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Outdoor Report for August 29, 2013
View current conditions for Wisconsin State Parks, Trails and Forests
Check out the Wisconsin Department of Tourism (exit DNR).
With the exception of some strong storms that moved through northern Wisconsin this week, the rest of the state has been experiencing a dry spell. Current fire danger is high in west central Wisconsin but low to moderate in most of the state.
The rainfall in the north is keeping river systems flowing and paddling conditions remain good on the Flambeau and Chippewa rivers. But dry conditions in the south have the lower Wisconsin River flowing at very low levels. While that means there will be abundant sandbars for the upcoming holiday weekend, navigation may be difficult.
With warm weather continuing in the forecast for the holiday weekend, conservation wardens are expecting boating traffic to be very high. Boaters will need to use caution in high traffic areas and are encouraged to keep a lookout at all times. Be safe and courteous to other people on the lake so everyone is able to enjoy their time on the water.
Despite the warm temperatures, fishing activity remained pretty hot across the Northwoods this week, with both largemouth and smallmouth bass again the highlight. Smallmouth were found being near structure along hard bottom areas that were also close to deeper water, while largemouth bass have been favoring woody cover, deep weed lines, and bog edges. Musky activity also continued to be good, but no especially large musky have been reported. Walleye fishing continues to be sporadic and panfish action has been fair.
Along Lake Michigan, winds and high waves limited trolling activity at times in the last week, while shore and pier fishing activity picked up. Boats out of Racine and Kenosha were trolling in 20-30 feet of water this week as the king salmon have started moving closer to shore. Farther north, some fish were seen jumping in the Ahnapee River, heading upstream, so there is a good chance that the first few fish are preparing to make their fall runs up the river. Fish will often make a few ‘false starts’ before moving in for good.
The first of the fall hunting seasons open this coming week, with the opening of the early Canada goose and dove seasons on Sept. 1. The early goose season targets locally breeding giant Canada geese, which have begun to flock up and congregate on area lakes and wetlands. Doves have been showing up in good numbers over the past week and hunters should look at the morning dove hunting section of the DNR website for locations of planted sunflower fields.
Hunters who forgot to apply for a fall turkey permit can purchase leftover permits in zones 1, 3 or 4 at any DNR license agent. Check the DNR website for leftover fall turkey permit availability.
Whitetail bucks are still in velvet but should begin shedding soon. Young foxes and coyotes are being seen. Young of the year often wander during the day and are more visible less wary than adults. The high cottontail rabbit population will likely result in more young foxes and coyotes this year.
Flocks of bluebirds and blackbirds are gathering. Bluebird concentrations tend to number about 10-20 birds, but blackbird flocks reach several hundred to more than one thousand birds. And birders and non-birders alike went crazy over common nighthawks this week, as these aerial insectivores conspicuously winged their way across Wisconsin’s evening skies en route for wintering grounds in South America. Though breeding populations of this species are on the decline, late August and very early September bring peak numbers of Canadian migrants to the state.
Statewide Birding Report
Birders and non-birders alike went crazy over common nighthawks this week, as these aerial insectivores conspicuously winged their way across Wisconsin’s evening skies en route for wintering grounds in South America. Though breeding populations of this species are on the decline, late August and very early September bring peak numbers of Canadian migrants to the state. Despite hot and humid conditions, landbird migration continued strong this week, yielding greater numbers of warblers, flycatchers, grosbeaks, and waxwings – a trend that should continue in the weeks ahead. The Labor Day forecast looks very promising for ushering in a flood of migrants on cooler northwest winds. Hummingbird and oriole numbers are likely at peak and are expected to decline in the weeks ahead, but birders can attract other feathered friends to their backyards with bird baths, fountains, ponds, and other water features. Shorebird migration is still strong at various sites (exit DNR) including up to 2000 birds recently reported at Buffalo Lake in Marquette County. Raptor migration is just getting underway as the first American kestrels, broad-winged hawks, sharp-shinned hawks, and ospreys head south. This week’s rarest finds were western kingbirds in both Kewaunee and Dodge counties and a long-tailed Jaeger at Lake Superior in Douglas County. As always, help us track bird populations and their migration patterns by reporting your sightings to www.ebird.org/wi (exit DNR).
Ashland DNR Service Center area
Bayfield County – The northern part of the county finally received anywhere from 2-4 inches of rain over the last week. The fire danger had been high, but should be coming back down. Quite a few ferns and other smaller trees had started to turn colors and dry up already from the lack of rain. It has been hot in the north so things are still in summer mode for animals. The blackberry crop is starting to come in and with the needed rain it should be good pickings for humans, bears, and other critters. The bear dog hound training season runs through Saturday, August 31 which is Labor Day weekend so people should be aware of them this weekend while they are out and about. The bear dog hunters will start their hunting season starting Wednesday, Sept. 4. - Amie Egstad, conservation warden, Bayfield
Hayward DNR Service Center area
Sawyer County - Individuals baiting for bear have noticed that the bear activity has slowed slightly with the warm weather and the abundance of berries, acorns and other natural foods in the woods. When the natural food starts ripening bear will typically turn their attention to that over the sugary bait being used. Individuals baiting bear should keep in mind that if they check their bait and it is not all consumed, they should not replenish with all the new bait brought in as the 10 gallon limit still applies. Whatever is left counts as the 10 gallons for that day if re-baiting. River fishing on the Chippewa and North and South Forks of the Flambeau rivers is spotty. Individuals were doing well on smallmouth with spinner baits and surface lures. Walleye were a little more tight lipped and require a slow presentation in the early morning or late evening due to low, warm water. Live bait seems to be doing the trick better than artificial for the walleye. - Thomas Heisler Jr., conservation warden, Winter
Spooner DNR Service Center area
Interstate Park - This is it! Labor Day weekend marks the end of the full summer schedule of naturalist programs at Wisconsin Interstate Park. With the start of school, the fall season, cooler weather and colored leaves, the summer naturalist programs will wind to a close along with the summer season. So if you always meant to come to one of the scheduled hikes, activities or evening programs, now is your opportunity to do it. Please check the program schedule on the park website for more information. Remember, there’s a lot to do at Interstate Park year round. Special activities may be scheduled to take advantage of this area’s beautiful fall colors. The fall season is the perfect time to explore and enjoy Interstate Park. Visit Interstate’s website at www.friendsofinterstatepark.org (exit DNR) and “Like” them on Facebook for more information and upcoming events. - Julie Fox, natural resources educator
Park Falls DNR Service Center area
Upper Chippewa Basin fisheries report (Price, Rusk, Sawyer Taylor and inland Ashland and Iron counties) - With the hot and humid weather of the past week, fishing activity was also considered pretty hot across the Northwoods. Both largemouth and smallmouth bass were the highlight of the week, with most area bass waters providing some great action. For the smallmouth, quite a few fish were found near structure along hard bottom areas that were also close to deeper water. Most of the action was from 12 to 15 inch fish, but some nicer fish in the 17 to 19 inch size have also been caught and released. Deep-running crank baits and small finesse plastics were the most successful baits. The largemouth bass have been favoring the woody cover, the deep weed lines, and bog edges, with soft plastics and jig/craw combinations providing most of the success. Top-water action has been rather slow. Musky activity also continued to be good. Fish have been very active the last few weeks and most anglers have reported plenty of action. Buck tails, glide baits and top-water baits continue to be the lures of choice and most of the fish have been found along the weed edges and in the less-dense weed beds. No especially large musky have been reported, and most of the fish have been in the 28 to 38-inch size. Walleye fishing continues to be sporadic, with some fair reports of success. The catches that have been reported have come from deep-water structure such as cribs and gravel humps, with leaches and crawlers being the favored baits. Panfish action has been fair, with some nice bluegill and crappie being found suspended near mid-depth structure. Rock bass however, continue to be especially active and have provided many anglers with at least some sort of action. - Skip Sommerfeldt, senior fisheries biologist, Park Falls
Flambeau River State Forest - The river is still at a great level on the north fork for paddlers. Berries that are ripe are smooth honeysuckles and blackberries. Blooming are common St. John’s-wort and large-leaved aster. Mushrooms out are king bolete or “steinpilz” and destroying angel Amanita. Some maples are starting to turn to a brilliant red or orange. Due to the drought conditions some trees are dropping leaves green and dry. Bucks are still in velvet. The Connors Lake Campground will close Tuesday, Sept. 3 and will reopen Thursday before Memorial Day. Lake of the Pines Campground will remain open till December 15, 2013. - Judy Freeman, visitor services associate
Antigo DNR Service Center area
Langlade County - The blackberry crop is very good to excellent in the Antigo area. Large sized berries and good quantities. Giant Canada geese have begun to congregate on area lakes and wetlands. They are also starting to show up in agricultural fields particularly fields where oats and wheat have been harvested. - Eric J. Borchert, wildlife technician, Antigo
Northern Lake Michigan fisheries team report - Compiled by David Boyarski, fisheries supervisor, Sturgeon Bay
Marinette County - Boats fishing out of the Peshtigo Harbor were mainly fishing for bass, with a few fish being caught in and around the mouth of the river using plastics or live bait. Fishing at the dam in Peshtigo was also slow for the pan fish angler. Boaters out of Little River are catching perch adjacent to weed beds early in the morning using minnows. Some panfish, bass, sheepshead, and walleye are being caught on the Menominee River by shore anglers and boaters alike. Rapapla's and plastics being trolled or live bait fished dead stick are the methods being employed. Staff observed many berry-pickers this week in northern Marinette County.
Oconto County - At Geano Beach fishing activity was slow during the week and seemed to pick up a little by the weekend. Anglers were looking for walleye, having little luck. They used crawler harnesses (various colors) in about 15-20 feet of water and released them. A few sheepshead and a catfish were also caught in the targeting of walleye.
Brown County - At Fox River Metro fishing activity was slow during the week and picked up some by the end of the weekend. Anglers were mainly targeting musky with a few looking for walleye. Walleye numbers were low overall with only a few catching their limits. Anglers used crank baits (blue/silver, black/silver) and crawler harnesses (purple/gold) in about 12 feet of water. The average sizes of the walleye were about 18 to 19 inches. No musky were caught with fisherman mainly using bucktails (orange/black), cranks and stick baits (chartreuse) in a range of about 10-20 feet of water and as shallow as 3 feet of water. Other species of fish that were caught while targeting walleye and musky were a few sheepshead, all released. Shore anglers were very spread out throughout the Fox River, with handful of anglers at various parks. Fishing activity was slow during the week and was busier by the weekend. Anglers were mainly targeting rough fish (catfish, sheepshead, white bass, etc). The most heavily used baits were night crawlers and leeches with a few using minnows. Numbers of rough fish caught was low during the week and picked up a little bit more by the weekend. At Duck Creek there were a few anglers shore fishing looking for perch and largemouth bass. Baits used for perch were night crawlers and a flicker/shad (black/yellow) for the largemouth bass. Perch numbers were doing well, but mostly all of them were released due to them being very small. Other species caught while looking for perch were bluegill, pumpkinseed, rock bass, gobies, and a few log perch. At the Suamico River fishing activity was slow during the week with only a handful or trailers being observed and picked up by the end of the weekend. Anglers were looking for musky using bucktails in about 10 to 12 feet of water. A musky was caught; the fishermen reported it to be 48 inches and released. At the Suamico River a few shore anglers were looking for perch and bluegill. Only handfuls were caught and all were released due to them being very small. At Bayshore Park fishing activity was high with anglers targeting perch and walleye. Perch numbers at the beginning of the week were low with only a few boats having their limits. A lot of perch were released due to them being very small in size. By the weekend, both perch and walleye numbers were good with some anglers reaching their bag limit. Perch were caught in 15-25 feet of water using leeches, night crawlers, worms, and minnows. Walleye numbers were good with most anglers coming in with their bag limit. Walleye were caught in 15-22 feet of water using minnows, crank baits (perch color, firetiger), flicker shads (gold, black, yellow) night crawlers, and crawler harnesses (red, gold, purple). Some other species caught while targeting walleye and perch were sheepshead, gobies, catfish, white bass, white perch, and an alewife.
Door County - At Chaudoir's Dock fishing activity was moderate during the week due to high winds making the water rough for fishing. By the weekend, fishing activity was very busy with anglers mainly targeting perch with a few looking for walleye. Perch numbers were very low during the week, but picked up over the weekend. The main baits used were night crawlers and minnows in about 15-25 feet of water. Other species caught while targeting perch were sheepshead, gobies, white perch, white bass, a couple whitefish, a smallmouth, and a white sucker. At Sawyer Harbor fishing activity was slow during the week with only a few anglers looking for perch and smallmouth bass. Anglers used night crawlers and minnows for bait in about 8 to 14 feet of water. Numbers were low for both species of fish and all were released due to them being small in size. A few rough fish were also caught while targeting perch and smallmouth bass; a bullhead and a sheepshead (all released). At Little Sturgeon Bay fishing activity was slow throughout the whole week. Anglers were targeting perch in about 15-20 feet of water using night crawlers for bait. One fisherman reported high numbers but none were kept due to the small size of perch and the other anglers had no luck and caught only gobies. At the bank reef out of Sturgeon Bay, trolling in 100 to 150 feet of water, remained productive, while anglers venturing out to 250 to 300 feet of water were returning with some nice catches too. Fly and dodger combos and spoons are the most popular baits. Baileys Harbor had some good action this week especially in the mornings, anywhere from 90 to 300 of water, while Gills Rock and Washington Island are taking a few. Bass fishing is still going good all over the county in anywhere from 8 to 20 feet of water. Crawlers, tubes, grubs, twister tails and spinner baits are good baits, and Pinney Park (formerly Stone Quarry), Rowley’s Bay, Ephraim and Bay View Park in Sturgeon Bay are good places. Walleye fishing is probably still best in the southern part of the county, but Chambers Island out of Fish Creek and the Sister Islands out of Sister Bay have had some nice catches coming in 15 to 30 feet of water. Limits of perch were being caught in the southern part of the county and around Sturgeon Bay. Crawlers and minnows are both great for bait along newly formed weed beds in 12 to 18 feet of water in the shipping canal, along memorial dive among the moored boats, or the outer bay along the Potawatomi State Park shoreline.
Kewaunee County - Fishing off the piers in Algoma and Kewaunee has been good especially during the first light of the day, but fish have been caught in the evening as well, mostly on spoons. With the full moon and clear skies last week, a lot of boats fished overnight and did well. Flasher flies and spoons were the top baits, and a good mix of fish are being found all over the place. Early morning trolling in the shallows is popular and productive, in 90 to 150 feet of water, especially after the recent rain. During the hotter part of the day, many boats head out to 300 feet of water or deeper and troll back towards shore. Some fish were seen jumping in the Ahnapee River, heading upstream, so there is a good chance that the first few fish are preparing to make their fall runs up the river. Fish will often make a few ‘false starts’ before moving in for good so now might be a good time to watch the fishing access points near the river mouths for some early run salmon. Crank baits, spoons and stick baits are fine, but the best bait for these spawning minded fish are the eggs themselves, wrapped around a hook to make a spawn sack. There are so many eggs floating around the river during spawning time, they make a great snack for fish on the move.
Manitowoc County - At Manitowoc, harbor fishing activity was low throughout the week and weekend. A couple anglers targeted smallmouth bass, electing to keep a few and releasing the rest. One angler reported catching a rainbow trout while targeting smallmouth bass, which he kept. One angler targeted yellow perch without success but reported catching a few white perch and one smallmouth bass, all released. At the Manitowoc piers fishing activity varied throughout the week, due to wind and rain. Majority of activity took place during the early morning hours of 4 a.m.-7 a.m. Anglers targeted salmon and trout with the best rate of success at the very beginning and very end of the week. Anglers reported catching a couple brown trout, a couple rainbow trout and a half dozen chinook salmon. At the Manitowoc ramp fishing activity was low though out the week, possibly due to varied weather conditions of wind and rain. A few anglers reported catching some rainbow trout in various depths from 150-350 feet, a couple coho salmon, and a good number of chinook salmon in 100-150 feet of water. At the Two River pier fishing activity was moderate throughout the week and weekend with anglers targeting different species of trout and salmon. Anglers had the greatest success at the start of the week when six chinook were caught. A couple chinook were also caught over the weekend. Other species caught were some alewives and a common carp. At the Two Rivers ramp fishing activity was low though a good number of fish were reportedly caught. Anglers targeted various species of trout and salmon.
Peshtigo DNR Service Center area
Shawano County - Even though it has been very hot you can start to see a few leaves starting to change color. Fall is just around the corner. Hunting season begins in a few days for doves and geese. Plenty of deer and turkeys can be seen in the fields around the area. This should be a great year of hunting. Fishing is still going on with the die-hards looking for panfish. Smallmouth bass action has been very good. Fishing should only get better and odds are you will have the lakes and rivers to yourself pretty soon. - Jim Horne, conservation warden, Shawano
Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center area
Kewaunee County - With the return of the hot weather, the fishing has slowed on inland fishing spots. The musky fishing has been very good all summer on East Alaska Lake, with several fish over 40 inches being caught. Krohns Lake provided some good trout action during the month of August, with the best fishing being first and last light as well as after dark. Fishermen were catching the trout on a mix of live baits. The water level on Shea Lake has dropped considerably over the summer, but has provided decent crappie fishing. West Alaska Lake and Krohns Lake continue to be popular swimming spots on hot days. Swimmers are reminded to please be courteous of boaters attempting to use the boat launches and allow them plenty of room to enter and exit the water. - Kyle Lynch, conservation warden, Kewaunee County
Wautoma DNR Service Center area
Waupaca County -Water levels have dropped on area lakes within the last month. Kayakers and canoeists have had some difficulty navigating on several area rivers. Blackberries are still ripe but are close to being finished for the season. If you have any interest in picking, now is the time. Anglers have reported some success on panfish at the southern end of the Wolf Rive near Lake Poygon. Other than that, fishing has been slow. Nighthawks were recently seen in the Waupaca area, hinting that it is the start of their migration. - Ted Dremel, conservation warden, Wautoma
Better get out and pick blackberries now, they are just past peak and falling fast with the hot weather. Turkey broods are out and about in the morning hours, the brood size seems to average five to six poults. Geese have been very actively feeding in small grain stubble fields right. Trout streams are very low and could use some rain. Trout are biting mostly late in the evening or early in the morning and the deer have been very active early and late in the day. Bucks should be losing their velvet any day now. - Karl Kramer, wildlife technician, Wautoma
Oshkosh DNR Service Center area
Fond du Lac County - Conditions are very dry and water levels are low on area lakes and streams. Ducks are starting to fly out of the Horicon Marsh as wheat and sweet corn harvests continue. Fishing has been slow at best with the best action below the dam in Beaver Dam. There, the catfish have been biting quite well but they tend to be very small and skinny, not really keepers to most people. - Ben Nadolski, conservation warden, Waupun
Outagamie County - Over the past week, mourning doves have been showing up in good numbers. The fish bite on Lake Winnebago continues to be slow except for a few pockets where the perch have been biting. Hopefully we will get a cool down soon and continue getting rain and wind to break up the blue green algae. Smallmouth bass and catfish have been biting well all over on the Fox River. Opening weekend for goose season could be a challenge in the area as nearly all crop fields have standing crops and the geese have not been using open fields on a regular basis. - Ryan Propson, conservation warden, Appleton
Winnebago County - It is almost Labor Day and that usually means that waterfowl hunters are thinking about getting the boat on the water for the last time and the opening of the early September goose season. The early goose season opens on Sept. 1 and is open for 15 days. If goose hunters haven’t already found birds and fields they should start thinking about it. Asking for permission earlier rather than later is a better way of meeting landowners, allows for you to help them out if needed, and it beats the rush of other hunters getting the permission before you. Hunters are required to follow all waterfowl hunting laws and in addition to the required waterfowl license and stamps must purchase an early season goose permit. This permit must be carried and once a goose is shot the hunter must validate the goose permit for the appropriate date. Hunters must then report the geese harvested within 48 hours by calling 1-800-99-GOOSE. - Jason Higgins, conservation warden, Oshkosh
Milwaukee DNR Service Center area
Lakeshore State Park - Fishing has been generally slow from shore in southeast Lake Michigan, although there has been some success along the river channel and dock walls at the park behind the Marcus Amphitheater. The demonstration prairies are entering the fall blooming peak. The goldenrods are starting this week, and the asters will follow soon. Fall is coming - most of the swallows have already left the park. Cormorants and ruddy ducks are again present in the park’s lagoons. This year’s red fox kits are now hunting on their own, often near visitors. - Thomas Kroeger, parks and recreation specialist, Milwaukee
Southern Lake Michigan fisheries team report - - Compiled from creel clerks by Cheryl Masterson and Jeffrey Zinuticz, fisheries technicians, Milwaukee
Sheboygan County - Fishing pressure has fluctuated on the ramps, increased on the piers and has remained low on shore. One group caught a 7-pound rainbow and a 17-pound chinook in about 100 feet of water using spoons. Wave action near shore has been constant but light, and algae is still abundant around the launch and water clarity is poor near shore. Fishing pressure and catch rates improved over the weekend with most boats coming back with four to five fish and several groups limiting out with mixed bags of large rainbows, coho, and chinook; most groups caught fish in 250 to 300 feet of water, but several groups had luck in 90 to 130 feet, and most fish continue to be caught on spoons. A strong Southwest wind on Sunday made the lake choppy in open water and drove water temperature down near shore; fishing groups stayed closer to shore success dropped. Fishing pressure on the piers experienced and overall increase in the past few days but catch rates remained low. Water temperature was in the mid-40s on Wednesday, rising to around 60 degrees Saturday, and dropping suddenly back to the mid-40s on Sunday with a strong Southwest wind. Catches have mainly been small brown trout, but several chinook over 20 pounds have been landed; a 29.5-pound. chinook was caught off the end of South Pier on Saturday morning on an alewife. Fishing pressure has remained low on shore.
Ozaukee County - Fishing pressure has fluctuated on the ramp, remained low on the piers and increased slightly on shore. There has been constant light wave action near shore, generated by a predominantly light Southerly wind; wave action increased on Sunday due to a strong Southwest wind. Despite wave action, water clarity near shore is good. Trollers had success between 180 and 220 feet of water, landing a mixed bag of coho, chinook, and rainbow trout on predominantly flies. More than 90 boats launched on Saturday morning. Fishing pressure has increased on north Port Washington pier, but catch rates have remained low. A couple coho were caught during the week, along with several small perch. A few large chinook and coho were landed on Saturday, including two exceeding 20 pounds. Water temperature has fluctuated from the mid-40s during the week to near 60 on Saturday, and, due to a strong Southwest wind, plummeting back down to the mid-40s on Sunday. Water clarity is low near the base of North Pier, but it improves markedly away from shore; clarity in the marina remains good. Fishing pressure has increased on shore, mainly along the newly opened park next to the power plant with some success for brown trout, chinook and small rainbows.
Milwaukee County - Fishing especially for chinook remained steady over the weekend. Most Anglers were focusing in 70-150 feet of water with 35 to 60 feet below the surface producing the most fish. A few rainbow lake trout were also caught. Fishermen off of McKinley pier produced brown trout and a few chinook on green spoons or white plastics with the best area being on the rocks and the pier on the lakeside. Perch fishing was slow off of the pier with little to no reports of perch being caught. The best place to target them would be off of the rocks at first light. A few small perch were caught in the river channel under the Hoan Bridge on minnows. Fisherman on the Oak Creek power plant fishing pier had reports of a few small brown trout being caught; however, any chinook or lake trout seen swimming in the area were not actively feeding. Perch fishing picked up around the south shore pier and the pier off of the coast guard station with keeper perch averaging 10 to 12 inches on minnows off the bottom.
Racine County - Boating activity was low during the week but picked up on the weekend. Southeast and southwest winds at 10-15 mph created 3-5 foot waves, making the water too rough for some boats to fish earlier in the week. A couple of boaters returned to shore in less than half an hour. The catch rate continues to be low with many anglers coming in with only two to three fish per trip. One boat landed a 27 pound king and a 12 pound rainbow on Saturday while trolling in 80 feet of water near the last two hills. A steady line of boats were seen trolling in 20-30 feet of water this week as the kings have started moving closer to shore. A couple of anglers caught their limit of jumbo perch (12-13 inches in length) earlier in the week while fishing at the Oak Creek water treatment plant with minnows on the bottom. The perch were hitting for a few days and then they were gone. According to one of the anglers, boat traffic at the bubbler was very light during the week.: Fishing pressure on South Pier was light over the past few days. Most of the South Pier anglers have been showing up to fish for kings. A 5-pound king was landed on South Pier early Tuesday morning by a local angler casting a cleo. Perch fishing on both piers has been very spotty. Fishing pressure along the shoreline has been increasing. Anglers on the fishing pier under the Main Street Bridge were landing nice catches of crappies for almost a week. Perch anglers have been fishing the mouth of the Pershing park boat harbor over the past week with varied success
Kenosha County - Boat traffic at the ramp was light during the week but picked up on the weekend. There was a 50/50 mix of fishing boats and pleasure boats at the ramp this week (not to mention a fair amount of jet skis). Earlier in the week, strong winds and rough water limited the areas of the lake where anglers could fish. Anglers were catching their limit of perch (around 8-10 inches in length) from the bubbler near the Kenosha water treatment plant. One boat came in Sunday morning with seven kings in the cooler after trolling outside the “hill” with flashers and flies. Quite a few boats were trolling in 20-30 feet of water as the kings have recently moved closer to shore. The catch rate has dropped recently with some boats coming in with only 1-2 fish or no fish at all. Fishing pressure on the piers remained steady this week with 20-25 anglers showing up for the early morning and late evening bite. The catch rate for brown trout dropped off over the past few weeks but seemed to pick up a little this weekend. One angler landed two, 8- to 9-pound brown trout before sunrise while fishing with white tube jigs from North Pier. According to The Kenosha News, an angler landed a 22-pound king Friday morning. Fishing pressure on the shoreline increased over the past week, with 15-20 anglers lined up along the shoreline near the Pike River early Sunday morning. Anglers were landing kings near the mouth of the river. Some nice size bluegills and green sunfish were caught near the first bridge on the Pike River on night crawlers. Anglers are beginning to land a few more fish in the harbor as well. A few large perch have been caught by accident recently by anglers fishing for brown trout. The surface temperature at the lakefront ranged between 63-70 degrees during the week.
Plymouth DNR Service Center area
Washington County - Fishing activity continues to be steady. Fishing success has reduced some; however, anglers were still catching decent numbers of panfish and bass and walleye are still being caught on a few lakes. Early goose and dove season opens on Sunday Sept. 1. Good numbers of geese have been seen on smaller ponds and lakes and have been feeding on recently harvested wheat fields around Washington County. Dove hunters can also expect good numbers of birds in and around harvested wheat fields in addition to sunflower fields planted on DNR lands. - Sean Neverman, conservation warden, Plymouth
Theresa Marsh State Wildlife Area - Two areas of the Jackson Marsh Wildlife Area are expected to be temporarily closed to public use, including hunting, during most of September and October to allow completion of repairs of the West Shore gas pipeline running between State Highway 60 and County Highway PV. The two closed areas are located west of County Highway G in the middle of the wildlife area. The north closed area, about 150 acres in size, is expected to be closed Sept. 7 through Oct. 12. The south closed area, about 350 acres in size, is expected to be closed Sept. 2 -14 and Oct. 5 - 26. Both areas will be open to hunting and other public use on Sundays when no construction work is being done. Construction work is ongoing from dusk to dawn, Monday through Saturday. Questions about the closed areas are directed to the DNR Wildlife Biologist at the Pike Lake Unit office in Hartford (262-670-3409). Hunters are reminded that motor boats are prohibited on Theresa Marsh Wildlife Area during open waterfowl seasons. Large numbers of sandhill cranes and lesser numbers of geese and ducks have been seen on the marsh. Dove hunters should look at the morning dove section of the DNR website for locations of planted sunflower fields. This year, one 5-acre sunflower field was planted on Theresa Marsh for dove hunting this year. Local Canada geese are continuing to flock up and are starting to establish feeding patterns in the marshes and croplands. Goose hunters need to figure out where geese are resting during mid-day (on marshes, ponds, parks, golf courses, etc.), follow them to see where they are flying out to feed in morning or evening, and seek permission to set up decoys in the feeding areas. A few locally nesting geese are present on Theresa, Allenton and Jackson Wildlife Areas. - Tom Isaac, wildlife biologist, Hartford
South Central Region
Lower Wisconsin State Riverway - The water levels on August 28, at the Prairie du Sac dam was 2,942 CFS. Please call 1-800-242-1077 for current river flow at the Prairie Du Sac dam. There are a lot of sand bars exposed providing ample places to camp. With the water levels so low, navigating the river in a motorboat may be difficult in locations. Mourning dove and goose hunting will be opening in the area on Sept. 1 and there may be hunters in the Riverway. Hikers are encouraged to wear bright colored clothing. - Matt Seguin, property manager
Dodgeville DNR Service Center area
Grant County - The Lower Wisconsin River has been running below normal for the past several weeks, at 3,000 – 4,000 CFS. The exposed sand bars and hot sunny days have been enjoyed by canoeists and campers. Fishing has been good for smallmouth bass especially below drop offs. The marshes have remained full of water, compared to last year’s drought. Cattails have returned as dense stands in many of the marshes, and wild rice is again plentiful, but seems less abundant than in the past several years. Pairs of trumpeter swans are still hanging out in the Riverway, along with numerous eagles and their young from this year. We are currently clearing fallen trees and mowing interior access roads at Millville and will be working up river in the coming weeks. Enjoy the cooler weather on tap. - Daniel Goltz, wildlife biologist, Boscobel
Lafayette County - Many of the area waterways are sitting lower than normal. There seems to be a decent amount of wood ducks in the area along with a good supply of doves for the opener on Sept. 1. - Nick Webster, conservation warden, Darlington
Richland County - Small flocks of geese can be located around small farm ponds and on the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway. Dove are frequenting wheat, rye and oat fields that were picked earlier in the year. The Wisconsin River remains extremely low with many sandbars exposed. - Michael Nice, conservation warden, Richland Center
Horicon DNR Service Center area
Dodge County - With the warm and dry conditions over the past several weeks, water levels in the Horicon Marsh have dropped. Some of the shallow water areas are now mud flats. Shorebirds and waders have been taking advantage of the conditions. Hummingbirds have started migration with more being noted along trails and dikes. The large amount of flowering wild cucumber seems to be a good nectar source. Geese and cranes are making more consistent flights in and out of the marsh. We are past the peak of summer wildflower blooms and are transitioning to some of the prairie grasses turning purple and copper. Wood ducks, blue and green winged teal, and mallards are moving about the marsh in good numbers. A few buck rubs have been seen now that antler growth is at or near completion. - Paul Samerdyke, wildlife biologist, Horicon
Fitchburg DNR Service Center area
Columbia County - Fall is just around the corner! The signs are everywhere - great egrets are being seen in good numbers in area marshes. Area sunflower seeds are looking good (Pine Island will not be 'ready' for the opener, please plan accordingly). Burr oak acorns and apples are starting to fall in earnest. The tall yellow prairie flowers (cup plant, prairie dock, compass plant, rosinweed) are heavy with seed and soon the goldfinches will be flocking in to pry the seeds from the heads. The short and mid yellows of stiff and showy goldenrod are coming on, along with the purple buttons of rough blazing star. Big bluestem (turkey foot), Indian grass, switch grass, fuzzy caterpillar-like seed heads of Canada wild rye, and side oats grama are all heading out. It's a great time of year for a stroll in the prairie! - Sara Kehrli, wildlife biologist, Poynette
With the holiday weekend approaching, boating traffic on Lake Wisconsin and the Wisconsin River in Columbia County is expected to be very high. Boaters are urged to use caution in high traffic areas and are encouraged to keep a lookout at all times. The hook-and-line sturgeon fishing season opens on Saturday, Sept. 7 and runs through Sept. 30. Anglers are reminded that to harvest a sturgeon, an inland sturgeon hook and line harvest tag is required. - Ryan Volenberg, conservation warden, Poynette
The Wisconsin River water levels are very low and makes it hard to navigate by boat. However, smallmouth bass are very active in deeper holes. Hot temperatures have brought out heavy recreational boat traffic as well on Lake Wisconsin. Several larger flocks of young turkey poults have been observed in roadside ditches. - Paul Nadolski, conservation warden, Portage
Dane County - Staff is receiving a lot of fox and coyote reports from the public in the area this year. The public should be aware that young foxes/coyotes can often wander during the day and are more visible/less wary than adults. The high cottontail rabbit population will likely result in more young foxes/coyotes this year. Shorebird migration continues this week in Dane County. There are a few good spots in the area for viewing shorebirds either on flooded farm fields, drying pond edges or managed impoundments. The common species include least and semipalmated sandpipers, lesser yellowlegs, pectoral sandpipers, killdeer and solitary sandpipers. Check the DNR shorebird maps for the latest sightings. Bats appear to be on the move with many sighted in the evenings this past week. Common nighthawks are just beginning to push through Dane County. Look for them starting at about 7:30 p.m. on calmer evenings. Warbler migration has started to pick up and should really kick into gear on Labor Day with the next big cold front. The wet spring has resulted in a very good berry crop which should make for good stopover habitat for migratory birds and good food resources for small mammals. Birders may want to focus their bird watching efforts on forest edges with wild grape and dogwood berries over the next two weeks as many thrushes, warblers and vireos switch to fruit during Fall migration. - Andy Paulios, wildlife biologist
Sauk County - In prairies, grasses are flowering along with blazing stars and goldenrods. Watch the skies, wetlands, and fields as birds start migrations. At dusk if you are lucky you will see nighthawks and harvested wheat fields are a great place to watch cranes and geese right now. - Nancy Frost, Sauk County wildlife biologist
Devil's Lake State Park - Electrical upgrades have been made to many campsites in Quartzite and Northern Lights campgrounds. To better serve park visitors, new lift stations for water and sewage have been installed and are now in operation. See the DNR Events Calendar for a list of events at Devil's Lake and other state parks. - Richard Hesed, visitor services associate
West Central Region
La Crosse DNR Service Center area
Vernon County - Flocks of bluebirds and blackbirds are gathering. Bluebird concentrations tend to number about 10-20 birds, but blackbird flocks reach several hundred to more than one thousand birds. Roosting flocks of blackbirds, comprised of red-winged blackbirds, grackles, and starlings, can cause local nuisance problems with their noise, droppings, odors, and depredation on crops. Fortunately these types of problems are temporary, as most blackbirds migrate south for the winter. Late summer and early fall are good times to do some bird watching. Oftentimes fall migrants do not move through an area as rapidly as they do during the spring migration. Therefore, birdwatchers may have a little more time to actually "watch" the birds. Fall warblers can challenge even the most observant birdwatcher, making for difficult but rewarding identification lessons. Remember that most birds do not sing in the fall to the extent that they do in the spring. That means birdwatchers need to rely more on keen eyesight and less on their hearing to locate and identify birds. - Dave Matheys, wildlife biologist, Viroqua
Black River Falls DNR Service Center area
Black River State Forest - We are experiencing what is probably the last hot blast of the summer. Highs in the lower to mid-90s are expected mid-week with temperatures in the upper 80s to 90 predicted for Labor Day weekend. After a very wet May and June we are now in a drought in the Black River area. Trails were fully groomed over the past two weeks with some touch-up grooming occurring this week. Conditions should be good by dry for the Labor Day weekend. - Peter Bakken, superintendent
Eau Claire DNR Service Center area
Lake Wissota State Park - The Friends of Lake Wissota State Park is now selling firewood at the park office. Species of birds we have been seeing or hearing include: scarlet tanagers, indigo buntings, towhees, ravens, rose-breasted grosbeaks, loons, robins, red polls, a variety of wrens, phoebes, turkey vultures, northern juncos, pileated woodpeckers, great blue herons, barred owls, osprey, bald eagles and belted kingfishers. Harebell, wild bergamot, common milkweed, water smartweed, rabbits foot clover, marsh hedge nettle, the water lilies, some of the aster varieties, orange hawkweed, wooly yarrow are flowering. The blackberry season is coming to an early end with the dry weather conditions. This year’s raccoon young are out for adventure! Campers are advised to store all food in their vehicles at night and when they are away from their campsites. - Dave Hladilek, park manager
Wisconsin Rapids DNR Service Center area
Buckhorn State Park - Visitors over the weekend were swimming, hiking, geocaching, fishing, canoeing and kayaking. There is some green algae, floating around the lake and at times it is near our shores. This past week the lake was great for canoeing/kayaking/boating and swimming! Beat the heat and check out a beach and enjoy the water. Meet the Ranger at the amphitheater and find out what it’s like to work at the park and ask questions on Saturday, August 31 at 7:30 p.m.- Heather Wolf, park manager
Roche-A-Cri State Park - Stay cool and head to a swimming beach that is located at Friendship Lake, 1 mile south of the park entrance on Highway 13 (towards Friendship). - Heather Wolf, park manager