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Outdoor Report for June 25, 2015Published by the Central Office

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View current conditions for Wisconsin State Parks, Trails and Forests
Check out the Wisconsin Department of Tourism (exit DNR).

Rain in the past week has continued to keep water levels high on river systems across the state. In the north the Wild Pine and Popple rivers are providing some very good early summer paddling. The lower Wisconsin River has come down some, and a few sandbars are beginning to reappear, but water levels could still rise from this week's rain. Many trails across the state are wet. The all-terrain vehicle trails in the Black River State Forest have finally dried out enough to open up, but mountain bikers should contact parks or forests directly to find out if off-road bike trails are open.

Wisconsin River sandbar
Sandbars are beginning to return to the Lower Wisconsin Riverway.
Matthew Seguin Photo

The variable weather has continued to keep anglers guessing--but overall success has been good when they have been able to get out on the water. In the north, the mayfly hatch and pressure has weaned off, prompting increased activity from walleye anglers. Musky success was also increasing as the fish start to feed more actively. The smallmouth season opened in the northern zone last weekend, following the completion spawning. Largemouth have started to settle into their early summer pattern of cruising the weed beds and have been active on surface baits and soft plastics. Though the smallmouth season is on, the larger fish seem to be taking their time moving to the surface and it may take another week or so before they start occupying mid-depth areas.

In the south, fishing activity slowed on Lake Wisconsin and the Wisconsin River due to higher water, though some walleye were still being caught. Anglers on Lake Koshkonong have still been getting into good numbers of 12- to 14-inch walleyes. Bluegills are spawning along the shorelines. Some larger channel catfish were being caught on the Rock River.

On Green Bay anglers continued to catch walleye off Marinette and Oconto as well as off Bayshore Park on the east shore. Smallmouth bass fishing was moderate along the Green Bay side of the Door Peninsula, with the best action around Sawyer Harbor but slower at Sturgeon Bay and Little Sturgeon Bay.

On Lake Michigan, anglers were out in high numbers at the Kewaunee, Algoma and Manitowoc ramps, with good success being reported for a mix of steelhead and king salmon with the occasional lake and brown trout. Trollers out of Sheboygan, Port Washington and Milwaukee have been catching a mix of chinooks and coho salmon, and rainbow and lake trout, with most boats landing at least two or three fish. Trollers out of Racine and Kenosha continued to catch mostly coho. Despite the opening of the perch season last week, no perch were reported caught in the Milwaukee harbor.

Reports continue to come in of fawns and does spotted throughout the state, primarily in forest and woods-edge habitat. Turtles may still be seen crossing roads near wetlands or area lakes and rivers. More turkey broods are popping up in counties north and south. The young from second clutches of rabbits and squirrels are venturing from their nests. DNR crews and volunteers conducted annual goose banding this week. Statewide, about 4,000 nesting geese are leg-banded each June, while they are still flightless.

The prickly pear cactus, an inhabitant of remnant prairie areas and one of Wisconsin's native cacti is starting to bloom exhibiting vibrant yellow petals. Along with that come dozens of wildflowers, springing up after the recent rains, including lupine, indigo, and butterfly weed.


Northern Region

Superior DNR Service Center area

Brule River State Forest - The forest received over an inch of rain on Wednesday in a short but heavy rain fall along with scattered showers for the past few days. River levels should be on the rise within the next day. For up to date stream flow rates, check out the USGS stream flow rates for the Brule River. There continue to be a large amount of people using campgrounds, canoeing the river, and hiking the many trails. Notice: Fireworks, that is, anything that sparkles, shoots, makes noise, or smoke are not allowed in the campgrounds or on state property. We kindly ask you to refrain from using them during your Fourth of July celebration. Sparklers are permitted. Turkey poults are starting to hatch and learning how to make a go of it as they follow and observe their mother closely. Other birds, including some rare and endangered species have been observed on the forest by researchers. A few birds have been observed in the fledging stage with their young. Plants like white shasta daisy, orange hawkweed, and yellow buttercup are timeless indicators for summer and will be seen all over the place. Notice: If you have visited the Stones Bridge canoe landing on the upper portion of the Brule, you will notice that there is a sign asking you to not drink the water from the artesian well that is there. Periodic testing has found bacteria that is deeming the water potentially unsafe. Follow up tests are being taken and we hope that they will come back clean. For your safety, we ask that you don't drink the water from that well until the signs are removed. -Edwin F. Koepp, visitor services associate

Spooner DNR Service Center area

Governor Knowles State Forest - Summer is officially here! Rain this last weekend put a damper on the Trade River Equestrian Campground, but that didn't stop visitors from camping in the St. Croix Family Campground. We currently have an impassable spot on the Raspberry Landing Hiking Trail heading south form Raspberry Landing Road. Many fawns and other young ones have been spotted throughout the forest. Remember to keep wildlife wild. If you happen to see a baby animal alone, leave it alone, there's a good chance the mother is close by. Turtles are in search of nesting sites. If you happen to see a turtle on the road, it is okay to assist the turtle as long as the conditions are safe. If you do assist, it is recommended that you move the turtle off the road in the direction it was facing. - Brandi Larson, visitor services associate

Park Falls DNR Service Center area

Anglers have been seeing more consistent success on 12 to 16-inch walleye.
Skip Sommerfeldt photo

Upper Chippewa Basin fisheries report (Price, Rusk, Sawyer Taylor and inland Ashland and Iron counties) - The variable weather has continued to keep fishermen guessing - but overall success has been good when anglers have been able to get out on the water. All species have been getting a moderate amount of interest and some nice catches have been made. The mayfly hatches have subsided on most lakes across the area and this seems to have spurred on walleye action on many of these waters. Anglers have been seeing more consistent success on 12 to 16-inch fish, and the best rig has been a leech or crawler-half on a floating jig head and fished near weed edges and muck/hard bottom break lines in 6' to 12 feet of water. Musky action has also been heating up with more fish starting to get into an active feeding mode, especially on the Flambeau and Chippewa rivers and their flowages. Bucktails, jerk baits and top waters seem to be the preferred baits and the late afternoon hours have provided the best action. With the opening of the smallmouth season in the northern zone this past weekend, interest in bass fishing did pick up a notch in the last week. Both largemouth and smallmouth have completed their spring nesting ritual and are quickly recovering from the stress of spawning. Largemouth have started to settle into their early summer pattern of cruising the weed beds and have been active on surface baits and soft plastics. Many male largemouth have still been observed guarding their schools of young, but those should be dispersing in the next week or so. Smallmouth have been a bit more of a challenge as the larger fish seem to be hanging in deep water following the rigors of spawning. But look for the smallies to start moving to mid-depth rock and woody cover, and becoming active on finesse plastics and spinner baits. Panfish action has continued to good. Some bluegill have still been found in nesting colonies and some nice catches have been reported. Perch have also been active and are being found along the deeper weed edges. Crappie are being found over mid-depth structure and in shallower water along any emergent weed lines. A small minnow fished 1 to 2 feet below a slip bobber has produced some decent catches. - Skip Sommerfeldt, senior fisheries biologist, Park Falls

Florence DNR at the Florence Natural Resource Center

Florence County - The spring rains and warm weather have got the wildflowers in bloom as well as newborn wildlife out in abundance. Beware of more frequent road crossings and PLEASE leave all wildlife where you found it, even if you don't see a parent around. The cryptic camouflage and limited scent of newborn wildlife keeps predators from detecting them, and typically mothers will leave the area of their young to attract a predator away from them. If you have concerns about wildlife, please see this page of the DNR website. Keep wildlife wild. The 150-plus miles of ATV trails are in excellent condition making them a wonderful attraction to the area and an excellent way to experience the Spread Eagle Barrens and Pine-Popple Wild Rivers area, and the vast county and national forest public lands (approximately 200,000 acres in total). Speaking of the Pine-Popple, the water levels and flow are near perfect for kayaking and canoeing as well as observing the beautiful rush of the numerous waterfalls along the corridor. You can check the USGS website for real-time stream flow data on waters in the area. Check this link and focus on the Menominee-Oconto-Peshtigo River Basins (exit DNR). - Jason Cotter, wildlife biologist, Florence


Northeast Region

Northern Lake Michigan fisheries team report - Compiled by David Boyarski, fisheries supervisor, Sturgeon Bay

Marinette County - Anglers on the Peshtigo River report a few smallmouth, rock bass, and catfish being caught at the dam in Peshtigo using live bait. Catfish and sheepshead are also being caught at the Peshtigo harbor fishing on bottom with live bait. Anglers out of the Little River Boat Landing are catching walleye trolling in 9 to 20 feet of water using crawler harnesses and stick baits; purple remains a good color to use. Smallmouth, sheepshead, walleye and some panfish are being caught the length of the Menominee River by boaters and shore anglers alike. Water flows on the Menominee River are still strong. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo

Oconto County - Bluegill and smallmouth bass are being caught at the dam at Stiles using worms or crawler pieces fished in slack water. Smallmouth are also being caught at the mouth of Little River where it meets the Oconto River; spinners and small stick baits are working well. The mouth of the Oconto River is producing some nice catfish and smallmouth along with a few nice sheepshead using live bait. Walleye are being caught in 9 to 20 feet of water from the Pensaukee Boat Landing to Oconto Park II. Most anglers are using crawler harnesses; others are having success using stick baits. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo

Brown County - Anglers targeting walleye near Bayshore reported highly varied catches. Best results were seen using crankbaits and crawler harnesses trolled over humps in 18 feet of water or more. Side catches by this group of anglers included many freshwater drum, catfish, white bass, yellow perch, and a few northern pike. Perch anglers had a more difficult time. Best results were seen using live bait. - Adrian Meseberg, fisheries technician, Green Bay

Door County - Anglers fishing on the Green Bay side of the peninsula were concentrating on smallmouth bass and rock bass with the best success coming in Egg Harbor but others from the Ephraim piers to the Fish Creek Piers were also having moderate success. Anglers were also catching fair numbers of rock bass and low numbers of perch. Most anglers chose to use artificial baits but some were using a bobber and worm with moderate success. Rowley's Bay has seen moderate pressure but the smallmouth bite remains tough. Best results have been seen with plastics and crank baits. Anglers in Baileys Harbor fishing from the piers had success form smallmouth and rock bass using tube jigs and artificials. Anglers targeting bass around Sturgeon Bay have been reporting a difficult bite. Those who find success have found it primarily on the flats using tubes, crank baits, jerk baits, and live bait. Shore anglers looking for bass have found the best luck fishing the old stone quarry using tubes and live bait in the early morning. Salmon anglers have been seen launching out of Sturgeon Bay and there have been reports of fish being caught. Most anglers at Sawyer Harbor were targeting smallmouth bass. They had moderate success using soft plastics and live bait. Those targeting yellow perch had mixed results using minnows and worms near the bottom. Pier anglers had decent results fishing for yellow perch using worms and a bobber. The smallmouth bass fishing has been slower than previous weeks at Little Sturgeon Bay. Best results were seen using plastics and jerk baits. Walleye anglers at Chaudoir's Dock reported decent results fishing a variety of depths greater than 20 feet using crawler harnesses and crank baits, northern pike and catfish were also reported catches. Perch anglers reported some success using worm and minnows. - Adrian Meseberg, fisheries technician, Green Bay

Kewaunee County - Anglers were out in high numbers at the Kewaunee and Algoma ramps, with good success being reported. Anglers were catching a mix of Steelhead and King Salmon with the occasional lake and brown trout. Many anglers reported different depths working for them, some stayed in 70-120 feet of water with a few anglers reporting going out up to 350 feet with little action reported out in deep water. Spoons and dodger flies were reported as favorites from some anglers as well, with the average per boat being three to four fish. Surface temperatures remain in the low to mid 50s. Anglers at the piers have been fishing, but the fish have been elusive.- Emily Kurszewski, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay

Manitowoc County - Manitowoc Harbor and piers saw little to no activity this weekend. The water temperature in the harbor is 70 degrees. Anglers at the ramps in Manitowoc are having luck catching chinook salmon and rainbow trout out on the lake primarily in the early morning. The fish have been of good size; most kings weighing in the low to mid-teens and most rainbows around 5 to 7 pounds. Manitowoc Harbor and piers saw little to no activity this weekend. The water temperature in the harbor is 70 degrees. The ramps at Two Rivers have been seeing good use and most anglers are having success with most catches consisting of a mix of kings, rainbows, and lake trout. Surface temperature has been in the mid-50s. - Jason Ruckel, fisheries technician, Mishicot

Peshtigo DNR Service Center area

Wautoma DNR Service Center area

Waupaca County - Trout streams are still high and somewhat murky, but look great for spinner fishing. Walleyes are biting well on Lake Poygan on crankbaits. No report on the smaller inland lakes. With this warmer weather, the catfish should start biting on the Fox and Wolf rivers. There are deer everywhere! Many does with twins are being seen, along with many yearlings feeding in fields. Saw my first turkey brood on Monday. Three poults, but not a complete count. Lupine, indigo, and butterfly weed area all currently blooming. Should be a nice weekend to visit central Wisconsin, but be forewarned - bring your mosquito repellent! - Karl Kramer, wildlife technician, Wautoma


Southeast Region

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 - Sheboygan trollers have been catching mostly rainbows, chinooks, and lake trout. Most boats landed at least two or three, and they have been most successful around 75 to 100 feet of water. Spoons have been used most commonly, and red, white, orange, and pearl colors have produced. Along the Sheboygan shoreline fishing has been slow off of the south pier, except for an occasional brown trout being caught. North pier anglers have been targeting whitefish and catching two or three per outing. Alewives, shiners, and plastic gulp minnows were most effective for whitefish when fished close to the bottom. The water temperature inside the Sheboygan harbor was at 60 degrees on Sunday.

Ozaukee County - The majority of fish caught by trollers in Port Washington have been coho, followed by a mix of rainbows and lake trout. Most boats trolled around 100 feet of water, but a few went out to 200 feet and generally did a little better. Flies were effective in blue and green colors, as were brightly colored spoons in silver and orange. Flicker minnows in gold, black, and purple were reported to work as well. Shore fishing in Port has been slow off the breakwall and near the power plant this past week, but a few 5 to 6 pound rainbows were caught on alewives fished off the breakwall near the lighthouse. The harbor temperature was 58 degrees over the weekend.

Milwaukee County - In Milwaukee, trollers have been catching mostly lake trout and a few chinooks, rainbows, and coho mixed in, with an average of three to four fish per boat. Most fish have been taken north of the city in 80 to 120 feet of water off of the filtration plant. Some other trollers have fished in 30 to 40 feet of water around the Green Can Reef, and they have caught a few coho, rainbows, and small chinooks. Despite the opening of the perch season last week, no perch were reported caught in the Milwaukee harbor. Some bluegills and nice size rock bass have been caught on night crawlers and wax worms around the old Coast Guard Station and in the Lakeshore State Park lagoon. A few large browns, rainbows, and a whitefish were taken by McKinley pier anglers fishing with spoons, alewives, and shrimp. On the south side of Milwaukee, fishing off the Oak Creek Power Plant pier has slowed, and only a few small browns were caught over the weekend. A few decent size perch have been caught off the Cupertino Park fishing pier and the Grant Park pier, but fishing was generally slow. Fatheads fished under a bobber took the most perch. Boats launching out of Bender Park have been finding some perch on the boils off the South Milwaukee water treatment plant as well as on the south side of the Oak Creek power plant.

Racine County - Racine trollers continue to catch mostly coho, but more small lakers and chinooks have begun to show up in the coolers. Almost all success has come from spoons recently. Fishing off the Racine piers has been rather slow, but a few small browns and rainbows have been landed by the mouth of the harbor on the south pier. Spoons and alewives were the most productive, but alewives have moved offshore and have been hard to catch off the piers. Boats fishing for perch in Racine have been catching about two to three perch per angler, and the best action has been around 6 a.m.

Kenosha County - Kenosha trollers have been reporting large numbers of alewives offshore and large numbers of fish as well, although bites have been intermittent. Most boats have been trolling around 70 to 100 feet of water, with the majority of fish down about 40 feet. Trollers have been bringing in mostly coho, but a few small chinooks have been starting to show up as well. Shore fishing in Kenosha has been slow overall, and many anglers out over the weekend failed to catch any trout or salmon. About 10 perch anglers were fishing in Kenosha Saturday morning, but they only had one fish among them.

Plymouth DNR Service Center area

Theresa Marsh State Wildlife Area - The Pike Lake and Plymouth DNR crews and about 15 volunteers completed annual goose banding this week. They banded 460 nesting Canada geese and their young at 12 sites in Sheboygan and Washington counties. Statewide, about 4,000 nesting geese are leg-banded each June, while they are still flightless. The Pike Lake Wildlife Technician is getting ready to seed two prairie fields during the next few days including one field at Harrington Beach State Park. Fishing has been pretty good for panfish and northern pike at the Theresa Marsh dam, and for panfish on Cedar Creek at Jackson Marsh (new Bridge north and west of the Hwy G/Hwy 60 junction, along Hwy. G, and the end of Church Road south of Hwy. PV. Bullheads are always plentiful on both properties. Hikers participated in a "Hike for Winged Wonders" with Biologists Dianne Robinson and Tom Isaac at the Jackson Marsh Wildlife Area on Saturday, June 20. We tried to identify various species of dragonflies, butterflies, moths, frogs, numerous songbirds, and some newly hatched spotted sandpipers. We will be planning more Wildlife Area hikes in the future. - Tom Isaac, wildlife biologist, Hartford


South Central Region

Lower Wisconsin State Riverway - The water levels on June 25, at the Prairie Du Sac dam were 9,526 CFS. The water levels are beginning to recede and some sandbars are starting to reappear. Please call 1-800-242-1077 for current river flow at the Prairie Du Sac dam. Southwest Wisconsin has received a lot of rain this past week so the water levels could change quickly. Canoeist should monitor the water levels carefully and always secure your canoe and equipment well. The DNR encourages everyone to wear a life preserver when in or on the River. Mosquitoes have been quite active within the river bottoms and bug spray would be recommended. - Matt Seguin, property manager

Fitchburg DNR Service Center area

Columbia County - Turkey broods are beginning to be seen around the county. Be on the lookout for Wisconsin's native cactus, prickly pear, in remnant prairie areas. The cactuses are starting to bloom with their showy yellow flowers. Wildlife staff are re-gravelling a boat launch parking lot at French Creek and Pine Island Wildlife Areas. Please excuse our mess! - Sara Kehrli, wildlife biologist, Poynette

Fishing activity has slowed on Lake Wisconsin and the Wisconsin River in Columbia County due to higher water. Some walleyes are still being caught. Boating activity has picked up on Lake Wisconsin and Crystal Lake. - Ryan Volenberg, conservation warden, Poynette

Janesville DNR Service Center area

Rock County - Anglers on Lake Koshkonong have still been getting into good numbers of 12- to 14-inch walleyes. Bluegills are spawning along the shorelines. We saw some larger channel catfish being caught in the past few days on the Rock River. Most catfish are being caught on stink bait. Lots of fawns and turkey poults have been spotted in northern Rock County. They are currently the size of quail and may be hard to spot but if you see a hen turkey she likely has her little ones following close behind. With this in mind dog owners need to keep dogs on a leash when visiting state properties. State law requires dogs to be on a leash no longer than 8 feet while on state owned properties. As always: Keep our wildlife wild--if you find a baby animal leave it where it is, the mother is close by and has left the baby there because it is in a safe place. Wild parsnip is very common throughout Rock County. The chemicals in the wild parsnip plant can cause irritation of the skin once exposed to sunlight. Wild parsnip is commonly found in disturbed areas and ditches. Sheriff Spoden is pleased to announce, additional dates and locations for the Rock County Sheriff's Office Cops and Bobbers events: Riverside Park Lagoon - Beloit: July 14, Time: 3 p.m.; Kiwanis Pond - Janesville; August 22, 9 a.m. Each event will have a total of 25 available spots for kids 7 years of age and up. These spots will be filled on a first come basis. Any parent/ guardian wishing to sign there kid(s) up for the event can do so online at; - Dale Romback, conservation warden recruit


West Central Region

La Crosse DNR Service Center area

Vernon County - Many homeowners are experiencing mole problems in their lawns this summer. Prairie or eastern moles are found throughout western and southwestern Wisconsin counties, and it is the most widely distributed mole in North America. Mole tunneling is particularly pronounced after soaking rains, which have occurred frequently this spring and summer and can be a nuisance in lawns, gardens, golf courses, cemeteries, and cultivated fields. Prairie moles can dig at an astounding rate of 15-18 feet per hour and can maintain this pace for hours. Their diet is made up of primarily worms, insects, insect larvae, and a small amount of plant material. A variety of methods are available to control moles, but tolerance of the tunneling activity of these fascinating mammals should be attempted first. The young from second clutches of rabbits and squirrels are venturing from their nests. Oftentimes rabbits and squirrels will give birth to two or three broods each year, with four to six young per brood. Early broods tend to number on the higher side of the range: later broods on the smaller side of the range. Both of these mammals are extremely productive species and are preyed upon by a wide range of predators from snakes to coyotes to hawks and owls. - Dave Matheys, wildlife biologist, Viroqua

Black River Falls DNR Service Center area

Black River State Forest - This coming weekend looks like a great weekend to visit the state forest. For the first time in a few weeks rain is not predicted for the weekend until late Sunday night. Temperatures will be perfect for camping with highs around 80 and lows in the mid 50s - perfect for camping! The Wildcat and Smrekar hiking and biking trails were recently mowed and are in good condition for hiking. Water levels on both the Black River and east fork are high due to all the rain the area has received recently. The ATV trails have finally had a chance to dry out, which has allowed us to re-open the oak ridge trail. The only closed section of the trail is the Wildcat loop, which is closed while we upgrade the wetland crossings. Heavy rains this month have slowed progress on this project, so we no longer expect to have this section open in July. In addition the County has a re-routed section on the Bell Mound trail due to a gas line project. These upgrades are the last stage of a multi-year project to bring all wetland crossings up to code. Once these are competed we will begin upgrading areas of the trail where erosion has lowered the level of the trail from the surrounding terrain. In years of heavy rainfall these tend to become holding areas for water, causing short term trail closures. - Peter Bakken, superintendent

Last Revised: Thursday, June 25, 2015

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