Published August 8, 2013 by the Central Office
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Storms move across the central part of the state midweek dropping up to 2 inches of rain in some locations, with strong winds knocking down trees and power lines. Fortunately only minor damage was reported at state parks in Door County and other areas that were in the path of the storm.
The weather is looking great this weekend to enjoy DNR Park at the Wisconsin State Fair. Kids can go on a scavenger hunt and stop and create a wearable souvenir of at the t-shirt printing tent. A new outdoor pier gives everyone a better look at big rainbow trout in the stream. And be sure to check out live native animals at the Natural Heritage Conservation display.
Except for the storm, most of the state remained dry much of the last week and water levels on river systems continue to drop. This was the first time this summer that conservation wardens had to caution boaters on the Mississippi River to watch out for wing dams, with several interactions between propellers and the rock dams reported. The Flambeau and St. Croix rivers have also continued to drop but paddlers were still out in good numbers with the nice weather.
Largemouth and smallmouth bass continue to provide the consistent action on Northwoods lakes. Musky were providing anglers with a lot of follows, swirls and porpoise'ing with some 40-plus-inch fish reported. Walleye and panfish action has continued to be fair.
With the dog days of summer setting in, walleye fishing has slowed considerably on Lake Winnebago and most anglers have switched from trolling to jigging. Smallmouth bass and northern pike have been biting well on the Wolf River. Good catches of catfish and smallmouth were also reported on the lower Wisconsin River and throughout the Mississippi River.
Some nice walleye were being caught on the Menominee and Oconto rivers. Perch fishing picked up at some locations along the east shore of Green Bay. Salmon fishing has been pretty good off Door County with a mix of king, coho, steelhead and lake trout reported. Rough water kept trollers close to shore many times this week at southern Lake Michigan harbors. Action slowed, but some nice chinook were still coming in at Milwaukee and brown trout were being caught right in the Kenosha harbor.
Canada geese are done molting their feathers and have come out of hiding. Trumpeter swans should be beginning to molt. Eastern Bluebirds are on third clutch of eggs for the year.
The shorebird migration is in full swing. With the above-average rainfall in the spring and early summer there are a number of flooded fields or portions of crop fields providing quality shorebird stopover habitat. Common migrants include yellowlegs, least sandpipers, pectoral sandpipers and solitary sandpipers. Birders have reported a few more uncommon species like buff-breasted sandpiper, Wilson's phalarope, and stilt sandpiper.
Insects are loving the dog days of summer with visitors to Havenwoods State Forest in Milwaukee being able to watch cicadas crawl out of their underground homes, climb up tree trunks, and emerge from their exoskeletons. At Crex Meadows State Wildlife Area in Barron County, Karner blue butterflies are in the middle of their second flight.
Prairies are ablaze with royal catch fly, pale purple coneflower, butterfly milkweed, swamp milkweed, Joe Pye-weed, white indigo, culver's root, thimbleweed, prairie onion and black-eyed Susans.
Shorebird migration is in full swing. With the above-average rainfall in the spring and early summer there are a number of flooded fields or portions of crop fields providing quality shorebird stopover habitat. Common migrants include yellowlegs, least sandpipers, pectoral sandpipers and solitary sandpipers. Birders have reported a few more uncommon species like buff-breasted sandpiper, Wilson's phalarope, and stilt sandpiper. Most waterfowl are now done molting and flying around to feeding areas. There are still a few young broods around from later nesting attempts. Birding seems to be best in and around wetlands with many water birds out and about including some egrets and herons that have moved in for the summer. Swallows, flycatchers and waxwings are also taking advantage of the high insect populations emerging from these water bodies. Birders in the north are reporting mixed flocks of foraging and early migrating landbirds, including warblers, flycatchers, vireos, grosbeaks, and others. Focus on shrubby wetlands, fruiting trees, and sunlit woodland edges. - Andy Paulios, wildlife biologist, Fitchburg and Ryan Brady, wildlife research scientist, Ashland
Spooner DNR Service Center area
Burnett County - Waterfowl (both adult and juvenile) can be observed frequently feed on invertebrates and wild rice. Fishing on area lakes has been slow because of the mid-summer time frame. The St. Croix River is at a low level for upcoming canoeing and fishing trips. Always use caution when adventuring out on the St. Croix River, water levels can change rapidly because of rainfall events outside of the immediate area. Does and fawns have been very active in the area and are spending time grazing on the mowed road side, so use caution while driving. - Christopher Spaight conservation warden, Grantsburg
Crex Meadows State Wildlife - The first wave of shorebirds are coming through, with several species sighted on the draw-down on Dueholm Flowage in Fish Lake Wildlife Area, Erickson Flowage in Crex and Dike 1 in Crex. semipalmated plover, least sandpiper, pectoral sandpiper, semipalmated sandpiper, killdeer, spotted sandpiper, greater yellowlegs, lesser yellowlegs and hundreds of swallows were sighted on Dueholm Flowage on Fish Lake Wildlife Area. On Abel Road (Erickson Flowage) Wilson's phalarope, yellow-billed cuckoo, and solitary sandpiper were sighted. Canada geese are done molting their feathers and have come out of hiding. Trumpeter swans should be beginning to molt. Most young ducks are as large as their parents, but there are a few broods with babies yet. Most birds have fledged their nests and are flocking up and learning to hunt for food with their parents. The bachelor sandhill crane flock (generally 1-3 year old cranes that have not produced young) have been seen in the east refuge fields on East Refuge Road, and along South Williams Road south of highway 70. Karner Blue Butterflies are in the middle of their second flight. - Kristi Pupak, natural resources educator
Park Falls DNR Service Center area
Upper Chippewa Basin fisheries report (Price, Rusk, Sawyer Taylor and inland Ashland and Iron counties) - The continually changing weather of the past week has kept most of the sport fish species in an erratic feeding mode on many waters across the Northwoods. Both largemouth and smallmouth bass have continued to provide the most consistent action. Most of the largemouth were being found in and near mid-depth woody cover and could be coaxed to bite with soft plastic baits. Some were also being found in the thick weed beds and were hitting top-water baits in the early morning hours. Smallmouth were a bit more inconsistent and many have moved back to deeper water with the fluctuating temperatures. The best success was coming on smaller finesse baits fished near the deeper woody cover and the deep break lines. Musky were providing angler with a lot of follows, swirls and porpoise'ing - but catching wasn't been quite as good. However, a few anglers have reported some boating some 40"-plus fish. The most productive lures have been stick baits and slow-moving surface lures, with the best areas being the weed edges and shallow break lines. Some of the best times have been in the mid-day hours during the middle of the week when boat traffic is lightest. Walleye action has continued to be fair with some still being found near and in the mid-depth weed beds and gravel drop-offs. Crawlers and leeches have still been the favorite baits, but crankbaits casted along shore near dark have also produced a few nice fish. Panfish success has been fair with some decent crappie, perch and bluegill catches still being made over mid-depth cover and around the mid-depth weed beds. - Skip Sommerfeldt, senior fisheries biologist, Park Falls
Flambeau River State Forest - River levels are a bit on the low side on the South Fork of the Flambeau River, but paddlers are reporting good paddling conditions on the North. Blue lobelia, stinging nettle, joe pye weeds, wintergreen, evening-primrose, woodland sunflowers and wild hops are blooming. Some herbaceous plants such as dogbane are turning yellow and going formant due to the lack of rain. On August 10 at 10 a.m. there will be a program on what to do if you are lost. Learn the basic rules for survival. Meet a few members of the Sawyer County Search and Rescue Team K-9 trackers as they demonstrate how a search and rescue mission works. Connors Lake Picnic Area.
Northern Lake Michigan fisheries team report - Compiled by David Boyarski, fisheries supervisor, Sturgeon Bay
Weather patterns has have become more consistent in the area and with it improved fishing conditions have followed. The air temperature increased and with it we saw an increase in fishing activity. Water temperatures are still a little lower from the cold front that moved in, but they are slowly coming back up. Water temperature out of Suamico River and Geano Beach were around 66-69 degrees, and in the Fox River, fishermen were reporting water temperatures of around 69-73 degrees. On the East Shore water temperatures ranged from 71-74 degrees to 68-71 degrees near Little Sturgeon Bay and Sawyer's Harbor.
Marinette County - Nice catches of smallmouth bass were coming from the Peshtigo Harbor as well as nice catches of panfish and bass at the dam in Peshtigo on live bait and plastic. Some nice catches of walleye in the 24 inch plus range are being caught on the Menominee River trolling crank baits and crawler harnesses with evening hours being the most successful. .
Oconto County - Some nice catches of smallmouth bass were coming below the Stiles Dam down to the mouth on live bait, tubes and crank baits. Some nice catches of perch were caught off the mouth of the Pensaukee River to Oconto Park II in 8 to 14 feet of water using minnows and crawler pieces. Some nice catches of walleye are coming in 10 to 24 feet of water off the Oconto breakwater on zip lures and on crawler harnesses. Geano Beach, fishing activity had a slight increase with fishermen targeting walleye and musky. No musky were caught and fishermen used buck tails (black/orange) for bait in about 15 feet of water. Walleye numbers were low with fishermen using crawler harnesses (gold/red) in about 21 feet of water. The sizes of the walleye ranged from 17 inches to 22 inches. A few perch were also caught while targeting walleye. The average size was around 6-8 inches. Other species caught were sheepshead.
Brown County - Suamico River fishing activity at the beginning of the week increased from the previous weekend. Fishermen were targeting walleye and perch with number for both being low. Perch were caught on minnows and night crawlers in about 19-20 feet of water. The few Perch that were caught were small and were released. The handful of walleye that came in were caught on crank baits (blue), night crawlers, and crawler harnesses (chartreuse, green, purple, etc.) in about 18-27 feet of water. Other species caught were sheepshead and white bass. Shore fishermen were looking for perch with no luck. A few fishermen caught a few bluegill and a sheepshead using night crawlers for bait. There were a few shore fishermen by the Howard Dog Park location on Duck Creek. There is also a dock that was put in by River's Bend Restaurant. There were no interviews taken at this site. Fishing activity picked up at the Fox River Metro Launch from the previous weekend. Fishermen were targeting walleye and musky. No musky were caught and fishermen were using large stick bait (various colors) in about 7-11 feet of water. Walleye numbers were very low with fishermen crank baits (purple/gold), and night crawlers in about 7-15 feet of water. Other species caught were sheepshead, catfish, and a white sucker. Fox River shore fishing activity has increased more with the warm weather. Fishermen were targeting white bass, sheepshead, catfish, and smallmouth bass. A few other fishermen were looking for musky, perch, and bluegill. a handful of bluegill were caught on wax worms and other fishermen were using night crawlers and leeches. Overall numbers were low and no smallmouth bass, musky or perch were caught. Lots of gobies were also caught. Bayshore Park fishing activity increased throughout the week from low (high winds kept many fisherman off the water mid-week) to high by the weekend. Fisherman targeted yellow perch and walleye, reporting little success and low numbers of walleye. Fisherman searched at various depths for walleye but seemed to have the greatest success at 26-28 feet of water using night crawlers and crawler harnesses. Fisherman were more successful catching yellow perch this week doing so in depths of water 18-22 feet deep and using night crawlers and minnows. Several groups came back with their limits. Yellow perch caught this week averaged in size between 8-9 inches with a couple 13 in. Perch measured as well. Other species caught this week were sheepshead, gobies, white perch, white bass, catfish, and a sucker.
Kewaunee County - Fishing success has been erratic as it has been much of the year but there have been quite a few successful runs over the past week. The average over the weekend was about 5 fish per boat. Some boats came in with nothing yet a fair number came in with double digits. The charters did quite well with many returning with double digits in both morning and evening runs. Off both Kewaunee and Algoma the depth of water where the bite was best seems to change daily. Some days the bite is in 75 to 150 feet of water and other times it is much deeper out to 250 to 300 ft, however most are being caught in the top 70 feet. All baits seem to be taking their fair share from spoons to flasher flies fished off lead core, dipseys and downriggers.
Door County - Salmon fishing has been pretty good. A nice mix of kings, cohos, steelhead and lakers are coming in the top 70 feet of the water column or near the thermocline. Most of the success off Sturgeon Bay, Baileys Harbor, and Washington Island has been coming in 100 to 150 feet of water. Smallmouth bass are being caught nearshore in 8 to 30 feet of water. The most productive areas from boats have been Sand Bay, Ephraim, Sister Bay, Washington Island and Rowley's Bay while shore anglers are catching fish from the Stone Quarry and Andersons Dock in Ephraim. Walleye fishing has been picking up in the Sister Bay area as it usually does at this time of year, but fishing is still good south of Sturgeon Bay. Try trolling in 15 to 30 feet of water with crawler harnesses, crank baits, flicker shads or deep diving husky jerks. The Sturgeon Bay area has been producing some very nice catches of perch with minnows or crawlers fished under slip bobbers off weed edges. The most popular spots have been off Memorial Drive between the bridges as well as the Dunlop's reef area, the old train trestle, the Stone quarry and the dock at Egg Harbor. Sawyer Harbor fishing activity was relatively low all week with a slight increase seen on the weekend. Fisherman targeted smallmouth bass and yellow perch. Smallmouth bass were caught in depths of 10-14 feet of water using night crawlers, spinners and tubes (green, gray). Yellow perch were caught in 12 feet of water using minnows and night crawlers. Fisherman reported that the yellow perch were small and only kept a few. While targeting perch, a fisherman reported catching a handful of very small Walleye, which he believed to be juveniles. Other species caught were gobies and a sheepshead. Little Sturgeon Bay fishing activity increased throughout the week and was high by the weekend. Fisherman targeted smallmouth bass, yellow perch, and walleye. just one walleye was reportedly caught all week. It was caught in 18-26 feet of water by using night crawlers. Fisherman had greater success catching both smallmouth bass and yellow perch. Smallmouth bass were caught in waters 8-16 feet of water using various baits: night crawlers, minnows, leeches, and spoons. Yellow perch were caught in 8-16 feet of water using night crawlers and minnows. Other species caught were sheepshead, gobies, rock bass, and a northern pike.
Manitowoc County - Boats are fishing near shore in shallower water as cold water is being found in waters of 30 to 100 feet deep near Manty and somewhat deeper in the Two Rivers area. The area south of Manitowoc in 30 to 70 feet of water has been producing moderate to good catches of kings and rainbows. It is suggested that fishers check lines more frequently as the invasive spiny water flea are fouling lines in extreme cases as well as smaller kings known as "shakers" biting spoons without detection. A few large kings are being caught including some around 25 pounds. Bright spoons higher up in the water column are catching rainbows as well as smaller kings. In general the larger kings and coho were being caught in slightly deeper water and farther down in the water column. Some fish are being taken from the piers early in the morning.
Peshtigo DNR Service Center Area
Marinette County - On August 6, Michigan DNR, UW- Stevens Point and Wisconsin DNR completed a sturgeon survey on the Menominee River. These surveys have occurred periodically on this river for over 40 years and provide a broad perspective on the status of that fishery. This year, crews worked the area from Grand Rapids Dam to 8 miles downstream. They caught and released 245 sturgeon during over six hours. The average size of the fish was 35 inches. They saw a range of sizes but were particularly impressed with the number of smaller fish, less than 30 inches, indicating good recruitment into the fishery.
Wautoma DNR Service Center area
Waupaca County - Smallmouth bass and northern pike have been biting well in Wolf River. Fall is coming - days are getting noticeably shorter. - Karl Kramer, wildlife technician, Wautoma
Oshkosh DNR Service Center area
Calumet County - Walleye fishing has slowed considerably along the east shore of Lake Winnebago in Calumet County. The dog days of summer have set-in, and most anglers have switched from trolling to jigging. Anglers are starting to catch perch at various locations along with some nice catches of white bass. Fishermen and boaters are reminded to make sure they drain all water and remove any aquatic vegetation prior to leaving the lake. Conditions are dry with many rivers and creeks running below normal. Turtle season opened a short time ago, and several reports were taken of nice snapping turtles being harvested in the area. Mosquitos have been abundant during hours of darkness. - Michael Disher, conservation warden - Stockbridge
Winnebago County - The boating season has been in full swing and Lake Winnebago and the Winnebago System waters experienced it firsthand. With the EAA Convention there were plenty planes and plenty of boating opportunity and many people enjoying the great weather. However, now that EAA is done it makes one realize that fall is just around the corner. For boating enthusiasts putting the boat on the water a few more times is a given. Boaters should just remember that, although the summer days are winding down and soon kids will be back in school, we all need to maintain a level of boating safety from equipment to operation whenever we are recreating on Wisconsin's waters. Accidents can happen at any time and boaters still need to be prepared and operate with a sense of caution. Remember to wear your lifejacket and double check all lights, fire extinguisher and other safety equipment before venturing out for the final 2013 boating season. - Jason Higgins, conservation warden, Oshkosh
Milwaukee DNR Service Center area
Havenwoods State Forest - The Dog Days of summer have arrived, and the insects are loving it! In the last few days, visitors and staff have been watching cicadas crawl out of their underground homes, climb up tree trunks, and emerge from their exoskeletons. We are also seeing an abundant crop of ichneumon wasps. With an ovipositor that is about two inches long plus two streaming "tails," female ichneumon wasps look like the most dangerous insects in Wisconsin! Fortunately, they are harmless to humans. Stop by Havenwoods to enjoy the insects, and stay for the flowers! This is just about peak bloom time and it smells wonderful! The trails are in great condition, but wild parsnip is a problem. If you venture off trails or hike in sandals, take precautions to avoid touching this plant--especially on hot, sunny days. Attached is a picture I took of one female ichneumon wasp laying an egg in a dead tree at Havenwoods. Is there any way to post this on the page with the current conditions. I've tried linking to our Friends Flickr page, but that is apparently a no-no. - Beth Mittermaier, natural resources educator
Southern Lake Michigan fisheries team report - Compiled from creel clerks by Cheryl Masterson and Jeffrey Zinuticz, fisheries technicians, Milwaukee
Sheboygan County - In Sheboygan effort by trollers increased over the weekend, but catch rates remained low with boats typically bringing back one to two fish per boat. Anglers have reported success using spoons trolling between 50 and 100 feet of water. Large rolling waves on Sunday, August 4 created hazardous conditions for smaller boats, ending many fishing trips early. The 8th Street ramp remains closed. Boats launching at the ramp in Cleveland have been finding a few keeper perch on crab tails and jibs in roughly 10 feet of water. Wave action on Sunday suspended algae and sediment near shore, making water clarity poor. A few 6-pound rainbows have been landed on the lakeside of the North Pier on spoons and night crawlers. Anglers have reported that quite a few fish were landed late at night and into the early morning, which seems to be the window of time when most fish are caught on the piers. Water clarity along the lake side of the north pier has been reduced due to wave action, but the water remains clear around the south pier. The surface water temperature has increased from around 58 degrees on Thursday, to around 62 degrees on Sunday.
Ozaukee County - Port Washington trollers have caught less fish over the past few days. Late last week boats were returning with an average of four fish per trip, but that dropped to one or two fish over the weekend. Trollers continue to almost exclusively use flasher/fly combinations and troll a variety of depths, ranging from 50 to 150 feet of water. Fishing pressure has remained low on the Port Washington pier. A few small perch were caught in the past few days, mainly using jigs, and a couple small browns and rainbows have been caught on spoons. Wave action was high on Sunday, creating the potential for hazardous conditions with large rolling waves spilling over the pier. Water clarity has remained good on the lake side of the pier away from shore, as has clarity in the marina. Surface water temperature increased from around 58 degrees on Thursday to around 62 degrees on Sunday. Shore anglers in Port have landed a couple of browns on spoons near the power plant discharge, but catch rates have remained low overall. The path to Fisherman's Park remains closed.
Milwaukee County - Trolling in Milwaukee was inconsistent over the weekend. Most boats were focusing in 75 to 125 feet of water, with baits 35 to 60 feet below the surface. Chinook made up the majority of the catch with spoons in blue, green, purple, and red producing the best. A few rainbow, brown, and lake trout were also caught along with the chinook. The average catch per boat Sunday morning was about three to four fish. Fishing off McKinley Pier was slow over the weekend, and the pier was closed during parts of the weekend due to the local air show. The rest of the shoreline had no reports of successful brown trout or perch angling.
Racine County - In Racine the lake was rough last week and over the weekend, keeping trolling effort to a minimum. Those who ventured out landed some chinook south of town in 70 to 80 feet of water, with spoons fished in the top 30 feet of water. A few rainbow and coho were caught as well. Perch fishing has been slow for both boaters and shore anglers. Anglers fishing off the end of the north pier have been catching some sheepshead on spoons while fishing for chinook. A few chinook have been taken off the north pier near the elbow on small green and silver spoons. A few small rainbows have been reported off the south pier. The surface temperature at the lakefront averaged 64 to 66 degrees during the week.
Kenosha County - Some Kenosha trollers have focused their efforts in the harbor due to strong winds and high waves on the lake. Brown trout remain in the harbor, and pier anglers continue to catch decent numbers in the early morning and late evening hours. Most fish have been taken right around sunrise and sunset. Some of the popular fishing spots on the piers include the South Pier pines, the North Pier pump out station, the North Pier slab, the North and South Pier drainage pipes, the South Pier near the Pike Creek outlet, and the North Pier sand bar. The most popular baits include white tube jigs and a variety of spoons. There have been very few perch anglers on the Kenosha piers lately. Large schools of alewives were traveling next to the piers over the weekend, and brown trout could also be seen. The perch finally moved into Southport Marina this past week, and some of them were caught by anglers fishing from the concrete steps near the playground. The surface temperature at the lakefront averaged 63 to 66 degrees during the week.
Plymouth DNR Service Center area
Sheboygan County - There have been good reports of decent bass and panfish fishing on Sheboygan County inland lakes. Early and late daylight hours have been best. For the most part panfish have been 4-6 feet deep. - Michael Clutter, conservation warden, southern Sheboygan County
Theresa Marsh State Wildlife Area - The Theresa Marsh main pool (area upstream from the marsh dam) and three small waterfowl impoundments along Hwy 28 on Theresa Marsh Wildlife Area in northwestern Washington County will be drawn down from August through early September to allow moist soil vegetation growth, offering shorebird viewing for a few weeks and marsh bird and waterfowl viewing during the fall as water levels are slowly raised. The best shorebird viewing area in August will likely be on the small 10-acre impoundment north and east of the "Legacy Greenwing" sign on State Hwy. 28, about one half mile west of the intersection of highways 41/29. During August, visitors may park at the pull-off area near the Greenwing sign and walk the dike tops around the impoundments. Effective Sept. 1 each year all impoundments on both sides of Hwy. 28 are closed to public entry as no-entry Waterfowl Refuge regulations are in place Sept 1 through the start of the gun deer season. Viewing opportunities during that time are limited to the Hwy. 28 right of ways. - Tom Isaac, wildlife biologist, Hartford
Sturtevant DNR Service Center area
Racine County - Wildflowers coming in bloom in Racine and Kenosha Counties include Prairie Dock, Cup Plant, several Blazing Star species, Purple Prairie Clover, Whorled Milkweed, Nodding Wild Onion, and Wild Bergamot. At Chiwaukee Prairie SNA it looks to be an excellent year for Rough Blazing Star, which is just on the verge of blooming. Several grasses are also starting to go to seed- Big Bluestem, Switch grass, Blue Joint Grass, and Prairie Cord Grass. On the Richard Bong Recreation Area two hen wood ducks were observed with broods, about 10 - 12 ducklings in total. The interesting thing was that these were very small ducklings, look to be only a week or two old. Very late hatches and not sure that the ducklings will mature when it comes time to migrate - Marty Johnson, wildlife biologist, Sturtevant
Lower Wisconsin State Riverway - The fishing reports on the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway indicate good catches of catfish and smallmouth bass. The secret is finding the deep holes or areas where cold water streams enter the Riverway. The water levels as of August 8, at the Prairie Du Sac dam was 3,760 CFS. Please call 1-800-242-1077 for current river flow at the Prairie Du Sac dam. The mosquitoes are quite bad in certain areas so remember to bring bug spray. - Matt Seguin, property manager
Dodgeville DNR Service Center area
Grant County - The Mississippi River water is on the rise, but back to normal, for this time of year at 7.8 feet at Cassville. This past weekend and week has been great bluegill fishing on the Mississippi River pool 11- old spillway below Lock and Dam 11, 12 mile Slough above Cassville, Far Nuff Landing below Cassville, Lynn Hollow, and O Leary Lake - Pool #12. Anglers have also reported catching walleye and sauger while fishing on the Eagle Point fishing barge at 8 p.m. the last several nights. Smallmouth and largemouth bass are also biting just about everywhere with many undersized fish caught and released. For the first time this year, boaters had to be cautioned about wing dams and low water. Up until lately with the high water levels, water depth was not a concern. Several boaters have reported several interactions between their propellers and rock wing dams. - Richard S. DeWitte, conservation warden, Cassville
Wyalusing State Park -Mississippi River level at Prairie du Chien was at 7.6 feet as of Aug. 4. The Prairie Garden near the Wyalusing State Park Office is in full bloom and very beautiful. Hummingbird Mania has arrived at the park. Hummingbirds have finished nesting and are back at the feeders with a vengeance. Hummingbirds number between 30-40 during the day and reach approximately between 60-70 just before dark and on rainy days. Hummingbirds are consuming 2 gallons of sugar water per day. 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 and grey-headed coneflowers. black-eyed Susans, grey-headed coneflowers and purple coneflowers can be found in the fields near the office. Most reservable sites in both the Wisconsin Ridge and Homestead Campgrounds have been reserved for this coming weekend, August 9th and 10th. There are a few reservable sites left in the Homestead Campground for this weekend. 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. Non-reservable electric sites may open at some point during this week for the weekend. Wisconsin Ridge sites on the bluff are typically all taken every night of the week. The road to the boat landing has been repaired. The boat landing road is now open and the concession stand is once again renting canoes and kayaks. Hazelton Grazing Goats, courtesy of our neighbors, Driftless Land Stewardship, arrived 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. On August 10 join the Friends of Wyalusing and staff to celebrate Smokey's Birthday. Birthday cake, complete with candles, parade through the Wisconsin Ridge Campground, led by Smokey, coloring contests, Pin the Hat on Smokey, hear the real story of Smoky Bear and more. Bring your bike, trike and wagon or walk along with Smokey. Peterson Shelter - 6 p.m. - Beverly Pozega, visitor services associate
Horicon DNR Service Center area
Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area - The north end of Horicon Marsh, specifically Hwy. 49 has been spectacular for shorebirds. As of early this week up to 19 different species could be seen in a day including black-necked stilts, Hudsonian godwit and Baird's sandpiper. Visit www.horiconmarsh.org for information on the events happening at the Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center. - Elizabeth Herzmann, natural resources educator
Fitchburg DNR Service Center area
Dane County - Shorebird migration is in full swing. With the above-average rainfall in the Spring and early Summer we have a number of flooded fields or portions of crop fields providing quality shorebird stopover habitat. Common migrants include yellowlegs, least sandpipers, pectoral sandpipers and solitary sandpipers. Birders have reported a few more uncommon species like buff-breasted sandpiper, Wilson's phalarope, and stilt sandpiper. Most waterfowl are now done molting and flying around to feeding areas. There are still a few young broods around from later nesting attempts. Birding seems to be best in and around wetlands with many water birds out and about including some egrets and herons that have moved in for the summer. Swallows, flycatchers and waxwings are also taking advantage of the high insect populations emerging from these water bodies. Deer are more active now in the early evening hours. We're encouraging the public to report their deer sightings at (/topic/WildlifeHabitat/summerdeer.html?utm_source=Banner&utm_medium=Homepage&utm_campaign=20130731_OperationDeerWatch) Now is a great time to check prairie plantings at home or at parks or natural resource areas for pollinators. Native bee populations are out in full force now as they collect nectar from blooming plants like Menarda (bee balm), joe-pye weed, and the other showy native wildflowers blooming in August. - Andy Paulios, wildlife biologist, Fitchburg
Fisheries crews have been busy with COLDWATER ( trout) stream sampling. South central crews are near done with their assigned workload which is typically 40-plus sites on 15-plus discreet streams. The next sampling will begin soon on warm-water systems- like the Yahara river or turtle creek with smallmouth bass as the target fish being quantified. Crews typically shock 35 times the mean stream width and conduct an IBI - index of biotic integrity, which collects all fish and enumerates based on family and niche. The end result is a score that represents the diversity present at that location at that time. Crews also conduct water flow estimates of discharge, and physical metrics of temperature, dissolved oxygen, conductivity and salinity. Watershed crews do similar work; however, they usually work on the non-classiifed waters (of which there are more than legally classed trout water) and cover wider geographic areas based on watershed, not county boundaries. - Kurt Welke, fisheries manager, Fitchburg
Baldwin DNR Service Center area
St. Croix County - Family flocks of eastern kingbirds with young fledglings have been seen flying around together over open grasslands. Eastern Bluebirds are on third clutch of eggs for the year. Butterfly weed is in full bloom. High bush cranberry berries turning red. Rough blazing star just beginning to turn out pink/lavender blossoms from top to bottom. Fields of big bluestem are turning purple as the turkey foot inflorescences fan out. - Harvey Halvorsen, wildlife supervisor, Baldwin
Willow River State Park - Weekend camping has been sold out all summer. Cancels are very rare. Even on weeknights the campground has been nearly half full with most electrical sites being taken. Weekend day use has been heavy. Be prepared to walk a mile or more to Willow Falls on the weekends. Only a lucky few will get the 12 parking spaces at the top of the hill closest to the falls. If you carry it in, please carry it out so the falls area stays clean for all to enjoy. An un-crowded hike would be out the Purple then up the Brown, around the Red, and out the Orange to where it crosses the park road. Return the way you walked. Various out and back possibilities are available over on the Nelson Farm trail. The trail is still not complete but it has been mowed. Fishing reports indicate spotty results from shore. Bugs are generally not much of a nuisance at Willow. Universe in the Park will be here Friday night, Aug. 9 at the Nature Center starting at 8 p.m.- Jeffrey L. Bolte, visitor services associate
Black River Falls DNR Service Center area
Black River State Forest - Cooler than average temperatures are in the forecast through the weekend with highs expected to be in the low 70s. Perfect for camping. The wildcat loop all-terrain vehicle and UTV trails will re-open by this coming weekend. All other trails are open for riding. Trails were groomed two weeks ago and are in fair condition for riding. Crews are working on the Pray connector to improve three key wetland crossings. This work helps maintain the long term sustainability of the trail system. - Peter Bakken, superintendent
Wisconsin Rapids DNR Service Center area
Buckhorn State Park - Visitors over the weekend were swimming, hiking, geocaching, fishing, canoeing and kayaking. Mosquitoes are here - remember to bring bug spray and thermocells. There are less than earlier! There is some green algae, floating around the lake and at times it is near our shores. This past weekend the lake was great for fishing and swimming. Saturday, August 10 join us at the amphitheater from 10 a.m.-noon to meet Smokey Bear and celebrate his birthday. - Heather Wolf, park manager
Roche-A-Cri State Park - Join us from 2-4 p.m. Aug. 10 to meet Smokey Bear and celebrate his birthday. - Heather Wolf, park manager