Published August 10, 2017 by the Central Office
View current conditions for Wisconsin State Parks, Trails and Forests
Check out the Wisconsin Department of Tourism (exit DNR).
After a period of dry weather, rain returned to much of the state this week, but in much lower amounts than earlier this summer. Water levels were back up some on some northern rivers but were dropping. The lower Wisconsin River has been dropping and many sandbars have once again returned to the river.
Most campgrounds have been full on weekends. Skunks and raccoons are at their peak activity as well so we would like to remind campers to keep their food in locked vehicles. Most trails that were damaged by storms have reopened, though there are still some rough horse trails at Wildcat Mountain State Park so equestrians need to use caution there.
There are reports that brown trout are in the Boise Brule River and fishing is picking up. Anglers continue to have success fishing musky, walleye, northern pike and bass on the Flambeau River. Walleye and panfish action was starting to pick up again on northeastern inland lakes. Trout streams in central Wisconsin have finally returned to normal water levels.
Along Green Bay, anglers fishing off Geano Beach found better success than other areas with some boats catching 10-plus walleye and perch per trip. On the lower bay anglers had inconsistent success for walleye out of Bayshore, but more consistent success out of the Metro launch.
Fishing pressure was relatively low this past week throughout the Door County peninsula and the bite has been tough, most likely due to warm water conditions. Perch anglers have had consistent success with some catching their 15 fish limit in the Sturgeon Bay Canal and fishing the piers in Egg Harbor. Smallmouth bass fishing on the bay has been good. Anglers fishing out from Baileys Harbor and Rowleys Bay have been reporting catches of very large chinook salmon and rainbow trout. Many of the reported salmon have been easily topping 20 pounds.
Along Lake Michigan, salmon fishing has been slow from Kewaunee up to Sturgeon Bay and in Manitowoc and Two Rivers as finding cold water has been difficult. No anglers have been able to find cool water at the surface, or even less than 80 feet down. Pier anglers have again had no success with salmon this week.
Fishing pressure was also low throughout the week on southern Lake Michigan harbors due to windy and stormy weather; however, there was a noticeable increase in anglers and boaters over the weekend as conditions improved. Mainly chinook salmon and rainbow trout were caught, along with some coho salmon and four lake trout.
Deer have been seen in good numbers, especially in the early evening with the full moon rising. Turkey poults have been seen in groups up to 12, ranging in size from newly hatched to nearly adult size.
Elk calves are weaning off of the cows and eating more vegetation. Bulls are still in velvet. The first to lose their velvet is the raghorns, or young bulls. All velvet should be off by the end of August and bugling will commence.
Blackberries are now producing ripe berries, and it should be a bumper crop. Prairies are still in full bloom. Monarchs, swallowtails and other butterflies are out in full force are still feeding regularly on blazing star and other nectar producing plants.
Birders are noting building congregations of blackbirds, swallows, and chimney swifts. Ruby-throated hummingbirds and their fledged young are ramping up feeder activity, while wetlands remain active with bitterns, herons, egrets and pelicans. Shorebirds continue to dominate migration news, with the Lake Michigan shore a good place to watch for sanderlings, turnstones, and sandpipers.
The Perseid meteor shower is this weekend and seven Wisconsin state park properties have astronomy programs scheduled over the weekend. And on Saturday night Rib Mountain will continue its Concert in the Clouds with music by Randy Sabien.
Like it or not, it's late summer, and that means nesting season is winding down. Bird song is minimal now, family groups are dispersing more widely, and many adult birds have become more secretive as they initiate feather molt (replacement) in preparation for the migration season. In the north, look for mixed foraging flocks of warblers, vireos, grosbeaks, finches, and other species, often in the company of vocal groups of black-capped chickadees. Farther south birders are noting building congregations of blackbirds, swallows, and chimney swifts. Ruby-throated hummingbirds and their fledged young are ramping up feeder activity, while area wetlands remain active with bitterns, herons, egrets, pelicans, rails, coots, and local waterfowl species like blue-winged teal, wood ducks, and mallards.
Shorebirds continue to dominate migration news, though numbers and diversity have been below average so far this year. Horicon Marsh has sporadically provided some good viewing conditions wherever mudflats occur, as have other flooded fields and drying shallow wetlands in portions of southeast Wisconsin. The Lake Michigan shore is also a place to watch for sanderlings, ruddy turnstones, and other small shorebird species like least, semipalmated, and Baird's sandpipers. Away from the water, some bobolinks, warblers, and flycatchers are on the move now. A notable influx of pine siskins has occurred in northwest Wisconsin as well. Look for common nighthawks to being their migration over the next week, peaking in late August and early September. Rarities spotted this week included a scissor-tailed flycatcher briefly seen in Rock County, adult male rufous hummingbird and female long-tailed duck in Door, up to 38 cattle egrets in Calumet, Franklin's gull in Ashland, blue grosbeak continuing in Sauk, and the season's first buff-breasted sandpipers unexpectedly photographed in Price. As always, report your sightings and find out what others are seeing at www.ebird.org.wi. Good birding! - Ryan Brady, Bureau of Wildlife Management research scientist, Ashland
Upcoming featured events at Wisconsin recreational properties
Friday, August 11-13, 2017
Friday, August 11
Saturday, August 12
Sunday, August 13
August 11, 9 a.m.-noon. Ridgeway Pine Relict Workday: Invasive removal. Ridgeway is known for its scenic pine relicts that have northern plant species. Help care for this site by removing invasive plants and encouraging native plants at our second Friday workdays. Activities vary based on season but include brush cutting, piling, burning, invasive removal, seed collection, and others. No skills needed you will be trained onsite.
August 12, 9 a.m.-noon Bluff Creek Workday: Bundling, cutting, treating Phragmites. Come to our second Saturday monthly workdays on Southern Kettle Moraine SNAs. We will bundle, cut, and treat the grass Phragmites. Phragmites has invaded the rich wetlands surrounding Bluff Creek, a cold, clear trout stream. It spreads quickly through a network of underground and aboveground stems, quickly choking out native vegetation. This work will build on previous efforts to kill and stop Phragmites spread, allowing native sedges, grasses, and wildflowers to persist. No skills needed, you will be trained onsite. See the difference previous years efforts have made!
Check the State Natural Areas Volunteer Program page of the DNR website for details. - Jared Urban, conservation biologist, Dane. - Jared Urban, conservation biologist, Dane
Superior DNR Service Center area
Brule River State Forest - With heavy rain this morning, the Brule River is flowing well above normal for this time of year. However, as the rain has tapered off, flows are already starting to come down. Check the USGS flow rate data before you head out on the river. There are reports that brown trout are in the river and fishing is starting to pick up! On Sunday August 13, the Brule River Lions are sponsoring a 2-Mile and a 5-Mile Race on the After Hours ski trails. The races are followed by a Lions Club chicken barbeque at the Brule pavilion. Campgrounds continue to be busy on the weekends, but are pretty quiet during the weekdays. There is still plenty of summer left for a camping trip (or two). The public has a final opportunity to review and comment on proposed revisions to the master plan for the Brule River State Forest that proposes additional recreational opportunities for the property. Plan revisions include expanding the popular Afterhours ski area, including additional miles and developments, additional remote campsites along Lake Superior and the Brule River, and a small number of electric campsites. The revised draft Brule River State Forest master plan and associated documents are available for review on the DNR website by searching keywords "master planning," and clicking on the link for Brule River State Forest master planning web page. A 21-day public comment period runs from July 25 to August 14, 2017. Following this final public review of the Brule River State Forest Master Plan, a draft revised master plan will be presented to the state Natural Resources Board for consideration and approval. - Diane Gobin, visitor services associate
Ashland DNR Service Center area
Pattison State Park - Campgrounds were full this weekend at both Pattison and Amnicon Falls State Parks. Vehicle counts for Friday and Saturday as of this email were 196 and 227 at Amnicon Falls and 475 and 472 at Pattison. We have a family camping at Pattison this weekend from Omaha, Nebraska that brought a 1958 Chevrolet Pickup carrying a 1964 camper. The original owner had sold the truck to his son, but both were camping together. The elder of the two said he used the truck on the farm for years. The son stated he has camped in that camper his whole life and made countless memories. Sure they will turn some heads on the ferry today as they explore Madeline Island. There was 1.35 inches of rain that fell at Pattison on Thursday, putting a damper on many outdoor activities. We had gone five days without rain, the longest dry spell yet this summer. - Kevin Feind, property supervisor
Park Falls DNR Service Center area
Flambeau River State Forest - Anglers have been fishing the Flambeau River with success catching musky, walleye, northerns and bass. Elk calves are weaning off of the cows and eating more vegetation. Bulls are hanging out in bachelor groups constantly eating. The bulls are still in velvet. The first to lose their velvet is the raghorns, or young bulls. All velvet should be off by the end of August and bugling will commence. The biggest bull elk in the area is being seen feeding off the side of the road in the southeast part of the Forest. He is continuing to draw lots of attention. Bears are out and about, though quite elusive. The weather forecast for the weekend calls for Friday to have decreasing clouds with a high of 72 and a low of 48. Saturday should be sunny with a high of 75 and a low of 51, and Sunday, mostly sunny with a high of 75 and a low of 52. Monday will be sunny with a high near 76 and a low of 53. Join us at Connors Picnic Area on August 12 at noon for Smokey Bears' Birthday Party. Another year has passed, and our lovable friend is another year older; come make sure Smokey has the best birthday party ever. There will be games, cake and maybe even a surprise visit from Smokey himself! - Diane Stowell, forestry technician advanced and visitor services associate
Northern Lake Michigan fisheries team report
Marinette County - The most angling pressure on the Peshtigo River has been at Klingsborns Landing and the landing at the mouth of the river. Some walleye, perch, drum, catfish, and smallmouth were being caught both jigging with live bait and casting plastics and small crank baits. Interviews have been hard to come by because of a lack of anglers. Brown trout fishing out of Little River was good at the beginning of last week but has slowed some since then. The Trout Bar has been producing some nice fish trolling spoons, green seems to be working well. Fishing on the Menominee River has been slow with anglers reporting a few walleye, drum, catfish, and smallies being caught both from boats and shore anglers. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo
Oconto County - Anglers below the dam at Stiles on the Oconto River are still catching some bluegill and smallmouth bass using live bait and small plastics. At this point in the year, the rafters and kayakers outnumber the anglers at the boat launch at Iron Bridge. The mouth of the Oconto River is still producing some catfish, smallmouth, and fresh water drum fishing from shore and casting from boats. Live bait has been catching most of the fish although spinners and plastics are taking some nice small mouth. The walleye and perch fishing from the mouth of the Pensaukee River to Oconto Park II remains spotty at best. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo
Off Geano Beach, the lot was consistently full over the past week besides the one to two days when the weather wasn't cooperative. Anglers found better success here over other areas with some boats catching 10-plus walleye per trip. Perch anglers had similar success and caught more than 10 fish per trip with some harvesting close to eight of them. Anglers out for walleye caught freshwater drum and white bass. Perch anglers caught the same along with round goby and catfish. - Adam Garlie, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay
Brown County - At Bayshore, a majority of boats that were out during the week were primarily after walleye. Most boats caught at least a few fish including shorts, freshwater drum, and some white perch for half days trip. Luck was inconsistent for the target species, though anglers reported most success while jigging. Very few boats were fishing for perch, but ones who did found similar to slightly better success as those fishing for walleye. The parking lot had few trailers in the beginning of the week but picked up to about 50 trailers over the weekend. Anglers reported a six degree water temperature change since the beginning of the week as well as rougher and murkier waters due to storms which moved in throughout the week. - Kara Winter, fisheries technician, Green Bay
Off the west shore of Green Bay, when weather was good, there were 10-20 boat trailers at the metro launch. Other days when the weather wasn't as favorable the launch averaged only a few trailers. Most anglers interviewed were after walleye while a few others were after musky. The walleye anglers found consistent success with some boats catching over 10 fish for half a day on the water. The musky anglers on the other hand didn't fair so lucky and had trouble finding fish. Walleye anglers out trolling also caught white bass and freshwater drum. Anglers from shore were mostly out to have a good time. They found themselves catching white bass, freshwater drum, and black crappie. At Duck Creek, in the beginning of the week there were only a few shore anglers out, but by the end the boat anglers hit the water. Everyone interviewed was fishing for perch, and though they found fish, the size wasn't anything memorable. At Suamico, when weather was bad there was no one out, but when it was good the lot was at least half full. Everyone interviewed was fishing for walleye and they found mild success with most groups catching a few fish. Even though anglers found fish most were short and were tossed back. The freshwater drum bite hasn't been as hot as some weeks in the past but anglers are still catching them.
Door County - In the Sturgeon Bay Canal perch anglers have had consistent success with some catching their 15 fish limit. Walleye anglers out of Stone Quarry have had limited success trolling crawler harnesses. Bass fishing has been good, fishing weed beds seems to be the most productive pattern. - Ben Thome, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay
At Chaudoir's Dock, the majority of the boats were after walleye with inconsistent success. About half the boats reported harvesting few walleye while others did not catch any. Anglers from boat also caught freshwater drum, white perch, and a few catfish. The parking lot had five or less trailers in the morning during the week, though averaged around 15 boats over the weekend. At Little Sturgeon Bay, the parking lot averaged about 10-15 boats throughout the week. Most boats were out for walleye, but again had varying luck and harvested little of the target species. Anglers also caught freshwater drum, round goby, and white perch. At Sawyer Harbor, an average of four to six boats were observed during the week with little success. Over the weekend there was an average of 10 trailers in the lot, about half of which were pleasure boaters. The few anglers which were interviewed reported targeting walleye and perch with little success. - Kara Winter, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay
Fishing pressure was relatively low this past week throughout the Door County peninsula and the bite has been tough, most likely due to warm water conditions. Finding pockets of cold water has been key for locating baitfish and feeding salmon. Anglers fishing out of Baileys Harbor have had a difficult time finding subsurface temperatures below 60 degrees. Despite warm lake conditions, anglers fishing out from Baileys Harbor and Rowleys Bay have been reporting catches of very large chinook salmon and rainbow trout. Many of the reported salmon have been easily topping 20 pounds, and very large rainbow trout up to 18 pounds have been reported. Most anglers have been having their best luck in deeper water from 200-400 feet. Changing lures and depths frequently has been a successful method for finding fish. Smallmouth bass fishing on Green Bay has been good and anglers have been reporting the best bite in 5-35 feet of water. The yellow perch bite has also been very good and a good number of anglers have been fishing the piers in Egg Harbor and finding large schools of perch. - Lucas Koenig, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay
Kewaunee County - Salmon fishing has been slow from Kewaunee up to Sturgeon Bay. Most anglers have been traveling out to 250-400 feet of water and catching some rainbows along with a few big kings. Finding cold water has been difficult. - Benjamin Thome, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay
Manitowoc County - Salmon fishing in Manitowoc and Two Rivers continues to be a struggle. No anglers have been able to find cool water at the surface, or even less than 80 feet down, where the first reported sub-60 degree water is. Anglers have been heading out as far as 300 feet of water, but most have been fishing the 120-180-foot-deep range. Catches diminished as the week went on, but many boats were still coming in with two to three fish by the weekend. Fewer boats were out, but those that made the trek found most of their success in 120-150 feet of water. Salmon, mostly chinooks with a few stray cohos, came deeper, from about 75-100 feet down, and most of the rainbows caught were about 60-75 feet down. Salmon mostly came on flasher or dodger/fly combos, with green as the best color, and rainbows came on 10 color lead core and copper line pulling spoons, of which orange was still the best reported color. Pier anglers have again had no success with salmon this week, as water temps are still around 70 degrees outside the piers, but some anglers in Two Rivers have reported catching northern pike casting the inside of the piers when weather conditions are right. - Jacob Steckmesser, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay
Peshtigo DNR Service Center area
Marinette County - Isolated storms brought hail, heavy rain, and bright rainbows to many areas of the county. Blackberries are now producing some ripe berries. Deer have been seen in good numbers, especially in the early evening with the full moon rising. Turkey poults have been seen in groups up to 12, ranging in size from newly hatched to nearly adult size. Monarchs are still feeding regularly on blazing star and other nectar producing plants. High water and constant weather changes continue to make fishing tough. A recent bat count in the county revealed nearly 250 bats in one spot in the county. This spot will be monitored yearly to determine a population trend. - Aaron McCullough, wildlife technician, Wausaukee
Oconto County - It seems the fish are starting to bite again. There have been walleye and other panfish caught on Northern Oconto County Lakes such as Archibald Lake and the Townsend Flowage. Leeches and minnows are being used. There are plenty of monarch butterflies flying around. Bug activity at night has gone down, and mosquitoes are less aggressive than before. Turkey broods are now visible and groups are out and about moving around. Always be careful as deer activity is still very active. Staff believe they're seeing more deer in the northern portion of the state than last year. ATV trails are in good condition, some of the trails have reopened but the pipeline trails are still rough, use caution. - Paul Hartrick, conservation warden, Oconto Falls
Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center area
Whitefish Dunes State Park - A few fawns have been spotted in the park. The bird feeder has been busy with downy, hairy and red-bellied woodpeckers, and hummingbirds. This week monarch caterpillars were spotted on milkweed. A great place to see flickers is out on the Yellow Trail. Standing on the overlook you can see pelicans on the lake from the observation deck by the office. A lot of frogs have been heard in the afternoon by visitors hiking the Green Trail. Thimbleberries are just starting to ripen. - Jaclyn Moeri, visitor services associate
Wautoma DNR Service Center area
Waupaca County - Trout streams are at normal water levels. Blackberries are starting to get ripe, should be a bumper crop. Still cannot get a read on the acorn crop, one would think it would be a dandy with all the rain we have had. Fawns are with mom all the time now. They are about half sized and their spots are beginning to fade. Geese are really feeding in freshly harvested wheat fields right now. A unique wildlife sighting for the week was when a weasel ran across the road by Radley Creek. Haven't seen a weasel in summer color (brown) in a long, long time. Weather has been very nice, bugs are down - is a nice time to be out and about. - Karl Kramer, wildlife technician, Wautoma
Milwaukee DNR Service Center area
Southern Lake Michigan fisheries team report
Sheboygan County - Fishing pressure was low throughout the week due to windy and stormy weather, however, there was a noticeable increase in anglers and boaters over the weekend as conditions improved. As in previous weeks, boaters still reported most of the success, with anglers reporting little to no success off the piers. The water off of the North Pier was extremely dirty most of the week, likely resulting from the intense wind and storms that prevented most anglers from even attempting to fish. Anglers were mainly using spoons, although some alewives became noticeable in the water off the South Pier. The surface temperature of the water remained warm, holding steady at 65 degrees throughout the week. Success off of boats was limited during the week, with the majority of the fish being caught over the weekend. Mainly rainbow trout were caught, along with several chinook salmon, some coho salmon, lake trout, and three brown trout. The rainbow trout consistently weighed in the 5-6.5 pound range, while the chinook salmon had a larger weight range of 2-20 pounds. Fish were caught in water depths anywhere from 60-340 feet on spoons, flies, and j-plugs.
Ozaukee County - Fishing pressure was extremely low during the week due to poor weather conditions. More boaters were present over the weekend, which did lead to some success. However, success off of the piers and harbor area remains rare. Only one small brown trout, a couple of round gobies, and a rainbow trout were caught off the North pier and harbor area. The rainbow trout weighed 1.5 pounds. Since alewives still remain scarce, most anglers were using spoons and worms, although both the brown trout and the rainbow trout were caught on minnows. The surface temperature of the water was a warm and constant 65 degrees. Success off the boats was hit or miss with some boaters catching a couple of fish and others returning to the ramp with none. Mainly chinook salmon and rainbow trout were caught, along with some coho salmon and four lake trout. Of the fish that were measured, a coho salmon weighing 8.8 pounds was the largest, although there were reports of larger chinook salmon caught throughout the week. The rainbow trout consistently weighed in the 4-6 pound range. Catches were reportedly made in water depths ranging from 130-220 feet on spoons, flasher flies, and j-plugs.
Racine County - Most boaters caught between zero and four fish; however, a few caught over 10. The anglers that caught more fish caught them out in 200 feet - 300 feet of water and trolled their lures from near the bottom up to 100 feet under the surface. Most anglers reported catching their fish on meat rigs and flasher/fly combos, but a few fish were also caught on spoons as well. Chinook salmon and lake trout made up the majority of anglers catches; however, a few steelhead and coho salmon were caught as well. The water temperature at the pier was 70 degrees.
Kenosha County - No anglers caught more than four fish this week. Anglers that did the best caught their fish in 240-360 feet of water. They trolled their lures from 70 feet down to 150 feet down. Fish were mostly caught on meat rigs and flasher fly combos and a couple were caught on spoons. King salmon and lake trout made up the majority of anglers catches; however, a few steelhead and coho salmon were caught as well. From the shore, only one brown trout was reported caught this week. The angler caught the brown on a pearl tube jig set five feet under a bobber. The water temperature was 70 degrees.
Lower Wisconsin State Riverway - Weekly Riverway Video Report At Peck's Landing in Spring Green, river levels are going to be going down. There was an incident this week when someone did not pull their craft up high enough and secured on a sandbar and their canoe floated away. - Mark Cupp, executive director Lower Wisconsin State Riverway Board
Dodgeville DNR Service Center area
Wyalusing State Park -Fishing has been very good at the park this last week with all the good weather. Berry Picking is in its prime as well bringing out many berry pickers. We are having our hummingbird banding this Thursday and Friday. The trails are all opened and in very good condition as is the canoe trail. Skunks and raccoons are at their peak activity as well so we would like to remind campers to keep their food and goodies in their locked vehicles with windows rolled up! The bugs are also in full swing so remember your bug repellent. - Becky Mumm, visitor services associate
Horicon DNR Service Center area
Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area - The weather is looking to be beautiful for a trip out to Horicon Marsh. Prairies are still in full bloom. Monarchs, swallowtails and other butterflies are out in full force and a wildlife photographer's dream. Swallows continue to flock up. Black and forster's terns are fledging. Shorebirds are moving in although some rain is needed to increase mudflats. Sections of the Palmatory Street trails are temporarily closed due to waterfowl banding efforts. Please do not walk past the closed signs as it can disrupt waterfowl feeding and cause delays for wildlife staff in banding. Dogs must be on a leash at all times. The remaining trails are still open for foot traffic and leashed pets. - Elizabeth Herzmann, natural resources educator
Fitchburg DNR Service Center area
Jefferson County - Slow no Wake has been lifted from the Rock River in Jefferson County. Slow no Wake areas marked by buoys must still be observed. The Rock River is fairly slow with the exception of catfish around Watertown and Fort Atkinson. Area lakes have been hit and miss for panfish. - Pearl Wallace, conservation warden, Jefferson County
Wisconsin Rapids DNR Service Center area
Buckhorn State Park - There has been some algae recently around the lake. It tends to not stay at the beach long. If it looks like you don't want to swim in it, there are other beaches to go to that may be clear. - Heather Wolf, park manager