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Outdoor Report

Published June 30, 2016 by the Central Office

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The weather is looking to be almost perfect for the Fourth of July weekend and people are expected to be out enjoying lakes, parks, trails and campgrounds. State officials are urging everyone to have a safe and fun weekend. Boaters should make sure they have a life jacket for each person on board and are encouraged to wear them. Personal watercraft operators are reminded they must operate at slow no wake within 100 feet of another watercraft.

Fireworks are prohibited on all state properties and rangers will be enforcing those rules at parks and forests. Even though fire danger is currently low, errant fireworks can still cause wildfires. And campers are reminded that instead of packing up firewood with everything else this holiday weekend, plan to get your firewood where you'll use it. You'll help protect the trees at your destination from pests and disease by keeping firewood local.

Water levels on streams and rivers continue to remain above average on my areas of the state. The high flows on rivers and streams have made for good float and canoeing conditions, but anglers have had some difficulty in fishing many of their spots.

The most consistent action in the Northwoods has been for bass, as both largemouth and smallmouth are starting to settle into their normal summer patterns. Largemouth have been migrating toward thick overhead cover and are more apt to be holding near one piece of cover for extended periods of time. Smallmouth bass have been showing up near the mid-depths woody cover and under docks. There continue to be enough late mayfly hatches to provide food for walleye. Bluegill and pumpkinseed have still been seen on spawning beds, but most panfish species have finished spawning and are spending time near the deep weed edges and other cover.

Fox River catfish anglers were catching solid rates of fish throughout the river this week. On Green bay, at professional the walleye tournament in Sturgeon Bay this past weekend the more than 130 boats participating caught a combined 5,000 pounds of walleye. Chinook salmon have been slowly working their way north toward Washington Island, and this past week a few were showing up near Gills Rock. Salmon and trout fishing is now in full swing and fish are being caught throughout the peninsula. Anglers were reporting mostly chinook, but a mix of lake trout, rainbow trout, and coho salmon were occasionally being reported.

A fire at the Algoma marina closed down a large amount of sport fishing and some charter fishing out of that port this past week. Rough water conditions and a strong westerly wind kept fishing pressure lower than normal in the early part of the week at other Lake Michigan harbors. When winds died down Sunday, good numbers of chinook were coming in to Kewaunee. Trollers out of Sheboygan, Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha reported a good week with some boats coming in with limits, mostly coho and rainbows, with some chinook and lake trout

Snapping turtles are completing their spawning season. Turkey broods are still walking around and fawns are still following mom. In the Southern Kettle Moraine, wood lily, Culver's root, flowering spurge and others are blooming for the first time and over a dozen species of butterflies have showed up to offer some excellent challenges for photographers.

Wild strawberries, juneberries and blackberries are beginning to or already ripening. Hopefully enough wind remains to keep some of the mosquitos and flies that are now being seen in greater numbers away from berry pickers.

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Northern Region

Superior DNR Service Center area

Brule River State Forest - Things are looking pretty good heading in to the Fourth of July weekend. Hatches of insects continue to happen on the Brule and many fly fishers are reporting their success throughout the Brule. USGS flow rate data shows levels just below 200 cfs which makes for great canoeing on the river. Song bird fledglings are out of the nest. Oven birds and various warblers have begun fledging as of this week. You will see adults flying around with insects in their mouths as they are frantically trying to keep their young fed and growing. Juneberries are ripening and the crop, according to wildlife staff will be fair but spotty. We can expect to see the beloved blueberries ripening in the weeks to come. 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. If you can do so safely, feel free to assist these guys on their journey. 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

Park Falls DNR Service Center area

Upper Chippewa Basin fisheries report (Price, Rusk, Sawyer Taylor and inland Ashland and Iron counties) - With most of the Wisconsin seeing quite a bit of rain in the last few weeks, water levels continue to run fairly high on rivers, streams and lakes across the Northwoods. The high flows on rivers and streams have made for good float and canoeing conditions, but anglers have had some difficulty in fishing many of their spots. Flowages and drainage lakes have been a few inches above normal for most of the season so far, while many seepage lakes are experiencing some very high water levels. The variable weather conditions with periods of heavy rain, high winds and cool nighttime temperatures have made for some erratic fishing in the past week. The most consistent action has been for bass, as both largemouth and smallmouth are starting to settle into their normal summer patterns. Largemouth have been migrating toward thick overhead cover and becoming more apt to be 'homebodies' - holding in one/near one piece of cover for extended periods of time. Soft plastics and jig/craw combinations have worked well in this thick cover and have been the most successful baits. Smallmouth bass have also become more active and some larger fish have been showing up near the mid-depths woody cover and under docks. Small plastics and tube jigs pitched to these types of cover have been very successful. Walleye fishing has become a bit more erratic of late with some late Hexagenia mayfly hatches providing some abundant natural food. The best success continues to be on floating jigs tipped with a leech, and fishing deep weed edges and bottom break lines. Musky action has been fair, with anglers starting to get more hits and fewer follows. Top-water baits have begun to see some action, with medium bucktails and glide baits getting a fair amount of action as well. Panfish success has been fair. A few bluegill and pumpkinseed have still been observed on their spawning beds, but for the most part, all of the panfish species have completed their spawning rituals. Nicer bluegill have been showing been showing up on the deep weed edges and some nice crappie have been found suspended near/over deeper cover. - Skip Sommerfeldt, senior fisheries biologist, Park Falls

Woodruff DNR Service Center area

Vilas County - Vilas and Oneida County have a bumper crop of mosquitos in some areas. Snapping turtles have largely completed their seasonal spawning, but care should still be taken in known turtle nesting areas. Water levels continue to remain high on rivers and streams. - Michael Sealander, conservation warden, St. Germain

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Northeast Region

Northern Lake Michigan fisheries team report

This report is for the week of June19-25. Fishing pressure was light during the past week but with the hot and humid weather the boat landings saw an influx of fishing and non-fishing people trying to escape the heat.

Marinette County - Walleye, sheepshead, catfish, and smallmouth are being caught by anglers fishing from Klingsborns Landing out into the Bay on the Peshtigo River. Jigging and trolling with crawler/harness have been catching walleye and smallmouth, fishing on bottom has been catching catfish and sheepshead. Anglers out of Little River report a few perch being caught in about 5 feet of water adjacent to weed beds. Trolling crawler/harness out of little river has been producing some walleye and the occasional pike. There are some reports of brown trout being caught out of the mouth of the Menominee River but not much information was available. The smallmouth bite on the Menominee River remains a bit slow. The best areas to target have been the Light House Pier and the Stephenson Island area. Trolling for walleye is still being report as fair to good with low light periods being the best to fish. Anglers are mostly trolling with crawler/harness and stick baits. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo

Oconto County - Panfish has been the main draw in the upper Oconto River by the dam at Stiles. Worms and chunks of crawler fished on bottom or under a bobber have been working well with some limits of fish being caught. Some smallmouth are being caught by anglers drifting the river and casting plastics and stick baits. The mouth of the Oconto River has been producing some pike, smallmouth, catfish, and sheepshead mainly using live bait fished on bottom. Jigging at the river mouth for small mouth has also been working well. The walleye bite from the Pensaukee Landing to Oconto Park II has been slow at times but once anglers locate them some very nice fish are being caught. Anglers are finding fish in 9 to 15 feet of water using crawler/harness or large stick baits. Some anglers are fishing reefs and rock piles, jigging with minnows or plastics. No perch bite has been reported yet. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo

Brown County - Bayshore Park saw the usual fishing pressure but saw below average catch rates. Most anglers were targeting walleye and finding a tough bite similar to Chaudoirs Dock. Boats were reporting a lot of Freshwater Drum and low numbers of walleyes. Of the walleyes being caught the sizes were all between 15-18 on average. Walleye fishing was hit or miss this week on southern Green Bay and the lower West Shore. The highest rates were coming from the lower bay with decent numbers coming from the Suamico launch. A large number of walleye less than 15 inches continue to be caught, particularly in the lower bay. Crawler harnesses and crank baits are both being used equally. Jigging near reefs was catching walleye as well. Fishing early in the morning was the most productive time. Water temperatures were in the low 70s and water clarity was poor, 2-3 feet. Fox River water clarity was less than a foot. Fishing pressure was high, particularly at the mouth. Fox River catfish anglers were catching solid rates of fish throughout the river this week. Sizes varied quite a bit although the majority were less than 15 inches. Casting night crawlers and cut-bait on the river bottom, at night, landed the most fish. Smallmouth bass anglers were catching decent numbers of fish on the Fox River. Plastics and crank baits were the most used lures. Voyager Park had the highest catch rates and largest smallmouth bass. Musky anglers departing from the Metro, Suamico and Geano Beach boat launches caught a few choice fish this week. Casting large plugs and spinners in 8-12 feet of water produced the best results. The majority of musky caught were in the mid-to-upper 40 inch range.- Adrian Meseberg, fisheries technician, Green Bay

Door County - Fishing was hit or miss this past week in Door County and the bite seemed to be very dependent on weather. Fishing pressure was moderate to low but was also depended highly on lake conditions. Locating feeding walleye proved to take some effort this week, in part due to the large number of yearling Alewives anglers had to compete with. Anglers reported their best action earlier in the day, but more important than time of day has been wind conditions. Walleye were most active during periods with moderate wind, which helps decrease light penetration and creates favorable currents. Although trolling has shown little success for many anglers, it has been a good tool for locating walleye. Vertical jigging or casting raps along rocky shorelines was the most successful method, especially during the professional walleye tournament in Sturgeon Bay on Thursday and Friday. With over 130 boats participating, there were over 5,000 pounds of walleye caught during the two day event. Chinook salmon have been slowly working their way north toward Washington Island, and this past week a few were showing up near Gills Rock. Salmon and trout fishing is now in full swing and fish are being caught throughout the peninsula. Anglers were reporting mostly chinook salmon, but a mix of lake trout, rainbow trout, and coho salmon were occasionally being reported. The best fishing has been out of either Sturgeon Bay or Baileys Harbor, where anglers were consistently catching fish of quality size. The biggest chinook reported was 28 pounds, along with many others ranging from 18-24 pounds. Salmon were biting mostly on flashers/flies in a wide range of depths (80-200 feet). Anglers were getting rainbow trout on a variety of bright colored spoons in the top half of the water column. - Lucas Koenig, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay

Kewaunee County - Rough water conditions and a strong westerly wind kept fishing pressure lower than normal in the early part of the week in both Kewaunee and Algoma. Very few boats were venturing out and those that did, did report catching fish, but it was a struggle. Sadly, shortly before midnight on Wednesday June 22, there was a terrible fire in the Algoma marina that completely destroyed five boats many others suffered damage. As a result of the fire and an on-going investigation, the marina was shut down to all traffic. As a result of the Algoma Marina shutting down, all fishing pressure from sport anglers was brought to a halt. Several of the charter boats not harbored in the marina were able to fish, but overall the angling out of Algoma was limited all week. Excessively high winds made for very rough lake conditions and fishing pressure out of Kewaunee was low in the later part of the week as well. Early morning thunderstorms combined with lightning on Saturday morning made for empty boat ramps in all of the Kewaunee and Door county locations. The weather did change for the better Saturday afternoon and fishing pressure picked up with many anglers coming in with great numbers of chinook salmon. The chinook that are being caught are coming in ranging in size from 15-28 pounds and look very healthy as they are full of alewives. - Tim Leverenz, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay

Manitowoc County - Fishing has been good with an even mix of rainbows, cohos, and kings being caught. Kings over 20 pounds are not uncommon. Fish have been caught at various depths from 40 feet of water out past 200 feet. Pier fishing may be picking up as the alewives are not as numerous and boats have caught fish in shallower water. - Cheryl Masterson, fisheries technician, Mishicot

Green Bay DNR Service Center area

Brown County - The Fourth of July weekend will bring gorgeous weather and a lot of boat traffic. Boaters are reminded to designate a sober boat driver, have life jackets for every person accessible, but preferably worn and go slow through congested areas. Complaints have been coming in about PWC operators on the Fox River not following the slow no wake within 100 feet of another boat or PWC rule. Boat safe and sober this weekend. - Cara Kamke, conservation warden, Brown

Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center area

Potawatomi State Park - The highway bridge across Sturgeon Bay will re-open on Friday, July 1. Tiny wild strawberries can be found along the shoreline. Yellow and orange hawkweed is in bloom. Daisies are springing up along open spaces. Deer and fawns are visible along the park roads and trails. - Lois M. Hanson, visitor services associate

Wautoma DNR Service Center area

Waupaca County - Fawns are following mom all over. Have seen several turkey broods in the last week. Water levels in area trout streams look great, one should get out and fish them! Insect report: Have not seen a deer tick for over a month, lots of wood ticks out yet, some deer flies out, and very few mosquitos. Many bear sightings as of late. - Karl Kramer, wildlife technician, Wautoma

Waushara County - Weather looks great for the upcoming holiday weekend. Water temps are comfortable all over the county and folks have been enjoying the nice weather we have had as of late too. There has been some decent fishing too, but anglers have had to work for their fish. Deer have been out and about and the fawns are old enough to be following the does. Make sure to be extra cautious while driving, if you see one, slow down and look for the little one(s) behind her! As with any weekend, but this one in particular, be kind with the other users on the lakes, they are here for us all to enjoy! Have a happy and safe Fourth of July! - Ben Mott, conservation warden, Wautoma

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Southeast Region

Milwaukee DNR Service Center area

Kettle Moraine State Forest, Southern Unit - Recent trips to wet-mesic prairies in the forest have turned up a number of species blooming for the first time this year, including wood lily, Culver's root, death camas, flowering spurge, and swamp milkweed; Sullivan's milkweed should begin to bloom within the next week. On a recent survey for an extremely rare butterfly, DNR staff was lucky to bump into, and be assisted by butterfly expert Dan Sonnenberg. Although we didn't see any individuals of the species we sought, with Dan's help we did see more than 15 species in just a few hours including: bronze copper, coral hairstreak, summer azure, great-spangled fritillary, common wood-nymph, eyed brown, and dun skipper. Check the DNR events web page in July for an upcoming butterfly walk as well as other guided walks in the Southern Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest. Lastly, several evenings ago, fireflies (also called lightning bugs, although they are actually beetles) put on a spectacular light show over the Scuppernong River Habitat Area. At least two species participated: males of each species pulsed at an interval unique to their species while also flying a distinctive pattern. Females, sitting on vegetation, would light up in response to males of their species. Wisconsin has approximately 35 species of fireflies. So take a youngster out with you one evening to enjoy the magic! - 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 - Shore fishing pressure in Sheboygan was relatively low this weekend. Two small brown trout were caught from South pier on Sunday morning. Trollers continue to catch decent numbers of fish, and both chinooks and coho were reeled in. A variety of baits were effective, including spoons as well as flashers and fly combinations. Boats fishing relatively shallow around 60 feet of water caught a greater number of chinooks compared to those fishing deeper waters. Sunday morning was rainy and some anglers were seen heading out later the morning, but none were able to be interviewed.

Ozaukee County - Fishing pressure was very low overall for the weekend. On Saturday the water was very choppy, and there were heavy rains on Sunday morning. Shore fishing continues to be slow. A few carp were caught earlier in the week by the power plant discharge, but nothing was seen caught over the weekend. Very few boat anglers were counted this weekend, and none were interviewed. The Army Corps of Engineers is repairing the breakwall of the north pier in Port Washington, and access to the pier is prohibited. Construction is projected to last until July 3rd.

Milwaukee County - The catch rate for trout and salmon on the shoreline was low most of the week but picked up a little on Sunday (June 26). The majority of the bait fish, trout, and salmon were out in deeper water due to the warm water temperature along the shoreline. The surface water temperature was as high as 66 but dropped to 62 on Sunday, and large schools of alewives were stacked up along the entire length of McKinley Pier on Sunday. A 24- to 25-inch brown trout was landed on the pier on Sunday morning. Bluegills, small perch (6-8 inches long), rock bass, and largemouth bass were landed from the lagoons in Lakeshore State Park. Anglers had good luck fishing with night crawlers on the outside edges of weed beds during the late evening bite. Only two to three anglers on average have been fishing for perch along the red railing by the Milwaukee River with no reports of perch being caught since opening day (June 16). Boats out of McKinley continue to land nice catches of coho and chinook along with a few rainbows and lake trout on flasher/flies and spoons. The most productive area during the week was 70 to 90 feet of water from the water filtration plant to Fox Point. Boaters launching at Bender ramp landed some nice size coho in 65 feet of water off Wind Point with green flashers and green flies. A couple of boats came in with coolers full of fish (rainbows and kings) while trolling in 40-60 feet in front of the Oak Creek power plant toward the end of the week. Boats that trolled in 70-120 feet of water on the weekend came in with only one to two fish or got skunked. A 27-pound chinook was seen at the South Shore cleaning station on Sunday night. The fishing pressure and catch rate on the Oak Creek power plant fishing pier increased this week, but most of the fish caught were freshwater drum ranging from 6 to 10 pounds. Crank baits, fathead minnows, small spoons, and tube jigs tipped with wax worms have all taken fish. One angler landed three 8-10" perch and another angler landed an 11" perch on the pier. The water temperature in the power plant discharge chute measured 78-80F over the weekend.

Racine County - Many trollers caught limits of fish off Racine this week. Their catches were mostly cohos and rainbows, with some kings and lake trout being caught as well. Anglers had the most success fishing in 60-80 feet of water and running their lures from 35 feet down up to the surface. Dodger/fly combinations and spoons were used with neither catching more fish than the other. Only a few boats were interviewed that were out fishing for perch and none reported any catches. The water temperature at the surface was 66F and 35 feet down the temperature was 58F. Shore anglers in Racine caught a handful of perch off the piers and around the shoreline on small plastic jigs.

Kenosha County - Many boats in the Kenosha area caught limits this week while fishing in 60-110 feet of water. Anglers caught mostly cohos and rainbows, but some kings and lake trout were caught as well. Most boats used dodger/fly combinations and spoons. Some boats reported that most of their fish were caught on spoons, while other boats reported no difference. The surface temperature was 64F. Browns have been caught by shore anglers fishing in the Kenosha harbor, with more success coming during low light periods. Spoons produced the most fish, followed by crankbaits and tube jigs. The harbor temperature was 67 degrees.

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South Central Region

Dodgeville DNR Service Center area

Wyalusing State Park -Royal catch fly, white false indigo, hepatic-shooting star, wild onion and butterfly milkweed. Attracting lots of butterflies. Lots of humming birds at the park office along with a blue bird nesting. Hen turkey with pullets, cardinals, blue indigo bunting and scarlet tanagers. Now that the Mississippi River water level is going down the fish have started to bite (catfish, bluegills and perch). All trails in good hiking condition along with the bike trail. Movies in the Park every Saturday 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. behind the concession stand. Lots of canoes are being rented out from the concession stand. - Pam Dressler, visitor services associate

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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 WI 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. Black raspberries, sometimes called blackcaps, are beginning to ripen and should be available for picking for several weeks. These fruits are sought after by humans and a wide range of wildlife. Black raspberries and blackberries are two distinct plants and are often confused. When black raspberries are picked, the cluster of drupelets that are called a raspberry slips off the rasp, leaving it behind. In blackberries, the receptacle breaks off where it connects to the stem and remains inside the fruit. When a ripe blackberry is picked, the stem left behind is clean and flat, and the berry has a soft white core inside it. A blackberry is not hollow like a blackcap. - Dave Matheys, wildlife biologist, Viroqua

Perrot State Park - Water levels along the Mississippi River and in Trempealeau Bay have been normal. You can access the main channel under the railroad bridge. Summer is in full swing. Many songbirds, including our bluebirds and orioles, are teaching their new fledglings how to fly and find a meal. The fireflies light up the picnic areas and campground as the sun goes down. The prairie grasses, butterfly weed, coneflower, leadplant, daisy fleabane and many others color the prairies. Turtles, frogs, muskrats, and herons are often seen along the Voyageur's Canoe/Kayak Trail in Trempealeau Bay. - Lois Larson, park manager

Black River Falls DNR Service Center area

Black River State Forest - The weather is looking to be almost perfect for the Fourth of July weekend. Temperatures are expected to be in the high 70s and low 80s with only a slight chance of rain on Friday and Monday. Mosquitoes and flies are out so remember to pack the bug spray! All of the reservable campsites are taken for this weekend but we do have a limited number of first-come, first-serve sites available at the Pigeon Creek and East Fork campgrounds. ATV trails are being groomed this week and should be in good condition for the weekend. - Emily Alf, visitor services associate

Wisconsin Rapids DNR Service Center area

Buckhorn State Park - There are still some bugs so remember to bring bug spray, screen tents or thermocells. Check out drop in programs on Wednesdays and naturalist programs on Saturdays. - Heather Wolf, park manager



Last Revised: Thursday, June 30, 2016

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