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DNR Outdoor Report as of August 24, 2017
It's almost the last week of August and an early fall breeze is in the air. Temperatures have been dropping slightly and are now steady in the mid to high 60s and low 70s. Leaves are continuing to change on early responders and the dense forests of summer are slowly becoming more visible. Nuisance bugs have slowed down a bit and water levels are returning to normal, making this a great time to get out on the trail or onto the water.
Panfish are still biting on most northern inland lakes, with worms and leeches working best. Fishing on the Wolf River has been good, with decent catches of walleye, northern pike, bass, and catfish. The lower Peshtigo River is still producing walleye, perch, catfish, drum, and smallmouth bass and they remain the main draw below the dam at Stiles on the Oconto River.
On Green Bay, anglers from the landing at Pensaukee to Oconto report perch starting to be caught. The walleye bite has been going good along both the west and east shores of the bay. Along Door County, Sturgeon Bay and Little Surgeon Bay anglers had good luck this week targeting yellow perch. Salmon fishing in Door County this past week has been hit or miss, but some anglers have been catching a good number of very large fish, along with good numbers mainly north of Sturgeon Bay.
Along Lake Michigan fishing has been tough for most anglers. Despite a tough bite, anglers have been harvesting a good number of chinook salmon, along with a mixed catch of lake trout and rainbow trout. Fishing pressure was low during the week out of southern Lake Michigan ports due to stormy and windy weather conditions. 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 lake trout, brown trout, and coho salmon.
Deer are feeding consistently in the early and late hours of the day, often in open cropland. The white oak acorn drop looks strong this year, which should provide a boost. Early goose season begins in another week and geese are flocked and feeding in wheat stubble fields. At Horicon Marsh and elsewhere, dabbling ducks are appearing on their migration path. Blue-winged teal and pintail have been spotted in small numbers. Nighthawks and warblers are also starting to pass through in strong numbers. Sandhill cranes are gathering and gearing up for their migration. Their rust-red summer colors have faded to a mottled and ghostly grey. Soon flocks will number in the hundreds and their bugling calls will be heard as they pass overhead.
More maples in low lying areas and some grasses are beginning to change hues as the forests turn from vibrant green to more muted olive and then tawny shades. Asters are blooming and supporting goldenrod and yellow tansy in the prairies, while poison ivy exhibits a pinkish tinge, making it easier to spot and avoid. Blackberries are in full swing; get to them fast before a host of animals and insects pick them clean.
Migration is on! This week saw the first flights of common nighthawks statewide. Look for these aerial insectivores darting across the evening sky over the next two weeks as they head for wintering areas in South America. Warblers, a favorite bird group of many, also inundated the state, reaching even southernmost areas by Wednesday morning. 10-12 species were tallied in the south and upwards of 20 species in the north, including boreal breeders like bay-breasted, blackpoll, Wilson's, palm, and yellow-rumped but dominated by Tennessee warblers as often the case in early fall. The first Swainson's thrushes and Philadelphia vireos were also reported.
The adult males of showy species like indigo bunting, scarlet tanager, rose-breasted grosbeak, and Baltimore oriole have departed for the most part, while adult male ruby-throated hummingbirds remain. Females and juveniles often head south later. Also on the way out are many flycatcher species, such as Eastern kingbirds, olive-sided flycatcher, yellow-bellied flycatcher, willow/alder flycatcher, and others. Swallows are vacating the north too, with higher numbers remaining in the south yet. Birders found large flocks of cedar waxwings this week. Look for migrants moving south along lakeshores or large groups of them near fruit sources like cherry, mountain ash, dogwoods, and more. Also of note this week are significant numbers of red crossbills across the north woods. This complex, nomadic species has a variety of "types" based on differences in flight calls and audio recordings thus far indicate several types typical of the western U.S. have moved into Wisconsin in search of adequate cone crops. Learn more here.
While some chimney swifts are still tending to nestlings, many are staging now by the hundreds in preparation for migration. Know of a site hosting roosting birds? Count them at dusk and report to eBird to help scientists track populations of this declining species. Last but not least, some shorebirds continue to be seen, though still in below-average numbers. Drying wetlands with exposed mud and Great Lakes beaches have been best. Look for sanderlings, semipalmated plovers, and others in the weeks ahead. Rare birds spotted this week include an extremely rare frigatebird species along the Illinois state line in Kenosha County and an equally rare barnacle goose in Dane. Whether the latter is a wild bird from Old World haunts or an escapee from a local captive population is unknown. As always, find out what others are seeing and report your finds at www.ebird.org/wi. Good birding!
- Ryan Brady, Bureau of Wildlife Management research scientist, Ashland
Upcoming State Natural Area Workday
Woodland Dunes SNA. Wednesdays 10 a.m. - noon. Help us rid the Woodland Dunes SNA of invasive trees and shrubs and replant and protect our native species. Practice your brush cutting skills, your digging skills, and your chicken wire cutting skills during our weekly Woodland Dunes SNA workdays every Wednesday from 10AM to 12 noon. No skills needed you will be trained onsite. Workdays are led by Woodland Dunes Nature Center.
Check the State Natural Areas Volunteer Program page of the DNR website for details. - Jared Urban, conservation biologist, Dane
2017 Fall Turkey Hunting leftover permits go on sale August 26
Hunters who were successful in the fall turkey permit drawing will begin receiving notification in the mail early next week. Please note, it is possible that the notifications may arrive after the leftover permit sales begin. Those not successful in the drawing will have the chance to purchase a leftover permit. All remaining fall turkey permits will go on sale Saturday, Aug. 26 at 10 a.m. Leftover permits can be purchased at a rate of one per day until the zone sells out or the season ends. The fall turkey hunting season for zones 1-5 runs Sept. 16 to Dec. 31 (season may be extended to Jan. 7, 2018, consult online regulations for updates), while the season for zones 6 and 7 runs Sept. 16 to Nov. 17. For more information regarding turkey hunting in Wisconsin, search the DNR website, dnr.wi.gov, for keyword "turkey."
Superior DNR Service Center area
Brule River State Forest - We've definitely had some days that are feeling fall-ish. The days are warm, but the nights are noticeably cooler than they had been. Sunset is around 8 PM now, each day is about 3 minutes shorter than the day before. In less than a month, we'll be at the first official day of autumn. That trip around the sun sure goes fast! Animals are enjoying the bounty of late summer, as they get ready for fall. The birds and bears have been busy feeding in the raspberry and blackberry bushes. Pin cherries, choke cherries and apples are also ripening up. Lake-run fish are in the river, but there have been spotty reports of success in catching them. A bad day of fishing is still better than a good day at work! The river flow is running slightly above average. Canoers and kayakers continue to enjoy the warm sunny days on the river. This weekend we are expecting temperatures in the 60s and some rain. But the forecast for next week and extending into Labor Day weekend looks perfect — partly cloudy and temperatures in the 70s every day! Campground reservations have filled up for the Labor Day weekend, but first-come, first-served sites may be available if you get here early! North Country Scenic Trail Maintenance Day this Saturday - There will be a trail maintenance day on Saturday, August 26th. If you are able to help, please contact Phil Anderson, Trail Maintenance Coordinator at 715-372-5004 or firstname.lastname@example.org . There are two projects to be worked on: The first is to work on repairing damage to the trail from logging on the section south of the Highland Town Hall. The work will include rebuilding the trail tread and marking the trail. Also nipping back of brush from the rest of the trail (this is lighter work) is needed. The work crew for this project will meet at the Highland Town Hall at 8AM. If enough people are available, a second project will include weed whacking along the boardwalks on the Spring Creek section and nipping back of brush. If there are not enough volunteers, this project will be done at a later date. - Diane Gobin, visitor services associate
Spooner DNR Service Center area
Crex Meadows State Wildlife - The migration is still in its early stages, but it was a better than average list for bird diversity this week. Highlights for the week were the red-necked grebes and the dickcissels. Although diversity was good, there were lower than average counts for sandhill cranes and great blue herons. Most birds have fledged at this point, which makes them difficult to identify. Thick vegetation also makes viewing difficult. There are duck broods on the refuge. If you can locate a troop of warblers, most local species are present in the area. Flycatchers are found along the road edges, and also there are a variety of sparrows. A few shorebirds are being seen in the refuge, but most are farther from the road in the grass. - Lauren Finch, wildlife educator
Woodruff DNR Service Center area
Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest - The color of the forest is changing from lush summer green to a more olive color with a tinge of yellow, maroon and red in the mix! Maples in low lying areas and stressed out trees are the cause of the change. Grasses are also seeding out and turning their many different hues. As the fireweed and bergamot end their blooming cycle, the large leaf aster is adding her lavender flowers to compliment the yellow tansy and goldenrod. Some ferns are starting to die back, spreading dogbane is turning yellow and poison ivy is showing a pinkish tinge making it easier to spot! Blackberries are ripe if you can beat the chipmunks, birds and hornets to them! Hiking is at a premium now with the bugs not bothering one so persistently. Juvenile and female hummingbirds are hitting area feeders and bee balm patches hard, with the males slowly disappearing. Groups of nighthawks can be seen working their way south during the evening hour...so the migration has begun! It's a great time to be out, watching and listening. - Rosalie Richter, visitor services associate
Northern Lake Michigan fisheries team report
Marinette County - The lower Peshtigo River is still producing walleye, perch, cat fish, drum, and small mouth bass using live bait and jigs with plastics. Look for deeper holes and structure. Panfish are being caught below the Dam at Peshtigo using crawlers and small spinners. Anglers at Little River report catching perch in 6 to 14 feet of water using mainly crawler chunks and minnows, find the weeds and you should find fish. Sorting has been required as a lot of the fish are small. Reports of a few browns being caught along the Trout Bar but no reports of salmon yet. There is still a gate open on the Menominee River, but anglers report Catching a few walleye and small mouth at the Hattie Street Dam using jigs, spinners and crank baits. Anglers trolling the Menominee River report catching walleye, small mouth, cat fish and drum. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo
Oconto County - Bluegill and smallmouth bass are still the main draw below the Dam at Stiles on the Oconto River. Live bait and plastics have been working well below the dam all the way to the 141 bridge. Fly anglers report catching a few brown trout using streamers in the Iron Bridge area. The lower Oconto River is producing smallmouth bass, a few walleye, crappie, catfish, and drum using mostly live bait and some plastics or small spinners and spoons. Anglers from the landing at Pensaukee to Oconto Park II report perch starting to be caught in 6 to 14 feet of water using minnows and crawler pieces. Find the weed beds and keep moving when the bite slacks off has been the routine. The walleye bite has been going good with anglers trolling and rip jigging in 30 feet of water. Trolling anglers are fishing an ounce of weight 100 feet back, while rip jigging anglers are finding fish on structure. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo
Brown County - During the week most anglers were going after walleye and had pretty consistent success. Anglers reported harvesting their limit while also catching other shorts, freshwater drum, and white bass. The parking lot averaged about 15 trailers during the week. - Kara Winter, fisheries technician, Green Bay
Door County - At Chaudoir's Dock most boats were after walleye and caught approximately 2 to 4 of the target species while usually keeping at least one fish. Few anglers reported fishing for yellow perch and had similar success with small numbers. Anglers from boat also caught freshwater drum, white perch, and a white fish. The parking lot averaged about 8-15 trailers during the week. Little Sturgeon Bay anglers had good luck this week while targeting yellow perch. Most were able to catch well over 10 perch total per boat, though reported many of them to be short. Freshwater drum catch has decreased, but anglers were still reeling in a few here and there for each trip along with few northern pike and white perch. Anglers targeting walleye throughout the week did not have as great of luck however, harvesting between 1 to 3 fish throughout the week. During the weekend days, the parking lot averaged about 40 trailers and about eight trailers during the week. At Sawyer Harbor, over the weekend anglers reported targeting walleye with varying success. Few boats were able to harvest their limit while others struggled to harvest at least one. - Kara Winter, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay
Salmon fishing in Door County this past week has been hit or miss but some anglers have been catching a good number of very large fish along with good numbers mainly North of Sturgeon Bay. The best action has been reported in 150-300 feet of water. Although anglers are catching salmon and trout on spoons and plugs, flasher/flies combos have been producing good action. Baileys Harbor has been great and has produced some very large rainbow trout this past week. The smallmouth bass fishing has slowed down throughout Door County. The best bite this past week was still being reported from 10-30 feet of water near offshore structure. The yellow perch fishing has slowed but still remains good in the Sturgeon Bay area with most success occurring near deep weed lines. The walleye fishing in Door County along the Green Bay shoreline remains good and anglers are reporting excellent fishing. Jigging has been the best method for catching walleyes, but trolling has also brought success for many anglers. - Lucas Koenig, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay
Kewaunee County - Fishing pressure was below average this week in Kewaunee County and fishing has been tough for most anglers. Despite a tough bite, anglers have been harvesting a good number of chinook salmon, along with a mixed catch of lake trout and rainbow trout. Trolling in 200-300 feet of water has been reported to be working well, along with a shallow nearshore bite for brown trout. - Lucas Koenig, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay
Manitowoc County - Salmon fishing out of Manitowoc and Two Rivers was slow yet again this week. Even with a small tournament bringing out over 60 boats between the two ports on Saturday, most boats didn't bring in more than one fish. Many anglers have still been targeting the 150-200+ feet-of-water range, but some tried trolling in 60 or less feet after a couple days of west winds brought some cooler water close to shore. Those that did troll in close reported no more than a stray brown with no discernable pattern. Boats fishing in the deeper water caught more chinooks than any other species, but some rainbows also made a trip back in the cooler. With most boats only having one fish, it was hard for anglers to report any pattern as to depth, lure, or color, but those boats that came in with 4-6 fish had mixed reports. One boat had a mix of six chinooks and rainbows that all came on the same green fly/dodger combo and one boat with four chinooks caught all their fish on different spoons. Because of this, anglers say it has come down to luck when finding fish, and the boats that had multiple fish reported catching them in a short window, sometimes one after the next. Many anglers also reported marking schools of what were likely baitfish in about 60-80 feet-of-water, but had no luck when fishing around them. Some anglers out of both ports turned to smallmouth fishing for a change of pace, but that was mostly unsuccessful as well. Some anglers reported that it was tough to get them to bite hard enough to get a hook into them, but tubes seemed to be the best lure for getting any fish to commit. Anglers fished the rocks along the Manitowoc marina as well as the harbor and around the outside of the piers, and anglers out of Two Rivers fished around the base of the piers as well as further upriver. Pier anglers breathed a slight sigh of relief this week as they hooked into something besides just a sheepshead. With the west winds came cooler water which brought a handful of salmon in. A couple chinooks and rainbows came off in Manitowoc and Two Rivers, and a couple is very literal as only a few lucky anglers came off with fish. The chinooks came off casting spoons, either champs or cleos, and the rainbows were caught on both spoons and nightcrawlers. Anglers fishing the harbor with spoons or spinners in Manitowoc reported hits from smallmouth and northern pike, and some anglers fishing with nightcrawler pieces around Two Rivers have had good action with bullhead and a channel catfish or two. - Jacob Steckmesser, fisheries technician, Mishicot
Peshtigo DNR Service Center area
Oconto County - Oconto County panfish are still biting on most lakes, Machickanee Flowage, Kelly Lake, Berry Lake, worms and leeches seem to be what works best. Individuals are catching largemouth bass on Kelly Lake. The ATV trails near the Pipeline are rough as they have placed rock on low spots and have not graded the trails/roads very well, use caution. There are plenty of bugs and butterfly's out. The blackberry's are ready for picking and seem they may be coming on for a few more weeks. No significant color change in trees yet. - Paul Hartrick, conservation warden, Lakewood
Governor Thompson State Park - The native bergamot, compass plants and black-eyed Susan's are blooming on the trails. We are seeing deer with velvet antlers out in the park. There are 16 miles of mowed hiking trails waiting for your next adventure. Remember to check over your kids and dogs after hiking as the ticks and deer flies are out on the trails too. Berry pickers are still out in the park stocking up on black berries. - Maggie Kailhofer, park manager
Green Bay DNR Service Center area
Brown County - As summer is winding down, people are thinking forward to fall. Especially since there has been a lot of information in the news about baiting and feeding laws. Just a reminder to Brown County deer hunters - You still are allowed to bait for deer. The limit is 2 gallons at any given time. Mineral blocks, and mineral powders are included in that limit. You are allowed 2 gallons, per person, per 40 acres. However, you cannot start baiting until the day before the archery season. Happy scouting. - Cara Kamke, conservation warden, Green Bay
Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center area
Whitefish Dunes State Park - Lots of rain in the past few weeks has been great for the wildflowers and plants. There have been a few mosquitoes with all the rain. The thimbleberries are in bloom. A few fawns have been spotted in the park. The bird feeder has been busy with downy, hairy and red-bellied woodpeckers, and hummingbirds. A great place to see flickers is out on the Yellow Trail. A lot of frogs have been heard in the afternoon by visitors hiking the Green Trail. Thimbleberries are ripe in the park but be careful not to wonder too far into poison ivy. - Jaclyn Moeri, visitor services associate
Wautoma DNR Service Center area
Waupaca County - Deer are very actively feeding in early and late hours of day. Most often in farm fields. Looks like a very good white oak acorn crop this year, still can't tell with the black/red oak acorn crop as acorn drop has not begun. Ducks are starting to flock up and stage and are buzzing around in the predawn light. Geese are flocked up and really feeding in the wheat stubble fields, early goose season begins in a week. Trout fishing has been a little slow with the cool front, that should change this weekend. Streams look great! Weather has been nothing short of heavenly - 70 degrees Fahrenheit and sunny. - Karl Kramer, wildlife technician, Wautoma
Nighthawks have recently been seen migrating through Waupaca County. That may mean fall is just around the corner. Watch for these birds in early evening feeding on insects. They are fun to watch and at times get very close to you. Fishing on the Wolf River has been good. Decent catches of walleye, northern pike, bass, and catfish have been reported. Anglers have had the most success using Wolf River rigs with night crawlers for bait. Bird watchers can see lots of Kestrels on the White River Marsh in Green Lake County. The fledging birds can be seen on tall poles and electrical wires along the roadway. - Ted Dremel, conservation warden, Wautoma
Waushara County - It is less than a month before the autumnal equinox and sandhill cranes of Waushara County are in the early stages of preparing for their migration south. The rusty red summer plumage has become a ghost grey. Molted feathers blanket the ground and chicks are learning to take flight in preparation for their first trip south. Soon they their flocks will grow to numbers in the hundreds in local fields and marshes. Look for them in the sky above and listen to their cacophonous calling. - Pete McCormick, conservation warden, Wautoma
Milwaukee DNR Service Center area
Southern Lake Michigan fisheries team report
Sheboygan County - Fishing pressure was low during the week due to stormy and windy weather conditions, however, there was a noticeable increase in boaters present over the weekend. As in previous weeks, boaters still reported most of the success, with anglers reporting little to no success off the piers. There was only one chinook salmon caught off of the south pier this weekend. During the week, poor weather conditions prevented many anglers from even attempting to fish. The chinook salmon weighed 6.6 pounds and was caught on a moonshine minnow. The surface temperature of the water remained warm at 68 degrees Fahrenheit. 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 three lake trout, two brown trout, and one coho salmon. Of the fish that were measured, the rainbow trout weighed anywhere from 5-9 pounds, while the chinook salmon had a larger weight range of 1-18.8 pounds. Fish were caught in water depths ranging anywhere from 95-350 feet on spoons, flasher flies, and dodger flies.
Ozaukee County - Fishing pressure remained relatively low throughout the week due to poor weather conditions, which increased over the weekend as conditions improved. Most of the success was reported from boaters as success off of the piers and harbor area remains rare. Only a couple of small rainbow trout, carp, and round gobies were caught off the North pier and harbor area. No biological data was obtained from these catches. Since alewives still remain scarce, most anglers were using spoons and spawn sacs, and a couple of anglers were using corn and worms. The surface temperature of the water ranged from 62 degrees in the middle of the week to 68 degrees Fahrenheit over the weekend. 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 chinook salmon and rainbow trout were caught, along with some lake trout, two brown trout, and one coho salmon. The rainbow trout weighed about 6.5 pounds on average, while the weights of the chinook salmon varied greatly, ranging from 2-25 pounds. Catches were reportedly made in water depths ranging from 60-410 feet mainly on spoons, although some were also made on flasher flies, dodger flies, and dipsy divers.
Racine County - Fishing at the ramp was slow this week for anglers with 0-10 fish being caught. The anglers that caught fish were fishing in 200-300 feet of water and running their lures from 80 down to 120 feet. They caught mostly lake trout, but a few kings, coho and steelhead were caught as well. Anglers caught fish on both spoons and flasher/fly combos. Off the pier, one king salmon was reported caught on a glow spoon in the early morning. The water temperature was 68 degrees Fahrenheit.
Lower Wisconsin State Riverway - Weekly Riverway Report - Water flows are finally returning to normal for this time of year, though still slightly above normal. We are seeing sandbars, which has been a very rare event for this year going back spring. The flow at Muscoda was 6,000-plus cubic feet per second. - Mark Cupp, executive director Lower Wisconsin State Riverway Board
Horicon DNR Service Center area
Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area - We have started to see a slight increase in migrating dabbling ducks. Blue-winged teal and pintail are starting to appear in small numbers. Wood ducks are being seen flocking up. Nighthawks and warblers are beginning migration and we are seeing some come through the Horicon area. New England aster are just starting to bloom and monarch tagging operations are underway. Duck banding for the DNR on the Horicon Marsh State Wildlife is finished and the Palmatory Street trails are now open again to foot travel and leashed pets. Be sure to visit www.horiconmarsh.org for all of the upcoming events at the Horicon Marsh Education and Visitor Center and for information about the Explorium. - Elizabeth Herzmann, natural resources educator
La Crosse DNR Service Center area
Vernon County - Large flocks of bluebirds, robins, and blackbirds are gathering. Bluebird and robin concentrations tend to number up to several dozen birds, but blackbird flocks reach several hundred to more than one thousand birds. Roosting flocks of blackbirds, comprised of red-winged blackbirds, grackles, and starlings, can cause local nuisance problems with their noise, droppings, odors, and depredation on crops. Fortunately, these types of problems are temporary, as most blackbirds migrate south for the winter. Blackberries remain available for picking, but they are going fast. Many, many species of wildlife have an affinity for blackberries, so there is lots of competition for these delectable fruits. - Dave Matheys, wildlife biologist, Viroqua