View current conditions for Wisconsin State Parks, Trails and Forests
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The strong rainfall of the last few weeks was compounded this week with more rain accompanied by high winds, thunder and lightning, as well as several tornado watches across the state. Downed trees and branches and flooding was reported at numerous state properties throughout south western and south central Wisconsin. State park crews were actively clearing roads and trails, and we're expected to have additional updates before the weekend. Anyone planning on visiting a property in these areas is urged to contact the property directly for the latest conditions.
Water levels across the state are still elevated and this week's rains means sand bars will likely be in short supply again on the lower Wisconsin River. With the high fast moving water many kayakers and tubers are taking advantage of the situation. A group of kayakers on the Peshtigo River said with the fast water they shaved an hour off the time it normally would take them for a river trip.
Wild weather has put a damper on fishing pressure across the state and there are isolated reports of partially submerged fishing piers. Anglers have reported some success for catfish on the St. Croix River and anglers have been having success fishing the Flambeau River for musky, walleye, northern pike and bass. Largemouth bass fishing has picked up with high waters in Dane County rivers and there were reports of an uptick in walleye and perch are coming in from Lake Winnebago.
In Door County, shore fishing continues to be good just to the north of Sturgeon Bay, particularly at the Stone Quarry Landing, which has received the most attention from anglers with good numbers of smallmouth caught over the past week. Perch anglers in the Sturgeon Bay shipping canal have had success over the past week. In Little Sturgeon Bay and Sawyer Harbor, yellow perch anglers were once again finding the numbers of fish but not much of the right size.
Lake Michigan fishing has been a roller coaster over the past week. Out of Kewaunee, chinook and rainbow dominated the catch. Anglers out of Sheboygan and Port Washington had a tough time with the weather, but still managed some chinook, coho and trout. Farther south brown trout and chinook salmon made up most of the catch, but lake trout, coho salmon, and steelhead were also caught out of Racine and Kenosha.
Milkweed, water lilies, black-eyed Susans and many more have started to bloom. Monarch caterpillars were spotted feeding on milkweed this week. Wild strawberries can still be found intermingled with crops of blueberries and black raspberries on the way.
The mosquito population remains large and in-charge near water bodies and forests, so come prepared. Sightings of does with fawns continue and there have been increasing sightings of some good sized bucks in the fields with almost fully developed velvet antlers.
Also spotted are the returning shorebirds, back from their Arctic stint, expect to spot them in flooded agricultural fields and low-lying areas. Turkey broods are inhabiting cut hayfields digging for insects along with their poults. There have been numerous reports of people finding fox snakes in their yards and gardens. These snakes are often reducing the population of voles and mice that are a potential detriment to the garden and landscaping.
Saturday, July 22
Sunday, July 23
Observatory Hill: July 29, 9 a.m. - noon. A large-scale restoration is taking place here and new gaps in the canopy have been created. Native seed has been spread but invasives like Japanese hedge parsley are threatening to take over. We will remove hedge parsley to encourage native plants to fill in the gaps. 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
Spooner DNR Service Center area
Interstate Park - The St. Croix River and the Lake O' the Dalles are both near normal water levels. Anglers have been reporting some success for crappies and other panfish on the lake and catfish on the river. Geese can be seen swimming in the Lake O' the Dallas. Osprey and turkey vultures can be seen soaring high above the river valley. Two hen turkeys and their clutch of poults can be seen hanging out near the Ice Age Center shelter every morning. Please remember to "Keep Wildlife Wild" and enjoy viewing wildlife from a distance and to leave young animals alone. - Matthew Densow, ranger
Straight Lake State Park - Rainbow Lake was stocked with trout and anglers have been reporting success. Trails are in good condition except for a few stretches of the Ice Age Trail near 280th Ave due to a busy beaver family expanding their dam. Make sure to wear a hat as the deer flies numbers are quite high right now. Two fawns have been seen hanging out near the campground parking lot. All the new gravel parking lots are a great spot to look for tracks such as deer, turkey, and bear. Park facilities construction is pretty much completed. All vault toilets are open and picnic tables are ready for use in the picnic areas. The campsites will still be closed for use until later this year due to hazardous trees that have developed at several of the campsites. In the meantime, feel free to look at the sites. Starting August 1, park stickers will be required at Straight Lake. Passes can be purchased at self-registration stations, with cash or check, once this change goes into effect. - Matthew Densow, ranger
Park Falls DNR Service Center area
Flambeau River State Forest - Anglers have been fishing the Flambeau River in hopes of catching musky, walleye, northern pike and bass. Some have been very successful. The water levels are moderate. Milkweed is blooming and so is basswood. They have a very fragrant scent. Yellow and white water lilies are blooming in ditches and ponds. The lavender colored pickerel weed is also blooming. Horse flies and mosquitoes are out, so be prepared. The dragonflies are filling up on those pesky mosquitoes. This year's elk calves and deer fawns are out and about following their mothers, many gallivanting around like teenagers. Cow and calf groups, and young bulls have been seen often on some of the main roads. The biggest bull elk in the area is drawing lots of attention as he's been seen feeding off the side of the road in the south east part of the forest. The weather forecast for the weekend has a 40 percent chance of thunderstorms on Friday afternoon with a high of 80 and a low of 62. Saturday has a chance of showers and storms with a high of 80 and low of 58, and Sunday, has a slight chance of t-storms with a high of 72 and low of 52. - Diane Stowell, forestry technician advanced and visitor services associate
Woodruff DNR Service Center area
Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest - Mid-summer in the forest is full of the sounds of summer: boats, campers, mosquitos, bees, crows, robins, hermit thrushes and the summer breeze blowing through your favorite place. Fewer birds are singing since they are busy gathering food for their broods, and the fawns are getting bigger and taking more chances crossing the roadways. Black-eyed Susan's have started popping up with the yellows of tansy, bird's foot trefoil and St. Johnswort, and the pink of the fireweed is starting to show up here and there! The big showy flowers of cow parsnip are beautiful to look at, but don't touch! They can cause skin irritations. Ripe wild strawberries are still lurking amongst the short grasses if one knows where to look, and the birds are eating the Juneberries as fast as they are ripening. - Rosalie Richter, visitor services associate
Northern Lake Michigan fisheries team report
This report is for the period of July 9-15. Heavy rains during the past week has once again created heavy water flows. Fishing pressure has been low to moderate in most areas. With the high fast moving water many kayakers and tubers are taking advantage of the situation. A group of kayakers on the Peshtigo River said with the fast water they shaved an hour off the time it takes to go from the Municipal landing to Klingsborns landing.
Marinette County - Anglers fishing the lower Peshtigo River from Klingsborns Landing to the landing at the mouth of the Peshtigo River report catching a few walleye both trolling and jigging in the river mouth, some of the fish are small. Perch, catfish, smallmouth bass, and drum were also being caught by anglers using a variety of baits and presentations. Shore anglers and boater alike are catching some walleye, catfish, drum, and smallmouth on the Menominee River. Boaters are trolling stick baits and bottom bouncers along with live bait to entice their targeted species. Shore anglers are using mainly minnows and crawlers fished on bottom. No reports of trout or salmon being caught yet. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo
Oconto County - Bluegill and smallmouth bass were still being caught below the dam at Stiles on the Oconto River. Live bait and plastics have been working the best with anglers fishing the current seams and slack water. The mouth of the Oconto River was producing smallmouth, drum, and catfish using tube jigs and live bait fished on bottom. The walleye bite from the Pensaukee River to Oconto Park II remains slow. Wind and rain has made it difficult for anglers to get out on the Bay. Reports of perch being caught out of Oconto Park II and the Oconto Breakwater Park are circulating. Reports say the perch are biting in 7 to 11 feet of water adjacent to weeds, rocks, or shoals with minnows and crawler pieces working the best. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo
Brown County - Once again rain and wind stirred up issues for the anglers this week. Rain kept anglers off the water for an entire day. - Derek Apps, fisheries technician, Green Bay
Door County - Lake Michigan fishing out of Sturgeon Bay has been better than in weeks past, but is still showing little consistency. Some decent catches of chinooks have come in, but there isn't one pattern guaranteed to catch fish. Chinook and rainbows have been caught between 100 and 200 feet of water, mostly down 50 feet or more. Spoons and flasher/fly combos have been the best lures, and blues and greens are still the better colors. Surface water temperatures are warm, around 65 degrees, and no anglers have been able to find much cooler water. Anglers with probes even reported water temperatures 90 feet down at 50 degrees. Perch anglers in the canal have had success over the past week. Anglers are reporting catches of many smaller perch and also some good keeping-sized ones, particularly on live minnows more than worms. The best times seem to be near noon, and fishing in the shadows of marinas or large docked boats has concentrated some schools of perch. Shore fishing continues to be good just to the north of Sturgeon Bay, particularly at the Stone Quarry Landing, which has received the most attention from anglers. Many species are being caught, from smallmouth and rock bass to perch and even a northern pike here or there. Most anglers are using worms fished under a slip bobber or on bottom, and some are also using minnows. Good quantities of smallmouth, the target of many anglers, were caught over the past week, including many fish over the legal size. The few fishing out of Sunset Park or Stone Quarry Landings had success for rock bass and smallmouth near rocks on shore with live worms. - Jacob Steckmesser, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay
In Little Sturgeon Bay and Sawyer Harbor, yellow perch anglers were once again finding the numbers of fish but not much of the right size, with most fish being 5-7 inches in length. Most anglers were targeting the perch just off the weed edge and slightly off the bottom to deter the round gobies from biting; anglers were also using live bait, either nightcrawlers or minnows. The few walleye anglers that were encountered had decent success with three being the most keepers recorded but every walleye angler did manage to come back with at least one keeper sized fish. Walleye anglers had their success trolling crawler harnesses and crank baits. Smallmouth bass anglers continued to struggle finding big numbers of fish with most anglers coming in reporting three to five fish being caught with most being the smaller males. Other fish species being caught were: rock bass, pumpkinseed sunfish, round goby, freshwater drum, northern pike, white bass, and alewife. - Derek Apps, fisheries technician, Green Bay
Kewaunee County - Fishing has been a roller coaster over the past week, with small catches and almost no pattern reported from most anglers early in the week. With the nicer weather during the middle of the week, fishing had improved dramatically by the weekend. There weren't too many boats out at the start of the weekend, but all the boats came in with decent catches ranging from two to eight fish per boat. Catches early in the weekend consisted primarily of chinooks, and as the weekend went on more rainbows than anything else came in. The most successful anglers managed to find surface water temperatures of about 55 degrees, but most of the other anglers reported between 64-66 degree surface temperatures. The best water depth has been between 120 and 180 feet, with chinook coming between 50 and 100 feet down and rainbows coming in the top 40 feet. Chinook have come on a mix of spoons and flasher/fly combos, with green or blue flies being the most productive and blue or green (particularly with black patterning like the "hulk" colored moonshine) spoons, being equally effective. Bright orange, yellow, or blue spoons on lead core or behind planer boards were the best producers for rainbows. Some shore anglers in Kewaunee fishing the breakwall were able to hook into a couple carp over the past week casting crank baits, but no other reports, including the Kewaunee pier, had fish. In Algoma, pier fishing is equally slow, but some shore anglers have been successful. Anglers fishing with live bait around Olson Park have been able to catch a mix of perch, bullhead, and sheepshead while some fishing with spinners or other artificial baits were able to catch some northern pike. - Jacob Steckmesser, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay
Peshtigo DNR Service Center area
Marinette County - The rivers and lakes have high water and more rain is forecast. The fishing pier on the north shore of lake Noquebay requires knee high rubber boots to access. The boat launch pier also has water over a portion of it. Many other piers in the area have the same issue. Deer have been very active lately and there seems to be an uptick in car deer collisions. We unfortunately just had another bald eagle hit by a car as well -- please be aware of eagles and other animals feeding on road-killed deer and slow down when you see them. Fisherman are still catching a mixed bag on inland waters. Perch fishing on the bay has been spotty and salmon fishing has not yet picked up. Blueberries are ripening, but are surprisingly not being found in large numbers. However, if you stick with it you will find enough berries for pancakes or even a pie. Wild raspberries are ripening now as well and the future blackberry crop is still looking very promising. Lots of people are reporting finding fox snakes in their yards and gardens. These snakes often are often reducing the population of voles and mice that are a potential detriment to the garden and landscaping. The invasive spotted knapweed has finally begun to bloom making it somewhat easier to locate and identify. This plant is easily spread when mowing is done following seed set. Hand pulling of knapweed is a very effective control method (and fairly easy now with the damp soil) when the plant is blooming. Be sure to bag up any plants pulled and landfill them as they may still leave viable seed behind if left on the ground. - Aaron McCullough, wildlife technician, Wausaukee
Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center area
Potawatomi State Park - All trails are open. Bald eagles, great blue herons, common mergansers and buffleheads have been seen flying over Sawyer Harbor. Many visitors are still spotting wild turkeys mainly by the park entrance. Lots of flowers are in bloom in the park. There has been a lot of rain in the past few days so there are a few mosquitoes but aren't that bad. - Jaclyn Moeri, visitor services associate
Whitefish Dunes State Park - Monarch caterpillars were spotted on milkweed this week. 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. 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. - Jaclyn Moeri, visitor services associate
Oshkosh DNR Service Center area
Outagamie County - With a warm weekend coming up there are multiple bodies of water in the Fox Valley that will offer a relief from the heat. The Fox River is a great place to get out and fish, boat and even kayak. However, the water in the Fox River is flowing very quickly, especially in Appleton, and can be dangerous. If you are going out on the river make sure to check the conditions. Little Lake Butte Des Morts is great place to tube, water-ski or operate a PWC. If you're interested in fishing; anglers have been catching perch throughout the lake in the morning. Finally, there is Lake Winnebago. Walleye and perch fishing are picking up and many fish are being caught around the northern part of the lake. There has been a lot of activity from recreational boaters as well. As a reminder, if you are out on a boat, canoe, kayak, paddleboard, etc.; everyone on board must possess a wearable life jacket. - Jake Bolks - conservation warden, Appleton
Wautoma DNR Service Center area
Waupaca County - Hot and humid it is and has been. We continually get rain so the bugs continue to be bad. Should be a blackberry crop for the ages. Starting to see some good sized bucks in the fields with almost fully developed velvet antlers. Not seeing many turkey broods this year, and those I have seen have been very, very small - an indication of second nesting attempts. No fishing report this week - don't think many people have been out in the hot humid weather. Stream conditions look great, slightly elevated and slightly cloudy. - Karl Kramer, wildlife technician, Wautoma
Milwaukee DNR Service Center area
Southern Lake Michigan fisheries team report
Sheboygan County - Fishing pressure was relatively low during the week due to stormy and windy weather conditions. As the week progressed, boaters reported more success, while anglers were still reporting little to no success off the piers. Only two catches of brown trout were reported off the south pier on Sunday, July 16. Most anglers were using spoons and alewives fished on the bottom, although the windy, wavy conditions over the weekend appeared to increase the difficulty of catching and using alewives as bait. The surface temperature of the water warmed to 60-65 degrees by the weekend. Success appears to be becoming more consistent off the boats, with only a couple of boaters reporting no catches during the poor weather conditions over the weekend. Mainly rainbow trout were caught, along with some chinook salmon, a couple of coho salmon, three lake trout, one brown trout, and one whitefish. The rainbow trout weighed anywhere from 3-10 pounds, which was similar to the weight range of the coho salmon. The chinook salmon had a significantly larger weight range up to 23 pounds. Fish were caught in water depths ranging from 70-180 feet on spoons and flies.
Ozaukee County - Fishing pressure was relatively low this week due to poor weather conditions. The Port Washington ramp and piers were also closed on Saturday, July 15 for Fish Day. Success off of the piers has slowed compared to the previous week. Off the Port Washington harbor and piers, a couple of small rainbow trout were caught off the harbor area near the south pier, along with one coho salmon and one brown trout. The coho salmon and the rainbow trout both weighed about 1.5 pounds, while the brown trout was considerably larger weighing about 12 pounds. Most anglers were using alewives and spoons, although a few were using worms and squid as well. The surface temperature of the water was warmer throughout the week at 65 degrees. Off the ramps, success reported from boaters was limited, with only two chinook salmon, one coho salmon, and one rainbow trout caught this week. Catches were reportedly made at depths ranging from 90 to 100 feet on flies.
Racine County - Fishing was slow for most anglers this past week with boats only landing one to nine fish. Most anglers reported catching three fish. Most of the fish caught were caught on spoons, but no color seemed to work better than another. Anglers reported fishing from 25 feet out to 150 feet. 30 to 40 feet of water seemed to produce the most fish just south of Racine. Brown trout, steelhead, lake trout, coho salmon and king salmon were are all being caught. No anglers reported catching perch. The water temperature was 57 degrees. Three perch, three king salmon, and one brown trout were reported caught from the piers this week. The kings were caught on glow in the dark spoons and all three bite on different colors (red/white, red/green/white, green/white). The perch were caught on a clear plastic jig with silver and gold flake. The brown trout was caught on a red and yellow crankbait. The water temperature was 57 degrees.
Kenosha County - Anglers reported catching between one and six fish this week. The fish were caught from 25 feet out to 160 feet, but most of the fish were caught in 25 to 45 feet of water just north of Kenosha. Most anglers also reported catching more fish in the early morning hours as well. Brown trout and king salmon made up most of the catch, but lake trout, coho salmon, and steelhead were also caught. Spoons and dodger/fly combos caught the most fish and no colors seemed to work best. The water temperature was 57 degrees. Eight brown trout were reported caught this week. Most of the browns were caught on live alewives under a bobber and a few were caught on spoons (green/chrome or Chartreuse/chrome), and white twister tail jigs. They seem to bite best in the early morning or evening hours. The water temperature was 58 degrees.
Lower Wisconsin State Riverway - Weekly Riverway Video Report - At Prairie du Sac, river levels are still above normal for this time of year. Trends upstream are lower. - Mark Cupp, executive director Lower Wisconsin State Riverway Board
Dodgeville DNR Service Center area
Lafayette County - With the recent rains the mosquitos have flourished and in no short supply. Fishing activity has been relatively slow compared to the occasional strong bites we'd like to see in Lafayette County. The Tri-County ATV trail has seen normal traffic as well as the same dusty conditions it always has. Does and fawns are becoming a regular sight as well as quite a few bucks in velvet. - Nick Webster, conservation warden, Darlington
Fitchburg DNR Service Center area
Dane County - Butterfly"ing" has been very good this week with many of the showy species active in prairies and areas with good nectar plants. Species seen include monarch, red-spotted purple, fritillaries, black swallowtail, pearl crescent and common buckeye amongst others. Shorebirds are starting to return from their brief but intense breeding season in the high arctic. Species reported include greater and lesser yellowlegs along with least sandpipers. With recent heavy rains there is ample habitat in flooded agricultural fields and low-lying areas. Largemouth bass fishing has been excellent with high water on Dane County rivers. Plastic worms and soft baits have been working well. Prairie flowers in bloom include the silphium species, yellow and purple coneflower, bergamont (bee balm), butterfly milkweed, and culver's root amongst others. - Andy Paulios, wildlife biologist, Fitchburg
La Crosse DNR Service Center area
Vernon County - Farmers are harvesting their second crop of hay for the year. These cut fields are excellent areas to look for wild turkey broods. Hungry broods frequent cut hay fields searching for abundant and nutritious insects. Deer fawns are roaming farther away from their mothers. In fact, do not be surprised to see fawns by themselves, especially during the day. Raccoons continue to be abundant and are beginning to cause problems in vegetable gardens as produce ripens. Regal fritillary butterflies, presently listed as a Federal Species of Concern and Endangered in Wisconsin, may be viewed in the large grassland areas at the Hogback State Natural Area in central Crawford County. Regal fritillaries are large butterflies; an adult wingspan is about 2.75-3.50 inches, with orange background on the forewings and dark background on the hindwings. The thick black marginal area on the upper side of the wings contains orange spots (male) or white spots (female). The larval food plants are violets, primarily prairie violet, birdsfoot violet, and arrowleaf violet. Adults are present between late June and early September with peak flight usually the first part of July. Intensive habitat management at the Hogback SNA has helped strengthen the local population of this beautiful butterfly. - Dave Matheys, wildlife biologist, Viroqua
Wisconsin Rapids DNR Service Center area
Buckhorn State Park - Ticks are out so check after hiking and camping. There are still some mosquitoes. Remember to bring bug spray, screen tents and/or thermocells. The beach is a great place to hang out. Canoes, kayaks and bikes are available to rent. Drop in at the north shelter to create something fun during an arts and crafts session on Friday, July 21 from 9-11 a.m. Arts and crafts also on Thursdays through August 17. On Saturday, July 22, join a storyteller at the amphitheater at 7 p.m. to learn about native animals, sing songs and more! Join Karyn every Wednesday through August 9 from 10-11 a.m. for QiGong (relaxation and meditation). Programs are free but park admission sticker required. - Heather Wolf, park manager