Published September 8, 2016 by the Central Office
View current conditions for Wisconsin State Parks, Trails and Forests
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Heavy rain fell across much of Wisconsin this week, causing major flooding in some southern areas, with the heaviest rains falling along a stretch from Crawford through Washington counties. The Pine and Kickapoo rivers were at or near flood stage. The Wisconsin River was expected to crest at just under 14 feet at Portage. Rain also fell across the north with several inches reported at the Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest, making trails soggy for hunters and hikers.
People planning on paddling the Wisconsin or any of its tributaries are being cautioned to call ahead to destinations to check conditions. Additionally, the Black River and Northern Unit of the Kettle Moraine state forests are reporting some ATV, horse and mountain biking trails closures.
The rains are keeping water levels high on northern flowages. Musky anglers have reported success with surface baits. Perch anglers are having a tough time finding fish along the east shore of Lake Winnebago, with most anglers taking home a half dozen or less. There has been increased fishing activity on the Rock River with anglers successfully trolling for walleye from Jefferson to Lake Koshkonong.
Walleye anglers on Green Bay continue to report it to be a tougher bite than the previous few weeks. Musky anglers were having a little bit more success with reports of 46 to 50-inch fish being landed during the week.
On Lake Michigan, southeast winds and warm surface temperatures made the chinook bite a bit more difficult, but they can still be seen jumping in harbors and fish were being caught from piers and shore. Fishing pressure on the shoreline in Milwaukee increased as chinook continued to move into the harbor. Some chinook salmon moved into Oak Creek after the 2 inches rainfall last week.
Trollers reported that fish were scattered all over lake due to the strong winds and 3 to 6 foot waves earlier in the week. Some boats landed large chinook and lake trout along with some nice catches of rainbow.
Many outdoor enthusiasts are switching gears and participating in the early goose, dove, and September teal-only seasons. The early goose hunting has been very good with many reporting good success and hunters had a successful dove opener with good action in Rock, Green and Dane counties. However, teal have been difficult to find and have been seen only in small pockets. Many archery hunters have been seen hanging stands and checking trail cameras in anticipation of the upcoming season opener.
Elk are still spread throughout the Flambeau River State Forest but the bulls and cows are starting to get together and soon the forest will be singing with the bugling of the bull elk.
Nighthawks, raptors and monarch butterflies are migrating. Male hummingbirds are flying south but females are still around. Turkey broods have really been feeding in the open areas, probably on grasshoppers. Viewing conditions for waterfowl, egrets, sandhill cranes, pelicans and other birds is excellent at Theresa Marsh State Wildlife Area.
The forest floor is fading, with the ferns turning brown. There is an occasional red leaf visible in the canopy and the aspens turning a yellow hue. Early apples are falling, plums are ripe, pin cherries are turning yellow and pink, and cranberries are ripening. The various whites and pinks of the asters, the purple of joe pye weed and yellow of goldenrods are adding a splash of color.
Park Falls DNR Service Center area
Flambeau River State Forest - The elk are still spread throughout the forest but the bulls and cows are getting together, making calves. Soon the forest will be singing with the bugling of the bull elk and the cows will be responding. A forest visitor spotted four cows and three calves along Hwy. W. Two big bull elk have been the center of attention in the south east section of the Forest. They have been very visible. The rabbit population is bountiful this year. Nighthawks, raptors and monarch butterflies are migrating. The male hummingbirds are flying south but the females are still here. The forest floor is fading, with the ferns turning brown with an occasional red leaf visible in the canopy and the aspens turning a yellow hue. Goldenrods and ragweed are in full blossom. Goldenrod is a good plant for the pollinators but ragweed is a problem for folks with allergies. Early apples are falling and gardens are producing. Wild rice is ripe. Plums are ripe and the cranberries are ripening. The weather forecast for this week looks like thunderstorms, rain, rain and more rain possibly through the weekend and into next week. The fall rains begin. - Diane Stowell, forestry technician advanced and visitor services associate
Woodruff DNR Service Center area
Vilas County - Hunters in Vilas and Oneida counties are reporting significantly lower numbers of teal and local geese this year and hunting pressure is fairly light. Periodic heavy rains have kept water high on the rainbow flowage with no end in sight. Musky fishermen have reported success with surface baits in the evenings but are also finding fish suspended following schools of cisco in some of the deeper clear-water lakes. - Michael Sealander, conservation warden, St. Germain
Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest - The several inches of rain we have gotten this week may make area trails a little soggy for the hunter and hiker. The swamp and lowland edges are seeing more reds and pinks from the red maples that are turning. Pin cherries are turning yellow and pink and are dropping some leaves. The various whites and pinks of the asters and the purple of joe pye weed are adding a splash of color to the ripening grasses and golden rods along the roadsides. Turkeys, crows and flickers can be seen along roadsides feeding. Many hummingbirds have left on their long journey south and the milk weeds will be sending out their seeds soon. - Rosalie Richter, visitor services associate
Northern Lake Michigan fisheries team report
This report is for the week of August 28 through Sept. 3. With the early Teal season this past week the boat ramps ran heavy to the waterfowl hunters.
Marinette County - The number of anglers on the Peshtigo River was very low this past week although those anglers reported catching some nice pike, smallmouth and walleye, both trolling, casting, and jigging. Perch fishing out of Little River has slowed down considerably with many small fish being caught. The Menominee continues to produce walleye with shore anglers fishing on bottom and casting crank baits. Smallmouth, crappie, sheepshead, and pike are also being caught. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo
Oconto County - Crappie and bluegills remain the go to fish on the upper reaches of the Oconto River below Stiles Dam to the Highway 141 Bridge. Live bait continues to be the anglers choice. Walleye and perch are being caught from the mouth of the Pensaukee River to Oconto Park II trolling and jigging. Most walleye are being caught in 12 to 27 feet of water using crawler/harness or large stick baits. Perch are being caught in 9 to 15 feet of water adjacent to weed beds, with minnows being the best baits. Anglers are also reporting catching some very nice pike and musky on the edges of weed beds. Large spinner and crank baits are being used. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo
Fishing pressure out of Geano Beach was moderate this week with anglers targeting walleye or musky. The walleye anglers found it to be a tougher bite then the previous few weeks. Anglers were reporting low numbers of fish being caught and a couple of goose eggs for more than a few boats. Walleye anglers were finding success trolling crawler harnesses and or crank baits. Musky anglers were having a little bit more success than the walleye anglers. A few anglers reported boating muskies with the biggest reported being 46 inches, but anglers were hearing that a few 50-inch-plus fish were being landed during the week. A mixture of techniques was producing musky this week, whether it was casting plastics or trolling crank baits and blade baits. With the water temperatures dropping little by little the musky anglers should be boating more and more. Water temperatures were in the low 70s and water clarity was around 3 feet. - Derek Apps, fisheries technician, Green Bay
Brown County - Fishing pressure remained high from the Suamico River boat launch with anglers targeting walleyes and muskies. Walleye anglers found a difficult bite with no reports of limits being caught. Fish being boated were of decent sizes with most fish being reported over 20 inches. Anglers were reporting trolling crawler harnesses and crank baits and finding success. Musky anglers were seeing a good number of fish being raised and following baits being thrown but found that the muskies were not in the feeding mood. A few boats were also trying their luck trolling for musky as well but found the same luck as the anglers casting for them with no fish reported being caught. Water temperatures were in the low 70s and water clarity was 2 feet. Fishing pressure on the Fox River was moderate this week out of the Metropolitan boat launch with most anglers targeting walleyes. Just like most anglers up north on the west shore down in the mouth of the Fox River anglers were finding low success of boating good numbers of walleyes. Anglers were once again using crawler harnesses and trolling crank baits as in previous weeks. Water temperatures were still high in the 70s and water clarity is about 1 foot. Most Fox River anglers were targeting "anything that will bite" and found some success. Anglers reported channel catfish, freshwater drum, white perch, and bluegill. Anglers were using either live bait under a bobber or a sliding egg sinker to a swivel and about a foot and a half of leader to your hook with live bait to catch their fish. Water temperatures were in the upper 70s and water clarity was 1 foot. - Derek Apps, fisheries technician, Green Bay
Manitowoc County - Southeast winds and warm surface temperatures have made the Chinook bite difficult, but they can still be seen jumping in the harbors. A few fish are being caught from the piers and shore, mostly on spoons. Fishing on the lake has been very hit and miss with fish coming from many different depths.
Wautoma DNR Service Center area
Waupaca County - The goose hunting has been very good with many reporting good success. No report on Dove hunting success. Weather has been mostly very hot, and wetter than normal. We just received 2-4" of rain and counting. That should cancel out any trout fishing plans for the weekend with the water out of the banks of most streams. No recent reports on other inland fishing. Turkey broods have really been feeding in the open areas lately, probably pounding the grasshoppers. The poults are almost the size of mom. Blackberries are winding down now, will be all but done in a week. Acorn drop has started and it look like a pretty good crop - adjust your archery and turkey hunting plans accordingly. No ticks, deerflies or mosquitos right now - very nice! Could use some dry weather. - Karl Kramer, wildlife technician, Wautoma
Oshkosh DNR Service Center area
Calumet County - Perch anglers are having a tough time finding fish along the east shore of Lake Winnebago in Calumet County. Most anglers are taking home a half dozen or less after roughly half a day of fishing. Many outdoor enthusiasts have switched gears and are participating in the early goose, dove, and September teal-only seasons on the Brillion and Killsnake State Wildlife Areas. Hunters have been successful in bagging geese and doves; however, teal have been difficult to find and have been seen only in small pockets throughout the area. Many archery hunters have been seen hanging stands and checking trail cameras in anticipation of the upcoming season opener. - Michael Disher, conservation warden - Stockbridge
Milwaukee DNR Service Center area
Kettle Moraine State Forest, Northern Unit - The forest received over 4 inches of rain since Sept. 6, with more on the way. The horse and mountain bike trails are closed until further notice, to allow time for the trails to dry and stabilize. In addition, large portions of the Tamarack trail are under water. Tree cutting has wrapped up in the Zillmer trail area, but loggers will still be removing logs after the ground dries enough to allow the trucks in. Tree cutting has begun near the Parnell Tower, but the trail remains open to the public. The Mauthe Lake boat landing is flooded, and closed to vehicular traffic until further notice. - 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 - Large waves were crashing over the north pier on Thursday evening. Chinook and coho were caught from the piers. On Sunday evening the waves were spraying the south pier and no fish were seen caught on either pier, the water temperature was around 70 degrees. On Monday morning (Labor day) three large chinook were caught at the start of South pier very early, biting slowed way down after sunrise. The boats were catching mostly rainbow trout around 400 feet of water. The Roy Sebald nature area on the Sheboygan River is closed due to road construction. Fishing on the river has been pretty slow lately. A few smallmouth bass and a northern were reported caught on Saturday by the Kohler dam. A chinook was caught by the 8th Street bridge in Sheboygan on Saturday morning. One angler reported catching four chinook overnight Saturday into Sunday morning. Nothing was seen caught on Monday.
Ozaukee County - Coal Dock park was closed this weekend for the Paramount Music Festival, but fishing pressure remained high this Friday and Saturday. Anglers parked across the street by the fish cleaning station and walked over. Many small coho, a few chinook, and a few brown trout were caught this weekend on spawn sacs and spoons. A few chinook were caught on the north pier over the weekend. Spoons were the bait of choice. Very early morning was the best time and not much happened later on. There was very low boating activity on Friday due to rough water, one boat with three anglers caught one coho.
Milwaukee County - Warm water remains nearshore off Milwaukee, and the temperature in the harbor is a few degrees cooler. Fishing pressure on the shoreline increased as chinook salmon continue to move into the Milwaukee harbor. A large amount of bait fish moved into the mouth of the Milwaukee River after 2 inches of rain fell on Tuesday, Aug. 30. Nice catches of chinook salmon were landed on McKinley Pier at the start of the week by anglers casting spoons. Most of the kings landed on Labor Day weekend were caught on the Milwaukee River and on the shoreline behind Summerfest. Three anglers landed rainbows (up to 13 pounds), one small brown trout, and a 17-pound chinook early Saturday morning (Sept. 3) in the harbor behind Summerfest. The browns and rainbows were caught with shiners on the bottom and the king was caught on a spoon. Anglers on the Oak Creek were targeting chinook salmon. A couple of kings moved into the creek after the 2 inches rainfall on Tuesday (Aug. 30) according to the Oak Creek anglers. The fishing pressure and catch rate on the Oak Creek Power Plant fishing pier continues to be low. Only two to three anglers on average have been fishing on the pier over the past two weeks. A couple of large catfish were landed recently in the discharge chute by an angler casting white gulp. The majority of the boats fishing out of McKinley targeted kings and brown trout inside the harbor and in the break wall gaps. One boat landed six kings and a small brown trout Thursday afternoon (Sept. 1) while jigging spoons in the gaps. Boats that trolled outside the harbor Saturday morning (Sept. 3) landed only one to two fish on average. The boaters reported that the fish were scattered all over lake due to the strong northeast winds and 3 to 6 foot waves earlier in the week. Some boats that launched from Bender Park landed large chinook salmon and lake trout while trolling spoons in 40-50 feet of water in front of the Oak Creek by Grant Park on Saturday. Nice catches of rainbow trout were caught in the top 40-50 feet of the water column Saturday morning by Bender boats trolling in 150-170 feet of water straight out from the Bender harbor.
Racine County - Trollers that fished in 20-40 feet of this water did not catch any fish. The anglers said they marked a lot but could not get any to bite possibly because the water was 69 degrees top to bottom. Trollers that fished deeper water caught a few fish. In 85-140 feet anglers caught a few brown trout and coho salmon on spoons. In 180-200 feet they caught mostly rainbow trout, and some king and coho salmon. They trolled flasher/fly and spoons. Most of their fish were caught on spoons that had green and/or blue colors. At the surface the water was 70 degrees and down 70 feet the water was 51-54 degrees. Anglers fishing from the Racine piers this week caught some king salmon in the morning and evening hours. Most of the fish were caught on spoons, but some fish were also taken on crank baits. The king fishing has still been somewhat slow, but seems to be picking up. One angler also caught two coho salmon on live bait fishing by the boat ramp. The nearshore water temperature was 68 degrees. Very few anglers were fishing the Root River this week. Only a few bluegill and one smallmouth bass was reported caught this week, and there have been no signs of salmon running up the river yet.
Kenosha County - Anglers fishing from the Kenosha piers this week caught some coho salmon and some king salmon in the morning and evening hours using spoons. No perch were reported caught. Many anglers had a good week fishing from shore. Coho, kings, small rainbows, and a couple of brown trout were all caught. A few kings were caught on spoons in the early morning from the beach by the mouth of the Pike River. Most of the fish caught, however, were hooked in the harbor. Many coho were caught on live shiners under a bobber, spoons, and crank baits. The king salmon were caught on spoons and crank baits late at night or early in the morning. The water temperature was 68 degrees. No perch were reported caught.
Plymouth DNR Service Center area
Washington County - During the early part of this week some parts of northern Washington County received about 7 inches of rain within a 24-hour period, resulting in localized flooding and some property damage. A gravel access drive on Theresa Marsh at the west end of the Mohawk Rd. overlook parking lot (east side of the marsh) will be temporarily closed to all vehicle access until repairs can be made to washed out areas. We expect repairs to be made and the access drive re-opened to vehicle use within the next couple weeks. The mile-long gravel frontage road along the west side of Interstate 41 (east side of Theresa Marsh) was also damaged but remains open to vehicle use. Hunters are asked to use caution when driving down the road or any of the other gravel access drives, since many received damage from the heavy rains. The rains also caused water levels to rise rapidly on the marsh, creating problems with floating cattails above the dam. The floating boat ramp on the upstream side of the marsh dam is currently blocked by floating bogs, preventing canoe access across the dam. Canoe access is still possible from the usual launch area off of North Pole Road. Contact the Pike Lake DNR, Wildlife Management at 262-224-8523 to find out the current status of access roads and water level conditions on Theresa Marsh and other areas in the county. Wildlife viewing conditions for waterfowl, egrets, sand hill cranes, pelicans and other birds right now are excellent along Hwy. 28 west of Interstate Hwy. 41. - Tom Isaac, wildlife biologist, Hartford
Lower Wisconsin State Riverway Report - Many tributaries of the Wisconsin River are swollen and flooded. Heavy rains up to 7 inches are causing flooding in communities along the Pine, Kickapoo and other tributaries. The river flow is rising considerably and that is expected to continue. People planning a trip on the river should check river flows. Sandbars are likely going to be rare this weekend. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6E6DQf89Ft8 - Mark Cupp, executive director of the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway Board
Dodgeville DNR Service Center area
Green County - Hunting seasons are off to a good start in Green County with numerous hunters having success. The sunflower fields planted on State Lands look good overall. They can be found by going to the DNR Website and searching FFLIGHT. As always, please report any violations you observe and stay safe! - Ryan Caputo, conservation warden, New Glarus
Fitchburg DNR Service Center area
Dane County - Hunters had a successful dove opener with good action in Rock, Green and Dane counties on public and private lands. Early teal season in Dane County was fairly quiet with low numbers of hunters and not many teal seen. - Andy Paulios, wildlife biologist, Fitchburg
Jefferson County - There has been an increase in fishing activity. Anglers report better fishing on the Rock and Bark rivers from Jefferson to Lake Koshkonong. If walleye is the fish of choice the method producing the most fish is trolling. The Rock River from the Highway 26 bypass to Lake Koshkonong and on the lake are the current hot spots. Water levels are average for this time of year. Hunters reported varied success while dove hunting. Most hunters that pursued teal reported not seeing many teal. Those hunters that hunted geese in fields had the most success. Some geese were harvested over water but most hunters opted for cut wheat and oat fields. - Ryan Ellifson, conservation warden, Jefferson County
Janesville DNR Service Center area
Rock County - There are still plenty of mourning doves for hunters in the area. The DNR managed dove fields are a great place to find these speedy migratory birds. Hunters have been harvesting many doves from the fields near Evansville. Only non-toxic shot can be used on DNR managed-lands. Hunters need to be aware of the direction of their shots, especially where their pellets may be landing. Southern Wisconsin offers some of the best turkey hunting in the state. Turkeys have been active in the county. The fall season opens on Sept. 17 and runs until Dec. 31 for zones 1-5. Turkey hunters must carry their turkey carcass tag with them while hunting. Make sure to register your harvested bird online or by phone (844-GAME-REG) by 5 p.m. the following day. As summer winds down, make sure to fit in your last few boat rides or camping trips. Wisconsin's State Parks provide great opportunities for a weekend full of outdoor recreation fun. Whether it's climbing along the bluffs of Devil's Lake, or pitching a tent at Lake Kegonsa State Park, enjoy the last bit of summer before the cold fall winds blow. - Clark Delzer, conservation warden, Fitchburg
La Crosse DNR Service Center area
Vernon County - While there are good numbers of waterfowl in the area, early goose and teal season hunters will have to contend with flooding and high water. Water levels in area rivers, streams, marshes, and ponds are higher than normal. Many field roads and trails are also soggy, with some being impassable by vehicles until conditions dry out. Vernon and Crawford counties have received anywhere from 4-7 inches of rain as of the morning of September 7, and more rain is in the forecast. Hunters should exercise caution when venturing into high water. - Dave Matheys, wildlife biologist, Viroqua
Black River Falls DNR Service Center area
Black River State Forest - It is starting to look and feel more like fall. Leaves are starting to turn with a few splashes of red in some areas. There is still a very healthy population of mosquitoes, so remember to bring the bug spray. This weekend is looking to be cooler with temperatures in the low 70s and a chance of rain both Friday and Saturday. All-terrain vehicle (ATV) and UTV trails are closed and will remain so until at least next Wednesday, September 14. Due to heavy rains and high winds there is a lot of clean up that needs to be done before we can safely open the trails. Be sure to review our tips on ATV safety. East Fork and Pigeon Creek are now open on a first-come, first-serve basis.- Emily Alf, visitor services associate
Eau Claire DNR Service Center area
Lake Wissota State Park - Species of birds seen or heard include: ravens, rose-breasted grosbeaks, loons, a variety of wrens, phoebes, turkey vultures, northern juncos, pileated woodpeckers, great horned and barred owls, osprey, bald eagles, Canada geese and belted kingfishers. Wintergreen, common mullein, white snakeroot, marsh skullcap, lesser daisy fleabane, joe pye weed, pearly everlasting, the pale and spotted jewelweed, rabbits foot clover, marsh hedge nettle, some of the aster varieties, and wooly yarrow are flowering.- Dave Hladilek, park manager
Wisconsin Rapids DNR Service Center area
Buckhorn State Park - There have been fewer sightings of blue green algae around the park and beaches were busy on the weekend. Canoes and kayaks are available to rent during open office hours, as are bicycles to ride on roads in the park. - Heather Wolf, park manager