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- Bill Cosh
Director of Communications
Outdoor Report for May 16, 2013
View current conditions for Wisconsin State Parks, Trails and Forests
Check out the Wisconsin Department of Tourism (exit DNR).
A massive wildfire in Douglas and Bayfield counties this week burnt more than 8,000 acres and 47 structures including 17 homes. The Germann Road fire, while the largest, was just one of more than 60 wildfires in DNR protection areas of the state this week. Fire danger levels remain very high or high statewide and the DNR has suspended all burning permits until further notice. Fire officials are urging people to use extreme caution with any sources of ignition, such as smoking material, hot engines or exhaust systems on vehicles. Dispose of ash from stoves or grills in fire-proof covered containers.
Nearly all lakes in the state were ice-free by last weekend, with only a few of the large and deep-water lakes still having some ice cover, but even that should be cone by this weekend. Water levels on rivers remain very high in many areas but others are beginning to drop. Some sandbars are beginning to reappear along the lower Wisconsin River, but the river levels are still high and only experienced canoeists and kayakers should be on the water. Lake Michigan water temperatures at Rock Island State Park off the tip of Door County were only at 40 degrees.
Currently most Northwoods lakes have water temperatures in the mid to upper 40-degree range, but look for that to climb into the 50s with the warm weather predicted for the next few days. Even though most anglers had open water for the second weekend of the fishing season, the constantly changing weather made for some very erratic fishing success. A few anglers found some concentrations of walleye and reported some nice catches of fish.
The Wolf River was still giving up a few walleyes to those anglers putting in their time, but the white bass run has been spotty so far. Anglers reported catching muskies and largemouth and smallmouth bass on Waukesha County lakes.
Bass fishing was great this week off Door County, with many anglers participating in a bass tournament last weekend and more preparing for another tournament out of Sturgeon Bay this weekend. Bass were being caught on both the Green Bay and lake sides with anglers reporting success from piers and boats on a variety of bait. Yellow perch fishing opens May 20 on Green Bay and its tributaries.
High waves made for rough fishing on Lake Michigan this week. Those who ventured out reported some brown trout and also some good coho fishing, especially out of the Kenosha harbor. A few steelhead anglers are still fishing Lake Michigan tributaries, but action has slowed considerably.
With the weather finally warmed up it is looking like the last time period may offer the best hunting of the spring turkey season, with more birds than ever gobbling and strutting in fields. The spring season closes May 21.
Many species of young wildlife are being spotted including whitetail deer fawns, Canada geese goslings, cottontails and woodcock. A reminder to residents that young wildlife observed on their own are often not abandoned, but left there to await the mother’s return from feeding. Leave them along and their mothers will return to care for them.
Warblers have been slow to arrive in the north but southeastern Wisconsin north to Green Bay reported excellent numbers this week, with 20-plus species being found regularly. American toads, leopard frogs, and gray tree frogs are calling wildly. Morel mushrooms s are beginning to appear but still in low numbers. The Muscoda Morel Festival is this weekend.
In the past week, more than 60 wildfires burned in DNR protection areas around the state, including a massive forest fire in Douglas County. The main causes were debris burning and equipment. Fire danger has been high to very high across the state, resulting in the suspension of DNR burning permits and the issuance of a Red Flag Warning in Florence and Marinette counties Wednesday. Stay aware of the current fire danger for your area by checking the DNR website: dnr.wi.gov (search fire danger).
Firewise Tip: Are there any branches close to power lines on your property? Ask the power company to clear them.
Cumberland Dispatch Group responded to seven wildland fires for the week which burned a total of 8.5 acres. Of note, six structures were saved due to quick actions by arriving initial attack units. Two structures were lost, one of which was a pole shed containing an entire collection of carnival rides and equipment. Fire causes contained a higher percentage of miscellaneous outdoor activity such as welding or grinding activities and ash disposal, which is reflective of the dry conditions. Staff remains stretched thin as resources are still committed to the Germann Fire in Douglas County.
Brule Dispatch Group - A massive forest fire burned 8,131 acres in Douglas County. Named the Germann Road Fire, it consumed 47 structures, including 17 homes. An additional 77 structures were threatened by the fire, yet ultimately saved with firefighter assistance. Evacuations occurred throughout area. The partnership effort to contain this fire has been incredible. Assistance came in the form of people, equipment, and aircraft from 37 fire departments, Minnesota DNR, Michigan DNR, Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, US Forest Service, state patrol, sheriff’s departments, Department of Transportation, state and county emergency management, Red Cross, the Drummond High School and likely many others. DNR fire control staff from other dispatch groups were moved to assist in fire suppression and incident command efforts. The fire was contained at 9 p.m. Wednesday night. Crews will continue for days to put out hotspots and mop up the burned area. No injuries have been reported. The cause of the fire was determined to be logging equipment. Gov. Scott Walker is visiting the area Thursday and will be holding a press conference. A web site was established for the media and public wishing to keep informed about the fire: dnr.wi.gov (keyword “Germann Road Fire”).
Park Falls Dispatch – Two Taylor County fires were determined to be intentionally set, burning 17 acres and 11 acres. A 9-acre Price County wildfire was caused when a debris/trash pile that had been burned when there was snow on the ground reignited.
Woodruff Dispatch Group – Six wildfires burned three acres in the past week.
Peshtigo Dispatch Group - Eleven wildfires burned over eight acres in the past week. Heightened fire weather on Wednesday called for a Red Flag Warning in Florence and Marinette counties.
Black River Falls Dispatch Group - In the last week, fire staff responded to seven wildfires totaling just over 5 acres. Fire causes varied but included debris burning, equipment and even a structure fire. A sawmill caught fire in Chippewa County and caused four separate wildfires which totaled around 3 acres. Suppression was time-consuming due to the windy conditions and difficult access.
Wisconsin Rapids Dispatch Group - In the last week, fire control staff responded to nine fires totaling about 17 acres. The largest wildfire was a 14-acre fire in Adams County. Significant fire behavior occurred during the evening hours when we normally expect fire behavior to moderate. That’s a testament to the dangerous fire conditions we’ve seen over the last several days.
Dodgeville Dispatch Group - Nine wildfires burned four acres this past week.
Statewide Birding Report
Mid-May is the time of year all bird watchers live for and this year is no exception. Backyard birders are now hosting a rainbow of colors thanks to the return of indigo buntings, rose-breasted grosbeaks, Baltimore orioles, ruby-throated hummingbirds all the way north to Lake Superior. Warblers have been slow to arrive in the north but southeastern Wisconsin north to Green Bay reported excellent numbers this week, with 20-plus species being found regularly. Sparrow diversity in the north is excellent as 10-plus species can be found. With lakes in Canada still locked up in ice, waterfowl remain in good numbers, including above average numbers of both common and red-throated loons, as well as horned, eared, and red-necked grebes. Shorebird migration has begun in earnest. American avocet,whimbrel, and both godwits have been seen recently, in addition to more yellowlegs, dowitchers, and “peeps” such as least sandpipers. Check coastal beaches, flooded fields, and shallow waters of managed wildlife areas in the weeks ahead. Nine Springs in Madison and Highway 49 in Horicon are two places that look especially promising. Rarities spotted this week include Mississippi kite in Douglas County, northern mockingbirds and white-eyed vireos in multiple locations, 6,000-plus long-tailed ducks on Green Bay, and several western tanagers statewide. As always, please report your sightings at ebird.org/wi to help track the migration and better conserve our bird populations. - Ryan Brady, Bureau of Wildlife Management research scientist, Ashland
This yellow warbler was photographed by Catherine Khalar of the Brule River State Forest. Like many other DNR forestry and law enforcement staff, Khalar was helping with the Germann Road fire response. As a result we have few reports this week from Northern Wisconsin.
Catherine Khalar Photo
Hayward DNR Service Center area
Tuscobia State Trail - Crews will begin some significant grading on the trail the week of May 20. They will be ditching and crowning the trail to eliminate some of the berm build up along both sides of the trail. Visitors may encounter some clumps of sod as you travel as many of the berms have seeded in over the past few years. Be patient and understand this is a temporary condition. Please report any “sink holes” on the trail. We are hoping to have gravel delivered as soon as the temporary load limits are removed and we can haul gravel to the trail. - Todd Hintz, ranger
Spooner DNR Service Center area
Crex Meadows State Wildlife - Goslings have been sited, keep your eyes out for ducklings and cygnets arriving soon. Listen for yellow rails at night in the sedge marshes. Duck species are waning but smaller birds, such as sparrows and warblers are gearing up for their northern journey. New birds include: American redstart, black-throated green warbler, chestnut-sided warbler, northern parula, blackpoll warbler, ovenbird, least, spotted and solitary sandpipers, white-crowned sparrow, Baltimore oriole, rose-breasted grosbeak, least and alder flycatcher. Warblers and sparrows are coming through in good numbers. Look for yellow-headed blackbirds, sedge, and marsh wrens. - Kristi Pupak, wildlife conservation educator
Park Falls DNR Service Center area
Upper Chippewa Basin fisheries report (Price, Rusk, Sawyer Taylor and inland Ashland and Iron counties) - Nearly all lakes in the area became ice-free by last weekend and there are now only a few of the large and deep-water lakes in Sawyer County that still have some ice cover on them (but that ice should be gone from those by the weekend of May 17). Even though most anglers had open water for the second weekend of the fishing season, the constantly changing weather made for some very erratic fishing success. Walleye have been the main species of interest and action has been generally slow. A few anglers found some concentrations of walleye and reported some nice catches of fish in the 14 to 18 inch size, with a few in the low to mid 20-inch size also being landed. Jig and minnow combinations and large minnows on a slip bobber rig produced that best success, and the crank bait bite seemed a little slow with the cold water conditions. But look for the action on crank baits to pick up as the water warms up into the 50-degree range. Currently most lakes had water temperatures in the mid to upper 40-degree range, but look for that to climb into the 50s with the warm weather predicted for the next few days. - Skip Sommerfeldt, senior fisheries biologist, Park Falls
Peshtigo DNR Service Center area
Fishing pressure was high in the beginning of the week with walleye being caught trolling on the Bay. With the weather change in the later part of the week fishing pressure and catch rates dropped dramatically as cold, wet, windy weather swept through the area. - Kevin King - creel clerk
Peshtigo River State Forest - The trees are starting to bud out and it’s a great time to get out and hike in the Peshtigo River State Forest. Beware of the ticks! Old Veteran’s Lake Campground is open for camping. Sites 6-13 are reservable Memorial Day – Labor Day, and sites 1-5 and 14-16 are available on a first-come, first serve basis year round. The ATV trails in the area are now open. Construction is finishing up at Boat Landing #9, but the area is open to use now. - Sara Pearson, Ranger/Assistant Manager
Marinette County - Launching from the landing at the mouth of the Peshtigo River is become more difficult with lower water conditions, so most boaters are coming from the Oconto launches to fish in and around the mouth of the Peshtigo where the walleye bite has been heating up. Anglers are trolling in 4 to 10 feet of water using stick baits and crawler/harness, catching walleye, small mouth, and pike. Browns and walleye are being caught trolling in the area of little river trolling in 4 to 8 feet of water with stick baits and crawler/harness. Due to low water levels only small craft are launching from Little River, others are coming out of the Menominee River. Heavy current flows on the Menominee River has pushed most of the fishing activity down to the Turn Basin and out into the mouth of the river. Anglers are catching walleye and bass trolling and jigging with live and artificial baits. - Kevin King, creel clerk
Spring has finally arrived in Marinette County. Fishing was slow on opening weekend but is picking up fast for some of the inland lakes as waters temperatures begin to increase. Anglers are still catching a few walleye in certain parts of the Peshtigo River. Trout fishing has been slow due to high water levels. ATV trails have opened in Marinette County. Be sure to check trail maps and signs to verify ATV trails and routes. - Tim Werner, conservation warden recruit
Oconto County - Fishing in the Green Bay tributaries is heating up for smallmouth bass. Some 3 and 4 pounders are being caught. Fishers are reminded that perch fishing will open Monday May 20 in Green Bay and its tributaries. Crappie action is picking up on the inland lakes and flowages in southern Oconto County with minnows and small plastics being the preferred baits. Most Canada geese are sitting and broods should be showing up soon. ATV/UTV Trails are open and riders are reminded to obey all posted speed limits in the dust control areas. - Mike Stahl, conservation warden, Oconto Falls
Heavy water release at the Dam in Stiles kept most fishermen away this past week and those that did fish caught a few suckers. Fishermen out of Oconto Breakwater Park and Oconto Park II did well trolling for walleye in 4 to 10 feet of water using crawler/harness or stick baits early in the week. With the change in the weather fishing on the Bay became almost impossible.
Shawano County - Weather has finally warmed up and the turkeys are starting to gobble with the last time period looking like it will be the best hunting of the entire year. Fishing has started to pick up with panfish just starting to move into the shallows. Water temps are still on the cool side so wear your life jacket. - Jim Horne, conservation warden, Shawano
Green Bay DNR Service Center area
The weather seems to still be affecting the fishing effort and results on the bay this week. Angler numbers have been lower than expected and very few fish have been seen. Maybe this week will be the week "the bite" starts to happen. Along the east shore, fluctuating weather patterns have limited fishing pressure over the past week. Walleye fishing during the daytime has been minimal on the East Shore. Most fishermen have been reporting good success fishing during low light or nighttime conditions. Most effort has been focused out of Little Sturgeon Bay followed by Potawatomi State Park. The average size walleye being caught is in the mid-20 inch range with reports of a few 30-plus-inch fish being caught. Most anglers have been trolling. Smallmouth bass have been heavily targeted in Sawyer Bay (Sturgeon Bay) and in Little Sturgeon Bay. Success seems to vary between fishing parties. Some boats have been reporting only a handful of fish in a several hour trip, while some fishing parties have had upward of 40 fish in a day of fishing. Anglers have reported mixed sizes of smallmouth, but many 4- to 6-pound fish have been caught during the last week. One extremely lucky angler had the opportunity to land a 7 pound bronze back this week. Water temperatures have changed a lot over the week. As of the weekend shallow bays have had temperatures ranging from 47-52 degrees while the main water portion of Green Bay seems to be hanging in the low to mid 40s. Fishing effort on the west shore finally started to improve earlier this week but slowed down by the end of the week due to cooling temperatures. Water temperatures in Suamico started the week in the 56-58 degrees but dropped to 52-54 degrees by the end of the week. A similar story unfolded in the Fox River/lower bay area where water temperatures fell from 60 degrees down to 56. Most angling pressure on the west shore this week seemed to be focused in the Suamico area. Daily fishing pressure was fairly constant, and most anglers were targeting walleyes. Most walleyes caught this week were in the 18-22 inch range, but anglers really had to work hard to put fish in the boat. Walleye anglers used a variety of crank baits in various colors (perch, clown, blues and greens were popular), crawler harnesses (dark colors: red, blue, purple), and night crawlers in 3 to 11 feet of water. Other fish caught included Sheepshead, Catfish and Northern Pike. Several fishermen had success targeting Northern Pike in 4-6 feet of water using stick baits. There are a few trailers out of Geano Beach. – Tony Rieth, fisheries technician, Green Bay
Brown County - A few more people are showing up at Duck Creek to do some shore fishing. In the Fox River, there seems to be more activity at the Green Bay Metro launch, with most people heading out into the Bay to fish. Most fishermen were targeting walleye in 7-12 feet of water with crawler harnesses, crank baits (gold and green), and gulp. Very few walleyes were caught; other species caught included white bass, catfish, and sheepshead. The number of shore fishermen at Voyageur Park was lower than in the past weeks, but some anglers were present. Most fishermen were targeting walleye and white bass (getting good numbers of these). Stick baits were used (black, silver, green) and jigs mostly. Other species caught included Black Crappies, Sheepshead and Carp. Fox Point Launch and the Brown County launches have had little activity in the last week. - Tony Rieth, fisheries technician, Green Bay
Manitowoc County - Backyard birders are seeing more species return, including indigo buntings and rose-breasted grosbeaks. Concerned citizens are reporting finding abandoned ducklings but should remember to leave them alone, as most will likely have their mother return. - Robert Stroess, conservation warden, Mishicot
Steelhead are still fishable in the many rivers and creeks in Manitowoc County though the run is slowing considerably. On the West Twin and Manitowoc rivers there have been very few anglers reported. On the Branch, East Twin, and Little Manitowoc rivers there are still some fish, though angling pressure is very light. Some anglers are having luck with small bright colored jigs fished slowly. Some northern pike in fishable numbers are present on the Manitowoc River and the best locations are barriers and slack water. Anglers are also targeting smallmouth bass in Manitowoc and Two Rivers harbors as well as adjacent river sections. Productive lures for bass have had rattling or vibrating characteristics which work because of the muddy water in many areas. The sucker run is also slowing since the water has warmed in the last few weeks. Now that night fishing is open on tributaries most channel catfish have been caught after sunset. The number of pier anglers has taken a hit because of the wind and few fish are being caught. Anglers are reporting many fish surfacing in near shore waters, though the fish species is unknown. The rough lake conditions have also limited those who want to break in their boats for the season. Browns and a few lake trout were being taken with smaller spoons and crank baits behind planer boards. Glow lures have reportedly been the ticket at times, though action has been hot/cold. Successful anglers have been tolling the 10 to 40 foot depths at 1.8 to 2.5 mph. Smaller boats in the 16 foot range have been able to go out on days with westerly winds because wave action is limited, though caution should be used. Surface temperatures have been fluctuating near shore but temps as high as the upper 50 degrees have been reported. The best locations have been around the harbor mouths especially if warmer water can be found. Charter captains are starting to get their boats in order for the salmon season, though few salmon have been caught so far this year this far north on Lake Michigan. - Thomas Gerbyshak, fisheries technician, Mishicot
Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center area
Door County - The early week weather looked promising for fishing, but took a turn for the worse before the weekend, making much of the county very difficult to fish in. Most of the fish being caught are in really shallow water later in the day, when it is the warmest. Bass fishing was great this week, with many anglers getting prepared for the Cabela’s Tournament last weekend, and the Sturgeon Bay Open Bass Tournament, which is this weekend. Bass were practically jumping out of the water on both the Bay and Lake sides with anglers reporting success from piers and boats on a variety of bait. The Cabela’s tourney saw records fall as the winning 5-smallmouth bag was 27-pounds and 15-ounces; the record breaking fish, 6-pounds 9-ounces. The maximum 100 2-person teams are already registered for the Sturgeon Bay tournament [May 17-19], so it should be another busy week for bass. The northern pike bite was excellent again early in the week, but weather has prevented many anglers from getting back on the water. Brown trout action has slowed down, probably also a result of the weather, but some bass anglers reported hooking up to some whoppers at the drop-offs, so there are still trout out there to be caught. Tributaries are still low and clear and are seeing very little fishing effort. The Sturgeon Bay City Dock had a good amount of activity this week. Many large boats went into the water early in the week when the weather was good, and there were a lot of anglers in town for the Cabela’s Bass Tournament over the weekend. Plenty of smallmouth bass were being caught, along with a few northern, on tube and grub bait at 10-13 ft of water. On the Green Bay side, Stone Quarry was a popular launch this week, especially when the weather was nice. There have also been both boat and pier anglers in Ephraim, but not much anywhere else. The dock in Sister Bay looks to still be getting ready for the busy season. A couple of anglers have been reporting success fishing off the piers in Fish Creek and Egg Harbor as well. Surface water temperature of Green Bay was 40.5 degrees as of May 11. On the Lake Michigan side, Rowley’s Bay has been active so far this month with anglers coming from out of town to stay at the resort and fish in the bay. It was a very successful bass location this week. Baileys Harbor still has the large black bags of material removed from the harbor sitting in the parking lot, which makes it look closed, although boats can still be launched there. Surface water temperature of Lake Michigan was 45 degrees as of May 11. - David Boyarski, fisheries supervisor, Sturgeon Bay
Rock Island State Park - Visitors coming to Rock Island to kayak should be aware that the water temperature is 40 degrees on Lake Michigan and survival after dumping is nil if not wearing a dry suit. There are no local private boats in the water yet so rescue is unlikely. Southern residents need to be reminded that spring is just arriving in the north. As of today the aspens are the only trees showing any amount of leaves and they are only half developed. Rock Island still looks barren. Could be a couple weeks before we need to mow the grass. - Randy Holm, ranger and assistant property manager
Kewaunee County - Kewaunee County fishing has been stagnant the past couple of weeks. There are a few steelhead left to be caught in the rivers, but even fewer anglers trying for them. The ramps and piers saw only a handful of anglers early in the week when the weather was nice, then hardly anyone over the weekend with the bad weather. There are some larger boats docked in town now that are reported to be going out for salmon, but no reports of huge success. Only a handful of anglers spotted this week on the Kewaunee River, but at least one trout was caught on worms, along with a couple of chubs. The water is still really clear and low, and the trout left are likely easily spooked, so it will take some extra effort to get a fish there right now. Again, just a couple of anglers on the Ahnapee River and Silver Creek this week. The creek is low and clear, but fish were spotted all the way up by where the Bruemmerville Dam used to be. The river is turbid and moving good, and there are likely some trout in the holes if anybody wants to come and get them out. Stony Creek has been hit or miss this week with some anglers leaving empty handed after trying all day and others taking a few fish home a couple days later with the same effort. A little more than a handful of rainbows were caught using egg yarn. This water is clear and low, but there are definitely still a few trout left in these waters. There was no fishing pressure on the shores. Reports are that a few anglers have had success for trout of piers in the low light hours using spoons. The ramps were even less busy than last week, no more than two trailers at a time. - David Boyarski, fisheries supervisor, Sturgeon Bay
Oshkosh DNR Service Center area
Outagamie County - The Wolf River is still giving up a few walleyes to those anglers putting in their time. The white bass run is spotty in the upper wolf but may be better catches in the Fremont area. - Mike Young, conservation warden, Shiocton
Turkeys are still going strong during the spring breeding season with more birds than ever still strutting in fields. The crappie bite has slowed significantly on the Fox River, however the white bass bite is going strong. Anglers are picking up some walleye on the east shore of Winnebago at night. Bow anglers have been actively pursuing spawning carp. Wildflowers and trees are in nearly in full bloom. Many individuals have been calling regarding abandoned baby animals, especially ducks. In most cases, the wild animals are not abandoned and parents are nearby so members of the public are reminded to leave all wild animals where they are. Wild animals have a great ability to survive on their own and are much better off without human intervention. - Ryan Propson, conservation warden, Appleton
Milwaukee DNR Service Center area
Lake Michigan fisheries team report - Compiled from creel clerks by Cheryl Masterson and Jeffrey Zinuticz, fisheries technicians, Milwaukee
Sheboygan County - In Sheboygan, fishing activity has dropped due to recent storm activity. Rains have increased water levels on the Sheboygan River, but levels are already coming back down. Water temperature has dropped to 47 degrees. Very few anglers have been on the Sheboygan or Pigeon rivers. The Sheboygan piers were unfishable for a couple of days late last week due to strong winds and high waves. The near shore water is murky, and fishing off the piers was slow over the weekend. Several trollers worked the Sheboygan area over the weekend, and a couple of nice browns were caught on spoons in 30 feet of water. Other trollers fished 30 to 40 feet of water trolling crank baits, but no bites and a choppy lake drove them home early. The 8th Street boat ramp remains closed.
Ozaukee County - In Port Washington, large numbers of alewives have been near shore. Trolling effort has been minimal due to high waves. Shore anglers continue to catch a few browns and suckers near the power plant. Spawn sacs have been the most productive. Fishing has been slow off the pier and in Sauk Creek. The water temperature in Sauk Creek is 45 degrees.
Milwaukee County - In Milwaukee fishing has slowed for boaters trolling or jigging in the harbor for browns, but trollers working the mudline outside the harbor have taken browns and a few coho. Shore anglers working under the Hoan bridge at Summerfest and Jones Island have taken a few browns. Effective presentations have been shiners or spawn sacs fished under a bobber as well as casting spoons. Anglers working off McKinley pier have not reported any fish caught; however, fish were seen swimming just off the pier. Fishing effort in Oak Creek has picked up again, with a few steelhead taken on spawn and small flies. Shore anglers at the Oak Creek power plant have been catching a few browns and coho on crank baits and soft plastics. Trollers out of Bender Park reported some brown trout and coho being caught trolling with spoons, though the fish were very spread out over the area. The Milwaukee River is about 52 to 54 degrees with fairly clear water. Anglers fishing below the North Avenue dam and below the falls in Kletzsch and Estabrook Parks have been catching smallmouth bass on crank baits and soft plastics. Fishing on the Menomonee River has been slow.
Racine County - In Racine anglers fishing off the south pier late last week were catching good numbers of coho, with a few limits taken. Alewives fished on the bottom produced the most. Shore fishing slowed over the weekend with strong winds and high waves, but there are still large numbers of alewives near the harbor mouth. On the Root River the steelhead anglers who showed up in large numbers earlier this spring are slowly being replaced by anglers looking for rock bass, bullheads, catfish, and northern pike. The water temperature dropped from 59 degrees on Wednesday down to 51 degrees on Sunday. At the Horlick Dam, anglers tried casting spinner baits and artificial night crawlers for rock bass with no reports of fish taken. One angler tried casting bright, yellow colored flies for steelhead with little success. An angler landed a ten pound male steelhead at Colonial Park on Sunday while casting a small red and white colored crank bait. There were only a few trollers working out of Racine over the weekend, and fishing was slow. The repair work on the Pershing Park boat ramp was underway this past week. The six west lanes of the ramp have been shut down for repair while the six east lanes remain open. The six east lanes will be repaired after the west side is complete. A navigation channel for larger boats will be dredged in the harbor sometime this year according to a report from the Racine Parks Department.
Kenosha County - In Kenosha fishing pressure along the lakefront remains light. A few coho have been caught by anglers casting small spoons from the lighthouse at the end of the south pier. At Southport Marina, a few panfish were taken while fishing with crappie minnows. The fishing pier at the Kemper Center has not been opened yet for the season. Fishing along the shoreline should improve with a few days of warm, stable weather. The surface temperature of the water along the shoreline dropped from 52 degrees on Wednesday to 47 degrees on Saturday. Trollers fishing off Kenosha continue to have good luck landing coho. Some charter boats have been coming in with their limits of fish, and non-charter boats came in with nice catches of coho as well. Fish have been taken near the hills and south, trolling in 50 to 85 feet of water. Flies and wonderbread colored spoons have produced. The average weight of the coho was about three pounds.
Waukesha DNR Service Center area
Waukesha County - Anglers reported catching muskies and largemouth bass on Pewaukee Lake, crappie on Lake Keesus, smallmouth bass and northern pike on Pine Lake, and smallmouth bass on Oconomowoc Lake. Fishing on North Lake was slow. - Matt Groppi, conservation warden, Waukesha
Sturtevant DNR Service Center area
Racine County - Lots of Baltimore orioles spotted last weekend north of Racine. – Carrie Morgan, natural resources educator
South Central Region
Lower Wisconsin State Riverway - The warm weather this week has brought a lot of activity out within the Riverway. Some of the sandbars are beginning to reappear along the Riverway. On Wednesday May 15, the river levels at Muscoda was recorded at 13,500 CFS. This is still considered high flow and canoeing and kayaking is not recommended for the inexperienced. Many of the backwater sloughs would be a good alternative to go paddling. Portable toilets are in place at most DNR managed landings along the river and water is turned on at locations where available. Muscoda’s Morel Festival is scheduled for May 18 and 19. The Morels are beginning to appear but are still in low numbers. Some fishermen are reporting good catches of smallmouth bass being caught on plastics. - Matt Sequin, property manager
Fitchburg DNR Service Center area
Columbia County - Many species of young wildlife are being spotted including whitetail deer fawns, Canada geese goslings, cottontails and woodcock. A reminder to residents that young wildlife observed on their own are often not abandoned, but left there to await the mother’s return from feeding. Leave the baby wildlife where you find it so the mother can be reunited later in the day. Bald eagles have been spotted bringing fish back to their nests. There are currently large numbers of white pelicans on Lake Wisconsin at Whalen Grade and Okee Bay. Turkey hunters report that the season is “slowing down”. - Sara Kehrli, wildlife biologist, Poynette
West Central Region
Baldwin DNR Service Center area
Willow River State Park - The Willow River continues to run a little high but the dam is shut and the water should be clearing up. All of the campgrounds will be open as of May 16, with flush toilets, showers and the dump station open. Campers using the Group and 200 loops need to use the 100 or 300 loop showers and refuse containers. There is only one dump station located at the 300 loop entrance. Tree cleanup on trails will continue as we bring on our warm weather staff. Bird lists will be updated as visitors provide sightings. Flush toilets in the beach and picnic area will be open by the weekend. All campsites are reserved for the Memorial Day weekend. There are no non-reservable sites. - Jeff Bolte, visitor services specialist
La Crosse DNR Service Center area
Vernon County - The Baltimore oriole is a strikingly beautiful member of the blackbird family. Males have jet black heads and tails, bright orange breasts and rumps, and white wing patches. Females are brownish olive on top with white wing bars, and a pale yellow-orange breast and belly. Baltimore orioles received their name because the male's colors resemble those on the coat-of-arms of Lord Baltimore. Males sing loud fluty whistles. This species generally resides in hardwood forests but has adapted to open woodlands, forest edges, parks, and urban backyards. Orioles' hanging pouch-like nests, created from milkweed down, weed fibers, dog hair, wool, yarns, and other fibrous materials, are usually constructed at the tips of tree limbs 15-30 feet above the ground, secure from predators. Orioles readily adapt to bird feeders that provide orange halves, small trays of grape jelly, mealworms, walnut pieces, apple bits, or nectar made from 4 parts water to 1 part sugar. Clumps of nesting materials, such as string, yarn, dog hair, or horse hair, suspended in trees and bushes may also serve to attract springtime orioles. American toads, leopard frogs, and gray treefrogs are calling wildly. Green frogs and bull frogs should begin calling toward the end of May as water temperatures approach 65-70 degrees. Turkey hunters participating in the 5th hunting period seemed to fare well. Gobblers seemed more active and receptive to calling as more hens began incubating the clutch of eggs. - Dave Matheys, wildlife biologist, Viroqua
Black River Falls DNR Service Center area
Black River State Forest - Highs in the mid to upper 70s are forecasted for this weekend. There is a chance of scattered showers. With the warmer temperatures the trees are leafing out strong in the area and the forest should be at full leaf out by mid next week. All-terrain vehicle and UTV trails are open for the season. Crews will be working on the Pray connector this spring to improve three key wetland crossings. This work helps maintain the long term sustainability of the trail system. For the first time ever ATVing has been added to the list of free activities during the first weekend of June ATV and UTV will be able to ride on June 1 and 2 without being legally registered. Castle Mound Campground will re-open for the public on Thursday May 23. The new office will be complete by this date. Pigeon Creek and East Fork are both currently open for camping. - Peter Bakken, superintendent
Eau Claire DNR Service Center area
Eau Claire County -Water levels and flow rates are starting to come down on the Chippewa and Eau Claire Rivers. Shoreline anglers have been catching a lot of fish below the Lake Altoona Dam. The north shoreline has produced some nice catches of perch, and anglers at the south shoreline caught walleye up to 29-inches long. Now is a great time to introduce young people to the sport of fishing. Turkey hunters continue to harvest some birds during early morning hunts. - Scott Thiede, conservation warden, Eau Claire
Wisconsin Rapids DNR Service Center area
Buckhorn State Park - All campsites are open as of May 17. Water fountains are turned on and the flush toilet/2-stall shower building is open. The fishing pier and boat boarding piers are in! We are looking for a camp host for the month of July and for the first two weeks of October. - Heather Wolf, park manager
Roche-A-Cri State Park - The main gate is open and the 1st loop of the campground is open. The dump station is open and water fountains/jug fillers turned on. The stairway is open from 6 .a.m until sunset. No food, drinks or pets are allowed and visitors are restricted to the stairway to protect the natural area. - Heather Wolf, park manager