Published July 6, 2017 by the Central Office
View current conditions for Wisconsin State Parks, Trails and Forests
Check out the Wisconsin Department of Tourism (exit DNR).
Some beautiful weather over the Fourth of July holiday had many people out enjoying parks and forests with campgrounds very busy. While some rain fell over the weekend it was considerably less than the state has received in previous weeks.
Water levels have started to recede but are generally still well above the long term average for this time of year on most river systems. A few sandbars are starting to reappear on the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway. Water levels remain high on the Rock and Crawfish rivers and slow no wake rules are in effect on the Rock from the Dodge County line to Lake Koshkonong.
Fishing has still been relatively slow over the past week on lower Green Bay, but there were signs of hope with some anglers catching walleyes out of Bayshore and Chaudoir's Dock. But anglers were having a very easy time catching freshwater drum, white bass, and catfish.
Along Door County smallmouth bass fishing has been hit or miss, with some anglers only catching a fish or two, and some catching upwards of 30. Some anglers were able to catch perch in the shipping canal and at Sawyer Harbor. The best salmon action continued to be out of Baileys Harbor where anglers were finding a few kings.
On Lake Michigan, weather made fishing quite difficult, in part because of storms and also because of cold water temperatures that followed. Some anglers out of Kewaunee, Algoma, Manitowoc and Two Rivers did manage to find fish mostly a mixed bag of rainbows and chinook with some coho thrown in. Fishing pressure picked up toward the end of the week when a salmon derby started.
Boats fishing out of the Sheboygan reported success over the weekend, mainly for coho salmon and rainbow trout, along with a couple chinook salmon and lake trout. In Milwaukee a long string of days with westerly winds pushed warm surface water along the shoreline offshore and pulled cold water in from the lower layers. The cold water drew large numbers of alewives, trout, and salmon into shallow water and anglers landed coho, rainbows and browns. Fishing improved for boat anglers out of Racine and Kenosha this past week, mostly for coho salmon and steelhead with a few king salmon and brown trout mixed in as well.
Early morning calls of loons are being heard in the Northwoods while evening have been filled with calls of the hermit thrush, veery and winter wren. Eaglets are fledging and goslings and ducklings are getting pretty big. Grouse coveys have been seen by lots of visitors to the Flambeau River State Forest, a good indicator of the grouse population. Deer antlers are growing big enough now to start showing branching.
Blue flag iris are still blooming in some Northwoods swamps, where the dainty partridge berry is also in bloom. Wild bergamot is about to bloom in open grassy areas.
These warm July nights, especially after a rain, are an excellent time to get outside after dark to watch the fire flies. This weekend also brings July's full moon--the full "Buck" moon and a number of full moon events are scheduled around the state.
Ripe wild strawberries are a treat for walkers; hopefully, blueberries are not far behind. Blackberry plants are setting their fruits, and it looks like the upcoming blackberry crop will be tremendous. Copious moisture sure helps with fruit development. Blackberries are of great importance to a wide range of wildlife for food and cover. In excess of 100 bird species eat blackberries, as well as raccoons, chipmunks, squirrels, and black bears
Breeding birds abound!
It's nearly mid-summer and all binoculars are focused now on breeding activity. This marks the third of five years of data collection for the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas, a comprehensive field survey that documents the distribution and abundance of birds breeding across the state. Atlas volunteers are reporting a slight decrease in bird song now, while the number of juvenile birds - those recently fledged from nests - is sharply on the rise. Identifying these drab, streaky-plumaged birds can be quite difficult, even for experienced birders. Your best bet is often to watch and wait quietly for an adult to deliver food, which not only helps with the identification but confirms the species as a local breeder. Observing one or more adult birds with a mouthful of insects or other prey items is another common way to confirm breeding for a species this time of year. These types of behaviors are exactly what the project is about so if you're fortunate to observe any, whether far afield or at your backyard feeders, please submit your observations to the Atlas here.
Birds on the move?
Believe it or not some migration is already underway as a few shorebirds have begun their southbound trek from nesting areas in the boreal and arctic portions of Canada. The three most likely species this early in the year are least sandpiper, solitary sandpiper, and lesser yellowlegs. Short-billed dowitcher and dunlin were also reported this week, though it's hard to know if they were coming or going. Meanwhile, several white-rumped sandpipers seen recently were most likely tardy individuals still trickling north. Look for numbers of migrating shorebirds to increase throughout July at exposed mudflats, flooded fields, or sandy shorelines. Shorebirds aside, July is a month when other birds start wandering around a bit, especially if their nesting attempts failed and they are no longer tied to a specific territory. So don't be surprised to see some new birds in some new places.
Rarities & reporting
Rarities were few this week. Several northern mockingbirds were found at various locations, while Manitowoc birders noted little, laughing, and Franklin's gulls along the Lake Michigan shore. Dickcissels continue to be widespread, although early cutting of field habitat may cause nest failure and subsequent departure of adults. As always, report your sightings, and find out what others are seeing, at ebird.org/content/atlaswi/news/atlas-data-entry-101-incidental-observations. Good birding! - Ryan Brady, Bureau of Wildlife Management research scientist, Ashland
Saturday, July 8
Sunday, July 9
July 8 9 a.m. to noon Bluff Creek SNA. Come help volunteers during our second Saturday workdays. We'll divide into teams to cut or remove white sweet clover and wild parsnip. This work is done annually because white sweet clover and wild parsnip can displace the native plants living in the wet prairie. 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 - Independence Day and the weekend were perfect for summer outdoor fun. The weather was beautiful and the river and campgrounds were very busy with people enjoying the great outdoors. A couple of thunderstorms have blown through in the past few days, bringing some rain to cool things off. More hot, humid and sunny weather is in the forecast. The campgrounds continue to be busy, but you can still claim a first-come, first-served site on most nights. These warm July nights, especially after a rain, are an excellent time to get outside after dark to watch the fire flies. Fire flies generally live near bodies of water, but they don't need a lot of water to get by. Small pools that hold water during fire fly mating season can all provide the habitat fire flies need. Most firefly species live at the margins where forest or field meet water. This weekend also brings July's full moon--the full "Buck" moon. Clear skies on Friday and Saturday nights will allow the moon to brighten the night sky. The summer night is full of interesting sounds as well. While the spring peepers are quiet now, the gray tree frogs, bullfrogs, toads, and green frogs can be heard. Take a look and listen to the Wisconsin Frog and Toad Survey website to learn to distinguish a variety of frog calls. The fields, forests, and roadside ditches are full of mid-summer blooming flowers now. Cow parsnips and common mullein are notable because of their size--growing up to 5 feet tall or more. - Diane Gobin, visitor services associate
Ashland DNR Service Center area
Amnicon Falls State Park - All trails are open. The river levels are pretty high for this time of year, especially since we received almost 3 inches of rain last week. Summer is in full swing. Flowers are blooming and baby animals are venturing out into the world. One lap around the campground and you could see ruffed grouse, wood cock, snowshoe hares, cottontail rabbits and more. Remember to keep wildlife wild and that just because a baby animal is hiding alone, doesn't mean its mother isn't nearby. - Natalie Brown, ranger
Spooner DNR Service Center area
Crex Meadows State Wildlife - This is a slow time of the year for bird watching, but it was a good week here at Crex. There may not have been as many species as last month, but that is to be expected. Birds are fledging young now and are hiding in the thick foliage. There are also fewer birds calling now, so they become even more difficult to find. The highlights of the week were the large number of dickcissels on East Refuge Road, the American white pelicans and non-breeding trumpeter swans that have gathered on Dike 5, and the red-necked grebes that appear to be trying to nest again on Phantom Lake.
Park Falls DNR Service Center area
Flambeau River State Forest - Fishermen have been fishing the Flambeau River in hopes of catching musky, walleye and bass, with some success and folks are enjoying the river experience. The water levels are moderate. Connors Lake Picnic Area and boat launch are busier on those hot sunny days and people are enjoying the 425 foot beach, grills and picnic tables. There will be a full moon on Friday July 8. Eaglets are fledging, jewelweed pods ripening, and blueberries and raspberries ripening. The roads have snapping turtles and painted turtles still crossing to lay their eggs. Horse flies and mosquitoes are out so be prepared. The dragonflies are filling up on those pesky mosquitoes. Grouse coveys have been seen by lots of staff and visitors, A good indicator of the grouse population. The weather forecast for the weekend calls for Friday to be mostly sunny with a slight chance of thunderstorms with a high of 74 and a low of 51. Saturday, will be mostly sunny with a high of 77 and low of 56, and Sunday, again has a chance of showers and t-storms, then sunny with a high of 76 and low of 54. - Diane Stowell, forestry technician advanced and visitor services associate
Woodruff DNR Service Center area
Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest - Ah, summer in the Northwood's! Early morning calls of the loon and robin. Evening calls of the hermit thrush, veery and winter wren. Doesn't get much better than this! Oh and don't forget the hum of the mosquitos! Parents are busy feeding babies, be it song birds, deer or bear. Goslings and ducklings are getting pretty big and turtles can be seen here and there still crossing roadways looking for egg laying spots. Ripe wild strawberries are a treat for the walker with; hopefully, blueberries are not far behind. Municipalities have started mowing the roadsides, so the daisies, yarrow and bird's foot trefoil are not as abundant as earlier. Blue flag iris are still blooming in some swamps, and the dainty partridge berry is in bloom. Moisture is still very abundant, so come prepared for soggy trails and high water! - Rosalie Richter, visitor services associate
Northern Lake Michigan fisheries team report
This report is for the week of June 25-July 1. Rain early in the week kept fishing pressure low. By the end of the week warm temperatures and sunny conditions brought anglers and pleasure seekers out in force. The water remains high and dirty with a lot of debris in the water.
Marinette County - Anglers at the mouth of the Peshtigo River report catching catfish, drum, and smallmouth bass using live bait and jigs tipped with plastics. The Menominee River is still running very high and dirty, as a result there were few anglers and no interviews were obtained. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo
Oconto County - Bass and panfish are still being caught below the dam at Stiles on the Oconto River, with live bait and tube jigs working well. The boat landing at Stiles saw numerous canoes and kayakers. The mouth of the Oconto River is still producing some nice cat fish and drum using live bait fished on bottom. The walleye bite from The Pensaukee River mouth to Oconto Park II has been slow. Anglers report rip jigging around rock piles, shoals and bottom breaks have provided the most fish. Perch anglers in the same area report a few fish being caught in about 11 feet of water adjacent to weed beds. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo
Brown County - Fishing has still been relatively slow over the past week. There were some signs of hope though on Saturday with some Bayshore anglers catching up to five walleyes for half a day's trip. Perch fishing has been very inconsistent were some groups were lucky to catch a few fish and others would limit out. Anglers were as always having a very easy time catching freshwater drum as well as white bass, and catfish. Shore anglers were catching freshwater drum and round goby. - Adam Garlie, fisheries technician, Green Bay
Door County - Bad weather had made for few opportunities for fishing in Sturgeon Bay over the past week, but toward the weekend, some anglers were able to get out with some success. Smallmouth fishing was hit or miss, with some anglers only catching a fish or two, and some catching upwards of 30, and the best lure for those that caught fish was a tube jig, but small swim baits caught smallmouth as well. No boats coming off the Lake Michigan side reported much success out of Sturgeon Bay, any fish that were caught were without much of a pattern before the weather turned nice. Some anglers were able to catch perch in the shipping canal on live minnows, with a few keeper-sized fish being caught. Many of the perch anglers were reporting fish were small, but they were catching quite a few of them. Shore angling continues to be consistent around Sturgeon Bay as well, with the best setup still being a bobber with night crawler. Smallmouth, rock bass, perch, and some other random fish can be caught at Sunset Park or Stone Quarry Landings, and some perch were also caught from shore near Sawyer Park Landing using live minnows. Anglers have been catching fish at any time of day, when the weather cooperates, so there should be plenty of opportunities for some good shore fishing in the coming week. - Jacob Steckmesser, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay
Weather conditions in the past week have made it difficult for anglers to get out and even more difficult to find the fish. Over the holiday weekend the weather stayed stable long enough to warm the water and give some good action. The smallmouth spawn is mostly over and the post spawn bite has been good. Fishing the deeper 8-15 feet of water areas adjacent to empty beds has been productive. Water temps on Green Bay are still fairly cool at 60-65 degrees so small and slow presentations work the best. The piers up the Green Bay shore have been producing a lot of smallmouth. Anglers using a chunk of crawler under a slip bobber have been doing well. Perch action has been inconsistent but a few fish are being caught on fatheads. No walleye action reported north of Sturgeon Bay. Salmon action has been inconsistent. The best action has been Baileys Harbor where anglers are finding a few kings. Surface temperatures range greatly with 65 degrees at Gills Rock, 55 degrees at Baileys Harbor, 52 degrees at Sturgeon Bay and 48 degrees in Kewaunee as of Saturday. Warm weather this week should help bring those temps up across the board and set up some consistent salmon action. - Ben Thome, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay
The walleye fishing has gotten slightly better at Chaudoir's Dock with most groups catching at least a few fish. Out of those groups a few were lucky enough to take a fish or two home. Perch anglers had better luck and found themselves taking at least three fish home from their fishing trip. All anglers were catching more than half a dozen freshwater drum while out fishing as well as the occasional white bass and catfish. Bass and walleye fishermen were still having a tough time fishing out of Little Sturgeon Bay. Both angler types were lucky if they caught one to five fish for half a day's trip. They had far better luck hooking into freshwater drum. Everyone out fishing found themselves catching those as well as white bass and catfish. Perch anglers were catching a few fish but none had any notable amounts of fish. The perch fishing has been surprisingly consistent out of Sawyer Harbor. Every boat that was fishing for them found at least five and had a few for the freezer. A few fish were measured and had lengths between 8-9 inches so there aren't huge but they are still fish to take home. Walleye and bass fishing has still been slow. Most boats are only catching a few fish for half a day's tips but occasionally there was a group who would catch 20-plus bass for half a day's trip. Anglers would also catch freshwater drum, white bass, white perch, catfish and round goby. - Adam Garlie, fisheries technician, Green Bay
Kewaunee County - Weather made fishing quite difficult this past week in both Kewaunee and Algoma, in part because of the storms and also because of the cold water temperatures that followed. Boats were marking surface temps of 44-48 degrees outside of the piers, and not a whole lot of warmer water until 200-plus feet. Fishing reflected this, as most catches were one or two fish, if that. There was no pattern in presentation or location that seemed to make a difference, but toward the end of the long weekend some anglers did manage to find some fish. Deeper water, from about 150-250 feet, produced mixed bags of mostly rainbows and chinook with some coho thrown in. Fish were caught on a wide variety of presentations, with some anglers catching both chinooks and rainbows all on 3-6 color lead cores, some getting all their fish on deeper set-ups, and some catching them on a mix of everything. Spoons in blue or green seemed to be the best bet for getting active fish to hit. This weekend also saw the access to the Kewaunee pier unlocked, with many anglers taking advantage of the opportunity but having no fish to show, the same as in Algoma. - Jacob Steckmesser, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay
Manitowoc County - Throughout the past couple weeks, fishing pressure has continued to drop. The beginning of this week was slow, yet again. Both Manitowoc and Two Rivers had very little luck, as the weather was still unfavorable and causing rough water on the Lakeshore. Toward the end of the week, when a salmon derby started, fishing had picked up in Two Rivers. Manitowoc, however, was still slow and many boaters returned with little to no fish and were moving to either Two Rivers or Sheboygan. The anglers in Two Rivers were catching mostly king salmon. Most of the fish were between 28 and 35 inches. Many anglers stated that the depth of water did not matter, but fish were only biting at the bottom. Most found luck using any lure that was bright colored like yellow or red. - Mallary Schenian, fisheries technician, Mishicot
Peshtigo DNR Service Center area
Marinette County - Grouse and turkey chicks are now out and exploring. Deer antlers are growing big enough now to start showing branching. Wild bergamot is about to bloom in open grassy areas. River levels are slowly subsiding, but rain is again in the forecast. Ticks numbers still seem low compared to other years and mosquitos are a problem in some areas but virtually non-existent in many places. High water has made trout fishing tough. The future blackberry crop looks promising right now with many patches full with unripe berries. - Aaron McCullough, wildlife technician, Wausaukee
Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center area
Peninsula State Park - The off road mountain bike trails and Sunset Bike Trail have now reopened. - Jessica Doell, visitor services associate
Whitefish Dunes State Park - A few fawns have been spotted in the park. The bird feeder has been busy with downy, hairy and red-bellied woodpeckers, along with goldfinches and juncos. This week a pair of red-headed woodpeckers have been sighted. Standing on the overlook you can see pelicans on the lake from the observation deck by the office. A lot of frogs have been heard in the afternoon by visitors hiking the Green Trail. - Jaclyn Moeri, visitor services associate
Milwaukee DNR Service Center area
Southern Lake Michigan fisheries team report -
Sheboygan County - Fishing pressure was low through the middle of the week due to stormy weather conditions, but it increased notably over the weekend as weather conditions improved. Anglers were reporting little success off the piers, with most of the catches coming from boats. Only one catch of coho salmon was reported off the Sheboygan south pier on Sunday, July 2. Most anglers were using alewives fished on the bottom and spoons. The surface temperature of the water remained cold at 45 degrees, and water on the harbor side was dirty. Boats fishing out of the Sheboygan ramps reported success came over the weekend, although several boats returned to the ramp without any catches. Boaters mainly caught coho salmon and rainbow trout, along with a couple chinook salmon and lake trout. The coho salmon weighed anywhere from 3-6 pounds, which was similar to the weight range of the rainbow trout of 3-7.5 pounds. Fish were caught in water depths ranging from 20-200 feet on spoons, dodger flies, and flasher flies. - Kathleen Frankel, fisheries technician, Plymouth
Ozaukee County - Fishing pressure was higher over the weekend than during the week due to improved weather conditions. A fishing derby from Friday-Sunday resulted in an extremely notable increase in trailers and boaters. Most of the success was reported from boaters with only a couple of catches reported by anglers off the piers and harbor. One rainbow trout, one brown trout, and one coho salmon were caught over the weekend at the Port Washington piers. The rainbow trout and the coho salmon both weighed about 5 pounds, while the brown trout weighed 16.5 pounds. Most anglers were using alewives and spoons, although a few were using spawn sacs as well. The surface temperature of the water ranged from 40-45 degrees. Success reported from boaters out of the Port Washington ramps was hit or miss, with some having caught several fish while others returned to the ramp with none. Mainly lake trout and chinook salmon were caught this weekend, along with a few coho salmon, a couple of rainbow trout, and two brown trout. - Kathleen Frankel, fisheries technician, Plymouth
Milwaukee County - A long string of days with westerly winds finally pushed the warm surface water along the shoreline offshore and pulled cold water in from the lower layers of the water column. The surface water temperature on the lake side of McKinley Pier decreased from 53 degrees last week to 45 degrees on June 29. The cold water drew large numbers of alewives, trout, and salmon into shallow water and anglers landed coho and rainbow and brown. The catch rate on McKinley Pier decreased on the weekend of July 1-2 as the surface water temperature increased to 53-55 degrees. The majority of boats out of McKinley are catching fewer fish and spending more time trying to catch them. Trollers were catching mostly kings and coho with some rainbow and lake trout. Most of the anglers seen on the Grant Park shoreline were fishing for carp. The water along South Metro was crystal clear and an angler saw a small school of rainbows looking for bait fish. The fishing pressure and catch on the Oak Creek Power Plant fishing pier continues to taper off. The majority of the fish landed on the pier recently have been large carp and small, stocked brown trout. The majority of boats seen at the Bender ramp during the week were pleasure boats and jet skis. Boats out of Bender found coho in 80 feet of water straight out from the harbor and nice-sized brown trout in front of the Oak Creek Power Plant.
Racine County - Fishing improved a little for boat anglers this past week. The fish seem to be pretty spread out across various depths. Some anglers struggled and only caught zero to five fish while a few managed to catch a limit or close to one. The anglers that were successful reported fishing in 35-45 feet of water and caught mostly coho salmon and brown trout. Anglers also did very well out at 120-180 feet running their lures from 30 feet down up to near the surface, and caught coho salmon, steelhead, and a couple of king salmon. Anglers said that they caught most of their fish on spoons, but a few fish were caught on flasher/fly combos as well. The water temperature was 57 degrees at the surface. A couple of shore anglers caught some small perch this week, but the larger keeper sized perch were very difficult to come by. The water temperature was 53 degrees.
Kenosha County - Fishing improved this week for boat anglers. Most anglers reported catching their fish from 30 feet down up to near the surface on flasher/fly combos and spoons. Fishing seemed to be best from 120-220 feet and anglers caught mostly coho salmon, and steelhead with a few king salmon mixed in as well. The water temperature at the surface was between 54 and 57 degrees. One shore angler reported catching four brown trout this week on a white tube jig under a bobber. The water temperature was 57 degrees.
Plymouth DNR Service Center area
Point Beach State Forest - Despite recent rains, all hiking and biking trails are open and in good condition. The beach is open and in fair condition. Expect a smaller beach area this year due to the higher water levels in Lake Michigan. Keep an eye out for pelicans that have also been frequenting our area of Lake Michigan. Please visit www.wibeaches.us for the most up-to-date information. For the most updated water temperature, please visit www.coastwatch.msu.edu/twomichigans.html (both links exit DNR). - Melanie Kozlowski, visitor services associate
Lower Wisconsin State Riverway - The water levels on July 6, at the Prairie Du Sac dam was 9,125 CFS. The water levels are beginning to recede and some sandbars are starting to reappear. Please call 1-800-242-1077 for current flow at the Prairie Du Sac dam. Southwest Wisconsin has received a lot of rain this past week so the water levels could change quickly. Canoeists should monitor the water levels carefully and always secure your canoe and equipment well. The DNR encourages everyone to wear a life preserver when in or on the River. Mosquitoes have been quite active within the river bottoms and bug spray would be recommended. - Matt Seguin, property manager
Weekly Riverway Video Report - River levels are coming down and a few sandbars are appearing after weeks of above normal flow. Still above average but dropping. Canoe landings are busy. Mark Cupp, executive director Lower Wisconsin State Riverway Board
Fitchburg DNR Service Center area
Jefferson County - Water levels are high on the Rock and Crawfish Rivers; slow no wake is in effect again on the Rock River from the Dodge County line to Lake Koshkonong. Catfish are being caught on both Rivers and those trolling for Walleye are having some success on Lake Koshonong. Panfish are being caught suspended in Rock Lake. - Pearl Wallace, conservation warden, Watertown
La Crosse DNR Service Center area
Vernon County - Blackberry plants are setting their fruits, and it looks like the upcoming blackberry crop will be tremendous. Copious moisture sure helps with fruit development. Look for blackberries to begin ripening in about a month or so. Blackberries are common along roadsides, field borders, fencerows, and forest openings. Blackberries are of great importance to a wide range of wildlife for food and cover. Two reasons for the importance of blackberries are their widespread occurrence and palatability. In excess of 100 bird species eat blackberries, including such species as the ruffed grouse, robin, catbird, cardinal, and brown thrasher. Raccoons, chipmunks, squirrels, and black bears are fond of blackberry fruits, while deer and rabbits consume the leaves and stems. Thorny blackberry brambles provide ideal cover and security for many types of small mammals, birds, and reptiles. - Dave Matheys, wildlife biologist, Viroqua