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Outdoor Report for September 26, 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).
Overnight lows often dipping into the 40s in the north and Fall Color has reached 30 to 40 percent at Copper Falls State Park in Ashland County, while the Flambeau River State Forest in Price County is reporting 50 percent or more color change.
Some leaves have started to drop in the northwest and that is improving conditions for early archery hunters who are registering some nice bucks. Bucks are still being seen in velvet but more rubs are showing up.
The northern waterfowl opener had mixed results with wood ducks being the most seen bird. Fewer ducks were seen in the north with more reported in central Wisconsin. Weather for the southern duck season opener this Saturday looks to be up in the air, with the latest report calling for isolated thunderstorms and a high of 77 degrees. Hunters are reminded the season does not open until 9 a.m. Saturday morning. Thousands of green-winged teal were recently reported from Horicon Marsh.
Lake Superior run brown trout and coho salmon are being caught in the Bois Brule River. Some trout and salmon continue to make it up Lake Michigan tributaries, but still not yet in high numbers. Fish were reported on both the Kewaunee and Ahnapee rivers with chinook being caught. The Root River Steelhead Facility began operation last week, but fisheries crews have only captured 38 fish so far.
Salmon fishing along Door County was still good with boats fishing out of Sturgeon Bay on the bank reef. Musky fishing is hot on Green Bay with numerous keeper size muskies being caught. Shore and pier fishing at harbors continues to be steady with chinook, coho and brown trout all reported.
With many hunting seasons open, inland fishing pressure was a bit reduced across the Northwoods. Musky have been receiving the most attention lately and the action has continued to be good. The musky have been active at nearly all times of the day and most anglers were reporting some sort of action including short hits, follows, swirls, and a good number of catches as well. In the south, walleye were being caught on the lower Wisconsin and Rock rivers. Trout fishers are reminded the inland trout season closes September 30.
There are a lot of events and activities taking place this weekend at state park, forest and trail properties, including Art in the Park and Fall Fest at Copper Falls, a candlelight hike at Interstate Park, and Sturgeon Fest at Lakeshore Park in Milwaukee where a thousand young sturgeon will be released. And in celebration of National Public Lands Day guided field trips are being offered at several State Natural Areas and Horicon Marsh is holding a volunteer work day.
Fall birding is fantastic right now as we transition from long-distance migrants en route for Latin America to short-distance migrants likely to overwinter in the lower 48. Orioles, tanagers, grosbeaks, vireos, flycatchers, and other Neotropical migrants are being replaced with sparrows, kinglets, blackbirds, robins, and other hardy migrants from the Canadian boreal forest. Yellow-rumped, palm, and Tennessee warblers have begun to dominate the warbler scene but nearly 20 species are still possible across the state. Buffalo and Montello lakes in Marquette County have been popular among birders and the public alike recently as thousands of great egrets, American white pelicans, bald eagles, terns, and other birds have been found there.
Statewide Birding Report
Fall birding is fantastic right now as we transition from long-distance migrants en route for Latin America to short-distance migrants likely to overwinter in the lower 48. Orioles, tanagers, grosbeaks, vireos, flycatchers, and other Neotropical migrants are being replaced with sparrows, kinglets, blackbirds, robins, and other hardy migrants from the Canadian boreal forest. Yellow-rumped, palm, and Tennessee warblers have begun to dominate the warbler scene but nearly 20 species are still possible across the state. White-throated sparrow numbers are building in the north, and birders this week noted the first influx of dark-eyed juncos. Be on the lookout for white-crowned, Lincoln’s, fox, Harris’s, and other less common species in the weeks ahead. Weedy fields and shrub lands typically host good sparrow numbers, while backyard birders can attract them with bird seed sprinkled on the ground adjacent to brush piles and other areas of dense vegetation. Now is also a good time to resume regular bird feeding activities as goldfinches, purple finches, nuthatches, and other seed eaters are moving around now. On the water, goose migration is picking up statewide with reports of snow, Ross’s, and cackling geese among the incoming Canadas from Hudson Bay and beyond. Meanwhile, duck migration has been slow to kick in, although a few divers have been reported on Lake Superior, blue-winged teal and wood ducks were seen in good numbers across the south, and thousands of green-winged teal were recently reported from Horicon Marsh. Horned and red-necked grebes, as well as small numbers of common loons, are now staging on the Great Lakes. Buffalo and Montello lakes in Marquette County have been popular among birders and the public alike recently as thousands of great egrets, American white pelicans, bald eagles, terns, and other birds have been found there. Broad-winged hawks made their passage through the state in large numbers this past week, en route to southern Central America and northern South America. Sharp-shinned and Cooper’s hawks, merlins, peregrine falcons, turkey vultures, and other raptors are on the move as well. The Lake Michigan shoreline on days with west winds can be a great place for hawk watching. The birding event of the fall, known as Jaegerfest, wrapped up this weekend and lived up to its name. Both parasitic and long-tailed jaegers were found at close range – each September birders across the Midwest trek to the beach at Wisconsin Point in Superior to see these rare species. Other rare finds this week included Sabine’s gull also at Wisconsin Point, western kingbird in Ozaukee, red phalaropes in both Clark and Winnebago, and both Nelson’s and Le Conte’s sparrows in drier, smartweed-laden wetlands of southeastern Wisconsin. With a cold front expected to move through the state on Saturday, birders should anticipate some new birds moving in by the end of the weekend. As always, help us track the migration by reporting your sightings to Wisconsin eBird. - Ryan Brady, Bureau of Wildlife Management research scientist, Ashland
Superior DNR Service Center area
Brule River State Forest - The color show is becoming more pronounced every day but we are still a week or so from peak color. We do have some very colorful patches here and there, but overall we are around 25 percent color. The maples and sumac are quite colorful with their red colors. The understory is showing quite a bit of color with the shrubs, ferns, and the vibrant colored mushrooms. Some areas have received heavier frost that has cured some of the fine fuels such as grasses and ferns. While our fire danger is set at low, people are asked to be careful of their campfires and debris burns and to make sure the fire is out and cold before leaving it. Winds could easily carry an ember towards the dried vegetation, causing a wildfire. Fishermen are reporting lake run brown trout and coho salmon are being caught in the Bois Brule River. Fishermen are reminded that fishing on the Brule, Highway 2 and upstream to the headwaters will be closing Sept. 30. Highway 2 and downstream to the mouth of the River will be open until Nov. 15. - Catherine Khalar, visitor services associate
Ashland DNR Service Center area
Ashland County - The week ended with a full harvest moon, complete with clear skies to view it. All fall seasons are open with waterfowl starting on Saturday. Frost has occurred in many areas away from Lake Superior. Trees continue in color transformation and now the underbrush is starting too. Heavy rain fell during the last week to keep things moist and helped to add new bug hatches to an already high insect population. Fishing is mixed and reports of hunting success limited. There doesn’t seem to be a heavy interest in hunting yet. However, the bait season has a few people active and corn prices are once again starting to enter everyday conversations of many non-farmers. Work ended on the White River Dam and the gates have been closed. The flowage is approaching half full or perhaps as some may see it, as still more than “half empty”. - Matt Mackenzie, conservation warden, Ashland
Douglas County - Summer is struggling to hang on over the extreme northwestern portion of the state. Overnight lows often dipping into the 40s have most outdoor users putting fishing gear away for the year to concentrate on hunting activities. Musky anglers are reporting some success around the area. It appears that the very few local ducks that were around for opener have been well educated by now. Hunters looking for grouse are reporting few if any birds. - John Krull, conservation warden, Superior
Copper Falls State Park - The trees have been turning to their brilliant fall colors. We estimate the color to be at about 30-40 percent as of Monday, Sept. 23. We expect the fall color to peak around the weekend of Sept. 27. Art in the Park/Fall Fest is on Saturday, Sept. 28. The event includes a craft show from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., a silent auction 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. benefiting the Friends of Copper Falls State Park, and a historical tour at Noon. There will also be an activity table for kids, and an apple cider press demonstration. The amount of water flowing through the Bad River Gorge has now receded back to normal conditions. There have been more days with higher than normal water conditions over the past several years. All the hiking trails are open and in great condition. Users of the Doughboy Trail are reminded that the Bad River Gorge is not open to the public. Please stay on this designated trail and avoid crossing over fences for your safety. The two designated bike trails (Takesson and Vahtera) have a few wet and muddy portions along them. Bikers should use caution while on these trails. We recommend walking your bikes around the wet areas until they are dry. Please contact the park office for more trail conditions. Keep in mind that our concessionaire has shut down for the 2013 season. - Gregory P Behling, ranger
Hayward DNR Service Center area
Sawyer County - Musky activity is picking up on area lakes and rivers over the past week and will get even better. Some individuals are reporting multiple fish in one day with some being of decent size. The standard buck-tail has been a good producer in a larger size with jerk baits also starting to see action now. Of all, the top producer seems to be suckers. It appears that most fish that are following artificial baits to the boat are taking the sucker once there. Fish seem to be scattered on various structures with the best being deeper drop off points and bars adjacent to weeds, wood or larger rocks. Individuals fishing with suckers in Sawyer County are reminded of a few laws pertaining to musky fishing. One is that trolling is prohibited on most lakes and rivers unless posted as a legal lake to troll. Check landings and regulations before dragging suckers as you troll with a motor while fishing for musky. Row trolling is legal and used by individuals this time of year on lakes where motor trolling is illegal. Also, if fishing with live bait that is 8 inches or longer you must use a quick-strike rig or non-offset circle hook. Game fish can be used as live bait as long as the game fish being used meets legal size restrictions (if any) and count as your daily bag limit for that species. Also, live fish and lake/river water can’t be transported away from the water body they were caught or obtained. So live game fish have to be used on the body of water they were caught and all water has to be drained from buckets, coolers, live wells, etc. before leaving the lake. - Thomas Heisler Jr., conservation warden, Winter
Spooner DNR Service Center area
Polk County - The leaves are starting to drop in Polk County and early season archery hunters are having some success. There is a large amount of acorns dropping in the county. Many hunters are having success hunting white oak ridges. Several nice bucks have been harvested and several antlerless deer. In speaking with local anglers the bluegills have started to bit again in deeper water on several of the local lakes including some bluegills that were pushing 9 inches. In speaking with waterfowl hunters on opening weekend hunters reported not seeing many ducks. Only a few ducks were harvested by the hunters. - Jesse Ashton conservation warden, Luck
Crex Meadows State Wildlife - Fall colors are beginning to appear, with the yellows of the birches and aspens turning first. Some rain last week should allow the colors to turn slowly, making for a good show. Songbird migration is continuing but waning, with a few late warblers being sighted, and hawk migration is in mid-stream. Keep a look out for broad-winged and sharp-shinned hawks, American kestrels, and turkey vultures. Canada goose and sandhill crane numbers are increasing. Morning and evenings are filled with crane and goose calls as flocks pass over town. Watch the crop fields along Williams Road and at the north end of the refuge in Crex Meadows for sandhills feeding during the day. A good place to watch cranes fly over is along Main Dike Road on the south side of the refuge at sunrise and sunset. Waterfowl migration is beginning. The majority of northern nesters are still waiting to come south, waiting for cooler weather to move them into our area. Bucks are beginning to rub their velvet off in anticipation of the upcoming rut. - Kristi Pupak, natural resources educator
Interstate Park – Come to the park for a Candlelight Walk around Lake of the Dalles beginning at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 28. Walk at your own pace around the scenic shore of the lake guided by candlelight underfoot. Start your walk at the River Bottoms picnic area near the fishing pier. Bring a flashlight. There will be a campfire and free s’more fixings (while they last) provided by the Friends of Interstate Park. Also join storyteller and author Greg Jacobs starting at 7:30 p.m. for an exciting and interactive presentation around the campfire called Fireside Tales: Rhyming Stories of Wildlife and Outdoor Adventure. - Julie Fox, natural resources educator
Park Falls DNR Service Center area
Upper Chippewa Basin fisheries report (Price, Rusk, Sawyer Taylor and inland Ashland and Iron counties) - With most hunting seasons now open, fishing pressure was a bit reduced on nearly all lakes across the Northwoods. Musky have been receiving the most attention lately and the action has continued to be good. The musky have been active at nearly all times of the day and most anglers were reporting some sort of action including short hits, follows, swirls, and a good number of catches as well. Artificial baits have still been producing some pretty good action, but live suckers have been getting more and more attention in the last two weeks. The most successful artificials have been bucktails, jerk baits, and bulldawg-type baits; and 12- to 14-inch suckers on a quick-strike rig have been the most productive. Most of the musky have been in the 34 to 40 inch size, but fish up in mid-40-inch size have also been reported. Bass fishing has continued to get more erratic on local waters, but some good action has been experienced on a couple of days. Largemouth bass have been more consistent than smallmouth, with the best action coming from mid-depth cover, near weed edges, woody structures, docks, or bog edges. Soft plastics and jig/craw combinations continue to be the best baits, though rubber frogs over the thick weeds have also produced a few fish. Smallmouth fishing has been an on-again, off-again experience, with some good days of fishing mixed in with some very poor days. Area rivers and flowages have provided the best action, with finesse plastics and lindy-rigged leeches or crawler-half being the more successful baits. Northern pike fishing has remained good, with the cool water temperatures continuing to favor this species. Spinner baits fished in or near any weeds has provided some great action. Very few reports of walleye success have come in as most anglers seem to have given up until the good fall bite begins. Panfish success has been fair, with some bluegill, perch and crappie showing up along the deeper weed edges. Sturgeon anglers continue to have fair success with many anglers reporting catching a few of these ancient fish. Most of the fish have been in the 30 to 48-inch size, with a just a few legal 60-plus-inch fish being caught. The larger rivers have been the most popular spots, with the best action coming on cut bait and gobs of night crawlers fished in the deep holes or deep river bends. - Skip Sommerfeldt, senior fisheries biologist, Park Falls
Taylor County - Taylor County received the most waterfowl hunting pressure seen in recent years. Most hunters were from the southern zone getting an additional opening weekend in before their season opens on Sept. 28. The hunters found fewer birds made up mostly of wood ducks and mallards. Teal were almost nonexistent this year. – Nick Nice, conservation warden, Medford
Flambeau River State Forest - It has been beautiful camping weather River levels on the both the South & North Fork of the Flambeau River are still at a good level for paddlers. It is becoming a beautiful drive in the forest. The forest is alive with color, especially between Phillips & Winter in Sawyer County. We are at about 55 percent for color with the peak still expected to be about the first week in Oct. The leaves are changing quickly and the ash have already dropped their leaves. We are seeing lots of geese and the turkey population is definitely up. Lake of the Pines Campground is open till Dec. 15. - Judy Freeman, visitor services associate
Woodruff DNR Service Center area
Forest County - Several young bucks are being seen in the northern Forest County area with lots of daytime movement starting. Deer hunters in the Three Lakes area are reporting that deer are visiting their bait piles on a regular basis and expect good success. There have been good numbers of ruffed grouse in northern Forest County with spotting and stalking from vehicles being the most common method of hunting during this early part of the season. - Pat Novesky, conservation warden, Three Lakes
Antigo DNR Service Center area
Langlade County - Fall colors in the Antigo area are at about 40% of peak colors. Maples are currently the most vibrant colors. Water levels for the waterfowl opener are about as good as they have been in the past decade. Good numbers of wood ducks and mallards will be present on opening weekend. The goose migration continues to increase. Large flocks of geese are utilizing recently harvested oats fields. - Eric J. Borchert, wildlife technician, Antigo
Florence DNR at the Florence Natural Resource Center
Florence County - Huntable populations of ruffed grouse and woodcock are present throughout most of Florence County, especially in young forest areas in the eastern half of the county. Networks of hunter walking trails on Florence County Forest as well as woods roads on state and industrial forest lands provide good access to these sites; map available at the Florence Wild Rivers Interpretive Center. Deer and turkey are moving with cooler night-time temperatures. With the fall color display picking up, this weekend and next will be among the best to travel the newly-created “Wild Rivers Auto Tour Route.” - Anna Jahns, wildlife technician, Florence
Peshtigo River State Forest - The colors are beautiful this time of the year on the Peshtigo River State Forest. The maples and aspens are changing, which contrast nicely with the still-green oaks and forever-green pines. All of the state forest is open to hunting, except for a small buffer around our campground. Hunters have been successful already this year for bear, deer, goose, duck, and grouse. The state forest has some excellent grouse habitat. The Peshtigo River flowages make for some nice duck hunting as well. Old Veteran's Lake campground is open. After Labor Day, all 16 sites are available on a first come, first serve basis only. - Sara Pearson, Ranger/Assistant Manager
Marinette County - A few smallmouth were caught at the mouth of the Peshtigo Harbor using plastics and live bait. Walleye and smallmouth were caught on the Menominee River with early evening being the best time using sinko's, twister tails, or plastics. Increased activity at the boat landings was mainly due to water fowl hunters, with very little fishing activity being reported. Menominee River anglers are still catching walleye during the early morning or evening hours using jigs and twister tails or stick baits. Most fish are being caught in the vicinity of the Hattie Street Dam. Trolling on the Menominee has been producing some smallmouth, drum, and catfish using crawler/harness or stick baits. Trout and salmon action remains slow. - Kevin King, creel clerk
Oconto County - Anglers at the mouth of the Oconto River caught a few small perch and freshwater drum using crawlers. Walleye and perch anglers from Pensaukee to Oconto Park II reported a few fish being caught. Anglers fishing below the Stiles Dam were catching crappie, blue gill, and small mouth using slip bobbers and minnow or plastics, fishing along the pilings. Salmon and trout fishing has been slow. Perch action on the Bay has slowed due to windy conditions. - Kevin King, creel clerk
The leaves are beginning to change in Oconto County with lowlands being the first to go. Some great reds and yellows can be seen. The northern waterfowl opener had mixed results with wood ducks being the most seen bird in hunters bags. Some hunters are already reporting scrapes and bucks chasing does. Grouse hunters not reporting much success but still a good number of leaves need to fall. - Mike Stahl, conservation warden, Oconto Falls
Shawano County - Great weather is helping with fall hunting and fishing report. The colors are starting to change and the sunny, beautiful weather makes for great outdoor fun. Ducks and geese are using area fields. There are plenty of deer in area fields and hunters are still having good success. Turkeys are plentiful and can be seen still picking bugs out in the fields. And the waters are pretty vacant and yet fishing is very good. - Jim Horne, conservation warden, Shawano
Green Bay DNR Service Center area
Brown County – At Fox River Shore anglers were looking for catfish but harvest was low with white bass and sheepshead also being caught. Baits used were worms, leeches and butter worms. At the Suamico River musky anglers saw harvest numbers increase from previous weeks, but only four were reported caught and all were released. Baits used were walleye and perch colored crankbaits in 5 to 10 feet of water. Some walleye were caught in 10 feet of water using gold stick baits. Harvest numbers were okay with the average size being 18 to 19 inches. At Bayshore Park most anglers targeted perch using minnows in 10 to 20 feet of water. Some targeted walleye using various colored crankbaits and perch colored flickershads 10 to 15 feet of water. Two musky were caught and released using a bucktail. - David Boyarski, fisheries supervisor, Sturgeon Bay
At Fox River Metro fishing pressure was very slow this week with only a few trailers being observed during the week and a handful by the weekend. Only one interview was obtained with anglers looking for walleye and perch with no luck for either species. They were fishing in about 15-24 feet of water using crank baits (white/purple). At Fox River Shore fishing pressure was slow during the week with anglers looking for catfish, white bass and smallmouth bass. Catfish numbers were doing okay and only a handful of white bass and a few smallmouth bass were caught and all were released. At the Suamico River fishing pressure was slow during the week but picked up by the end of the weekend. The majority of anglers were looking for musky with a few looking for perch as well. Musky numbers are about the same from last week with only a few being caught between a handful of boats. No perch were caught with anglers fishing in about 12 feet of water using minnows. For musky, anglers were mainly using bucktails (black/green, clown, white, black/silver), cranks (perch, white, naturals, and others) and Cow Girls (dark purple) in a range from 4 to 15 feet of water. Only a northern pike was caught when targeting musky and it was released. - Elizabeth Turos, fisheries technician, Green Bay
Musky fishing is hot and heavy with numerous keeper size muskies being caught in the area of Little Tail Point. Most anglers are launching at the Suamico River landing which fills up quickly. With the fall season starting the Bay of Green Bay is also getting rough. Generally speaking the light winds are frequent resulting in frequent and often rough water conditions. Be prepared with personal safety equipment on your boats and as always wear your life jackets. - Darren Kuhn, marine unit conservation warden, Green Bay
Manitowoc County – At the Manitowoc Ramps anglers targeted all species of trout and salmon, with little luck. Just a couple of chinook and browns were caught. At the West Twin River the majority of anglers concentrated just south of the Shoto Dam where water was released from the dam this past Sunday allowing the salmon to swim up to the dam. Anglers targeted both salmon and trout and at least one angler caught his daily bag limit of chinook. At the Manitowoc Harbor fishing activity has increased slightly from last week, with about a dozen anglers out at any given time. The majority of anglers have chosen to fish in the area just west of the Manitowoc Marina. Anglers have targeted all species of salmon and trout with little success. Anglers reported catching just a few chinook salmon, a couple of brown trout, and a rainbow trout. At the Manitowoc Piers fishing activity has decreased, with only a few anglers out at any given time. Former pier anglers have begun to use the Manitowoc Harbor. Anglers targeted both salmon and trout without success during interview times. One angler reported catching a northern pike on the lakeside of the pier while targeting Trout and Salmon. At the Manitowoc River fishing activity has increased from last week and has been observed in multiple locations all the way up to Lower Cato Falls. The highest concentration of anglers has been observed at Manitou Park. Anglers targeted both salmon and trout without luck during interview times. At Two Rivers Harbor fishing activity held steady this week, with a moderate amount of activity observed during interview times. Anglers targeted both salmon and trout with very little success. Just one chinook salmon was reportedly caught during interview times. At Two Rivers Piers fishing activity was up slightly this week, with a moderated amount of activity recorded. Anglers seemed to have the most success fishing at the very end of the piers, due in part to strong winds coming out of the Southwest. Anglers targeted all species of salmon and trout. The majority of fish that were caught and kept were chinook salmon. A couple of brown trout, and a rainbow trout were also reportedly caught. At the East Twin River fishing activity was observed for the first time this late summer/early fall season, with a moderate amount of activity being observed. Anglers were mostly observed at the Washington Street Bridge in Mischicot and also up by the dam. Anglers targeted both trout and salmon but did not report any luck during interview times. At the West Twin River fishing activity remained steady this week, with the majority of anglers choosing to fish by the dam in Shoto. Anglers targeted both Salmon and Trout and reported catching a few chinook salmon. Just a couple of anglers chose to fish slightly downstream from the Shoto Dam at the Conservation Club. Anglers in this location did not report any luck there.
Salmon are running in small numbers at the Shoto dam. Very few salmon have been seen beneath the Mishicot dam. - Robert Stroess, conservation warden, Mishicot
Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center area
Door County - Salmon fishing in Door County was still good with boats fishing out of Sturgeon Bay on the bank reef in about 120-300 feet of water using flasher flies behind dodgers and spoons. In Bailey’s Harbor anglers were successful in 100 to 250 feet of water using dodgers and spoons. Most fish were caught in the top 75 feet of water. The run of chinook at Strawberry Creek is on! The fish facility at Strawberry Creek is the main egg collection facility for the Wisconsin DNR, so there will be a lot of fish on the move over the next few weeks. The first egg collection at Strawberry Creek for this season is scheduled for Monday September 30th and egg collections will likely continue through mid-October on Mondays and Thursdays. These plans are obviously somewhat tentative, and will depend of fish availability. Fishing from the piers or along the canal wall with spawn, spoons and crankbaits should be successful. Bass fishing was great in 6’ to 25’ of water along the drop-offs. Dark colored tubes, grubs and twister tails were popular baits. The night walleye bite picked up in the northern part of the county from Monument Point to Sister Bay. Trolling in 10 to 25 feet of water with crawler harnesses, crankbaits and deep diving husky jerks worked best. Perch fishing was really good in and around Sturgeon Bay in 8 to 12 feet of water using crawlers and minnows. Fishing inside the canal, along Memorial Drive near the boats, between the bridges, Dunlop Reef, Bullhead Point and the flats all produced fish. Large spoons, plugs, tubes and sucker minnows all produced some nice northern pike around Sturgeon Bay. Fishing the marinas, the old train bridge or the shipping canal in 15 to 20 feet of water on the edges of or on top of weed beds all produced fish. At Chaudoir's Dock anglers had some success targeting perch using minnows in 16 feet of water. At Little Sturgeon bay smallmouth numbers were good and were caught on tubes and spinners in 20 to 30 feet of water. One northern pike was caught on a minnow that measured 29 inches and weighed about 6 pounds. At Sawyer Harbor anglers targeted perch and reported good success. Minnows were used in about 10 feet of water. Some Smallmouth Bass were also caught. - David Boyarski, fisheries supervisor, Sturgeon Bay
At Sawyer Harbor fishing activity was low throughout the week and weekend. Anglers were primarily targeting perch and walleye and one was targeting smallmouth bass. No walleye were caught and only one smallmouth, but was released due to small size. Perch numbers were decent, but many were also released due to small size. Baits used for perch were minnows and worms in about 12-14 feet of water. The smallmouth was caught using night crawlers at 11 feet. Other species caught included sheepshead and gobies. At Little Sturgeon Bay fishing pressure was low to moderate this week. Anglers targeted perch, walleye, and smallmouth bass. Perch and smallmouth numbers were good, with some reaching their bag limit of perch. All smallmouth were released. No walleye were caught this week. Baits used for perch were minnows and night crawlers, in about 11-14 feet of water. Walleye bait tried were various cranks and spinners in anywhere from 6-30 feet of water (they were really trying everything!). Smallmouth baits were cranks of undisclosed colors in 6-15 feet of water. Another species caught included some small northern pike caught on plastic worms and chartreuse spinners in 6-10 feet of water. As usual, sheepshead and gobies were also caught. - Elizabeth Turos, fisheries technician, Green Bay
Boats are still getting limits of salmon out of Sturgeon Bay fishing both off the bank reef, in about 12 feet of water, and deeper out to 300 feet of water using flasher flies behind dodgers and spoons for bait. There are also many trolling in the shipping canal all the way to the highway bridge for salmon on their run up to Strawberry Creek. Boats out of Baileys Harbor were doing really well in 100 to 250 feet of water using the same baits as above. We have also seen some salmon in the Bailey’s Harbor marina so now is the time to head up there with your shore casting gear. We have not seen many anglers fishing out of Ellison Bay, but there are plenty of fish stocked there that will be returning soon if they haven’t already. We have also heard that salmon can be caught as far down as Egg Harbor on the bay side over the next month. Bass fishing is still great all around the county including Washington Island. In 8 to 15 feet of water along the transitions, like where sand turns to rock, with tubes, grubs, spinner bait or live bait under a slip bobber will give you a good chance at landing a few fish. From shore, some places to fish for bass are the docks in Fish Creek, the pier at Rowley’s Bay and the pier at Murphy Park. The walleye bite is fair from Monument Point up to Sister Bay. Trolling at about 1.8 to 2 mph in 12 to 20 feet of water using crawler harnesses, crank bait, or deep diving husky jerks with colors like purple, blue/silver and fire tiger is recommended. Perch fishing was slow last week around Sturgeon Bay, but some had success in 8 to 15 feet of water using crawlers and minnows. The Potawatomi State Park shoreline, the old train bridge and the breakwall on both sides of the Oregon Street bridge are all good places to try. - Jill Eekhoff and Thatcher Riggin
Salmon are starting to make their way up Strawberry Creek and other tributaries in the area. Anglers casting from the docks and pier heads have had success catching a few big salmon as they make their way in. Boating activity has been limited due to windy conditions. Mornings have been very cool and we are starting to see the first hint of trees turning colors and crops turning brown. Fall is definitely in the air. For those that love to come see the fall colors, things are just beginning to turn in Door County. Large flocks of northern geese are starting to move through the area. - Brandon Bastar, fisheries research vessel captain, Sturgeon Bay
Strawberry Creek Chinook Facility - As planned, our first egg collection for this season will occur on Monday Sept. 30. Many chinook are in the pond already, so I anticipate plenty of fish for a good harvest on Monday. It is still early in the spawning season however, so we’ll have to wait and see how many of the female Chinooks are ready for spawning. DNR staff turned on the water pump at Strawberry Creek yesterday morning, and this increased stream flow will likely draw many more Chinooks into the pond. Egg collection operations will begin on Monday at around 9 a.m. - Nick Legler, fisheries biologist, Sturgeon Bay
Kewaunee County - The salmon run is on in Kewaunee County with chinook being caught on both the Kewaunee and Ahnapee Rivers. Trolling in front of the harbors was best during the early morning and late evening hours, with deeper water being more productive midday. In deeper water, rainbows were caught fishing in the top 70 feet of the water using flasher flies behind dodgers or dipsys and spoons. Chrome dodgers with a fly that had some green in it and chrome spoons were the top baits. At the river mouths in and around the harbors, salmon and a few trout are being caught in 25 to 50 feet of water on fly/dodger combos and spoons. Action on the piers was best during the first and last few hours of daylight with mostly chinook, browns and coho being harvested. On the piers, successful anglers were casting green or blue and silver spoons. Upstream, spawn sacks were popular with spoons and crankbaits in a variety of colors also producing. - David Boyarski, fisheries supervisor, Sturgeon Bay
Some times and days are better than others, but salmon and trout are being caught from the piers, shores, rivers and out on the big lake in Kewaunee County. Many anglers are trolling around the harbors and getting some nice, pre-spawn fish, while some are still going out to 200 to 300 feet of water and getting some younger, brighter kings, coho and occasional browns and rainbows. Many of the kings caught are in the 20 pound range, and we have seen a surprising number of early run cohos in the 10 pound range. From the piers and harbor shores, many are casting spoons with green in them or the blue/silver combo. Fish have also been caught on glow spoons, gold spoons, fire tiger crankbait and a gold/orange wiggle wart. On the Kewaunee and Ahnapee rivers, spawn sacks, yarn flies, beads, flies and spoons have all taken a few. We haven’t spotted any fish in Stony Creek or Silver Creek yet, but maybe with all of the rain the water will come up enough to let a few in. - Jill Eekhoff and Thatcher Riggin
Recent rains have started a small fish run on the tributary streams of Lake Michigan in Manitowoc and Kewaunee counties. Anglers cannot fish tributary streams of Lake Michigan during the hours of darkness, fish with a hook with a gap greater than half an inch and that all foul hooked fish need to be immediately released back into the water. A legally hooked fish must be hooked “IN” the mouth, not the head, belly or other parts of the body. - David Allen, conservation warden, Kewaunee
Wautoma DNR Service Center area
Green Lake County - Leaves are beginning to change in the White River Marsh State Wildlife Area, large numbers of pelicans as well as other migrating shore birds have been seen on Lake Puckaway. Early in the week dove hunters were having success in the White River Marsh. Musky action has also begun to pick up on Little Green Lake. - Nathan Ackerman, conservation warden, Berlin
Marguett County - The past week in Marquette County flew by with temperatures dropping to very cool during the evening and then rising to comfortable temperatures in the upper 60's and low 70's. Fall colors are still on the move with ash and locust still slowly changing to their bright yellow colors. Red maple and a few small tamaracks in lowland areas have also started to change colors (likely due to those low night-time temps). Archery hunters are still reporting good success rates with harvesting whitetail deer. Hunters are still reporting seeing whitetail bucks with velvet, and some folks are finally reporting seeing some rubs. Hunters are again reminded that they need a special permit from a conservation warden to possess velvet antlers. Migratory waterfowl hunters are reporting good success with geese in recently harvested corn fields. However, not many fields are harvested yet, as many farmers were late to plant this year with the wet and cold spring. Beyond the land travels, trout anglers are reminded that the last few days of inland trout season are upon them. Late season is a great time to fish as the trout caught are normally in their spawning colors. - Brian Finch, LTE Wildlife Technician, Wautoma Satellite Center
Waupaca County – There seems to be plenty of turkeys for fall season. Geese are still actively feeding in Central Wisconsin on wheat stubble fields, with some good hunter success reported. With low water levels, the local wood ducks are concentrated on area trout streams. This makes for good hunting as that is where most area public land is. Migrant woodcock haven’t arrived yet. Full leaf cover makes any grouse/woodcock hunt very sporty! Color change is about 25 percent in the area. - Karl Kramer, wildlife technician, Wautoma
Around Wautoma fall colors are just starting to appear but there is not much color yet. Hunters have reported good success with turkey and deer hunting. Hunters are reporting seeing a good number of young turkeys this fall. Waterfowl hunters (northern zone) have reported low water levels and few ducks. Hunters in some areas also have had difficulty finding an area to hunt due to high concentrations of hunters. Canada Geese have started to migrate through the Waupaca area. Trout anglers have had a difficult time catching trout due to low water levels and warm temperatures. - Ted Dremel, conservation warden, Wautoma
Oshkosh DNR Service Center area
High Cliff State Park - Fisherman are reporting spotty catches of walleye and perch on the east shore of Lake Winnebago. The Turkey vultures are still here, although some early evening migrations of large numbers of vultures have been observed. The deer rut seems to be off to a slower start this year, with occasional sightings of rubs and scrapes. That is expected to change very soon. Although Red-winged Blackbirds have been gone for a while, a flock stopped by this morning with their goodbye songs! Purple martins have been gone for several weeks. Osprey have not been seen since this past weekend, but a new platform placed in the park by WEE Energies will invite a new nesting pair next spring. - Cynthia R. Mueller, natural resources educator
Fond du Lac County - Migrating ducks and geese are starting to arrive in more numbers in the Horicon Marsh area. This has also caused an increase in birds flying out to surrounding crop fields to feed as the fall harvest continues. Water levels are normal to low though some areas are completely dry. - Ben Nadolski, conservation warden, Waupun
Outagamie County - Waterfowl hunters were able to find plenty of opportunities during the northern opener in Outagamie County. Several limits were observed. Many of the ducks were still in eclipse plumage so hunters will need to brush up on their identification. Archers are harvesting several bucks in velvet, in which a tag from your local warden is needed to possess the velvet antlers. Snakes are on the move as they start to head for hibernacula’s. - Mike Young, conservation warden, Shiocton
Milwaukee DNR Service Center area
Havenwoods State Forest - After a few cool nights, the grasslands are changing fast. New England asters, frost asters, stiff goldenrod, showy goldenrod, obedient plant and many other late fall flowers are at peak bloom. The grasses (like big bluestem, Indian grass, and side-oats grama) have produced seed heads and are starting to turn fall colors. The sumacs are almost scarlet, but there is just a hint of color in the trees. Snakes are on the move. Migrating thrushes are passing through. And people are busy watching the progression of late summer into fall. - Beth Mittermaier, natural resources educator
Southern Lake Michigan fisheries team report - Compiled from creel clerks by Cheryl Masterson and Jeffrey Zinuticz, fisheries technicians, Milwaukee
Sheboygan County - In Sheboygan fishing pressure has increased on the Sheboygan River in recent days. Salmon and trout were seen swimming up river in large numbers (around Taylor Drive and Esslingen Park) late last week, but sightings thinned out through the weekend. Many fish continue to rise downstream of the 8th Street Bridge, but catch rates on the river as a whole have been low. Browns and chinook were reportedly caught upstream of Esslingen Park on spinners, flies, and spawn sacs. A few chinook and coho have also been caught near the mouth on spoons and crankbaits. The water temperature in the Sheboygan River is 63 degrees. Weedens Creek and the Pigeon River remain very low with little fishing effort. Shore anglers in Sheboygan have caught a few rainbows, chinook, coho, and browns, but fishing is slow overall. The most productive areas to fish have been off the docks at the Deland boat launch and on the inside of the north pier. Casting spoons and using spawn on a slip bobber have both been effective.
Ozaukee County - Port Washington shore anglers have been catching a few chinook and brown trout along the old coal dock, near the power plant discharge, in the north slip, and near the blue bridge. Spawn has produced the most fish, but catch rates have been relatively low although fish can be seen jumping in the area. Sauk Creek remains very low and clear with a temperature of 59 degrees. Trollers fishing in 60 to 100 feet of water off of Port Washington have reported catching a few lake trout, chinook, and coho.
Milwaukee County - On the Milwaukee River, flows are decent for this time of year and the river is at 60 degrees. Chinook, browns, and a few coho and rainbows have been seen in stretches of the river upstream of North Avenue all the way to Kletzsch Park. Fishing success, however, has been minimal. The Menomonee River and Oak Creek are low, with few reports of fish caught. Near the Milwaukee harbor, anglers under the Hoan Bridge have been catching crappies and small perch on minnows fished just off the bottom. Boats trolling the harbor have reported seeing fish jumping but not biting. Those heading out to 100 to 130 feet of water brought back a few coho. Some were taken near the surface, and others were 60 feet down.
Racine County - In Racine fishing effort has been steady along the shoreline and off the piers. Good numbers of chinook and brown trout have been taken on glow spoons off the piers, in the Pershing Park boat harbor, and off the rocks in the northeast corner of Reefpoint Marina. The surface temperature at the lakefront is 62 degrees. The Root River is very low, and most chinook and browns have been seen from Washington Park downstream to the harbor. Some nice catches of browns and chinook have come from Washington Park on red, orange, and pink spawn sacs. The Root River Steelhead Facility has been running since last week, and DNR crews have only captured 38 fish so far. The facility will be emptied and shut down on Thursday, September 26. If we receive some rain over the weekend it may be started again on Monday, September 30. So far 10 chinook, one coho, two rainbows, and 13 browns have been passed upriver.
Kenosha County - In Kenosha the Pike River is fairly low and fishing upriver has been slow. Near the mouth of the Pike River anglers have been catching a few chinook on spoons, although east winds have make casting difficult along the shoreline. Large trout and salmon can still be seen jumping all over the Kenosha harbor. Anglers fishing the harbor near the hotel have been catching some chinook on crankbaits and spoons, as well as spawn fished under a slip bobber. Some boaters have been trolling in and around the harbor and reported catching chinook on crankbaits and stickbaits.
Plymouth DNR Service Center area
Theresa Marsh State Wildlife Area - The water level on Theresa Marsh Wildlife Area is close to “full pool” above the dam. Access into the marsh for the duck season opener from the usual carry-in and launch areas (N. Pole Road, south of Hwy 28 and Hwy D) should be good. Hunters walking into the marsh with hip boots and chest waders may notice the water level is slightly higher than some past years. Waterfowl hunters might also notice that some of the cattail bogs have moved around in the marsh and near the dam because of the record rainfalls and flooding last spring. This summer, Pike Lake DNR staff and a private contractor removed some of bogs from near the dam. We are also planning to aerial spray about 100 acres of cattails and phragmites north and east of the dam next summer which will improve habitat conditions and temporarily restore more open areas for hunting. Higher numbers of puddle ducks (mallards, woodies, and especially teal) are being seen on the marsh the past few days. Some of the youth duck hunters had pretty good success with teal during the Sept. 14-15 youth hunt. Migratory Canada geese are just starting to arrive on the marsh from their Canadian breeding grounds. The migratory geese don’t concentrate on or around Theresa Marsh or Horicon Marsh like they did 20 years ago, but instead are spread out all around the state. So goose hunters need to scout more and seek permission from private landowners wherever they can find geese roosting or feeding. Large numbers of sand hill cranes have been seen along Hwy 28 and in the south refuge south of the Mohawk Road overlook. In general, water levels on other properties and on private lakes, rivers and ponds around the area will be somewhat low for the waterfowl opener due to below normal precipitation the past few weeks. On Jackson Marsh Wildlife Area, waterfowl hunters are reminded that two Closed Areas have been established 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. Included in the south Closed Area are the restored wetlands (ponds) north of Highway 60 and west of Highway G, which have been popular spots for some duck hunters the past couple years. Hunters need to avoid those areas until the pipeline project is complete. Completion is expected by the end of October. All 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). - Tom Isaac, wildlife biologist, Hartford
Richard Bong State Recreation Area - As we approach the waterfowl season water conditions on the ponds and wetlands at the Richard Bong State Recreation Area (RBSRA) are in fair condition, much better than this time last year. The dry August and September weather has caused some of the smaller ponds/wetlands to shrink a little; however, the larger ponds/wetlands are in good condition. The refuge is full once again, taking almost two years to fill up after the installation of the new water control structure in the summer of 2011. The roughly 60 acre refuge area is maintaining water levels that will provide feeding and resting areas for waterfowl. However Wolf Lake, the 150-acre shallow lake, has been lost for this season due to the dam failing in the spring. (The state is working on plans to repair the dam in 2014.) As a result the six blinds on the lake have been lost for the season - blinds 15, 19 -24. RBSRA provides two options for duck hunting: 1) Jump shooting on the property North of Highway 142- only 16 hunters per day; 2) Hunting from waterfowl blinds (20) on the property South of Highway 142- 2 hunters per blind. In addition to small game license, state and federal duck stamps, and HIP certification, anyone planning on hunting Richard Bong will also need an annual or daily park sticker and a $1 Richard Bong hunting permit. During the season hunters can reserve blinds for $3 through a reservation card, doing it in person, or calling the park at 262-878-5600. For more information on the managed hunt at RBSRA please look at the Bong Naturalist Association link: http://www.bongnaturalistassociation.org/hunting-trapping/
South Central Region
Dodgeville DNR Service Center area
Lafayette County – I have been noticing that the bucks are starting to lose their velvet and most of the fawns from this year have lost their spots. The acorn production in the area is excellent and the deer are hitting the crop well. Dove hunting has been okay at best with hunters seeing doves but with the dove fields in poor shape the birds continue to move and don’t hang around long. - Nick Webster, conservation warden, Darlington
Horicon DNR Service Center area
Dodge County - Anglers have been catching crappies and walleyes below the Beaver Dam dam. Walleyes are being caught on the Rock River outside of Oconomowoc. - Paul Nell, conservation warden, Horicon
We are experiencing foggy mornings on the marsh with cooler overnight temperatures. Snapping turtles have been hatching and are being seen crossing trails and trying to cross roads without meeting an early end. A variety of shorebirds and waterfowl are in the area. Canada geese are gaining numbers and can be seen daily as they fly from roosting on the marsh to feeding in nearby fields. Teal are still around along with mallards, wood ducks, pintails, widgeon, gadwall, redheads, coot and a few others. This Saturday is the Southern duck hunting opener. Hunters can expect to see good numbers of birds and other hunters. Water levels are much better than last year for navigation, but the dry weather in July and August did drop water levels a few inches. We are establishing fire breaks in a few areas to do some prescribed burns, if the weather cooperates. Deer have mostly shed their summer “red” fur. Bucks are still in their bachelor groups mostly. Early archery hunters have been capitalizing on the cooler weather. Many prairie grasses and flowers have gone to seed. The prairie grasses are in their autumn copper colors and sharing the landscape with fall blooming asters, gentians, goldenrods and others. Celebrate National Public Lands Day by coming to the Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center from 9 a.m. to Noon on Saturday, Sept. 28. We will use this opportunity to collect prairie seed, re-stain the overlook at Palmatory Street, and general clean-up around the marsh and building. Please wear sturdy shoes, long pants and bring gloves. For more information please call 920-387-7893. Also visit www.horiconmarsh.org for a list of all the fun-filled family events for the fall season! - Paul Samerdyke, wildlife biologist, Horicon
Fitchburg DNR Service Center area
Columbia County - Columbia County reports that local farmers are starting to take crops off which in turn is good for goose hunting. Some local drought stressed trees and starting to change color and some have already dropped their leaves which this early in the year has got to be close to a record. Water levels in the Wisconsin River continue to be very low. Advise extreme caution when attempting to navigate the river and advise against any travel on the river after dark due to rarely exposed stumps and logs now above the water line. - Paul Nadolski, conservation warden, Portage
Last week’s heavy rain finally turned around the very dry conditions being seen around the county, and put a little more water in local ponds and streams just in time for this weekend’s duck opener. Youth hunters reported seeing lots of wood ducks flying, with some blue wing teal and mallards in the area as well. Hunters this weekend can probably expect to continue to see good numbers in the area. Fall leaf color is just beginning to show up. A few maples and ash trees have been seen with their showy fall foliage. Good numbers of sharp shinned hawks were seen last week at Mud Lake Wildlife Area, and huge flocks of blackbirds have been seen congregating around the county in preparation for their journey south. - Sara Kehrli, wildlife biologist, Poynette
With favorable weather and hunting seasons in full swing, outdoor activity is picking up nicely. Some corn is already being taken off fields and geese have been observed in these harvested fields. Water levels are decent and good numbers of wood ducks have been seen around the backwaters of the Wisconsin River and other rivers and creeks in Columbia County. Waterfowl hunters should have good success during opening weekend. - Ryan Volenberg, conservation warden, Poynette
Dane County - The rain last week has brought an increase in water levels across eastern Dane County, certainly pleasing waterfowl hunters preparing to venture out for the southern opener on Saturday. Canada geese sightings have seemed to be on the rise, but most hunters are not reporting a great number of ducks in the area yet. Weather for the southern duck season opener looks to be up in the air, with the latest report calling for isolated thunderstorms and a high of 77 degrees. Hunters are reminded the season does not open until 9 a.m. Saturday morning. Regular shooting hours will begin on Sunday (one half-hour before sunrise). - Kyle Dilley, conservation warden, Madison
Sparrow migration is beginning to pick up. Birders have even found a few Nelson’s and LeConte’s sparrows at drier wetlands with smartweed. Warblers, tanagers and other neotropical migrants are past peak but still around. Birders should check woodlands with sunny edges, fruit and walnut trees. Goose numbers have picked up with the return of some migrants from Hudson Bay. – Andy Paulios, wildlife biologist, Fitchburg
Sauk County - Cooler nights the water temperature in the area lakes and the Wisconsin River have dropped down several degrees. This has triggered walleyes in the Wisconsin River to start biting. There is a pretty good population of area wood ducks and waterfowl hunters in Sauk County should concentrate on sloughs along the Wisconsin River. Bow hunting in the next couple of weeks should be excellent with deer coming out to agricultural fields to feed. There is a pretty good crop of acorns this year which will make bow hunting the oak ridge’s very good throughout the fall season. Hunters need to be careful when getting in and out of their tree stands and remember the four rules of hunter safety. - John Buss, conservation warden, Prairie du Sac
Devil's Lake State Park - Almost none of the foliage has turned to any color yet, but it is coming. Generally, the best standard rule for this area of Wisconsin is that the middle two weekends of October will be the best time for viewing leaf colors. The first weekend of October will be too soon, and the last weekend of October is usually too late. In the next days the staghorn sumac and the Virginia creeper will turn to a deep crimson, which is the forerunner of the imminent autumn color season. - Sue Johansen, natural resources educator
West Central Region
La Crosse DNR Service Center area
La Crosse County - Big bluegills on the big river. Up and down the Mississippi River the bluegills are biting. Anglers have been seen with limits of bluegills with some measuring in over 10 inches. Side channel log jams seem to be the best location right now with wing dams coming in a close second. - Tyler Strelow, warden supervisor, La Crosse
Vernon County - The bluegill action has picked up on the Mississippi River with individuals catching bluegills on Lake Onalaska and on the wing dams along the main channel of the Mississippi River. Individuals are catching bluegills on worms and small jigs tipped with plastic. The opener of the Mississippi River Zone duck season in the La Crosse area was very slow compared to last year. There were very few teal around and local wood duck population was down from previous years. Duck hunters had limited success. The USFWS Visitor Center in Onalaska is hosting a waterfowl hunter outreach day on October 6, 2013 from 11:00a.m. to 2:00p.m. The USFWS Visitor Center is located at N5727 County Road Z, Onalaska, Wisconsin. The event will provide an opportunity for waterfowl hunters and the general public to become more familiar with waterfowl identification and hunting regulations. Federal and state law enforcement officers, wildlife biologists and outreach staff will be available to answer your questions. - Dale Hochhausen, conservation warden, Crawford and Vernon counties
This fall's acorn crop appears to be below average to average, while black walnuts and hickory nuts are very abundant. The acorn crop is also more sporadic or variable across the area. Squirrels are currently busy harvesting and gathering walnuts and hickory nuts, but they will turn their attention to acorns as walnuts and hickory nuts become depleted. Nutmeats are an excellent food source, providing fats, carbohydrates, vitamins, and minerals. Squirrel hunters are reporting good success. As leaves fall from the trees increasing visibility, squirrel hunting success should also increase. - Dave Matheys, wildlife biologist, Viroqua
Black River Falls DNR Service Center area
Black River State Forest – Conditions for the upcoming weekend are looking great for camping here. There is a mix of color at the state forest but we are still a few weeks from peak. Some trees, mostly maples and aspens have turned their reds and yellows, other species such as oak are showing little to no color yet. The forest floor has a fair amount of color with mostly yellows present. In areas with prairie grass big bluestem is starting to turn its fall hue. Peak color at the Black River area is typically in early October. Trails were groomed last week and are in great shape for riding. This will likely be the last grooming before the trails close on October 15th. - Peter Bakken, superintendent
Trempealeau County - Anglers are reporting that the bluegill action on the Mississippi River is excellent. Use worms and bobbers and fish around stumps, trees, and rocks. Duck hunters in the northern zone saw moderate success over the opening weekend. Mallards, teal, and wood ducks were most commonly taken. Duck hunters are reminded to remove all weeds from their hunting gear and boats, and to drain all water before leaving the boat ramp to help stop the spread of aquatic invasive species. The ATV trails in Jackson County are open and in generally good condition. This is a great time of year to take a ride and enjoy the start of the fall colors. - Robin Barnhardt, conservation warden, Osseo
Eau Claire DNR Service Center area
Eau Claire County -The northern duck opener was pretty slow in Eau Claire County, low water levels in backwaters that are usually hunted hard made them very hard to access and the ducks weren’t there. I have only seen 3 grouse with all my walking around so far this fall, and I have not seen any woodcock yet. I have been hearing that the panfish have been biting pretty well. Bow hunters have been seeing deer; I have had to issue several tags to hunters that killed bucks that still had velvet antlers. - Ken Thomson, conservation warden, Eau Claire
Wisconsin Rapids DNR Service Center area
Buckhorn State Park - Bow hunting is starting this weekend in both wildlife areas and the state park. Small game is only in the Buckhorn Wildlife Area or the Yellow River Wildlife Area. Other hunting opportunities will open on Nov. 15 in the State Park – check out a map/rule sheet. The far campsites (4-7, 13-15, 17-19) are closed for the season. Sites 26-29 are closed due to construction of the campground. All other backpack sites are non-reservable, first come/first served. Sites 8, 9, 16 and A1-A8, B1-B3 are open and reservable through Sept. 30, non-reservable after that date. New hunting maps are available online or at the park office. Check out a map to see new rules before you hunt. Fishing pier and boat boarding piers will be removed on Thursday, Oct. 17. - Heather Wolf, park manager
Roche-A-Cri State Park - The stairway is open from 6:00 am until sunset. Remember – sunset is getting earlier now, around 7:15 pm. No food, drinks or pets are allowed and visitors are restricted to the stairway to protect the natural area. Fall is a great time to take photos for the 20th annual photo contest. It is also time to send in photos that you have taken between Oct 1, 2012 and the end of Sept. 2013. The main gate will close on October 14th. Parking after that time is in the winter lot on Czech Ave. - Heather Wolf, park manager