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Intermittent rain, followed by heat and humidity, was the story for much of the state this week. While changes in temperature and moisture brought about a slight drop in angling pressure, it may have given the mosquito population a large upper hand once again. Given the off and on rains over the past two months, many water bodies in the Northern region of the state remain at above average levels and many drainage lakes are also filled.
Anglers that were out in the Northwoods reported improving action for largemouth and smallmouth bass, with smallmouth remaining the more elusive of the two. Panfish success in the Upper Chippewa Basin continues to improve in consistency and decent catches of perch, bluegill and crappie were reported. While warming temperatures may have slowed the walleye bite, some fish were being found over the deeper mud flats and around deep rock bars. Musky remain unpredictable, with some days offering numerous follows and hits and others showing little activity at all.
Over on the waters of the Flambeau, musky, crappie and bluegill have been the primary targets. Water levels there are also still a bit above average and though more rain was predicted for Thursday, the weekend looks like clear skies. Anglers in Oneida County are also reporting successful musky and bass action.
Over in Door and Kewaunee Counties, the K/D Salmon Tournament finished up on July 31. The nine-day event brought in hundreds of anglers and enthusiasts from all around the nation. More than 200 chinook salmon were registered that weighed over 22 pounds, with 25 fish weighing in at over 26 pounds. The winning fish weighed in at just over 35 pounds, the biggest caught during the tournament since 1999. While warming water temperatures tamped down the bite towards the end of the weekend, anglers in Door and Kewaunee were also landing rainbow trout and walleye.
In the Southern Lake Michigan counties, while pressure and success for coho remained high, trout seemed to be the additional catch of choice. Staff received numerous reports of browns, lakers and rainbow trout biting from Sheboygan to Kenosha. Bites did still drop off as the waters warmed and targets followed alewife to cooler waters.
Off the water the wildflower show continues as marsh blazing stars, yellow coneflowers and Virginia mountain mint continue to bring color to the prairies of the state. In addition, staff in the Kettle Moraine's Southern Unit encountered some of the first blooms of the year of tall ironweed, Joe pye weed and tall stands of big bluestem. Also flocking to the flowers were numerous butterfly species, including: eastern tiger swallowtail, great spangled fritillary and of course the famous monarchs. There are also still many berries waiting to be picked depending on your area and the hunger of the local bird population.
Canada geese are starting to flock up and stage on oats and other small grain fields, cut hay fields and wetlands so now is a good time to start scouting and seeking landowner permission to hunt the early goose season. Fawns, turkey and grouse brood are becoming easier to see and appear to be doing very well.
Park Falls DNR Service Center area
Upper Chippewa Basin fisheries report (Price, Rusk, Sawyer Taylor and inland Ashland and Iron counties) - The continued warm, wet and variable weather of the past week made for some inconsistent fishing success across the Northwoods. Both largemouth and smallmouth bass fishing has provided a little more consistency, but action still could only be considered fair. Most of the largemouth were being found in and near mid-depth woody cover and could be coaxed to bite with plastic finesse baits. Some were also being found in the thick weed beds and were hitting top-water baits in the early morning hours. Smallmouth bass have remained quite unpredictable and have been a bit tough to find - with a few decent fish caught near woody cover along deeper water breaks. The best success was coming on larger plastics, which seem to be easier to find with the high and dark-stained water in many flowages and rivers. Musky activity continued to be a hit or miss proposition. Some days seem to produce a lot of follows and hits while other days show barely a hint of activity. The most productive lures have been topwaters and large two-bladed bucktails, though the slower-moving bulldawg type baits have also provided a bit of action. The best areas have been the weed edges and some of the best times have been in the mid-day hours during the middle of the week when boat traffic is lightest. Walleye action seemed to be especially slow with some fish being found suspended over the deeper mud flats and near deep rock bars. Panfish success has been fair with some decent perch, bluegill and crappie catches still being caught over mid-depth cover and on the deep edge along emergent weed lines. And of course, rock bass are always there to provide action when success for other species is slow. With the high amount of rainfall in the past two months, wet conditions continue across the north and most rivers and streams continue to be at a high level. The high stream and river flows have also filled most flowages and drainage lakes to the brim and many of the smaller seepage lakes have also risen to above average levels. Also, all outdoor recreationalists should bring along the bug repellent on any trips to the Northwoods, as there are very high numbers of mosquitoes, deer flies and 'ankle biters'. - Skip Sommerfeldt, senior fisheries biologist, Park Falls
Flambeau River State Forest - Staff heard lots of conflicting reports on the success of anglers on the lakes and river. Sounds like musky, crappie and bluegills are the main catch in most of the Flambeau waters, with some success with walleye and bass. The water levels are a bit higher than usual this time of year due to the precipitation we've received. People have been floating the river and enjoying the ride. The elk are still spread throughout the forest and we're not sure how many calves were born. The cow and calf groups seem to be gathering together. The deer fawns seem to be healthy and somewhat plentiful. Bears have been observed by many of the forest staff and visitors, indicating good populations as well as plenty of grouse coveys and turkeys. Many of the pond plants are blooming right now, like the yellow water lily, pickerel weed, Joe pye weed, and the white water lily. Ponds are full of some exciting discoveries. The animal life in and around this habitat include: clams, crayfish, snails, turtles, and snakes, just to name a few. Golden rod and asters are also blooming; it's hard to believe its August already. It looks like rain is in the forecast for Thursday, but the rest of the weekend looks like clear skies. So there are plenty of good days to get out and enjoy nature. Come see us at the beautiful Flambeau River State Forest! Upcoming on August 6 - Smokey Bear Birthday Party - Join us at Connors Picnic Area for a scavenger hunt, birthday cake and a visit with Smokey Bear at noon on this Saturday. - Diane Stowell, visitor services associate
Woodruff DNR Service Center area
Oneida County - Musky and bass anglers have been reporting good action on most lakes. The berry crop is looking excellent and making for plenty of picking opportunities. Fawns, turkey, and grouse brood are becoming easier to see and appear to be doing very well. - Tim Ebert, conservation warden, Woodruff
Northern Lake Michigan fisheries team report
Door County - The 34th annual K/D Salmon Tournament was very competitive this year attracting anglers from all around the country. More than 200 chinook salmon were registered throughout the tournament that weighed over 22 pounds with 25 fish weighing in at over 26 pounds. The tournament got off to a great start and lake conditions were ideal for fishing with fish biting in relatively shallow water (40-60 feet). Towards the end of the week winds shifted to the northeast and fish moved to deeper water due to increases in water temperature which topped out around 72 degrees by the end of the last day of the tournament. These conditions made for a tough salmon bite with harvest rates dropping below average for this time of year. The tournament this year brought in a lot of big fish with the winning fish weighing just over 35 pounds, the biggest caught during the tournament since 1999.
Fishing pressure in Door County this past week was very high due to the K/D Salmon Tournament. Chinook Salmon were being caught from Sturgeon Bay to Washington Island and South down as far as Ellison Bay. Anglers fishing in Ellison Bay, Gills Rock, and around Washington Island were catching good numbers of very large, mature chinook salmon, but salmon numbers still remain consistently lower than observed South of Rowleys Bay. Anglers fishing in Baileys Harbor and Sturgeon Bay were catching a mix of chinook salmon and rainbow trout early in the week, but water temperatures rose quickly into the low 70s later in the week and fishing action slowed. Anglers were reporting the absence of a thermocline (depth where water temperature dramatically changes) and water temperatures were around 70 degrees at the surface, down to almost 150 feet deep. Successful anglers reported their best luck in deeper water (100-200 feet) fishing anywhere from 80-120 feet down. The smallmouth bass fishing remains good on Green Bay both from the piers and out on the water. Anglers have been doing well in 10-20 feet of water with reports of an aggressive bite early in the morning. In addition, smallmouth bass anglers fishing from the pier in Ephraim reported catching a 28 inch walleye with similar reports from boat anglers fishing that same 10-20 foot depth range. Walleye anglers launching their boats at Stone Quarry have had success trolling with minimal action reported, but appears the walleye bite is beginning to pick up. Yellow perch fishing has been hit or miss with better reports occurring earlier in the week. - Lucas Koenig, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay
Kewaunee County - This week got off to a very fast start in Kewaunee County due to the extremely high fishing pressure that was generated by the many anglers in search of that big $10,000 prize winning fish for the K/D Salmon tournament. Weather conditions changed as the week went on, but fishing pressure remained relatively strong for the entire week. A few of the mornings were slowed due to fog and big rolling waves from the north winds, but that did not keep people from fishing the piers in both Kewaunee and Algoma. Great success was reported from both boat and pier anglers. As the conditions improved on Lake Michigan, big fish were being reeled in at all of the ports up until the very last day of the tournament. Water temperatures soared to near 73 degrees at the surface down to 100 feet and that made for tough fishing Sunday. The KD Salmon tournament wrapped up at 5 p.m. Sunday and well over 200 fish were registered weighing more than 22 pounds. It was a great event and the fishing was spectacular. Looking forward to this coming week, weather conditions look favorable with light and varied winds forecasted and fishing pressure should come back to normal as many of the out of state anglers have headed home after the long week of fishing. - Tim Leverenz, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay
Manitowoc County - An east wind last week blew warm surface water into the west shore and ended the shallow water bite. Surface temperatures are in the low 70s and anglers have reported 60+ degrees at depths over 70 feet. A few fish are still being caught early in the morning and from anglers fishing in depths over 120 feet. Finding cooler water seems to be the key to finding active fish. Pier fishing has also slowed with a few fish being caught early in the morning when water is the coolest. - Cheryl Masterson, fisheries technician
Oshkosh DNR Service Center area
Calumet County - Fishing activity has slowed along the east shore of Lake Winnebago in Calumet County. Most anglers are now switching from walleye to perch with hopes of catching enough for a Friday night fish fry. Anglers are catching small bluegills on Becker's Lake near Brillion. Many recreational boaters have been out enjoying the warm weather. Many archery deer hunters have been scouting the woods and looking for places to hang their favorite tree stand. Wheat fields are being harvested in the area and resident Canada geese have been taking advantage of waste grain that is left behind. - Michael Disher, conservation warden, Stockbridge
Milwaukee DNR Service Center area
Kettle Moraine State Forest, Southern Unit - People attending last weekend's trip to one of the fairly wet remnant prairies in the Kettle Moraine State Forest - Southern Unit, were treated to an explosion of color from blooming wildflowers, particularly: marsh blazing stars (pink), yellow coneflowers and Virginia mountain mint (white). In addition, we encountered the first blooms of the year of tall ironweed (dark purple) and spotted Joe pye weed (pink), as well as towering stands of big bluestem (grass) and prairie cordgrass. Butterfly species encountered during the outing included: eastern tiger swallowtail, clouded sulphur, great spangled fritillary, viceroy, common wood nymph, monarch, silver-spotted skipper and the red-spotted purple. Other species seen recently in the Southern Unit include: giant swallowtail, black swallowtail, eastern-tailed blue, common sootywing, and least skipper. Visiting these State Natural Areas, one becomes aware that it was only due to efforts to protect these areas that they have been able to persist. However, that is only half of the story. These areas also require hands-on management: the pulling, cutting, and treating of invasive species (such as glossy and common buckthorn, bush honeysuckle and garlic mustard), and prescribed burns every two to four years to prevent the areas from being overtaken by invasive species. DNR staff welcome help from the public to prevent the spread of invasive species. If enough people get involved, just a few hours per month of volunteering per person could make a huge difference. For more information, call Jared Urban, State Natural Areas Volunteer Coordinator at (608) 267-0797. - 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 - Many coho were caught from both piers last week with alewives as the most common bait. The winds changed from West to East on Friday night and slowed everything down for the weekend. There were a couple brown trout and a couple coho caught from North pier on Saturday and a couple brown trout and two smaller kings caught on Sunday. The Cleveland Fishing Derby was this weekend. The winning fish were a 14.89 pound rainbow trout, a 14.91 pound brown trout, a 17.69 pound lake trout, a 14.15 pound coho and a 26.48 pound chinook. The boats in Sheboygan were very hit or miss this weekend. Those that were successful were usually in 100-120 feet of water and used j-plugs or flasher and fly combinations. Southwest winds were forecasted for Tuesday (8/2) night and west wind on Wednesday. Anglers are optimistic that shore fishing will pick up again this week.
Ozaukee County - Fishing on north pier was really good last week with mostly coho and a few chinooks being caught. The winds changed from West to East on Friday night and slowed everything way down for the weekend. One brown trout and two coho were all that were reported caught on Saturday out of over 20 people fishing. On Sunday only one small perch was reported caught. The Port Washington Lion's Club Fishing Derby brought out many boats this weekend. The top fish were a 25 pound chinook, an 11.2 pound coho, a 12 pound rainbow trout, an 11.1 pound brown trout and a 16.1 pound lake trout. Anglers in Coal Dock Park caught a few brown trout on Saturday. Southwest winds were forecast for Tuesday (8/2) night and west wind on Wednesday. Anglers are optimistic that shore fishing will pick up again this week.
Milwaukee County - Fishing pressure on the shoreline was steady but the catch rate tapered off after a cold front moved through the area on Thursday, July 28. The surface water temperature on the lake side of McKinley Pier increased from 50-58 degrees last week, to 67 degrees on Saturday, July 30. The catch rate dropped off on the weekend when some of the trout and salmon followed the alewives to colder water. Nice catches of coho, kings and a few nice size brown trout were landed on McKinley Pier at the beginning of the week. The majority of the fish were caught with alewives fished on the bottom. Kastmasters, glow-in-the-dark spoons and 4 inch long gulp minnows took a few fish as well. Rainbow trout (2 to 3 pounds average) and brown trout (up to 10 pounds) were landed before sunrise in the Summerfest harbor. Anglers under the Hoan Bridge continue to land brown trout (3 to 4 pound average and larger). Activity at the McKinley Ramp tapered off this week due to the northeast winds and 2-4 foot waves. Some of the boaters reported better luck fishing at night. Most of the boats interviewed at South Shore ramp and Bender Park ramp on the weekend came in with one-two fish. A large number of charter boats were out in 200-250 feet of water on Sunday morning according to boaters at the ramp.
Racine County - Early in the week fishing was very good for Racine trollers, but since the winds shifted and the warm water made its way back nearshore, anglers are having a hard time catching fish. One boater reported catching a few king salmon after dark trolling glow in the dark with spoons in 40 to 50 feet of water. Another boat reported fishing from 30 feet out to 100 feet and only catching one coho. No boats fishing for perch were interviewed. The surface temperature is 70 degrees. Early last week Racine pier anglers were catching coho and king salmon and a few even got their limits. Since the winds shifted and brought back the warm water only a couple of coho salmon were reported caught on spoons. Racine shore anglers reported a few perch in the past week.
Kenosha County - A few Kenosha trollers went out to 170 to 220 feet of water and caught some rainbow trout and lake trout. Another boat fished from 125 to 160 feet with similar results. The water temperature at the surface in 40 feet of water was 70 degrees and at the surface in 125 feet the temperature was 75 degrees. Some brown trout are still being caught by shore anglers in the harbor. Most have been taken early in the morning or late evening, although a couple were caught during the afternoon. Anglers are catching brown trout on spoons, tube jigs, jerkbaits, crankbaits and spinners. No anglers reported catching any perch. The water temperature was 70 degrees.
Plymouth DNR Service Center area
Theresa Marsh State Wildlife Area - Canada geese are starting to flock up and stage on oats and other small grain fields, cut hay fields, wetlands, etc., so now is a good time to start scouting and seeking landowner permission to hunt the early goose season. Prairie flowers are at or just past their peak in grass fields on Theresa, Allenton and Jackson Wildlife Area and other areas. Marsh viewing and picture taking opportunities for shorebirds are good right now on Theresa Marsh along Hwy 28 just west of Hwy 41 across from the "Legacy Greenwing" sign. The water level in the impoundment south of the highway has been drawn down for the rest of the summer resulting in an abundance of mudflats being used by shorebirds. Walking on the dikes within the posted refuge is permitted until September 1 when refuge restrictions go into place. Join DNR Wildlife Educator Dianne Robinson on a "Wild Edibles Hike" on Theresa Marsh on Saturday, August 27 from 9 a.m. - 10:30 a.m. Contact Dianne at Dianne.firstname.lastname@example.org or 262-424-9827 for more information and to sign up for the hike. - Tom Isaac, wildlife biologist, Hartford
Fitchburg DNR Service Center area
Dane County - Panfishing action has been moderate to good along weed lines and deeper structure. Bass fishing action has been moderate too good for largemouth bass and northern pike in weeded areas/weed lines and moderate to good action for smallmouth bass on rocks and deeper structure and musky action has been moderate to good top water over weed beds and trolling drops on the Madison area lakes. Recent weather events have improved area water levels. - Henry Bauman, conservation warden, Fitchburg
Janesville DNR Service Center area
Rock County -
Staff report catfish in the 1 to 3 pound range continue to bite on stink-bait on the Rock River, below and above Indianford. Staff also want to remind anglers that there is no size limit for catfish, but the daily bag limit is 10 on the Rock River. Each angler has their own bag limit, so group bagging is not allowed. Also, there have been reports of bluegill being caught on red worms below the Indianford Dam. The water levels on the Rock River and Lake Koshkonong are back to summer low levels, so boaters should be aware of shallow areas with underwater rocks and logs that could pose a hazard. Blue-green algae is starting to form on the Rock River in some locations, so swimmers and skiers should avoid areas where it is evident. Hunting seasons are just around the corner with September 1 marking the beginning of the dove, early goose and early teal seasons. Sunflower fields are doing well on several of the public hunting grounds in the area, so dove hunters may want to do some scouting to find the best locations. Field locations can be found on the DNR website and most are visible from adjacent roadways and/or DNR parking lots. The goose population is high in Rock County, so hunters should have good success in 2016. - Boyd Richter, conservation warden, Janesville
Wisconsin Rapids DNR Service Center area
Buckhorn State Park - Very few bugs of any kind right now, making it perfect weather for hiking, camping, canoeing, fishing, swimming etc. There has been some algae blowing around the lake with the lake being busier. If the swimming beach water is green, it will blow back out during the day or you can check out the other beach. We have only had one or two days that were green this summer. Canoes and kayaks and bicycles to ride on roads in the park are available to rent during open office hours. - Heather Wolf, park manager