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It seems like summer just got here and already there are signs of it ending. In the north a few maple trees are just starting to show some fall colors. A pair of bucks were seen this week, one still in velvet antlers and the other had already shed. The late summer yellows of tansy, black-eyed Susans and goldenrod speak of shorter days to come.
Continued rain showers in the last week, especially across the north, are keeping river systems at higher than normal levels for mid-August. Brown trout fishing continues to pick up on the Bois Brule River. The catfish bite is on on the Wisconsin River in central Wisconsin with anglers landing good number of channel catfish. Some walleye, smallmouth bass, catfish and drum are being caught in the Peshtigo and Menominee rivers. Anglers have had good success on both the Fox and Wolf rivers catching northern pike, walleye, catfish and panfish.
On Green Bay, anglers fishing for walleye on the west shore from the mouth of the Pensaukee River to Oconto are finally getting on to fish, while along the east shore success was more mixed with about half the boats reporting harvesting a few walleye while others did not catch any. Anglers targeting smallmouth bass along Door County had success in water ranging from 4 to 20 feet. In Sturgeon Bay perch fishing has been pretty good with some anglers catching their 15 fish bag limit including some larger 12-inch perch.
Along northern Lake Michigan, salmon fishing generally remains slow with warm surface temps in the mid-60s plaguing the west shore of the lake. Some anglers out of Kewaunee have been able to find a few fish, mostly rainbows with an occasional king. Boats out of Manitowoc and Two Rivers have come in with some fish but most came in from 200-250 feet of water, which is quite a hike out from either port. Catches consisted mostly of chinooks, with an occasional rainbow.
Fishing pressure out of some southern Lake Michigan ports was higher this week compared to previous weeks, especially over the weekend due to a fishing derby. Mainly rainbow and lake trout and chinook and some coho salmon were caught out of Sheboygan and Port Washington. A mixed bag of king and coho salmon, lake trout, and steelhead were caught out of Racine and Kenosha, again from deeper water as surface water was near 70 degrees.
There were reports at Horicon Marsh of blue-winged teal, wood ducks and mallards flocking up and some shorebirds were moving through. Some early migrants are pushing through southern Wisconsin including hummingbirds and Baltimore orioles - along with likely exodus by flycatchers and some of the early migrant warblers such as cerulean and mourning warblers.
There will be music in parks this weekend with the band Pieces of Eight performing at the beautiful Mirror Lake amphitheater or Noah James Hittner performing at Merrick State Park along the Mississippi River on Saturday. Universe in the Park will be at Willow River on Friday night and Big Bay and Interstate on Saturday night. Big Bay will also host its 23rd annual sandcastle contest on Saturday. And for those looking forward to Monday's solar eclipse, Interstate, Newport, Peninsula and Potawatomi all have eclipse programs. Remember, never look directly at the sun unless you look through special-purpose solar filters such as eclipse glasses.
Upcoming featured events at Wisconsin recreational properties
Friday, August 18-20, 2017
Friday, August 18
Saturday, August 19
Sunday, August 20
Superior DNR Service Center area
Brule River State Forest - With steady rain today, the Brule River is flowing well above normal for this time of year. Check the USGS flow rate data before you head out on the river. There are reports that brown trout are in the river and fishing is starting to pick up. The much-talked-about solar eclipse will happen on Monday, August 21. In this area, we will experience about a 75 percent eclipse occurring around 1 p.m. It will be interesting to see if there is any noticeable change in animal behavior during the eclipse. As of right now, the forecast for the Brule area is for rain and clouds on Monday, so we may not see anything out of the ordinary. Although there is plenty of summer left, and flowers are still blooming, some signs of approaching fall can be seen. A few maple trees are just starting to show some fall colors, the raspberries and blackberries have ripened, and the roadside grasses and ferns are just beginning to brown up. The hummingbirds also seem to be especially active as they gear up for the long migration ahead of them. There is a North Country Scenic Trail Group Hike this Saturday through the Mott's Ravine State Natural Area. The hike starts at the Highland Town Hall and ends at Gaylord Nelson Portal. Distance: 5.5 miles. The hike leader is Peter Nordgren, a member of the North Country Trail Association's Brule-St. Croix Chapter. Meet Saturday, August 19 at 9 a.m. at Sharon's Lakeview Cafe in Lake Nebagamon. You can RSVP at www.meetup.com/sscbhikers. - Diane Gobin, visitor services associate
Spooner DNR Service Center area
Straight Lake State Park - Park development is complete at this point. Finishing touches such as park signage, kiosks, and grills will all be completed in the coming weeks by park staff. We are still looking at opening the campground this fall once the hazardous trees have been removed and all permitting has been completed. Two solar water systems will hopefully be installed this year as well. 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. Try out the new Rainbow Lake Loop and the Glacial Trail. The Straight Lake Trail is another new trail that will take you all the way from the picnic area parking lot, through the new campground, to the southern shore of Straight Lake. Vehicle admission stickers are now required at Straight Lake State Park. - Matthew Densow, ranger
Park Falls DNR Service Center area
Flambeau River State Forest - The colder days last week seemed to slow down fishing on the Flambeau River. The water levels are low in some spots on the river. Wild bergamot, bunch berries, blue cohosh, and blue bead lilies are blossoming. Blueberries, raspberries ,and blackberries are abundant. Pollination this year seems to have been very successful and good precipitation levels as the berry and apple trees are full of fruit. Monarch butterflies and hummingbirds seem to be more numerous this year. Horse flies, black flies and mosquitoes are out, so be prepared. Elk cow and calf groups are secretive and hanging out in cover. Elk calves are weaning off of the cows and eating more vegetation. The bulls are still in velvet. The biggest bull elk in the area is being seen feeding off the side of the road from the south end of the Flambeau to Highway W, mid forest. He is drawing lots of attention and is quite a site to see! The weather forecast for the weekend, indicates Friday will be partly sunny with a high in the lower to mid-70s and a low in the mid-50s. Saturday will be mostly sunny with a high near 80 and a low in the upper 50s, and Sunday, increasing clouds with a 50 percent chance of rain and t-storms, with a high near 80 and a low near 60. - Diane Stowell, forestry technician advanced and visitor services associate
Woodruff DNR Service Center area
Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest - It seems like summer just got here and already there are signs of it ending! The late summer yellows of tansy, black-eyed Susans and goldenrod speak of shorter days to come. The lavenders of bergamot, fireweed and the dreaded invasive spotted knapweed add to the color pallet. Spreading dogbane is starting to turn yellow and the blackberries are ripening for the berry pickers! All sizes of turkey broods are being seen along roadsides, and once in a while a buck in velvet. Loons are being heard calling as they travel from lake to lake to feed and the hum of mosquitos is starting to fade. Crickets are starting to call during the evening walk time, a soothing but saddening of the summer season coming to an end! - Rosalie Richter, visitor services associate
Antigo DNR Service Center area
Lincoln County - Up here there are pockets of low-lying maple changing a bit, with a few more cold nights they might be more widespread. Blackberries are staring to ripen, next week will be very good for picking. Monarchs are appearing in the wildlife openings and goldenrod is coming into full bloom. - Mike Bicanic, Wildlife Technician, Merrill
Northern Lake Michigan fisheries team report
This report is for the week of August 6-12. Gates are still open at the dam in Peshtigo and Menominee but is not effecting the fishing negatively.
Marinette County - Some walleye, smallmouth bass, catfish and drum are being caught in the lower portion of the Peshtigo River live bait with jigs are working well and so are plastics and small crank baits. The brown trout bite on the Trout Bar is still classified as good on the right day. Perch anglers are having some success out of Little River fishing 9 to 14 feet of water with live bait, moving is a must in order to stay on the fish. Menominee River anglers are catching some nice smallmouth, catfish, walleye and drum from Bum Island to the mouth of the river using live bait, plastics, and crank baits. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo
Oconto County - Panfish, smallmouth bass, and even a few brown trout are being caught below the dam at Stiles on the Oconto River. Live bait has been working best for the pan fish and smallies, while fly anglers are catching a few browns on streamers. The mouth of the Oconto Rivers still producing some catfish, smallmouth and sheepshead using live bait and plastics. Anglers fishing for walleye from the mouth of the Pensaukee River to Oconto Park II are finally getting on to fish. Most anglers are fishing in 30 feet of water trailing a crawler/harness 100 feet behind the boat. Perch angler are also having some success fishing in 9 to 14 feet of water using crappie rigs or slip bobbers, look for weed beds. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo
Brown County - Early in the week not many anglers were out but those who were had varying results. Toward the end of the week more anglers were observed out, most going after walleye, but came back with little luck. Anglers reported catching mostly shorts, freshwater drum, and white bass. Over the weekend the parking lot averaged about 40 trailers. - Kara Winter, fisheries technician, Green Bay
Door County - At Chaudoir's Dock, only a few anglers were seen during the week. At the end of the week most boats were after walleye with inconsistent success. About half the boats reported harvesting few walleye while others did not catch any. Anglers from boat also caught freshwater drum, white perch, and a few catfish. The parking lot averaged about 18 trailers over the weekend. The parking lot at Little Sturgeon Bay averaged about eight trailers earlier in the week and 40 trailers over the weekend. Most boats were out for walleye, but again had varying luck and harvested little of the target species. Anglers also caught freshwater drum, round goby, and white bass. At Sawyer Harbor, an average of six trailers were observed during the week with little success. Over the weekend, there was an average of 10 trailers in the lot and a few anglers reported targeting walleye with little success. - Kara Winter, fisheries technician, Green Bay
Anglers reported success with smallmouth bass from Anderson's Pier, Murphy Park, and the brake wall in Egg Harbor. Live bait, in particular leaches, seem to produce the best results. There were a few incidental catches of rock bass and yellow perch in these same locations. Anglers targeting smallmouth bass from boats had success in water ranging from four to 20 feet, while using plastics. Anglers targeting walleye out of Sister Bay and Ellison Bay found success jigging with artificial bait in 20-30 feet of water. The salmon bit remains slow in all port of Northern Door County this week. Anglers had sporadic success in 200-400 feet of water, with the most consistent bite reported in deeper waters. When fish could be found they responded to both spoons and flies. Water temperatures remain high, with surface water hovering around the low 60s. - Lydia Doerr, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay
In Sturgeon Bay perch fishing has been pretty good with some anglers catching their 15 fish bag limit including some larger 12-inch perch. The best pattern has been fishing crawlers in the weeds early morning. Walleye fishing has been inconsistent but anglers out of Stone Quarry have had limited success mostly catching larger fish while trolling crawler harnesses. Bass action remains decent with anglers having the best luck targeting weeds at various depths using plastics. Shore fishing at Stone Quarry has been productive for smallmouth but can be sporadic. A slip bobber or drop shot with a half chunk of crawler has been the most productive bait from shore. - Ben Thome, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay
Kewaunee County - Salmon fishing from Kewaunee to Sturgeon Bay remains slow with warm surface temps in the mid 60s plaguing the west shores of Lake Michigan. This has persistent anglers traveling out to 200-plus feet of water and searching the depths for active fish. Some anglers have been able to find a few fish, mostly rainbows with an occasional king. Spoons seem to be more productive. Pier fishermen have only been able to catch the occasional drum. - Benjamin Thome, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay
Manitowoc County - Salmon fishing has remained difficult out of Manitowoc and Two Rivers. Few boats have come in with more than three total fish in any trip over the past week, and not many boats have been so lucky to come in with that many without investing a significant amount of time into travel. Most of the fish reported this week came in 200-250 feet of water, which is quite a hike out from either port. Catches consisted mostly of chinooks, with an occasional rainbow finding a cooler as well. Chinooks were caught deep, with anglers reporting running downriggers at 100-170 feet down, with those able to run deeper catching more fish. Spoons were the best reported lure this week, but no color stood out. Surface water temperature had reportedly dropped into the mid-60s by the weekend, leaving anglers hopeful for continued cooling to bring fish in closer. Pier anglers haven't had any success beyond the occasional carp or drum, but many have reported seeing silver-colored fish jumping around the piers, although none have been caught to confirm what species they are. - Jacob Steckmesser, fisheries technician, Mishicot
Peshtigo DNR Service Center area
Marinette County - Fall is drawing near. We are still getting rain periodically, but water levels are beginning to recede. After having all the gates open on the Lake Noquebay dam for nearly a month, the levels have finally receded to the point where the dam can be closed again. The nights have been cool with low humidity and a few stressed trees have begun to change color and drop a few leaves. Some of the fall flowering plants, including goldenrod and aster, have started to bloom. More blackberries are ripe. The bright yellow and orange chicken mushrooms (aka Sulphur Shelf) have begun to appear on dead hardwood trees. There are still blueberries to be found. Bears have been tearing up cherry trees in forest openings in their efforts to obtain a tasty treat. Turkey broods are still using forests openings and roadside ditches to forage for grasshoppers and other insects. - Aaron McCullough, wildlife technician, Wausaukee
Oconto County - The bugs are coming back out again, there was a lull in mosquito activity in Oconto County for a while but they are back. Fishing is picking up. Panfish are being caught on most lakes in Oconto County. Musky have been biting on the bay. They have also caught crappie on Berry Lake near Gillett. ATV trails are probably dusty with the lesser amount of rain we have been getting. Plenty of wild flowers are still present. Deer and turkeys are also prevalent on the landscape. - Paul Hartrick, conservation warden
Wautoma DNR Service Center area
Waupaca County - Saw two bucks and three antlerless deer on the way to work this morning. One buck was in velvet, the other had already shed his velvet. Spots on the fawns are really starting to fade and they currently look about half the size of mom. Turkey broods seem both small in number and the poults are very small for this time of year - likely indication of failed first nesting attempts. A few night hawks are starting to stage for the fall migration. The blackberry harvest is now in full swing, looks to be a dandy. Still cannot tell for sure what kind of an acorn crop we are going to have, you would think it would be great with all the moisture this year. Some of the red maples trees are just starting to change colors, the first vegetation I have seen this year to do so. - Karl Kramer, wildlife technician, Wautoma
Anglers have had good success on both the Fox and Wolf Rivers and are catching northern pike, walleye, catfish and panfish. Most have had their luck using a weighted jig baited with a minnow or night crawler. Evenings have been the best time to catch fish. The water level on these rivers is starting to come down as well. It is always a great time of the year for any outdoor activity, but it is especially a good time of the year for bird watching. Most of the young birds are out of the nest and readily viewable. Take a look at the prairies! They have lots of color this time of the year and a variety of bees, butterflies, and insects can be viewed as well. - Ted Dremel, conservation warden, Wautoma
Milwaukee DNR Service Center area
Milwaukee County - Our late prairie flowers are in full bloom. Keep your eyes open for prairie blazing star, stiff goldenrod, rattlesnake master, and many more. Birding for fall migrants is also starting to pick up, with a strong shorebird migration right now, and fall warblers starting to move through. To learn more about wetland restoration and see a variety of wetland plants and animals, join a DNR Wildlife Biologist at Paradise Valley Wildlife Area on Wednesday, August 23 at 9AM. Contact Dianne Robinson at Dianne.Robinson@wisconsin.gov or at 262-424-9827 to register and for more information. Early season dove, teal and goose hunting will begin September 1. The beginning of bear and archery seasons are around the corner, as well as turkey, rabbit, squirrel, grouse (Zone A), and crow. Search for "FFLIGHT" on the DNR webpage to find dove fields, pheasant stocking sites, and grouse and woodcock habitat. Make sure to check our hunting regulations for any changes. Antlerless deer tags are available in many parts of the state. Visit our Go Wild licensing site for more information. To provide your input on the deer population in Milwaukee, attend the Milwaukee County Deer Advisory Committee meeting on Wednesday, August 30 at 7 p.m. at the Milwaukee DNR Service Center (2300 N. Martin Luther King Jr. Dr.). Visit our CDAC webpage for more details. - Dianne Robinson, wildlife biologist, Milwaukee
Southern Lake Michigan fisheries team report - Compiled from creel clerks by Cheryl Masterson and Jeffrey Zinuticz, fisheries technicians, Milwaukee
Sheboygan County - Fishing pressure was higher this week compared to previous weeks, especially over the weekend due to the Coho Derby. As in previous weeks, boaters still reported most of the success, with anglers reporting little to no success off the piers. A couple of the days were rather windy, which resulted in waves crashing over the piers and prevented many anglers from even attempting to fish. Anglers were using spoons. The surface temperature of the water remained warm, ranging from 66-68 degrees throughout the week. Success off of boats was limited during the week, with the majority of the fish being caught over the weekend. Mainly rainbow trout and chinook salmon were caught, along with several lake trout and a couple of coho salmon. A rainbow trout weighed anywhere from 3.5-9 pounds, while the chinook salmon had a larger weight range of 2.75-26 pounds. Fish were caught in water depths ranging anywhere from 95-350 feet on spoons, flasher flies, and j-plugs.
Ozaukee County - Fishing pressure remained relatively low throughout the week with no noticeable increase in boaters or anglers over the weekend. Most of the success was reported from boaters as success off of the piers and harbor area remains rare. Only five small rainbow trout and a freshwater drum were caught off the North pier and harbor area respectively. Since alewives still remain scarce, most anglers were using spoons and spawn sacs, and a couple of anglers were using corn. The surface temperature of the water was a warm and constant 66 degrees. Success off the boats was hit or miss with some boaters catching a couple of fish and others returning to the ramp with none. Mainly lake trout were caught, along with some chinook salmon, a couple of rainbow trout, and one coho salmon. The lake trout weighed anywhere from 1.5-11.5 pounds, while the one chinook salmon that was measured weighed 16.5 pounds. Catches were reportedly made in water depths ranging from 60-350 feet on spoons, flies, and dipsy divers.
Racine County - Anglers caught between zero and seven fish this past week. The fishing was best in 140 feet of water out to 180 feet and anglers ran their lures from 70 to 100 feet down. Most of the fish were caught on flasher/fly combos and spoons. Early morning and late evening seemed to be when most fish were caught. king salmon, coho salmon, lake trout, and steelhead were caught. At the surface the water temperature was 70 degrees. Off the pier, only one brown trout was reported caught this week. The brown was caught on a gold and orange spoon just before the sun began to set. The water temperature was 68 degrees.
Kenosha County - Anglers caught between zero and eight fish this week with most catching four to six. Most anglers caught their fish in 140 to 175 feet of water and ran their lures from 60 to 80 feet down. Spoons and flasher/fly combos caught the most fish. A few anglers had success in 230 feet of water out to 300 feet. They ran their lures from 60 to 90 feet down from the surface and had success with flasher/fly combos and spoons. Anglers caught lake trout, steelhead, coho salmon, and king salmon.
Plymouth DNR Service Center area
Point Beach State Forest - The beach is open and in fair condition. Expect a smaller beach area this year due to the higher water levels in Lake Michigan. Please visit the WIDNRTV YouTube channel to watch a video of Point Beach State Forest's beach area filmed in July. 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 http://www.coastwatch.msu.edu/twomichigans.html. - Melanie Kozlowski, visitor services associate
Horicon DNR Service Center area
Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area - We have had recent reports of blue-winged teal, wood ducks and mallards flocking up. Some shorebirds are moving through but habitat is not ideal. Some rain is needed to increase mudflats. Highway 49 south of the historical marker and at the pump house seem to be the best locations along with portions of Old Marsh Road. DNR and USFWS staff are conducting duck banding operations. A portion of the Palmatory Street trails at the Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area are closed. Please respect these closures and do not enter as it disturbs the birds and deters staff banding efforts. All other trails are open for foot traffic and leashed pets. Upcoming events at the Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center include a butterfly/dragonfly program at 10 a.m. on August 22 and Stories at the Marsh for the young adventurers on August 24 at 10 a.m. Be sure to visit the Horicon Marsh Explorium for a hands on way to experience the story of Horicon Marsh. - Elizabeth Herzmann, natural resources educator
Fitchburg DNR Service Center area
Dane County - Anecdotal observations suggest a good burr oak acorn crop around Madison. If this is true across a broader area it could be something that hunters and wildlife-watchers may want to pay attention to in the coming months. Some early migrants are pushing through southern Wisconsin including hummingbirds and Baltimore orioles - along with likely exodus by flycatchers and some of the early migrant warblers such as cerulean and mourning warblers. Wetland conditions are good across the area and likely resulted in a good waterfowl hatch! - Andy Paulios, wildlife biologist, Fitchburg
La Crosse DNR Service Center area
Vernon County - Late summer and early fall are good times to do some birdwatching. Oftentimes fall migrants do not move through an area as rapidly as they do during the spring migration. Therefore, birdwatchers may have a little more time to actually "watch" the birds. Fall warblers can challenge even the most observant birdwatcher, making for difficult but rewarding identification lessons. Remember that most birds do not sing in the fall to the extent that they do in the spring. That means birdwatchers need to rely more on keen eyesight and less on their hearing to locate and identify birds. There is, however, a minor increase in some bird vocalizations this time of year. Male Baltimore orioles, for example, initiate late summer vocalizing as they begin their southward migration to Central and South America. The majority of Baltimore orioles leave Wisconsin during the last half of August with some individuals lingering well into September. - Dave Matheys, wildlife biologist, Viroqua
Black River Falls DNR Service Center area
Eau Claire DNR Service Center area
Lake Wissota State Park - Species of birds seen or heard include: scarlet tanagers, indigo buntings, towhees, ravens, rose-breasted grosbeaks, loons, robins, red polls, a variety of wrens, phoebes, turkey vultures, northern juncos, pileated woodpeckers, great blue herons, barred owls, osprey, bald eagles and belted kingfishers. The Canada geese have finished molting and the young are flying. Harebell, wild bergamot, common milkweed, water smartweed, rabbits foot clover, marsh hedge nettle, the water lilies, some of the aster varieties, orange hawkweed, wooly yarrow are flowering. The blackberry season is in full swing with an abundance of fruit this year. This year's raccoon young are out for adventure! Campers are advised to store all food in their vehicles at night and when they are away from their campsites. - Dave Hladilek, park manager
Wausau DNR Service Center area
Wisconsin Rapids DNR Service Center area
Portage County - The catfish bite is on, on the Wisconsin River. Fishers are landing good number of channel catfish on either minnows or crawlers, so bring both. Good number of walleyes are being caught, but most of them are under legal size. - Bryan R. Lockman, conservation warden, Stevens Point