Published June 9, 2016 by the Central Office
View current conditions for Wisconsin State Parks, Trails and Forests
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Recent rains have added to high water levels across the state. The Wisconsin River is short on sandbars for the moment, but levels are dropping any may be near more normal levels by the weekend. That water will be welcome refreshment for those outdoors, as temperatures are expected to enter the mid-80s to high 90s. Mountain bike and all-terrain vehicle trails are wet and muddy and some may be closed so call ahead to check on trail conditions.
Erratic weather and strong winds throughout the past week had kept fishing pressure sporadic throughout much of the state. However, angling success for species from panfish to trout, musky to northern pike, has been improving. The mayfly hatch on some northern lakes has put-off the walleye bite some, but musky anglers have been out in pretty good numbers and nearly all have been seeing fish, with good number also being boated. Bass action has been generally good on northern lakes, with some very nice catches of largemouth being made in the last week. Panfish action has been very good in between the rain storms, with bluegill, pumpkinseed and crappie providing some excellent action. The bluegill nesting period is still occurring on many waters and some very nice fish have been found near the spawning beds.
On Green Bay, catch rates are on the rise along the east shore with anglers toward the end of the week into the weekend finding good numbers of hungry walleyes and the occasional yellow perch. Musky action was also good on the lower bay with multiple anglers catching 50-inch muskies. Walleye action also continued to be good along the west shore off Oconto and south to the Suamico River. Smallmouth bass anglers brave enough to battle the wind and waves along windy Door County shorelines did very well this past week with reports of 40-50 fish days.
Lake Michigan trout and salmon fishing is picking up with trollers reporting strong success for coho, rainbow and brown trout. Fishing pressure along the Milwaukee shoreline increased this week with a nice stretch of calm stable weather. Nice catches of coho salmon continue to be landed along with a few brown trout in the 5 to 6 pound range.
Greater numbers of does are dropping fawns and turkey broods are starting to band together and move about. Deer will be browsing for forbs or flowers in open areas, which provide the protein in their diet for antler and milk production. Velvet antler growth is now becoming quite visible on bucks. This is also the time of the "molt migration," during which geese begin heading north for the summer, where they will spend time until returning in early fall.
Spiderwort, wood phlox, columbine and Canada mayflower are in bloom. Yellow lady's slipper orchids are in bloom in Door County. Dragonflies, including the 12-spotted skimmer, common whitetail and dot white-face are being seen. Yellow swallowtail butterflies are numerous right now and a few monarchs have been observed. Crickets have responded to the temperature change and have been chirping songs of the coming summer.
Get outside and see the beauty of Kettle Moraine Oak Opening State Natural Area. Come help volunteers during our monthly Southern Kettle Moraine SNA workdays on the second Saturday. We'll divide into teams to cut/spray brush on Bald Bluff and remove yellow sweet clover. This work will follow up on efforts in previous years work to continue to restore the native plant community. Check the SNA volunteer page of the DNR website for more information. - Jared Urban, conservation biologist, Dane
Superior DNR Service Center area
Brule River State Forest - We are finally enjoying our first couple days of sunny weather in some time here in Brule and hopefully it will remain so for a while. Bluegills should be spawning soon on area lakes and bass are just finishing up their spawn. Various insects continue to hatch and on the Brule but water levels remain high for this time of year due to increased rain levels. USGS flow rate data. You may see large flocks of geese migrating through the area. This is the molt migration where" geese are heading north (mostly Canada but some stay in and around larger lakes and rivers such as the Duluth/Superior St. Louis river and estuary) to spend the summer during their flightless molt period. These are sub-adults and adults that were not successful hatching young. They will return in early fall. As a reminder, this is also why many public lands strongly recommend that you have your dogs on a leash in the woods since they could pose a threat to many birds and other animals that are trying to raise their young at this time. Does are dropping their fawns. If you encounter a lone fawn in the woods please leave it be. They may appear orphaned but they are usually left alone for long periods of time to hide from predators more easily. Nuisance bear reports in the area remind us of the importance of being careful when we have wildlife interactions. Please make sure that you remove bird feeders and put your garbage in a place where it is not easily accessed by bears. Last weekend's Family Fun Day, although rainy, was a success. The Brule River State Forest will hold its annual spring public meeting on Thursday June 16, from 6:30-8 p.m. at the Brule Ranger Station, 6250 South Ranger Road, Brule WI 54820. The purpose of this meeting is to discuss planned management activities on the Brule River State Forest for the next year. Contact Dave Schulz at email@example.com , or 715 372 5678 for any questions. - Edwin Koepp, visitor services associate
Park Falls DNR Service Center area
Upper Chippewa Basin fisheries report (Price, Rusk, Sawyer Taylor and inland Ashland and Iron counties) - The continued erratic weather with rain and some strong winds in the past week have made for some tough conditions and variable fishing success. Musky anglers have been out in pretty good numbers and nearly all have been seeing fish, with good number also being boated. The musky have been relating to the edges of the newly forming weed beds and most of the fish that have been caught have been in the 32 to 40 inch size. The most productive lures have been smaller bucktails and stick baits, and fished a little slower than normal. Mayflies are now hatching on many northern lakes and this has upset the walleye bite on most of these waters. The jig and minnow combinations are no longer producing the best success, and most of the action is taking place on leeches or night crawlers. Northern pike success continues to be good, with fish still being found in shallow water around and over any new weed beds. Bass action has been generally good on most lakes, with some very nice catches of largemouth being made in the last week. Soft plastics and finesse baits have been the most productive and most largemouth have been found in the newly developing weed and lily pad beds. Both largemouth and smallmouth are in their final stages of spawning on some of the larger lakes and look for action on bigger fish to pick in the next week or two. Anglers are reminded that the season for smallmouth bass in the northern zone opens on Saturday, June 18 - but fishermen should still practice a lot of catch-and-release as many bass may still be guarding schools of fingerling fish. Panfish action has been very good in between the rain storms, with bluegill, pumpkinseed and crappie providing some excellent action when conditions allow. The bluegill nesting period is still occurring on many waters and some very nice fish have been found near the spawning beds. Crappie have been found in fairly shallow water along the emergent weed lines, with a small minnow below a bobber providing some good action. With quite a bit of rain in the last several weeks, most lakes and flowage are at a high level. In addition, stream and river levels are also above normal and recreationalists should be aware of the high flows and strong currents. The wet conditions have also brought out a good hatch of mosquitos - so remember to bring the insect repellent. - Skip Sommerfeldt, senior fisheries biologist, Park Falls
Flambeau River State Forest - The Forest is full of a lot of new life. Little critters of all types are scurrying about. Fledglings, fawns, calves and tadpoles it's all just amazing. Bears have been observed by many of the forest staff and visitors. Turtles of lots of different species have been seen along the side of the road laying eggs, turkeys have been also seen, but as of yet, we haven't noticed any poults. The yellow swallowtail butterflies are numerous right now and a few monarchs have been observed. The tics and mosquitoes after all the rain we have had, haven't been too bad but as the week progresses and warms up, we will have lots more, so be prepared with protective clothing and or bug spray. The ATV/UTV trail has been busy regardless of the weather. The trail is a 40 mile segment that runs north from Fisherman's Landing and junctions with the Tuscobia State Trail and the Dead Horse Run. The trail is in good condition but be aware of wildlife on the trails and drive responsibly. Hiking trails are open throughout the forest. The Flambeau River and the surrounding lakes in the state forest (Connors, Lake of the Pines, Bass Lake, Swamp, Pelican Lake, Mason and Evergreen Lake) are great places to fish. These waters hold various species of fish such as: musky, walleye, bass, northern pike , perch ,crappie and bluegill. There are also creeks with native brook trout in (Price Creek and Hackett Creek). - Diane Stowell, visitor services associate
Northern Lake Michigan fisheries team report
This report is for the week of May 29 thru June 4. Wind and rain has kept water levels up in the rivers and fishing pressure low to moderate. Catch rates on walleye and small mouth remains good from Oconto Park II south to the Pensaukee River.
Marinette County - Anglers at the mouth of the Peshtigo River are catching some catfish and sheepshead fishing live bait on bottom. A few walleye are being caught in the river jigging with plastics or minnows. The smallmouth bite has been a bit slow in the Peshtigo River as has the musky bite. The musky bite on the Menominee River has been slow this past week with only a few smaller fish being caught, in and around Boom Island and the Nest Egg Marina has provided some action. Trolling for walleye in the Menominee River is producing some limits of fish in the 16 to 18 inch range using crawler/harness and stick baits. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo
Oconto County - Panfish are still being caught from the dam at Stiles to the Iron Bridge on the Oconto River with live bait being the best bait. Smallmouth and a few pike are also being caught on the upper Oconto River using live bait and spinners and small spoons. The lower section of the Oconto River has been producing some very nice smallmouth on spinners, spoons and plastics casting and jigging around the rocks at the mouth of the river. Smallmouth and a few pike are also being caught in the Pensaukee River using the same techniques. The walleye bite remains good from Oconto Park II to the Pensaukee River and south, weather permitting. Anglers are trolling crawler/harness and stick baits in 8 to 19 feet of water. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo
Brown County - Catch rates are on the rise in the northeast section of Green Bay. Bayshore Park anglers toward the end of the week into the weekend were finding some good numbers of hungry walleyes and the occasional yellow perch. Many of the anglers are reporting that catch rates are on the rise with many of the fish being short of the 15-inch size limit. But anglers were still coming in with two to three keeper fish per person. The people catching fish have been trolling in shallow water up to 6 feet. They are primarily trolling flicker shad/minnows with the occasional boat catching a few walleyes on crawler harnesses. Water temperatures continue to be on the rise with boats saying they were marking 70 degree surface water temperatures. Water clarity has fallen due to the heavy rain towards the later part of the week, and are now around 3-4 feet. Anglers are reporting by-catch of freshwater drum and round goby. - Derik Apps, fisheries technician, Green Bay
Fox River catfish anglers were catching the highest rates on the piers, across from Titletown Brewing, off the Main Street bridge. Fishing live bait 12-24 inches off a sinker, on the river bottom, has been a very effective approach. The majority of catfish caught have been around 12-15 inches. A lesser rate of catfish are being caught throughout the river system. Smallmouth bass anglers are landing solid rates of fish on the Fox River, primarily at Voyager Park. Jerk baits, tubes and live baits are attracting fish. While most have been around 12-15 inches, a few in the 20-inch range are also being caught. Other fish being caught by shore anglers and boaters alike include lots of freshwater drum, a few walleye, crappie, white bass, round goby, gar (mostly long-nose) and carp. Walleye anglers launching from Green Bay Metro caught fish at high rates. Crank baits and crawler harnesses are both landing fish. Walleye measured this week ranged from 15.4 to 23 inches and averaged 17.2 inches. Very high side catches of freshwater drum are also being landed. Other incidental catches included decent numbers of yellow perch and white bass plus channel catfish, suckers, white perch and northern pike. White bass measured this week averaged 14.1 inches. Fisher-folks looking for musky had good success this week. Throwing large spinners and cranks in 4-10 feet of water has been successful. Multiple anglers have caught 50-inch muskies. Carp bow fishermen heading out onto Duck Creek are landing fish at decent rates. Garbage cans full of carp are not uncommon from this group. Bow hunting carp into the night is producing the best rates. Musky anglers launching from Duck Creek and fly-fishing the lower bay reported moderate success this week. At least one 50-plus inch musky was landed by fly fishing in this group. Suamico River walleye anglers had decent catch rates through the week using both flicker shads/minnows and crawler harnesses. Rougher weather over the weekend led to low catch rates during this period. Most walleye being caught this week were in the 14-19 inch range. Moderate side catches of freshwater drum were landed as well. Geano Beach has continued to produce decent numbers of walleye. Crank baits and crawler harnesses are being used at near equal rates. - Adrian Meseberg, fisheries technician, Green Bay
Door County - It has been another excellent week of fishing for Door County with fish being caught throughout the entire peninsula. Fishing pressure has been relatively consistent but ultimately has been controlled by the weather. Smallmouth bass anglers brave enough to battle the wind and waves along windy shorelines seemed to do very well this past week with reports of 40-50 fish days. Multiple anglers reported seeing smallmouth bass paired up on beds actively spawning in Sturgeon Bay area on Tuesday. Shore and pier fishing pressure this past week has been high but with great success. Anglers fishing from shore in Sturgeon Bay, Stone Quarry, Murphy Park, Egg Harbor, Fish Creek, Ephraim, and Sister bay have all been catching a lot of smallmouth bass and a few Rock bass and Northern Pike using bobbers and night crawlers. Anglers have been wading in shallow bays with submerged brush and vegetation near Fish Creek and landing some heavy bass. Boats have been having success fishing a wide range of depths anywhere from 3-15 feet of water. The only smallmouth bass anglers out in a boat on Sunday in Sister Bay reported a by catch of some 28-plus inch walleyes and a very active bass bite as well. The biggest smallmouth bass of the week was reported at just over 6 pounds with an average catch around 2.8 pounds. Walleye anglers reported a tough bite this week due to the arrival of extremely dense schools of Alewives in the area early in the week, but a few are still being caught in Green Bay. The rainbow trout and salmon bite has turned on this week in Baileys Harbor with anglers bringing back limits of fish. Anglers reported catching fish about 6-8 miles out and in the top 20 feet if the water column. - Lucas Koenig, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay
A few anglers have been targeting muskellunge which opened on May 28 out of Little Sturgeon Bay. The report has been that anglers have been seeing a good number of fish but can't seem to get them to bite. This is most likely due to the muskellunge's spawning season. Fish are focused on spawning at the moment and not feeding. But a few anglers caught muskies but none that were actually trying to catch them. - Derik Apps, fisheries technician, Green Bay
Kewaunee County - Light winds and near perfect lake conditions attracted a nearly full parking lot on Monday at the Kewaunee ramp, but winds shifted early Tuesday which had a dramatic impact on fishing pressure overnight. Fishing pressure was relatively low Thursday in both Kewaunee and Algoma due to the weather and dense fog. Those who did venture out reported success catching rainbow trout on spoons and an occasional chinook salmon. The rain, fog, and stiff west wind on Sunday did not keep the anglers from going out. Fishing pressure was extremely high and those that hit the waters early all came back in with fish. Many boats reported limits of rainbow trout and that the chinook salmon are starting to become more active. The color and bait of choice for chinook right now has been blue flasher flies. Most boats are still using spoons to target the rainbows, but more boats are starting to run a few rods with flasher flies and those that do are catching chinook. A cold front moved through and the morning bite shut off like a light switch at 9 a.m. Sunday, and boats launching late did not have the same success. Overall, the past week has brought very good fishing for Kewaunee County. - Derik Apps, fisheries technician, Green Bay
Manitowoc County - The recent weather moving through the area has made fishing a bit more inconsistent than the past two weeks but most anglers are still catching good amounts of fish. Most anglers are catching coho with rainbows and kings mixed in. Larger fish are also being caught with some rainbows over 15 pounds and some kings pushing 20 pounds. Alewives are still in the harbor and pier fishing has been very slow. - Benjamin Thome, fisheries technician, Mishicot
Green Bay DNR Service Center area
Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center area
Potawatomi State Park - Columbine, yellow lady's slippers, and daisies are in bloom. Visitors are seeing fawns in the park. Anglers report good catches of perch and bass in Sawyer Harbor. On Friday, June 10 there will be a "Sights from the Tower" program. Put on your walking shoes and hike up the 100 steps to the top of the tower at the north end of the park. Learn about the tower's history, the story of the forest, and identify some of the sights from the top of the tower. Meet at 7:30 p.m. at the tower and stay longer to watch the sun set from the top. On Saturday, June 11 there will be an Ice Age Trail Hike. Join a guide from the Ice Age Trail Alliance to hike a section of the National Scenic Trail that starts here in Potawatomi Park. The hike will be 2.5 miles long and will last about two hours. The event ends with an optional ride back to the starting point. Meet at the Old Ski Hill Overlook at 9 a.m. - Lois M. Hanson, visitor services associate
Wautoma DNR Service Center area
Waushara County - The county is sure to be busy in this first week after school is out. Hot weather moving in and water temps warming up make for an enjoyable time on the water. Fishing should be at about its peak for panfish and trout have still been active very early or very late. Be sure to check all boating equipment and make sure you have enough life jackets. It doesn't matter how large or small the boat or if it is a motor boat, row boat, canoe, paddle boat, you must have enough life jackets of the appropriate size and fit for every person on board. As always be safe and enjoy the weekend. - Ben Mott, conservation warden, Wautoma
Milwaukee DNR Service Center area
Milwaukee County - Spiderwort, wood phlox, false Solomon's seal, and Canada mayflower are in bloom, and dragonflies, damselflies, and butterflies are all active. Young wild animals such as deer fawns, rabbit and coyote kits, bird nestlings (still in the nest) and fledglings (have left the nest but still rely on their parents) and raccoon kits are out and active all over Milwaukee County. If you see a young wild animal you think is injured or orphaned, visit the DNR webpage and search keyword "Keep Wildlife Wild" to decide what to do, or search keyword "rehab" to find a local wildlife rehabilitator. Most wild mothers watch their young from a distance, and what you think is an abandoned young animal may be perfectly fine. To see some of Wisconsin's Pollinators, join our hike at Jackson Marsh on Saturday, June 18 from 10 to 11:30 a.m. Contact Dianne Robinson at Dianne.Robinson@wisconsin.gov or at 262-424-9827 to register and for more information. - Dianne Robinson, wildlife biologist, Waukesha
Kettle Moraine State Forest, Southern Unit - The forest has experienced a foreshadowing of summer: some hot, sunny days. Swallowtail butterflies are streaking about, dragonflies patrolling waist-high, and even crickets beginning to sing. On a kayak program a naturalist caught, showed, and released a large Blanding's turtle, and we spotted numerous, smaller painted turtles. Prominent dragonflies seen included the 12-spotted skimmer, the common whitetail, and the dot white-face. The prairies are getting taller. In the wetter prairies, hundreds of leaves of prairie dock are held upright as if they are all waving at a concert. However, that show's finale will not happen until late summer, when their five-foot tall, sunflower-like blooms, open. Join one of our naturalists in June on Saturdays at 10 a.m. for wildflower walks, and on Sundays in June at 8 a.m. for bird walks. (Meet at Forest Headquarters, off Rt. 59 between Eagle and Palmyra.) - Todd Miller, assistant naturalist guide
Southern Lake Michigan fisheries team report - Compiled from creel clerks by Cheryl Masterson and Jeffrey Zinuticz, fisheries technicians, Milwaukee
Sheboygan County - In Sheboygan both piers had pretty low fishing pressure all weekend. Boating pressure was high on Sunday morning before the heavy winds and choppy water drove everyone back to the marina in the afternoon. Success was high with mostly rainbows and coho being caught, as well as a few chinooks. Both spoons and flies were producing, and most boats were in about 150-200 feet of water.
Ozaukee County - There were still baitfish all around the lakeshore in Port Washington this past week. Saturday fishing pressure was lower than usual due to a rainy afternoon and the Pirate Days festival closing the road and making parking hard to come by. Sunday morning was busier, and there were four browns caught by the power plant discharge on spawn sacs. Boat anglers were also successful and caught mostly coho with a few chinooks. A variety of flies and spoons all remain the successful baits of choice. The Army Corps of Engineers is repairing the north pier/breakwall in Port Washington, and access to the pier is prohibited. Construction is projected to last until July 3rd.
Milwaukee County - Fishing pressure along the Milwaukee shoreline increased this week with a nice stretch of calm stable weather. Nice catches of coho salmon continue to be landed on McKinley Pier, with the early morning and late evening hours producing best. Most fish were taken on alewives, with some hits coming on spoons as well. A few brown trout in the 5-6 pound range were caught by anglers casting cleos and kastmasters during the evening bite under the Hoan Bridge. The Oak Creek Power Plant fishing pier has produced some nice catches of brown trout up to 10 pounds. The browns have been caught on the lake side of the pier by anglers drifting flicker shad crank baits in the current from the discharge chute. Milwaukee fishing boats continue to land nice catches of coho and a few rainbows, kings, and lake trout. Most of the fish were landed straight east of McKinley or north near the water filtration plant in 80-130 feet of water over the weekend and in the top 40 feet of the water column. Boats launching from Bender Park have done well targeting 70-160 feet of water. Cracked ice spoons or orange flashers and blue or green flies have taken good numbers of fish.
Racine County - Boats fishing out of Racine have been catching good numbers of fish, and a few limits have been caught. Most anglers were using red or orange dodgers with flies or spoons, with more success reported on flies. Most of the fish caught were coho, but some rainbows, browns, kings and lake trout were also caught. Almost all the boats fished near the surface in 60-110 feet of water. Only a few boats were interviewed that went out to 180-220 feet of water, and their catch numbers were no different than the boats that fished shallower. The water temperature was 52 degrees. Pier anglers in Racine caught a handful of coho and some brown trout this past week. Most were taken on live alewives on bottom rigs.
Kenosha County - Boats in Kenosha fished from 60-110 feet of water or 160-220 feet of water, with similar results in each depth range. The majority of fish caught were coho taken on red or orange dodgers with flies, and some on spoons. A few rainbows, browns, kings and lake trout were caught as well. All the boats fished their lures near the surface. The water temperature was 54 degrees. Pier anglers in Kenosha caught a few browns on spoons and alewives.
Fitchburg DNR Service Center area
Columbia County - The Wisconsin River levels are running high right now with the recent rains, making sandbars pretty scarce. However, the river is starting to drop and should be back to normal levels by the weekend. A reminder to all enjoying the river, especially with higher water levels, that the river is more powerful than it looks and can have very strong currents. Please be safe while enjoying the river. Also, there is no camping or fires allowed on any sandbar/island between Wisconsin Dells and Portage. A drawdown for wetland management purposes is underway for the summer at the large impoundment (visible off of County Road F) at the French Creek Wildlife Area. Turkey broods are beginning to be seen in the county.- Sara Kehrli, wildlife biologist, Poynette
With recent rains that the Wisconsin River is up in Columbia County. Most if not all sandbars are under water now with increase current speeds makes for poor fishing now. Local lakes are starting to produce some good catches of panfish. Watch out for deer crossing roads now. Local ditches haven't been mowed yet and the grass is getting high enough to hide the deer. - Paul Nadolski, conservation warden, Portage
Baldwin DNR Service Center area
La Crosse DNR Service Center area
Vernon County - The recent warm weather has resulted in large hatches of mosquitoes, gnats, and biting flies. Deer are, or will soon, begin to use open areas to escape insect stings, bites, and general harassment. Deer also feed heavily on forbs or flowers growing in openings. These forbs are high in protein, necessary for antler growth and milk production. - Dave Matheys, wildlife biologist, Viroqua
Black River Falls DNR Service Center area
Black River State Forest - Temperatures this weekend are expected to be in the mid-80s to low-90s with a chance of rain Friday night. All hiking and biking trails are open. Campsites are available in all of our campgrounds. Mosquitoes, ticks and flies are out so remember to bring the bug spray. ATV trails are open but are in poor condition due to all the rain we have received. Much of the trails are wet and muddy with some areas of standing water. Please ride with caution. The Wildcat Loop ATV trail is closed Monday-Thursday for upgrade work. The trail is open Friday-Sunday for weekend use. - Emily Alf, visitor services associate
Eau Claire DNR Service Center area
Eau Claire County -Water levels on the Eau Claire River and Chippewa River remain high - use caution in the swift currents. Many boaters of all ages are wearing PFDs as an effective way to avoid accidental drowning. A lot of shoreline anglers in the City of Eau Claire have been catching panfish and bass from Half Moon Lake. Only largemouth or smallmouth bass under 14 inches may be kept from Half Moon Lake, except one fish may be over 18 inches with a daily bag limit of three bass (Release bass measuring 14 to 18 inches). Low mosquito numbers make this a great time to hike the woods trails to explore nature. - Scott Thiede, conservation warden, Eau Claire