Published May 18, 2017 by the Central Office
View current conditions for Wisconsin State Parks, Trails and Forests
Check out the Wisconsin Department of Tourism (exit DNR).
Strong storms that swept across Wisconsin with high winds earlier this week downed trees in some state parks and forests but crews have been out clearing the damage and all park and forest campgrounds and public use areas remain open. High water on the Chippewa River has closed one section of the Chippewa River State Trail south of Eau Claire.
With all the recent rain, many rivers are running above normal spring flow for this time of year. Both the Brule River and Flambeau River state forests are cautioning paddlers that their rivers are running high and fast. The Lower Wisconsin River had started to come down, with some sandbars again beginning to emerge, but with this week's rain, it could begin to rise again by the weekend.
Fishermen have been having some success fishing the Flambeau River for walleye and bass. Some northern pike, walleye and smallmouth bass were being caught on the Oconto, Peshtigo and Menominee rivers.
On Green Bay, high winds from the northeast kept fishing pressure low much of the week, but many anglers still ventured out. Anglers that braved the wind found the walleyes were looking for warmer water. Anglers are reporting catching walleye and smallmouth bass out of the Oconto Breakwater Harbor. In the southern bay, most anglers were catching multiple harvestable walleyes as well as white bass and freshwater drum.
Along Door County, fishing pressure on Little Sturgeon Bay was high last week due to the tournaments that were held in Sturgeon Bay over the weekend. Anglers were primarily targeting smallmouth bass with a few anglers trying for some walleyes. Smallmouth anglers success varied widely, the key to catching good numbers of fish seemed to be staying mobile and finding the warmest water. Rainbows are finishing up spawning but are still holding in some of the Door County streams, likely waiting for warm water to force them back into the lake.
Along Lake Michigan, fishing pressure on the Milwaukee lakefront increased with a week of calm, stable weather and temperatures in 60s and 70s on the weekend. Large schools of alewives are starting to show up along the lakefront. Large flocks of seagulls were diving on the alewives as they swam towards the North Avenue Bridge. Activity at the McKinley and Riverfront ramps increased with limits of coho being caught on the weekend.
Fourth season turkey hunters reported quite a bit of early success, but as the week went on it sounds like the birds have been pretty quiet. Bears are out and about and looking for food.
Fawns are being born and are being seen in many locations. Remember, fawns are rarely abandoned. It is normal for deer mothers to leave fawns unattended because keeping fawns hidden and alone is actually an adaptation to protect them from predators. If you see a fawn in the wild, leave it alone, back away, and it's mother will return to care for it.
It is also turtle nesting time. Watch out for turtles trying to cross roads to get to warm sandy spots in which to nest and you can report turtle crossing sites to help biologists protect our native turtle species.
The spring songbird and warbler migration is in full swing, with 18 species of warblers seen at Wyalusing State Park this week, along with several species of flycatchers and thrushes. This weekend will afford many opportunities for bird watching, with six state properties hosting birding activities, including the Crex Meadows Bird Festival this Saturday. For a complete list of activities, search the DNR website for "Get Outdoors."
Friday, May 19
Saturday, May 20, 2017
Sunday, May 21, 2017
With green-up nearing completion in the north and timely rains across the state, the spring wildfire season appears to be coming to a close and there will be no further wildfire reports this spring unless conditions change. - Joanne Ackerman, wildland urban interface coordinator, Madison
May 20, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. - Help Chiwaukee Prairie Preservation Fund volunteers during our monthly workdays on the third Saturday and enjoy the beauty of this rich prairie in the process. We will scout for and remove garlic mustard and dame's rocket, which threaten to outcompete native plants. We will remove these using a variety of techniques including herbicides, shovels, and our hands. 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 - With all the rain this week, the river flow is very high. Check the USGS flow rate data before you head out. The view from the Ranger Station has changed since last week. The view looking upstream from the Ranger Station has been photographed many times over the years. The view is different now, as the leaning white pine finally came down yesterday. The tree was likely about 200 years old and measured around 30-plus inches in diameter. With the recent significant rainfall amounts, the bank finally gave way. When the tree uprooted, it spanned the river. It took several hours to cut away the middle section of the tree to provide a passageway for canoes. Sunshine and warm temperatures at the end of last week and over the weekend got the leaves popping this week, changing the outside view as well. Marsh marigolds, wood anenomes and violets are in bloom. Ferns are unfurling, and the forest is greening up! More rain over the weekend is forecast, and then some sunshine and temperatures in the 60s will get additional flowers blooming. A snapping turtle was looking for a spot to lay her eggs near the hatchery this week. She weighed an estimated 35-40 pounds and her shell measured about 20 inches from front to back. It is turtle nesting time--watch out for turtles trying to cross roads to get to warm sandy spots in which to nest. - Diane Gobin, visitor services associate
Spooner DNR Service Center area
Crex Meadows State Wildlife - Most of the waterfowl have already migrated through the area, so the ducks seen on the property now are mostly our nesting populations. We should start to see some broods of young in the next few weeks. Be sure to keep your eyes open for the many broods of young Canadian geese that are on the properties. We should also start to see cygnets appearing soon. Songbird migration is in full swing in the Grantsburg area, and we added many new species to the list in the last few days! Some of the highlights for bird watchers have been pine warblers and blackpoll warblers. There was also an Indigo bunting spotted on Crex on May 12. The pair of Red-necked Grebes are nesting on Phantom, and have been seen many times either on the nest or swimming around near it. Highlights from the weekend were a red-headed woodpecker that was spotted, the sharp-tailed grouse that are still dancing in the early mornings, and the three different thrushes that are moving through (hermit, Swainson's and gray-cheeked). The Crex Meadows Spring Bird Festival will be held this Saturday, May 20 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. This festival is an opportunity for bird enthusiasts of all levels to celebrate birds while enjoying the camaraderie of fellow birders at one of the largest state owned wildlife areas in Wisconsin. Enjoy guided bird tours through the property, songbird banding, presentations by avid birders, bird activities for kids, and a pancake breakfast in the morning! Also join area birders in documenting any birds seen on May 20 on our 270 bird species checklist! Some events require pre-registration; call Lauren at 715-463-2739 for more information. - Lauren Finch, assistant naturalist
Park Falls DNR Service Center area
Flambeau River State Forest - Fishermen have been having some success fishing the Flambeau River for walleye and bass. It sounds like the northern pike were biting on Connors Lake. Water is high from recent rain and storms. Anyone planning to paddle down the Flambeau River this weekend should keep in mind the water levels, it may be fast moving. Blooming plants are everywhere. Large flowered bellwort, trilliums, bloodroot, side oats, marsh marigolds, jack-in-the-pulpits, sessile bellwort, trout lily, early season violets, lilacs...the list goes on. Geese and ducks are nesting and groups of goslings have been seen. A family of woodcocks were seen and chicks were described as tan little ping pong balls with sticks for legs. Song birds are defending their territories where the females are already sitting on the nests. Robins, mourning doves, yellow finches, phoebes, tree swallows, house wrens, owls, wood cock, sandhill cranes, swans, red breasted grosbeaks, orioles and kingfishers have been seen. There even was a siting of a yellow warbler and Myrtle's warbler. Bear are trying to fill up on proteins. Elk cows have been making calf scouting moves looking for a safe quiet area to have their calves. Spring turkey Period E is open through May 23. The few forest logging operations have come to a standstill because of heavy precipitation we are having this week. The weather forecast for the weekend indicates Saturday will have showers likely with a high of 58 and low of 46, and Sunday mostly cloudy, with a high of 59 and low of 43. - Diane Stowell, forestry technician advanced and visitor services associate
Woodruff DNR Service Center area
Oneida County - Goslings have hatched and Canada geese can be found in open grassy areas feeding on new greens. A burst of warm weather and some rain has Aspen trees budding new leaves. Trillium flowers and Cherry and Juneberry trees are blossoming their white flowers throughout our woods. Woodcock, grouse and turkeys are setting on nests. May is the month to bring in your birdfeeders, Bears are out and about and looking for food. Prevent bears from getting into trouble by considering these few simple steps: never feed bears, bring in bird feeders, keep garage doors closed if you store garbage inside, don't feed pets outside and clean out the grease can on your grill. For more information visit our dnr.wi.gov website and do a key word search for "living with bears [PDF]". - Michele Woodford, wildlife biologist, Woodruff
Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest - The drenching rain of the last few days is helping everything growing to suddenly explode with lovely spring green colors. June and Pin cherry are blooming, adding to the pallet of green pastels. Regular and barren strawberries are blooming, trilliums are starting to bloom and wood anemones are on the downward cycle. Rose breasted grosbeaks and indigo buntings are joining the warblers and hummers that are starting to arrive. The woods are full of song! The hermit thrushes and loons are serenading into the night. What a lovely time of year to get out and enjoy the north. - Rosalie Richter, visitor services associate
Antigo DNR Service Center area
Council Grounds State Park - Camping season is picking up at the park. All sites are first-come-first-serve until May 25 when the reservation season starts. Showers and flush toilets are open. All sorts of wildlife species are out and about. Deer are beginning to drop their fawns. Turkeys are laying eggs and nesting. Turtles are starting to sun themselves on the exposed river rocks. Birds are making their way back to their warm habitats. It's looking a lot like spring at Council Grounds! - Dawn Bishop, property supervisor
Northern Lake Michigan fisheries team report
This report is for the week of May 7-13. Early in the week high water made fishing difficult on the Oconto, Peshtigo, and Menominee Rivers, but by the week end things were returning to normal. Most of the fishing activity was happening from the Oconto Breakwater Park to the Pensaukee River.
Marinette County - Fishing for walleye from the Peshtigo Harbor to the mouth of the Menominee River has been slow. Some pike, walleye and smallmouth are being caught trolling in 7 to 12 feet of water with crawler harness and stick baits. Browns are still being caught out of Little River using spoons and cranks in water 12 to 15 feet. Heavy current and the closure of the Hattie Street Bridge has cut down the number of anglers to a very low level. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo
Oconto County - A few panfish and smallmouth were being caught on the upper reaches of the Oconto River using live bait and artificial. Catch rates are low. At the mouth of the Oconto River smallmouth bass, pike and walleye were being caught in okay numbers using a variety of artificial and live bait. The walleye bite is best early morning and late afternoon. As for trolling, Pensaukee has been producing the best bite using stick baits and crawler harness in 7 to 12 feet of water. Anglers are reporting catching walleye and small mouth out of the Oconto Breakwater Harbor by keying on the rock piles and reefs jigging with live bait and Rip'n Raps. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo
Geano Beach anglers were targeting walleye with similar pressure and success to other launches in the area. Anglers have been seeing an increase in the catch of northern pike this year. Most anglers also caught many freshwater drum which is not uncommon. - Adam Garlie, fisheries technician, Green Bay
Brown County - Walleye fishing this week at Bayshore Park was very much up and down. High winds from the northeast kept fishing pressure low much of the week, but many anglers still ventured out. Anglers that braved the wind found the walleyes were looking for warmer water and wanted flicker shads trolled slowly. Most anglers were managing to catch 1 or 2 fish with a few anglers getting their limit. Other than walleyes, anglers reported catching white perch, yellow perch, freshwater drum, channel catfish, and northern pike. Water temperatures are hovering around 49 to 51 degrees. - Derek Apps, fisheries technician, Green Bay
Over the past week walleye anglers have seen improved success with most boats out of the Metro Launch harvesting at least one walleye for a half days effort. It was not uncommon for a group of anglers to harvest four or more walleye. At the Fox Point launch, similar success to metro launch, anglers were targeting walleye with increased success from previous weeks. Most anglers were catching multiple harvestable walleyes as well as white bass and freshwater drum. Few anglers were seen fishing from shore. Mostly walleye fishermen out of fairgrounds with a few shore anglers. Walleye anglers saw success catching fish comparable to other launches around the area. Shore anglers were catching white bass, freshwater drum, as well as the occasional smallmouth bass. Anglers were out at Voyager Park fishing for white bass over the past week. Most caught a wide variety of fish for a half of day's effort, including white bass, freshwater drum, and common carp. Some anglers even caught a few yellow perch. A couple anglers were seen wading of shore as well. At Suamico, success increased from previous weeks with some boats catching more than seven walleyes for three to four hours' worth of fishing. There has also been in increase in the number of northern pike being caught, with at least half the anglers interviewed catching at least one. - Adam Garlie, fisheries technician, Green Bay
Door County - At Chaudoirs Dock with many anglers were struggling to find warm water and active fish. Anglers were reporting that the best fishing is taking place right at dark and into the night. Water temperatures reported were in the upper 40s and water clarity is improving with the lack of precipitation. Fishing pressure on Little Sturgeon Bay has been high this week due to the tournaments that were held in Sturgeon Bay over the weekend. Anglers were primarily targeting smallmouth bass with a few anglers trying for some walleyes. Smallmouth anglers success varied widely, the key to catching good numbers of fish seemed to be staying mobile and finding the warmest water. Many anglers were using suspending jerk baits or soft plastics to catch the smallmouth. Other species that were caught by smallmouth anglers were walleye, northern pike, round gobies, and common carp. The report for Sawyer Harbor is much the same from Little Sturgeon Bay. High fishing pressure seemed to have spooked some of the bass, lowering overall catch numbers. Anglers reported seeing many more fish in Sawyer Harbor compared to Riley's, Sand, or Little Sturgeon Bay. This is likely due to the warmer waters in Sawyer, reportedly anywhere from 56-58 degrees. With the warm weather coming this week the water temperatures should only increase bringing in more fish driving them to bed up and spawn. - Derek Apps, fisheries technician, Green Bay
Smallmouth fishing has been picking up as temperatures increase. Although anglers are finding many fish in shallows, the bite it tough. Most had better luck catching the prespawn fish staging in 10-15 feet of water. Smallmouth and pike can be seen from shore in many places, but as you travel north, you will see fewer and fewer fish since water temperatures in the northern end of the bay are cooler. Pike action has been good in most places around the county. Live minnows have worked the best. Walleye action is fairly slow but consistent. Anglers are finding fish but catches remain small. The southern end of the bay seems to be more productive. Brown trout action has diminished since most anglers have shifted gears to fish for other species. Browns can still be seen cruising the shorelines and piers in many places. Rainbows are finishing up spawning but are still holding in some of the Door County streams, likely waiting for warm water to force them back into the lake. - Benjamin Thome, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay
Kewaunee County - Fishing is still slow throughout Kewaunee County. The rivers are low, warm, and clear, and no anglers were seen to interview about steelhead fishing, so it may be finished for the season. A few boats out this weekend caught a brown or a rainbow in passing, and reported water temperatures ranged from 47 to 52 degrees. Many anglers agree that the brown trout fishing is over for the spring and they are looking forward to salmon fishing picking up. - Jacob Steckmesser, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay
Manitowoc County - There were a few warmer and calmer weather days this past week, which allowed more anglers to get out and spend time in the rivers and lakeshore. Catfish have been caught in the Manitowoc River as well as trout. Anglers were out on the West Twin River preparing for the upcoming carp tournament and having a fair amount of success. With the warm weather on Mother's Day, many families took advantage of the lakeshore and Manitowoc River and were enjoying the day on boats, kayaks and jet skis. - Mallary Schenian, fisheries technician, Mishicot
Peshtigo DNR Service Center area
Marinette County - Warm wet weather has brought more gnats and mosquitos. It has also helped morels and other mushrooms to pop, given bats some food, and greened up the woods. Trilliums and marsh marigolds are in bloom. Whip-poor-wills are now commonly heard calling in the evenings. Hummingbirds, bluebirds, orioles and numerous other migratory birds are now back. Anglers report catching some bluegill and bass on inland lakes. Snakes and turtles are a more common sight now. Please watch for turtles crossing roads and help them to the side they are headed to when it is safe for you to do so. Fawns will be dropped soon, so a reminder that does will leave their fawns for what seems like an excessively long time. Give the fawn space and leave it alone as its mother will likely return to care for it. Do not pick up, corral, feed, or otherwise interfere with the fawn. If you have reason to believe the mother will not be back, then please contact your local DNR biologist. - Aaron McCullough, wildlife technician, Wausaukee
Peshtigo River State Forest -
Governor Thompson State Park - The forest floor is covered in wildflowers. Turtles are starting to migrate. Baby painted and snapping turtles that over-wintered in the nest are now starting to hatch on sunny days. We are hearing spring peepers, toads and tree frogs. It is a great time for hiking - not too hot, and the leaves are just starting to pop open. There are 16 miles of hiking trails waiting for your next adventure. - Maggie Kailhofer, park manager
Milwaukee DNR Service Center area
Southern Lake Michigan fisheries team report
Milwaukee County - Fishing pressure on the lakefront increased with a week of calm, stable weather and less than a quarter-inch of rain. Daytime temperatures increased to the 60s and 70s on the weekend. Large schools of alewives are starting to show up along the lakefront and on the lake side of McKinley Pier. Anglers on the pier had no trouble catching alewives on Saturday morning. Small coho 5- to 6-pound brown trout were caught on alewives. The surface water temperature on the lake side of the pier increased from 46 degrees last week to 49 degrees on Saturday. A 40-inch northern pike was caught and released recently in the Lake Shore State Park lagoons by an angler soaking shiners under slip bobbers on 3 fishing poles. Most of the brown trout landed recently in the harbor behind Summerfest were caught with live bait (fathead minnows and shiners). Activity at the McKinley and Riverfront ramps increased with limits of coho being caught on the weekend. The weather conditions were near perfect for trolling on Saturday morning with 5-15 mph west/southwest winds and a large number of boats went out from McKinley. A few nice size brown trout and small coho were landed in the current on the lake side of the Oak Creek Power Plant fishing pier. The majority of boats out of Bender Park targeted coho salmon with good success during the week. The Milwaukee River flow rate and water level decreased this week. Anglers at Kletzsch Park continue to land smallmouth bass, rock bass, largemouth bass, and suckers. A large number of smallmouth bass and rock bass were caught and released at Estabrook on Sunday afternoon. Large schools of alewives have been stacked up below the former North Avenue dam for the past two weeks. Large flocks of seagulls were diving on the alewives as they swam towards the North Avenue Bridge. The water level on the Menomonee River continues to fall. There's been very little fishing pressure at Miller Park since the rainbow spawning run came to an end. - Steve Nagel, fisheries technician, Milwaukee
Racine County - One boat angler fished out at 130 feet of water and caught two coho salmon on a dodger/fly combo. Another boat angler fished in 25 feet of water and caught one lake trout on a spoon. The Root River is currently flowing at 110 cfs and the water visibility is about 14 inches. No anglers reported catching steelhead this week. One sucker and two smallmouth bass were reported caught. The water temperature was 60 degrees above the Steelhead Facility and 61 degrees below. Only a couple of anglers were fishing upstream of the facility this week and none reported catching any fish. Not many anglers fished downstream of the facility this week. One angler reported catching two smallmouth bass on live worms at Lincoln Park. Another angler fishing near the 6th St. Bridge reported catching a sucker on live worms. - Dominic Cavalieri, fisheries technician, Sturtevant
Kenosha County - A boat angler reported fishing in 150 feet of water and catching a majority of the coho salmon on a dodger/fly combo, with blue and/or green flies working best. Another boat caught a two-person limit of coho salmon at 200 feet of water and most of their fish were caught on a dodger/fly combo. They said that green flies seemed to work best. Both boaters said that they caught most of their fish in the late morning to early afternoon hours. - Dominic Cavalieri, fisheries technician, Sturtevant
Lower Wisconsin State Riverway - The water levels on May 18, at the Prairie Du Sac dam was 17,731 CFS. Please call 1-800-242-1077 for current river flow at the Prairie Du Sac dam. Please remember that camping is restricted to no more than three days on state-owned islands and sandbars. Camping at these locations is restricted to persons and their equipment arrived by watercraft only. A camping permit is not required. Portable toilets are in place at most DNR managed landings along the river and water is turned on at locations where available. - Matt Seguin, property manager
Weekly Riverway Report - The River is still a little bit high but some sandbars are popping up. There may be an uptick in river flow depending on upriver precipitation this week. Rain is in the forecast for the weekend. Mosquitoes are out. - Mark Cupp, executive director Lower Wisconsin State Riverway Board
Dodgeville DNR Service Center area
Wyalusing State Park -Just before you get to the Wyalusing State Park on Highway C there are a pair of trumpet swans in the back waters of the Wisconsin River. Birds that have been reported in the park are the following: American white pelican, double-creased cormorant, great blue heron, Canada goose, wood duck, bald eagles, broad-winged hawk, wild turkey, killdeer, spotted sandpiper, American woodcock, mourning dove, barred owl, chimney swift, ruby-throated hummingbird, belted kingfisher, eastern wood pewee, Acadian flycatcher, willow flycatcher, least flycatcher, great crested flycatcher, northern rough-winged swallow, bank swallow, barn swallow, black-capped chickadee, tufted titmouse, brown creeper, veery, gray-cheeked thrush, brown thrasher, blue-winged warbler, golden-winged warbler, Tennessee warbler, Nashville warbler, northern Paula-yellow warbler, chestnut-sided warbler, magnolia warbler, Cape May warbler, yellow-rumped warbler, black-throated green warbler, Blackburnian warbler, yellow throated warbler, bay-breasted warbler, Cerulean warbler, black and white warbler, Prothonotary warbler, northern water thrush, Louisiana water thrush, Kentucky warbler, Canada warbler, scarlet tanager, rose-breasted grosbeak, indigo bunting, Vesper sparrow, Henslow's sparrow, Lincoln's sparrow, red-winged blackbird, eastern meadowlark, Baltimore oriole, house finch, house sparrow. Trails are open. And in good condition. Treasure Cave is now open. It is the time of the year to watch the road sides for the doe deer and their young. Campers have sighted one near Whitetail Meadows Trail. Water has been high at the boat landing. This last weekend, there were canoers canoeing the back waters and capturing the view of lots of wildlife. Concession stand is now open Fridays, Saturdays and Sunday mornings and are renting canoes and kayaks. The concession stand will open during the week days starting May 26. Starsplitters will be having a Public Program Saturday May 27 at 8:30 p.m. at the Paul Lawrence Interpretive Center. Wild Flowers are starting to bloom in the Native Prairie at the Park office. Shooting star, cream false indigo and columbine. - Pam Dressler, visitor services associate
Horicon DNR Service Center area
Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area - Migrating songbirds are finally arriving with a variety of vireos, warblers and flycatchers now moving through. Reports of hummingbirds at feeders are now more prevalent as they move into the area. It's definitely time to have your nectar and orange feeders out if you don't already! Trillium and wild geranium are in bloom. Visit the Horicon National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center located off of Highway Z on Saturday May 20 from 9am-1pm for a Wildflowers for Wildlife native plant sale. Native wetland, woodland and prairie plants will all be available and proceeds will benefit the Friends of Horicon National Wildlife Refuge. Visit www.horiconmarsh.org for more details or call 920-387-7893. - Elizabeth Herzmann, natural resources educator
Fitchburg DNR Service Center area
Columbia County - Well, the mosquito season has officially kicked off, and they are out with a vengeance this year! If you are heading out to the woods, make sure to bring bug repellant. The ticks have been very bad this year too. Fourth season turkey hunters reported quite a bit of early success, but as the week went on it sounds like the birds have been pretty quiet. Fifth and sixth period hunters usually have more success with ambush techniques than with trying to call toms to them. Many geese, ducks and cranes have been noted with their young and the first reports of fawns being seen are starting to trickle in. Morels were still out this past week and wild asparagus is out. Lupine started to bloom as well. - Sara Kehrli, wildlife biologist, Poynette
Eau Claire DNR Service Center area
Chippewa River State Trail - The trail is flooded between mile 5 and 6 near Jopke Road south of Eau Claire. Plan on using the Highway 85 rest area or Caryville to access the trail to the south. - Calvin Kunkel, ranger
Wausau DNR Service Center area
Wisconsin Rapids DNR Service Center area
Buckhorn State Park - We have six non-reservable, first come-first served sites for Memorial Day weekend. All reservable sites have been filled. Boat launch repairs at the launch inside the park are completed. Showers at the south picnic shelter will be on soon after a repair is completed. Showers are open in the new campground. Drinking water is available throughout the park. - Heather Wolf, park manager
Roche-A-Cri State Park - We have three non-reservable campsites for Memorial Day weekend. All reservable sites are filled. - Heather Wolf, park manager