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Outdoor Report for July 25, 2013
View current conditions for Wisconsin State Parks, Trails and Forests
Check out the Wisconsin Department of Tourism (exit DNR).
A suitable summer weekend awaits Wisconsin with plenty of opportunities to enjoy outdoor activities, including angling, padding, camping, and hiking.
Cooler weather has slowed angler success across the state, including the Upper Chippewa Basin. Water temperatures have dropped to the lower 70s to upper 60s on most lakes and this has changed some of the regular fish patterns. Bass have continued to provide the most consistent action and success could be termed fair to good. With the cooler temperatures, the mid-day period has produced the best catches, with soft-plastic baits and scented worms being the most productive.
A late summer pattern has set up on the western end of Lake Superior. The fantastic lake trout and salmon fishing that had been occurring in the spring and early summer has slowed considerably as fish disperse, and generally move deeper.
Fishing on the Mississippi River in Grant County has picked up. Good action has been reported below the areas lock and dams. Small panfish and bass were being caught in good numbers. The inland trout streams however, were very busy with the catch and release season, with anglers reporting many catches. The weather was much nicer and not as hot this past weekend.
Fishing continues to improve overall in Manitowoc County. Some very large king salmon have been caught, including a 31.9 pound fish caught in the Two Rivers Fishing Derby.
In Sheboygan County, trollers have been averaging about four fish per boat, though several boats have come back with one fish or nothing. Most catches in the past few days have been chinook, and big fish are still being caught. Spoons continue to produce fish, and anglers have been reporting good catches on j-plugs.
Blueberries are ripe for the picking in Washburn County. In Waupaca County, wild raspberry and black-capped raspberries are ready, but blackberries are a week or two from being ready.
Bear complaints have slowed down significantly probably due to the fact there is a lot of natural food now growing in the woods including a bumper berry crop.
Mulberry trees in Horicon Marsh are producing great berries this year and are now ripe for picking. Prairies are in full bloom, including yellow and purple coneflower, blazing star, wild quinine, purple prairie clover, leadplant, wild bergamot, Culver’s root, showy tick-trefoil, blacked-eyed Susans and perennial relatives of the sunflower.
Juvenile bald eagles are learning to fly. Shorebird migration is in full swing as adult birds from the boreal forest and arctic tundra stopover here in flooded fields, along sandy lakeshores, and at public properties featuring managed wetlands and mudflats. Good finds includes Hudsonian godwit near Green Bay and American avocets in both Kewaunee and Racine.
The endangered regal fritillary butterfly is now in flight, and eight species of native bumblebees were seen in southwestern Wisconsin. There are also still plenty of areas where you may encounter mosquitoes, ticks, and deer flies, so be ready with the spray and check for ticks after enjoying your time outdoors.
Statewide Birding Report
In the bird world summer is winding down as birds shift to feeding young, molting new feathers, and in some cases migrating south. Shorebird migration is in full swing as adult birds from the boreal forest and arctic tundra utilize stopover habitat here in flooded fields, along sandy lakeshores, and at public properties featuring managed wetlands and mudflats. The most consistent reports are coming out of flooded fields in the Dane, Rock, Jefferson county areas, though various locations statewide have hosted good finds such as Hudsonian godwit near Green Bay, American avocets in both Kewaunee and Racine, and early buff-breasted sandpiper at the Ashton K Ponds in Dane County. Horicon Marsh is always a good place to visit this time of year as well. Check with local staff there for current birding hotspots. Land-bird migration will soon get underway, commencing in earnest in early to mid-August. Mixed flocks of warblers, vireos, grosbeaks, and other species have been reported in the north. Listen carefully for call notes of birds, especially chickadees, and look closely for other species as they often associate together this time of year. Rare birds noted this past week include white ibis in Brown County, loggerhead shrikes at Buena Vista, Horicon Marsh, and Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge, and laughing and little gulls at Sheboygan’s North Point. Find out more about summer birding opportunities at dnr.wi.gov/topic/outdoorrecreation/activities/birding.html and help us track bird populations by reporting your observations from field or feeder at ebird.org/wi.- Ryan Brady, Bureau of Wildlife Management research scientist, Ashland
Superior DNR Service Center area
Ashland County - The White River reservoir West of Highway 112 was drawn down about 12-feet for maintenance. Water level above the dam is back to a river channel and may impact some canoe trips upriver. The fish are in a summer pattern and the best bite continues to our bugs - Matt Mackenzie, conservation warden, Ashland
Copper Falls State Park - All of the hiking trails are open and in great condition. Users of the Doughboy Trail are reminded that the Bad River Gorge is not open to the public. Please stay on this designated trail and avoid crossing over fences for your own safety. The two designated bike trails (Takesson and Vahtera) have a few wet and muddy portions. All bikers should use caution while traversing on these trails. We recommend walking your bikes around these wet areas until they are dry. Please contact the park office for more specific trail conditions. Visitors with pets are reminded that pets are not allowed on the Doughboy Trail (designated State Nature Trail) and the main picnic areas near the concession building in the park. The park has designated a pet picnic area for our visiting four legged friends and the location of this area is just west of the main picnic parking lot. Also pet friendly trails in the park include: Red Granite Falls, Takesson, and Vahtera. The deer that call Copper Falls State Park home have been showing up with their fawns throughout the park. The park allows for a great opportunity to photograph these cute youngsters from a distance.- Gregory Behling, ranger
Douglas County - A late summer pattern has set up on the western end of Lake Superior. The fantastic lake trout and salmon fishing that had been occurring in the spring and early summer has slowed considerably as fish disperse, and generally move deeper. Walleye fishing on the St. Louis River system has generally slowed as well. Some areas of the extreme lower portion of the system continue to produce good catches of fish. - John Krull, conservation warden, Superior
Hayward DNR Service Center area
Polk County - Fishing in Polk County has been very slow over the past couple of weeks. Hot dry weather has slowed things down and very few fish have been caught. The last couple of days a cold front has come through and has kept fishing activity slow. Musky fishing activity typically has picked up in Polk County by this time in July, but this year it has continued to be slow. Bear complaints have slowed down significantly probably due to the fact there is a lot of natural food now growing in the woods including a bumper berry crop. Polk County has had no significant rain in the past 3 week and the corn fields and some deer food plots are starting to dry up. Mosquitoes, ticks, and deer fly’s continue to be extremely bad in the rural area of Polk County due to our wet spring and early summer. - Jesse Ashton conservation warden, Luck
Spooner DNR Service Center area
Crex Meadows State Wildlife - Trumpeter swan cygnets have grown much larger. Look for a family on Upper North Fork Flowage and on the refuge extension along Main Dike Road. Canada geese are molting their feathers. Duck broods are prevalent, hatching out a few weeks later than normal. Juvenile bald eagles are learning to fly. The bachelor flock of sandhill cranes has been seen in the east refuge fields on East Refuge Road. Summer wildflowers are blooming: New Jersey tea, black-eyed Susan, blue giant hyssop, wild bergamot, and early goldenrod are blooming on the meadows. Pickerelweed, white water lily and yellow pond lily are blooming on the water. - Kristi Pupak, natural resources educator
Washburn County - Anglers targeting bluegills and crappies are having moderate to good success. Walleye fishing has been slow. Blueberries are ripe but very few areas with enough to make the battle with hungry deer flies seem worth the effort. - Dave Swanson, conservation warden, Minong
Park Falls DNR Service Center area
Upper Chippewa Basin fisheries report (Price, Rusk, Sawyer Taylor and inland Ashland and Iron counties) - The cool down in the weather in the past week has put a bit of a damper on fishing success. Water temperatures have dropped to the lower 70s to upper 60s on most lakes and this has changed some of the regular fish patterns. Bass have continued to provide the most consistent action and success could be termed fair to good. With the cooler temperatures, the mid-day period has produced the best catches, with soft-plastic baits such as sinkos and scented worms being the most productive. Largemouth bass are mainly being found near woody cover, along bog edges and in thick reed and bulrush beds, with a few being caught in and near the mid-depth weeds. Smallmouth have been found around woody structure near deep water areas, with tube baits and finesse plastics providing some good action. Walleye fishing has been erratic with the best catches made in the deep weed beds during the low light periods. Weedless jigs tipped with a leech or crawler piece dropped into open pockets in the weed beds have been the most successful method. Musky fishing has been fair, with bulldawg-type baits and medium-size stick baits being the most productive along drop-offs and over/near the mid-depth weed beds. Panfish action has been generally slow, with a few bluegill and crappie being picked up near mid-depth structure. Rock bass however, seem to be especially active and are providing many anglers with at least some sort of action.- Skip Sommerfeldt, senior fisheries biologist, Park Falls
Northern Lake Michigan fisheries team report - Compiled by David Boyarski, fisheries supervisor, Sturgeon Bay
Marinette County - Sheepshead, smallmouth, and catfish are being caught by anglers fishing the Peshtigo River using live bait, casting crank baits and spinners. The Peshtigo Harbor has been producing most of these catfish and smallmouth. Some panfish are being caught at the Peshtigo Dam using slip bobbers and leaf worms or drifting live bait in the current. The Menominee River is still producing some nice walleyes in the early morning and later in the evenings by trolling stick baits or a crawler/harness with catfish and sheepshead also being caught. Trout and salmon anglers report no fish being caught yet.
Oconto County - Smallmouth bass and panfish are being caught from the Stiles Dam and down river. Weighted nymphs, spinners, and live baits are working well. Catfish, sheepshead, and smallmouth bass are being caught from the shore at the Oconto Breakwater Park casting crank baits or fishing with live bait. Anglers fishing the Bay from Pensaukee to Oconto Park II are reporting catching perch in 8 to 14 feet of water using crawlers and minnows. The bigger perch are being caught with minnows with some up to 14 inches. Tournament walleye anglers did well last week with most fish being caught in the south of Pensaukee using a crawler/harness.
Door County - Fishing the top 60 to 90 of 140 feet of water along the bank reef out of Sturgeon Bay has been one of the more popular and productive places to fish. Fly and dodger combos are working best with spoons and plugs also taking some fish. Charters were getting 5-10 fish on both the morning and evening trips, and private boats doing well also. From Baileys Harbor to Washington Island, fishing the top 70 to 80 of 120 feet of water has been working and producing the most 30-pound fish. There was at least one angler catching trout off the piers in Sturgeon Bay over the weekend using night crawlers. They are not huge fish, but they can be seen in schools a few feet out from the pier. Fishing for perch has been best early in the morning but some nice catches are coming later in the day as well. The Sturgeon Bay shipping canal, Potawatomi State Park shoreline, Little Sturgeon and Egg Harbor are good places to try. Minnows or crawlers fished in 8 to 18 feet of water are producing near shore, but some fish are being caught from boats in 40 feet of water. In Sawyer Harbor fishing activity was low all week. Fishermen targeted smallmouth bass, walleye, and yellow perch. Fishermen were unsuccessful in their pursuit of walleye and smallmouth bass, but did have better luck catching perch which were caught in 10 to 15 feet of water using minnows and night crawlers. Almost all perch ranged between 6-8 inches in length. At Chaudoir's Dock fishermen caught some walleye and yellow perch with the most success reported at the beginning of the week. Yellow perch were caught in 15-25 feet of water on minnows and night crawlers. Walleye were caught in 20-30 feet of water using silver crank baits, spinners, crawler harnesses, and night crawlers. By the weekend, just a handful of fish were caught despite an increase in fishing effort. At Little Sturgeon fishing activity was low where fishermen targeted smallmouth bass, yellow perch and walleye with limited success. A few smallmouths were caught in 8 feet of water using spinners. One walleye was caught in 26 feet of water with night crawlers and a handful of yellow perch were caught in 5-7 feet of water using minnows. In Sawyer Harbor fishing activity was also low with fishers targeting smallmouth bass, walleye, and yellow perch. Fishermen were unsuccessful in their pursuit of walleye and smallmouth bass, but did have better luck catching perch in 10 to 15 feet of water using minnows and nightcrawlers. Almost all perch ranged between 6 to 8 inches in length.
Brown County - At Bayshore Park fishing activity ranged from moderate at the start of the week to high by the weekend. Fisherman had more success early in the week as they targeted yellow perch and walleye. Perch were caught in 14 to 24 feet of water using night crawlers and minnows. Walleye were caught in 15 to 25 feet of water using gold spinners, crank baits, crawler harnesses, and flicker shads. As a result of the high winds and cold front that came through the area mid-week, fishermen reported far lower success catching these same species and by the weekend had difficulties even marking fish. Other species caught were sheepshead, white bass, white perch and catfish.
Kewaunee County - Fishing was pretty good this week with charters reporting five to 15 fish on average with 22 being the top catch. Most action is coming in the top 50 to 80 feet of water on fly/dodgers, flasher flies and spoons. Pier fishing has still not picked up, but boats have been trolling closer to shore which could mean that fish are moving in and ready to hit cast spoons. Small trout have been seen swimming and feeding near these piers, so it’s just a matter of enticing them to hook up.
Manitowoc County - Fishing continues to improve overall. Some very large king salmon have been caught lately, including a 31.9-pound fish caught in the Two Rivers Fishing Derby. Westerly winds have blown some of the warm water from the inshore areas and many anglers have shifted their efforts to relatively shallower waters. Boats have generally been trolling in depths of 50 to 110 feet and were running lures higher in the water column to take advantage of the cooler surface temps. Outside of the pier heads in Manitowoc the water temp was 49 degrees although only a few salmon have been reportedly caught from shore. However, this cooler near shore water temperature was temporary as some warmer water moved into shore late during the week when the wind switched direction. Fishing with a weighted line and dipsy divers continued to be the ticket for many and as normal, early morning has been the most productive for salmon. Rainbows have reportedly been feeding aggressively throughout the day and as usual using flies and flashers as well as spoons fished closer to the surface has been successful, with flies and flashers catching the larger chinook. Some rainbows were caught from the area piers midweek and action has slowed since the near shore water has warmed.
Peshtigo DNR Service Center area
Marinette County - Sheepshead, smallmouth, and catfish are being caught by anglers fishing the Peshtigo River using live bait, casting crank baits and spinners. The Peshtigo Harbor has been producing most of these catfish and smallmouth. Some panfish are being caught at the Peshtigo Dam using slip bobbers and leaf worms or drifting live bait in the current. The Menominee River is still producing some nice walleyes in the early morning and later in the evenings by trolling stick baits or a crawler/harness with catfish and sheepshead also being caught. Trout and salmon anglers report no fish being caught yet. - Dave Oginski, conservation warden, Wausaukee
Oconto County - The fishing bite still is a little slow all though with the cooler weather this week. Some turkeys with very small poults are being seen, so with the wet spring we had there are still some turkeys just hatching. Raspberries are ripe and some blackberries as well, so with this cooler weather it would be a good time to get out and pick. Also for the deer hunters out there some nice bucks are starting to show up for this upcoming deer season. - Mike Stahl, conservation warden, Oconto Falls
Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center area
Kewaunee County - With the temperatures finally dropping, the beach activity around Kewaunee County has slowed. The fishing on inland Kewaunee County lakes has been hit or miss, with most anglers having some success on panfish. The size of the panfish in most of the lakes has been small all year so far, but a few decent size fish can be caught for a meal. The aquatic vegetation is in full bloom on all the Kewaunee County lakes making shore fishing difficult. - Kyle Lynch, conservation warden, Kewaunee
Rock Island State Park - The Door-Kewaunee Salmon tournament is in full swing. While not a lot of fish are being taken, the ones caught are bigger than average this year and very heavy. Smallmouth bass fishing has be great around the islands of Rock, Washington, Detroit, and Plum. Lake Michigan has warmed up and the beach on Rock Island has been a popular place. - Randy Holm, ranger and assistant property manager
Wautoma DNR Service Center area
Waupaca County - Mixed review on insect pests. Ticks are almost non-existent, but mosquitos and deer flies are still out in very pesky numbers. Wild raspberry and black-capped raspberries are now at pea;, blackberries are a week or two from being ripe. Trout streams dropping to very levels, haven’t had rain in two weeks now. Turkey poults are now about the size of pheasants. Almost feels a little like fall with the heavenly cool weather.- Karl Kramer, wildlife technician, Wautoma
Milwaukee DNR Service Center area
Southern Lake Michigan fisheries team report - Compiled from creel clerks by Cheryl Masterson and Jeffrey Zinuticz, fisheries technicians, Milwaukee
Sheboygan County - Sheboygan area trollers have been averaging about four fish per boat, though several boats have come back with one fish or nothing. Most catches in the past few days have been chinooks, and big fish are still being caught. Trollers on Friday had luck between 30 and 60 feet of water, while Saturday and Sunday were better a bit deeper in about 70 to 120 feet of water. Spoons continue to produce fish, and anglers have been reporting good catches on J-Plugs. There has been a bit of flux in wind direction, from a strong West/Southwest on Friday, to a predominantly moderate North/Northeast wind on Saturday and Sunday. The 8th Street ramp remains closed. Fishing pressure increased on the Sheboygan piers over the past week. A few groups of anglers pulled all-nighters, and a few fish were caught including a 17 pound brown, a coho, a couple chinook, and a whitefish, but catch rates remain low. Most fish seem to be hitting spoons, with green/silver and copper the most successful. Due to wave action, water clarity on North Pier and in the marina is low, while the lakeside of South Pier is quite clear. On Friday a strong West/Southwest wind helped drive temperatures down near shore, which is currently around 60 degrees.
Ozaukee County - Fishing effort in Port Washington was low this past weekend due to the annual Fish Day celebration. The marina ramp was closed Friday evening through Saturday, and reopened for a few trollers on Sunday. Catch rates have increased slightly, to about three fish per boat. Anglers were trolling quite deep on Sunday, with most boats around 175 to 200 feet, though fish were caught in water anywhere between 80 and 250 feet. Catches remain a mixed bag of rainbows, coho, lake trout, and chinook. Lure use and success is also varied, with catches on flies, spoons, and J-Plugs. Anglers have also reported losing quite a few fish, usually as many or more than they caught. Angling pressure has increased on the Port Washington pier. On Friday few nice browns were caught on spoons, and a 14 lb. chinook was caught on a jig. Wind direction switched over the weekend, which increased wave action and deterred anglers. Water clarity on the lake side of North Pier is now low. Shore anglers in Port have taken a few browns and rainbows near the power plant discharge. Fish were caught on both spoons and skein. Water clarity in the marina remains good. The path to Fisherman’s Park is still closed.
Milwaukee County - In Milwaukee trollers reported inconsistent fishing over the weekend. Most were focusing in 100 to 175 feet of water. Chinook and lake trout made up the majority of the catch, with spoons in blue and green producing the best. A few coho and rainbows were caught 15 to 60 feet down in 250 to 300 feet of water. The best baits were blue and white flies with orange or white flashers. There have also been a few reports of anglers catching chinook in less than 65 feet of water; however, all of those were in the overnight hours and before 4 a.m. Anglers off of McKinley pier caught some brown trout off the pier and in the gap on green spoons and white plastics. Some browns were also taken under the Hoan Bridge at Jones Island during the recent hot weather. Anglers at the Oak Creek Power Plant fishing pier had no reports of trout or salmon being caught over the weekend, though people were catching perch there last Thursday evening on small jigs. Perch fishing was inconsistent around the South Shore and Bender Park piers, with only a few keeper perch caught on minnows off the bottom between 5 and 7 a.m.
Racine County - In Racine strong winds out the west on Friday pushed warm water out from shore and brought cooler water in. Trollers reported that most of the fish they landed over the weekend were taken in 50 to 70 feet of water. Bigger numbers of fish could be caught deeper in 200 to 240 feet of water, but larger fish were caught between 60 to 80 feet. Boaters fishing for perch reported that fishing with jigs and plastic was more productive than fishing with minnows, crab tails, or shrimp. Fishing pressure was heavy on the Racine piers over the past week, but success has been very minimal with only a few browns reported. Shore anglers have been catching a few nice size perch off the wooden pier in the Pershing Park boat harbor and near the DeKoven Center. Small silver Kastmasters produced the most perch. The surface temperature at the lakefront in Racine was 73-77 degrees early in the week but dropped to 57-62 degrees by the end of the week.
Kenosha County - Kenosha trollers started the week fishing in 200 to 240 feet of water, but as water temperatures dropped towards the end of the week they moved closer to shore. More chinook but fewer coho are now being caught in 50 to 60 feet of water. The break wall outside the harbor has been producing some nice size perch up to 12 inches in length over the past few weeks. Fishing pressure on the Kenosha piers and along the shoreline was heavy again this week as anglers continue to land nice catches of brown trout. Large numbers of browns arrived in the harbor about 3 weeks ago, and fishing for them remains good. The night bite has been most consistent, with the majority of browns caught between 9:30 p.m. and 3:30 a.m. White or green tube jigs, spoons, and crank baits have all taken fish. The shoreline behind Southport Marina continues to produce a few perch on a good day. Perch anglers using jigs and plastic reported good luck during the early morning and late evening hours. Anglers fishing with night crawlers and wax worms along the rail in the Simmons Island boat harbor are landing some nice size rock
South Central Region
Southwest Wisconsin Grassland and Stream Conservation Area - Spring and summer rains are creating one of the best wildflower displays in recent years. In western Dane County and Iowa County, the ridges and valleys of Military Ridge offer a great opportunity to see rare prairies in bloom just a few miles away from the traffic of Highway 18/151. Wildflowers in bloom in the prairies include showy species such as purple prairie clover, prairie blazing star, leadplant, wild bergamot, yellow coneflower, Culver’s root, showy tick-trefoil, and perennial relatives of the sunflower--compass plant and rosinweed. At Thomson Prairie along County Highway F, visitors can park in the small parking lot and see grassland birds, butterflies and blooming flowers on remnant prairie from the vista. A short hike along the mowed trail takes visitors out to see (and hear) the birds that call these grasslands home, surrounded by a flowering prairie protected by The Nature Conservancy. Further down CTH F, the Mounds View grasslands managed by The Prairie Enthusiasts display a wealth of wildflowers and grassland birds in a quiet, secluded valley. A short hike into the valley (one quarter-mile) rewards visitors with a view of 60 acres of remnant and restored prairies in bloom. The summer blooms have also been a boon to native insects that feed on nectar and pollen. The endangered regal fritillary butterfly is now in flight, and eight species of native bumblebees have been photographed at Mounds View and identified by insect experts, reports DNR ecologist Rich Henderson. Visitors to either site in the Military Ridge may meet volunteers surveying the population of endangered butterflies or helping improve the prairies and wildlife habitat by removing wild parsnip and other invasive weeds. Driving along CTH F, visitors will experience an open grassland landscape that is home to formerly-common grassland birds such as upland sandpiper, eastern meadowlark, and bobolink that need big, open spaces. In addition to protected natural areas, this important farming region’s pastures, hayfields, cropland, and lands enrolled in the Conservation Reserve Program all help create habitat needed by wildlife that prefers open vistas to forests. The Wisconsin DNR, in cooperation with many partners, protects and manages additional prairie habitat and vistas in the Southwest Wisconsin Grassland & Stream Conservation Area www.swgsca.org (exit DNR). Directions: Easy access to the Military Ridge grasslands is via Highway 18/151. At the intersection with CTH F (south of the village of Blue Mounds), go south on CTH F approximately 2 miles (Note: follow CTH F as it curves to the right). The first prairie is Thomson Prairie. Parking is available in the parking lot or along the shoulder of the road. To reach the Schurch-Thomson prairie (protected by The Prairie Enthusiasts), continue south on Hwy F to Reilly Rd. Proceed to the end of the road (past the barn) to a parking area and signs. Follow the hiking trail one quarter-mile to reach the prairies. - Craig Maier, wildlife technician
Lower Wisconsin State Riverway - There has been a lot of paddlers and sunbathers on the Riverway taking advantage of the beautiful weather lately. The water levels have dropped significantly and many of the sandbars are again exposed, providing ample places to camp along the Riverway. Please remember that camping is restricted to no more than 3 days on State owned islands and sandbars. Camping at these locations is restricted to persons and their equipment arrived by watercraft only. A camping permit is not required. The water levels on July 24, at the Prairie Du Sac dam was 5,970 cubic feet per second. Please call 1-800-242-1077 for current river flow at the Prairie Du Sac Dam. With the lower water levels and warmer weather, the fish have returned to their summer patterns. The blackcap raspberries have ripened and there are plenty ready for the picking. - Matt Sequin, property manager
Dodgeville DNR Service Center area
Grant County - In Grant County fishing on the Mississippi River has really picked up, with good numbers being caught below the areas lock & dams. Small panfish and bass were being caught in good numbers. The inland trout streams however, were very busy with the catch and release season, with anglers reporting many catches. The weather was much nicer and not as hot this past weekend. - Martin Stone, conservation warden
Iowa County - The cooler dry weather has continued and the Wolf River is finally receding to normal summer levels. This has made for some successful fishing but makes navigation hazardous. Boaters should use care when traveling on the upper reaches of the Wolf River. Many tubers are hitting the river, but need to be reminded that they are required to have wearable PFD’s on the tube with them. - David Youngquist, conservation warden, Dodgeville
Wyalusing State Park -Trails are in good hiking condition. There are still a number of non-reservable, non-electric sites available in both the Wisconsin Ridge and Homestead Campgrounds for this coming weekend. Prairie Dog Blues Fest, held on Friday and Saturday, in Prairie du Chien, will put additional pressure on the campsites. Wyalusing State Park does not fill during the week, Sunday through Thursday, but the last few weeks we have been out of electric sites by Sunday for people camping the following weekend. Please contact Reserve America for a reservation if you would like to camp on a bluff or an electric site during the week or on a weekend. Campers are welcome to call to check on availability. The road to the boat landing has been repaired. The boat landing opened July 17. The concession stand is once again renting canoes and kayaks. Many boaters, anglers and canoeists took advantage of the great weather, repaired road and near normal water levels over this past weekend. Mississippi River level at Prairie du Chien is at 9.7 today (Sunday, July 21). The river is expected to drop to 9 feet by the upcoming weekend. The Prairie Garden near the Wyalusing State Park Office is in full bloom and very beautiful. Flowers in bloom in the prairie garden include: royal catch fly, pale purple coneflower, butterfly milkweed, swamp milkweed, Joe Pye weed, white indigo, culver’s root, thimbleweed, prairie onion. black-eyed Susans can be found in the fields near the office. Hazelton grazing goats, courtesy of our neighbors, Driftless Land Stewardship, arrived on Wednesday of last week. Currently they are in a fenced in area just north and east of the Lawrence Interpretive Center and along the entrance to the Outdoor Group Camp. Seventy five goats will clear that area of unwanted invasive species before being “relocated” to other areas of the park. An electric fence will keep the goats in as well as coyotes out. - Beverly Pozega, visitor services associate
Fitchburg DNR Service Center area
Dane County - Lots of young of the year birds are active now. Adults are feeding fledglings and many long-distance migrants are now starting to molt and are harder to detect during these next two weeks. I’m seeing a fair number of waterfowl broods of all ages indicating a later hatch as well as some re-nests. Adult shorebirds are migrating through and their seems to be plenty of habitat with recent rains re-filling many failed crop fields. Common species include lesser yellowlegs, least and semipalmated sandpipers, solitary sandpipers and killdeer. The recent warm-up has finally brought out the butterflies and bees. Pretty good numbers and species diversity in restored prairies and weedy fields. The monarch butterflies have been very low but they are just now starting to show up in better numbers. We reached our Dane/Rock/Green dove banding totals in record time this year. Lots of young of the year birds were banded with many females now actively working on another brood. - Andy Paulios, wildlife biologist, Fitchburg
Sauk County - Fishing across the area has been slow with the hot and humid weather. Lake Redstone has been slow for fishing with the fish suspended in the deeper water breaks and structures. Walleye fishing has been slow as well as musky fishing. Some bass are continuing to bite on worm rigs and deeper diving rapalas. Dutch Hollow has been slow across the board as well. Some bluegills were biting in deeper water early last week. The Baraboo River is at its normal summertime levels. Walleye and northern fishing have slowed as well. The 400 State Trail is in great shape for a nice bike ride or walk. Wild raspberries are ripening. You need to get to picking before the birds get all the treats. Asters, purple cone flowers, yellow hawkweed and oxeye sunflowers are currently in bloom. - David Horzewski, conservation warden, Reedsburg
Horicon DNR Service Center area
Dodge County - Prairie flowers are in bloom (yellow coneflower, butterfly milkweed, common milkweed, wild quinine, compass plant, Canada tick trefoil, to name a few). The Horicon Marsh is at average summer water level. There are three water impoundments that are being drawn down this summer as a follow-up to last summer’s dry conditions. The Bachhuber impoundment (just behind the DNR office) and a small area north from Palmatory Street are being held low to foster moist-soil wetland plants which will provide food for fall migratory birds. A third impoundment (between Hy. 28 and Palmatory Street) is being held at a low water level for shallow water vegetation. Deer flies and horse flies are plentiful.- Paul Samerdyke, wildlife biologist, Horicon
Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area - Mulberry trees are producing great berries this year and are now ripe for picking. Prairies are in full bloom with yellow and purple coneflower, bergamot, blazing star, wild quinine, cup plant, rattlesnake master and an array of others in bloom. There has been a slight increase in shorebirds spotted especially along Highway 49. Cattle egrets have been spotted near Stumpf Road on the north end of the marsh. The eagle nest visible from main ditch on the State Wildlife Area has fledged 1 eaglet and the osprey family viewable from the Horicon Marsh Education Center has 2 young. Visit www.horiconmarsh.org for more information on upcoming events.- Liz Herzmann, visitor services specialist
West Central Region
La Crosse DNR Service Center area
Vernon County - Northern water snakes can now be seen basking along the stream banks, on logs or on branches overhanging most of our rivers and backwaters. An early sunny morning that follows a cool night is excellent time to spot them. The nonpoisonous northern water snake is the only water snake in Wisconsin and is often mistaken for the venomous water moccasin, which does not occur in the state. Northern water snakes eat crayfish, amphibians, small mammals, and small, slow moving fish. At one time, some anglers felt that they were having deleterious effects on game fish populations. To the contrary, it is now believed that they can actually strengthen the local fish population by removing diseased or stunted fish or slower, less desirable rough fish. During mid-summer, insects of all shapes, sizes, and colors are very abundant and active. Have you ever wondered what gives insects their wide array of colors? As you might suspect, there are a variety of factors that contribute. Colors are either structural or pigmented. Structural colors are due to anatomic peculiarities, such as groves on the scales of butterflies. Grooves break up light into component wavelengths, acting much like a prism. The resultant colors are determined by the distances between grooves. Instead of grooves, some insects have small pits which function the same as grooves. Pigmental colors are produced by the reflection and absorption of the various wavelengths that compose light. Pigments may be taken directly from food, may be produced indirectly from food, or may be an excretory product. Many caterpillars and grasshoppers, for instance, are green due to the ingestion of chlorophyll, the chemical responsible for the green color of the leaves they eat. Insects that feed on blood of higher animals become red due to the ingestion of hemoglobin, the iron-containing respiratory pigment in red blood cells of vertebrates. The black and brown color of many insects, like some beetles, are due to nitrogenous metabolic by-products known as melanins. Reds and yellows of insects are derived from carotene and xanthophyll ingested with leaves. Anthocyanins produce red, blue, and purple colors in insects, as well as flowers, fruits, leaves, and stems. Dull yellows and browns are often derivatives of tannin found in leaves. The subject of insect coloration is extensive and further compounded by the effects that external factors like temperature, moisture, and light have on the formation of pigments and insect color patterns. So the next time you see a wasp, potato beetle, June bug, ladybug, monarch butterfly, or even a housefly, pause a moment to consider and appreciate the variety of insect colors. - Dave Matheys, wildlife biologist, Viroqua
Black River Falls DNR Service Center area
Black River State Forest - Perfect summer weather is here. The forecast could not be any better for the Black River area. Highs are expected to be in the mid-70s to lower 80s with low humidity through the weekend. Perfect weather for camping. All trails are open for riding. We are grooming trails this week and expect conditions to be very good for the upcoming weekend. We are working on the Pray connector to improve three key wetland crossings. This work helps maintain the long term sustainability of the trail system. Campgrounds are currently open. - Peter Bakken, superintendent
Eau Claire DNR Service Center area
Eau Claire County -Shoreline anglers have found the scenic Eau Claire River gorge at the base of the Lake Altoona Dam a great location to spend several hours of quality time with friends and family. Anglers below the Altoona Dam have been catching some 18 to 23 inch walleye, small mouth bass, some small to medium sized bluegills, and the occasional snapping turtle. One angler on the north shoreline had several bluegills snatched from a rope stringer by a family of wild mink. Please avoid leaving bait containers, fish line, and beverage containers on the shoreline – put trash where it belongs. - Scott Thiede, Conservation Warden at Eau Claire.
Wisconsin Rapids DNR Service Center area
Buckhorn State Park -Visitors over the weekend were swimming, hiking, geocaching, fishing, canoeing and kayaking. Mosquitoes are here, so remember to bring bug spray and thermocells. Campers and visitors get breaks from mosquitoes with breezes or hanging out at the beaches. There is some green algae, floating around the lake and at times it is near our shores. We have two beach areas, so chances are if one is green the other will not be and if it is green in the early morning, it has been blowing back out by lunch time. - Heather Wolf, park manager
Roche-A-Cri State Park - A few lingering mosquitoes so bring bug spray. Saturday, July 27, Hop Along to the Pond, drop in and learn about frogs and take a short hike to see what frogs and water creatures can be seen at 2 p.m. - Heather Wolf, park manager