Published October 5, 2017 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).
Temperatures and water levels are continuing to normalize as fall continues, though rain is expected across much of the state this coming weekend. Fall colors are near peak across much of northern Wisconsin, while southern counties are just starting to show their fall colors on the Wisconsin Department of Tourism's Fall Color Report (exit DNR).
Solid reports of waterfowl success came in from across the state this past week, with mentions of teal, widgeons, wood ducks, mallards and more. In general, there is still more than enough foliage to make grouse and woodcock hunting a challenge. Turkeys continue to be very active in feeding. There has also been reported success from the archery deer season, and cooler temperatures should help the upcoming youth deer hunt this weekend. Keep in mind that temperatures are only now starting to drop, so there may still be some bugs out with you in the woods this weekend.
During our electrofishing activities, fisheries crews observed the start of salmon and trout runs into the lower Menominee, Peshtigo and Oconto rivers. Pink salmon numbers will be peaking during the first half of this month.
Off Sturgeon Bay, shore and boat anglers have been targeting chinook with crankbaits and spoons, with low returns hampered by the warm surface waters. Dropping water temperatures brought some relief to those fishing the Kewaunee River. Anglers lined the banks before opening light and a good number were successful very early in the morning fishing the pools. The Ahnapee River in Algoma has finally had some salmon action this past week. Although it still seems to be slow, chinook have been caught all the way up to the Forestville Dam.
Those angling in the southern section of Lake Michigan reported windy and fickle weather conditions. Surface water temperatures hovered right around 60 degrees. Chinook were reported caught on the Sheboygan River. There was a little more variety in Port Washington, with brown and rainbow trout and coho salmon to go along with a light chinook catch. Chinook were also reported from those fishing the lower Root River and the harbor in Racine. Fishing pressure was low in Kenosha, but there were a few salmon, chinook and coho, landed along with brown trout. Again, most catches seemed to be caught during low light/cooler periods.
Elk bulls are still with the cows, but it is still too early for the deer rut and bucks necks aren't swelling yet though some rubbing activity is being observed. With the youth deer hunt this Saturday and Sunday, all other hunters including bow hunters, grouse hunters, squirrel hunters--except waterfowl hunters--are required to wear blaze orange.
Numbers of mallard, shoveler, wigeon, Canada goose, green-winged teal, pintail and sandhill cranes have increased at Horicon Marsh offering excellent viewing off Highway 49. American robins flooded into the state from the Canadian boreal forest in large numbers this past week. Rusty blackbirds are also on the move and can be found in marshes with scattered trees and wet woodlands. Birdwatchers have reported the arrival of the first dark-eye juncos.
Northwestern Wisconsin received more than 3 inches of rain so far this October and rivers were running high and the waterfalls at Amnicon and Pattison state parks are roaring and should provide some spectacular views surrounded by the fall colors. Pattison will celebrate with a Fall Colorama festival this Sunday. The MacKenzie Center will hold its Fall Festival on Sanuday, and Kohler-Andrae and Governor Dodge will hold fall candlelight hikes Saturday night. Search the DNR website for "Get Outdoors" for event details.
Land birds continue to headline the migration scene, fully dominated now by the short-distance migrants like sparrows, blackbirds, robins, and kinglets. Most birdwatchers across the state have had their first bittersweet sighting of dark-eyed juncos. White-throated sparrows are numerous statewide with some white-crowned and fox sparrows mixed in. Look for the rare but regular Harris's sparrow within these flocks as well. Wet, weedy fields are hosting good numbers of swamp, song, and savannah sparrows. Consider yourself fortunate to find a LeContes or Nelson's sparrow among them. The first American tree sparrows have also arrived to the north.
American robins flooded into the state from the Canadian boreal forest in large numbers this past week. Rusty blackbirds are also on the move and can be found in marshes with scattered trees and wet woodlands. Other forest birds prevalent now are winter wrens, hermit thrushes, brown creepers, and both ruby-crowned and golden-crowned kinglets. Warbler diversity is pretty thin at this point, with yellow-rumped and palm warblers most abundant by far, though orange-crowned warbler and a few other lingering species can still be found. Pine siskins are common across the north and in more modest numbers through southeast Wisconsin. Some purple finches are also migrating south now.
The season's first rough-legged hawk was found in Bayfield on the 4th. Expect the first returning golden eagles, usually to the western half of the state, by mid-month. A few hummingbirds linger in far southern counties. Contrary to popular myth leaving your feeders up well into October does not deter them from migrating. Any hummingbirds spotted this month should be carefully scrutinized as rufous and other rare hummingbird species often show up this time of year. Last but not least, with breeding season now over for most species the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas just released its 2017 findings (http://ebird.org/content/atlaswi/news/season-3-preliminary-results-and-stats/).
Some of the rarities spotted this week include Swainson's hawk in Clark County, black-backed woodpecker in Bayfield, western kingbird in Portage, possible pomarine jaeger in Ozaukee, and American avocets in Milwaukee. Find out what others are seeing and report your finds at www.ebird.org/wi. Good birding!
- Ryan Brady, Bureau of Wildlife Management research scientist, Ashland
October 6-8, 2017
Friday, October 6
Saturday, October 7
Sunday, October 8
Oct. 8, 10 a.m.-noon: York prairie- Join us to collect seeds on the 3 units of the York Prairie State Natural Area and enjoy the beauty of these prairie remnants. The seeds will be used for a new prairie restoration at the York sites and at the Stauffacher Unit of Muralt Bluff Prairie State Natural Area near Albany, WI. We have several days scheduled so come to one or all. No experience is necessary, we'll teach you! This is a great way to start learning prairie plants.
Oct. 11, 4-6 p.m.: Empire Prairie- Help care for Empire Prairie State Natural Area! Start a new effort by volunteers to collect the seeds needed to convert ag fields back to prairie. The Natural Heritage Land Trust is working to restore 214 acres of ag fields back to prairie surrounding the 14 acre remnant, Westport drumlin. We'll identify several different plants and learn how to collect their seeds. This will be a weekly event in October. No skills needed you will be trained onsite.
Oct. 13, 9 a.m.-noon: Ridgeway Pine Relict- Join in! 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. The main focus this month will be seed collecting. No skills needed you will be trained onsite.
Check the State Natural Areas Volunteer Program page of the DNR website for details. - Jared Urban, conservation biologist, Dane. - Jared Urban, conservation biologist, Dane
Ashland DNR Service Center area
Amnicon Falls State Park - Fall is in full swing. Trees have lost some leaves due to wind, but there is still spectacular colors and are nearing peak. The river levels are very high for this time of year, especially since we received over 3 inches of rain in the last week. The majority of fishing is now open on the river, check fishing regulations for Lake Superior Tributaries to see what you can fish for and keep. The local ruffed grouse population has begun moving back into our campground, so take a drive through and be on the lookout! Due to heavy rains, the Thimbleberry Trail will have some muddy spots and the Snowshoe Trail is going to be wet in the lower areas for a few days. - Natalie Brown, ranger
Pattison State Park - The park has received 3.3 inches of rain in October, 2.88 inches on Oct. 3, and it has created some flooding conditions in Douglas County. Fall colors are really kicking in now. The park is at about 85-90 percent and should be at peak for this coming weekend. This last Saturday, the park had 742 vehicles come past the visitor contact station. Two weddings were taking advantage of the beautiful weather. This Sunday, Oct. 8, the Friends of Pattison and Amnicon Falls is hosting Colorama event at Pattison from 1-4 p.m. - Kevin Feind, property supervisor
Park Falls DNR Service Center area
Flambeau River State Forest - The Flambeau River water levels are currently a little low on the North Fork. Fishermen have been fishing the Flambeau River for musky, walleye, northern pike and bass with some success. Colors have turned but are still beautifully muted. The aspens are yellow, sumac is red and the red maples are still hanging onto some of their leaves. The tamaracks are turning yellow and soon to drop their needles. Purple asters are blooming. Snakes are on the move. Forest canopies are getting thinner and the under laying brush in the forest is becoming less and less prominent. Acorns and hickories are dropping. Ripe hawthorn fruits are being eaten by birds and other wildlife. Elk bulls are still with the cows, but it is still too early for the deer rut and the bucks necks aren't swelling yet. Temperatures are dropping with a few scattered frosts in the area. Ruffed grouse season is open in zone A and Archery & Crossbow deer hunting season is open. The turkeys are still on roadsides eating grasshoppers. Geese are flying south. The young fox of the year and other young predators are dispersing from their parents. The weather forecast for the weekend a 30 percent chance of rain and a high near 61 and a low of 52 Friday. Saturday showers are likely with a high near 60 and a low of 47. Sunday mostly sunny with a high near 63 and a low of 43. - Diane Stowell, forestry technician advanced and visitor services associate
Woodruff DNR Service Center area
Oneida County - Fall is in the air! Leaf colors are changing fast and the leaves are falling. The dropping leaf cover is making grouse hunting conditions improve with hunters reporting seeing moderate numbers of birds. Deer appear to be active with some rubbing activity being observed. - Tim Ebert, conservation warden, Woodruff
Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest - This will be the weekend to be out in the woods enjoying the "autumn gold" that the forest has to offer. Birch, aspen and basswood are quickly turning yellow. Maples are giving in to their orange and red sides and even the oak are starting to turn their rusty reds and browns. There has been plenty of rain the past two weeks so hikers and hunters need to wear the appropriate foot ware when then venture out. There is still plenty of leaf cover so the grouse hunting will be challenging, to say the least. Camping this time of year will be peaceful! - Rosalie Richter, visitor services associate
Northern Lake Michigan fisheries team report
This report is for the week of Sept. 24-30. Lots of different weather last week, heat and humidity, wind and rain, made for some tough fishing.
During or electrofishing activities, DNR fisheries crews observed the start of salmon and trout runs into the lower Menominee, Peshtigo and Oconto rivers. Pink salmon numbers will be peaking during the first half of this month. - Mike Donofrio, fisheries supervisor, Peshtigo
Marinette County - Anglers report catching smallmouth and northern pike floating the Peshtigo River using crank baits and plastics. the lower river is producing some perch , walleye, drum pike and small mouth. A lack of boaters out of Little River and the Menominee River resulted in no interviews. Anglers below the Dam on the Menominee River are catching a few walleye and the occasional brown and salmon. Few salmon are being caught or seen in their normal haunts yet this year, but cooler weather should help. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo
Oconto County - Blue gill, crappie, and small mouth are still being caught below the Dam at Stiles on the Menominee River. Most fish are being caught on live bait and plastics. A few pink salmon can be seen from the Iron Bridge at Stiles. Fish has slowed some on the lower Oconto River anglers report catching a few small mouth and pike casting spoons and plastics as well as using some live bait. Walleye anglers report having success from The mouth of the Pensaukee River to Oconto Park II. Fish are being caught anywhere from 15 to 33 feet of water trolling large stick baits and crawler/harness. It seems as though the fish are constantly on the move. Perch fishing has been slow this past week with anglers reporting having to move in order to stay on fish, the bait of choice still remains minnows and crawler chunks. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo
Brown County - The Bayshore east shore was not very popular this week. The lot only averaged 20 trailers and anglers were coming back with little success. Anglers reported going after targeting walleye and perch. Some were lucky to bring in three or four walleye and/or two to three perch, but most came in without any desired fish at all. Anglers also reported catching freshwater drum, round goby, and white bass, but even those bites were low. - Kara Winter, fisheries technician, Green Bay
Door County - Chinook salmon keep moving into Sturgeon Bay and can be seen proposing on the east end of the canal. Shore and boat fishermen have been targeting them using crankbaits and spoons averaging one fish or less. Warm surface water in the mid 60's is likely to blame. A few fishermen have been finding 2-3 year old chinooks out on the lake in 150-plus feet of water. The weeds in the canal have been producing a few perch and some decent pike. In northern Door County, chinook are starting to move into some of the area creeks and harbors. Casting in Baileys Harbor Marina has produced a few salmon. Pike action has been good in the weeds around Fish Creek. Very little fishing pressure throughout Northern Door. - Benjamin Thome, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay
Few anglers were observed at Little Sturgeon Bay throughout the week with the lot averaging only 12 trailers. Anglers were targeting walleye and were lucky to come in with two to three fish. A few recreational boaters were out over the weekend as well, adding to the trailer count. - Kara Winter, fisheries technician, Green Bay
Kewaunee County - Salmon are still being caught around Kewaunee, although action has been relatively slow. Some fall weather has brought relief to both the anglers and salmon as water temperatures also dropped thanks to some westerly winds. As the week went on, shifting winds raised the water temperatures on the lake, but there was still more fishing pressure than other weeks, especially in the river. Anglers lined the banks before opening light and a good number were successful very early in the morning fishing the pools of the Kewaunee River. As the days went on, fish were still being caught but it was considerably slower. Angler found more success toward evening when the shadows of the trees shaded pools and the line-sensitive salmon became more active. Egg flies are still the most-used lure, but some anglers have reported catching salmon drifting natural spawn. A handful of anglers have reported that some rainbows and coho have also been caught in the river this week. Shore anglers on the break wall and piers have had another slow week. Only a couple fish have been caught off the piers, and no fish have been reported from the harbor area. Fish can be seen swimming all around the piers as well as jumping in the harbor and outside the piers, but most anglers have only reported getting a couple bumps and no solid bites while casting or fishing spawn on bottom. Many anglers taking boats out have been fishing deeper water, but none have reported fish this week, and the same goes for the boats trolling or casting for salmon in the harbor. The Ahnapee River in Algoma has finally had some salmon action this past week. Although it still seems to be slow, chinooks have been caught all the way up to the Forrestville dam. Anglers have also caught fish at Blahnik Park and the Highway X bridge. Crankbaits and spawn fished on bottom have been the lures which have taken fish so far. Water levels are low near the dam, and some rain would likely improve fishing. Stony Creek seems to be the best fishing spot in the Algoma area this fall. Anglers reported at least seeing salmon upriver, and some have left with up to five fish, most of which are being caught in the pool above the mouth and below Highway U. Anglers here are fishing with flies or other stationary presentations. Anglers have been reporting good catches of perch by those taking boats up the Ahnapee past Olson Park. - Jacob Steckmesser, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay
Peshtigo DNR Service Center area
Marinette County - Windy days set back the color display in Marinette County. Hunters that got out this last week report flushing decent numbers of woodcock and a few grouse, but visibility is still hampered by dense leaf cover. Bow hunters have been battling gnats and mosquitos but are still harvesting a few deer. Bear season closed on Oct. 3 for hound hunters but extends through Oct. 10 for those hunting over bait. This weekend is the two-day Youth Gun Deer Season. Many young hunters will have a Friday night filled with anticipation and little sleep as they mentally prepare for the Saturday morning hunt. Youth hunters ages 10-15 are allowed to participate in the hunt. For more information on the youth hunt check the deer hunting regulations or search keyword 'Youth Hunt' on the DNR website. All other hunting seasons remain open, but anytime a gun deer season is open all hunters (including bow hunters, grouse hunters, squirrel hunters, etc...) are required to wear blaze orange. Soybean fields are drying up, potatoes are being harvested and corn is being chopped now on many area fields. Acorn production remains spotty with some trees having good mast but much of the area producing low numbers of acorns. Hunters that can find a productive oak tree should have good luck seeing deer and other game. - Aaron McCullough, wildlife technician, Wausaukee
Bear hounding season has come to a close with numerous successful hunters. Bait sitters have until Oct. 11 to fill any unused bear tags. Woodcock and multiple species of waterfowl have been spotted throughout Marinette County. Fall colors are starting strong throughout Marinette County, leaving a stunning backdrop for any successful youth deer hunt photos. Remember to wear your blaze orange while out hunting this weekend due to a firearm season happening throughout the state. - Dale Romback, conservation warden, Peshtigo
Oconto County - The deer have been on the move with temperatures starting to lower. There is plenty of public land to hunt, The Machickanee County Forest, Green Bay Bay Shores public properties, Pensaukee State Wildlife Area, and numerous more properties including the Nicolet National Forest to the north. There is a high chance of rain this weekend so wear proper clothing. Individuals have been successful with deer hunting near the State Bay Shore and Pensaukee properties, these properties are very thick with vegetation FYI. Southern zone waterfowl opener hunters had shot everything from redheads, widgeons, wood ducks, mallards, and teal. Geese are still very prevalent. Many people are taking to Green Bay now that it is open, Christie Lake individuals have had success duck hunting and goose hunting also. Fall colors are becoming more beautiful by the day, some maples are starting to lose their leaves. - Paul Hartrick, conservation warden, Oconto Falls
Wautoma DNR Service Center area
Waupaca County - Unseasonably hot weather has really depressed hunting pressure. Migrant ducks have not arrived yet, plenty of Wood Ducks around yet. Have heard some Woodcock have drifted in, haven't had time to go afield and confirm it. Ruffed Grouse are extremely scarce in central WI this year. I suspect the wet year really hurt production. The bright spot of this week's report is trout fishing. They seem to be biting on everything - crawlers, rapalas, and panther martins. - Karl Kramer, wildlife technician, Wautoma
Waushara County - The county should be a great place for the youth deer hunt this weekend. Temperatures appear to be cooling slightly and even though some rain is forecasted for Saturday I would imagine the deer will still be on the move as they have been the past week. A number of crops have come off the fields and the deer are more visible now than they have been in the past. Waterfowl hunters have been doing very well in fields and on the water since opening day with good numbers of birds still in the area. The trees are still holding tight to their leaves making grouse and woodcock a little difficult to see after the flush, but the weather is turning to be more like fall so it shouldn't be long now. Good luck to all the youth hunters out there this weekend and everyone shoot straight and be safe! - Ben Mott, conservation warden, Wautoma
Oshkosh DNR Service Center area
Calumet County - Large numbers of geese are moving with the recent break from the extreme heat in Calumet County. Geese are utilizing the many recently chopped corn fields in the area. Waterfowl hunters are experiencing good success with mixed bags of ducks on both the Brillion and Killsnake State Wildlife Areas. Archery deer hunters have been out in the evenings and a fair number of antlerless deer have been harvested and registered to date. Fishing action has been slow along the east shore of Lake Winnebago. Yellow perch have been running on the small side in recent weeks, and many anglers have already put their boats away for the season. - Michael Disher, conservation warden, Chilton
Milwaukee DNR Service Center area
Southern Lake Michigan fisheries team report
Sheboygan County - Fishing pressure was low throughout the week, at times due to windy weather conditions. Success was limited with neither boaters nor anglers reporting much success. Some chinook salmon were caught on the Sheboygan River on skein and flies. The water temperature was consistently 58 degrees over the weekend. Few interviews were obtained on the Pigeon River with no reported catches, and the water temperature ranged from 59-60 degrees. There were no reported catches of salmon off the piers this week. One northern pike was caught off the south pier on Saturday, Sept. 30. Most anglers were using spoons. The surface temperature of the water was 57 degrees. Few boats were present, even over the weekend.
Ozaukee County - Similar to Sheboygan County, fishing pressure was low during the week, however, more anglers were present over the weekend. Both boaters and anglers had limited success. No interviews were obtained on the Sauk Creek this week. Water levels remain low, and the water temperature cooled from 55 degrees during the week to 48 degrees over the weekend. No catches were reported off the shoreline; however, one chinook salmon was caught off the piers. There were also some catches of brown trout, a couple of chinook salmon, two small rainbow trout, and one coho salmon off the utility area. One chinook weighed 4.6 pounds. Most anglers were fishing with spawn sacs and spoons. While the surface temperature of the water by the utility area was undoubtedly warmer, the water temperature off the piers was 57 degrees. Success from boats was limited this week to only a couple reported catches of chinook salmon, two lake trout, one brown trout, and one coho salmon. The chinook salmon weighed anywhere from 3-17 pounds. Catches were reportedly made in water depths ranging from 50-200 feet on spoons.
Racine County - A few boats had some luck catching kings in the harbor and the lower stretches of the Root River trolling crankbaits and soaking skein under a bobber. Only one king was reported caught this week from the pier. The angler caught the fish on skein under a bobber. The water temperature was 63 degrees. Anglers caught king salmon out of the harbor this week. Most of the fish caught were caught on skein under a bobber near the bottom. A few kings were also caught on crankbaits. Most of the fish were caught in the early morning and late evening hours, but a few were caught throughout the day as well. The water temperature was 64 degrees. The Root River is currently flowing at 9.68 cfs. The water is still very low and clear. More king salmon are starting to make their way up the river with a few being caught this week. More anglers were out this week and most focused their effort near the main street bridge. Downstream of the Steelhead Facility, only a few king salmon were reported caught this week. The salmon were caught on skein under a bobber and crankbaits. The best bite seemed to be early in the morning until about 8 a.m. Most of the fish were caught near the main street bridge; however, a few were caught at Island Park and just downstream of the park on yarn egg flies.
Kenosha County - Fishing was much slower this week but a few anglers managed to catch some fish. Most of the fish caught were kings, but a few coho and browns were caught as well. Anglers had the best luck on skein under a bobber, but a few fish were caught on crankbaits as well. Spoons do not seem to be producing as many fish. Most of the fish caught were caught during low light periods or at night. The water temperature was 63 degrees. The mouth of the Pike River was barred off by sand and no anglers reported catching any fish out of the river this week.
Lower Wisconsin State Riverway - Weekly Riverway Video Report Lots of sandbars on the river at the Highway 23 bridge at Spring Green. Rain is in the forecast for the weekend. The colors are really coming on. They area is currently dry. There is still fall fishing and paddling. - Mark Cupp, executive director Lower Wisconsin State Riverway Board
Horicon DNR Service Center area
Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area - Waterbird migration continues to increase with every north wind. You can view the latest waterbird counts conducted by the USFWS here [PDF]. Numbers of mallard, shoveler, wigeon, Canada goose, green-winged teal, pintail and sandhill cranes have increased. Highway 49 on the north end of the marsh has good viewing opportunities as well as the farm fields to the west and east of the marsh for staging cranes. Duck hunters over opening weekend harvested mixed bags of mallard, wood ducks, blue and green-winged teal primarily. Be sure to visit the Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center's new Explorium for a fun, hands on way to explore Horicon Marsh. The center is located at N7725 Highway 28 in Horicon. Contact 920-387-7893 for more information. - Elizabeth Herzmann, natural resources educator
Fitchburg DNR Service Center area
Columbia County - Maples in the county are just starting to change color. The warm weather has kept many bugs active, including mosquitoes. Youth deer hunters should be prepared for that when they take to the woods this weekend. Users of the Pine Island Wildlife Area should be aware of a pheasant Learn to Hunt program occurring on the property this Saturday morning from 8 a.m. to about noon. The dog trial grounds will be closed to other users for the event. - Sara Kehrli, wildlife biologist, Poynette
La Crosse DNR Service Center area
Vernon County - 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. Several local birdwatchers have noted the arrival of dark-eyed juncos. Woodcock are also beginning to filter into the area, especially along stream corridors. Wild turkeys have been very active recently, feeding heavily on grasshoppers, crickets, acorns, and other seeds. - Dave Matheys, wildlife biologist, Viroqua
Wisconsin Rapids DNR Service Center area
Buckhorn State Park - Not much for colors in the park at this time. Accessible fishing pier and boat boarding piers will be removed Oct. 25. All open backpack sites are non-reservable, first-come at this time. The new campground is reservable through Oct. 15 for the north loop and Nov. 1 for the south loop. Water will be shut off starting Oct. 16. There is a frost free spigot next to the office restroom all year round. - Heather Wolf, park manager
Roche-A-Cri State Park - The campground closed Oct. 1. The main gate will be closed for the season on Oct. 10. Parking from Oct. 10 through the first week of May will be in the winter/prairie lot on Czech Ave and park stickers are required (self-registration box at parking lot). There is not much for color yet in the area. Turkey vultures can be seen circling the mound. - Heather Wolf, park manager