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Outdoor Report for September 19, 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).
The first day of fall officially arrives this Sunday with the autumnal equinox, and outdoor conditions are pretty much in line, with some areas of the north starting to report good fall colors arriving, migrant Canada geese are moving into the state, and white-tail bucks have begun rubbing trees.
Conservation wardens and wildlife staff from around the state reported an unusually high number of bucks brought in on the opening weekend of the archery deer season with antlers still in velvet and they are reminding hunters that they must get a permit from a warden to keep velvet antlers. Archers reported seeing good numbers of deer with some very good success harvesting deer opening weekend.
Oak tree have produced a heavy acorn crop this year so turkeys, deer, and bear have been feeding heavily on the fall crop. Some bear hunters report it has been difficult to attract bear to baits due to the heavy mast crop this year.
The recent cold spell has pushed down some Canada geese and more and more agricultural fields are being harvested offering some good hunting opportunities. This past weekend’s youth waterfowl hunt proved successful for many youths with wood ducks prevalent this year in many areas.
This coming weekend’s duck opener should provide large water fowl numbers for the hunters. Many of the birds will still be in eclipse plumage so hunters will have to brush up on their identification skills. Several concentrations and morning flights of wood ducks and teal have been seen along the Mississippi River, with a few scattered mallards also observed. Water levels remain very low, and for the opening weekend, Mississippi River duck hunters will find large expanses of water lilies and other emergent plants that harbor ducks and hinder their retrieval.
Ample late summer rains have extended the paddling season on some popular rivers, including the lower Flambeau, Pine and Brule, providing opportunity for lovely and rare autumn river runs. However, the lower Wisconsin River continues to be very low with many exposed sandbars.
Musky continue to provide the most consistent action in the Northwoods and most musky anglers have been reporting a lot of follows and sightings, with quite a few hook-ups and catches as well. Walleye fishing continues to improve and more anglers are starting to target this species.
Lake Michigan tributary fall salmon and trout runs have still not kicked into high gear. Some fish were seen in the Manitowoc, Twin, Sheboygan, Milwaukee and Root rivers but not in high numbers. Strong winds and high waves have kept many trollers off the lake and most who did venture out stayed near harbors, with some success. Shore and pier angler numbers have been high with some success for chinook salmon and brown trout.
While many think that spring time is when you see newly hatched turtles some species, such wood turtle, are making their appearance now. It takes these Wisconsin threatened turtles 10 to 12 years to reproduce so please “give them a break” if you see these youngsters crossing the roads.
Recent cold fronts and northwest winds have migration humming across most of the state. In the north observers have noted good flights of broad-winged and sharp-shinned hawks along with turkey vulture flights. Warblers and other Neotropical migrants are now past peak, but orange-crowned, palm and yellow-rumped warblers are still being seen.
Statewide Birding Report
Recent cold fronts and northwest winds have migration humming across most of the state. In northern Wisconsin observers have noted good flights of broad-winged and sharp-shinned hawks along with the expected turkey vulture flights. Observers statewide looking to do some hawk watching would do well to head out to their favorite bluff-top locations this Saturday with expected northwest winds to see the peak of broad-winged hawk migration along with other early migrating raptors. Warblers, thrushes and other Neotropical migrants are now past peak for the fall, but they can still be found in good numbers in your favorite woodland patches. Good sites in the fall should contain sunny edges and lots of fruiting shrubs or vines. Blue jay migration is also now at peak. Backyard birders may notice that blue jays are now moving south through the state in good numbers. New migrants arriving in the past week include rusty blackbirds, pipits, longspurs, horned larks, kinglets and our first good push of sparrows into northern Wisconsin. Orange-crowned warblers are also arriving along with palm and yellow-rumped warblers as warbler migration winds down in early October. Early waterfowl migrants are also now working their way into Wisconsin. Blue-winged teal numbers are building as they build fat reserves for their migration to South America and observers in northwestern Wisconsin have noted the first push of Canada geese from their breeding grounds near Hudson Bay. This weekend is shaping up to be a great day for migrants. Birders have choices of woodland migrants, raptor migration or shorebirds, waterfowl and water birds in wetlands. Enjoy the birds and please report your sightings to Wisconsin eBird to help better monitor our migratory bird populations. - Andy Paulios, wildlife biologist, Fitchburg
All-terrain vehicle or utility-terrain vehicle riding
Fall is a beautiful time to take an all-terrain vehicle or utility-terrain vehicle ride on one of the great trails around the state. Pack a lunch and enjoy the changes in color that is beginning as well as wildlife sightings. Just last weekend I saw a woodpecker looking for that one special tree and tons of squirrels making little stashes of treasures for this winter to snack on. The eagles up north are starting to move a bit more than they did in that hot weather and nothing is more exciting that being out on a trail when you look up and see that beautiful bird flying overhead. ATV and UTV trails get riders out in the woods to enjoy the surroundings. Just remember, what you bring in, you should bring back out. Check out the Department of Tourism’s fall color report along with the county ATV and UTV maps for where you’d like to ride Wisconsin ATV Assoc. where-to-ride guide (both links exit DNR). ATV and UTV trails are maintained by local club members who work very hard throughout the year to provide access. These clubs, along with county sponsors make it possible, so please don’t litter or ride off the trail. Also, don’t assume that all snowmobile trails are open for ATVs and UTVs. Most are on private land and need to allow for other uses. Signs indicate where it is legal to ride. - Diane Conklin, ATV, UTV, and recreational boating grant manager, Madison
Superior DNR Service Center area
Brule River State Forest - Weather forecasts are calling for fall-like temperatures for the next several days with highs in the 60s. The Bois Brule River is flowing at average flow levels for this time of year providing great conditions for the canoeists, kayakers, and fishermen. Local Canada geese are gathering together for the upcoming migration, and some of the Canada geese from the north have started migrating though. Bluebirds have also been gathering for the upcoming migration. Turkey broods have been prominent along the roadsides and fields looking for the numerous grasshoppers. Flickers are also common along the roadsides at this time of year as they are looking for food. Buck rubs are starting to be seen. Buck rubs are marks on trees that bucks will make with their antlers to mark their territory. While many think that spring time is when you think of newborn wildlife, newly hatched turtles are making their appearance now. The pictures above are a pictures of a baby wood turtle. It takes these Wisconsin threatened turtles 10 to 12 years to reproduce. Many nests are built along the roadsides, so drivers please “give them a break” if you see these youngsters crossing the roads. Depending on temperatures, some painted and snapping turtles will sometimes overwinter in their nests before they emerge in the spring. Mosquitoes are still active…some bug repellant may still be an item to pack when coming to visit. - Catherine Khalar, visitor services associate
Ashland DNR Service Center area
Ashland County - Last week brought more fall like weather and the bear season for bait sitters opened midweek. So, both bear hunting options are available to class A tag holders now. Many bear hunters in the area last week were complaining the bear were not hitting the baits. Some of the successful bear hunters and meat processors have also been reporting less fat on bears this year. Bow season along with baiting for deer became available at the end of the week along with small game seasons, and regular goose season starting. Many types of mushroom are available for those knowing what is what. - Matt Mackenzie, conservation warden, Ashland
Spooner DNR Service Center area
Burnett County - The Grantsburg area appears to have good waterfowl numbers for this weekend’s opener. 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. Area oak tree have produced a heavy acorn crop this year so turkeys, deer, and bear have been feeding heavily on the fall crop. This area received a moderate frost this week so insect numbers are very low for upcoming hikes, trail rides, and biking events. - Christopher Spaight conservation warden, Grantsburg
Governor Knowles State Forest - Leaves are changing! Maples, aspen and sumac are most noticeable. The Raspberry and Benson Brook hiking trails south of the St. Croix Camp Ground outside of Grantsburg is a wonderful place to see fall colors. Many horse owners taking advantage of beautiful weather and checking out the fall colors using the equestrian campground and trail system on the south end of Governor Knowles State Forest. Since the start of bow season on September 14, many hunters have noted seeing buck’s still caring velvet on their antlers. - Kyle Anderson, superintendent
Washburn County - Early season goose hunters have been having mixed success in Washburn County. Many fields that would normally be harvested this time of year still have crops standing due to the late spring. Bear hunters are having great success with the abundant bear population. - Dave Swanson, conservation warden, MinongWoodruff DNR Service Center area
Art Oehmcke Hatchery - The hatchery started stocking large fingerling walleye, which averaged 7.5 inches, on Monday, with a total of 8,603 stocked into Florence County lakes. On Tuesday, the hatchery stocked 9,957 walleye into Florence and Forest county lakes and on Wednesday, the hatchery stocked 7,472 fish in Florence County lakes. Oconto County lakes were being stocked Sept. 19. The hatchery was able to raise more of these larger fish for stocking as a result of increased funding available under the Wisconsin Walleye Initiative.
Park Falls DNR Service Center area
Upper Chippewa Basin fisheries report (Price, Rusk, Sawyer Taylor and inland Ashland and Iron counties) - The cool but pleasant late summer weather that has prevailed across northern Wisconsin has made for some good fishing conditions - but just mediocre success. Musky continue to provide the most consistent action and most musky anglers have been reporting a lot of follows and sightings, with quite a few hook-ups and catches as well. The early morning and late afternoon hours have produced the best action, and the preferred lures have been bucktails, jerk baits and top-waters fished over the weed bed and near the deep weed edges. Walleye fishing continues to improve and more anglers are starting to target this species. Quite a few walleye are still relating to weed beds and weed lines, but gravel shores and rock humps have also produced some decent catches. Minnows are starting to produce some fish, but leeches and crawlers have still been producing the most consistent catches. Bass fishing has started to get a bit erratic, with some days producing some very good action and other days finding bites hard to come by. Largemouth have been found near mid-depth structure such logs/stumps, weed lines, and bog edges. Soft plastics and jig/craw combinations have been the lures of choice and the late afternoon period has been most successful. Smallmouth fishing has gotten a bit tougher as well, as the colder temperatures seem to be pushing the fish to the deeper water haunts. The best success has come on finesse plastics fished near woody structure along the deep break lines. Northern pike, an often overlooked fish, has produced some good fishing in the last several weeks. Continued cool water temperatures seem to have favored this species and action has been good around the near-shore weed beds. Spinner baits and medium-sized crank baits have worked the best, and a wire leader is suggested to minimize the bite-offs. Panfish action has been improving, with some nice bluegill being found suspended just off the bottom in 12 to 15 feet of water. Crappie are starting to be found along the deeper weed edges and around mid-depth cover. - Skip Sommerfeldt, senior fisheries biologist, Park Falls
Taylor County - Fall duck count is low and fewer geese are in the area compared to last year. Fall agricultural harvest is behind and many geese are stopping briefly and continuing south to harvested fields. Turkeys were successful with their hatch and many little ones are on the landscape. - Nick Nice, conservation warden, Medford
Flambeau River State Forest - The north fork of the Flambeau River is at a good level for paddlers. Musky action is starting to pick up. There have been a couple of nights of frost and quite a bit of color is starting to show up in the forest, anywhere from 15-25 percent for color. Geese are starting to migrate and the winter berries are starting to turn red. Many of the hunter walking and our hiking trails are being mowed. - Judy Freeman, visitor services associate
Antigo DNR Service Center area
Langlade County - Colors are beginning to change in the Antigo Area. I would estimate that they are at about 20 -25 percent at this time, but recent frosty nights will cause this to change rapidly. Goose migrations has begun with many large flocks showing up in local farm fields. Water levels should be decent for the upcoming duck opener. Good numbers of wood ducks are present. - Eric J. Borchert, wildlife technician, Antigo
Florence DNR at the Florence Natural Resource Center
Florence County - Fall colors are just starting to appear in Florence County, but a frost this weekend will speed up the process. Cold overnight temperatures will characterize the opening weekend of archery deer season. Ample late summer rains have extended the paddling season on some popular rivers, including the lower Pine and Brule, providing opportunity for lovely and rare autumn river runs. While waterfalls in Florence are not running at their peak, there is still enough water to be impressive. Next weekend will be one of the prettiest times of year to take the LaSalle Falls trail hike, as maples and birches change color. - Anna Jahns, wildlife technician, Florence
Forest County - Fall colors are just starting to appear in Forest County, but a frost this weekend will speed up the process. Water levels in Little Rice Flowage Wildlife Area (Crandon) are higher than usual for this time of year, due to significant rains in the last three weeks. Expect water level there to drop gradually as the flowage is drawn down to winter levels through the end of October. - Anna Jahns, wildlife technician, Florence
Northern Lake Michigan fisheries team report
Along the East Shore of the Bay fishing pressure was low throughout the week and weekend. Temperatures remained between 68 and 70 degrees throughout the week but were reported to be as low as 66 during the weekend. Over on the Lower West Shore of the Bay and along the Fox River, fishing pressure was slow throughout the whole week. Water temperatures are starting to drop, fishermen were reporting water temperatures to be about 65 degrees at Geano Beach and 66-67 degrees along the Fox River. - Elizabeth Kussow, fisheries technician, Green Bay
Marinette County -A few smallmouth were being caught at the mouth of the Peshtigo Harbor using plastics and live bait, fishing pressure was low. Walleye and smallmouth are being caught on the Menominee River with early evening being the best time to fish. Sinko's, twister tails, and plastics are working the best. Some salmon have been observed in the river, but no reports of fish being caught. - Kevin King, creel clerk
Oconto County - Very little fishing pressure was observed from the Stiles Dam to Holtwood Park this past week. Those anglers that were interviewed were mainly fishing for small mouth and panfish using live bait and plastics. Catch rates were low. Anglers at the mouth of the Oconto River report catching a few small perch and drum fishing with crawlers. Walleye and perch fishermen on the Bay from Pensaukee to Oconto Park II report few fish being caught due to windy conditions. - Kevin King, creel clerk
Geano beach fishing activity was slow this whole week with a fisherman reporting to look for perch. There wasn't much luck for Perch with only a few being caught and all were released due to them being very small. The fisherman used minnows for bait in about 8-12 feet of water. - Elizabeth Kussow, fisheries technician, Green Bay
Brown County - Suamico River fishing pressure was slow by the weekend with only a handful of fishermen looking for musky. Musky numbers are starting to increase from previous weeks, but only four were reported being caught. All of the musky were released, while fishermen were using mainly cranks (walleye and perch color) for bait in about 5-10 feet of water. There was one boat looking for Walleye in about 10 feet of water using Stick (gold) baits. Walleye numbers were okay with the average size being about 18 to 19 inches in length. Fox River metro fishing pressure was very slow this whole week. Fox River shore fishing pressure was also very slow this week, a few fishermen were looking for catfish and anything that would bite. Catfish numbers were low and a white bass and a few sheepshead were caught. The mains baits used were worms and leeches and butter worms. Bayshore Park had low fishing activity throughout the week and moderate activity on Saturday. Most fishermen targeted perch and walleye, but returned with low numbers of fish. Bait used for perch was primarily minnows in 10-20 feet of water. Walleye bait included crank baits (various colors), and flickershads (perch) in 10-15 feet of water. One fisherman sought musky using bucktails and caught two (reported to be 42 and 47 inches). Other species caught included sheepshead, gobies, and catfish. - Elizabeth Kussow, fisheries technician, Green Bay
Door County - Chaudoir's Dock fishing activity was low throughout the week and weekend. Fishermen targeted perch using minnows in about 16 feet of water and had some success. One fisherman targeted walleye using crank baits (various) in 20 feet of water and returned with one fish. Other species caught included gobies and white perch. Sawyer Harbor fishing activity was low throughout the week. Fishermen were targeting perch and reported good numbers. Bait used was minnows in about 10 feet of water. Other species caught included some small smallmouth bass. Little Sturgeon Bay fishing activity was slow during the week with only a few fishermen looking for smallmouth bass and northern pike. Smallmouth numbers were good and were being caught on tubes and spinners at 20-30 feet. One northern pike was caught on a minnow at about 10 feet. It measured in at 29 inches and about 6 pounds. Other species caught included sheepshead and gobies. - Elizabeth Kussow, fisheries technician, Green Bay
Manitowoc County - Fishing activity was mild to moderate during the week, but increased over the weekend. Sunny conditions and hot temperatures decreased throughout the week and by the weekend the weather was mild with periodic rain storms. The rain seemed to help fish activity and water near the dam in Shoto was released on Sunday. Fishing activity was higher than usual at the Manitowoc ramps with quite a few trailers observed in the parking lot over the weekend. Anglers targeted all species of trout and salmon, with little luck. Just a couple of chinook salmon were reportedly caught and kept, and one brown trout was caught and released. Fishing activity at the Manitowoc piers was moderate during interview times. Anglers targeted all species of salmon and trout without success. Fishing activity was moderate along the Manitowoc River, with the majority of anglers still fishing south of the 8th St. Bridge. Anglers targeted both salmon and trout, and did not have any success during interview times. West Twin River fishing activity increased throughout the week, with the majority of anglers concentrated just south of the Shoto Dam. Water was released from the Dam on Sunday, allowing the salmon to push up river to the dam. Anglers targeted both salmon and trout, and had the best success on Sunday. One angler interviewed caught his daily limit after 6 hours of effort. All species caught on the West Twin River this week were chinook salmon. A few creek chub were also caught while anglers targeted salmon and trout. A few anglers were interviewed at the Shoto Conservation Club and by the public boat launch on West River St. but did not report any success at these locations. Fishing activity was moderate this week at the Two Rivers harbor due to inconsistent weather patterns that produced 90 degree mid week and thunderstorms during the weekend. Anglers targeted all species of salmon and trout, with very limited success. Just a few chinook salmon were reportedly caught during interview times this week. Fishing activity was mild to moderate this week at the Two Rivers piers due to the same inconsistent weather patterns. Anglers targeted both salmon and trout without success during interview times. - Kara White, fisheries technician, Mishicot
Peshtigo DNR Service Center area
Marinette County - Fall seems to be settling in on us. Some color is showing as maples and sumacs are beginning to turn red. There has been rooftop frost the last few morning and opening weekend of bow season had cool weather as well. Based on the volume of deer at the local processor, hunters had good success during the first two days. Some bucks harvested were still in velvet. Acorn production seems spotty this year following a banner year last year. Follow-up treatments of Phragmites on state owned lands will begin later this week on Green Bay west shores (primarily seagull bar and pond road areas). Grouse season is now open and woodcock season opens on Saturday Sept. 21. - Aaron McCullough, wildlife technician, Wausaukee
Colors are slowly starting to change in the north and duck numbers seem to be low. - Dave Oginski, conservation warden, Wausaukee
A number of bucks in velvet were taken during the opening weekend in Oconto County. A reminder to hunters to possess these antlers they do need to contact the DNR for a tag for the velvet antlers. Fishing has been slow but reports of some nice smallmouth bass being taken on the Oconto river. Some salmon are starting to show up in the Oconto River as well. The recent cold spell has pushed down some Canada geese offering some good field hunting opportunities. - Mike Stahl, conservation warden, Oconto Falls
Shawano County - Leaves are starting to turn, weather has been great. A large number of cranes and migratory birds can be seen in the area. Many turkeys can be seen on area fields as farmers harvest corn and hay. Bow hunters are having very good success. Most of the bucks harvested were in velvet yet. Water temps are still fairly warm and fishing has been very good with fishermen enjoying some of the better success of the year and little pressure. - Jim Horne, conservation warden, Shawano
Green Bay DNR Service Center area
Brown County - Archery hunters are already having success and have been able to harvest some bucks in velvet. (Hunters are reminded to contact their local conservation warden within 7 days of harvest to obtain a free permit allowing the hunter to possess the velvet antlers) Fall colors are beginning to show in limited areas. - Andy Lundin, conservation warden, Green Bay
Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center area
Kewaunee County – There have been plenty of hunting opportunities for the various openers in September. Good numbers of deer have been seen by archery hunters with some already successfully harvesting deer. There were not a lot of agricultural fields available for goose hunters, but more and more are becoming available with the fall harvest. Those that did find fields to hunt in, have harvested good numbers of geese. More geese are migrating in each night with the colder weather. Fishing pressure on the inland lakes has slowed, while the tributaries are seeing more fishing pressure every day as the salmon make their annual run. Some people saw a helicopter flying low over the Kewaunee River. A treatment was applied to the Phragmites grass that has taken over the entire shoreline from Kewaunee to Footbridge. This was an effort to control the invasive grass and allow the natural vegetation to return. This treatment has seen good success in other areas of the state. The treatment went as planned, and only time will tell how successful it will be in Kewaunee.- Kyle Lynch, conservation warden, Kewaunee
Wautoma DNR Service Center area
Marquette/Waushara counties - Many hunters have taken to the woods this week with some success stories. Hunters reported that some bucks in the area were still in velvet or attempting to shed the velvet from their antlers. We would like to remind hunters to contact a conservation warden after you have tagged/ registered your deer to get a special permit for possessing a velvet antlers. With some of the cooler weather, Canada geese are on the move with decent flocks being seen just after sunup or just before sundown. The colder weather has also started a little change in color of trees. Some ash trees and locust have begun to change yellow, but we are still weeks away from the fall “festival” of colors here in the sand counties. These trees and others may be starting to show a little due to the drought conditions we have had. It should also be noted that White Oak trees in Marquette and Waushara appear to have had a good acorn crop this year. - Brian Finch, wildlife technician, Wautoma
Waupaca County - Woodcock migration has not yet reached central Wisconsin – opener on Saturday might be a little slow. Goose hunters reporting decent success on stubble fields this past week. We had a light frost on Sept. 16, that should help with leaf drop. Recent rains have helped stream levels and trout fishing has picked up. They are biting on spinners and small stick baits. Biting winged insects are nearly non-existent – very nice. Beware, the deer ticks are back out. Take the necessary precautions to avoid them and check your pets over. - Karl Kramer, wildlife technician, Wautoma
Hunters have been reporting good success in seeing good numbers of deer on the opening weekend of archery season. Bear hunters also have had good success in the Waupaca area – one young hunter harvested a 375 pound bear south of Waupaca. It is still too early for fall colors to be evident. A few trees are starting to turn. - Ted Dremel, conservation warden, Wautoma
Waushara County - The weather for opening of archery and the youth waterfowl hunt was great in Waushara County. A young man was able to register his first deer harvested with archery equipment on opening morning. The deer seemed to be moving well in the cooler temperatures. With rain and warm weather during the week things have slowed a bit, but cooler and drier weather looks like it is coming through this weekend which should have the critters on the move again. A few groups of youth waterfowl hunters were out with every group having success. There was one group that experienced both sides of waterfowl hunting. Opening day they had a great shoot with clear cool weather and on day two they still had some success, but experienced a cold and very wet day in the marsh. It seemed to be a great learning weekend for all the youth involved. - Ben Mott, conservation warden, Wautoma
As the gun deer season grows closer the anticipation to sight in those rifles, shotguns and pistols grow. This fall weather is bringing individuals out to the new and improved shooting range just west of Wautoma. It is located off Bicentennial Road, just north of County Road C. Crews have added limestone around the 50 foot (pistol range), 50 yard, 100 yard and 200 yard ranges. This will help when Mother Nature drops a bunch of rain and it does not have time to soak in. The DNR Facilities and Lands Division has also added new steel shooting posts with slide in wood for easy changing. Bring a staple gun with to attach your paper targets. In-between each range there is a huge berm so you do not have to wait for the range next to you to be done shooting before you check your target. The range opens at 10 a.m. each morning and it is getting busier as the time grows closer. We just ask that NO bird shot be used because it shoots up the wood backing to quickly. This range is FREE, but we ask for a worthy donation to help keep the range up. Please take out your garbage. Be safe and enjoy your time shooting. Remember to take a kid shooting! - Dave Westphal, facilities and lands wildlife technician, Wautoma
Oshkosh DNR Service Center area
Outagamie County - The Youth waterfowl hunters found a lot of ducks in the area. The duck opener should provide large water fowl numbers for the hunters. Many of the birds will still be in eclipse plumage so hunters will have to brush up on their identification skills. Several swans are still in the area and are protected. Snow geese have black wing tips and are a smaller than a Canada goose. Numerous bucks in velvet were harvested on opening weekend. Hunters are reminded that they will need a tag to possess the velvet antlers. There is no charge for this tag. - Mike Young, conservation warden, Shiocton
Archery hunters have been harvesting a large number of bucks still in live velvet. This is unusual in comparison to other years. Anglers are continuing to catch bass on the Fox River and have begun bagging nice crappies as well. Goose hunters are still struggling to find places to hunt as corn is still standing everywhere. Many goose hunters have been mentioning an increase in conflicts with other hunters this year due to the lack of areas to hunt. - Ryan Propson, conservation warden, Appleton
Milwaukee DNR Service Center area
Milwaukee County – Brown trout are being caught in McKinley Marina. There are a few salmon in the Grant Park pool in South Milwaukee. - Gervis Myles, conservation warden, Milwaukee
Southern Lake Michigan fisheries team report - Compiled from creel clerks by Cheryl Masterson and Jeffrey Zinuticz, fisheries technicians, Milwaukee
Sheboygan County - In Sheboygan strong winds and high waves have kept many trollers off the lake. Most who did venture out stayed near the harbor, but fishing was slow. One boat was able to fish in 120 to 200 feet of water, and they brought back a few chinooks and a rainbow. A few anglers have been fishing the Sheboygan piers, but only a few chinook and browns have been landed. Other anglers have been working off the docks at the ramp in the marina. While they reported no fish caught, they have been taunted by the fish consistently jumping all around them in the marina. Due to increased wave action in the past couple days, water clarity has been reduced in the marina and along the lake side of both piers. The water temperature has decreased to about 63°F in recent days. Fishing activity remains non-existent on the Pigeon River and Weedens Creek, and water levels are very low on both tributaries. Sheboygan River anglers have been concentrated downstream of the 8th Street Bridge, and they have taken a few chinooks on spawn sacs near the base of the South Pier. A few anglers have been casting spinners and flies between Kiwanis Park and the Kohler Dam, but catch rates have been low with only a few smallmouth bass caught near the Kohler Municipal Sheds. Water levels on the Sheboygan have fluctuated over the past few days, rising with occasional rain events. Despite increased flow, water clarity remains good, and the temperature is about 72 degrees.
Ozaukee County - In Port Washington only a few trollers have been out on the lake. One group reported catching a few chinook while trolling around 275 feet of water; they also reported that surface temperature was around 68°F from the harbor to about 200 feet of water. Quite a few shoreline anglers have been working the area around the Port Washington power plant discharge, with a few large chinook and browns caught on spawn sacs. Fishing off the pier has been slow, although one group of anglers landed a Chinook, a coho, and a brown while casting glow spoons on the lake side of the pier. Water clarity has been reduced in and around the marina, due to recent wave action and Sunday’s steady rainfall. The water temperature has remained in the upper 60s for the past few days, and many fish have been rising in and around the marina. Sauk Creek remains low with no fishing activity seen. The water temperature in the creek has been around 64°F.
Milwaukee County - Trolling in Milwaukee has been relatively slow. Most were focusing 35 to 60 feet down in 60 to 110 feet of water, with a mix of chinook, lake trout, and coho taken. Quite a few boats have been jigging in the gaps and trolling the river channel and harbor for chinook with limited success. The best area was outside the breakwater near the north and main gaps, and the best baits were Gulp or jigging spoons in blue or green worked off the bottom. Anglers off of McKinley pier produced a few chinook on spoons or blade baits, and others had success using crank baits or floating spawn near the rocks or weed patches along the Sailing Center. There were some small perch caught on minnows fished off the bottom under the Hoan Bridge near the Summerfest grounds, and there have been reports of a few brown trout and chinook being caught on spoons under the Hoan at Jones Island. A few fish have been taken throughout the day, but the most productive times have been at dawn or dusk. There have been a few anglers trying to fly fish for chinook in Oak Creek and at the mouth, but they were unsuccessful. Water levels are low, and no salmon have been seen in the creek yet. Anglers on the Oak Creek power plant pier caught a few chinook off the end using spoons or crank baits in various colors. The Milwaukee River has been at normal to just below normal flow for this time of year, has mildly poor water clarity from the rainfall over the weekend, and a temperature of 65 degrees. There were anglers seen fly fishing for salmon at Kletzsch Park with no fish being caught. There have been reports of a few salmon seen along the entire length of the Milwaukee River, and they weren’t concentrated in any one location. The Menomonee River is low, and the water is quite clear. No salmon have been seen in the river.
Racine County - In Racine most trollers have been working the area around the harbor mouth and into the Root River, but fishing has been slow. One boat reported that they went out as far as 250 feet and managed to catch a couple coho, rainbows, and lake trout. Shore anglers have been fishing the rocky point near the entrance to Reefpoint Marina and have been doing fairly well with spoons, stick baits, and skein. The surface temperature at the lakefront was 65 degrees over the weekend. Those on the north pier have been catching a few rainbows and chinook on spoons, and south pier anglers have been catching chinook as well. The early morning and late evening bite has been most consistent. On the Root River, flows are quite low, but chinook have been seen around the cable bridge in Washington Park. The Root River Steelhead Facility was started on Monday, Sept. 16. The first fish processing day was scheduled for Wednesday, Sept. 18.
Kenosha County - Kenosha trollers have been dwindling in number recently. The majority of those still fishing have been trolling close to shore and in the harbor for chinook and browns. They have been coming in with a few large chinook up to 20-25 pounds. Fishing pressure has been heavy on the Kenosha piers and shoreline. There are large fish jumping in the harbor, and it is not uncommon to see 20 pound chinook swim right next to the piers. Good numbers of chinook and a few coho and browns have been caught each day; and crank baits have produced along with spoons in purple, watermelon, and glow colors. Anglers working the beach area near the mouth of the Pike River have been catching chinook and a few browns on a variety of spoons. The surface temperature at the mouth of the Pike was 64 degrees and was 65 further upriver at Petrifying Springs Park. Fishing upriver has been slow so far, and water levels remain low.
Waukesha DNR Service Center area
Waukesha County - Anglers are still catching bass on Pewaukee Lake. - Matt Groppi, conservation warden, Waukesha
Plymouth DNR Service Center area
Theresa Marsh State Wildlife Area - Hunters are reminded that two small areas of the Jackson Marsh Wildlife Area are temporarily closed to public use during September and October to allow completion of preventive maintenance work on the West Shore gas pipeline west of Highway G between State Highway 60 and County Highway PV. Maps showing the closed areas are posted at parking areas near the construction sites. DNR and private contractors are also be working on two separate wetland restoration projects on Jackson Marsh - one is just west of the pipeline repair area (north of the Cedar Creek bridge) and the other is off of Church Road in the east half of Jackson Marsh. Property users are asked to use caution when hunting or hiking near any of the construction areas. Questions about these project or the pipeline Closed Areas are directed to the DNR Wildlife Biologist at the Pike Lake Unit office in Hartford (262-670-3409). The migratory “Interior” subspecies of Canada geese have begun to return to Theresa Marsh and to other areas all over the state. Their numbers will build up slowly around the state over the next few weeks. The first migrant geese were seen on Theresa Marsh this week. We are also seeing larger flocks of sandhill cranes coming to Theresa Marsh. Water levels on Theresa Marsh have been rising and will be at the normal seasonal level for the Sept. 28 duck season opener. - Tom Isaac, wildlife biologist, Hartford
South Central Region
Lower Wisconsin State Riverway - The water levels on Sept. 19, at the Prairie Du Sac dam was 3,392 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. There are a lot of hunting opportunities within the 45,000 acres of the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway. Hikers are encouraged to wear bright colored clothing when walking afield. All trails within the Riverway are open and in good condition. Fishing activity has had mixed results. Smallmouth bass are being caught in any deep holes and the walleye are beginning to bite below the dam at Prairie Du Sac. - Matt Seguin, property manager
Dodgeville DNR Service Center area
Grant County - Fishing continues to be slow throughout Mississippi River Pools 11 and 12 as well as O Leary Lake. A few hand-sized bluegills have been caught, but anglers report “few and far between”. Goose hunters during the early season had reported several geese harvested below Lock and Dam 11 near Dubuque on the backwater sloughs. Several concentrations and morning flights of wood ducks and teal have been seen in Pool 11 near Snyder Slough and Rosebrook Island. A few scattered mallards have also been observed. Water levels remain very low, and for the opening weekend, Mississippi River duck hunters will find large expanses of water lilies and other emergent plants that harbor ducks and hinder their retrieval, inside of Snyder Slough islands. Many island ponds such as Rosebrook and Balds Island, are dry or near dry. - Richard S. DeWitte, conservation warden, Cassville
Richland County - Squirrel hunters along the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway are reporting very few nuts and too many leaves are limiting success. - Michael Nice, conservation warden, Richland Center
Wyalusing State Park -Mississippi River level at Prairie du Chien was at 7.3 feet Sept. 19 and is expected to remain at that level for the next week. The first day of Autumn is Sunday, Sept. 22. There is a hint of fall in the area. Staghorn sumac leaves are brilliant red. Oaks should be dropping acorns and walnuts are falling. The Hummingbird Migration continues. Five of the 10 feeders remain filled for the migrating hummers. At times there are as many as 12-15 and other times there are none at the feeders. I learned an interesting fact this week about migrating hummingbirds. As they cross the Gulf, they feed on insects. Camping availability for this weekend is excellent. Sites are also available on a first come first served basis. As of Thursday morning, there are 3 electric sites and a number of bluff sites in the Wisconsin Ridge Campground as well as many sites in Homestead Campground available for the weekend. Mississippi River Migratory Bird Season (duck hunting) opens at 9 a.m. on Saturday, Sept. 21. This season remains open through Sept. 29 and is closed from Sept. 30 through Oct. 11. It will reopen on Oct. 12 through Dec. 1.
Fitchburg DNR Service Center area
Columbia County - This past weekend the youth waterfowl hunt proved successful for area youths with some young hunters getting shooting opportunities without the pressure of other hunters in the same area. Saturday was an ideal day while Sunday proved more challenging with less activity from young hunters and waterfowl. Every year, populations of waterfowl using different water bodies will vary. Last year it seemed that more green and blue winged teal were present for the youth hunt while wood ducks were prevalent this year. Scouting an area is vital to find where these ducks go once they’ve been hunted. The larger state and federal properties are always good but smaller water bodies away from other people can create a great outdoor experience when the regular season opens in a few weeks. Several lowered tailgates at deer registration stations this weekend revealed what area bow hunters have been waiting for – the start of bow season. Some smaller bucks and a few does have been harvested to start the season which ends Jan. 5, 2014. - Al Ramminger, wildlife technician, Portage
State Game Farm - The Friends of Poynette Game Farm and Columbia County Pheasants Forever have teamed up to offer three “free” Learn to Hunt pheasant programs at the MacKenzie Center in September. More than 40 novice hunters will learn the basics of pheasant hunting, including: firearm safety, target shooting, pheasant biology and management, rules and regulations, dog training, a mentored hunt, and a tour of the State Game Farm. These two-day programs include all food, lodging, and equipment. Programs offered include events for “females only,” “adults only” and an event open to anyone 10 years or older. An event open to anyone 10 years or older is planned for December 7-8, 2013. More information and application materials can be found at www.friendsofwihunting.org or search the DNR website for "LTH." - Bob Nack, State Game Farm director
Dane County – Anglers have recently been having moderate success harvesting suspended panfish on Madison Area lakes. Game fishers have been experiencing sporadic action on bass, northern pike, walleye, and muskies on the Madison Chain. Youth waterfowl hunters experienced moderate action on some waterways in the Madison Area during the Youth Waterfowl Hunt. With most corn fields still standing early goose season action was limited, and there was light activity and action observed and reported by hunters during the opening weekend of archery and small game seasons in Dane County. Recent cold fronts have brought migratory bird flights into action, especially along wooded waterways. - Henry Bauman, conservation warden, Fitchburg
Observers are noting late turkey and mallard broods with the extended, wet spring. Young foxes and coyotes are now dispersing from their natal territories. These animals tend to be moving more in the day and in less favorable habitat near humans. People should not be alarmed if they see these animals hunting for food during the day as they figure out how to make their way in the world. Monarch butterflies and green darners are migrating south through Dane County. Toads were moving last night in the warm/humid weather to wetlands for hibernation. Still some bats migrating south. Farmers are beginning to chop cornfields in the area. Geese are starting to move out of city limits with the colder weather to feed in agricultural fields. - Andy Paulios, wildlife biologist, Fitchburg
Jefferson County - Conditions are improving on wetlands throughout the county. The upcoming waterfowl season is looking good for hunters. Nesting success was very high this spring and any additional rain will improve hunting conditions and fall waterfowl numbers. Fall turkey hunters should have no problem locating birds in Jefferson County this fall. Once located the rest is up to the hunter! Area Rivers are still lower than normal so boaters should be cautious when navigating. - Ryan Ellifson, conservation warden, Jefferson County
West Central Region
Black River Falls DNR Service Center area
Black River State Forest - We finally received some rain in Black River last weekend are expecting more mid-week. The weekend forecast at this time is dry with highs in the mid to upper 60s Friday – Sunday. It’s looking a little more like Fall in the Black River Area. Maples are beginning to turn red and there are some yellows starting to show in Aspen. Even a few oak are starting to show a little color. The forest floor has a bit of color with many ferns having turned yellow. Peak color at the Black River area is typically in early October. All-terrain vehicle and UTV trails are being groomed this week and should be in great shape for riding this weekend. This will likely be the last grooming before the trails close on Oct. 15. The weather should be great for riding this weekend. - Peter Bakken, superintendent
Eau Claire DNR Service Center area
Eau Claire County -The woods are really dry so hunters should be very careful with fire. The acorns have been falling for a while and deer are concentrated in the oaks. I have been in the woods a lot lately and I have not flushed any grouse in the east half of Eau Claire County. Leaves are already starting to change, some undergrowth is dying back so the woods will probably be more open than a normal opening weekend. Rivers are low and if we don’t get some rain it may be hard for waterfowl hunters to float areas that they normally float. - Ken Thomson, conservation warden, Fall Creek
Anglers looking to catch some tasty catfish are having great success during this period of warm water conditions. Catfish populations are strong on the lower Chippewa River from Lake Holcombe downstream to Lake Pepin. Catfish anglers do best on the main flowages such as Lake Wissota and the Holcombe Flowage however the smaller riverine flowages such as Cornell, Old Abe, Chippewa Falls and Dells Pond should not be overlooked. - Scott Thiede, conservation warden, Eau Claire