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Outdoor Report for April 10, 2014
View current conditions for Wisconsin State Parks, Trails and Forests
Check out the Wisconsin Department of Tourism (exit DNR).
What a difference a week can make in the Northwoods. Last week people were shoveling 12-plus inches of snow, and now roads are clear and the snow on the ground is rapidly melting. Snow cover now covers less than a third of the most northern part of the state.
Northern lakes still have 20 or more inches of ice, but in the south, most lakes in Rock County are now open. A few anglers continue to ice fish, but wardens are cautioning that ice is turning dark, an indication that it's getting weaker. The Fox and Wolf rivers are open and walleye anglers have been out and having some success. Last Sunday there were more than 200 boat trailers parked along the Fox in De Pere. Walleye anglers are also having some success on the Wisconsin and Mississippi rivers.
Lake Michigan tributaries are mostly open and there has been some success for trout and salmon. The Root River Steelhead Facility started operation last week and 121 steelhead were spawned and passed upstream.
Kids 15 years and younger can mark the arrival of spring by attending free fishing clinics on Saturday, April 12, at several lagoons and ponds in Milwaukee, Racine, Sheboygan, Washington and Waukesha counties.
People who need a hunting or trapping education course should look for a course now. There are more hunter and trapper education courses taught in spring than any time of year. To find either a hunter or trapper education course, search the DNR website for "education" and click on the button for "Find a safety education course near you."
Wisconsin ecologists this week confirmed white-nose syndrome in bats at a single mine site in Grant County. The State of Michigan also confirmed the fungus that causes the disease for the first time this week. These two findings bring to 25 the number of U.S. states where the disease has been confirmed, and five Canadian provinces.
The spring wildfire season has begun and low humidity and gusty winds created High to Very High fire danger and the suspension of burning permits in several areas. In the past week, 44 wildfires burned 210 acres in DNR Protection Areas. Numerous fires also burned in "cooperative" parts of the state where local fire departments respond. Stay aware of fire danger and burning permit requirements by searching the DNR website for "fire" or calling 1-888-WISBURN.
Raptor migration is on the rise, with northern harrier, American kestrel, red-tailed hawk, and sharp-shinned hawks moving through right now. In the south, bald eagles are on eggs or even tending to young chicks, peregrine falcons have begun egg-laying, and most great horned owls now have chicks.
Spring peepers and chorus frogs have begun calling in the south. The maple sap run is winding down in the south but still going on strong in the north. The Outdoor Recreation page of the DNR website has optimistically been updated to reflect spring. Find out about spring activities and recreation opportunities by searching for "explore outdoors.
And a reminder, next Monday is the Spring Fish and Wildlife Rules Hearings and County Conservation Congress meetings held at 7 p.m. in every county of the state. New this year, spring deer herd status meetings will also be conducted at the spring hearings. For information search the DNR website for "spring hearings."
Statewide Wildfire Report
It was a busy week for fire fighters in the southern half of the state this week. Warm temperatures, low humidity and gusty winds created High to Very High fire danger and called for the suspension of burning permits in several areas. In the past week, 44 wildfires burned 210 acres in DNR Protection Areas; 28 structures were threatened. Debris burning was the leading cause of fires this week (25 fires). Equipment was the cause of 10 wildfires. The largest fire of the week was 150 acres, started when a homeowner was burning debris on their property. The fire escaped and burned through the subdivision where it threatened 16 homes, garages and sheds before burning onto a state wildlife area. With the nicer weather, homeowners are performing annual clean-up around their properties. Debris burning remains Wisconsin's leading cause of wildfires, especially this time of year. It's important to remember that burning is not your only option. There are many alternatives to burning leaves, brush and pine needles such as composting or leaving brush in the woods for wildlife to enjoy. The best practice is to not burn at all or to wait until surrounding vegetation greens-up in the summer. Always obtain proper permits and follow the rules of the day when conducting an outdoor burn. People can stay aware of fire danger and burning permit requirements by searching the DNR web site for "fire" or calling 1-888-WISBURN. Information is updated each day at 11 am. Numerous fires also burned in "cooperative" parts of the state (where local fire departments have the primary responsibility for fire suppression). Notably, there was a 78-acre fire in La Crosse and Monroe counties, a 13-acre and a 7-acre fire in Winnebago County, and an 11-acre Eau Claire County fire. This fire is significant because it started when embers from a debris pile burned five days earlier re-ignited and burned into the surrounding dry vegetation. Even if you think your fire is out, you need to check again! Fire fighters have responded to several fires this week as a result of recently burned brush piles that contained smoldering embers. Embers can remain hot for days, even weeks. With the warmer weather and high winds forecasted, lingering embers can escape and ignite surrounding vegetation and cause a wildfire. Always make certain debris piles, campfires or even ashes dumped from woodstoves or fireplaces are out cold. Before leaving your fire, use plenty of water, stir the ashes with a rake or shovel and repeat until cold. To learn more about preventing wildfires or protecting your home and property from wildfire, search the DNR website for keyword "ember."
Firewise tip: Keep your roof, rain gutters, and the space 5 feet around buildings free of leaf and pine needle debris. Firebrands from a wildfire could easily ignite these fuels which in turn could ignite your home.
Statewide Birding Report
We'll start this week in the north, where migration has been limited due to deep snow and ice cover. American robins and common grackles are the only songbirds to arrive there in earnest, though red-winged blackbirds, dark-eyed juncos, golden-crowned kinglets, purple finches, and a few others made a push into the region this week as well. Other arrivals, generally in low numbers, include yellow-bellied sapsuckers, eastern meadowlark, killdeer, american woodcock, eastern phoebe, and northern flicker. Raptor diversity is on the rise, with northern harrier, American kestrel, red-tailed hawk, sharp-shinned hawk, turkey vulture, and both eagles moving through right now. Waterfowl migration here has been exceptionally poor due to lack of open water, although moderating temperatures should yield some excellent concentrations in the weeks ahead. Meanwhile, farther south spring has sprung with returns of yellow-rumped warblers, bonaparte's gulls, purple martin, barn swallow, whooping cranes, and more. The first good influx of common loons reached southern Wisconsin this week, while April 7 saw a nice flight of greater scaup, long-tailed ducks, redheads, horned grebes, and both common and red-throated loons at Harrington Beach State Park in Ozaukee County. Tundra swans were seen by the thousands across the eastern half of the state, though one has to wonder where they are headed with all the ice up north yet. Early-season shorebirds included both yellowlegs, pectoral and Baird's sandpipers, a dunlin, and two American golden plovers in Milwaukee. Ospreys are slowly returning to nesting platforms, great blue herons are nest building at rookeries in the south, bald eagles are on eggs or even tending to young chicks, peregrine falcons have begun egg-laying, and most great horned owls now have chicks. Rarities were, well, rare this week, perhaps the most unusual being an American woodcock photographed as it was foraging within an ice cave on one of the Apostle Islands in Lake Superior! As always, find out what others are seeing and report your finds at www.ebird.org/wi (exit DNR). Good birding! - Ryan Brady, Bureau of Wildlife Management research scientist, Ashland
Superior DNR Service Center area
Brule River State Forest - What a difference a week can make in the Northwoods. Last week people were shoveling 12-plus inches of snow, and now the roadways are clear of snow, the 30-40 inches of snow on the ground is rapidly melting, people are out enjoying the much warmer days. The ice on the Brule is also diminishing rapidly. It was reported that the ice is very close to the mouth of the Brule and the river is running high and muddy due to the melting snow. Many spring migrants are coming back in numbers to the area. Herons, red-winged blackbirds, killdeer, eastern phoebe, turkey vultures, bluebirds, kestrels, woodcock, sandhill cranes, Canada geese, and numerous ducks. Skunks and raccoons are emerging from their winter dens. Deer are starting to feed heavily along the road shoulders and ditch areas trying to find food uncovered by the recent thaws, which is leading to numerous car-killed deer. Willow catkins (pussywillows) are showing up on the willows. Phenology- (phe-nol-o-gy) is the study of changes in plants and animals as they respond to weather, climate, and the seasons. This could include cyclic events such as bird migration, blooming of plants, freezing/thawing of lakes, fish spawning, and so on. For more information see Wisconsin DNR EEK website. - Catherine Khalar, visitor services associate
Ashland DNR Service Center area
Douglas County - Although a few days of spring like temperatures have occurred since our last major snow event, 2 to 4 feet of ice on local lakes and 2 to 3 feet of snow remaining in the woods remind residents of far northwest Wisconsin that winter is still in charge here. Snowmobile and ATV enthusiasts should be reminded that the trail system in Douglas County was officially closed as of April 1. Some fishing is taking place on the Wisconsin waters of the western end of Lake Superior, anglers report limited catches of lake trout, burbot, smelt and walleye. - John Krull, conservation warden, Superior
Big Bay State Park - Spring has arrived and the animals and birds are finally out and about. While at Big Bay State Park, keep your eyes open for some of the critters that call our park home, such as white-tailed deer, coyote, eagles, rabbits, mink, blue jays, chickadees, robins and soon, black bears! All trails are open for skiing, snowshoeing, and hiking; however, with the warmer weather the snow is quickly melting. Beautiful ice formations on our sandstone cliffs and on Lake Superior can be seen all along our Bayview and Point trails. It is advised that all visitors keep safety in mind when visiting by following designated trails and park rules. Ice conditions on Lake Superior change rapidly along the shoreline. Big Bay State Park is about six miles from the Town of La Pointe on Madeline Island. Access to the island and the park is usually by way of the Madeline Island Ferry, which is still shut down for the season. When the ferry is not in operation, a wind sled provides transport for passengers only across the ice between Bayfield and Madeline Island
Spooner DNR Service Center area
Washburn County - Sharp-tailed grouse are dancing on the Namekagon Barrens Wildlife Area, although the snow is preventing us from getting blinds out. Hopefully we can soon. There are some bare patches on the property, but otherwise there is still 7 - 12 inches of snow. There is 18 inches of snow in the woods still... next to bare patches by clumps of trees. Birds if seen so far - one snowy owl on the Namekagon Barrens on Thursday, and the rest are throughout the area- robins, fox sparrow, kestrel, hooded mergansers, woodcock. - Nancy M. Christel (Cervantes), wildlife biologist, Spooner
Park Falls DNR Service Center area
Upper Chippewa Basin fisheries report (Price, Rusk, Sawyer Taylor and inland Ashland and Iron counties) - With more spring-like weather in the last week, ice conditions have been slowly deteriorating on lakes across the Northwoods. Most lakes still have 20 to 24 inches of ice - but the upper half consists of mostly frozen slush and snow. This upper layer can get soft very quickly on the warm, sunny days, so anglers should be very cautious with the changing conditions. Very little motorized traffic has been seen on the lakes, and most anglers have been walking out to their favorite spots. Angling pressure did kick up a bit in the past week, and a few pan-fishers did fairly well on crappie and bluegill. The fish have been found near the deeper water areas, and have been suspended 5 to 10 feet off the bottom. Small fatheads have worked best for crappie, and a small ice jig tipped with a wax worm has worked good for the bluegill. - Skip Sommerfeldt, senior fisheries biologist, Park Falls
Flambeau River State Forest - Both snowmobile and ski trails are in poor condition with lots of bare spots. The South Fork of the Flambeau River is open, but the North Fork is still frozen over with a few opens spots especially along the edges. We would expect it to open within the next few days by the looks of things, especially if the warmer temperature continue. Local lakes are still ice covered. Spring has finally sprung on the forest. We are seeing lots of wildlife: cranes, trumpeter swans, geese, ducks and robins have made their way home. We still have approximately 15 inches of snow in the woods, but seeing lots of bare spots in sunny locations. Locals are seeing some daffodil & crocuses emerging. Aspen & lilac bush buds are beginning to swell and the silver maples are getting ready to flower. We are seeing skunks and turkeys are gobbling. Maple syrup enthusiasts are tapping trees. Lake of the Pines Campground opens April 15. - Judy Freeman, visitor services associate
Northern Lake Michigan fisheries team report (northern fishing hotline 920-746-2860) - Compiled by David Boyarski, fisheries supervisor, Sturgeon Bay
Marinette County - A few walleye were caught on the Peshtigo River from the boat launch to the Dam using small Cleo's and Stick baits. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo
Oconto County - With the warmer weather a gate at the Stiles Dam is partially open and a few walleye are starting to show up. Anglers used jig heads with twister tails and floating Stick baits and with water temperatures still very cold the numbers of fish are low but should start increasing as the water temperature rises. Northern pike were caught on the bay in front of Oconto Park II using dead smelt fished on bottom in 4 to 9 feet of water. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo
Brown County - The West shore of Green Bay was very quiet and at Geano Beach and Long Tail Point the ice near the shore is melting away making vehicle access nearly impossible. The Suamico River and Duck Creek still have quite a bit of ice making stream-side fishing tricky. The area walleye run has begun and the Fox River was a popular fishing destination. At around 10:15 am this past Sunday there were more than 200 boat trailers parked between the Fairgrounds and Fox Point in De Pere. There were also around 50 people of all ages fishing from shore. Successful anglers have used bright green plastic twister tails as well as; worms, fire-tiger colored Stick baits, live minnows, plastic minnows and plastic twister tails. A boating party of two caught 23 walleye over the course of 5 hours. A couple of boating groups reported catching 15 walleye in the 14 - 22 inch range and another group of fisherman caught larger fish in the 27 - 28 inch range. Boat anglers reported higher catch rates than shore anglers. Besides walleye, fisherman reported catching catfish, whitefish and suckers. - Adrian Meseberg, fisheries technician, Green Bay
Manitowoc County - Both harbors and the Manitowoc marina are now finally open and free of ice. Fishing activity on the piers remains low but more anglers were fishing the shores and edges of both the Manitowoc and Two Rivers harbors. The harbor launch ramps were still iced over but should be open soon. Both the Manitowoc and Branch rivers are open and flowing fast with water temperature hovering around 44 degrees. On the Manitowoc River anglers had good success with suckers using a dip net or hook and line fishing at Manitowoc Rapids, Manitou Park and at bridges west of town. Steelhead action was slow with anglers throwing spoons or drifting spawn sacs. Success rates should increase since the warmer spring weather has arrived. At the Clark's Mills dam water quality and fluctuating foam levels were a concern to anglers. The Branch River is just beginning to draw anglers and so far no catches have been reported. Silver Creek in Manitowoc saw very little steelhead fishing pressure and no catches were reported. More anglers took advantage of the increasing open water in the West Twin River. Last weekend wading anglers were scattered several hundred yards downstream from the Shoto Dam. Success was modest but some Steelhead in the 24 - 28 inch range were caught as well as a number of nice-size brown trout. One pair of anglers took home a mixed stringer that included a beautiful 10-pound steelhead. Drifting spawn sacs remained the favored tactic and morning continues to be the most consistent period. The Shoto boat launch downstream from the dam is also open for use, although the river remains ice choked near the Madison Street bridge in Two Rivers. Water temperatures were in the mid-30s and anglers reported that water clarity improved in the last week. The only consistently open water on the East Twin River runs from the Mishicot Dam to the Steiner's Corner Road bridge. Most anglers fished the river only as it wound through the town of Mishicot and catch rates have been low.
Peshtigo DNR Service Center area
Marinette County - Spring has made its way to Marinette County with several days now reaching temps above 50. Snow is all but gone in the southern two-thirds of the county and has shrunk to shin deep in the wooded northern third. Rivers are beginning to open and ice on lakes is melting fast. Woodcock are now being heard and seen more regularly, bluebirds have made an appearance as have purple finches. Fishing has picked up a bit on area lakes but be careful as ice conditions are changing quickly. Also, remember licenses expired March 31 so a new license is needed to fish. Turkeys are still in large groups, but gobbling and displaying has picked up. This weekend is the two-day youth turkey hunt followed by the first regular season on Wed. April 16. Frogs will be calling soon and before you know it asparagus will be popping up! - Aaron McCullough, wildlife technician, Wausaukee
Oconto County - Northern pike are coming into west shore creeks and ditches to spawn. Reminder most of these streams are closed to hook and line fishing until the first Saturday in May. In one stream several fish over 40 inches were observed. Waterfowl are coming back and providing some great viewing. Tundra swans are again showing up on the bay shore in any open water they can find. Ice is finally out on the lower Oconto river and fishing opportunities should increase as the water gets warmer. Reports of some trout being caught and an occasional walleye. - Mike Stahl, conservation warden, Oconto Falls
Shawano County - Turkeys are spreading out and can be seen in full display. As the weather warms more gobbling can be heard usually in the morning. Fishing is pretty good and ice is deteriorating fast. Rivers are opening up and many are getting their boats ready to go or are already out on area rivers fishing especially the walleye run on the Wolf. - Jim Horne, conservation warden, Shawano
Green Bay DNR Service Center area
Brown County - The spring has finally arrived in Brown County. The spring peepers are being heard in the marshes and the walleyes are running up the river. A few legal size walleyes are being caught, but anglers are reminded that they are not allowed to keep a foul hooked fish. There is also a fish refuge on the Fox River from the downstream side of the De Pere dam, to the downstream side of the WPS power lines. No fishing is allowed in the refuge. Learn to turkey hunts were successful with approximately 40 percent of the students getting a bird in one group. This weekend is the youth turkey hunt, and the weather should be good. Scouting reports are seeing that the larger flocks are starting to break apart with the nicer weather this past week. Turkey hunters are reminded to clearly identify their target and what is beyond before taking a shot. - Cara Kamke, conservation warden, Green Bay
Ice fishing is finally coming to an end on the Bay of Green Bay yet some fishermen continue to risk it all for whitefish. The ice to deteriorating quickly. Please reconsider venturing out on any remaining ice. Spring walleye fishing is picking up with fishermen catching quite a few walleyes. Most of the walleyes being caught are not of legal size but several 28-plus inch walleyes have been seen. With fishing picking boat traffic is also picking up making the Fox River congested especially near the De Pere Dam. Stay safe and respectful on the water. Please make sure your boat lights are functional and used during hours of darkness and be careful of the few but present floating ice chunks. Darren D. Kuhn, conservation warden - marine enforcement unit, Green Bay
Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center area
Peninsula State Park - Winter activities have come to an end. Spring like conditions exist throughout the park: watch for wet/icy/slippery areas. Bike trails are closed. Hiking trails may be snow covered, icy and wet in areas. Winter road closures are still in place. Eagle Bluff Lighthouse, Welckers Point, Group Camp, Eagle Terrace, and other winter non-designated use areas are not accessible at this time. - Jane Barnowsky, visitor services associate
Wautoma DNR Service Center area
Waupaca County - Spring has finally sprung! Most area lakes still ice covered, but there is open water by shore and the ice is very black. Wolf River is wide open with just a couple of icebergs coming down. Lots of fishing pressure on the Wolf but no reports yet. Turkeys are gobbling and seem to be splitting up and spreading out. This bodes very well for the upcoming youth hunt. Waterfowl of many varieties are present on most open water areas. Woodcock present in good numbers and are peenting (displaying for mates). Water levels in area trout streams look good, but haven't noticed much fishing pressure for the catch and release season. - Karl Kramer, wildlife technician, Wautoma
Walleyes are now biting on the Wolf River. Anglers are having success on the inside corners with a jig and minnow. Bluebirds are back - along with many other species of spring migrants. The Youth turkey hunt is this weekend - April 12 and 13. Also, the Waupaca Learn to Turkey hunt is scheduled for the same weekend. Inlands lakes are beginning to show signs of open water. Ice users should use caution when recreating on the ice this time of the year. - Ted Dremel, conservation warden, Wautoma
Hartman Creek State Park - Warmer weather has caused most of the snow to melt at Hartman Creek State Park. The park's family and group campgrounds are now open for the season. All horse and bike trails are also open but use caution as some north facing trails may still have some remnant snow and ice on them. The campground's shower buildings will not open until Friday, May 2; however, water can be obtained in the campground and also at the park office. The park will be hosting its annual volunteer day on Saturday, May 3. You are welcome to volunteer as little or as much as you like. If interested in volunteering or need further information about the park, please contact the park office at 715-258-2372. - Michael D. Bergum, park superintendent
Oshkosh DNR Service Center area
Outagamie County - The ice is out everywhere except Lake Winnebago and anglers have been taking advantage of the open water hook and line season. In Kaukauna, anglers have been catching a variety of panfish species as well as bass. In Appleton on the Fox River, anglers have been catching a good number of bass and have been pulling out a few northern pike. Wood ducks have begun checking out houses and geese and mallards are beginning to pair off. The sap run is pretty much over in much of the Fox Valley area with individuals reporting a much lower collection than last year. - Ryan Propson, conservation warden, Appleton
Milwaukee DNR Service Center area
Kettle Moraine State Forest, Lapham Peak Unit - Mountain bike and horse trails are now open. - Brett Johanen, ranger
Kettle Moraine State Forest, Southern Unit - Be on the lookout for spring wildflowers throughout the Forest. Reports of skunk cabbage coming up have been circulating. Visit the Stute Springs Nature Trail and see if you can find it. Hiking trails are open. Please call the Trail Information line for up-to-date conditions, 262-594-6202. - Amanda Prange, visitor services associate
Southern Lake Michigan fisheries team report - Compiled from creel clerks by Cheryl Masterson and Jeffrey Zinuticz, fisheries technicians, Milwaukee
Sheboygan County - In Sheboygan the Sheboygan River temperature was approximately 38-40 degrees at various locations along the river Sunday morning, and the whole river is now ice free. The overall water clarity is good in most stretches of the river. Anglers were seen fishing below the Kohler dam with a few reports of rainbow trout being caught, but there was no specific lure or time of day that out produced any other. Anglers were also seen fishing behind the Wildwood athletic complex. A few brown and rainbow trout were reported caught on small spinners. On the Pigeon River the water is fairly clear, and a few anglers have been seen near the quarry as well as the wayside on Lakeshore Drive. A few rainbows have been caught. At the Sheboygan lakefront, all boat launches are finally free of ice. The launch piers at Deland Park have been put in. Shore anglers fishing off the south pier have taken a few small browns on spawn sacs or small bright green or blue spoons fished off the lake side of the pier.
Ozaukee County - In Port Washington public access to the north pier is not allowed at this time. Signs have been posted at the entrance to pier to remind the public that no one is allowed on the pier for their own safety. Anglers fishing off of the south pier near the power plant have caught a few small brown trout using small spoons in blue and green colors. Anglers have been seen catching rainbow trout near the power plant discharge. The best baits were spawn sacs fished on a three way rig about 12 inches off the bottom in the current. The overall water clarity of the area has improved. There were a few boats seen fishing within the breakwater in Port Washington with a few brown trout being reported caught on crank baits inside the harbor. The marina put in the launch piers last week. The water temperature in Sauk Creek was approximately 38-40 degrees with below average water clarity due to recent rainfall. Anglers reported seeing a few rainbow trout in a few deeper holes near the high school and at the mouth of the creek. A few suckers have also begun to move up into Sauk Creek.
Milwaukee County - In Milwaukee fishing pressure remains fairly high in the mornings when the weather has been nice. On the Menomonee River, anglers continue to catch a few steelhead near Miller Park on spawn sacs and bobbers, but effective trips still remain hit or miss. Water temperatures are slowly rising and vary depending on the day from 35-39 degrees. The Milwaukee River has started to attract more anglers, but at lower numbers. An abundance of white suckers have been found below the falls at Estabrook Park, signifying a rise in water temperature. Water levels have been dropping on both rivers. Decent numbers of brown trout have been caught from shore behind the Summerfest grounds. The bait of choice has varied among spawn, plastic jigs, and live bait. Some anglers were also able to take fish on spoons. There have been some anglers reporting small coho salmon being caught as well from Summerfest, which provides hope for an increase in consistent success from the shoreline anglers in the month of April. The fishing pier at the Oak Creek Power Plant remains closed until next week. Boats fishing out of Bender Park have reported success for brown trout on almost anything from crank baits to spoons. Ice still covers McKinley Marina, but boats have been launching at Riverfront Ramp or South Shore Park to fish the Milwaukee harbor. They are reporting success jigging near the discharge, towards the bottom with spawn sacs and gulp bait. Trolling around the harbor with spoons and crank baits has also been effective during the early morning.
Racine County - In Racine, flows on the Root River have been dropping over the past week, and the water is fairly clear. Fish were processed at the Root River Steelhead Facility on Monday, April 7. Both Chambers Creek and Ganaraska strains of steelhead were spawned, and 121 steelhead and 1 brown trout were passed upstream. The next processing day will be Monday, April 14. Anglers fishing upstream of the facility have been catching rainbows and occasional browns from the Horlick dam through Quarry Lake Park and into Colonial Park. Flies, spawn sacs fished under slip bobbers, and tube jigs tipped with wax worms have all been effective. Downstream of the weir fishing pressure has been increasing, with decent numbers of rainbows caught in Lincoln Park, Island Park, and Washington Park. Boaters have been catching good numbers of browns at the Oak Creek Power Plant, as well as a few coho off the Racine shoreline. Three of the floating docks were in the water at the boat launch on Sunday, but the fish cleaning station at the boat launch has not opened yet. Shore fishing pressure has been light off the piers, but a mix of rainbows, browns, and a few coho have been landed off of both the north and south piers. Crank baits and small, brightly colored spoons have been productive.
Kenosha County - In Kenosha the Pike River is relatively low and clear with a temperature hovering around 40 to 41 degrees. Fishing pressure and success increased over last week, with steelhead taken in Petrifying Springs Park and near the County Highway E bridge. Spawn fished under a slip bobber and white tube jigs tipped with wax worms have produced. At the lakefront in Kenosha fishing off the piers has been slow, but anglers fishing between the 50th Street Bridge and the Navy Memorial have been catching browns on spoons and white tube jigs. Most of Southport Marina now has open water. The ice in front of the Simmons Island boat launch is gone, and the ramp docks are in the water.
Waukesha DNR Service Center area
Waukesha County - Spring peepers can be heard across Waukesha and Walworth counties. Many tom turkeys have been seen displaying, just in time for the youth turkey hunt. Viewing of spring waterfowl migration has been superb at Paradise Valley Wildlife Area. - Kelly VanBeek, wildlife biologist, Waukesha
Gobblers have been seen strutting for hen turkeys in open fields, and we've seen an influx of songbirds with the warming weather, including red-winged blackbirds, golden-crowned kinglets, yellow-bellied sapsuckers, tree swallows, and eastern phoebes. There has also been an increase in the number of baby animals sighted, including fox, raccoon, and squirrel kits. Contact your local DNR wildlife biologist if you find any baby animals in a dangerous or unwelcome place, such as on your porch or in your attic. To celebrate the spring weather, we will be leading a hiking tour of Honey Creek Stream Bank Protection Area on April 26. Contact Dianne Robinson (Dianne.Robinson@wisconsin.gov; 262-424-9827) if you are interested in checking out one of our newer properties and want to enjoy some outdoor fun. - Dianne Robinson, wildlife biologist, Waukesha
Ice is starting to pull back from the shoreline of many lakes, making travel on lakes very treacherous. Some lakes have reported minor fish kills resulting from the long and snowy winter. Northern pike spawning is underway and in some places is past peak. Muskies and walleyes are beginning to run up rivers looking for good spawning sites. Susan M. Beyler, fisheries work unit supervisor, Eagle
Plymouth DNR Service Center area
Theresa Marsh State Wildlife Area - Chorus frog singing is picking up with the warmer temperatures. Viewers passing through Theresa Marsh Wildlife Area along State Highway 28 can expect to see good numbers Canada geese, mallards, wood ducks, blue-winged teal, hooded mergansers, sandhill cranes and many other birds using the shallow water and mudflats in sub impoundments along both sides of the road. Migrating shorebirds can be seen in some areas. Wild turkey gobbling and breeding activity has picked up dramatically this week with gobblers seen fanning in their strutting areas. A good way to find turkeys to hunt is to drive low traffic roads near wooded areas starting about 45 minutes before sunup, stopping about every half mile, and listening three minutes at each stop for gobbling. The best days to scout are warm days with low winds, when gobbling can be heard from a halfmile or more away. DNR burn crews out of the Pike Lake office will be doing prescribed burns around the area every day beginning April 15, weather permitting. You might also notice some DNR staff along the roadways doing health sampling of car-killed deer this month, sampling up to 10 deer per county and looking at bone marrow, kidney, heart, sternum and rump fat to assess how well they made it through the colder than normal winter. - Tom Isaac, wildlife biologist, Hartford
Sturtevant DNR Service Center area
Walworth County - Most lakes around the county still have a considerable amount of ice cover. As of April 1, Lake Geneva had on average 15-18 inches of ice. Though the lake is no longer accessible by recreational vehicles as the access areas have opened up due to runoff from area subdivisions. Fishermen were doing well with crappies and pumpkin seeds off of Trinkies boat launch. Please use caution when ice fishing this time of year as conditions can change within hours. Turkey's continue to make themselves present on area fields, though birds are still in their winter flocks. Toms are starting to display and the sounds of gobbles have been heard several mornings now. - Juan Gomez, conservation warden, Elkhorn
Big Foot Beach State Park - Trails are open to hikers. Spring rains bring wet conditions to the hiking trails. Bring your waterproof boots along to enjoy the beauty of spring wildflowers. Pets are welcome on most trails but must be on a leash 8-feet or shorter at all times. Stop in the office to pick up a guide for your dog in the park. Matthew Daniels, ranger
South Central Region
Dodgeville DNR Service Center area
Grant County - Walleyes are biting at the Eagle Point fishing barge located on the Wisconsin side below Lock and Dam 11 near Dubuque, Iowa. This past weekend several large walleyes - one 28 inch, two 20 and 22 inch fish were on stringers. A female angler said the 28 inch fish was the largest fish and specifically walleye that she had ever caught. Anglers were using several jig combinations and one eyes. Fishermen were continuing to catch several large northern in O Leary Lake using spinners. The Mississippi River is on the rise due to spring melt water. All the county boat landings are open for use. Very few have yet installed their boat docks. For those folks boating on the water, use caution and the river continues to contain a lot of debris from the spring melt. Early season pre scouting by anxious turkey hunters have reported several large groups of gobblers and jakes. The males are still grouped together, but morning gobbling and displays have increased in the last week. - Richard S. DeWitte, conservation warden, Cassville
Iowa County - The smallmouth bass have been biting off of Hwy. Y on the Wisconsin River in Dane County. Tom turkeys have been seen all over Sauk and Iowa counties displaying for their hens. Scattered sightings of sandhill cranes have been seen in northern Iowa County. Turkey hunters are reminded to be sure of their target and what is beyond that tom turkey they are shooting at. If you see another hunter approaching your decoy set up, don't wave at them. speak in a loud and clear voice that you are a hunter. There are a good number and a lot of variety of ducks migrating back from the south, especially on the Wisconsin River between Spring Green and Sauk City. Maple trees are still producing some sap for those enjoying making syrup, but the season is winding down. The sap has been flowing later this year due to the long hard winter we've experienced. - David Youngquist, conservation warden, Dodgeville
Yellowstone Lake State Park - The ice is off the lake. Game fish seasons are closed. Migration of all types of birds is occurring. Pelicans, swans, and ducks of various types, and sandhill cranes can be viewed daily on the wildlife loop trail. - John Arthur, superintendent
Blue Mound State Park - Mountain bike trails are still closed. The mountain bike trails typically remain closed each spring for several weeks until adequate drying of the trail base. Please contact the park for current trail conditions at 608-437-5711. - Kevin Swenson, park manager
Governor Dodge State Park - All trails are open for hiking. Keep in mind, at this time of year, hikers may encounter almost any condition on the trails. Even a short spring shower can cause slippery, muddy conditions. Be prepared to encounter all types of conditions and plan accordingly. Horse and mountain bike trails are currently closed and will reopen May 1, weather and conditions permitting. - Kathy Gruentzel, superintendent
Horicon DNR Service Center area
Dodge County - Good catches of walleyes were being taken on the Rock River in Watertown. - Paul Nell, conservation warden, Horicon
Janesville DNR Service Center area
Rock County - Water levels on the Rock River have reached the high water mark and slow-no-wake restrictions are currently in effect along the Rock River. Anglers have reported a slight increase in walleye and sauger being caught near the Indianford, Centerway and Monterey dams. Anglers are also reporting a few northern pikes being caught as well. Ice is off of the majority of inland lakes in Rock County. As a reminder, game fishing is closed on all inland waters until the first Saturday in May. The only waters open for game-fish in Rock County are the Rock River and Lake Koshkonong. Anglers targeting panfish have been catching fish at Traxler Park, Lions Pond and Kiwanis Pond. Anglers are reminded that 2013 fishing licenses expired March 31 and 2014 licenses are currently available. The spring fish and game hearing is coming up on April 14 at 7 pm in Rock County and will be held at the Milton HS Auditorium. The hearings will also be held at different locations on the same date around the state. - Jake Lassila, conservation warden recruit, currently training in Janesville
West Central Region
Baldwin DNR Service Center area
St. Croix County - Lakes are still ice covered, but most access has been on foot or in some areas ATV. With this week's warm temps even that may be difficult. Walleye and sauger fishing on the Mississippi River below Lock and Dam 3 has been fair. Good catches of both have been observed. River levels have been rising with the thaw. Fishing activity has been heavy also on the Red Cedar River in Menomonie with walleye and rough fish being taken. Most areas in Northern St. Croix and Dunn counties still had a fair amount of snow especially in the woods, but by the time of this report getting out the snow should be greatly diminished. - David A. Hausman, warden supervisor, Baldwin
Willow River State Park - All trails are open to hiking however conditions will be mixed. The trails in the open areas are mostly clear and dry however the trails in the woods are wet and muddy and still have some stretches covered with snow and slush. The campgrounds are still closed to vehicle traffic. There are a few walk-in sites available in the 200 campground for camping. The 200 campground should open for driving by mid-April. The 300 campground should open at the end of the month and water will be on by May 2, weather permitting. The river is running high due to spring run-off and has become difficult to fish. The lake is still ice covered however ice conditions are poor and higher water and melting has reduced access. Ice will most likely be off the lake by mid-April. - Aaron Mason, superintendent
Kinnickinnic State Park - All trails are open to hiking however conditions will be mixed. The trails in the open areas are mostly clear and dry however the trails in the woods are wet and muddy and still have some stretches covered with snow and slush. The river is running high due to spring run-off and has become difficult to fish. - Aaron Mason, superintendent
La Crosse DNR Service Center area
La Crosse River State Trail - During this time of year the trail can be soft while frost is coming out of the ground. Please refrain from using the trail when the surface is soft to minimize damage. The Medary parking lot facilities will be open mid-May.- Jayne Collins, ranger
Elroy-Sparta State Trail - With springs fluctuating temperatures, the trail will be soft in some areas. Please stay off the trail when it is soft to minimize damage. The three tunnels and Kendall Depot - Trail Headquarters will open May 1. Call the depot at 608-463-7109 for information on bike rental.- Jayne Collins, ranger
Vernon County - Many songbirds are streaming into the area by the droves - eastern meadowlarks, song sparrows, white-crowned sparrows, killdeer, bluebirds, yellow-rumped warblers, sandhill cranes, and wood ducks. Ruffed grouse are actively drumming, and wild turkeys are busily engaged with their courtship behaviors. Wood frogs are calling. Chorus frogs and spring peepers will soon initiate their calling. A chorus frog's call sounds similar to that produced by running a fingernail across the teeth of a plastic hair comb, while spring peepers make a series of "peep-peep" calls. - Dave Matheys, wildlife biologist, Viroqua
Wildcat Mountain State Park - Hiking trails are open. Hikers may find some wet and muddy areas due to spring conditions. The road to the Hemlock Nature Trail, lower picnic area and canoe landing is currently closed. Horse trails will open for the season on May 1. Campsites 1-12 in the family campground are open on a first come first served basis until May 1. Drinking water is available outside the maintenance building. The shower building and dump station will be open mid-May, pending weather conditions. - Jayne Collins, ranger
Black River Falls DNR Service Center area
Black River State Forest - After a long cold winter spring has finally sprung in the Black River area. Temperatures in the low to mid 60s are predicted through Saturday with a chance of rain on Saturday. Temperatures are predicted to drop for Sunday with highs in the low 50s. Spring is a great time to enjoy the state forest before the mosquito hatch. It's also a great time to hear singing frogs in our wetlands and see the return of wildlife such as the sandhill crane. The state forest is also a great place for birders with many neo-tropical migrants returning to the central forest. All-terrain vehicle and UTV trails are closed and will reopen for ATVs and UTVs on May 15. - Peter Bakken, superintendent
Eau Claire DNR Service Center area
Eau Claire County -Early morning ice anglers have been catching some nice sized perch through the ice of McFalls Bay - a shallow bay at the northeast end of Lake Altoona. Melting ice along the shorelines is a reminder of deteriorating ice conditions; please use caution. Boaters on the Chippewa River have been catching a few legal sized walleye near the University and the Eau Claire City Shops. Be aware of increased water levels on local rivers - boaters are encouraged to wear PFDs. - Scott Thiede, conservation warden, Eau Claire
Lake Wissota State Park - It's that time of year, we have to say the cross-country ski trails are no longer usable. The area lakes are still providing ice fishing opportunities. The maple trees have started flowing sap sporadically. Flocks of robins and our first red winged blackbirds have appeared, along with a few buffleheads. Other species of birds we have been seeing or hearing include: mourning doves, nuthatches, ravens, black capped chickadees, pileated woodpeckers, barred owls, and bald eagles.- Dave Hladilek, park manager
Wisconsin Rapids DNR Service Center area
Adams County - There is still some ice on the lakes in Adams County, but most of the ice is not accessible to ice fish any longer. The water on the river was low, but the gates of Petenwell and Castle Rock Dams are now open and the water is rising. - Wade Romberg, conservation warden, Friendship
Portage County - Water levels on the Wisconsin River have begun to come up. The boat landing below the Du Bay Dam is closed due to swift water. Walleye fishing has been picking up steadily over the last several days but river access is tough now that the gates are starting to open on the dams and water levels are rising. Anglers are advised to be careful when on or near the water and make sure they have their required personal floatation devices on or near at hand. The Blue Heron landing near Stevens Point remains closed but the Wisconsin River landings at Galecke Park and along CTH HH are open. Jon Scharbarth, conservation warden, Stevens Point
The Wisconsin River is opening up with most of the shore fishing spots accessible again. Fishermen are starting to pick up a few walleyes near the Du Bay Dam. Most of them are running under the size limit, but some keepers are showing up. A reminder ti everyone to pick up their new licenses and regulations. - Bryan Lockman, conservation warden, Stevens Point
Buckhorn State Park - With warmer weather, the lake is opening up quickly but is still in drawdown. The gate to the canoe launch area is now open - not enough water for paddling there yet. The group camp area is still closed as roads that need to dry out. Drinking water is available outside the office. Sandhill cranes are back and have been seen in the park as well as herons, eagles, migrating ducks etc. The work and play day will be Saturday, April 26. Call the park office at 608-565-2789 to sign up to help. - Heather Wolf, park manager
Roche-A-Cri State Park - The main gate and campground are still closed for the season as there is ice and snow covering the road. Parking is in the winter lot on Czech Ave and park stickers are required. The work and play day will be Saturday, May 3. Call the Buckhorn office at 608-565-2789 to sign up. - Heather Wolf, park manager