Outdoor Report for October 23, 2014 Published by the Central Office
View current conditions for Wisconsin State Parks, Trails and Forests
Check out the Wisconsin Department of Tourism (exit DNR).
For current statewide information on statewide fall color, log onto the Wisconsin Department of Tourism's Fall Color Report (exit DNR).
Fall colors are still pretty impressive in parts of southern and even central Wisconsin, but with the recent winds and several days of rain last week leaves are dropping rapidly.
The rain has water levels on many river systems across the state remain high for early fall. With nicer weather this week, farmers are picking starting to catch up on the fall harvest, and lots of geese have been seen feeding in freshly picked corn fields.
Musky have remained the highlight for anglers in the Northwoods, but with more stable weather in the last week walleye action also picked up a notch and a few more anglers were out trying to key in on the fall bite. High water was making fishing a little harder on the Wolf River but there walleyes were being caught there as well as on the Peshtigo, Fox and Wisconsin rivers. Walleye and sauger action was picking up on the Mississippi and St. Croix rivers and continued to be very good on Lake Wisconsin.
High and turbid water also slowed fall salmon runs on the Kewaunee and Ahnapee rivers with low to moderate numbers of anglers having low success. Anglers were still catching some chinook but they are pretty dark now and there was better fishing for brown trout and coho, which are still in the earlier part of their runs. Fishing was also still good on the Sheboygan River and had picked up on the Milwaukee and Root rivers. Most anglers out on Green Bay were after musky and those that anglers who were hooking fish, got big ones, including one reported at 55 inches.
Hunters are seeing more grouse with the leaves down and the numbers appear pretty good. Hunters are also bagging a few woodcock which have finally arrived in the central part of the state. Muskrats are mostly nocturnal but have been pretty active during the daylight hours on northern lakes preparing for the coming ice.
Northern migrant Canada geese and ducks are arriving daily at Horicon Marsh and numbers are climbing. Many of the ducks in the area are now showing off their fall plumage. Sandhill cranes are gathering by the thousands at dusk on the Gallagher Marsh at Sandhill Wildlife Refuge, along with a gorgeous pair of whooping cranes who have been hanging around for about a week.
Bald eagle sightings have been increasing steadily during the past several weeks as along the Mississippi and Kickapoo rivers. Dark-eyed juncos have reached southern Wisconsin in numbers and will remain there for much of winter. There have also been the first reports of northern shrikes, rough-legged hawks, and snow buntings. The world-renowned migration of canvasbacks along the Mississippi River south of La Crosse is also underway. Common loons have begun migrating with loons seen this week on lakes Mendota and Monona in Madison.
Many Halloween events continue at state properties this weekend, including haunted hay rides at the MacKenzie Center in Poynette and Fright Night at the Lapham Peak Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest. Search the DNR website for "Get outdoors" for details.
Statewide Birding Report
Leaves are falling, days are shortening, and birds are flying south! The migration has taken a decided turn in the past one to two weeks as the long-distance Neotropical migrants are now long gone and the later short-distance migrants have taken over. Dark-eyed juncos have reached southern Wisconsin in numbers and will remain there for much of winter. Other sparrows, such as fox, white-throated, song, and Amer. tree, are also plentiful now. Further harbingers of the late season include the first statewide reports of northern shrikes, rough-legged hawks, and snow buntings. However, land birds are becoming scarce up north, with exception of pine siskins and purple finches, both of which are being seen in numbers well above average. The first common redpolls have also been reported there. Many of these "winter finches" can be attracted to sunflower and nyger seeds at feeders, though they often focus on natural food sources such as alder, birch, ash, and tamarack until winter more heartily sets in. Raptor migration continues but red-tailed hawks now dominate, supplemented by sharp-shinned hawks, bald eagles, northern harriers, merlins, and others. Their nocturnal counterparts are also on the move as numbers of the diminutive northern saw-whet owl have been building toward peak. The first and much less common long-eared owls are moving through as well. As land bird numbers decrease birders focus increasing attention on our latest migrants, the water birds. Tundra swans and Canada geese are being seen in modest numbers, while the world renowned migration of canvasbacks along the Mississippi River south of La Crosse is also underway. Common loons and both horned and red-necked grebes are being seen in good numbers, as are the first big flocks of diving ducks such as scaup and redheads, mixed with some scoters, goldeneye, and ring-necked ducks. November will feature large numbers of migrating waterbirds throughout the state. Rare birds spotted this week included a fifth state record Anna's hummingbird in Sauk County, a continuing rufous hummingbird in Jefferson, and a California gull in Douglas. Birders are encouraged to keep up their hummingbird feeders for late season stragglers and vagrants. Any hummingbird seen from now forward is more likely to be a species other than our typical ruby-throateds, so take a photo and report your find to email@example.com or www.ebird.org/wi (exit DNR). Thanks and good birding! - Ryan Brady, Bureau of Wildlife Management research scientist, Ashland
Hayward DNR Service Center area
Sawyer County - Leaves are off most of the trees now. Hunters are seeing more partridge with the leaves down and the numbers appear pretty good. Woodcock still have not come down in numbers. Hunters are bagging a few with their grouse, but high numbers of woodcock still are not in the area. Grouse seem to be scattered in various habitat with younger aspen holding better numbers now. Deer activity is sparse yet with only a few scrapes and rubs showing up in some areas. This activity should start picking up soon. Individuals fishing musky have seen a noticeable increase in activity and size of fish this last week. Suckers and large plastics seem to be producing most fish. Fish seem to be holding on deeper edges near structure. Slower presentations in areas that are holding fish seems to be the best options. - Thomas Heisler Jr., conservation warden, Winter
Park Falls DNR Service Center area
Upper Chippewa Basin fisheries report (Price, Rusk, Sawyer Taylor and inland Ashland and Iron counties) - Musky have remained the highlight for anglers in the North, with more stable weather getting a good numbers of fishermen out on the water. Most musky anglers have been using large suckers on quick-strike rigs, and success has continued to be very good. Artificial baits have been catching a few musky, but most of the action has come on suckers in the 12 to 16-inch size. The 'big fish' bite doesn't seem to have kicked in yet, and most of the musky landed have been in the 34 to 40-inch size. But look for the trophy potential to increase as the fall cool-down progresses. With the more stable weather in the past week, walleye action also picked up a notch and a few more anglers were out trying to key in on the fall bite. Live minnows have been the most productive bait, either on a jig, a slip bobber, or a bare hook and split-shot rig. The best success has been in the late afternoon hours to right before dark, with the minnows being fished slowly along the gravel/rock drop-offs, deep weed edges and near bottom break lines. Panfish action has been fair, with some nice perch and crappie still being found around any green weeds and near mid-depth cover. Bass anglers have basically put away their boats for the year - though a warm, sunny day can produce some good action for largemouth for the die-hard bass fisherman. - Skip Sommerfeldt, senior fisheries biologist, Park Falls
Woodruff DNR Service Center area
Vilas County - Muskrat houses are growing and popping up on many local lakes and slow moving streams and creeks. Muskrats are getting ready for winter and their lodges show signs of being ready for the cold weather. Muskrats are mostly nocturnal (active at night) but have been pretty active during the daylight hours on our local lakes preparing for the coming ice. What do you think Musky fisherman: Do large muskies ever dine on muskrats? We have been getting a lot of calls about increased nuisance beaver activity compared to other years. With all of the increased water levels here in the Northwoods, trappers should have some decent success this fall/winter. -Michele Woodford, wildlife biologist, Woodruff
Antigo DNR Service Center area
Langlade County - With the recent winds and several days of rain the leaves are over 50 percent dropped with very little color left in the woods. The past two nights, the deer activity has picked up with a fair number of deer sighted in the area along with some early rutting activity. Fishing has been slow on area lakes, with some people catching a few bass and northern pike. Bird hunters have been finding grouse in pockets, but woodcock sightings have been very sparse. - Andrew Dryja, conservation warden, White Lake
Northern Lake Michigan fisheries team report
Heavy rain early in the week and strong winds kept boaters off the Bay this past week. Rivers are running high and dirty making shore fishing difficult. Water temperatures are in the upper 40s.
Marinette County - Peshtigo River anglers are having some success catching walleye and a few trout below the Dam in Peshtigo to the Municipal Landing, concentrating on current breaks and back water areas. Stick baits and jig heads with minnows or twister tails have been the most productive baits. Walleye are the main attraction from the Dam at Hattie Street down to Stephenson Island with a few trout and salmon being caught close to the Dam. Most walleye are being caught from the Fishermen's walkway at Hattie Street using Husky Jerks casting down river and letting the current manipulate the lure. A few salmon are being caught using spawn sacks on the current edges. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo
Oconto County - Fishing action was limited to the Oconto Breakwater Landing and Oconto Park II. Perch are being caught in both locations with many small fish being released. The best baits have been red worms, crawler pieces, and minnows, fished in conjunction with crappie rigs or slip bobbers. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo
Brown County - Most anglers out on Green Bay were after musky. Rain and wind throughout most of the week made for challenging fishing conditions, not to mention very turbid waters. While most musky anglers did not land their target fish, those that did hook a fish, got big ones. The largest reported was 55-plus inches. Bright colored crank baits in 12 feet of water or less was the luckiest approach. The metro boat launch is repairing docks through November 14. While there are open docks, boaters may have to wait a bit if there are several boats and only a couple docks open at a given time. There were a few Fox River walleye anglers taking advantage of them this week. Success was mixed. It was mentioned that there was a better bite early in the week. Bouncing jigs, casting cranks and trolling were all methods used by Fox River walleye boats. Because of the turbid water and heavy winds, walleye anglers in Voyager Park had a tough time this week. Cranks and jigs were the most common approach. Most of the walleye caught were larger ones, measuring up to 24 inches. One angler was fortunate enough to catch three walleye...otherwise most anglers caught zero or one fish. Smallmouth anglers using cranks did not report any luck. A couple of catfish shore anglers at Fox Point had a great day. Fishing worms off of the bottom, they thought they had the catfish of a lifetime. After a 20-30 minute battle, they reeled in a 60-inch sturgeon. After a few pictures the fish was released, but judging by their expressions, the memory will last forever. They had 40 pound test and needed every pound of it. Duck Creek shore anglers did not do so well this week. Fishing worms under a bobber or off the bottom only landed a handful of fish. The highly turbid water no doubt played a part in the low catch rates. Once again, because of the rain and wind, shore perch anglers at the Suamico River had a difficult time. Only a perch or two was reported. The average size was 7.9 inches. The largest was just over 8 inches. Fishing worms under a bobber was the most common approach. Walleye boaters launching from the Suamico boat launch had a tough time as well. The largest fish reported was 20.3 inches. Trolling crankbaits was the most used method. Water temperatures were in the 54-55 degree range. High winds continued to dominant the weather pattern on the east shore, and the water clarity in the area continued to be poor. Water temperatures in the area range from 51-53 degrees. - John Taylor and Adrian Meseberg, fisheries technicians, Green Bay
Door County - Angler pressure has begun to slow down as the salmon run begins to wind down and the weather gets colder. That should not discourage anyone though, as salmon are still being seen in the harbors and running up the streams. With all of the recent rain, the local streams have high water levels, fast flows, good clarity, and temperatures in the high 40s and low 50s. Most salmon anglers are trying their luck on the tip of the peninsula and in Baileys Harbor and are having the best bite using spawn sacs. There have been reports of the occasional brown trout being caught in Baileys Harbor and out of Sturgeon Bay. The most walleye and northern pike action has been in and around the bay of Sturgeon Bay, notably trolling the reefs outside the bay for walleye using crank baits, and around the stone quarry. Most of the northern pike action has been within the bay using crank baits and spinners. There is also still smallmouth bass action to be found around the peninsula. Most anglers going for bass have been trying Rowleys Bay and around Sturgeon Bay using various baits - David Boyarski, fisheries supervisor, Sturgeon Bay
Sawyer harbor anglers struggled to produce fish this week. Perch fisherman had the most success; however size continues to be lacking. Minnows fished just of bottom are producing large numbers of fish with roughly 20 percent of the catch being sizable. Fishing in 7-12 feet of water produced the greatest number of fish. Once again, locating a school of fish proved difficult, but once found, anglers were able to catch large numbers in short periods of time. Walleye anglers reported having a harder time this week. Schools of fish are being located in 30-40 feet of water; however getting them to bite has proved elusive. Cranks and jigs were equally ineffective. Water temps in the area continued to hover near the 50-degree mark, with +/- 4-degree variants depending on location. Water clarity was reported to be very good throughout the area. With sheltering from the heavy winds, the water in Little Sturgeon Bay continue to be clear and water temps are holding a bit higher than the surrounding areas with 53-56 degrees dominating the bay. An increase in the number of anglers targeting musky was prevalent throughout the week Work will begin dredging in the Chaudoir's dock area on October 22 restricting all access to the pier. - John Taylor and Adrian Meseberg, fisheries technicians, Green Bay
Kewaunee County - Only a few anglers have been fishing the piers and shore in both Kewaunee and Algoma and catching a few fish. This is a typical pattern this time of year as usually shore and pier anglers catch a few lake trout and brown trout using slow-cranking, big spinners or casting spoons, stick baits, or spawn. It is not fast action but a good opportunity for anglers without a boat to catch some quality fish. Similarly, with the wind and bad weather only a few anglers have been fishing the lake in both Algoma and Kewaunee and have been mainly been targeting brown trout and rainbows. Again the action is not fast and furious but anglers are still catching fish. Anglers on the Kewaunee River and Ahnapee River have been out in low to moderate numbers and have been having low success due to the muddy like water from all the rain. The water has since receded this week and is back to the normal height and flow but still low clarity. The anglers with the most success have been fly fishing or using spawn and artificial spawn. Anglers are still catching some chinook but the chinook are pretty dark by now. The better fishing is for brown trout and coho, which are still in the earlier part of their runs. - David Boyarski, fisheries supervisor, Sturgeon Bay
Peshtigo DNR Service Center area
Marinette County - Leaves are really dropping now and visibility continues to improve for bird hunters. Woodcock and grouse are still being reported in good numbers. Hunters using dogs are reminded that trapping seasons are now open. Please familiarize yourself with how to release your dog from a trap should they accidentally get caught. Wolf season is now closed for both Marinette County zones. Bird migrations are very obvious right now with swarms of robins leaving and heading south while juncos, siskins and other winter finches are beginning to arrive in numbers. If you haven't already, now is a good time to clean your feeders with a 10 percent bleach solution and then refill after allowing the feeder to dry. Many birds are migrating through the area right now and you never know what will stop by your feeder this time of year. - Aaron McCullough, wildlife technician, Wausaukee
Shawano County - Fall colors are still pretty impressive as the temperatures are mild and beautiful. These cooler nights are starting to get the bucks moving. Multiple bucks have been seen with their noses to the ground so the rut is starting. Duck hunters are starting to see a few divers coming through but ducks are pretty scarce so far. Waiting for the northern birds to show up. Pheasants and grouse have been seen around the area as hunters are starting to walk trails and leaves fall making it easier to spot the birds. Fishing pressure is almost non-existent but some of the best fishing is happening right now. Should be a perfect weekend to get outside and enjoy the fall. - Jim Horne, conservation warden, Shawano
Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center area
Strawberry Creek Chinook Facility - Chinook salmon were processed on Monday October 13 and again on Thursday October 16. A total of 801 chinook were processed for data on Monday and another 1,089 on Thursday (the total so far for this season is 5,717). On Monday, Wild Rose Hatchery staff spawned 48 female chinooks and collected 210,184 eggs (a few additional eggs were also collected for a thiamine evaluation). On Thursday, hatchery staff spawned 48 females and collected 214,425 eggs. The last planned egg collection for this season at Strawberry Creek will occur on Monday October 20. We removed most chinook from the pond Thursday, so the fish we spawn on Monday should be mostly fresh, late run fish. - Nick Legler, fisheries biologist, Sturgeon Bay
Potawatomi State Park - Fall colors are spectacular in the park now. If they survive the rain and winds forecast for later this week, the coming weekend should be pleasant with temperatures near 60 degrees and sunshine predicted. Fishermen report catches of perch lately. The park store is closed for the season. - Lois M. Hanson, visitor services associate
Wautoma DNR Service Center area
Waupaca County - Some Woodcock have finally arrived in central WI, but not the full flight. Most leaves are down making for excellent gunning on Grouse and Woodcock. Deer movement is definitely picking up - noticeably more dead on the road this week. Still wood ducks around, getting kind of late for them to be around. Lots of Turkeys feeding in fields, doesn't seem to be much pressure on them. Deer ticks are out again, be careful to check yourself over after being afield. Have heard rumblings that walleyes are biting at the mouth of the Wolf. - Karl Kramer, wildlife technician, Wautoma
Oshkosh DNR Service Center area
Outagamie County - Leaves are past their peak in the county and recent winds have knocked a lot of them from the trees making visibility for the archers much better. Bucks are starting to move with pre-rut activities and the hunters are reporting more sightings. The Wolf River is still high after the rain making fishing a little harder but there are still walleyes to be caught as well as crappies. Waterfowl hunters were seeing some divers moving through the area. - Mike Young, conservation warden, Shiocton
High Cliff State Park - Although autumn colors are now past peak on the northeast shore of Lake Winnebago, there are still some areas with oak and maple in brilliant browns and yellows. Flocks of juncos are coming in, with large flocks of robins and red-winged blackbirds moving through. Fisherman has been reporting some good catches of perch off the sandbars.- Cynthia Mueller, naturalist
Milwaukee DNR Service Center area
Southern Lake Michigan fisheries team report - Compiled from creel clerks by Cheryl Masterson and Jeffrey Zinuticz, fisheries technicians, Milwaukee
Sheboygan County - In Sheboygan, the south pier cleaning station is now closed. There were some anglers that headed straight east of the ramp in 90-275 feet of water and had success catching rainbow trout and lake trout. The rainbow and lake trout were best caught using planer boards and down riggers. These anglers had the best luck using orange, watermelon, and silver iridescent spoons. Shore anglers have been fishing off of the docks at the boat ramp near Deland Marina. The anglers have been having some luck picking up a few chinooks and cohos anglers are having the best success catching fish with a three inch plastic minnow that is jigged along the bottom. Anglers have also had success fishing along the rocks in the marina near the gas station, those anglers are using small crank baits that are blue/red/white, they have been catching a few rainbows off the rocks there. The angles that are fishing along the rocks have also been using bobbers hooked with skein that had been successful catching a few chinook and coho salmon. The piers were not fished during the week but there has been numerous fish jumping but strong winds and rainy weather deterred most anglers. On the Sheboygan there has been many chinooks being caught upstream of Esslingen Park. Anglers were also fishing below the Kohler dam and had some success catching mature chinook. Most of the fish caught were spawning or spawned out, best baits has been spawn fished along bottom on a three-way rig.
Ozaukee County - In Port Washington, Anglers were fishing along the west slip wall near the power plant. These anglers had success catching smaller brown trout and some larger brown trout. The anglers were using either chinook spawn or skein. There were also chinook salmon and brown trout caught near the WE energies discharge. The chinook and browns were also caught on a three way rig hooked with skein or spawn sacs. There were numerous anglers fishing in the north slip through the week. The best spot to catch the mature chinook is in the north east corner of the north slip. These anglers were using a bobber rig hooked with skein. In the north slip small blue/red crank baits were also successful catching mature chinook salmon along the west side of the north slip. The bobber rig was very successful catching large chinook salmon on the rocks around the marina also. The fish cleaning station that is near the north slip is currently closed for repairs. There is a cleaning station open behind Ewig's. The fish cleaning station is located over the bridge and on the right side of the road across from the Coal Dock Park. Boaters have been fishing in 150-200 feet of water and catching some rainbow trout and lake trout. The anglers have had success using planer boards and down riggers. The down riggers have been successful set at around 20-30 feet down. Spoons and flasher/flies were both successful. Anglers have been fishing near the mouth of the creek having some success. The anglers are using fly rods and casting rods. Anglers have been using small spinner baits that are orange in color that have been successful. Also some anglers have had success using skein and a bobber that has also been productive catching mature chinook salmon.
Milwaukee County - In Milwaukee bad weather this week deterred most anglers from heading out, the only reported action has been on the Milwaukee River were most anglers have been fishing the falls in Kletzsch Park many salmon have moved into the river with the recent rains and most anglers are catching a few on salmon spawn or small black or orange flies fished along bottom.
Racine County - In Racine, Fishing pressure above the weir was steady Monday afternoon with an average of 8-10 anglers fishing above the weir in Lincoln Park. Schools of large chinook salmon and coho were swimming in the deeper pools from the weir upstream to the first bridge. 3-4 chinook were landed Monday afternoon by anglers using small dry flies and red play-doh. There was less fishing pressure in Colonial Park but the catch rate was good. A few anglers ended up with 2-3 kings after casting pink and red yarn flies. 2-3 anglers on average fished at Quarry Lake Park Monday afternoon. A couple of the anglers had good luck fishing with red and orange egg patterns and they ended up 3 chinook in their cooler. An angler at the Horlick Dam caught 2 kings on a small tan/silver fly and reported that he landed a total of 8 chinook at the dam during the past week. Most of the fishing pressure on Monday was below the weir. 15-20 anglers on average were seen during the day in Lincoln Park with the majority of them fishing near the Steelhead Facility. 2-3 chinook were landed between the anglers during the afternoon before heavy rain moved into the area. A few anglers continued to fish during the 2-3 hour downpour but there was a lot of debris in the water which made fly fishing difficult. 2 kings (14-16 pounds) and a 7 pound coho were caught in Island Park on spawn sacks and skein and all 3 fish looked relatively clean and light colored. The water was shallow in Island Park and it was easy to see large chinook salmon and coho swimming in and jumping out of the deep holes and pools. The water is normally shallow in Washington Park at this time of year but fly fishermen wading in the river in Washington Park this year have been waist deep in water. The water clarity in Washington Park is usually cloudy and locating the deep holes that hold fish is now done by memory or by walking into one while wading. 3-4 anglers landed one king Monday afternoon while fly fishing below the drainage pipe at the Cable Bridge.
Sturtevant DNR Service Center area
Kenosha County - In recent weeks Canada geese movement in Kenosha and Racine Counties has increased. Large flocks have been seen feeding in cut agricultural fields and spending nights on ponds and lakes. Waterfowl seen locally at the Richard Bong include have included mallards, green wing teal, blue wing teal, and few ring neck ducks. Sandhill cranes have also been seen staging at Bong at night in large numbers, using the shallow water on the drawn down Wolf Lake. Despite wet weather on opening morning of the pheasant season 120 hunters showed up to hunt at the Richard Bong Recreation Area. Reports from hunters indicated that many hunters were seeing birds and most were successful in harvesting a bird. Hunter numbers picked up on Sunday with 210 buying permits. Early season stocking levels for the property are around 230 birds a day and will be adjusted as the season progresses.- Marty Johnson, wildlife biologist, Sturtevant
South Central Region
Dodgeville DNR Service Center area
Iowa County - Fall colors are peak or just past peak. The oaks are still showing vibrant colors, as are aspen. Most maples, ash, have dropped their leaves. Deer are beginning to show signs of the rut, with scrapes and rubs becoming more present in the woods. Pheasants are being stocked at local wildlife areas. Follow this link to a list of properties: http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/hunt/PheasantMap.html. Due to high water levels on the Wisconsin River, DNR Wildlife Management has shifted pheasant stocking locations within the Avoca Unit of the Lower Wisconsin Riverway. Until water levels drop and Hay Lane is reopened, birds will be stocked at various locations on public property WEST of the village of Avoca. Once Hay Lane is reopened, DNR will resume pheasant stocking there. - Travis Anderson, wildlife biologist, Dodgeville
Horicon DNR Service Center area
Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area - Autumn and the waterfowl migration are in full swing on the Horicon Marsh. Colors are peaking or just slightly past peak, offering pleasant palettes of color around every corner. The northern migrants are arriving daily and numbers of ducks and geese in the area are climbing. Many of the ducks in the area are now showing off their fall plumage. Sandhill Cranes have begun their pre-migration staging. Keep a close eye out in cornfields for large groups of them as they feed. Many people wonder if they can still canoe or kayak in the marsh during hunting seasons. Of course you can! Brightly colored clothes are recommended, but not necessary. Canoeing the marsh offers an up close and personal approach to the changing seasons and the start of migration. The Horicon Marsh Education & Visitor Center continues to entertain all ages. The children's discovery area is currently featuring threatened & endangered species. Bring your family for a hike to enjoy the colors outside and a to do a craft inside! We are also excited to announce that our Explorium exhibits are progressing nicely and the "Epic Mural Timeline" in the upper lobby is slated to be installed starting on Saturday, October 25. - Jennifer Wirth, visitor services specialist
Fitchburg DNR Service Center area
Columbia County - Walleye/sauger fishing on Lake Wisconsin remains very strong with limits of fish being caught regularly. Those fishing near the railroad trestle, Okee, Weigand's bay, and the stump field are having the best success. Anglers are reminded of the slot limit as wardens have been receiving reports of illegal sized fish being kept. Good numbers of ducks are geese are being seen in Columbia County. With pheasant season open, pheasant hunters have been hitting the state lands hard. For those looking to minimize competition, hunter density is lowest during the week. - Ryan Volenberg, conservation warden, Poynette
Turkey vultures appear to have left the county sometime last week or early this week. Judging on the increase in road-kill deer during the last week, deer appear to be ramping up activity and drivers should be extra cautious while driving for the next month or so, especially when driving at night. Trappers are reporting that coon are still a little "blue" and the pelts are not quite prime. Pheasant hunters are reminded that there is a 2 pm closure on Mud Lake and Pine Island Wildlife Areas through Nov. 3rd on week days. - Sara Kehrli, wildlife biologist, Poynette
Dane County - Fall colors are spectacular and are now past peak. This is a great time of year to hike at Lodi Marsh and catch the fall colors from both the trees and the prairie grasses. Crop harvest is very late but farmers are picking beans and now starting to catch up on corn. Lots of geese in the area looking for freshly picked corn fields. Younger bucks are starting to check scrapes and rubs with increased numbers of bucks dead on roads in the past week. Bird migration is pushing forward with large numbers of robins and blackbirds dominating flocks. White-throated sparrows, pine siskins, purple finches and fox sparrows are also on the move and of interest to local birders. Waterfowl have begun to migrate with diving duck numbers picking up on larger water bodies. - Andy Paulios, wildlife biologist, Fitchburg
Loons are on the move. Saw them on both Mendota and Monona this week. -Carrie Morgan, wildlife educator, Madison
Devil's Lake State Park - The fall colors are past peak and many of the trees have lost their leaves, especially along the entrance road. There is still plenty of color on the south bluff, as this is one of the last places to turn. There is still some color along the east and west bluff as well. The turkey vultures are still gathering at the lake and haven't seemed to start migrating south yet. It's expected that they will probably leave the area in the next week or so. Fall migrants are moving through and visitors can find lots of kinglets and juncos in the trees, especially along the bluff trails. Gulls, geese and coots can be spotted on the lake as well. - Sue Johansen, natural resources educator
West Central Region
Baldwin DNR Service Center area
St. Croix County - Local pheasant hunters are finding a few birds, but wild bird numbers are down especially in St Croix and Pierce Co. Best bets are stocked areas in Dunn Co. and the Dunnville Wildlife area. Things have been slow for local duck hunters as nice weather has not increased migration. Goose hunters have fared better and should be reminded to review the regulations as many goose hunters are found with goose permit violations. Walleye and sauger fishing has picked up somewhat on the Mississippi and St Croix Rivers also Mississippi River backwaters are producing nice catches of bluegills. - David A. Hausman, warden supervisor, Baldwin
La Crosse DNR Service Center area
Vernon County - Bald eagle sightings have been increasing steadily during the past several weeks as the fall bird migration progresses. Good numbers of eagles can be seen along the Mississippi River and Kickapoo River. Eagles, however, are not confined to traveling exclusively along river corridors, so keep a sharp lookout wherever you go. For example, bald eagles have recently been seen flying over Viroqua in central Vernon County, 20 miles from the Mississippi River and 15 miles from the Kickapoo River. Woodcock have been steadily filtering into the area. Bottomlands along the Kickapoo River are prime areas to hunt for these erratic-flying migratory game birds. Woodcock may also be found in upland shrubby habitats with an herbaceous ground cover, especially where soil moisture is adequate to support earthworms, a woodcock's primary food source. - Dave Matheys, wildlife biologist, Viroqua
Black River Falls DNR Service Center area
Jackson County -Fall color in the oaks and tamarack are still good in Jackson County and points west and north from there. The oaks are putting on an amazing display of color this year. - Bob Hess, conservation biologist, Wisconsin Rapids
Lake Wissota State Park - The remaining fall colors have the tamarack, birch and basswood trees showing brilliant gold. The maples and ash are finished, the colors did not last long this year. The open water game and pan fish action has been spotty with the weather. Bass action on leeches and small minnows has been productive; walleye action has been good with live baits. Local grouse numbers appear to be down this season. Species of birds seen or heard include: ravens, rose-breasted grosbeaks, loons, a variety of wrens, phoebes, turkey vultures, northern juncos, pileated woodpeckers, great horned and barred owls, osprey, bald eagles, Canada geese and belted kingfishers. The hummingbird migration appears to be over in this area. Campsites are available on a walk-in basis. The water and shower buildings are shut down in the campground for the season. The sanitary station will be open as the weather allows. Pit toilets in the campground are open year around. As the park office is not regularly staffed at this time of year, please use the yellow self-registration pay posts located at the office and in the campground. - Dave Hladilek, park manager
Wausau DNR Service Center area
Rib Mountain State Park - Trails are in excellent condition for a late fall hike. Lots of song birds are being reported in the park. Stop in the office and pick up a copy of the Rib Mountain State Park Bird list, new and hot off the press. See who among your family and friends can spot the most species of birds. We recently completed upgrades to the road system within the park, please be aware that traffic patterns have changed slightly.- Bill Bursaw, property manager
Wisconsin Rapids DNR Service Center area
Sandhill State Wildlife - Sandhill cranes are gathering by the thousands at dusk on the Gallagher Marsh at Sandhill Wildlife Refuge, along with a gorgeous pair of whooping cranes who have been hanging around for about a week. - Britt Searles, wildlife educator
Buckhorn State Park - Fall is here! Birds are migrating, colors are changing and people are out on the lake walleye fishing. Boat boarding piers and fishing pier have been removed. Hunting is occurring in the Yellow River Wildlife Area and Buckhorn Wildlife Area. Bow hunting has started in the park and wildlife areas as of Sept 13. Check out hunting maps online or at the park office. Deer can be registered at the park office during open office hours. Park and wildlife areas are in Central Forest, buck only unless a hunter purchased an antlerless public tag for central forest. - Heather Wolf, park manager
Roche-A-Cri State Park - The main gate and campground are closed for the season. Parking is in the winter lot on Czech Ave. Park stickers are still required; please use the self-registration. Please do not park in front of the main gate.