Published June 23, 2016 by the Central Office
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Water levels around the state are slowly leveling off after several rain and storm events over the last several days and the previous weekend. Some waters, such as the Brule and Flambeau rivers, still remain at levels above average and both forests report heavy canoe and kayak usage. However, water levels in the lower Wisconsin River are finally starting to come back down.
In the north, lake water levels on many lakes in the Vilas, Oneida and Sawyer county areas remain high. Fishing has slowed a bit with the recent hot weather, but anglers were still reporting good action drifting and trolling for walleyes, as well as fishing for smallmouth. Musky anglers are reporting an increasing in the top-water bite. In central Wisconsin, elevated streams are improving trout fishing conditions.
Anglers off of Peshtigo Harbor in Marinette have been landing walleye and catfish. The walleye bite along the west shore of Green Bay has continued to be good from the Pensaukee to Oconto. With the warm weather later in the week, boating pressure in the lower bay was high and walleye anglers had to work for their fish this week.
Along Door County, south winds and rough waters made it rough early in the week but as the conditions improved, fishing pressure increased on both sides of the Door peninsula and anglers were having success catching bass and walleyes on the bay side and trout and salmon on the lake side. Fishing pressure has been increasing with walleye anglers filtering into the area to pre-fish for an upcoming walleye tournament. Reports out of Baileys Harbor are showing that more kings are being caught than rainbows, so that bite is starting to ramp up.
Trollers out of most southern Lake Michigan harbors had a great weekend with success catching many chinook, many coho, some rainbows and a few lake trout. A kayak angler out of McKinley landed three kings up to 7 pounds within an hour last week. Pier and shore fishing remained slow even though alewife numbers are dropping. The yellow perch season opened June 16 on Lake Michigan, but perch fishing has been slow along the Milwaukee shoreline.
Bears are entering mating season so people can expect to see more yearling bears as they are chased off by sows who will be looking for a mate. Turtles are hatching. Fawns are following their mothers in most areas now. Many areas were reporting turkey brood observations this week, with one brood of 11 seen in Dane County. Loon families have been observed on northern lakes and young eaglets are moving about the branches around their nests, practicing for their first flights. Trumpeter swan cygnets and sandhill crane colts are both growing and are more visible. Acadian flycatcher and hooded, cerulean and pine warblers were all seen in the southern unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest this week.
Wildflowers blooming include wild lupine -- though they are nearly done -- hoary puccoon, prairie phlox, Indian paintbrush, northern blue flag iris. Prairie plants in flower right now include; purple prairie clover, pale purple coneflower, butterfly milkweed, compass plant, spiderwort, prairie coreopsis, and many more.
Butterflies reported this week include Canadian tiger swallowtail, cabbage white, orange sulphur, summer spring azure, Karner Melissa blue, silver-bordered fritillary, viceroy, monarch and more.
Mosquito and deer flies are out but some areas are reporting that so far - knock on wood - they have not been as bad as some recent years.
Help the Upper Sugar River Watershed Association restore the Sugar River Wetlands State Natural Area during our series of "Fourth Saturdays" volunteer work days. Volunteers will be girdling aspen and following up on brush work done in the winter by foliar spraying. It promises to be rewarding, fun, and a great way to experience the outdoors. Refreshments including hot chocolate and coffee will be available to fuel you through the morning. Check the listing on the State Natural Areas volunteer opportunities page for more information. - Jared Urban, conservation biologist, Dane
Superior DNR Service Center area
Brule River State Forest - The weather has seemed about perfect around here this week. A little hot over the weekend but temps have dropped a bit and the cool breeze has made any outdoor activity pleasant. The river is coming down after the large amounts of rain we received over the past couple of weeks but we currently stand a little above average according to the USGS flow rate data. Fly fishermen continue to do well on the upper river for trout. The Brule River canoe rental expects a very busy weekend coming up with an anticipated 180 boats on Saturday. The warm and sunny weather is great for the broods of grouse, turkeys, and other birds that are hatching right now. The heat provides great thermals for the chicks as well as a conducive environment to a variety of insects for food. Bears are entering mating season. Don't be surprised if you see bears more frequently and out during the middle of the day in places that you would least expect them. You may see an increase in turtles trying to cross the road or even on sandy road sides. June is their peak nesting time. Fawns are at the size where they will follow mom around during the day so you may see more of these little guys. - Edwin Koepp, visitor services associate
Ashland DNR Service Center area
Amnicon Falls State Park - All trails are open, but due to recent rain, portions of the Snowshoe and Thimbleberry trails are muddy. The trails around the waterfalls are all in excellent condition. Thanks to those rains the waterfalls are flowing beautifully. We are quickly moving from spring to summer here at Amnicon. Trees are leafed out and plenty of flowers are in bloom. Take a hike on one of trails and see if you can wild rose or columbine. If you walk around the campground you may see a ruffed grouse or one of our many resident snowshoe hares. - Natalie Brown, ranger
Hayward DNR Service Center area
Sawyer County - Fishing has slowed a bit with the recent hot weather, but anglers are still reporting good action drifting and trolling for walleyes, as well as fishing for smallmouth. There has been plenty of rain throughout Sawyer County recently so water levels are up. Wherever there is high water, be mindful of floating debris that can become dislodged from shorelines and float into unexpected areas. - Rick Peters., conservation warden, hayward
Spooner DNR Service Center area
Crex Meadows State Wildlife Area - Swan cygnets are growing, and can be observed in several places throughout the wetlands of Crex. A family living on Phantom Lake Road near the beaver lodge has been quite photogenic. Loon families have been observed on Phantom Lake and along Main Dike Road. The young eagles should be fledging, practicing their first flights. Check out the nest on North Refuge Road. Duck broods are plentiful, especially wood ducks, mallards, and ring-necked duck. The red-necked grebes have young, they can be observed near the pull-out on Phantom Lake Road. Northern mockingbirds have been reported in the area. Dickcissels have been sighted in farmland. Wildflowers blooming across the meadows include wild lupine (nearly done blooming), hoary puccoon, prairie phlox, Indian paintbrush, northern blue flag iris, large-flowered penstemom, and slender penstemom. Berry species are forming their fruit. Juneberry is ripe, and many birds are feasting on their fruit. Butterflies reported this week include Canadian tiger swallowtail, cabbage white, orange sulphur, summer spring azure, Karner Melissa blue, silver-bordered fritillary, Harris' checkerspot, northern crescent, white admiral, red-spotted purple, viceroy, monarch, little wood-satyr, and common ringlet. - Kristi Pupak, natural resources educator
Interstate Park - An active bald eagle nest can be observed from the peak on Eagle Peak Trail, and a great blue heron rookery can be observed from the vicinity of the Camp Interstate Shelter. There is an accessible fishing pier on Lake O' the Dalles. Park in the first lot of the River Bottoms picnic area to access the paved trail to the pier. - Julie Fox, natural resources educator
Park Falls DNR Service Center area
Flambeau River State Forest - There have been a couple storms the past two weeks so crews have been very busy cleaning trails from storm and wind damage. The river has been dropping but is very fast moving right now with all the precipitation that we have been receiving. People have been floating the river and enjoying the speed. Lake of the Pines Campground had only six sites used last weekend. If you like a peaceful setting, this is the place to camp. Folks were out enjoying the summer weather, camping, fishing, kayaking and canoeing last weekend, but be prepared with bug repellant. The Connors Lake Picnic Area was very busy on those hot humid days with swimmers using the approximately 250 feet beach, picnic tables and grills. There have been conflicting reports on the success of fishermen on the lakes and river. Sounds like musky, crappie and bluegills are the main catch in most of the Flambeau waters. The 14 free river camp sites have been lightly used thus far. Sounds like this weekend, weather wise, will be conducive to some good outdoor events. Fledglings, fawns, elk calves, tadpoles area all being seen. Bears and cubs have been observed by many of the forest staff and visitors. Turtle eggs are starting to hatch. Turkey poults, grouse and woodcock chicks are visible along the roadsides. - Diane Stowell, visitor services associate
Woodruff DNR Service Center area
Vilas County - Many Vilas and Oneida county lakes have seen rising water levels this spring. Boaters and anglers alike should be mindful of possible floating logs and other debris which has broken loose as the water has risen. Wild strawberries are becoming ripe and can afford a tasty treat if you can get to them before the robins do. Musky anglers are reporting an increasing in the top-water bite and walleye angles are having sporadic success fishing deep weed edges. - Michael Sealander, conservation warden, St. Germain
Antigo DNR Service Center area
Lincoln Langlade and Marathon counties - Water levels remain high on several rivers and on a majority of flowages. Several grouse broods have been seen. More people are seeing does with fawns, as well as sows and cubs. White admiral butterflies can be seen in high numbers, resting and feeding on gravel roads. Plants like the whorled loosestrife are blooming and new leaves are fully grown on the tiny evergreen ground shrub known as wintergreen.
Northern Lake Michigan fisheries team report
Marinette County - Anglers at the Peshtigo Harbor have been catching walleye jigging and casting crank baits in the deeper holes in the river and trolling with crawler /harness. Catfish are also being caught mainly fishing on bottom using crawlers. Anglers report catching brown trout out of the mouth of the Menominee River trolling with spoons. Some walleye and smallmouth are being caught casting and trolling the river from the Hattie Street Bridge down to the mouth of the river. Staff have no reports of any perch being caught. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo
Oconto County - Panfish remain the primary species for anglers at the Stiles Dam on the Oconto River, bobbers and live bait has been working the best. The lower Oconto River has been producing some very nice smallmouth using plastics and crank baits The mouth of the of the Oconto River has been producing sheepshead, rock bass and smallmouth. The walleye bite has been going good from the Pensaukee Landing to Oconto Park II. Most angler are using crawler/harness and trolling in 8 to 17 feet of water. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo
Brown County - Walleye anglers launching from Bayshore Park had to work for their fish this week. Crank baits, crawler harnesses and jigs were all being used. A couple anglers found success using live bait, under a slip bobber, near the reefs. This week walleye anglers also referred to spread-out fish, large numbers of baitfish and challenging weather conditions on a couple days. Although Perch fishing has yet to really pick up, a few boats landed moderate numbers of fish. Casting minnows and night crawlers in 20-plus feet of water was most productive. Bayshore Park perch weighed and measured this week were on the larger side, ranging from 9 to 12 inches and averaging 10.1. Incidental catches included high numbers of freshwater drum and round goby, plus lesser rates of catfish and northern pike. With the warm weather later in the week, boating pressure was high. Water clarity was ~1 foot and water temperatures were in the low 70s. - Adrian Meseberg, fisheries technician, Green Bay
Door County - South winds and rough waters made it rough early in the week but as the conditions improved, fishing pressure increased on both sides of the Door peninsula and anglers were having success catching bass and walleyes on the bay side and trout and salmon on the lake side. King salmon reports out of Baileys Harbor are showing that more kings are being caught than rainbows, so that bite is starting to ramp up. Rowleys Bay bass pressure has slowed some now that the spawn is over, but those that have reported indicate that nice size fish are still being caught. Walleye anglers launching from both Sawyer Park and Stone Quarry have reported a tough go this past week as the bite has been sporatic throughout the area. Fishing pressure was already increasing late in the week with the walleye anglers filtering into the area to pre-fish for the upcoming WTC Walleye tournament scheduled for next week. Smallmouth bass fishing also slowed this past week but a few nice fish were still be caught. Most of the good action was taking place at dusk and into the night. King salmon and rainbows were being picking up out of Sturgeon Bay with most fish being reported to be 2-3 year olds with good body mass and filled with alewives. Adrian Meseberg, Green Bay, Tim Leverenz and Lucas Koening, Sturgeon Bay, fisheries technicians
Manitowoc County - Fishing out of Manitowoc and Two Rivers Harbors has been good in the last week. Most anglers are reporting a mixed bag of rainbows, coho and chinook as well as a few lake trout. Some large fish have also been caught with rainbows over 15 pounds and chinook over 20 pounds. There are still a lot of alewives in the harbors and pier fishing has been extremely slow. - Benjamin Thome, creel clerk, Mishicot
Peshtigo DNR Service Center area
Marinette County - Summer is here with fawn numbers are on the rise. Bucks are growing velvet antlers and grouse and turkey broods are close to hatching. Knock on wood--the mosquito population has been surprisingly bearable across most of the county. Many plants are now blooming including orange hawkweed, ox-eyed daisies, red clover, cow-parsnip, butterfly weed and tons more. One of our common invasive plants, spotted knapweed, is bolting now and will soon be sporting a bright purple flower. This plant is an aggressive, non-native biennial that takes over open disturbed areas. It is spread through, among other things, mowing. If you maintain trails or food plots through mowing, consider mowing before knapweed sets seed to reduce the spread. The annual arrival of the native rose chafers came almost two weeks early than normal this year. These beetles are common in the sandy portions of the county and cause major problems to landscape plants during the few weeks they are around. Many turtles are out now basking on sunny roads, especially near waterways. If you happen across a turtle while driving and can safely do so, help them to the side of the road they are headed to. If it's a snapping turtle, save your fingers, and use a shovel to gently pick them up and move them. Fawns are very prevalent right now and spend much of their day on their own. If you are lucky enough to see a fawn leave it alone-the doe, in some cases, may not come back until the cover of darkness. If you suspect the fawn is orphaned, leave it alone and call your local DNR office. - Aaron McCullough, wildlife technician, Wausaukee
Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center area
Whitefish Dunes State Park - Several white pelicans have been spotted along the shoreline this week. Dune thistle is also blooming along the shoreline on the dunes, which is a threatened species in Wisconsin. The trails are lined with white thimbleberry blossoms consisting of a large white flower. Due to above average water levels, there is limited beach compared to prior years. On high wave days, visitors can expect very limited or no sand areas. The best way to access the beach is to hike the red trail behind the nature center and use the stairs to get down to the beach. The water temperature for this time of year is typically in the low 50s. This week along the shoreline several dead alewives, which are a 4-inch fish, have floated in and are decomposing along the shore. Most of the alewives have been in the rip current area and haven't been much of a problem farther down by the beach swimming area. - Jaclyn Moeri, visitor services associate
Wautoma DNR Service Center area
Waupaca County - Stream conditions are slightly elevated, making for great trout fishing conditions. Fawns are now actively following mom around during daylight hours. Turkey broods are now out and about too, with three seen this week. Also saw a very large black bear in northern Waupaca County at 1:15 p.m. Monday afternoon. Still a few ticks out and about. Mosquitos and deer flies are downright ugly on still humid days. Hopefully the dry weather will not favor their perpetuation. - Karl Kramer, wildlife technician, Wautoma
Milwaukee DNR Service Center area
Milwaukee County - With the excellent summer weather upon us, visit one of your local outdoors hotspots, such as Havenwoods State Forest in northern Milwaukee County, Lakeshore State Park near the Summerfest grounds, or hike along the Hank Aaron State Trail through the central part of the county. Kayaking opportunities also abound along the many rivers that run through Milwaukee; for more information visit this website. Within Milwaukee County, we have seen an increase in coyote activity this past month. Coyote pups are becoming more active, and the parents are traveling more in search of food for their young. Although coyotes rarely cause a problem for people, keep a close eye on your pet or keep them on a leash when you are outside, even in your backyard. Contact Dianne Robinson at Dianne.Robinson@wisconsin.gov or at 262-424-9827 if you see any coyote behavior that seems unusual or threatening. If you see a young wild animal you think is injured or orphaned while on your outdoor excursion, 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 doing what is natural. Please contact an expert before doing anything with the young wild animal besides observing. - Dianne Robinson, wildlife biologist, Waukesha
Kettle Moraine State Forest, Southern Unit - It's summertime in the forest: sandhill crane colts can be seen foraging alongside their parents, late summer-blooming plants are growing ever-taller, and butterflies and dragonflies abound. In less disturbed wet prairies, a few more plant species have appeared for the first time this year, including the rare prairie Indian-plantain, as well as the more common marsh fleabane and marsh bedstraw. Sedge meadows, wetter, but still sunny areas with little woody vegetation display a more uniform arching pattern formed by thousands upon thousands of leaf blades of sedges. Sedges can be distinguished from grasses by their stems which are often triangular in cross-section as opposed to grass stems which are always round. Furthermore, the leaves of sedges often have an indentation on the upper side, giving each blade the appearance of flattened letter "M, " while grass blades are flat. Rare birds observed during our weekly bird walk this past week included Acadian flycatcher, hooded warbler, cerulean warbler and pine warbler. If going off trail in the woods, beware of poison ivy: leaves of three (leaflets), like clover or strawberry, with a few points on the outer margins, let it be. But don't let it spoil your fun. Simply learn to recognize it, avoid it, and enjoy yourself in the great outdoors! - 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 - Fishing pressure was higher on the piers this weekend, but continues to be very slow. One carp was seen caught from the north pier this weekend. Boat anglers had a great weekend with success catching many chinook, many coho, some rainbows and a few lake trout. Early mornings seem to be the most successful time with spoons and flies being the lures of choice.
Ozaukee County - Shore fishing was very slow this week. Some carp were caught by the power plant discharge, but no trout or salmon were seen caught over the weekend. Boat anglers continue to be successful with coho, a few chinooks, some rainbow and lake trout. Most boats were out in 80-150 feet of water. Spoons and flies and dodgers were the most successful. 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 - The yellow perch season opened on June 16, but perch fishing has been slow in all Milwaukee area shoreline locations. A variety of panfish, including rock bass, pumpkinseeds, and bluegills have been caught near the old Coast Guard station memorial bridge in the McKinley harbor. Fishing effort on McKinley Pier continues to taper off. Nearly everyone on the pier landed a coho while bottom fishing with alewives on Wednesday, June 15, but the catch rate was low the rest of the week. The large, thick clouds of alewives that were seen on the lakeside of the pier four to five weeks ago are gone. Anglers are still finding bait fish, but most of them are smaller alewives. The water temperature on the lake side of the pier increased from 54 degrees last week to 65 degrees on Sunday, June 19. Trollers off Milwaukee have been bringing in nice catches of coho and a few rainbows, lake trout, and chinook. Most fish have been taken in 120-140 feet of water from the water filtration plant to the Capitol Drive TV towers on flasher/flies and spoons in the top 40 feet of water. A kayak angler out of McKinley landed three kings (up to 7 pounds) within an hour on Wednesday, June 14, while trolling in 45 feet of water with a green/white glow-in-the-dark spoon. Trollers fishing out of Bender Park have been catching a few coho and lake trout, along with one or two rainbows and chinooks. Most fish have been caught in 60-80 feet of water, although some trollers have gone out to 110-130 feet.
Racine County - Many boats fishing from Racine caught their limit of salmon and trout this week. Their catches were mainly coho and some rainbows and kings. Anglers had the best luck in 60-70 feet of water running their lures from 25 feet down up to the surface. Other anglers reported some catches in 45 feet of water to as deep as 120 feet; however, the 60-70 foot range seemed to produce the best catch numbers. The main lures of choice were flasher/fly, red dodger/fly, or spoons. The surface water temperature at 60 feet was 64 degrees, and down 25 feet the water temperature was 57 degrees. No boats that fished for perch were interviewed. The water has warmed nearshore, with surface temperatures between 66 and 68 degrees. No salmon or trout were caught off the piers or shoreline this week, but a few perch were reported caught on small jigs.
Kenosha County - In Kenosha this week, many boats caught limits while fishing from 50-160 feet of water. Most boats said the most productive water was 60-110 feet. Trollers ran their lures from 40 feet down up to the surface and had the best luck on flasher/fly or red dodger/fly lures. The surface temperature at 60 feet was 61 degrees. Some perch were caught on small jigs, but most had a hard time catching a limit. No trout or salmon were reported caught off of the piers or shore this past week. A few perch were reported caught from the piers on small jigs with plastics in varying colors. The water temperature in the harbor was 68 degrees.
Fitchburg DNR Service Center area
Columbia County - Water levels in the Wisconsin River are finally starting to come back down, which may be a sign of better fishing. Fishermen on Park Lake are having some success with catfish. Turkey poults have been seen feeding along roadside ditches. - Paul Nadolski, conservation warden, Portage
Dane County - Staff member saw their first turkey brood today (11 chicks). Given banding results it appears that the area goose hatch was pretty good. Prairie plants in flower right now include; purple prairie clover, pale purple coneflower, butterfly milkweed, compass plant, spiderwort, prairie coreopsis, and many more. - Andy Paulios, wildlife biologist, Fitchburg
La Crosse DNR Service Center area
Vernon County - Wild turkey broods are beginning to appear around the area. Young wild turkeys, called poults, are very vulnerable to predation for several weeks after hatching as they are incapable of flight and roost on the ground. When poults are about two weeks old, they gain the ability to fly up into trees to night roost, escaping from most nighttime predators such as fox, coyotes, raccoons, and owls. As summer progresses, several hens and their broods may join together to form gang broods. Watch for wild turkey broods in grassy fields, where the poults feed voraciously on insects. It's molting time. Giant Canada geese, the race of Canada geese that nest in Wisconsin, are now in their annual state of molt. Molting takes place in brooding areas, typically marshes or ponds. The adult geese will remain flightless until about the time the goslings gain the ability to fly. Another interesting tidbit is that the non-breeding giant Canada geese travel to northern Ontario to carry out their molt. 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 avian and mammalian predators. - Dave Matheys, wildlife biologist, Viroqua
Wisconsin Rapids DNR Service Center area
Buckhorn State Park - There are still some bugs so remember to bring bug spray, screen tents or thermocells. There are still many sites left in the new campground, which was less buggy than other areas of the park. The beach is a great place to cool off and escape the bugs. Canoes and kayaks are available to rent during open office hours. Check out drop in programs on Wednesdays and naturalist programs on Saturdays. - Heather Wolf, park manager