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Outdoor Report for September 12, 2013
View current conditions for Wisconsin State Parks, Trails and Forests
Check out the Wisconsin Department of Tourism (exit DNR).
For current statewide information on statewide fall color, log onto the Wisconsin Department of Tourism’s Fall Color Report (exit DNR).
Wisconsin hunting opportunities move into high gear this coming week with the opening of the archery deer, fall turkey, squirrel, cottontail rabbit, and in some areas, ruffed grouse seasons this Saturday September 14. There is also a two-day youth waterfowl hunt [PDF] Saturday and Sunday, and then the Canada goose season opens on Monday, Sept. 16. Waterfowl hunters should note the duck season does not open until next Saturday, Sept. 21.
While buck deer are being seen that have already shed antler velvet, some are still being seen in velvet, so it is possible that an early archery hunter may shoot a velvet buck. Hunters are being reminded that a special tag issued from a conservation warden is required to retain velvet antlers.
Turkey hunters scouting hunting areas report seeing broods with smaller poults, indicating later brood hatches this past spring.
This past week saw the first good influx of geese from Canadian breeding grounds, but there have not been reports of significant waterfowl flights yet. The early goose season closes this Sunday, and many early season hunters continued to report limited access to hunting areas due to standing crops in fields. Mallard, wood duck, blue-winged and green-winged teal numbers are good on Horicon Marsh, with pintail, shoveler and widgeon numbers on the rise as well.
Hunters heading into the field in west central Wisconsin are being reminded to be extremely careful with fire and any sources of ignition such as hot exhaust systems on vehicles. Fire danger levels in counties from Columbia to St. Croix are high as this area has been experiencing an extended drought.
Musky action has continued to be fairly consistent in the Northwoods with a few larger fish showing up and walleye activity is finally slowly improving, with cooler water temperatures beginning to move fish toward shallower water. Panfish angling has been fair, with one angler bringing in a 12.4-inch, 2.3 pound bluegill that was just short of the 2-pound, 9.8-ounce Wisconsin record.
Musky stocking is getting underway in Wisconsin this week with first stocking trucks filled with the state’s official fish rolling out from the Art Oehmcke State Fish Hatchery east of Woodruff. From this hatchery alone more than 48,000 musky fingerlings 9 to 11 inches long were stocked this week in more than two dozen Wisconsin lakes and rivers.
Lake Michigan trolling activity has begun to slow, but those heading were doing fairly well with chinook and coho, but also a few rainbows and lake trout. Activity at piers and harbors continues to increase as salmon and trout stage offshore prior to spawning runs, with good action at Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Sheboygan, Racine and Kenosha, where piers were loaded with anglers and brown trout and large chinook could be seen jumping in the harbor. A few fish were seen in the Manitowoc, Sheboygan and Twin rivers, but water temperatures remain high and flows low so fish have not started moving upstream in large numbers yet.
The fall bird migration is in full swing as a series of cold fronts this week brought major flights of warblers, thrushes, and other songbirds to the state. Birders in the north found more than 20 species of warblers but noted increasing numbers of palm and yellow-rumped warblers, two harbingers of the warbler migration’s end. Now the raptor migration is picking up with sharp-shinned hawks, broad-winged hawks, ospreys, kestrels and other birds of prey moving through the state.
As hunting enthusiasts head to the woods this coming weekend, please be careful with fire! Excessively dry conditions in central and west central Wisconsin have led to a number of forest fire starts. Current fire danger is high in many west central Wisconsin counties. The duff layer of the soil (top layer that contains decaying plant matter) can ignite easily and smolder for long periods of time. This makes extinguishing even small fires very difficult. Suppression takes a lot of water and many hours of labor! Be careful with campfires, equipment in dry grass, and when extinguishing smoking materials.
Statewide Birding Report
Fall migration is in full swing as a series of cold fronts this week brought major flights of warblers, thrushes, and other songbirds to the state. Birders in the north found more than 20 species of warblers but noted increasing numbers of palm and yellow-rumped warblers, two harbingers of the warbler migration’s end. However, these fronts brought the first really good action to the south, so Wisconsin’s woods and wetlands are likely loaded with the birds right now. Mid-September usually features the greatest abundance and diversity of migrating songbirds here. Be sure to head out to your favorite woodlot or park to glimpse the action before these long-distance migrants head out in the weeks ahead. Some short-distance migrants such as rusty blackbirds, ruby-crowned kinglets, and Lincoln’s sparrows have also arrived, mostly in the north, while after staging an excellent migration this year, common nighthawks have largely vacated the state with good numbers holding on only in the southeast. In their wake, skywatchers can turn toward diurnal birds of prey as sharp-shinned hawks, broad-winged hawks, ospreys, and other raptors begin their migrations. Large kettles (flocks) of broad-wings often push through Wisconsin between Sept. 15 and 25. The Mississippi River bluffs and Lake Michigan shoreline often concentrate birds following cold fronts. On the water, this past week saw the first good influx of Canada geese from Canadian breeding grounds, while the birding community has reported no significant waterfowl flights yet. Expect numbers of both to build with each passing weather system. Shorebird migration is slowing down but still providing good viewing opportunities in some areas, especially late season specialties like American golden and black-bellied plovers, Sanderlings, and a few others. Parasitic jaegers have made a great showing this year. Two were recently seen at Wind Point in Racine and Wisconsin Point in Superior has hosted several individuals daily, often at close range. Other rarities reported in the state this past week include western sandpiper in Milwaukee, western grebe in La Crosse, black-necked stilts at Horicon Marsh, and American avocet and red knot in Green Bay. As always, help us track bird populations and their migration patterns by reporting your sightings to ________________________
Ashland DNR Service Center area
Ashland County - Last week started the 2013 bear season, goose season and dove hunt. Goose hunters seem to be far and few between and even more rare is a dove hunter. Bear chasers are reporting slow going with some bears being killed. Fishing is about normal for this time of year with bass being most active. Blackberries are ripe and the moist weather has mushroom gatherers happy too. Leaf color continues with more birch trees turning yellow. Some boaters have already started to pull boats from the big lake. - Matt Mackenzie, conservation warden, Ashland
Pattison State Park - Water levels have increased in the park with the recent rainfall. Little Manitou and Big Manitou Falls continue to provide fantastic scenery as we begin to transition into the fall season. All hiking trails are open and in good condition. The bathhouse located near the beach is closed for the year and the buoys at the Interfalls Lake beach have been removed as well. Please call the park at 715-399-3111 for up to the minute park conditions. Camping season is beginning to wind down for the year. The shower building located in the campground and the potable water fill station will remain open until Oct. 8. Those thinking ahead are reminded that camping reservations can be made 11 months in advance by calling 1-888-947-2757.- Phillip Brown, Ranger
Spooner DNR Service Center area
Burnett County - The Grantsburg area has received some rain in the past week and the upcoming forecast is perfect for hiking and bird watching. Insect activity is very low which makes for more enjoyable hiking and horseback riding on area trails. 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. Acorns are now starting to fall from the oak trees, a few maples and aspen trees are starting to change color, and migrating flocks of Canada geese can see and heard, all signs that point to fall! - Christopher Spaight conservation warden, Grantsburg
Park Falls DNR Service Center area
Upper Chippewa Basin fisheries report (Price, Rusk, Sawyer Taylor and inland Ashland and Iron counties) - The seasonal late-summer weather of the past week has provided for some pleasant fishing conditions and pretty good success rates. Sturgeon season began this past Saturday (Sept. 7) and will continue through Sept. 30. Opening weekend pressure was considered moderate, quite a few anglers reported catching some smaller fish, and the most productive spots were the deeper holes on the North Fork of the Flambeau River. There were only a couple reports of legal-size 60 inch fish being caught, but most anglers were just content to be out angling for a chance at this prehistoric fish. Bass anglers continue to enjoy some good late-summer action, with both largemouth and smallmouth providing some good catches. The largemouth bass have been associated with the thicker weeds, woody cover and deep bog edges, with soft plastics being the most productive baits. Smallmouth bass have been active in the rivers and channel areas of the larger flowages, and are also associating with woody cover. Small finesse plastics have been the baits of choice. Walleye activity continues to slowly improve and, with the cooler water temperatures, more fish are beginning to move toward shallower water. Quite a few walleye were still being caught on leaches and crawlers around and in the weeds, but some are starting to feed more on minnows. Musky action has been fairly consistent with a few larger fish showing up on the deep weed edges. Bucktails, glide baits and top-waters have been the lures of choice, and with the cooler water, a few sucker anglers have also been out. Panfish angling has been fair, with some decent catches of perch, bluegill and crappie being reported. A local angler did bring in a huge bluegill that he thought may be near the state record. The bluegill was measured at 12.4 inches long and weighed in at 2.3 pounds, just short of the 2-pound, 9.8 ounce Wisconsin record! - Skip Sommerfeldt, senior fisheries biologist, Park Falls
Flambeau River State Forest - Water levels are good on the North Fork of the Flambeau and musky action is starting to pick up. Many of our Hunter Walking Trails have been recently mowed. Connors Campground has closed for the season but Lake of the Pines is open till December 15. Wildflowers blooming are: wild clematis, bottle gentian, turtlehead, zigzag goldenrod & asters. Fruiting are black and choke cherries, gray dogwood, hawthorn, blue cohosh and white baneberry. We are seeing bucks in velvet and lots of turkeys. The grouse population appears to be down. Visitors are starting to see a bit of color especially with the stressed maples and the ash are dropping leaves. - Judy Freeman, visitor services associate
Woodruff DNR Service Center area
Musky stocking is getting underway in Wisconsin. The first stocking trucks filled with the state’s official fish rolled out Monday from the Art Oehmcke State Fish Hatchery east of Woodruff and delivered a total of 8,239 musky to lakes in five counties on that day. Castlerock Flowage in Adams County; Roberts, Scattered Rice, Silver, Windfall lakes in Forest County; Enterprise, Greater Bass, Moccasin lakes in Langlade County; Julia Lakes in Oneida County, and Delavan Lake in Walworth all received fish that first day. Over the next two days, 25,000 musky from the hatchery were stocked in the Petenwell Flowage, Cauldron Falls in Marinette County, Townsend Flowage in Oconto County, Shawano Lake in Shawano County. Monona Lake in Dane County, Somo Lake in Lincoln County, Big Rib River in Marathon County, Bolger Lake in Oneida County, and Ballard, Irving, White Birch all got stocked. Musky stocking was expected to continue Thursday, with outdoor pond manager Gary Muench expecting DNR to collect or harvest another 15,000 fish for stocking. It was a good production year and the hatchery was able to fill all its quotas -- requests for fish from biologists – and was able to provide more fish than expected to Petenwell and Castlerock flowages and Lake Koshkonong, vast waters. The musky are stocked as large fingerlings, fish 9 to 11 inches long. Their transfer from the hatchery ponds to a stocking truck and into a receiving water marks the end of a months-long stay at the hatchery that began in the spring. DNR crews captured mature fish during spring spawning; the fish abdomens are rubbed to expel roe (eggs) and milt (sperm). In the wild, less than 0.1 percent of the eggs deposited would hatch and survive, in the hatchery, 60 to 95 percent of the incubated eggs make it. Shortly after hatching, the fish are transferred to outside rearing ponds to dine first on plankton, and then on minnows, before DNR crews collect, or harvest them, for stocking. Statewide, about 200 lakes or rivers are stocked with musky.
Rhinelander DNR Service Center area
Oneida County - Oneida County youth waterfowl season duck hunters will focus on the Wisconsin River and area lakes which produced wild rice. Wild rice is still being harvested and had a late start this year. Grouse hunters will need to do a lot of walking to encounter birds this year. Whitetail bucks are still being seen in velvet and it is possible that an early archery hunter may shoot a velvet buck. A special tag issued from a warden is required to retain these velvet antlers. - James Jung, conservation warden, Rhinelander
Northern Lake Michigan fisheries team report - Compiled by David Boyarski, fisheries supervisor, Sturgeon Bay
Marinette County - Stick baits, plastics, and crawlers are producing some nice smallmouth on the Peshtigo River from the dam to mouth, fishing the deeper holes. The Menominee River smallmouth bite is in full swing with anglers reporting large numbers of big fish being caught from the Hattie Street Dam to the mouth of the river. The walleye bite on the river during the evening and very early morning has been producing fish in the 17 to 22 inch range using twister tails and stick baits. No salmon are being reported at this time.
Oconto County - At Geano Beach fishing activity was a little busy this week with a few anglers looking for perch. Perch numbers were okay with an angler almost getting his limit, with the average size being between 8-10 inches. Minnows were the main baits used in about 10 feet of water. A dozen sheepshead were also caught while targeting perch, in which all were released. Smallmouth bass and panfish were still being caught on the Oconto River to Susies Rapids. Live bait and plastics are working well fishing the holes and current seams. Bay anglers from the Pensaukee Landing to Oconto Park II Are still catching some nice limits of perch (depending on the weather) in 8 to 14 feet of water, with the main bait being minnows fished with slip bobbers or crappie rigs. The best time to fish perch is in the early morning with some fish being caught in the 14 inch class. Walleye are also being caught trolling with crawler/harness and raps in 10 to 20 feet of water.
Brown County – At the Fox River Metro fishing pressure was slow during the week with a few boats looking for catfish and musky. Neither catfish nor musky were caught and anglers were using night crawlers for bait in about 22-27 feet of water. Fishing pressure along the Fox River Shore was also slow this week. Anglers were looking for catfish and for anything that would bite (rough fish). No catfish were caught and only a bluegill and a white crappie were caught using worms, leeches, and butter worms. At Bayshore Park fishing activity was very high with anglers mainly targeting perch, and a few targeting walleye. Very low numbers of both fish were reported and those that were caught were released due to small size. Bait being used for perch was primarily minnows at about 18 feet and a perch stick bait was used at 14 feet for walleye. Other fish caught included sheepshead and gobies.
Door County - At Chaudoir's Dock fishing activity was moderate throughout the weekend with anglers mainly targeting perch and walleye. Very low numbers of both were reported and most were released due to small size, however, two walleye were kept. The main baits used were minnows in about 13-17 feet of water. Other species caught were sheepshead, gobies, and white perch. At Sawyer Harbor fishing activity was slow during the week with only a few anglers looking for perch and smallmouth bass. Anglers targeted both fish using worms, minnows, and various crank baits in about 4 to 10 feet of water. Perch numbers were very low, smallmouth numbers were decent, but all were released due to small size. Gobies and sheepshead were also caught. At Little Sturgeon Bay fishing activity was low throughout the week. Anglers were targeting perch, walleye and smallmouth bass. Low numbers of both perch and walleye were reported. Decent numbers of smallmouth were caught, but released due to small size. Minnows were used as bait for perch and smallmouth, while crank baits of various colors were used for walleye. Depths ranged greatly for all species anywhere from 4 to 27 feet. Other species caught included gobies, sheepshead, and a northern pike measuring about 48 inches. Some of the charters are running out to deeper water and getting limits of bright fish. Trolling the bank reef or out in front of the canal has been successful getting some of the larger fish preparing to start their spawning runs. In both cases, flasher flies and spoons are working well in a variety of colors. A few anglers have started trolling the shipping canal itself or casting from shore and getting some salmon on brightly colored spoons and plugs. Look for days when the water is running out the canal toward the lake and try the access points along Canal Road found by following directions to the US Coast Guard Station at the north pier. The few anglers left launching from Baileys Harbor had some good action last week out anywhere from 90 to 250 feet of water fishing in the top 75 feet. We have also spotted trout, bass, panfish and more inside the harbor so, now that the busy season has passed, it would be a great time to get out there and try your luck. Smallmouth bass fishing is still going great all around the county, usually in water that is 6 to 20 feet deep along drop-offs or transitions areas, like where rock turns to sand. Dark colored tubes, grubs and twister tails are popular baits. The pier at Rowley’s Bay, the docks in Fish Creek, or any of the offshore reefs and islands are great places to try. Walleye action is still good in the southern part of Door County but a little slower to the north. From Monument Point to Sister Bay there have been a few large fish caught trolling in 10 to 25 feet of water on crawler harnesses, crank bait, and deep diving husky jerks. Limits of perch have been caught from shore and on boats in the shipping canal and around Sturgeon Bay. Crawlers, minnows and red worms are all working in 10 to 15 feet of water around the edges of weed beds. We’ve also seen some perch in the harbor of Egg Harbor and at Anderson’s Dock in Ephraim, on the south side near the rocks. Fishing for northern pike and muskies should get going this month in the canal, around Sturgeon Bay and south to Little Sturgeon. Large spoons, magnum plugs and big spinner baits can either be cast from shore or trolled around 2 mph in 10 to 20 feet of water along the top and edges of weed beds near areas where the terrain drops quickly to deep water.
Kewaunee County - There are still some charters running out several miles to deeper water and getting some limits on a nice mixed bag of rainbow trout, king salmon and coho with a few lake trout. On days where the wind cooperates, trolling out front of the harbors in 25 to 50 feet of water or casting off the piers is bringing in some nice sized kings, coho and a few brown trout preparing for their fall runs. Inside the Kewaunee harbor, kayakers, row trollers, small boats and shore anglers have all taken some fish. Green was a great color last week with many successful rigs having at least some in the setup. Flasher flies, spoons and plugs were popular on the lake and spoons, crank baits, thunder sticks and spawn all took a few from the piers and inside the harbor. There were reports of a few salmon carcasses seen upriver, so now is the time to check your favorite bank spots for fish. On the Kewaunee River, there are a few nice places just past the highway bridge across from the public boat launch that can be accessed by gravel roads or head up to Brummer Park on County Highway F. In Algoma, try Olson Park where Silver Creek runs into the Ahnapee River or check the bridges that cross the Ahnapee on Washington Road and County Highway X. Spawn sacs, spoons, crankbaits and flies should all be attractive bait.
Peshtigo DNR Service Center area
Shawano County - Fishing is starting to pick up and area waters are pretty quiet as far as other people. Water temps are still warm enough to swim so some activity is happening on weekends but it has slowed down a lot. Hunting is just around the corner and plenty of young animals are being seen in area fields. Things seem to be about a month behind so lots of small birds and animals. But there are plenty of bugs around so they should have plenty to eat for a while. Lots of deer can be seen out in area fields. Should be a good year. Bear hunting is going on and activity at hunters’ baits slowed down a bit with the warm weather but hopefully will pick up with cooer temps. - Jim Horne, conservation warden, Shawano
Green Bay DNR Service Center area
Manitowoc County – At the Manitowoc ramps only a handful of trailers were observed in the parking area this week. Anglers seem to have better success at the beginning of the week than all other times. Anglers targeted both salmon and trout but only reported catching a few brown trout and a few chinook salmon. Only one chinook salmon was kept as the other two were too small. The brown trout and chinook salmon that were kept measured between 15 and 16 inches. On the Manitowoc piers anglers targeted salmon and trout with better luck catching them in the beginning of the week than the weekend. Anglers reported catching a brown trout and a handful of chinook salmon. In the Manitowoc harbor anglers targeted salmon, trout, northern pike, and smallmouth bass all without luck during interview times. One angler reported catching a smallmouth bass while targeting both salmon and trout. On the Manitowoc River fishing activity has been concentrated south of the 8th Street Bridge, with no fishing activity observed farther upstream. Anglers targeted salmon, trout, smallmouth bass, and northern pike. A northern pike was reportedly caught and kept as well as a couple smallmouth bass. All anglers had better success at the beginning of the week. Anglers also reported catching a few chinook salmon. At the Two Rivers ramps only one trailer was observed in the parking lot this week, no interviews were recorded. Rain and winds from the East were recorded at 10 mph. On the West Twin River a couple anglers were observed fishing just south of the Shoto Dam. Anglers reported the presence of salmon and trout by the dam, but did not have any luck catching them during interview times. – Kara White, fisheries technician, Mishicot
A small number of salmon are already in beneath the dams in Manitowoc County, but significant numbers shouldn’t show up for a few weeks yet. Early season goose hunters have limited access to hunting areas due to fields having standing crops. - Robert Stroess, conservation warden, Mishicot
Wautoma DNR Service Center area
Waupaca County - Bucks have lost their velvet, and deer should be moving well with the incoming cold front. White oak stands should provide good hunting, having a heavy acorn crop this year. There seems to be decent turkey production in Central Wisconsin. Brood size seems to be fie to six on average, with many poults being quite small indicating late broods. There are many wood ducks on area streams with dry conditions, which should make for good shooting on the opener. Cooler weather should improve fall trout fishing, which can be excellent. Hopefully some precipitation will arrive and raise stream levels, which are very low. Some fall colors starting to appear, probably due to dry conditions. There is some ruffed grouse hunting opportunities in Central Wisconsin, but will take a lot of walking to find some flushes. - Karl Kramer, wildlife technician, Wautoma
Oshkosh DNR Service Center area
Outagamie County - The blue-green algae is in thick on Lake Winnebago and Little Lake Butte Des Morts causing boating and fishing opportunities to slow down. On the Fox River, anglers have had success targeting smallmouth bass and walleye. Early goose season has been slow in the area. Hunters have had some success on cut winter wheat fields; however, there is an abundance of corn fields still standing making finding a spot to hunt hard to find. Trees haven’t begun turning colors yet, but will be soon if the dryness continues. - Ryan Propson, conservation warden, Appleton
Winnebago County - Many archery hunters are taking to the woods this weekend as the Wisconsin archery deer season begins on Sept. 14. Early season archery hunting can be some of the best times in the woods when patterning deer is made easy by getting between them and their feeding area. Soybean fields tend to produce some great results as well as standing corn fields. Dealing with the heat can be difficult so dress in lighter clothing to prevent from sweating and bring plenty of scent eliminator spray. Whatever their tactics for bagging a deer, hunters must be safe when hunting. Particularly when hunting from elevated stands hunters must use caution. Wear a safety harness and raise and lower your equipment by a rope. Safety harnesses can range in price from around $10 to $150 but they are worth every penny. Many accidents happen from falls out of an elevated stand and can easy be avoided by being safe. A safety harness worn the right way is the best way to stay safe. Also, smartphone users can now download a hunting hours app offered by the DNR. This app will tell users what time hunting hours begin and end. - Jason Higgins, conservation warden, Oshkosh
Milwaukee DNR Service Center area
Harrington Beach State Park - Most trails are relatively dry and in good condition for hiking. Although the recent heat is not indicative of fall, if you take a look around the park, you’ll see that Harrington Beach is prepping for the changing of the seasons! Turkey poults have grown in size and the nighthawks have taken wing and headed south. Deer movement is increasing and the goldenrod is in full bloom. A hike around the park will also show the beginnings of color in the tree leaves. Expect a beautiful color show in the coming weeks! The campground, shower building, and vault toilets are still open for the season. The vault toilet is closed at Puckett’s Pond, but there are portable toilets available for use. The shuttle and concessions stand have ended operations for the season. The campground will remain open until the end of October. - Robin Miller, ranger
Southern Lake Michigan fisheries team report - Compiled from creel clerks by Cheryl Masterson and Jeffrey Zinuticz, fisheries technicians, Milwaukee
Sheboygan County - In Sheboygan fishing effort has been low at the ramps, with only a handful of boats launching in the past several days. Strong winds and increased wave action likely influenced low numbers, and has confined most boats to trolling within the harbor. When boats have been able to get out to deeper water, roughly to 125 feet, fishing has been relatively slow with most boats averaging just a couple of fish. Shore anglers in Sheboygan have been catching an occasional chinook, coho, or brown, with most fish caught off the piers between sunset and sunrise. Glow spoons have produced the most off the piers, but fishing has been slow overall. A few mature chinook have been caught downstream of the 8th Street Bridge on spawn sacs. Fishing on the Sheboygan River has been catching a few smallmouth bass and northern pike in the Kohler area, and a few salmon have been seen swimming in the river. The water levels are low and temperatures are in the mid-70s on all Sheboygan area rivers.
Ozaukee County - Port Washington trollers have been doing fairly well, with most bringing back at least eight fish. Bags consisted mainly of chinook and coho, but a few rainbows and lakers were also caught. Most fish were caught between 170 and 280 feet on a mix of flies and spoons. Catch rates have been low on the Port Washington shore, with almost all fish being landed or lost near the power plant discharge. A few browns, along with a couple rainbows and chinook, were caught on spawn sacs over the weekend. No fishing activity has been seen on Sauk Creek.
Milwaukee County - In Milwaukee fishing has been decent for boats trolling in 60 to 110 feet of water. Chinooks, lake trout and mature coho have been taken on spoons fished 35 to 60 feet down. A few boats were seen jigging in the gaps and trolling the river channel and harbor, and they had limited success. The best area was near the north gap by Veterans Point, and Gulp and other soft plastics jigged off the bottom worked best. Anglers off of McKinley pier produced a few chinook on green spoons or white plastics during low light hours. There have been reports of a few brown trout being caught under the Hoan Bridge on spoons, especially in the evening. There have been a few anglers trying to fly fish for chinook in Oak Creek and at the mouth, but they were unsuccessful with no salmon seen in the creek yet. Fishing has been slow in the Milwaukee and Menomonee rivers and both have water temperatures in the low 70s.
Racine County - Racine trollers have focused on the nearshore waters along the harbor, but catch rates have been low. Recent strong winds and high waves have prevented them from heading out to deeper water. Despite a lack of success by the boats, anglers on the piers have been landing browns and a few chinook. The chinook have been big, with some fish weighing in at 25 pounds. Glow spoons have produced the most fish. Shore anglers have been catching occasional perch and northern pike in the Pershing Park boat harbor, as well as chinook near Reefpoint Marina. Crappies were still being reported in the late evening under the Main Street Bridge. On the Root River, fishing pressure has been light and the water level is low. Most anglers have been fishing for panfish with worms and small crank baits. The Root River Steelhead Facility is ready to go for the fall season, and we plan to start running the facility on Monday, September 16.
Kenosha County - In Kenosha trollers have been catching a mixed bag of coho, chinook, and lake trout. Some fish were taken nearshore, and others had luck out on the hill. Shore fishing pressure in Kenosha has been heavy. The piers have been loaded with anglers, as well as the shoreline area behind the Best Western and near the Pike Creek Outlet. Brown trout and large chinook have been jumping everywhere in the harbor, and a brief period of southwest winds brought in colder water and a lucky anglers were been hammering the kings. Small white tube jigs and spawn sacs produced when the nearshore temperature was in the low 60s, but a change in the winds warmed the nearshore water back up to 66-68 degrees. The Pike River has low flows, and although anglers have been working the area near the mouth of the Pike, they have not had many salmon to show for their efforts.
Plymouth DNR Service Center area
Washington County - Cooler temperatures and plenty of ducks is the outlook for the upcoming youth waterfowl hunt in Washington County. Nice numbers of ducks have been seen in the Theresa Marsh and local lakes and ponds. This weekend also marks the opening of the archery deer season. Bow hunters are reminded that baiting and feeding deer in Washington County is now prohibited since the discovery of CWD in Waukesha County, within 10 miles of the Washington County line. - Robert Lee, conservation warden, Hartford
South Central Region
Lower Wisconsin State Riverway - The water levels as of Sept. 12t at the Prairie Du Sac dam was 3,890 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. Many hunting opportunities will be opening within the Riverway this weekend. Dove hunters should be finding many birds, especially around some of the sunflower fields that were planted within the Riverway. The hiking and horse trails are all in good shape. Hikers are encouraged to wear bright colored clothing while afield. - Matt Seguin, property manager
Dodgeville DNR Service Center area
Grant County - Fishing has been slow in both pools 11 and 12 with a few bluegills being caught upriver from Cassville near the old spillway below lock and dam 10, and near Bertom and McCartney Lake downstream from Cassville. Walleye and sauger anglers have been reporting limited luck with both species with a few sauger caught on the wingdams off the main channel above Cassville. Early Goose hunters have been having some success on geese below the earthen dike and backwater sloughs below lock and dam 11 near Dubuque, but are experiencing the low water levels and deep depths of mud while pursuing their geese. Fair numbers of blue-winged teal and wood ducks have been seen in the Snyder Slough area downriver of Lynn Hollow boat landing on Mississippi River pool 11. - Richard S. DeWitte, conservation warden, Cassville
Iowa County - Early season goose hunters have reported that the geese are on the Wisconsin River or the back-river sloughs and not in the fields since most of the area farm fields still have standing crops. Hunters over the weekend did not report that they were able to harvest many geese at all. Sturgeon season is open on the Wisconsin River and the fish must be at least 60 inches to keep. The river is very low with the drought conditions making the smallmouth bass fishing quite good right now. - David Youngquist, conservation warden, Dodgeville
Wyalusing State Park -Mississippi River level at Prairie du Chien was at 7.2 feet Sept. 12 and is expected to remain at that level for the next week. The Hummingbird Migration continues. Only the females remain. Consumption has dropped from 2 gallons per day to about 1 gallon per day. With less daylight hours, there is less time for them to eat as well as the number of birds has diminished greatly. Reminder: Hummingbird feeders should remain filled until you have not seen hummers for at least two weeks. But remember to keep the food fresh. Many of the flowers they depend on are drying or are already dead, so they may need our help to get them where they are heading – Costa Rica. Keep your eyes open for Hummingbird Moths. They are moths that resemble Hummingbirds and are usually seen before dark near petunias and phlox. The Hazelton Grazing Goats continue to clear the park of invasive species. The coats are now eating their way through the brush near the park office. The goats are courtesy of Driftless Land Stewardship. An electric fence will keep the goats in as well as coyotes out. There are a number of non-electric campsites available for this weekend in the Homestead Campground. Electric sites will be difficult if not impossible to obtain. All sites for Friday night are on a first come first served basis. There are no showers or flush toilets at this time in Homestead Campground. Campers are welcome to drive to the Wisconsin Ridge Campground for showers and flush toilets. Concession stand is open weekends only. Canoe rentals and firewood may be available from the campground hosts. Saturday, Sept. 14 there will be an astronomy program at the Huser Astronomy Center at 8:30 p.m. Join the Starsplitters of Wyalusing for an evening of stargazing. - Beverly Pozega, visitor services associate
Horicon DNR Service Center area
Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area - A youth waterfowl learn to hunt program will be taking place on the Horicon National Wildlife Refuge as well as the official youth hunt on the State Wildlife Area. Mallard, wood duck, blue-winged and green-winged teal numbers are good. Pintail, shoveler and widgeon numbers are on the rise as well. Weekly waterfowl survey’s for the refuge can be found at www.fws.gov/uploadedFiles/fallwaterfowlcount2013[PDF]. New England asters and goldenrod are in bloom creating a beautiful mix of yellow and purple. The Department of Tourism and DNR are hosting a Walk with Walker event on Friday, Sept. 13 at 10:30am. Join Wisconsin’s First Lady on an approximately 2.5 mile walk on the Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area. More information can be found here www.walkwithwalkerwi.org (exit NR). For more information about special events please visit www.horiconmarsh.org (exit DNR. - Elizabeth Herzmann, natural resources educator
Fitchburg DNR Service Center area
Columbia County - Cooler weather patterns are expected to roll in later this week just in time for the opener of many species hunting seasons. Hickory nuts have been observed on forest floors along with various types of acorns and some walnuts too, providing plenty of opportunity for squirrel hunters. Hunters should be aware that there is an on-going timber sale occurring right now on Drake Road at Mud Lake Wildlife Area, and another will begin shortly off North Hein Road in Sauk County at Pine Island Wildlife Area. Water levels are a little low on area marshes, but with the heavy rains on Tuesday night (Poynette received about half an inch of rain), hopefully the flowages will fill up a little more. - Sara Kehrli, wildlife biologist, Poynette
The recent heat wave brought out many recreational boaters seeking relief from the high temperatures. Early goose hunting has been tough but not impossible. Dove hunting has started to taper off already after the opening weekend rush. Dove hunting should get better once the sunflowers ripen and start dropping seed. - Paul Nadolski, conservation warden, Portage
West Central Region
La Crosse DNR Service Center area
Vernon County - The slow but steady southward raptor migration has begun. Numerous red-tailed hawks, broad-winged hawks, and kestrels are moving through the area. Keep your eyes open for different color phases of these birds and for less frequently observed raptors, such as rough-legged hawks and harriers (marsh hawks). A birding field guide may be useful to assist with raptor identification. Red-tailed hawks are on their way to areas of the central and southern United States. Broad-winged hawks migrate all the way to Central and South America, with some birds going as far as Argentina and Chile. Kestrels head to the southern US and as far south as Central America. September is the month in which white-tailed deer shed their summer hair and replace it with winter hair. Summer hair is reddish-brown and rather short and thin. Winter hair, on the other hand, is brownish-gray, dense, and long. Deer hair is hollow, trapping more insulating air than non-hollow hair. Winter deer hair insulates so well that a deer may become covered with a layer of snow during a snowstorm that does not melt. Watch for this transition to occur over the next few weeks. Waterfowl hunters gearing up for the upcoming waterfowl seasons may want to do some advanced scouting of their favorite hunting areas. Locally, water levels have dropped significantly because of dry weather. Some ponds have dried up altogether and other wetlands will be difficult to reach because of low water levels. Advanced scouting may reveal waterfowl use of areas and prevent opening day disappointments if waterfowl are not using areas. - Dave Matheys, wildlife biologist, Viroqua
Black River Falls DNR Service Center area
Black River State Forest - Cooler more comfortable weather is in store for the weekend. Highs are expected to be in the upper 60s lower 70s through the weekend making for perfect camping weather. There is just a little hint of fall color in the woods. Some of the smaller red maples and sumac are turning red. Most species though are still green. Peak color is typically later September early October. We are expecting a short color season due to the late summer drought we are in. Tails were last groomed three weeks ago and are rough in some areas. Trails are also very dusty due to the lack of rain. We plan on grooming again in the next week or two. All campgrounds are currently open on first come first served basis. Getting a site this time of the year is no problem as we do not fill up in the fall. Late this fall we will be adding electricity to eight sites at Castle Mound bringing our total to 14 electric sites. This is to meet an increased demand for this amenity by our campers. Starting next year we plan on having the electric sites on the reservation system from May 1 through the first weekend in October. - Peter Bakken, superintendent
Eau Claire DNR Service Center area
Eau Claire County -New construction and improvements at Lake Altoona County Park has closed the boat access temporarily. Cooler temperatures have greeted outdoor users scouting for deer hunting opportunities. Early goose hunters have been finding some geese on recently harvested corn fields south of Eau Claire. - Scott Thiede, conservation warden, Eau Claire
As hunting enthusiasts head to the woods this coming weekend, please be careful with fire! Excessively dry conditions in central and west central Wisconsin have led to a number of forest fire starts. The duff layer of the soil (top layer that contains decaying plant matter) can ignite easily and smolder for long periods of time. This makes extinguishing even small fires very difficult. Suppression takes a lot of water and many hours of labor! Be careful with camp fires, equipment in dry grass, and when extinguishing smoking materials. - Steve Edge, forestry team leader, Eau Claire
Lake Wissota State Park - The maples and ash have started to show fall colors. Species of birds see or heard include: ravens, rose-breasted grosbeaks, loons, a variety of wrens, phoebes, turkey vultures, northern juncos, pileated woodpeckers, great horned and barred owls, osprey, bald eagles, Canada geese, turkeys and belted kingfishers. Indian pipe, harebell, wintergreen, common mullein, white snakeroot, marsh skullcap, lesser daisy fleabane, Joe Pye weed, pearly everlasting, the pale and spotted jewelweed, rabbits foot clover, marsh hedge nettle, some of the aster varieties, and wooly yarrow are still flowering.- Dave Hladilek, park manager
Wisconsin Rapids DNR Service Center area
Buckhorn State Park - Archery deer hunting begins Sept. 14 and is allowed in many areas of the park. All water and bathroom facilities are still on and remain open. Campsites 26-29 will be closed as of the night of Sept. 15. Progress continues on the new campground development project which will add 60 new sites to the park. Check out the State Park hunting Maps online or stop by the park office to pick up a copy. This is a great time of year to visit Buckhorn State Park and the mosquitoes have pretty much disappeared! Canoe and kayak rentals are still available through the park office. Water levels on the Castle Rock Flowage remain normal and great for boating and fishing. Join us on Saturday Sept. 14 at 7:30p.m for Universe in the Park. - Andrew Haffele, Ranger-Assistant Property Manager, Buckhorn State Park
Roche-A-Cri State Park - All campsites are still open and all of them are non-reservable. The stairway is open from 6:00 a.m. until sunset. Remember that sunset is occurring earlier around 7:30 p.m. Hunting opportunities will be available in areas of the park from Nov. 15 until Dec. 15. Check out the State Park hunting maps online or stop by the park office to pick up a copy. Meet the Ranger on Saturday, Sept. 14 at the kiosk picnic shelter. - Andrew Haffele, Ranger-Assistant Property Manager, Buckhorn State Park