Outdoor Report for October 3, 2013 Published by the Central Office
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).
Fall color is now at or very near peak across much of northern Wisconsin, about nearing peak in central Wisconsin and probably a week away in the Black River State Forest area and about two weeks off in the far south. Remember you can check progress on the Department of Tourism's Fall Color Report (exit DNR).
DNR offices have been receiving inquiries on the status of state properties in light of the federal government shutdown. All state park, forest, trail and wildlife and fisheries areas remain open for public recreation and enjoyment.
Autumn activities continue this weekend at many state properties, with a fall festival at Crex Meadows Wildlife Area in Burnett County, the 25th Colorama Run-Walk at the Lapham Peak unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest in Waukesha County, and Run Wild and Potawatomi State Park in Door County. On Saturday the C.D. "Buzz" Besandy Anadromous Fish Facility in Kewaunee will hold an open house from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. There will be tours, egg collection demonstrations, wagon rides and an "Adopt a Sturgeon" event where individuals will get to release a baby sturgeon into the river.
A cool foggy mornings made for a great southern duck opener in east central Wisconsin while sunny and breezy conditions greeted hunters in the southwest. Hunters reported good numbers of mallards, wood ducks, and teal. Goose hunters are beginning to have much more success with the increase of corn being harvested.
With waterfowl hunting seasons underway and trapping on the horizon, it's a good time for outdoor enthusiasts to consider whether their gear might be transporting harmful invasive species (EDITOR'S ADVISORY: link to news release including slide show) to and from a favorite hunting spot, Wisconsin invasive species experts say.
Archery hunters have been out in large numbers on both state owned and private lands, with deer activity picking up during the evening hours. Some young whitetail bucks have already left their bachelor groups and started to chase does. A youth gun deer hunt [PDF] will be held statewide this weekend and bow hunters are reminded that they are required to wear blaze orange in the field.
Musky fishing has been bordering on excellent in the Northwoods with anglers reporting multiple catches on a single trip. The sucker bite really turned on in the last week. Walleye have also begun to get more active and anglers are having increased success.
Strong winds limited activity on Green Bay this week but when possible to get out anglers have been catching some nice walleye. Perch fishing has been good at Sturgeon Bay, Little Sturgeon Bay and Sawyer Harbor. There were a lot of king salmon being caught from the piers in Sturgeon Bay and in the shipping canal.
Lake Michigan tributary fishing pressure has increased and catch rates have improved, with chinook and coho salmon and brown and rainbow trout all reported. Action was reported on the Manitowoc, Sheboygan and Milwaukee rivers. Flows on the Root and Pike rivers remain low and fewer fish have been seen.
Sandhill cranes have been seen in large flocks along the Lower Wisconsin Riverway. The fall bird migration continues strong across Wisconsin. Saturday and Tuesday nights saw especially large migration events as millions of birds moved south across the state, including the last of the warblers and a slew of short-distance migrants. The hawk migration is in full swing with peregrine falcons, merlins, American kestrels, sharp-shinned, and Cooper's hawks nearing their seasonal peaks.
Prairies are now in the late fall stage with showy goldenrod expressing its golden colors and a variety of asters in bloom. Milkweed plants are dispersing seed.
A prescribed burn used to restore wildlife habitat in Crex Meadows Wildlife Area spread beyond planned containment lines Oct. 2. The fire's forward progress was stopped about 7 p.m. by DNR crews with Minnesota air mutual aide. Crews will continue to work throughout the night. The prescribed burn was 505 acres, but burned about an additional 600 acres on state land in Burnett County north of Grantsburg. No structures were damaged and no one was injured. The fire burned grass, marsh and limited upland forest, including jack pine.
Statewide Birding Report
Fall migration continues strong across Wisconsin. Saturday and Tuesday nights saw especially large migration events as millions of birds moved south across the state, primarily including the last of the warblers and a slew of short-distance migrants. Birders in the north reported huge numbers of yellow-rumped warblers, including nearly 6,000 individuals in just one morning in Bayfield County. Well known as the last migrant species to move through in fall, yellow-rumps have been increasing in southern Wisconsin as well and that trend will continue over the next couple weeks. Other land birds winging their way south this week include American robins, rusty blackbirds, cedar waxwings, yellow-bellied sapsuckers, northern flickers, hermit thrushes, winter wrens, both kinglets, brown creepers, purple finches, and American goldfinches. Now is the time to practice your sparrow identification skills as numbers of many species are peaking statewide. White-throated sparrows have reached the south in numbers while holding on in the north as well. Look among them for white-crowned, Harris's, and fox sparrows, all of which have been found recently. Weedy fields are also hosting song, swamp, and Lincoln's sparrows, along with a few Le Conte's and Nelson's sparrows, which are always rare and an exciting find here. Overhead, hawk migration is in full swing, including a wide variety of species now. Peregrine falcons, merlins, American kestrels, sharp-shinned, and Cooper's hawks are nearing their seasonal peaks. Night skies are now seeing some northern saw-whet and long-eared owls on the move, though early data indicate an unusually high proportion of adults, suggesting these species had a poor breeding season. A bit later than usual, waterfowl appear to have finally made a push into the state this past week. Redheads, canvasbacks, scaup, wigeon, pintail, green-winged teal, coots, snow geese, and other species were found in increased numbers, along with Bonaparte's gulls and both common and Forster's terns. Rare finds this week included an arctic tern in Superior, lark bunting at Mead State Wildlife Area in Marathon County, and a white-tailed kite in Adams that was still present as of at least Oct. 2. Birders are reminded that while most federal lands are closed as a result of the federal government shutdown, all state properties remain open as usual. Find a birding site near you and help us track migratory bird populations by reporting your sightings to Wisconsin eBird (exit DNR). - Ryan Brady, Bureau of Wildlife Management research scientist, Ashland
Superior DNR Service Center area
Brule River State Forest - The Brule River State Forest is blanketed in a patchwork quilt of color. The maples are close to their peak, aspen have turned gold, and the oak are just starting to turn. We are at about 80 percent color and expect the peak to occur within a few days...if the winds from the upcoming storm don't blow the leaves down first. Fishermen are reporting that some steelhead are starting to be caught. Fishermen are reminded that the area open for fishing on the Bois Brule River is from Highway 2 to Lake Superior. The Copper Range Campground has become busier due to the fall fish run. If campers find the Copper Range Campground filled, the Bois Brule Campground, which is south of Highway 2 by the ranger station, usually has openings during this time of year. It is reported that deer are moving about more and more car/deer collisions are occurring. This will continue to increase until the rut is over. The youth deer hunt [PDF] will be taking place on Oct. 5-6. Archers are required to wear blaze orange during the youth hunt and non-hunters who want to get out and enjoy the colors are recommended to wear bright colored clothing to remain highly visible to everyone else out in the woods. Snow may not be on the ground....yet, but the Brule River State Forest staff have been busy preparing the trails for the upcoming ski season. Trails are being cleared and soon they will be mowed and hazard trees removed. - Catherine Khalar, visitor services associate
Ashland DNR Service Center area
Ashland County - Trees continue to show fall colors with some already dropped, fishing on the big lake continues to be good in deeper water while shallower water becomes more littered with end of year weeds and harder to troll in without fouling baits. Duck hunting is picking up interest while bear hunting winds down. Grouse reports are not good with few birds being seen. - Matt Mackenzie, conservation warden, Ashland
Hayward DNR Service Center area
Sawyer County - Colors are near peak in the Winter area. Because of large numbers of red and sugar maples in the area, this area reaches peak color earliest. Aspens and tamarack too are starting to turn gold, while oaks are hinting their reddish purple in western parts of the county. With mild temperatures and sunny days turkey broads continue to come to the sides of roads and forest openings for grasshoppers and crickets. Bull elk are toning down their bugles with the fading rut, but deer are becoming more active. Though some local ducks continue to fly, the sunny days haven't lured northern ducks to come down. - Laine Stowell, wildlife biologist, Hayward
Spooner DNR Service Center area
Interstate Park - On Saturday, Oct. 5 the park will host Reptiles from Here and Afar, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Gift Shop area at the Ice Age Center. Reptiles are some of the most misunderstood and feared creatures on earth. Come in and visit with the naturalist to learn more about these amazing animals and get a chance to meet Bintu, Puff, and Gizmo - up close and personal. On Sunday, Oct. 6 meet Aztec the Owl, 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the Gift Shop area at the Ice Age Center. Drop by and meet Aztec, a live South American Spectacled Owl and talk to the naturalist about all the wonderful adaptations that make owls some of the most fascinating creatures on earth. - 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) - The beautiful fall weather of the past week has made for some great fishing conditions in the Northwoods. Success has been generally good to excellent, despite anglers having to battle some heavy winds on several days. Musky fishing has been bordering on excellent with several anglers reporting multiple catches on a single trip. Artificial baits such as bucktails and large stick baits have been doing okay, but the sucker bite has really turned on in the last week. Suckers in the 12 to 14 inch size seem to be producing the best action and many of the musky are being found suspended near mid-depth cover such as fish cribs and rock bars. Most of the musky have been in the 32 to 40 inch size, with a few up to the 45 inches and a few nice tiger musky as well. Walleye have also begun to get more active and anglers are having increased success with this species. Walleye are starting to show up in shallow water and along weed lines, with minnows and crank baits producing some decent catches. Look for this pattern to develop further as we continue into fall. Largemouth bass seem have to continued their erratic trend of the last few weeks, with some fish being found in the shallow water (less than 2 feet) and others being found near mid-depth cover. Soft plastics such as sinkos and rubber worms have produced that best catches, and top-water baits have been okay at times. Smallmouth bass action has been fair, and a few anglers have reported some decent action on finesse plastics near mid-depth woody cover. Panfish success has been improving with crappie showing up near the shallow-water weed lines. Small minnows fished a foot below a bobber in the late evening hours has been producing some nice catches. - Skip Sommerfeldt, senior fisheries biologist, Park Falls
Flambeau River State Forest - Both the North and South Forks of the Flambeau River have been running a little low. The North Fork is still good for paddlers and would be just beautiful right now with the fall colors at peak. We are seeing lots of turkeys and geese are flocking up and becoming a common site in the area. The leaves are peaked for color and the over story leaves are falling while the understory leaves are still turning. Winter berries are turning red. - Judy Freeman, visitor services associate
Rhinelander DNR Service Center area
Oneida County - Fall colors will probably peak this weekend in Oneida with Vilas County about five to seven days ahead of us. Property Owners have reported seeing flights of woodcock which seems early (typically mid October) but is weather dependent. Acorn crops are fair but much less than the 2012 crop. Musky fishing has been good on area lakes and fishers are cautioned that motor trolling, (dragging a sucker while casting and retrieving a second lure) is still illegal on many non-trolling lakes. This issue will be brought up at the 2014 Spring Hearings again. - James Jung, conservation warden, Rhinelander
Northern Lake Michigan fisheries team report - Compiled by David Boyarski, fisheries supervisor, Sturgeon Bay
Marinette County - Both salmon and trout have been observed at the dam in Peshtigo, fishing pressure has been light, and no interviews were obtained. Salmon and sturgeon are the story at the Hattie Street Dam, with salmon jumping but not being caught and most of the sturgeon caught being snagged and released. The is a fairly good walleye bite on the Menominee River before dawn and after sunset with crawlers or jigs and plastics taking fish in the 17 to 22 inch range. - Kevin King - creel clerk
Oconto County - Some salmon have been observed up by the Stiles Dam both pink and king salmon. Anglers at the dam have been catching smallmouth, panfish, and the occasional rainbow trout. Anglers are using a variety of baits from spinners, to fly's, to garden tackle with the main bite happening below the dam. One skilled angler brought to hand a gorgeous 7 pound rainbow, using a spinner, fishing the south side of the Stiles Dam. When possible anglers on the Bay have been catching some nice walleye fishing in 15 plus feet of water using jerk and stick baits. Perch are still biting, on the Bay, in the 8 to 13 foot range using minnows. Some perch are starting to show up in the boat landings with anglers using crawler chunks and minnows. - Kevin King - creel clerk
Brown County - At Fox River Metro fishing pressure was moderate this week with a few anglers looking for walleye, but most were mainly targeting musky but with little success. A few northern pike and a catfish were caught and released. On the Suamico River fishing pressure this week was very busy with anglers looking for musky. A handful of musky were caught ranging in sizes from 42 inches to 53.5 inches and all were released. Main baits used were crank (perch, bright colors, pearl and yellow/black), and bucktails (purple and various other colors) in about 8 to 13 feet of water. A few northern pike, a sheepshead, and a lake sturgeon were caught and all were released. At Bayshore Park fishing activity was low to moderate throughout the week and weekend. Most anglers were looking for perch and walleye and there was one musky angler that had no luck. Perch numbers were generally low, however some did return with decent catches.
Door County - Fishing at Chaudoir's Dock was low throughout the week and weekend with anglers targeting perch and walleye. Perch numbers were low, but one group did bring in a decent catch. Baits for perch were minnows and night crawlers in anywhere from 18-36 feet of water. Walleye anglers had no luck here this week. Other species caught included a white perch, a catfish, as well as sheepshead and gobies. At Sawyer Harbor decent numbers of perch were caught. Baits used were all minnows in 7-12 feet of water. Other species caught included sheepshead and gobies. At Little Sturgeon Bay fishing activity was very low Sunday. Two boats came in, both fishing for perch and both returning with their bag limits after only 1.5 hours. - Ashley Poehls, fisheries technician, Green Bay
The winning bag for the fall edition of the Sturgeon Bay Bass Open was 6 fish totaling 27.25 pounds and the biggest bass was just less than 6 pounds. In total, 163 fish were caught with a total weight of just over 600 pounds for an average of 3.68 pounds. The Walleye Federation will be holding a one day tournament on Oct. 5 from Sawyer Park in Sturgeon Bay, and a there is also a two day bass tournament Oct. 3-4. From Baileys Harbor and Sturgeon Bay, boats out on the big lake are getting fish in the top 70 feet of the water column in 100 to 200 feet of water. Spoons and the fly and dodger combo are taking the most. There are a lot of kings being caught from the piers in Sturgeon Bay and in the shipping canal, both from shore and trolling 20 to 30 feet down. Salmon have also been spotted in the Baileys Harbor and Egg Harbor marinas, so look for them close to shore all around the peninsula over the next couple of weeks, including Fish Creek, Sister Bay and especially Ellison Bay where many of the roughly 25,000 fish that were planted in 2008 will be looking to return. - Thatcher Riggin, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay
Pressure has slowed on bass fishing, but there are still some great catches coming all around the county. Fishing in 10 to 20 feet of water with tubes, grubs, spinner bait or live bait under a slip bobber will give you a good chance at landing a few. From shore, some places to fish for bass are the Andersons Dock in Ephraim, George K. Pinney (formerly Stone Quarry) and the Weborg's Point in Peninsula State Park. Pike and perch have both been hot around Sturgeon Bay and both are being found around the weed beds and drop offs in the inner and outer parts of the bay. Perch are biting on crawlers and minnows while northern pike have been hitting large crank bait and spoons, especially with the perch pattern, but we even talked to one walleye angler that kept having pike hammer his deep diving purple and blue/silver crank bait. Walleye action was lukewarm last week with the best catches coming at night, but the fish that are getting caught are pretty big. From Monument Point up to Sister Bay, most are trolling about in 15 to 25 feet of water using crawler harnesses, crank bait, or deep diving husky jerks with purple, blue/silver and fire tiger color patterns.
Kewaunee County - The biggest news of the week was the 32.4-inch brown trout caught off the north pier in Algoma. There have been plenty of chinook caught in the rivers, off the piers and from boats, and quite a few coho caught in the harbors and close to shore. Right now is best opportunity to get out, enjoy the fall colors, and take a shot at catching a fish! Spoons are taking the most fish in all cases right now, with flasher flies also working out on the lake, and spawn sacks are also working from shore. Green and blue remain good colors, but lures with orange in them have started to get hot in the last couple of weeks. On Lake Michigan many anglers are sticking close to shore in 75 to 150 feet of water and getting some nice chinook and coho staging before their spawning runs, with a few browns and the occasional rainbow and lake trout mixed in. Those that venture farther out, 200 to 600 feet of water, are still finding younger salmon and trout in the 3 to 15 pound range. In Kewaunee, we have seen kayaks and smaller boats fishing inside the harbor with success. - Thatcher Riggin, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay
Oct. 5 is the open house for the C.D. "Buzz" Besandy Anadromous Fish Facility, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., in Kewaunee. There will be tours, egg collection demonstrations, wagon rides and an "Adopt a Sturgeon" event where individuals will get to release a baby sturgeon into the river.
Manitowoc County - At the Manitowoc Ramps anglers targeted both trout and salmon and did report some success. One group of anglers had success catching a couple of rainbow trout and a couple of chinook salmon in 150 to 200 feet of water. Another group reported success catching a few lake trout and a couple of chinook salmon in 230 feet of water. At the Manitowoc River fishing activity remains high, with anglers fishing all the way up to the dam in Clarks Mills. The highest concentration of anglers continues to be in Manitou Park and near the Mill Street Bridge. Despite the activity, the rate of catch was quite low. Most anglers along the area targeted salmon and trout with just two groups reporting success and caught a few chinook salmon. Other anglers in the area targeted carp and northern pike without success. Anglers targeting both carp and northern pike reported catching rock bass and smallmouth bass. - Kara White, fisheries technician, Mishicot
Peshtigo DNR Service Center area
Marinette County - Colors are in full swing and the goose hunt is also in full swing. Bucks are losing velvet and becoming more active. - Dave Oginski, conservation warden, Wausaukee
Oconto County - Salmon are starting to show at the Stiles Dam on the Oconto River. Still reports of some good panfish fishing at the dam as well as the Oconto Falls Pond. Waterfowl hunters on the Green Bay had a successful opener with mallards and teal being the most popular birds being taken. Divers are on the lake but have been in deep water for the most part. Color in the area is at or near peak in some places. - Mike Stahl, conservation warden, Oconto Falls
Shawano County - Shawano County is quickly turning to full colors in the local trees. The perfect fall weather had made the outdoors the place to be. Warmer than average temperatures make walking on the Mountain Bay trail the perfect get away. Fishing has seen some great activity with successful fishermen having most water bodies to themselves. Goose hunters are having some success with local flocks as fields are harvested. Duck hunters are still focusing on local woodies and mallards. Bow hunters are showing good success with many archers harvesting nice bucks. Most bow hunters are seeing plenty of deer and still waiting for the big one. Small game hunters are enjoying good success and enjoying their time in the woods. - Jim Horne, conservation warden, Shawano
Green Bay DNR Service Center area
Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center area
Door County - Opening day of the waterfowl season was slow in Door County. Warm temps and strong winds kept hunters restricted to protected areas. Low water levels are also keeping salmon angler activity down along the tributaries of Door County. - Neal Patrick, conservation warden, Sister Bay
Strawberry Creek Chinook Facility - The first chinook salmon egg collection for this season at Strawberry Creek occurred on Monday Oct. 30. Overall, there were a lot of chinook. Crews processed 603 chinook, and this was only about one-thrid of the total number of chinook available in the pond. Many female chinook were not ready to spawning yet (i.e., their eggs were still hard) but there were some ripe females and almost 300,000 eggs were collected for the Kettle Moraine Springs Hatchery. The next egg collecting at Strawberry Creek will be Thursday Oct. 3. There should be plenty of chinook available for another good egg harvest. - Nick Legler, fisheries biologist, Sturgeon Bay
Rock Island State Park - Fall colors are getting started. I've heard the smallmouth bass fishing and walleye fishing around the islands has been outstanding but I haven't had time to imbibe. Rock Island ferry has notified me that they are extending the season by running the weekend of Oct. 18,19, and 20 so Rock Island will be open for business as usual one extra weekend. Bird migrations have started in a big way. - Randy Holm, ranger and assistant property manager
Wautoma DNR Service Center area
Waupaca County - We are probably a week away from peak color in Central Wisconsin. Trout fishing here is now closed. The recent hot weather has put a damper on both wildlife and hunter movement. Great weather for hiking and camping around the county! - Karl Kramer, wildlife technician, Wautoma
Waushara County - Wood ducks and mallards were being hit hard for the weekend opener on the Lower Willow Creek. The ratio was around 80% wood ducks and 20 percent mallards but many of the mallards that were being taken were juveniles that did not have their full plumage as of yet. Saturday was too sunny and bright then came Sunday with fog throughout the morning keeping the waterfowl low and creeping in fast through the fog. I spotted a young fawn on Oct. 1 that still had stops and was with its mother wandering the road side. The maple trees are turning a brilliant amount of fall colors, while other species still wait for the cooler weather that is lurking ahead. -Dave Westphal, Facilities & Lands/Wildlife Technician, Wautoma
Waushara County is starting to see some color change finally here in fall. We are seeing some of the maples turning as well as a few oaks have just started to lose their green coloring. The cool foggy mornings made for a great southern duck opener with a number of mallards, wood ducks, and teal in the area. Deer movement seems to be slow recently due to the hot weather, but the forecast seems to be cooler and should have the deer ready to move again. Mourning doves, blue birds, and black birds are starting to flock a little throughout the county and starting to head south slowly with each cold front that passes through. - Ben Mott, conservation warden, Wautoma
Oshkosh DNR Service Center area
Calumet County - Despite the above normal temperatures in the area, hunters are taking to the woods and waterways. Archery hunters have been out in large numbers on both state owned and private lands throughout the area. Several nice bucks were harvested in recent days with deer activity picking up during the evening hours. Many collisions with deer have taken place on area roadways. Waterfowl hunters were out in large numbers on the Killsnake and Brillion State Wildlife Areas for opening weekend, with mallards, teal, and wood ducks making up most of the daily bag. Geese are plentiful throughout the northern part of the county with many birds congregating on harvested crop fields. Hunters are reminded to ask permission to hunt private lands. - Michael Disher, conservation warden - Stockbridge
Outagamie County - Archery hunters have been reporting seeing a good number of deer. Goose hunters are beginning to have much more success with the increase of corn being harvested. The fish bite on Lake Winnebago continues to be slow, however anglers are still catching a variety of fish species on the Fox River. The trees are really beginning to turn colors, especially elm, oak, and maple. - Ryan Propson, conservation warden, Appleton
Winnebago County - Someone reported recently setting a trap for a wood chuck and catching a skunk. If you set the trap, you are responsible for what you get in the trap. I tell people after they have a non-target animal in their trap, that the next time, kick the trap shut at dark. Woodchucks don't feed at night. Skunks do. Make sure you put food in that the target animal would like to eat. Woodchucks like green leafy lettuce, not bread dripping with bacon fat. Ellen Barth, wildlife supervisor, Oshkosh
Milwaukee DNR Service Center area
Milwaukee County - Salmon numbers are increasing on the Milwaukee River at Kletch park. - Gervis Myles, conservation warden, Milwaukee
Havenwoods State Forest - Warm, sunny days in October are choice days for exploring nature in the city. Grasshoppers, preying mantises, ladybugs, and hundreds of other insects are everywhere, and spiders are spinning their biggest webs of the season to catch the bounty. Down at the ponds, aquatic insects have also been busy growing all year. Stop by the nature center and borrow pond nets, tubs, and magnifiers. Maybe you will catch a giant waterbug, bullfrog tadpole, or predacious diving beetle! - Beth Mittermaier, natural resources educator
Lakeshore State Park - Fishing has been generally slow from shore in southeast Lake Michigan, although there has been some success along the river channel and dock walls at the park behind the Marcus Amphitheater. Some trout and salmon are present in the park lagoons, but fishing action has been slow. The prairies are now in the late fall stage. Showy goldenrod and a variety of asters are in full bloom. The prairie grasses are taking on the fall colors of reddish brown and tan. The winter ducks have not yet arrived, although migrating waterfowl and songbirds are present. The Summerfest loop is now open and will remain so until the festival season starts in late May. The marina is open for boaters until November. - Thomas Kroeger, parks and recreation specialist, Milwaukee
Southern Lake Michigan fisheries team report - Compiled from creel clerks by Cheryl Masterson and Jeffrey Zinuticz, fisheries technicians, Milwaukee
Sheboygan County - In Sheboygan fishing pressure has increased on the Sheboygan River, and catch rates have improved. Most fish have been taken around Esslingen Park, with many coho, a few brown trout, and several chinook landed using spawn, spoons, and flies. Catches were also reported in the Kohler area, with most fish caught on flies. The water temperature has dropped to about 62 degrees and water clarity has remained good. Despite rainfall on Saturday night, water levels have remained low. Weedens Creek and the Pigeon River remain very low with little fishing effort. Shore anglers in Sheboygan have caught a few rainbows, chinook, and browns, but fishing is slow overall. The most productive area to fish has been off the docks at the Deland boat launch. Casting spoons and using spawn on a slip bobber have both been effective.
Ozaukee County - Port Washington shore anglers have been catching good numbers of chinook, coho, and brown trout. Most fish were taken along the old coal dock near the power plant discharge, but a few were caught off the end of the pier and also in the north slip. Spawn has produced the most fish, but some have been taken on spoons and crank baits as well. Sauk Creek remains very low and clear with a temperature of 54 degrees.
Milwaukee County - On the Milwaukee River, flows are decent for this time of year and the river is at 65 degrees. Chinook, browns, and a few coho and rainbows have been seen in stretches of the river all the way to Kletzsch Park. Anglers have been seen throughout the river, with most fish caught below the former North Avenue dam. Both spawn and small flies have been effective baits. 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 perch on minnows fished just off the bottom. A few chinook have been caught by anglers fishing near the Sailing Center, in and around Veteran's Park, and off McKinley pier. Gold and green spoons, crank baits, and floating spawn all produced. Boats trolling in 40 to 90 feet of water brought back a few chinook, lake trout, and coho. Other boats were seen jigging Gulp and blue or green spoons around the north and main gaps.
Racine County - In Racine fishing effort has been steady along the shoreline and off the piers. Numbers of chinook and browns have been taken on crankbaits or 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 64 degrees. The Root River is very low, and most chinook and browns have been seen from Lincoln Park downstream to the harbor. Some nice catches of browns and chinook, along with an occasional steelhead, have come from Washington Park on dark colored flies or spawn sacs. The Root River Steelhead Facility was emptied and shut down on Thursday, Sept. 26, and it was restarted on Monday Oct. 30. Fish will be processed again on Thursday, Oct. 3. So far 10 chinook, one coho, two rainbows, and 13 browns have been passed upriver. The Root River Steelhead Facility will be hosting an Open House on Saturday, Oct. 12, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. Everyone is encouraged to attend this fun-filled event, whether you're a novice angler, a veteran angler, or just like to eat fish! Enjoy guided tours of the facility with DNR crews demonstrating fish spawning procedures. Volunteers from local fishing clubs will provide fishing rod casting lessons, fly casting, knot tying, fly-tying, tips for cooking fish, and much more! For information call 414-750-8382.
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 made casting difficult along the shoreline. Large trout and salmon can still be seen jumping all over the Kenosha harbor. Anglers fishing the harbor off the piers and near the hotel have been catching some chinook and browns on spawn or skein fished under a slip bobber. Some boaters have been trolling in and around the harbor and reported catching a few browns and chinook on crank baits and spoons.
Waukesha DNR Service Center area
Waukesha County - Opening weekend of duck season was slow for Northeast Waukesha County. Hunters reported seeing fair numbers of ducks prior to the opener but weather conditions were not conducive to good waterfowl hunting. - Matt Groppi, conservation warden, Waukesha
Plymouth DNR Service Center area
Washington County - Hunters had success over the opening weekend of duck season. Wood ducks, teal, and mallards brought a lot of smiles to the faces of many hunters. The youth deer hunt is this weekend. Bow hunters are reminded that they are required to wear blaze orange in the field. Vibrant colors around Holy Hill Basilica are starting to appear, attracting many tourists to the area. - Robert Lee, conservation warden, Hartford
Theresa Marsh State Wildlife Area - Fall colors are close to peak in our area. Duck hunting success on Theresa Marsh was moderate on opening weekend with teal and woodies the main species in the bag. Some dove hunters are having success around the marsh fringe areas. A few small floating cattail bogs are causing minor problems depending on which way the wind blows them, but in general the Theresa main pool and river channels remain open to canoes and duck boats. Duck and goose numbers continue to build up on the marsh, along with sandhill cranes. Hunters on Jackson Marsh Wildlife Area reminded that two small Closed Areas were established to allow completion of preventive maintenance work on the West Shore gas pipeline west of Highway G between State Highway 60 and Highway PV. Maps showing the closed areas are posted at parking areas near the construction sites 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
South Central Region
Dodgeville DNR Service Center area
Iowa County - Waterfowl hunters found sunny and breezy conditions in the Spring Green area which made the wood ducks easy targets for the first hour or two for the 9 a.m. opener. There is limited standing water in the river bottoms which is concentrating the birds for hunters. With the drop in temperature, goose hunters are finding more birds moving around in the Arena and Spring Green area. Squirrel hunters are finding mostly gray squirrels on the public hunting grounds in the southern Sauk and northern Iowa County areas. With the somewhat dry conditions some maple trees have started to turn colors. Deer hunters are finding some success in the woods with the good acorn crop present. - David Youngquist, conservation warden, Dodgeville
Weather has been excellent for hunting. Many hunters have been in the woods pursuing squirrels and reporting that acorn crops are spotty. Canada geese are flocking up in large numbers across area crop fields. Along the Lower Wisconsin River, current duck hunting is hit or miss and may pick up later in the month. Reports for woodcock hunting are low, but will pick up as their migration intensifies. There are excellent opportunities for deer hunting on public property such as Blackhawk Lake Recreation Area. Sandhill cranes have been seen in large flocks along the Lower Wisconsin Riverway, especially in crop fields on Highway 14. Many of the grassland birds have migrated south for the winter, but some meadowlarks are hanging on. Many of the late season wild flowers are on their downside and going to seed, but some aster species are still flowering. Many of the prairie grass species are beginning to change to their brilliant red fall colors. Tree leaf colors are still in the early stages of turning, and are not at peak levels yet. - Travis Anderson, wildlife biologist, Dodgeville
Richland County - Waterfowl hunters along the Lower Wisconsin Riverway reported a lack of water in the backwaters of the Wisconsin River that resulted in lower than usual waterfowl numbers. - Michael Nice, conservation warden, Richland Center
Horicon DNR Service Center area
Dodge County - Fall colors are coming along, but not yet at peak. We still have fall blooming asters, goldenrods and others in and around the marsh. Cattails and other wetland plants are drying out. It is time to be careful when outdoors in these areas with drying fuels, as the risk of wildfire is increasing. We have a good number and variety of migratory birds in the area, from warblers to shorebirds and waterfowl. Please note that if you are coming to the area to enjoy the marsh or fall birding, the federal refuge and all road accesses (except Highway 49) are currently closed. The boardwalk and trails on the state end (Southern 1/3 of the marsh) remain available to public recreation. - Paul Samerdyke, wildlife biologist, Horicon
Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area - On Saturday, Oct. 5, join us at the Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center anytime during 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. for a "Skins, Skulls and Scat" open house! Learn more about the marsh's furry friends by touching pelts, matching skulls and going on a hunt for scat! Join the DNR Assistant Furbearer Ecologist at 11 a.m. for a program on "Furs Above and Below the Water". Wildlife educators will also be leading a guided marsh hike at 2 p.m. For more details please visit www.horiconmarsh.org (exit DNR) or call 920-387-7893. - Elizabeth Herzmann, natural resources educator
Fitchburg DNR Service Center area
Columbia County - With cooler nights and heavy dew in the mornings, mast producing trees are finally dropping their treasures to the ground. With the leaves starting to turn, squirrel hunters are able to see their quarry scrambling to find that nut on the ground or up in the tree. Local walnut and hickory nut pickers are reaping the bountiful harvest of nuts. A much better year for nut pickers from a year ago during the drought of 2012. Goldenrods are expressing their true autumn golden colors while the milkweed plants are dispersing seed. Weekly rains are bringing life to the cool season grasses while their seed heads are dispersing next years' generation. October brings bountiful harvests from the forests, gardens, woods, fields, and lakes. Goose hunters are doing well thinning the local population in central Columbia County. Waterfowl season opener was successful with wood ducks more abundant than other species. A number of statewide small game hunting accidents involving firearms were reported including one local hunting accident on state land since the opener of dove season on September 1st. Hunters are cautioned to be wary of other hunters and recreational users on properties that they are using. Enjoy the autumn air while you can. Winter is coming. - Al Ramminger, wildlife technician, Columbia County
Sandhill cranes are starting to gather by the hundreds each night at dusk on the Wisconsin River, with the height of the spectacle likely to occur near the end of October. Contact the Aldo Leopold Foundation www.aldoleopold.org (exit DNR) to participate in an organized field trip to watch these spectacular birds flock to the islands near Leopold's shack. Duck hunters reported seeing good numbers of birds opening day, with lots of shots fired. Hunters reported big flocks of blue winged teal moving through the Mud Lake area, with some wood duck and mallards seen as well. Users of the Pine Island Wildlife Area should be aware that the area between the field station and Blount Road will be temporarily closed to all uses from 8a.m. to Noon on Saturday October 5 as a "Learn to Pheasant Hunt" event will be taking place on the grounds. - Sara Kehrli, wildlife biologist, Poynette
Columbia County reports trees are continuing to change but still well before peak. Duck opener was this past weekend with a mixed bag for success. A lot of wood ducks were harvested with a few teal mixed in. Water levels remain low in the area making it harder to get access to some "normal" hunting spots along the Wisconsin River. Deer activity is also starting to pick up with a few reports of bucks already starting to chase the does. - Ryan Volenberg, conservation warden, Poynette
Dane County - Deer activity is picking up as they are being observed feeding in the late afternoons throughout Dane County. Archery hunters have been successful harvesting deer that are still in their summer patterns. - Jake Donar, conservation warden, Fitchburg
Sauk County - Cranes are gathering in fields for the migration. Maples are turning colors in the woodlands. When out enjoying the fall weather, keep an out for some of the less seen mammals in Sauk County, such as bear and bobcat. - Nancy Frost, wildlife biologist, Sauk Prairie Recreation Area
Janesville DNR Service Center area
Rock County - Waterfowl hunters had limited success the first week of the duck season in Rock County with lower than normal water levels around the area. Archery Deer hunters have been harvesting good numbers of deer in Rock County. Hunters report low numbers of mosquitoes and ticks. Wardens continue to find hunters using bait even though baiting and feeding has been illegal in Rock County since 2002. Several upcoming hunter and snowmobile safety classes will be held in the Edgerton, Janesville, and Milton areas over the next two months. People interested in taking a safety class should check the DNR website for specific dates, times, and locations. - Boyd Richter, conservation warden, Janesville
West Central Region
Baldwin DNR Service Center area
St. Croix County - Waterfowl hunters on the opener of the Southern Zone in the Tiffany Wildlife Area South of Durand had very good success on wood ducks, mallards and teal. Water levels are very low but foot access to many areas was good. Waterfowl hunters are reminded that the Mississippi River Zone is closed during the "split" for 12 days from Sept. 30 until Oct. 12 at one half hour before sunrise. Bow hunters report seeing good numbers of deer in the area and several nice bucks have been harvested during the early part of the archery season. Fishing on the Mississippi and St. Croix rivers has been fair. Some anglers are picking up decent walleye and sauger using crawler harnesses trolled with bottom bouncers or crank-baits trolled on lead line. Fishing on inland lakes has been slow, but bass are still very active. Fall colors are not yet peaked, but are improving. - David A. Hausman, warden supervisor, Baldwin
Vernon County - Whitetail bucks are showing some signs of rutting activity. Some young bucks have already left their bachelor groups and started to chase does. Early scrapes are also being found in the area. Although the acorn crop appears to be below average throughout most of the coulee country, some areas do have good acorn numbers. It pays to do some extra scouting, as one good tree can produce a lot of acorns thus attracting deer and other wildlife from great distances. Large flocks of migrating bluebirds, robins, and catbirds are passing through the area. These migrating birds make many multi-day stops, fuel up on readily available foods, and continue their leisurely southward migration. Wild turkeys have been very active recently, feeding heavily on grasshoppers, crickets, acorns, and other seeds. - Dave Matheys, wildlife biologist, Viroqua
Black River Falls DNR Service Center area
Black River State Forest - We are getting closer to peak colors at Black River. Rain is predicted for Thursday through Saturday followed by a seasonable stretch of nice fall weather. The Black River area Oktoberfest is scheduled for this Friday and Saturday. The last week saw a big flush in color at the state forest. Reds, yellows, oranges, and some browns are all present. We are still 5-10 days away from the first and more colorful peak. Oaks are still mostly green but a few have started to turn; they make up the second peak of the fall season. The forest floor has a lot of reds, yellows and browns present as well. This is the last weekend for the flush toilet and shower building at Castle Mound. The bathroom will be closed on Oct. 7. Vault toilets and water at the hand pumps are still available after this date. - Peter Bakken, superintendent
Trempealeau County - Those that are fishing for bluegills state that the gills have been hitting hard in the past few weeks. Good numbers of large fish have been caught in the channels/chutes between the main channel and backwater areas. Some very large fish have been checked by area wardens. A basic hook and worm setup has been doing the trick for most anglers. Wood duck and teal numbers have been low. Hunters are reporting just not seeing the numbers they would like to see or normally see in the river zone. A few wood duck have been taken in the Sothern zone on the Trempealeau and black rivers. Hunters have to work hard scouting in advance to have good success rates. - Christopher Shea, conservation warden, Trempealeau
Eau Claire DNR Service Center area
Eau Claire County -Shoreline anglers have been having some success catching musky in excess of 40 inches on the Chippewa River downriver of the Dells Hydro Dam in Eau Claire. An angler recently boated just upriver of Hobbs Landing to catch and release a 48-inch musky. Fishing action will improve as cooler temperatures once again return to the area. The fall season is a great time to enjoy outdoor activities on a state trail. A reminder that the Chippewa River State Trail, and DNR lands in close proximity to the State Trail, are not open for hunting from Eau Claire to Caryville. It is open for hunting from Caryville to the junction with Red Cedar State Trail in the Dunnville Wildlife Area. - Scott Thiede, conservation warden, Eau Claire
The colors are really starting to pop in Eau Claire County where we finally received a little rain and water levels have rebounded a little bit. We haven't seen many ducks yet because we haven't had any good cold weather to get things moving, hunters are still shooting a few teal and wood ducks. The woods are starting to open up a little bit and grouse hunters are reporting that they are starting to find some birds. There is a good crop of acorns this year and deer are really concentrating on the oak ridges. - Ken Thomson, conservation warden, Eau Claire
Lake Wissota State Park - The fall colors are showing with the ash, birch and basswood trees turning to brilliant gold. The maples are beginning to show color with the nights being cool. The open water game fish action has been good. Bass action on leeches and small minnows has been productive; walleye action has been good with live baits. Panfish have been fairly active. Species of birds seen or heard include: ravens, rose-breasted grosbeaks, loons, a variety of wrens, phoebes, turkey vultures, northern juncos, pileated woodpeckers, great horned and barred owls, osprey, bald eagles, Canada geese and belted kingfishers. Wintergreen, common mullein, white snakeroot, the pale and spotted jewelweed, rabbits foot clover, and some of the aster varieties are flowering. From October through April campsites are available on a walk-in basis. The water and shower buildings are shut down in the campground for the season. The sanitary station will be open as the weather allows. Vault toilets in the campground are open year around. As the park office is not regularly staffed at this time of year, please use the yellow self-registration pay posts located at the office and campground entrance. - Dave Hladilek, park manager
Wisconsin Rapids DNR Service Center area
Adams County - Warden Romberg of Friendship says that there are some ducks to hunt as the water levels are pretty good, and that there are some fall colors beginning to show up. - Wade Romberg, conservation warden, Friendship
Buckhorn State Park - Statewide youth deer hunt is Oct. 5-6. Gun deer hunting for youth hunt is in the Yellow River Wildlife Area only. No park areas are open for gun deer hunting at this time. Buckhorn State Park and Buckhorn Wildlife Area are bow only for the statewide youth deer hunt. *All hunters except waterfowl must wear at least 50 percent blaze orange, even when bow hunting in the park. Fishing pier and boat boarding piers will be removed on Thursday, Oct. 17. Some fall colors are starting! - Heather Wolf, park manager
Roche-A-Cri State Park - Fall colors are starting! The main gate will close on October 14. Parking after that time is in the winter lot on Czech Ave. The Pumpkin Walk is on Saturday, October 19 from 3-9 p.m. Free admission, fun games, naturalist program, food and glow items for a fee, tiki torches and pumpkins around the mound road for the walk. There are no hayrides or hauntings this year. - Heather Wolf, park manager