels. A Camp Douglas area resident saw a sow black bear with 2 cubs in his back yard. - Matt Weber, conservation warden, Necedah
Wausau DNR Service Center area
Portage County - River flows on the Wisconsin River in the Stevens Point area have risen due to recent rains. Boaters are reminded to use caution as these currents are dangerous, especially near dams. Smallmouth bass on the Wisconsin River and bluegills are biting on Portage County lakes.- Barry Meister, conservation warden, Stevens Point
Buckhorn State Park - Water fountains are turned on and the flush toilet/2-stall shower building is open. When all reservable sites are reserved, there are three non-reservable, firs come, first served campsites (34, 99, and A5). Visitors over the weekend were hiking, geocaching, fishing, canoeing and kayaking. Mosquitoes are here, so remember to bring bug spray and thermocells. - Heather Wolf, park manager
Roche-A-Cri State Park - When all reservable sites are taken, we have three first come, fire served. We have 4 electric sites. 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. A swimming beach is located at Friendship Lake, 1 mile south of the park entrance on Hwy 13 (toward Friendship). Mosquitoes are here, so remember to bring bug spray and thermocells.
- Heather Wolf, park manager