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Outdoor Report for July 24, 2014
View current conditions for Wisconsin State Parks, Trails and Forests
Check out the Wisconsin Department of Tourism (exit DNR).
Relatively light rainfall in the state in the last few weeks has allowed stream and river levels to drop a bit, though many northern lakes and flowages continue to be above normal summer levels. A severe storm came through far northern Wisconsin Monday night, blowing down numerous trees at the Brule River State Forest. After the storm, pleasant weather came in, bringing numerous people out to enjoy the outdoors.
Water levels have continued to drop on the St. Croix and Mississippi rivers and boat access areas are open. The mayfly hatch on the Mississippi and St. Croix rivers has been especially heavy this last week. Sandbars have reappeared throughout the Lower Wisconsin Riverway providing good locations for camping. With the warmer days kayakers, and tubers are making good use of the Oconto River. Conservation wardens are reminding boaters who are out enjoying the hot and humid weather to stay hydrated and designate a driver, as the sun and wind can increase the effects of alcohol on the body.
Northwoods fish activity has been relatively steady. Water temperatures have been hovering in the upper 60s to low 70s on most waters, and this has kept most species spread out from the shallows to deeper water. Musky action showed a bit of a spike in the last week, with some nice fish being seen. Northern pike action has also stayed steady and walleye fishing has remained consistent as well with decent catches of 12- to 16-inch fish.
The mayfly hatch dropped Mississippi fishing success for the time being, but smallmouth bass fishing on the Wisconsin River was really heating up, with water levels in the river finally starting to get consistent. Cooler temperatures in the last few days chilled the air but not the fishing on Lake Winnebago, where the walleye bite remained consistent, though the perch bite has yet to pick up.
Fishing was hot this week in in Door and Kewaunee counties as anglers came out in high numbers for a salmon tournament, with boats bringing in anywhere from 4-12 salmon. Chinook were the predominant catch though some rainbows and a few coho were also in the mix. Sizes were averaging about 10-16 pounds, but with some in the 17- to 23-pound range not uncommon. Good numbers of perch were being caught off Bayshore Park on the east shore with the majority ranging in the 5-9 inch range and anglers at Little Sturgeon Bay have begun to catch better numbers of perch but sizes continue to be small.
In southeastern Lake Michigan harbors, fishing efforts increased in the past week at Milwaukee, and catch rates have shown signs of improvement. Trollers were catching a mixed bag of chinook and rainbow and lake trout. Trollers out of Racine reported the water temperature remains very cold; 80 feet down in 140 feet of water the temperature this past week was 40 degrees, making fish hard to target.
Many of the prairie plants are beginning to bloom such as leadplant, white false indigo, rattlesnake master, cinquefoil, smooth blazing star, and black eyed susan and in wetland areas boneset, marsh milkweed, and joe-pye weed. People are reporting that it is one of the better blueberry years in a while in the north and it seems to be a good year for raspberries in many areas. Blackberries should be ready in a week or two.
Statewide Birding Report
The shorebird migration is underway. Otherwise, migration of Neotropical land birds has probably begun but at very low intensity. It will pick up in the first half of August. Hummingbird feeders are very active now, as are family groups of birds yet. Bird baths should be hopping with natural water sources drying up and hotter, drier days. - Ryan Brady, Bureau of Wildlife Management research scientist, Ashland
Superior DNR Service Center area
Brule River State Forest - On Monday night a severe storm came through the area, blowing down numerous trees. After the storm, pleasant weather came in, bringing numerous people out to enjoy the outdoors. The blueberry crop is in demand by the human berry pickers and the wildlife as well. People are reporting that it is one of the better blueberry years in a while. Numerous wildflowers can be seen now. Black-eyed Susans, and ox-eye daisies are lining the roadsides. Fireweed, wood lily, valerian, harebell, and wild bergamot are some other flowers that can also be seen. There will be a "Hiker's Choice" guided hike on July 26 in Solon Springs, we'll explore the Brule Bog Boardwalk, one of the most popular sections of the North Country Trail in northwest Wisconsin. Participants can walk through the lush cedar forest that is the headwaters of both the Brule and St. Croix, seeing unique bog plants and mosses as well as rare bird life in this Wisconsin State Natural Area. Follow the trail across an ancient beaver dam on Porcupine Creek. The hike will be led by Dr. Tim Mowbray, president of the Brule-St. Croix Chapter and active trail maintainer/supporter. Meet at 9 a.m. on Saturday, July 26 at K D's Restaurant in downtown Solon Springs, then travel together to the nearby trailhead. The full hike will be a 4 mile round trip, but you can choose to walk a shorter distance. - Catherine Khalar, visitor services associate
Spooner DNR Service Center area
Straight Lake State Park - The Ice Age Trail segment running through the park is in good condition. New stepping stones have been placed at the dam crossing, making it easier to get across the dam spillway. Make sure to bring some bug spray with you as the mosquitoes and deer flies can be quite annoying on some portions of the trail. Fishing has been slow on both Rainbow and Straight Lakes. Boat access to both Straight and Rainbow lakes is carry in only and no motors are allowed. Wild bergamot, black-eyed susans, milk weed, and bluebell are all blooming in the park. Bald eagles, loons, and a family of trumpeter swans have been seen on the lakes. Many other bird species can be seen and heard in the surrounding wetlands and forests. - Matthew Densow, ranger
Park Falls DNR Service Center area
Upper Chippewa Basin fisheries report (Price, Rusk, Sawyer Taylor and inland Ashland and Iron counties) - The continually changing weather and almost constant wind have made for some very challenging fishing conditions for most of the past week. However, fish activity has been relatively steady and anglers that have been out battling the breeze have found some decent action. Water temperatures have been hovering in the upper 60s to low 70s on most waters, and this has kept most species spread out from the shallows to deeper water. Relatively light rainfall in our area in the last few weeks has allowed stream and rivers levels to drop a bit, though many lakes and flowages continue to be somewhat above normal summer levels. Fishing success has been rather consistent in the past few weeks, though largemouth and smallmouth bass have been a bit of a challenge with the changing weather. The largemouth have been slowly moving to firm overhead cover, with more and more fish being found under docks, around logs and stumps, near the bog edges and in the reed/bulrush beds. Finesse techniques with soft plastics have still been able to produce some decent catches, and the surface bite did show a slight increase in the last week. Smallmouth bass seem to be holding near the mid-depth cover, and finesse plastics have been used to lure a fish nice fish to the boat. Musky action showed a bit of a spike in the last week, with some nice fish being seen by many anglers. Bucktails and bulldawg-type baits have been the lures of choice and fish up to 46 inches have been boated in the past few days. With the generally cool water temperatures so far this summer, northern pike action has also stayed steady, and quite a few small to medium-size pike continue to be found along the weed edges. Walleye fishing has remained rather consistent as well, with some decent catches of fish in the 12- to 16-inch size being made. A slip bobber with a leach or night crawler half have worked best, and the mid-depth rock bars and deep weed edges have been the productive areas. Panfish success has also remained relatively good, with some nice bluegill, crappie and perch being found on the deeper mud flats and along the deeper weed edges as well. Wax worms and night crawler pieces fished below a slip bobber have produced some decent catches. - Skip Sommerfeldt, senior fisheries biologist, Park Falls
Northern Lake Michigan fisheries team report - Compiled by David Boyarski, fisheries supervisor, Sturgeon Bay
Marinette County - Anglers at the mouth of the Peshtigo River are catching catfish, sheepshead, and smallmouth bass both from shore and in boats using crank baits or fishing live bait fished on the bottom. The Menominee River continues to produce walleye mainly during periods of darkness trolling with stick baits or crawler/harness. Shore anglers on the Menominee are catching sheepshead, and some smallmouth mainly using live bait. King salmon and brown and a few rainbow trout are being caught around Green Island to the Peshtigo Light using a variety of spoons and colors. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo
Oconto County - Anglers at the Stiles Dam are catching bluegills and some smallmouth bass fishing mainly live bait and slip bobbers with most fish coming from around structure. With the warmer days kayakers, and tubers are making good use of the Oconto river. Some perch are being reported out of the Pensaukee Landing in 9 to 12 feet of water, minnows have been working the best. Some walleye have been reported out of Breakwater Park trolling in 12 to 16 feet of water very early in the morning. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo
Fishing has been tough out of Geano Beach, especially for walleye anglers. The best luck for walleye has been in 18-22 feet of water by the big buoy. Some northern pike and musky have been being caught in the flats. - John Taylor, fisheries technician, Green Bay
Brown County - Shore anglers fishing the mouth of the Fox were catching decent numbers of crappies using mostly minnows, (12-15 fish/ angler) earlier in the week. The same anglers reported the crappie bite had slowed considerably by mid-week. Other anglers chose worms off the bottom as their go-to bait. Different fish reported caught at this location also included white bass and white perch. Most fishermen at Voyager Park continue to favor fishing off the bottom with a simple hook, line and sinker setup...or...put their bait a few inches of the bottom using a three-way swivel setup. These anglers reported catching ok numbers of catfish. A few anglers were using jigs and shad raps for smallmouth and walleye. A fisherman off of the pier by Main Street mentioned that he had caught an 18-inch smallmouth and a couple of nice walleye in the past week or so using stick baits. At Duck Creek, anglers reported catching several perch a week earlier, including a couple in the 12-inch range. Anglers targeting smallmouth bass and northern using top water baits (fake frogs and rats) had no luck. Walleye fishermen launching out of Green Bay Metro continue to have a tough luck. It appears the flicker shads, crawler harnesses and jigs have not been as appealing to the fish as the growing bait fish. Warm weather and low winds brought many perch fishermen to the Bayshore Park area late in the week. Good numbers of perch are being caught with the majority ranging in the 5-9 inch range. Minnows have been the dominate bait of choice. Finding schools and staying with them has been the key to large numbers with most anglers reporting that the perch are continually moving, forcing a constant chase. Anglers believe this is an indication of the impending arrival of larger numbers of perch that will eventually settle into their summer holes. Walleye action continues to be slow but the fish being caught have mostly been of larger caliber. Multiple catches in the 27-30 inch range have been reported. Crawler harnesses in the 18-22 foot depth range have produced the highest number of fish. Using a hook, line, sinker and worm has been the preferred method of Suamico River Shore anglers targeting yellow perch. There were mixed results, and most of the yellow perch caught have been in the 7-inch range. Brown bullheads and freshwater drum are also being caught. Yellow perch fishermen launching out of Suamico did not report high catch rates. Most were using minnows and crawlers. Walleye fishermen are also having a tough time. It seems angler's lures are not looking as enticing as the natural bait fish. Good numbers of freshwater drum and gobies are also being caught. - John Taylor, fisheries technician, Green Bay
Door County - Fishing was hot this week in northern Door County as anglers came out in high numbers, particularly for the salmon tournament in Door and Kewaunee counties. In northern Door, Bailey's Harbor had the most pressure, with boats bringing in anywhere from 4-12 salmon. Some rainbows and a few coho were also in the mix; however chinook were the predominant catch. Anglers were expressing satisfaction with the overall size of the salmon and the fight they were putting up. Sizes were averaging about 10-16 pounds, with some sizable fish in the 17- 23-pound range not being uncommon. Anglers were having luck in 100-200 feet of water, with the most success in 140-200 feet, fishing the top 80 feet. Anglers were also hauling in the salmon out of Rowley's Bay, fishing the top 30 feet in 60-80 feet of water. Spoons and flasher flies of various colors proved the most successful. Anglers throughout the peninsula are also targeting the tail-end of the smallmouth bite, with the most success being seen in Rowley's Bay and Ephraim. Anglers targeting smallmouth have also reported catching rock bass and gobies. Catches are ranging from two to four fish. Popular baits include night crawlers, leeches, and a variety of other artificial bait, with leeches being the most successful. Anglers targeting walleye in Sister Bay said the catch is slow. - Aaron Suehring, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay
At Sawyer Harbor, the water in the area continues to be clear and the increase in water levels has allowed boaters access to previously unattainable areas. Smallmouth bass anglers in the harbor continue to have great success. Finding water temperatures in the 68-70 degree range has been key to high catch rates. Leeches and soft shells under a slip bobber have been producing the best numbers. Green and hot pink tubes have also been producing good numbers of bass while minimizing fresh water drum by-catches. Little Sturgeon Bay anglers continue to have mixed success with all targeted fish. Water temperatures vary from 58 degrees in the channel to 74 degrees in some bays. The clarity of the water has been said to be the driving force behind the deeper depths that walleye are being found in. Crawler harnesses have brought in the best numbers; however, some fish are being caught on perch colored cranks. Perch anglers have begun to catch better numbers of fish yet sizes continue to be small. Minnows on a plain hook have been the bait of choice. At Chaudoir's Dock water temperatures in the area continue to hover in the mid 60s. Perch anglers have had little success; however, communications from anglers to the south have given hope for the arrival of perch in the next couple weeks. Minnows and helgramites have produced the most fish. Walleye action also continues to be slow. Anglers are reporting large schools of baitfish and the walleye that are being caught are stuffed with bait. The heavy competition for attention between the baitfish and anglers has been mentioned by many anglers as a driving force behind the reduced catch rates over the last couple weeks. - John Taylor, fisheries technician, Green Bay
Kewaunee County - This weekend was the start of the Kewaunee/Door County Tournament and the numbers of anglers out on the water showed it. In both Algoma and Kewaunee anglers were out in high numbers for their chance at catching the big fish. Numbers were down this weekend from last, as the average per boat was 1-2. Still most boats were coming in successful. Anglers were out in 100-400 feet of water catching fish 10-90 feet down. Flies still seemed to be more popular than spoons and color didn't seem to make a difference. Rainbows seemed to make up most of the catch with Lakers and kings being caught as well. Anglers are reporting water temps at the surface out at 200 feet were 52 degrees. Anglers on the Pier in both Kewaunee and Algoma had limited success this week. They were trying salmon and trout mostly but some were out for anything. Most were throwing spoons with little success. Shore anglers were trying their luck for perch and carp in Kewaunee with some success for perch off of the south wall of the marina. - Emily Kurszewski, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay
Green Bay DNR Service Center area
Brown County - The past week has brought some very humid weather, leaving many anglers inside instead of on the boat or shoreline. For those few who did venture out, fishing success was minimal. Walleye anglers pre-fishing for a tournament this weekend out of Suamico reported very few being caught. Along the Fox River, people reported more success catching catfish earlier in the day. Lily Lake in Brown County still has not been stocked with fish, although tiny minnows have been spotted by the docks. Fishing success for inland Kewanee County lakes was also slow, with steady fishing pressure only being observed on East Alaska Lake. For boaters that are going out to enjoy the hot and humid weather, a reminder to stay hydrated and designate a driver. The sun and wind can increase the effects of alcohol on the body. - Cara Kamke, conservation warden, Green Bay
Wautoma DNR Service Center area
Waupaca County - In central Wisconsin the blackcaps, raspberries, and blueberries are all ripe and ready to pick. Blackberries are two to three weeks away from being ripe. Northern pike and bass are biting well on area water bodies. Fawns are growing like weeds and spending all their time with mom now, as they can outrun most predators. Lots of Turkey broods running around. The poults are now the size of chickens. Perfect summer weather, sunny and mid 70s. Get out there and enjoy the outdoors! - Karl Kramer, wildlife technician, Wautoma
Area rivers are starting to recede and low water is prevalent on most streams in the Waupaca area. Kayakers and canoers are still able to navigate. Fishing on the Chain O lakes has been steady. Most anglers have been finding bass and panfish at about 12 to 16 feet in depth with a worm or plastic bait. Raspberries are now ripe, but many people are still waiting for the blackberries to ripen. Watch for the blackberries to be ready in about a week or so. Ted Dremel, conservation warden, Waupaca
Waushara County - The heat has lifted here in Waushara County. It is unknown what the few days of high heat and hot sun did to the fishing, but the water temperatures did climb at least a few degrees. Even with the now slightly cooler air temperatures watersports should be quite enjoyable for the upcoming weekend. Many folks are reporting observations of does with twins running around. The fawns are becoming much more mobile this time of year so remember to always be on the lookout while you are driving. We have had a number of car-deer accidents in the last couple of weeks as the deer are on the move looking for more food sources. The cool mornings should be great to enjoy walks on the Ice Age trail or take a canoe trip on some of the many rivers in the county. Be sure to bring a camera along as there are still plenty of wildflowers blooming and all kinds of wild youngsters out on the landscape including sandhill cranes, ducks, geese, deer, bear, and many more if you are lucky enough to spy them. - Ben Mott, conservation warden, Wautoma
Oshkosh DNR Service Center area
Winnebago County - Cooler temperatures have chilled the air but not the fishing on Lake Winnebago. The walleye bite remains consistent although it is not hot and heavy action. Many anglers continue to troll or sit on reefs to catch their walleyes. The perch bite has yet to pick up on Lake Winnebago but generally it is a later August or September bite. Boating continues to be the fun thing to do even with the cooler temperatures. Boaters and fishermen are reminded to have all the necessary safety equipment on their boat and be able to use it appropriately. Life jackets are the most important piece of equipment but if you're not wearing it, it is not going to help out much if you fall overboard. It only takes a split second for something unexpected to happen so please wear a life jacket when enjoying the water. - Jason Higgins, conservation warden, Oshkosh
Milwaukee DNR Service Center area
Richard Bong State Recreation Area - Trails are open to hikers. The Blue Trail is closed near the failed water control structure (old dam). All-terrain vehicle, Utility-terrain vehicles and Dirt-bike trails availability is determined on a daily basis. For the most current trail conditions, please call 262-878-5600. As of July 20 on Loop 1 is open. Horseback trails are open depending on trail conditions, please call 262-878-5600 for availability. As of July 20 the horse trails are open. A state trail pass is required for riders ages 16 and older. If trails are closed, you may ride on the paved roads at Richard Bong State Recreation Area. Please ride responsibly to not degrade the trails. You are required to take any droppings and hay with you from the parking lots when you leave so the natural beauty of the park is not compromised. Biking is allowed on the hiking trails north of Hwy. 142 when conditions permit. Trail opening depending on the trail conditions, please call 262-878-5600 for availability. As of 7-20-14 the bike trails north of Hwy. 142 are open. - Andrew Starch, park manager
Southern Lake Michigan fisheries team report - Compiled from creel clerks by Cheryl Masterson and Jeffrey Zinuticz, fisheries technicians, Milwaukee
Sheboygan County - Trollers in Sheboygan had more success this past weekend than they had been having recently. They could be seen fishing close to shore from just outside the gap and as far north as Whistling Straits Golf Course. Chinook were taken in 50 to 60 feet of water, and rainbows were found around 110 feet. Shore fishing has picked up off of both the north and south piers. Anglers fished off the end of the north pier have been catching chinook on spoons, and a few whitefish were taken as well. The chinook bite has been best at first light. South pier anglers fishing the lake side have been catching brown trout on spoons. Green and silver, moonshine, wonder bread, and orange and silver have been popular colors.
Ozaukee County - In Port Washington the north pier is closed to public access. Signs have been posted at the entrance to the pier to remind the public that no one is allowed on the pier because it has stability issues. Numbers of alewives in the area have tapered off, but there are still a few lingering around. The harbor water has cleared up, and shore fishing has improved near the power plant and around Rotary Park. Brown trout and a few rainbows have been taken on white tube jigs, night crawlers, alewives, spinners, and spoons in green and silver, orange and silver, or gold. The ramp in Port Washington was closed on Friday and Saturday due to Fish Day, and it reopened Sunday morning. Those trollers who caught the most fish on Sunday were working around 100 to 110 feet of water, and out to 150 feet. They were catching a mixed bag of chinook and rainbow and lake trout, and spoons and flies took the most fish.
Milwaukee County - In Milwaukee fishing effort has increased in the past week, and catch rates have shown signs of improvement. Trollers have had the best success fishing north of the harbor in 65 to 90 feet of water. Early in the morning, the chinooks have also been caught as shallow as 50 feet. Coho, rainbows, and lake trout have been caught consistently around 75 feet of water. Anglers have taken the most fish early in the morning using bright flies and spoons near the surface, and the trolling with more depth as the day goes on. Trollers working out of Bender Park have been catching large steelhead and coho around 75 to 90 feet of water. Milwaukee shore anglers have been catching browns and a few steelhead off McKinley pier, and browns have also been caught off the pier in Veterans Park near the Sailing Center. Brightly colored spoons and alewives have both taken fish. Some anglers have had success catching perch from the rocks at the end of McKinley pier, and both minnows and plastics have taken fish. In Grant Park, anglers have reported some smaller steelhead coming in around the mouth of Oak Creek, and they have also reported bullhead biting on live bait under the pedestrian bridge. Steelhead and brown trout in Grant Park have been biting brightly colored spoons, such as watermelon patterns. Perch anglers fishing from shore in Bender Park have been catching some small perch around 8 inches early in the morning. They have been hitting a variety of baits including raw shrimp, minnows, and jigs. Boats fishing for Perch off the South Milwaukee boils have reported slow catch rates, with boats often returning to the launch before reaching their limit. At the Oak Creek Power Plant Pier, both trout and salmon have been caught over the past week. Silver or gold spoons cast into the current have been effective.
Racine County - Trollers in Racine have reported that the water temperature remains very cold; 80 feet down in 140 feet of water the temperature this past week was 40 degrees, making fish hard to target. Some trollers traveled out to 350 feet of water to find warmer water and a few fish. Fishing closer to shore picked up a bit over the weekend, with browns taken in 10 to 30 feet of water, and more of a mixed bag of trout and salmon in 30 to 150 feet. The piers in Racine continue to produce a few browns, coho, and small chinooks. A few 12 to 15 pound catfish have also been caught off the south pier. The surface water at the Racine lakefront warmed to 63 degrees by the end of last week, and perch have moved back into the area. Anglers reported decent catches from the water treatment plant all the way to the Racine Zoo. Minnows, crab tails, and small jigs worked well for many anglers. Those fishing in the Pershing Park boat harbor caught some nice 13 to 14 inch perch, and some limits were taken. Nice catches of perch and a few crappies were landed recently by anglers fishing the Root River shoreline from the lakefront up to the Main Street Bridge. And few perch, bluegills, and rock bass were caught by anglers fishing with crappie minnows at the Reichert Court fishing pier.
Kenosha County - Perch fishing for boaters in Kenosha has been spotty over the past week. Some are able to catch their limit one day and only two to three perch the next. Kenosha trollers have been catching a few more fish lately, but there were no reports of boats limiting out during the week. Browns have been found in 25 to 35 feet of water, and chinooks can be found in shallow water after dark. Fishing pressure on the Kenosha piers remained heavy during the week. Early in the week anglers were catching decent numbers of perch, but numbers dwindled by the weekend. Minnows and small plastics took the most fish. Brown trout have been caught off the piers and around the harbor by anglers using spoons or white tube jigs tipped with wax worms. The morning and evening bites produced the most, and the browns have averaged around five to six pounds.
Plymouth DNR Service Center area
Theresa Marsh State Wildlife Area - On Theresa and Jackson Marsh Wildlife Areas we just finished seeding several small "warm-season grass" fields. Seeding was delayed this year due to unseasonably wet conditions in many low areas. Many of the cornfields and other crop fields around our area have low spots that were flooded out by heavy rains. Mature prairie fields are near peak for viewing, with the mid/late summer prairie flowers in bloom. We saw about 75 white pelicans on Theresa Marsh Wildlife Area this week during an aerial flight to look at the marsh vegetation. We plan to close the bottom flow radial gate on Theresa Marsh by July 29 to start bringing the water level back up for the fall hunting seasons. Water levels on the Theresa Marsh main pool will be kept low throughout July to allow "moist soil" waterfowl and shorebird food plants (smart weed/bidens) to grow on the mud flats and repairs to the dam to be completed. Helicopter spraying of about 100-acres of and cattails phragmites is planned for August. Hunters are reminded not to forget the August 1 deadlines for many applications (fall turkey, furbearer permits, bobcat, wolf). - Tom Isaac, wildlife biologist, Hartford
Sturtevant DNR Service Center area
Racine and Kenosha counties - The Kansasville wildlife crew has been managing invasive vegetation in grassland and woodland habitats on local state lands in Racine and Kenosha Counties. Crews have been mowing the invasive white sweet clover in grassland areas. One sweet clover plant has the potential to produce up to 350,000 seeds and will shade out native prairie plants, degrading grassland habitat. The crews have also been treating invasive woody re-sprouts from winter mowing projects in woodlands and grassland fields. Invasive brush forms dense thickets that also shade out native vegetation in woodland and grassland habitats. Some flower species currently blooming in grassland areas include Indian plantain, butterfly weed, and rattle snake master and in wetland areas boneset, marsh milkweed, and joe-pye weed. - Marty Johnson- Wildlife Biologist, Sturtevant
South Central Region
Lower Wisconsin State Riverway - The water levels on July 24, at the Prairie Du Sac dam was 3,725 CFS. Please call 1-800-242-1077 for current river flow at the Prairie Du Sac dam. The sandbars have reappeared throughout the Riverway providing good locations for camping. Please remember that camping is restricted to no more than three days on State owned islands and sandbars. Camping at these locations is restricted to persons and their equipment arrived by watercraft only. A camping permit is not required. Boaters should use caution when operating along the Riverway due to the ever changing water levels which expose new sandbars and other hazards. The Lower Wisconsin State Riverway has a "carry-in, carry-out" policy which means people must take the trash they create with them. With the lower water levels there have been reports of catfish and smallmouth bass biting throughout the Riverway. - Matt Seguin, property manager
Fitchburg DNR Service Center area
Columbia County - Smallmouth bass fishing on the Wisconsin River is really heating up with the warm weather. However, walleye and sauger are getting hard to find. Water levels in the river are finally starting to get consistent. A lot of deer are being observed even in the middle of the day in open agricultural fields, probably due to all the flies and mosquitoes still in the woods. - Paul Nadolski, conservation warden, Portage
Devil's Lake State Park - Conditions are great for an outing to Devil's Lake State Park. You can come out and hike, camp, picnic, birdwatch, swim, fish, boat, rock climb, have lunch, take a walk, enjoy a driving tour, and about a hundred other things. Beautiful summer days are here. Hiking trails are open but all bike trails at Devil's Lake State Park are closed. Heavy rains have caused wash-outs on many of the bike trails, especially the Steinke Basin and Uplands Trails. Until repairs are made the trails will remain closed to biking. Big Band dances are held at the north shore Chateau every other Saturday night in the summer - July 26, and August 9 and 23. Admission to the dance is $10 and a park sticker is required on the vehicle. Also at the Chateau, there is a fish fry dinner each Friday evening from 5:30-7:30, with the last one August 29. There are two more Music in the Park concerts at the north shore picnic area on Sunday, July 27 at 5:30 p.m., and on Sunday, August 31 at 6:30 p.m. The concert is free, but a park sticker is required. - Richard Hesed, visitor services associate
West Central Region
Baldwin DNR Service Center area
St. Croix County - River levels have continued to drop and boat access areas are open on the St. Croix and Mississippi rivers. The recent mayfly hatch on the Mississippi and St Croix rivers have dropped fishing success for the time being and this year's hatch has been especially heavy. Boating activity has been increasing with the warm weather and dropping river levels. Boaters are reminded to continue to watch your wakes and remember to have a sober operator on board as water patrols are out in force. - David A. Hausman, warden supervisor, Baldwin
La Crosse DNR Service Center area
Vernon County - During mid-summer, insects of all shapes, sizes, and colors are very abundant and active. Have you ever wondered what gives insects their wide array of colors? As you might suspect, there are a variety of factors that contribute. Colors are either structural or pigmental. Structural colors are due to anatomic peculiarities, such as groves on the scales of butterflies. Grooves break up light into component wavelengths, acting much like a prism. The resultant colors are determined by the distances between grooves. Instead of grooves, some insects have small pits that function the same as grooves. Pigmental colors are produced by the reflection and absorption of the various wavelengths that compose light. Pigments may be taken directly from food, may be produced indirectly from food, or may be an excretory product. Many caterpillars and grasshoppers, for instance, are green due to the ingestion of chlorophyll, the chemical responsible for the green color of the leaves they eat. Insects that feed on the blood of higher animals become red due to the ingestion of hemoglobin, the iron-containing respiratory pigment in red blood cells of vertebrates. The black and brown color of many insects, like some beetles, are due to nitrogenous metabolic by-products known as melanins. Reds and yellows of insects are derived from carotene and xanthophyll ingested with leaves. Anthocyanins produce red, blue, and purple colors in insects, as well as flowers, fruits, leaves, and stems. Dull yellows and browns are often derivatives of tannin found in leaves. The subject of insect coloration is extensive and further compounded by the effects that external factors like temperature, moisture, and light have on the formation of pigments and insect color patterns. So the next time you see a wasp, potato beetle, June bug, ladybug, monarch butterfly, or even a housefly, pause a moment to consider and appreciate the variety of insect colors. Farmers are harvesting their second crop of hay for the year. These cut fields should be excellent areas to look for wild turkey broods. Cut hay fields are frequented by hungry broods searching for abundant and nutritious insects. Deer fawns are roaming farther away from their mothers. In fact, do not be surprised to see fawns by themselves, especially during the day. - Dave Matheys, wildlife biologist, Viroqua
Black River Falls DNR Service Center area
Black River State Forest - This weekend is looking to be perfect for camping. Highs are expected to be in the mid-70s to low-80s with lows in the mid-60s. Campsites are still available at our Pigeon Creek and East Fork campgrounds. All-terrain vehicle and Utility terrain vehicle trails were groomed last week and should be in good condition. Trails have mostly dried out but there may be the occasional wet or muddy patch. Riders must stay on the marked trail at all times. - Emily Alf, visitor services associate
Juneau County - The fishing report is slow for Southern Juneau County. Anglers are catching the usual mixed bag of catfish, drum, white bass and crappie in most locations. Walleye action has slowed significantly, but they can still be found. The Wisconsin River in Juneau County including the flowages is finally reaching its normal summer lows so caution should be used when boating, as sandbars and debris are either exposed in many areas or just below the water line. The mosquitoes have finally slowed, but the biting flies are taking over. It is also berry season, and they can be found in many locations throughout the county. - Kyle Lynch, conservation warden, Mauston
Eau Claire DNR Service Center area
Hoffman Hills State Recreation Area - Many of the prairie plants are beginning to bloom such as leadplant, white false indigo, rattlesnake master, cinquefoil, smooth blazing star, and black eyed susan. It seems to be a good year for raspberries wherever you go. There's plenty of raspberries around in the prairies or on some of the other park properties in the area like the Red Cedar and Chippewa River State Trails. Maintenance staff have been busy cleaning up trails from recent June storm damage. Trails have finally dried out and are in good condition. - Calvin Kunkel, ranger
Wisconsin Rapids DNR Service Center area
Buckhorn State Park - The lake has been busy with boating, fishing and swimming. Canoes and kayaks are available to rent for use on the canoe interpretive trail and at the beach. Check out a GPS unit at the park office or bring your own to discover the Ranger Rick Geocaches or history of Buckhorn caches. Horseshoes and volleyballs are available to checkout for use by the beach or in the group camp. The beach is a great place to enjoy the sun, grill out and enjoy summer. Not too many bugs at this time of summer! Drop in at the beach on Wednesdays between 1-4 p.m. for nature activities. This Saturday, July 26, come with on a nature hike at 10 a.m. Meet at the amphitheater. - Heather Wolf, park manager
Roche-A-Cri State Park - Trails are in great shape for hiking and geocaching. GPS units are available to check out at the park office. Horseshoes and volleyball are available to check out to use at the mound shelter. Many picnic areas in the park to enjoy the weekend weather. Not too many bugs at this time! This Saturday, July 26, come with on a nature hike at 2 p.m. Meet at the mound shelter. - Heather Wolf, park manager