View current conditions for Wisconsin State Parks, Trails and Forests
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Most of the state has enjoyed beautiful weather over the past week and weekend. With no rain, sunny skies, and warmer than normal temperatures forecast for the next few days, it should be excellent weather to be outdoors.
The mild temperatures have people still enjoying canoeing and kayaking on rivers. It's a very unusual November when paddlers can comfortably float without a coat. The lower Wisconsin River continues to run a bit above normal flows for this time of year.
The gun deer season is right around the corner, so if you haven't already now is the time to make sure firearms are sighted in and ready. The season starts on Saturday, Nov. 19th and runs through the 27th. Most trees are free of the leaves so visibility is very good. Deer are mobile during the day and warm weather has made it comfortable for bow hunters, who are reporting the rut is continuing in full swing.
While waterfowl hunting pressure remains light, those after ducks and geese are reporting decent success from the Theresa Marsh area. Strong grouse numbers are being reported from the Flambeau River State Forest, though birds have moved to deeper woods as a result of hunting activity.
Even with the beautiful fall weather, fishing activity has continued to diminish on waters in the Northwoods. Despite a slow cool down for state waters, fishing pressure continues to drop. For those anglers still out, walleye success has picked up on rives, including the Flambeau, Wolf and Wisconsin, with sporadic catches reported from Northwoods flowages. Musky anglers are having more success, with anglers continuing to find targets suspended over deep water and along the weedy edges of the shore. A little surge in panfish action has also been noted, with some decent crappie and perch showing up in the creel.
The mild fall has slowed bird migrations. The sandhill crane population remains near peak at the Crex Meadows State Wildlife Area. The estimated population this year is approximately 14,000 to 15,000 cranes between Crex Meadows and Fish Lake wildlife areas. They fly in each evening to the wildlife until about sunset. In the morning, they fly out sometime after the sun rises, with several thousand cranes moving out over a two-hour period.
The waterfowl population remains high at Horicon Marsh, with a recent survey finding approximately 21,000 mallards, more than 48,000 Canada geese and just under 3,000 sandhill cranes.
Barred owls have been very vocal. Horned larks, snow buntings, tree sparrows, juncos, tufted titmice and the occasional Lapland longspurn have been observed in different areas of the state.
There will be a "SuperMoon" this coming Monday night and Tuesday morning. Hopefully the clouds will stay away so we can see it. Take a few hours to get outside on your favorite trail, or join the staff at the Pike Lake unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest Monday night for a full beaver moon hike to the observation tower.
November 12, 9 a.m. to noon. Enjoy the cool weather and cut up buckthorn at the springs of Bluff Creek SNA. Warm up your brush cutting arms and legs and start the brush cutting season during our monthly Southern Kettle Moraine SNA workdays on the second Saturday and enjoy the beauty of this wetland and oak opening area in the process. Buckthorn can spread and shade out uncommon plants at this site. Bring a bag lunch to eat afterwards. No skills needed you will be trained onsite.
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
Brule River State Forest - We experienced record-setting temperatures around the area over the past weekend. With no rain, sunny skies, and warmer than normal temperatures forecast for the next few days, it is excellent weather to be outdoors. There will be a "SuperMoon" on Monday night/Tuesday morning of the coming week. Hopefully the clouds will stay away so we can see it. Take time to notice the beauty in nature's details. This is the last weekend of the fishing season on the Brule River; the season ends on Nov. 15. The gun deer season is just nine days away! The season starts on Saturday, Nov. 19 and runs through Nov. 27. The Brule River State Forest has thousands of acres open to the public for hunting. A special camp permit can be issued to hunters during the nine-day gun season. This permit allows camping along certain roadways on the state forests during the season. You can stop by or call the forest headquarters to get a permit. Both Copper Range and Bois Brule campgrounds are also open. - Diane Gobin, visitor services associate
Spooner DNR Service Center area
Crex Meadows State Wildlife - The sandhill crane population is at peak. Look for cranes during the day in the farmland south and east of Grantsburg. They fly in each evening to the wildlife area beginning around 5 p.m. until sunset. In the morning, they fly out sometime after the sun rises, there are several thousand cranes moving out over a 2-hour time period. The estimated population this year is approximately 14,000 to 15,000 cranes between Crex Meadows and Fish Lake Wildlife Areas. Swan cygnets are full-grown and flying, and can be observed in several places throughout the wetlands of Crex, and can be found in farmland during the day as well. Ducks are still being seen, as well as rafts of coots and pied-billed grebes. Horned larks, snow buntings, tree sparrows, juncos and the occasional Lapland longspurn have been observed along the roadsides. Many species of sparrow are moving through.
Interstate Park - The leaves are off the trees, but the warm temperatures have made for some great conditions to explore the park. Any of our trails along the St. Croix River valley will give you some fantastic views of the river. If you are looking for a less traveled route, take the Silverbrook Trail on a 2.4 mile hike to see a small waterfall and an old copper mine in the park. Deer have been seen all over the park with the rut in full swing, including a few nice bucks. Canada geese are common visitors to the Lake O' the Dallas along with other migrating waterfowl. Fall migration of birds is in full swing, from the river bottoms, to the upland forests and several wetland areas, there are plenty of places to watch the migration occur. - Matthew Densow, ranger
Straight Lake State Park - Trumpeter swans and a wide variety of waterfowl have been seen feeding on Straight Lake. White-tailed deer and grouse have been seen in the park in recent days. Beavers can be seen in some of the wetland areas. The Ice Age Trail is in good condition. Take advantage of the nice weather and enjoy some great views that can be seen along the entire trail, like a boulder valley, the tunnel channel, and Straight Lake itself. Fishing on has been slow on both Straight and Rainbow lakes. Access to both Rainbow and Straight Lakes is carry-in only and no motors are allowed. Development of Straight Lake State Park has started. When completed, there will be 10 walk-to campsites, vault toilets, picnic areas, an accessible fishing platform on Rainbow Lake, a shelter, and hike-in/cart-in boat launch. The area where construction is occurring is closed to public use to ensure safety and to ensure that construction stays on schedule. Because of this, parking access to the park will be limited to 280th Ave. The new park additions are expected to be available to the public in spring. Access to Rainbow and Straight Lakes is limited due to construction. - Matthew Densow, ranger
Washburn County - There are lots of ducks and geese, and woodcock still around. It's great biking and hiking weather. The warm weather offers more bow hunting opportunities for those that like it warmer. - Nancy Christel, wildlife biologist, Spooner
Park Falls DNR Service Center area
Upper Chippewa Basin fisheries report (Price, Rusk, Sawyer Taylor and inland Ashland and Iron counties) - Even with the beautiful fall weather, fishing activity has continued to diminish on waters in the Wisconsin Northwoods with each passing week of the fall. The deer rut has started and hunting opportunities abound - so most outdoor enthusiasts have been spending more and more time in the woods or on their deer stands. Water temperatures have slowly dropped into the mid 40-dgree range and nearly all waterfront property owners have removed their docks and boat lifts. Many anglers have winterized their boats and put them in storage until spring. But then there are the musky anglers, with many of them still trying their luck on their favorite musky lakes. At this time of year, nearly all of the anglers are dragging large suckers around and hoping for that once-in-a-lifetime lunker. Reports indicate that the fishing has continued to be good, with many of the fishermen still finding musky in a variety of habitats - suspended over deep water, the edges of old weed beds and even up shallow. Most of the musky continue to be in the 34 to 40 inch size, but fish up to 48 inches have also been landed. There have also been a few walleye anglers still trying their luck, but success has been generally erratic on the lakes and flowages. A few positive reports have come in from those fishing below the dams on the area rivers, with fair catches of eater-size walleye being made on large fathead minnows. A little surge in panfish action has also been noted, with some decent crappie and perch showing up in the creel. The crappie have been found suspended in deep water areas, and the perch have been active on the mid-depth mud flats. - Skip Sommerfeldt, senior fisheries biologist, Park Falls
Flambeau River State Forest - Folks are still out enjoying the fall weather, camping, fishing, kayaking and canoeing. 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 and have had lots of success. The water levels are higher than normal this time of year due to the amount of precipitation we've received. Some adventurous people have been floating the river and enjoying the fast ride even though the temps are cool. It's a very unusual November when you can comfortably fish and float without a coat. The forest floor is thick with downed leaves. The oaks and ironwood seem to be the only trees left that have some leaves still in the canopy. The spinulous wood fern and the lady fern are still green and the honeysuckle and buckthorn still have their leaves. Winterberries are sparse, they probably fell off already. Vocalizations of barred owls are high. Snow buntings are here and flying to and fro in wave-like formations. Tufted titmice have been seen in the forest. They are a little gray bird and very vocal. They flit around in tree canopies and are frequent visitors to seed feeders. They hang from twig ends and drop down for seeds and carries them to a perch where it sets the seed down and whacks it with its bill or carries it off to its tree cavity to store them. Grouse numbers are fair to good. Bird hunters seem to be happy with the amount of activity they have seen though grouse have flown to deeper woods because of the hunter activity. Bird migration is still in progress. The elk are feeding heavily to fatten up in preparation for the winter months. Twelve elk were observed last week off of Highway W. There were six cows and three calves and a big bull. As the observer moved forward he saw two other adult elk. It's uncommon to be able to observe them in a group like this. Bucks are being observed traveling, buck rubs and scrapes are being seen, and large necks on the bucks indicate the bucks are ready. The weather forecast for this week indicates sunny days with daytime temps in the high 40s and 50s and night temps in the high 20s and low 30s. - Diane Stowell, forestry technician advanced and visitor services associate
Northern Lake Michigan fisheries team report
This report is for the week of Oct. 30- Nov. 5. Fishing pressure was low with the exception of Oconto Breakwater Park, Oconto Park II, and the Menominee River.
Oconto County - A few anglers at Stiles were catching some bluegill and crappie below the Dam on the Oconto River. One 8 pound rainbow was also caught below the Stiles Dam using stick baits. Most of the trailers at Pensaukee, Oconto Breakwater, and Oconto Park II were waterfowl hunters. Perch anglers are doing well at the Municipal Landing in Oconto, the Breakwater and Oconto Park II using minnows and crawler pieces. Some small fish are being caught but most anglers are keeping fish in the 7 inch range. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo
Marinette County - Walleye, brown trout and whitefish were being caught on the Menominee River mainly from the dam at Hattie Street down to Stephenson Island. Jigs tipped with minnows or crawler pieces, stick baits, flies and spoons are all being used. The walleye bite seems to be best during periods of low lights. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo
Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center area
Whitefish Dunes State Park - Fall colors have peaked but many trees still have leaves, especially the beech trees. There are mostly yellows and oranges and many people have been enjoying great views of the trees atop Old Baldy. With all the leaves starting to fall the trails have a carpet of colorful leaves on them. There have been several sightings of eagles soaring along the beach. With less people on the beach geese have been grouping up along the shoreline. - Jaclyn Moeri, visitor services associate
Wautoma DNR Service Center area
Waupaca County - The deer breeding season is still very active and archers have reported an abundance of deer that are traveling at all hours of the day. The warm weather has provided a great opportunity for a lot of user groups to enjoy public lands. Please keep this in mind and respect others when utilizing and enjoying these properties. There has been an above average walleye bite on the Wolf River. Anglers have reported the fish have been hitting on a jig and minnow. - Ted Dremel, conservation warden, Wautoma
Oshkosh DNR Service Center area
Fond du Lac County - Western Fond du Lac County like much of the state, has been unseasonably warm with mosquitoes still active in the marsh. Most of the trees are free of leaves and archery hunters have just recently begun to see signs of the deer in rut. Warm temperatures have meant relaxing conditions in the tree stand and nice sunny days to go after small game. Turkeys are active, gathering bugs and building up calories for winter, while flocks of geese take their time moving southbound. Water levels are high in the marsh, newly worked fields are very wet, waders and knee boots are recommended to recreate in the muddy yet comfortable conditions. - William Hankee, conservation warden, Fond du Lac
Milwaukee DNR Service Center area
Southern Lake Michigan fisheries team report - Compiled from creel clerks by Cheryl Masterson and Jeffrey Zinuticz, fisheries technicians, Milwaukee
The creel survey season is over for Lake Michigan fishing information.
Racine County - The final fish processing day at the Root River Steelhead Facility occurred on Monday, Nov. 7, and an additional 186 fish were passed upriver. Throughout the fall season, DNR crews have handled 2,045 chinook, 1,517 coho, 43 rainbows and 16 browns. More than 760,000 coho eggs were collected from 352 females. The facility will be reopened for steelhead spawning after ice out in Spring 2017.
Plymouth DNR Service Center area
Theresa Marsh State Wildlife Area - We're down to once a week pheasant stocking on Theresa Marsh, Allenton Marsh and Jackson Marsh wildlife areas for the next two weeks and the two weeks following the nine-day gun deer season. No Pheasant stocking is done during the week of the nine-day season. Gun and bow deer hunters are reminded that some changes were made this year to the boundaries and no-entry dates of the two Theresa Marsh waterfowl refuges. The refuges were downsized, boundaries reposted, and "no-entry" dates changed to Sept. 1-Nov. 15. Waterfowl hunting is prohibited within the refuges at all times. Revised maps showing the new refuge boundaries are available on the DNR website by typing "Theresa Marsh Wildlife Area." The water level on Theresa Marsh was lowered above the dam a few inches during the past couple weeks in preparation for freeze-over. Duck and goose hunters seem to be having moderate success on and around the marsh. Overall waterfowl hunting pressure has been light. A pair of bald eagles is frequently seen along Highway 28 just west of Highway 41. Washington County deer hunters are being asked to submit their adult deer for CWD testing, if possible. Deer heads (with 3-4 inches of neck attached) can be dropped off at the self-service CWD kiosk at the Pike Lake DNR office along Highway 60 between Hartford and Slinger. Check the DNR website under "CWD sampling" for other available CWD sampling options. - Tom Isaac, wildlife biologist, Hartford
Lower Wisconsin State Riverway - The water levels remains a little higher than normal for this time of year. The weather for the weekend looks good. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ToLqqE3-MtI&feature=youtu.be - Mark Cupp, executive director Lower Wisconsin State Riverway Board
Horicon DNR Service Center area
Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area - Migration is moving along slower than usual due to the mild fall; however, bird numbers are picking up. Some of the birds you might see include shovelers, pintail, pigeon, ruddy ducks, canvasbacks, green-winged teal and mallards. On this past survey, approximately 21,000 mallards, over 48,000 Canada geese and just under 3,000 Sandhill cranes. The best areas for viewing are the Horicon National Wildlife Refuge auto tour, along Highway 49 and fields along County Road Z. Be sure to visit the Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center and Explorium located on Highway 28 in Horicon. On Saturday, Nov. 12, join DNR staffer and author of "Wild Rice Goose and Other Dishes of the Upper Midwest" for an hour presentation on how to cook venison. Then from 11 a.m.-noon enjoy tasting some of the delicious meals and ask the author questions. Venison chili and venison sauerbraten are on the menu! For more information please call Liz Herzmann at 920-387-7893 or e-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org. Free and open to the public, no registration required. - Elizabeth Herzmann, natural resources educator
Fitchburg DNR Service Center area
Columbia County - Reports are rolling in from bowhunters that the rut is in full swing. Hunters are reminded they can call me to get their deer sampled for CWD or to get it aged. The northern ducks appear to be moving through with one landowner noting thousands of mallards seen this week. Wildlife Management staff are trying to squeeze in a few fall prescribed burns this week or next week to improve grassland habitat, with the burns likely to occur at Mud Lake Wildlife Area or Pine Island Wildlife Areas. - Sara Kehrli, wildlife biologist, Poynette
Deer are starting to move now even during the day so the rut is beginning. Waterfowl are still spread out in flooded farm fields as farmers are harvesting up to the soft spots and leaving the wet areas for later. Most of the leaves are down in the woodlots which helps with hunting. Fishermen are still catching fish on the Wisconsin River. - Paul Nadolski, conservation warden, Portage