View current conditions for Wisconsin State Parks, Trails and Forests
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Weather was highly variable across the state this week, with powerful and quick storms moving through south central areas Wednesday evening. The heavy rains caused some flooding in southwestern Wisconsin and the Wisconsin River is flowing at nearly twice its normal flow for this time of year in the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway. Trails in some areas are wet, but most should be in good condition for the upcoming weekend.
Fishing success was fair to good on most waters across the Northwoods. The constantly changing weather did require raincoats to be kept handy and anglers had to be on the lookout for approaching storms - but fishermen did find both musky and bass to be fairly active in the past week. Musky success showed a little surge and most anglers reported some good action from small and medium-size fish. Action for both largemouth and smallmouth bass has been more consistent than any other time during the summer and some decent catches have been made in the last week.
Fishing pressure on lower Green Bay remained very high this week due to the outstanding walleye fishing that is going on, with multiple reports of limits being caught in a couple hours of fishing. Anglers were also reporting excellent walleye fishing along the Door County shoreline of Green Bay. Yellow perch fishing still remains good in the Sturgeon Bay area with most success occurring near deep weed lines.
High winds over the previous weekend had slowed the bite and reduced angler pressure across much of the Lake Michigan shoreline. By Sunday morning the bite had picked back up and shore anglers in Ozaukee and Milwaukee counties were landing smallmouth, freshwater drum and trout, with those fishing from the boat catching mostly chinook, with occasional laker trout and coho. Mature chinook salmon are beginning to lose their silver coloration as their spawning run nears and they make a physiological transition.
Bears have been spotted chewing hazelnuts in forest openings. Turkey broods seem to be faring well, with many family groups seen feeding along roads. Leftover fall turkey permits go on sale at 10 a.m., Saturday, August 27. Early goose, teal, and dove seasons all open on Sept 1. Be sure you have the proper licensing and know the regulations before heading afield. A full bag of mourning doves can provide a delicious meal this time of year. These migratory birds can be found in fields filled with their favorite food resources: seeds, bugs, and grains.
Also on the wing and on the prowl for their chosen delicacies are fall migrants like the fall warblers. Remember that most birds do not sing in the fall to the extent that they do in the spring. That means birdwatchers need to rely more on keen eyesight and less on their hearing to locate and identify birds. Large flocks of bluebirds and blackbirds are beginning to gather. Bluebird concentrations tend to number about 10 to 20 birds, but blackbird flocks reach several hundred to more than one thousand birds.
Late prairie flowers are in full bloom. Keep your eyes open for prairie blazing star, stiff goldenrod, rattlesnake master, yellow and purple cone flowers, blue vervain, black-eyed susans, butterfly weed and more. A few trees and shrubs such as red maples and staghorn sumac are tipping their hats and welcoming fall with some display of color.
Help care for Sugar River Wetlands State Natural Area. Collect seeds from native wetland plants to scatter in areas where invasive plants have recently been removed. We'll identify several different plants and learn how to collect their seeds. This work will expand the quality wetland areas and continue the efforts started by the Upper Sugar River Watershed Association and Wisconsin DNR. Check the State Natural Areas Volunteer Program page of the DNR website for details. - Jared Urban, conservation biologist, Dane. - Jared Urban, conservation biologist, Dane
Park Falls DNR Service Center area
Upper Chippewa Basin fisheries report (Price, Rusk, Sawyer Taylor and inland Ashland and Iron counties) - Despite several more inches of rain in the last week and continued high water levels, fishing success was fair to good on most waters across the Northwoods. The constantly changing weather did require raincoats to be kept handy and anglers had to be on the lookout for approaching storms - but fishermen did find both musky and bass to be fairly active in the past week. Musky success showed a little surge and most anglers reported some good action from small and medium-size fish (28 to 40 inches) Quite a few musky seemed to be active along the weed edges and in the shallower weed beds. Top-water baits, large plastics and slower moving stick baits were the most productive. Almost any time of day has produced action and was mostly dependent on local weather conditions. Action for both largemouth and smallmouth bass has been more consistent than any other time during the summer and some decent catches have been made in the last week. Largemouth seem to be finally settled into a more typical summer pattern and have been relating to the thick cover, especially woody structure and bog edges. Jig/craw combinations, Texas-rigged worms and soft plastic worms have been the most productive baits and have to be fished close to the wood, tight to the bog/marsh edges, or in open pockets in the weed beds. The top-water bite for largemouth has been erratic but productive at times. Smallmouth bass have been a bit tough to find in the large, clear lakes - but action continued to be good on the flowages and larger rivers. Soft plastics and crayfish-colored crank baits (and large-sized as well) have been the favorite baits, and the smallies have been relating to wood near deeper water areas. Walleye action continued to be very erratic, and most anglers report the erratic and tough bite has continued thru most of this summer. A few decent catches have been made and those have occurred in the river sections of the larger flowages. Leeches and crawlers fished along the deep edges, and in/along the weeds have produced most of the walleye that have been caught. Panfish action continues to be fair. Larger bluegill have still been a little tough to find but some decent catches of crappie, perch and rock bass continue to be reported. - Skip Sommerfeldt, senior fisheries biologist, Park Falls
Flambeau River State Forest - Water levels are 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 14 free river campsites are being used more heavily though they are cleaned, stocked and maintained weekly. Some deer fawns are being seen still with spots and some without. Golden rod, asters, sneezeweed, the tall sunflower and woodland sunflower are also blooming though on the downward swing, Mushrooms are prevalent right now due to the precipitation levels we have been receiving and folks are still busy trying to keep up with the ever-growing lawns. Wild rice ripens and the nighthawks are starting to migrate. So it seems that the reds and oranges of the spring are gone and the yellows and purples of the end of summer are upon us. The weather forecast for Thursday will be good weather, Friday too, but Saturday we have a chance for precipitation and The weather forecast for Thursday will be good weather, Friday too, but Saturday we have a chance for precipitation and nice on Sunday. Starting September 3-30 Lake Sturgeon fishing is open. Check out your Fishing Regulations for 2016-17. - Diane Stowell, forestry technician advanced and visitor services associate
Northern Lake Michigan fisheries team report
This report is for the week of August 14-20. Fishing pressure was low most of the week and with the rain this past week end it remained low with the exception of a walleye tournament out of Oconto Breakwater Park and a salmon and trout tournament out of Menominee Mich.
Marinette County - Very little activity was observed on the Peshtigo River last week and no interviews were gathered. Anglers out of Little River have been doing well for browns fishing the top of the Trout Bar with the added bonus of catching a few rainbows, king salmon, sheepshead, and catfish. Spoons and stick baits have been working the best. There is still a decent walleye bite on the Menominee River. Early morning and evenings have been the best with anglers using both live bait and stick baits. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo
Oconto County - Crappie and bluegill are still being caught in good numbers below the dam at Stiles on the Oconto River. Live bait has been working the best. A few reports of perch being caught from Oconto Park II to the Pensaukee River mouth. Anglers report fish being caught in 9 to 14 feet of water adjacent to weeds. Minnows have been working the best but always bring some crawlers. Walleye and smallmouth can be a hot bite once you find them. Anglers report larger walleye being caught in 20 to 30 feet of water using crawler/harness and large stick baits. Smallies are hitting on plastics and live bait. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo
Brown County - Fishing pressure at Bayshore Park remained very high this week due to the outstanding walleye fishing that is going on right now. Multiple reports of limits being caught in a couple hours of fishing, with most presentations boating fish. Anglers are reporting catching fish using crawler harnesses, crank baits, and jigging in all different depths from 12 to 26 feet of water. Anglers have been catching walleyes in an array of different areas but Vincent's Point seems to be a good starting point for most anglers right now. Like the number of fish being caught the size of the walleye are also on the rise with the average size being 21 inches and weighting around 3.5 to 4 pounds. Along with the walleye anglers who targeted yellow perch found a bit more difficulty but the fish that they ended up catching were of good size, with an average size of 11 inches. The average number of yellow perch caught though was low only being about 3 to 4 fish per boat. Finally anglers also reported by catch of the usual suspects: freshwater drum, white perch, white bass, channel catfish, and round gobies. Water temperatures were just peaking 80 degrees and water clarity was around 2 feet. - Derek Apps, fisheries technician, Green Bay
Door County - Salmon fishing in Door County this past week has been hit or miss but some anglers have been catching a good number of very large fish. The best action has been reported in 100-150 feet of water with most fish biting in the bottom half of the water column. Although anglers are catching salmon and trout on spoons and plugs, flasher/flies combos have been producing a lot more action. Smallmouth bass fishing has slowed down throughout Door County but anglers have been catching good numbers of fish. The best bite this past week was still being reported from 10-30 feet of water near offshore structure. The yellow perch fishing still remains good in the Sturgeon Bay area with most success occurring near deep weed lines. Walleye fishing in Door County along the Green Bay shoreline remains good and anglers are reporting excellent fishing. Jigging has been the best method for catching walleyes, but trolling has also brought success for many anglers. Towards the end of the week shore anglers have had success using stick baits and soft plastics in Sturgeon Bay. - Tim Leverenz, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay
Kewaunee County - Fishing pressure was below average this week in Kewaunee County and a slow Salmon and Trout bite continues from last week, most likely due to warm water temperatures. Despite a tough bite, anglers have been harvesting a good number of mature chinook salmon, along with a mixed catch of lake trout, rainbow trout, and a surprisingly high number of pink salmon. Strong west winds, along with heavy precipitation towards the end of the week, brought back some colder water (50-60 degrees) and anglers were catching fish fairly shallow, with a good bite trolling near mixing waters of the Ahnapee and Kewaunee rivers with Lake Michigan. Along with the shallow bite late in the week, anglers were also having success trolling in 100-200 feet of water. As the season progresses, mature chinook salmon have started losing their silver coloration as they begin their physiological transitions for this fall's spawning run. - Lucas Koenig, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay
Manitowoc County - The storms last weekend have started to bring some cooler water into the piers and pier fishing is starting to pick back up with a few fish being caught. Many of the chinook are starting to take on their fall colors. In general action is still fairly slow but will hopefully pick up as the water cools. Boat anglers are having mixed luck. There is more cool water up shallow than before but fish still seem to be scattered and uncooperative. - Benjamin Thome, fisheries technician, Mishicot
Peshtigo DNR Service Center area
Marinette County - A few trees and shrubs are tipping their hats and welcoming fall with some display of color. The vast majority of healthy plants are still fully green. Recent rainfalls have kept things growing well. Bears have been seen eating hazelnuts in forest openings. Turkey broods seem to be fairing very well this year with many family groups seen feeding along roads throughout the county. Early goose, teal, and dove seasons all open on Sept 1. Be sure you have the proper licensing and know the regulations before heading afield. Many hunters are planning for the opener of archery on Sept 17. Antlerless tags for the northern forest portion of the county have sold out. If you did not purchase a bonus tag for that zone you must hunt for an antlered deer only-the free antlerless tag that came with your license is not valid in the Northern Forest (again be sure to carefully read and understand the regulations). - Aaron McCullough, wildlife technician, Wausaukee
Governor Thompson State Park - The prairie is in full bloom. Visitors can see yellow and purple cone flowers, blue vervain, black-eyed susans, butterfly weed, blazing purple clover and many other native flowers. Hikers are seeing lots of blackberries along the trails. There are now kayaks and paddleboards available for rent on Woods Lake. Rental information is available at the office. - Maggie Kailhofer, park manager
Green Bay DNR Service Center area
Brown County - Fishing activities have slowed down in eastern Brown County, but that doesn't mean it's time to put away the boat, kayak, canoe, and/or paddle board. As summer comes to an end, don't forget your life jackets. Per the DNR boating regulations, "All vessels (including canoes, kayaks, and paddleboards) must have at least one USCG approved Type I, II, III, or V PFD (A Type I, II, III or V PFD is a life jacket you can wear). A USCG approved seat cushion is considered a throwable, or type IV, and is only required if your boat is 16 feet or longer, except for kayaks and canoes, and it must be readily accessible for each person on board." Although Lily Lake is a great place for kayaks and canoes, don't forget to check out Manderly Way Kayak/Canoe boat launch on the East River, across the river from Green Isle Park in Bellevue, Brown County. - Ka Yeng Vue, conservation warden, Brown County
Milwaukee DNR Service Center area
Milwaukee County - Our late prairie flowers are in full bloom. Keep your eyes open for prairie blazing star, stiff goldenrod, rattlesnake master, and many more. Birding for fall migrants is also starting to pick up, with a strong shorebird migration right now, and fall warblers starting to move through. Early season dove, teal and goose hunting will begin Sept. 1. The beginning of bear and archery seasons are around the corner, as well as turkey, rabbit, squirrel, grouse (Zone A), and crow. Search for "FFLIGHT" on the DNR webpage to find dove fields, pheasant stocking sites, and grouse and woodcock habitat. Make sure to check our hunting regulations for any changes. Leftover fall turkey permits and antlerless deer tags are available in many parts of the state. Visit our Go Wild licensing site for more information. - Dianne Robinson, wildlife biologist, Waukesha
Kettle Moraine State Forest, Northern Unit - The forest received over 2 inches of rain on the weekend of August 19-20, and the horse trails were temporarily closed. As of August 25, all trails are again open; however horse riders will still find some muddy stretches, as will hikers on the Tamarack Trail around Mauthe Lake. Logging operations continue in the Zillmer Trail area, but are expected to complete cutting within another week. The trails remain open, but be aware there will be noise and heavy equipment nearby. Horse flies and mosquitos are still present throughout, but have been generally less active. A few random trees have begun to sport some red and orange hues, and the squirrels are starting in on their fall hickory nut feast. - Deb Harder, visitor services associate
Southern Lake Michigan fisheries team report - Compiled from creel clerks by Cheryl Masterson and Jeffrey Zinuticz, fisheries technicians, Milwaukee
Sheboygan County - No fish were reported caught anywhere on shore on Thursday, Friday, or Saturday this week. The water was very rough on Saturday with high winds and both piers were closed for most of the day. There was very high fishing pressure on the piers on Sunday. One angler caught an 18-pound brown trout from north pier and another angler on south pier caught three smaller brown trout. The water conditions and weather this weekend made it difficult for boat anglers. Fishing pressure was low overall. One boat caught three chinook on Friday morning, and no boats were seen out on Saturday. Sunday a couple brown trout, one coho, and one chinook were caught, but most boats didn't have any fish.
Ozaukee County - Fishing on north pier was very slow all week. A few small perch were caught and released on Thursday afternoon. Several anglers reported seeing chinook surface and getting a few hits on Friday evening, but only one large chinook was landed. Nothing was seen caught on Saturday or Sunday. Fishing in Coal Dock Park has been picking up a little. A smallmouth bass and a freshwater drum were caught by the power plant discharge on Thursday afternoon. Sunday had high fishing pressure in this area; 12 brown trout were caught in many different spots, along with two rainbow trout, two coho salmon, and one chinook salmon. The water temperature all around the shoreline was much cooler on Sunday than it had been over the past few weeks. Boat anglers did well on Thursday and Friday catching mostly chinook salmon, but also some rainbow trout, and an occasional lake trout and coho salmon. There were very high winds on Saturday. Sunday was much less successful; many boats came in without any fish. One boat caught two rainbow trout and another caught two chinook in about 80 feet of water.
Milwaukee County - In Milwaukee a cold front with 10-20 mph west winds (gusting to 31 mph) on the weekend brought colder water close to shore. The surface water temperature on the lake side of the pier decreased to 53 degrees on Sunday morning (Aug. 21). The fishing pressure and catch rate on the pier increased Sunday morning with 15-20 anglers showing up for the early morning bite. One angler landed two large kings (18 and 22 pounds) while casting white gulp from midnight to 7 a.m. Another angler landed an 8-pound king. A 6-pound brown was landed by an angler casting a wonder bread glow-in-the-dark spoon. Small rainbow trout (12-16 inches) were landed in the Summerfest harbor over the past few weeks with spoons and fathead minnows. A few perch (10-11 inches) and small crappies were landed on the Grant Park shoreline by anglers fishing with fathead minnows. Fishing pressure on the Oak Creek Power Plant pier increased on Sunday when the water temperature dropped. A 6-pound chinook salmon was caught on the pier Sunday morning by an angler casting a green/silver cleo. One boat fishing out of McKinley landed four kings on Thursday night (Aug. 18) while trolling spoons and frog flies, 55 feet down in 80-90 feet of water off the TV towers by Capitol Drive. The water temperature was 49 degrees at 55 feet down. Another boat landed nine kings (2-17 pounds) and one lake trout Saturday morning while trolling in 100-120 feet of water from the north gap to Whitefish Bay and back. Three of their kings were caught on meat rigs and the rest were caught on glow-the-dark spoons. Most of their fish were caught 40-60 feet down (near the thermocline). Charter boats out of McKinley landed nice catches of rainbow trout with spoons in the top 40-50 feet of the water column in 200-250 feet of water. One of the charter boats landed two large kings (19 and 23 pounds) while trolling spoons inside the McKinley harbor near the main gap. Boats out of Bender Park landed nice catches of fish in 40-50 feet of water during the late night bite.
Racine County - Fishing was still slow for Racine area trollers this past week. Most fished in 100-160 feet of water and caught mostly rainbows and lake trout. Trollers had the most success with flasher/fly, dodger/fly, and spoons. Anglers typically caught between three and five fish. Recently a few trollers fished near shore in 20-50 feet hoping for some king salmon. These anglers caught mostly small brown trout, but a few caught king salmon. The surface temperature in 20-50 feet of water was around 64 degrees. At 100-160 feet of water the surface temperature was 69 degrees. Many pier anglers were fishing, but only one small brown trout was reported, and one king salmon was caught. The water temperature was consistently at 73 degrees last week, however since the west winds started the temperature has dropped to 62 degrees. If the water temperature continues to drop more salmon and trout should be caught.
Kenosha County - Fishing was still slow this week for trollers out of Kenosha. Most anglers caught between zero and four fish, made up of mostly rainbows and lake trout. Trollers fished in 120-180 feet of water, and used flasher/fly, dodger/fly, and spoons to catch fish. A few fished in close near the Pike River mouth or trolled in 20-45 feet of water. Most anglers caught nothing in the shallow water, but a few caught a couple of brown trout or king salmon. The water temperature in 20-45 feet of water was 64 degrees, and 71 degrees in 120-180 feet. A couple of small brown trout and one coho were caught this week in the harbor. The water temperature was 75 degrees, but has cooled down to 62 degrees from the recent west winds.
Plymouth DNR Service Center area
Washington County - As a result of a master planning process, the two waterfowl refuge areas on Theresa Marsh have been reduced in size. This is opening up about 900 acres of upland fringe habitat to fall hunting and other activities. The changes go into effect this fall. The "no entry" time period in the downsized refuges was also changed to "no-entry Sept. 1-Nov. 15" instead of the previous "no entry Sept. 1-Nov. 30 except gun deer hunting". New maps and other information are available on the DNR website or from the Pike Lake DNR office. Sandhill cranes, Canada geese and other birds are starting to stage for fall migration. Wildlife viewing opportunities for egrets, herons, pelicans, cormorants, dabbling ducks, and various wading and shorebirds are excellent at Theresa Marsh along the south side of Hwy 28. just west of Interstate Hwy 41. Red maples and staghorn sumac are starting to show their early fall red colors. Most prairie flowers are at or past peak. Leftover fall turkey permits go on sale at 10 a.m., Saturday, August 27. Ample leftover fall turkey permits are still available for our area. Public and private land antlerless deer tags are also still available for most county deer management units in our area and can be purchased online or from license vendors. - Tom Isaac, wildlife biologist, Hartford
Horicon DNR Service Center area
Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area - Summer is winding down and the Horicon Marsh area is starting to see waves of fall migrants coming through the area. Highway 49 on the north end of the marsh has good numbers of shorebirds. A handful of fall warblers are also starting to show up in the area. Yellow coneflower is still in bloom and goldenrod is starting to show in a few areas. This weekend is a great time to visit the Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center located on Hwy. 28 between the towns of Horicon and Mayville. Come experience the Explorium if you haven't already. A fun, hands on way to learn about Horicon Marsh. Walk through a chilly glacier, crawl through a muskrat hut and drive an airboat simulator. There is something for everyone! For hours and fees for the Explorium please visit http://www.horiconmarsh.org/explorium.aspx. Or enjoy the over five miles of hiking trails! For more information about Horicon Marsh please contact Liz Herzmann at 920-387-7893. - Elizabeth Herzmann, natural resources educator
Janesville DNR Service Center area
Rock County - A reminder to hunters to get ready for dove season on Sept. 1. A full bag of mourning doves can provide a delicious meal this time of year. These migratory birds can be found in fields filled with their favorite food resources. Doves like seeds, bugs, and grains, and are often concentrated to where these resources are found. Rock County provides ample opportunities for dove hunters to fill their bag. An interactive map of sunflower fields planted on public land can be found online on the Fields & Forest Lands Interactive Gamebird Hunting Tool. The daily bag limit is 15. If hunting on DNR managed land, be sure to leave your lead and toxic shot at home. While hunting migratory game birds, make sure to have a plug that limits your shotgun to only three shells. Dove hunters only need a small game license, and Hunter Information Program (HIP) registration. Early teal and Canada goose seasons open on Sept. 1 as well. Goose hunters can harvest up to five geese per day until Sept. 15. After harvesting a goose, hunters must slit or punch their goose permit and report their harvest to 1-800-99-GOOSE. Goose hunters need a small game license, a waterfowl stamp, a federal stamp, an early goose permit, and HIP registration. Blue-winged and green-winged teal can also be harvested until Sept. 7 as well. The hot summer days are coming to an end. However, the fall weather brings with it many new hunting seasons. Take advantage of autumn and bring your family, friends, and bird dog with you out into the field to take part in the great outdoor recreation opportunities that southern Wisconsin has to offer. - Clark Delzer, conservation warden, Rock County
La Crosse DNR Service Center area
Vernon County - Late summer and early fall are good times to do some birdwatching. Oftentimes fall migrants do not move through an area as rapidly as they do during the spring migration. Therefore, birdwatchers may have a little more time to actually "watch" the birds. Fall warblers can challenge even the most observant birdwatcher, making for difficult but rewarding identification lessons. Remember that most birds do not sing in the fall to the extent that they do in the spring. That means birdwatchers need to rely more on keen eyesight and less on their hearing to locate and identify birds. Large flocks of bluebirds and blackbirds are beginning to gather. Bluebird concentrations tend to number about 10-20 birds, but blackbird flocks reach several hundred to more than one thousand birds. Roosting flocks of blackbirds, comprised of red-winged blackbirds, grackles, and starlings, can cause local nuisance problems with their noise, droppings, odors, and depredation on crops. Fortunately these types of problems are temporary, as most blackbirds migrate south for the winter. - Dave Matheys, wildlife biologist, Viroqua
Black River Falls DNR Service Center area
Black River State Forest - Temperatures are expected to be in the mid to upper 70s this weekend with a chance of rain Saturday and Sunday. There is currently a healthy crop of mosquitoes so remember to bring the bug spray. Campsites are available in all three of our campgrounds this weekend. ATV trails will reopen on Friday, August 26. Trails are still very wet from all the rain we've had, please ride with caution. - Emily Alf, visitor services associate