Published October 27, 2016 by the Central Office
View current conditions for Wisconsin State Parks, Trails and Forests
Check out the Wisconsin Department of Tourism (exit DNR).
For current statewide information on statewide fall color, log onto the Wisconsin Department of Tourism's Fall Color Report (exit DNR).
Fall colors are now past peak over most of northern and central Wisconsin, with the exception of Door and a few other central counties that are still reporting peak color, along with much of the southeastern part of the state according to the Wisconsin Department of Tourism's Fall Color Report (exit DNR). Even in the southeast, though, heavy rain earlier this week was reported to have brought down many leaves.
The change to wet and cooler weather resulted in some challenging fishing conditions on Northwoods lakes. Water temperatures have dropped into the low 50s on most lakes. Musky have still been the main species of interest and they have been providing some fairly consistent action, with most anglers dragging suckers around. Most of the musky landed have been in the 34- to 42-inch size, but a few up to 47 inches have also been reported. There has been just a light amount of pressure for walleye and panfish, with walleye success continuing to be quite erratic.
Fishing pressure was very low again in Door County with most anglers fishing on the Green Bay side of the peninsula. The few anglers fishing out on Lake Michigan were doing very well trolling for both chinook and rainbow trout. Yellow perch fishing continues to be very popular in the Sturgeon Bay Area and smallmouth bass fishing was excellent this week with many anglers reporting catching a lot of bass that were all fairly large.
Mature chinook salmon are on their last leg and are nearing the end of their life cycle, but there are still plenty of reports of fish in many rivers. Anglers have reported better luck catching coho salmon rather than chinook, but both species have been caught throughout the week. There were still good numbers of fish in the Ahnapee, Kewaunee, East Twin, Manitowoc, Branch, Milwaukee and Root rivers as well as in Door County streams.
The Wild Rose State Fish Hatchery will host a Fall Migration Mystery Open House on Saturday, Oct. 29 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. to celebrate the last weekend of the season open to visitors. Activities including: salmon migration maze; fish anatomy; view new sturgeon touchscreen; learn fly tying and fly casting; kids backyard bass casting; Gyotaku fish printing.
Water levels on the Lower Wisconsin River remain high and have made access difficult to some popular hunting spots in the the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway. Diving duck numbers are increasing in larger southern bodies of water, but waterfowl hunters continue to report some difficulty finding ducks due to all the high water conditions.
Leaf drop is progressing rapidly across the state and forest floors are thick with downed leaves. This should be a big advantage for bird and deer hunters. Woodcock are still thick in central Wisconsin and activity has increased at southern Wisconsin wildlife areas with the opener of pheasant season and continued weekly pheasant stocking.
There are indications that deer are in rut, with bucks with swollen necks observed traveling during the day and buck rubs and scrapes becoming more common. This is good for hunters but not so good for motorists, with an uptick in vehicle deer collisions being reported.
This weekend there are eight state properties holding Halloween or autumn events, including a "Creatures of the Night" event at the Horicon Marsh Education and Visitors Center, a haunted tower hike at the Pike Lake Unit of the Kettle Moraine and a Halloween Bash at Willow River State Park. For a complete list of events, search the DNR website for "Get Outdoors."
October 28, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Join the Pepin County Land Conservation Department, Wisconsin DNR, and Lower Chippewa Invasive Partnership for this workday at Maiden Rock Bluff SNA. Maiden Rock is known for peregrine falcons, 400 foot bluffs, and rare plants. But there are concerns; invasive brush and red cedar are invading the remnant bluff prairie and oak savanna. We will remove these species to encourage native plants to thrive. The work takes energy but will be on flat to gently rolling terrain. No skills needed you will be trained onsite. Lunch is included! Check the State Natural Areas Volunteer Program page of the DNR website for details. - Jared Urban, conservation biologist, Dane. - Jared Urban, conservation biologist, Dane
Superior DNR Service Center area
Spooner DNR Service Center area
Governor Knowles State Forest - Water at the Sioux Portage Group Campground has been shut off for the year. Water at the Trade River Equestrian Campground and the St. Croix Family Campground will stay on until we have temps predicted to drop below 25 degrees. There will still be water available at the registration buildings after the main water has been shut off. Electric will be turned off near the end of November. Electric can be turned on for campers wishing to use electrical sites after it has been turned off, contact the office headquarters at 715-463-2898 prior to camping. - Brandi Larson, visitor services associate. - Brandi Larson, visitor services associate
Upper Chippewa Basin fisheries report (Price, Rusk, Sawyer Taylor and inland Ashland and Iron counties) - The change to wet and cooler weather has resulted in some challenging fishing conditions on lakes in the Northwoods in the last week. Water temperatures have dropped into the low 50s on most lakes and along with some windy and rainy weather, fewer and fewer anglers have been venturing out. Musky have still been the main species of interest and they have been providing some fairly consistent action. Most of the musky anglers have been dragging suckers around, though a few continue to cast artificial baits. The sucker fishermen have been having real good success with the medium-size suckers (12 to 15 inches) and the musky have been found in a variety of locations - weed edges, mid-depth break lines and suspended near deep water. Action on artificials has been hit or miss, as the cooler water temperatures have made the fish more reluctant to hit fast-moving baits. The slower moving lures such as bulldawgs and glide baits have been the most productive. Most of the musky landed have been in the 34- to 42-inch size, but a few up to 47 inches have also been reported. There has been just a light amount of pressure for walleye and panfish, with walleye success continuing to be quite erratic. A few mid-size walleye have been found near the mid-depth mud flats and medium-size sucker minnows have been the most productive bait. For panfish, there has been a slight surge in crappie action with some decent size fish being found suspended near mid-depth cover. Perch have also been picked up on large fatheads fished on the mud flats and near old weed beds. With the colder water temperatures, bass fishing is all but over for the year. - Skip Sommerfeldt, senior fisheries biologist, Park Falls
Flambeau River State Forest - The forest floor is thick with downed leaves. The oaks seem to be the only trees left that have leaves still in the canopy. Bucks are being observed traveling, buck rubs and scrapes are being seen and large necks on the bucks indicate the bucks are ready. However, the does are not yet in estrous...that won't occur until early November. The elk are feeding heavily to fatten up in preparation for the winter months. Vocalizations of barred owls are high. Turkey and grouse have been hanging around eating along road sides. Because of the cold temperatures, insects are low, and woodcock are not being seen. Grouse numbers are fair to good. Bird hunters seem to be happy with the amount of activity they have seen. Bird migration is in progress. Because of the quantity of precipitation, ducks have not concentrated in areas, they are spread out. Geese are flying from one spot to the next feeding. Musky fishing on the Flambeau River, Connors Lake, Lake of the Pines, Mason and Evergreen lakes has picked up. Fishermen have been fishing for walleye also. There have been two heavy frost mornings. The weather forecast for this week indicates a chance of rain Wednesday and Friday with mostly cloudy skies till Sunday and daily temperatures in the 40s and 50s and night temperatures in the 30s and low 40s. - Diane Stowell, forestry technician advanced and visitor services associate
Woodruff DNR Service Center area
Oneida County - Deer activity has started to pick up. Scout your hunting area and you should find scrapes or rubs. Deer have been out feeding during the day, especially before the cold weather front that came thru on Wednesday. This also means an increase in car-killed deer this week. Dawn and dusk are times to watch out for deer on the road. The preliminary results of the "Summer Deer Observation Survey" show good recruitment this year (lots of twin fawns surviving thru the duration of the survey) so slow down when you see deer and expect a third deer to jump out too. An important reminder: There is a baiting and feeding ban in effect for Vilas, Oneida and Forest counties to help prevent the spread of CWD. Deer should be moving more in search of natural food sources. For more information visit the DNR website and search for keyword "CWD" or for "Baiting and feeding regulations [PDF]." 'Go Wild': Have you purchased your gun deer hunting license yet? Staff encourage you not wait until the last minute. The DNR has a new licensing and registration system this year. There are a few rule changes that will make tagging your deer different this year. Give yourself some time to become familiar with the changes, such as no back tag and different carcass tagging requirements (plus avoid the rush of last minute purchases). - Michele Woodford, wildlife biologist, Woodruff
Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest - Wet conditions still persist in the forest and the recent rains have brought down most of the leaves in the canopy and understory, so one can once again see a distance and spot that grouse or turkey or deer that just took off! A deer scrape here and there is indicative of what is to come! The oaks will keep some of its leaves to rustle in the breeze and the tamarack are glowing yellow and gold if they still have their needles. - Rosalie Richter, visitor services associate
Northern Lake Michigan fisheries team report
This report is for the week of October 16-2. Fall like temperatures have arrived and with the change more people are turning from fishing to water fowl hunting, small game, and bow hunting. Fishing pressure has been light in most areas.
Marinette County - There was little to no fishing pressure on the Peshtigo River last week. Some salmon were still being caught at Little River using spawn sacks, spoons, and stick baits. The Menominee River has had three gates open on the Wisconsin side of the dam due to high water and repairs being made at the power house. Results from the shock boat surveys show browns, walleye, rainbow, and some white fish showing up in the river. The upstream area of Stephenson Island held many fish. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo
Oconto County - A few anglers are still catching bluegill and crappie below the dam at Stiles on the Oconto River using live bait fishing mainly by the pilings. Anglers at Oconto Park II and Oconto Break water are catching perch and other panfish as well as a few northern live bait for perch has worked the best with most of the fish being caught on minnows. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo
Door County - Mature chinook salmon are now nearing the end of their life cycle, but there are still plenty of fish to be caught in many of the rivers north of Sturgeon Bay. There were a good number of chinook salmon in the rivers (Reiboldt, Heins, Hibbards, Whitefish Bay, and Shivering Sands Creeks) throughout this past week with almost no fishing pressure. Whitefish Bay Creek also had a few steelhead that were holding in the lower parts of the creek. Fishing pressure was very low again in Door County with most anglers fishing on the Green Bay side of the peninsula. The few anglers fishing out on Lake Michigan are once again doing very well trolling for both chinook salmon and rainbow trout. Anglers have been reporting excellent fishing trolling spoons, plugs, and flasher/flies North of Baileys Harbor in 200-300 feet of water. Yellow perch fishing continues to be very popular in the Sturgeon Bay Area and anglers reported that the fishing has only gotten better. The best method has been using a piece of night crawler or small fathead minnow under a bobber and casting near weeds. Smallmouth bass fishing was excellent this week with many anglers reporting catching a lot of bass that were all fairly large (18+ inches). - Lucas Koenig, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay
Kewaunee County - The fishing pressure dropped this past week but still remains relatively high. Chinook salmon are on their last leg, but many are still swimming upright in the Ahnapee River, Kewuanee River, and Stoney Creek. Anglers have reported better luck catching coho salmon rather than chinook, but both species have been caught throughout the week. Anglers have had luck catching salmon on the Ahnapee River near the Forestville Dam and also an occasional brown trout. Spawn sacs and egg pattern flies have worked well in some of the deeper pools along with jigging small plastics.- Lucas Koenig, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay
Manitowoc County - The chinook run is past its peak but there are still many fish in the rivers. The East Twin, Manitowoc and Branch Rivers are still producing salmon. The best action is upstream at the dams and in holes along the rivers. Water levels are low and fish are easy to spot including post spawn fish that have already died. No word on browns, rainbows or cohos in the rivers. - Benjamin Thome, fisheries technician, Mishicot
Green Bay DNR Service Center area
Manitowoc County - The fall colors have been beautiful this year and there is still time to get out and see them before they are gone! A good amount of ducks and geese have been seen throughout the county and because of this hunters have been very successful so far this season. The weather is beginning to cool down and the birds will be moving even more! The fall fish run has died down, but there are still some fish in the tributaries waiting to be caught. Trappers now have the opportunity to get back out and start trapping raccoons, fox, muskrats and many other species that now have open seasons. Many deer have been seen throughout the county and we are getting closer and closer to the rut! - Jake Bolks - conservation warden, Mishicot
Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center area
Whitefish Dunes State Park - Fall colors were peak this week with many trees still with colorful leaves. There are mostly yellows and oranges but many people have been enjoying great views of the trees atop Old Baldy. Asters have been in bloom along the park trails. Several turkeys and a small buck have been seen in the park recently. With the recent rain, several fall mushrooms have been popping up. - Jaclyn Moeri, visitor services associate
Wautoma DNR Service Center area
Waupaca County - Woodcock are still thick in central WI right now. We are past peak color and losing leaves quickly, the grouse we have will be vulnerable. Buck movement has picked up noticeably during daylight hours, rut should be in full swing very soon. Trout fishing has been closed for a week and a half now. We continue to get more and more rain, streams very high and much standing water in the fields. Many waterfowl around right now, everything from Woodducks to Trumpeter swans. Relatively mild weather has led to resurgence in deer tick numbers, so be careful out there. - Karl Kramer, wildlife technician, Wautoma
Waushara County - It is a wet and soggy day and the rains are knocking down a considerable amount of the leaves that were still remaining. This should be an advantage to deer and bird hunters as well. The pre-rut activity along with the fall harvest of corn fields has deer moving and has caused a significant increase of car vs. deer collisions throughout the county so as always be careful on the roadways. Remember as we look forward to November and the gun deer hunt that folks taking advantage of the Public Shooting Range on State Property in Waushara County that the hours are 10 a.m.-6 p.m. and that conservation wardens as well as Waushara County Sheriff's Department are able to enforce those hour regulations. Please be respectful of the folks that live nearby and their ability to have some peace and quiet as well. - Ben Mott, conservation warden, Wautoma
Wild Rose State Hatchery - Fall Migration Mystery Open House. On Saturday, Oct. 29 from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. celebrate the last weekend of the season open to Visitors. Why do salmon and trout leave Lake Michigan and migrate to streams in the Fall? Activities including: salmon migration maze; fish anatomy; view new sturgeon touchscreen; learn fly tying and fly casting; kids backyard bass casting; Gyotaku fish printing. Visitor Center, located at N5871 State Road 22, Wild Rose WI 54984 (1/4 mile North of Wild Rose on West side of Hwy. 22). Please call ahead for groups of 8 or more at (920) 622-3527, Ext 209.
Milwaukee DNR Service Center area
Southern Lake Michigan fisheries team report - Compiled from creel clerks by Cheryl Masterson and Jeffrey Zinuticz, fisheries technicians, Milwaukee
Milwaukee County - Most shore fishing pressure in Milwaukee has been on the shoreline behind Summerfest and the Lake Shore State Park lagoon. Chinook salmon, brown trout, and a few northern pike were caught in the lagoon over the past 3-4 weeks. Spawn sacs, crank baits, shiners, and fatheads have all produced. Anglers fishing off McKinley pier have been targeting browns and chinook on the harbor side of the pier. Anglers fishing skein and spawn off the docks at the McKinley ramp have been catching a few coho and chinook. Anglers fishing in Oak Creek have been catching chinook and coho on orange egg pattern flies, spawn sacs, and mini marshmallows. On the Milwaukee River, numbers of chinook had been stacked up below the falls in Kletzsch and Estabrook Parks, but their numbers are beginning to taper off. On the Menomonee River fishing has slowed considerably with few anglers out. The majority of the boats fishing out of Milwaukee recently have been targeting trout and salmon in deeper water. Browns and chinook have been caught while trolling cut plugs and spoons in 60-70 feet of water off Fox Point, and lake trout and chinook have been caught on flashers and flies fished 80-90 feet down in 200-260 feet of water straight out from the harbor. The lake trout season remains open through October 31. Bender Park boaters have been catching chinook and browns on spoons in shallow water off Wind Point and off Grant Park.
Racine County - In Racine only one boater was interviewed this week. The angler fished in 20-30ft of water and caught a few brown trout and one coho on crankbaits. Shore fishing at the Racine lakefront was slow. The Root River is currently low and clear, but that will likely change since an inch of rain is in the forecast for Wednesday. In general, the fishing improved this week, and a few anglers even reported having a limit or being just one fish away from a limit. The water temperature in the river is in the low 50s. The angling pressure has greatly increased upstream of the facility. Most of the fishing pressure and most of the fish reported caught have been from Quarry Lake Park all the way upstream to the Horlick Dam. The anglers were catching mostly kings, however, a few coho were caught as well. Anglers reported catching fish on chartreuse yarn eggs, orange yarn eggs, and red yarn eggs. One angler reported catching his limit on a blue and gold peanut fly. Overall the fishing pressure downstream of the facility has decreased as well as the number of fish caught. Most anglers were fishing at Lincoln Park, and very few anglers chose to fish further downstream. Anglers that caught fish reported using orange yarn eggs, and egg sucking leeches. Fish were processed at the Root River Steelhead Facility on Monday, October 24, and 328 fish were passed upstream. So far this fall, DNR crews have handled 1,932 chinook, 724 coho, 14 rainbows and 11 browns. The next processing days will be Thursday, October 27 and Monday, October 31.
Kenosha County - In the Kenosha harbor fishing is still slow overall, but a few coho and one brown trout were reported caught this week. The coho were caught on live shiners and spawn sacs, and the brown trout was caught on a small gold spoon. The water temperature in the harbor was 54 degrees. More anglers were fishing the Pike River this week. Most anglers fished near the mouth of the river, and none reported catching a fish. A few anglers were fishing near the Highway A bridge and reported seeing many kings, but had a hard getting them to bite. The river temperature was 51 degrees.
Dodgeville DNR Service Center area
Iowa County - The soybean and corn crops have been coming off the fields steady for the last few weeks in Iowa County ahead of a heavy rainfall event this week. Deer activity has been increasing and more archery hunters have been seen heading into the woods. Water levels on the Lower Wisconsin River remain high and have impacted access to some popular hunting spots including pheasant hunting on the Avoca Unit of the Lower Wisconsin Riverway. Waterfowl hunters have been reporting mixed results and have had some difficulty finding ducks with the high water conditions. - Alan Erickson, conservation warden, Dodgeville
Horicon DNR Service Center area
Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area - Fall migration continues and more birds are arriving at the marsh with the cooler weather. The best viewing areas on the National Wildlife Refuge currently are along the auto tour and the south side of Hwy 49. Some of the bird species you might see include shovelers, pintail, wood ducks, wigeon, ruddy ducks, and even larger numbers of mallards and green-winged teal than the previous week. Canada geese and sandhill crane numbers are increasing. Herons, egrets, and a few shorebirds (Dowitchers, Lesser yellow-legs) are still present on the marsh in small numbers. Trumpeter swans and a handful of Tundra Swans have been reported near the auto tour and Hwy 49 . Viewing is also good on the State Wildlife Area at the Palmatory Street Overlook and from the Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center on Hwy. 28. Geese and cranes will fly out of the marsh early to feed in the farm fields and the best time to see large numbers flying back into the marsh are the couple of hours before sunset and through sunset. More north winds in the coming days are expected to move some birds out such as wood ducks and some green-winged teal but also increase numbers of other species. On Saturday, October 29 from 7-9pm join us at the Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center for a fun "Creatures of the Night" event. This brand new event is sure to be a fun time for the family! Have you ever wondered what happens in the Explorium when the lights go out? Come learn about the creatures of the night in our family-friendly haunted Explorium! Wear a costume and receive a prize! Don't let the fun and learning stop there...create a spooky craft or an outdoor night activity...if you dare...Haunted Explorium tours will leave every 5 minutes. Please sign up for a tour time when you enter the building. A suggested donation of $2 a person is encouraged to help support programs like this. - Elizabeth Herzmann, natural resources educator
Fitchburg DNR Service Center area
Dane County - Late last week saw a significant uptick in deer movement with many hunters noting bucks on the move during daylight hours. Diving duck numbers are increasing in Dane County on larger bodies of water. Migratory birds of note include hermit thrush, kinglets and many sparrows. - Andy Paulios, wildlife biologist, Fitchburg
Jefferson County - Fall colors have peaked around Jefferson County and cooler temperatures have made it much more pleasant to be out hunting. Activity has increased at Waterloo, Lake Mills, Jefferson, Princes Point, and Rome Pond Wildlife Areas with the opener of pheasant and continued weekly stocking. Be sure to follow the rules to firearm safety as not all public land users will be wearing orange. The walleye bite has picked up from Black Hawk Island up through Ixonia. The legal size is 15 inches minimum and a daily bag limit of 5 on the Rock River. - Pearl Wallace, conservation warden, Jefferson County
Wisconsin Rapids DNR Service Center area
Buckhorn State Park - Some campsites in the new campground and group campground are still open through the end of November, or until there is plowable snow. All other campsites are closed for the season. Drinking water is available in the group camp or at the park office next to the restroom. Pit toilets are available in the campground and in the park. The fishing pier and boat boarding piers are removed for the season. Waterfowl hunting and small game hunting have started in the Yellow River and Buckhorn wildlife areas. Fall turkey will be in the Yellow River Wildlife Area. Bow hunting for deer is allowed in open areas of the state park and both wildlife areas and are in Central Forest, Public, Buck only. Small game hunting and trapping in the state park do not start until Nov. 15. Hunting maps are available online or at the park office. - Heather Wolf, park manager
Roche-A-Cri State Park - The main gate is now closed until early May. Camping is also closed for the year. There is access year round at the winter/prairie parking lot on Czech Avenue (south of the park entrance) to access the park in fall through spring. - Heather Wolf, park manager