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Outdoor Report

Published April 26, 2018 by the Central Office

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What a difference a week makes! Even far northern Wisconsin is finally making it to spring. With temperatures in the 50s and 60s, snow is melting quickly in the Northwoods, although it isn't gone yet and it may be awhile before its gone in the woods. Northern lakes still have up to 2 feet of ice and it's looking at this point that some lakes will still be iced over when the general fishing season opens on May 5.

View Slideshow SLIDE SHOW | 6 photos

What a difference a week makes!

With all the snowmelt, waterfalls have come to life. Last Friday both Big and Little Manitou Falls at Pattison State Park were completely ice covered, but with warmer temperatures, they both came to life. People were eager to see the transformation with more than 385 vehicles visiting the park over the weekend to view the falls. Both Forks of the Flambeau are also open now and their falls are roaring.

As things are drying out, we're also moving into the spring wildfire season. In the last week 60 wildfires burned 129 acres in DNR Protection Areas. Half of the fires were caused by debris burning. Stay aware of fire danger and burning restrictions by searching the DNR website for keyword fire.

Redhorse are running on the Flambeau River and suckers are running on many Lake Michigan tributaries. Anglers were still catching walleye on the Menominee, Peshtigo and Oconto rivers but the bite was slowing down with more suckers coming up rivers. Over 150 boats were put in at the Oconto Breakwater Harbor on Saturday, and many anglers were reporting mixed success. There has still been hundreds of anglers out to catch a trophy walleye on the Fox River but with the recent weather changes fish haven't been as active.

Lots of boats were out over the weekend fishing during a Door County brown trout tournament. Anglers reported action wasn't great but some large individuals were caught, including a winning fish just over 22 pounds. Green Bay side boat landings are still locked with ice and much ice remains in the lower bay including the bays of Little Sturgeon, Riley's, Sand and the mouth of Sturgeon Bay. Melting snow dramatically increased flow rates in streams and steelhead action has been good

Manitowoc River water levels increased drastically and the steelhead fishing has decreased. Anglers who were dip netting for suckers have had mixed success. West Twin River anglers fishing by Shoto Dam were doing well early in the week but fishing decreased as the water continued to rise and clarity decreased. Two Rivers pier fishing is starting to pick up as the water temps continue to rise.

Pressure on the Sheboygan south pier was very high this weekend because of the nice weather. Anglers are reporting good numbers of brown trout along with the occasional steelhead. Anglers targeting steelhead on the Sheboygan River near the Kohler dam were reasonably successful despite the fast and high water.

Bear and bear cubs are coming out of their dens. Tom turkeys are gobbling and displaying for the hens with multiple fanned toms seen among flocks. Turkey hunting is in the second period. Ruffed grouse are drumming more American woodcock are displaying and peenting, snipe are winnowing, sharp-tailed grouse and greater prairie-chicken dancing activity is picking up and turkey vultures are soaring.

Pussy willows are coming out and maples are budding. Sap was still being collected and cooked in the north but the season is coming to an end. Hepatica blooms have been seen in some hardwoods stands and pasque flowers were emerging in southern prairie areas. And a good sign of spring in the south, spring peepers are peeping, chorus frogs are singing, wood frogs are croaking.

After multiple reschedules and cancellation of Work*Play*Earth Day events last weekend due to properties being buried in snow, this weekend you can help out at 10 different properties Friday and Saturday then stick around to enjoy yourself. For details search the DNR website for "Get Outdoors."

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Wildfire Report

Last week 60 wildfires burned 129 acres in DNR Protection Areas;. Half of the fires were caused by debris burning; other minor causes included campfires, equipment, railroad, power line and improper ash disposal. Twelve buildings were threatened by wildfires, but saved by fire suppression actions; three were destroyed. Snow is quickly melting in parts of the state that still have partial snow cover. This time of year there is still a great deal of dead vegetation that dries out quickly and is available fuel for a wildfire. Low relative humidity, warm temps, and gusty winds quickly drive up the fire danger. Stay aware of fire danger and burning restrictions by calling 1-888-WIS-BURN (947-2876) or search the DNR website for keyword fire. Curious about where wildfires are actively burning? Check out our fire activity webpage at dnr.wi.gov, keyword "fire" and click on "View current wildfire activity."

Firewise Tip: Turkey hunters are reminded to be extra cautious with anything that can start a wildfire when you're outdoors. Be especially mindful of the weather. A warming or cooking fire on a windy day can quickly become an out of control wildfire. - Joanne Ackerman, wildland urban interface coordinator, Madison

Statewide Birding Report

The north comes alive with birds - What a difference a week makes. The north saw a major transformation with a flood of migrants over the weekend. Some arrivals included yellow-bellied sapsuckers, northern flickers, yellow-rumped and pine warblers, eastern bluebirds, eastern phoebes, hermit thrushes, tree, barn, and cliff swallows, rusty blackbirds, brown-headed cowbirds, winter wrens, eastern meadowlarks, purple finches, ruby- and golden-crowned kinglets, and many sparrows such as fox, song, savannah, chipping, American tree, white-throated, and white-crowned. Large numbers of American robins and dark-eyed juncos moved north as well. On the water, blue-winged teal, red-necked grebes, Bonaparte's gulls, greater yellowlegs, ospreys, and double-crested cormorants made appearances amid many duck species where open water was available. Overhead, some great hawk flights brought many turkey vultures, red-tailed, rough-legged, sharp-shinned, and the first broad-winged hawks of the season.

Not too shabby down south either - Farther south, wetlands came alive with the first American bitterns, soras, common gallinules, Forster's terns, swamp sparrows, yellow-headed blackbirds, and continuing waterfowl. More purple martins, barn swallows, and American white pelicans have also arrived. Over 2,000 tundra swans were reported at Mead State Wildlife Area earlier in the week, while equally impressive were reports of 1,000 bufflehead on Lake Sinissippi, nearly 2,000 American coots near La Crosse, and hundreds of Caspian terns migrating north along the Lake Michigan shore. Although the juncos, hermit thrushes, and various sparrows have thinned out across the south, some welcome arrivals there included palm and black-throated green warbler, Louisiana waterthrush, gray catbird, blue-gray gnatcatcher, LeConte's sparrow and broad-winged hawk. Also of note were marbled godwits, Hudsonian godwit, and American avocets at several locations, with more expected along with willets this upcoming week, especially along Lake Michigan beaches. Lastly, common loons remain stacked up in above-average numbers as they wait for 20-30 inches of ice to thaw yet on northern breeding lakes.

Marbled godwit - Photo credit: Ryan Brady
Marbled godwitPhoto credit: Ryan Brady

Courtship and nesting activity - Ruffed grouse are finally drumming, turkeys gobbling, and woodcock flight-displaying, while sharp-tailed grouse and greater prairie-chicken dancing activity is picking up. Fledged young were reported in Canada goose, sandhill crane, mourning dove, red crossbill, and great horned owl. Young bald eagles are hatching and birders reported nest building activities in black-capped chickadees, red-breasted nuthatches, and American robins, among others. Snowy owls are still being seen, albeit in lower numbers and primarily in central and northern Wisconsin now. However, at least four of Wisconsin's five tagged owls have shown little sign of northward migration as of just a few days ago!

Rare finds and the week ahead - Rarities found this week included loggerhead shrike in Rock, mountain bluebird in Burnett, western tanagers in Outagamie and Iron, Townsend's solitaire in Milwaukee, harlequin duck in Kewaunee, northern mockingbird in Waukesha, and black-legged kittiwake in Ozaukee. The week ahead should be an exciting one as warm south winds will usher in many new migrants Sunday night through Wednesday morning. Expect the first wave of Baltimore orioles, rose-breasted grosbeaks, indigo buntings, ruby-throated hummingbirds, and various warbler species to at least portions of southern Wisconsin. Also keep an eye to shorelines for large shorebirds like willets, godwits, and avocets and another to the sky for big groups of migrating broad-winged hawks. As always, track migration progress by species at https://bit.ly/2HRRLEk and put your sightings on the map by submitting them to www.ebird.org/wi. Good birding! - Ryan Brady, conservation biologist, Ashland

Get your oranges, jelly, and sugar water ready as Baltimore orioles and ruby-throated hummingbirds are likely to arrive to southern Wisconsin this week. Current oriole sightings map courtesy of eBird. Photo by Beverly Engstrom.
Get your oranges, jelly, and sugar water ready as Baltimore orioles and ruby-throated hummingbirds are likely to arrive to southern Wisconsin this week. Current oriole sightings map courtesy of eBird. Photo by Beverly Engstrom.

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Upcoming featured events at Wisconsin recreational properties


Friday, April 27, 2018

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Saturday April 28 & Sunday, April 29, 2018

For all events search the DNR website for "Get Outdoors."
Find a park, forest trail or recreation property

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Upcoming State Natural Area Workday

April 28, 9 a.m.-noon. Sugar River Wetlands State Natural Area - Help the Upper Sugar River Watershed Association (USRWA) restore the Sugar River Wetlands State Natural Area during our "4th Saturdays" volunteer work days. Volunteers will be cutting and burning invasive species like buckthorn, honeysuckle and more to promote the growth of native plant species. It promises to be rewarding, fun, and a great way to experience the outdoors in spring. Refreshments including hot chocolate and coffee will be available to fuel you through the morning. 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, Fitchburg

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Northern Region

Superior DNR Service Center area

Brule River State Forest - What a difference a week makes! It seems we have finally made it to spring. With temperatures in the 50s and 60s, the snow is melting quickly, although it isn't gone yet. It may be awhile before the snow in the woods and in shaded areas is gone, but it is on its way out. Pussy willows have just started to bloom and water from snowmelt is puddling up.

Many northern rivers are running high with the recent snow melt, including the Bois Brule. - Photo credit: DNR
Many northern rivers are running high with the recent snow melt, including the Bois Brule.Photo credit: DNR

Birds are returning in great numbers and are busy getting down to the business of nesting. Ospreys, belted kingfishers, great blue herons, wood ducks, turkey vultures, red winged blackbirds and various warblers have been spotted in the past week. Deer are busy, too, looking for the first green shoots in the now mostly snow-free fields. As the snow melts but the foliage has not yet greened up, fire season heats up. Sunshine, low humidity and windy conditions can quickly increase the fire danger level. If you have debris or brush to burn, get a burning permit and follow the rules of the day. You can learn about fire danger conditions and burning permit requirements by checking the Wisconsin Burning Permits website or calling 1-888-WIS-BURN (947-2876). Information is updated each day at 11 a.m. The Brule River Sportsmen's Club is once again sponsoring the spring clean-up day when volunteers pick up trash that has accumulated at the angler parking lots and along the roadways. Clean-up Day is set for this Saturday, April 28. If you are interested in getting involved, please plan on joining us. Volunteers gather at the Lion's Club Shelter in Brule at 9 am for coffee, doughnuts, and an area assignment. Everyone gathers back together at the end of the clean-up around noon, for lunch. - Diane Gobin, visitor services associate

Amnicon Falls State Park - Spring has finally found a toe hold and winter is retreating. Snow cover has diminished to less than 50 percent and warm weather remains in the forecast. Ice went out on the Amnicon River last weekend. Returning migrant birds seen in the park this week include tree sparrows, fox sparrows, phoebe, flicker, red-tailed hawk, broad-winged hawk, yellow-bellied sapsucker and yellow-rumped warbler. - David Lindsley, ranger

Pattison State Park - What a difference a weekend makes. Both Big and Little Manitou Falls were completely ice covered last Friday, but over the weekend with warmer temperatures, they both came to life, and people were eager to see the transformation! Over the weekend we had 385 vehicles visit the park taking advantage of the warm sunny weather and the high flow of Big and Little Manitou Falls. The ski trails will no longer be groomed, but there were people skiing on them on April 21. Come out and enjoy what Pattison State Park has to offer. A vehicle admission sticker is required.- Gervase Thompson, ranger

Spooner DNR Service Center area

Crex Meadows State Wildlife - Because of recent warm weather, the bird migration is FINALLY in full swing in the Grantsburg Area! We are adding more species to our sightings list almost every day. Because there is still ice on many of the flowages, waterfowl are still being forced to gather in the few areas where there is open water. Although, more open water appears each day. Sandhill cranes, trumpeter swans, and sharp-tailed grouse are performing mating dances in the marshes for visitors to see. And trumpeter swans and Canada geese will be building nests when they can find suitable areas to do so. Bald eagles are being seen on their nests, some of them being seen feeding young! Try going to the platform off of Abel Road or the big white pine tree on Phantom Lake Road to look for these activities. Much of the snow has melted in the area, with the exception of a few areas that are shaded throughout the day. There were many highlights this week, but a few of them were the American bitterns heard on Crex Meadows over the weekend, the red-breasted mergansers seen travelling over Crex Meadows, and the ruddy ducks, common mergansers, horned grebes, greater yellowlegs, and lesser yellowlegs...all spotted on Memory Lake in the Village of Grantsburg. - Lauren Finch, wildlife educator

Park Falls DNR Service Center area

Flambeau River State Forest - Lake of the Pines and Connors Lake have reported to still have approximately 15-plus inches of ice. Folks are still ice fishing. The South and North Fork of the Flambeau River is completely open, high and running fast. Some experienced paddling enthusiasts enjoy running the river with all the whitewater. There has been some success fishing for redhorse. Wildlife can be seen readily along the roads where vegetation is becoming visible and snow is fading out of the landscape. Elk cows and deer does have entered their third trimester of pregnancy and we're hoping for some large and feisty youngsters. Bear and bear cubs are coming out of their dens. Kestrels and hawks have been hovering at road sides and open areas looking for prey, and eagles for prey and carrion. Tom turkeys are gobbling and displaying for the hens and turkey hunting is in the second period. Tundra swans and geese are flying overhead. Robins, wood peckers, finches, kingfishers, swallows, blue jays, grouse and ducks of many species, woodcock and sandhill cranes are just a few of the birds being seen. Pussy willows are coming out and the silver maples are budding. Chorus frogs can be heard in the warm low spots and some peepers and wood frogs also. Sap is being collected and cooked for maple syrup, though seemingly coming to an end. Frost is coming out and soon a green hue will me more apparent on the countryside. The weather forecast for the weekend calls for Friday to be mostly sunny, with a high of 57 and low of 28. Saturday, will be sunny, with a high of 55 and a low of 30. Sunday will be sunny, with a high of 66 and a low of 47. The Flambeau River State Forest Friends group will meet at 3 p.m. Saturday April 28. Treats and drinks provided. - Diane Stowell, forestry technician advanced and visitor services associate

Woodruff DNR Service Center area

Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest - Spring is finally coming to the Northwoods. Flocks of juncos, fox sparrows, hermit thrushes and robins are making their appearance known. A bush of pussy willows can be seen here and there in the swamps. There is still plenty of snow depending on what part of the landscape you stand on but at least the south facing slopes are bare. The warm temperatures are a welcome feeling to all. - Rosalie Richter, visitor services associate

Antigo DNR Service Center area

Lincoln County - The snow is melting in the Merrill and Tomahawk areas! Open fields and southern slopes are clear of snow, in the woods the snow is patchy but easy to walk through. The Wisconsin River is high. As for wildlife, the turkeys are displaying and responding better to hunters who are in pursuit. The spring peepers started calling a few days ago, even Wednesday morning when it was 35 degrees. Ruffed grouse are drumming more and American woodcock can be heard peenting. Spring surveys can now be conducted on these species. No sign of spring flowers, but should happen any day now with moisture in the ground and warm temperatures. - Janet Brehm, wildlife biologist, Merrill

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Northeast Region

Northern Lake Michigan fisheries team report

Marinette County - Menominee River anglers had mixed luck fishing for walleye this past week on the Menominee. Stephenson Island and the Hattie Street bridge had good numbers of walleye being caught. Anglers are also reporting that they are catching some suckers. The Menominee River water temperature has stayed at about 38 degrees throughout the weekend. A lot of walleye have been caught at the Peshtigo River dam area over the past week. Anglers were having success using blue and silver jigs. Some anglers were having success catching walleye near the mouth of the Peshtigo River. The Peshtigo River has increased to 45 degrees over the last couple of days. Over the weekend the Peshtigo River water level has increased by over 2 feet. - Ben Olsen, fisheries technician, Peshtigo

Oconto County - Because of the warm weather this past weekend, a lot of anglers got out on the water. Over 150 boats were put in at the Oconto Breakwater Harbor on Saturday, and many anglers were reporting mixed success. Some anglers were reporting good catches of walleye and suckers, while others were reporting little activity. The Oconto River water temperatures have rose to 40 degrees over the weekend. The Oconto River water level had risen 3 feet over the weekend. - Ben Olsen, fisheries technician, Peshtigo

Brown County - Locations from Suamico up to Geano Beach are still mostly ice covered with patchy open water. No anglers were observed at either of these locations on the days that were surveyed. Locations from Longtail to Duck Creek are mostly open water with only a few anglers observed but no interviews were taken. On the Fox River, due to the recent weather changes walleyes haven't been active with both boat and shore anglers catching very few walleyes. Those that have been catching walleyes have been using jigs with plastics. There has still been hundreds of shore anglers and boaters out to catch a trophy walleye. Fairgrounds and Fox Point seen high numbers of boaters on the warmest days, along with shore anglers at Voyager. Due to the high size limit the few walleyes that were caught were then released. - Megan Radtke, fisheries technician, Green Bay

Door County - The warm weather after the snow storm has reopened the Lake Michigan side boat landings. Lots of boats were out over the weekend fishing the Door County Brown Trout Tournament. Many anglers reported poor action over the whole weekend but some large individuals were caught. Water temps ranged from 36-42 degrees. The winning fish was just over 22 pounds. Total catch for the tournament was similar to last year. A few anglers have been catching pike in the Sturgeon Bay canal. No reports of walleyes being caught yet. Green Bay side boat landings are still locked with ice. A few fishermen have even been out ice fishing in the harbors north of Sturgeon Bay. Melting snow has dramatically increased flow rates in our local streams. Several streams are at or over their banks. Steelhead action has been good with lots of fish spotted in Heins Creek. Most anglers are still using fresh spawn. High flow should bring in more spawning fish. The run may not last long after the snow melts.- Ben Thome, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay

Manitowoc County - The lake has cooled off compared to last week due to the snow. Water temperature is roughly 38 degrees in most areas. Anglers that were able to find warmer pockets of water got into brown trout. However, most everyone that was talked to ended up with zero or very few fish. Anglers are using stick baits, flicker shads, and rattling rouges. Colors can range from orange to black. Manitowoc River water levels have increased drastically and the steelhead fishing has decreased. Few steelhead were caught over the past week due to that increased water level, flow, and the turbidity of the water. Anglers who were dip netting for suckers have had mixed success. While dip netting for suckers they were catching lots of carp as well. Some anglers have had success fishing for catfish as well. Catfish fishing should continue to heat up as the water temps in the river warms up as well. Branch River anglers had mixed success over the past week. Early in the week they were catching steelhead, but as the water levels and flow increased the fishing decreased. Anglers using spawn sacs had the most success fishing for steelhead. Some anglers have tried their hands at dip netting for suckers and have had good luck. West Twin River anglers who were fishing by Shoto Dam were doing well early in the week. Anglers that had success by the dam were using spawn sacs. As the week progressed fishing decreased, as the water continued to rise, and the clarity decreased. Suckers were being caught in good quantities by the Shoto Boat Ramp, using night crawlers. The sidewalk that runs along the East Twin River in Village Park in Mishicot is under water in areas. With the increased water levels fishing has decreased. The few fish that were caught was using spawn sacs. There have been a few brown trout that are still being caught in the rivers. Two Rivers pier fishing is starting to pick up as the water temps continue to rise. Anglers were having more success fishing in the mornings versus the afternoon on the piers. Spoons were the lure of choice for most people fishing the piers. However, some anglers were using minnows and having success as well. Anglers trying for catfish have not had any luck as the water temps are still cold. Fishing on Lake Michigan out of Two Rivers has been slow over the past week as water temps in the area is around 38 degrees as just like in Manitowoc. The anglers that brought fish in had only one or two brown trout at most. There was some lake trout caught as well over the past week. Most anglers that were targeting brown trout were in that 5 to 15 feet of water range, and using stick baits and shads. - Cody Flavion, fisheries technician, Mishicot

Peshtigo DNR Service Center area

Marinette County - Snow has almost all disappeared. Temperatures in the 60s have really made it feel like spring has arrived. Hepatica blooms have been seen in some hardwoods stands. Turkey flocks have begun breaking up and many small groups of birds are now being seen scattered around the county. Grouse can be heard drumming on calm early mornings. Willows are beginning to bud. The walleye bite sounds like it is slowing down with more suckers coming up the rivers. Lakes are still iced over but the near shore areas are open. A few frogs have begun to call and woodcock are busy displaying and 'peenting' in the early evening. A few grass fires have occurred over the last week.... Be sure to get a burning permit and follow the restrictions on when burning is allowed. Ospreys made it back to their nesting structures this week. - Aaron McCullough, wildlife technician, Wausaukee

Oconto County - Currently most rivers are open and are flooded. Be careful when out on the water. The walleye run and sucker run is occurring on the Oconto and Peshtigo River. Most lakes are still ice covered and not safe to walk on. With the unfortunate weather we have had, ATV trails will not be opening as scheduled, April 28, and will be pushed back most likely for a few more weeks until snow is gone and conditions approve. Check back on April 30th for a update on trail conditions on the Oconto County Tourism website. Individuals are finding success turkey hunting and with most of the snow starting to leave song birds are back and very abundant. - Paul Hartrick, conservation warden, Oconto Falls

Governor Thompson State Park - Signs of several spring snow storms can still be seen on the trails. Trails may still have snow and ice covering them in areas and could be wet and muddy. We have just started to hear spring peepers and mama bears out with their cubs. Launch facilities at Caldron Falls are still iced in. Due to our recent snow storms, the campground will not be opening until May 4. - Maggie Kailhofer, park manager

Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center area

Door County - Much ice remains in lower Green Bay off southern Door County including the bays of Little Sturgeon, Riley's, Sand Bay, and the mouth of Sturgeon Bay. Fishermen are limited to waters in the city of Sturgeon Bay and Lake Michigan. Much of last weekend's snow is melting off area agricultural fields. Deer are readily visible throughout the southern portion of the county at all times of the day feeding on the new greens sprouting. Multiple fanned toms among flocks of hens can be seen throughout fields. - Christopher J. Kratcha, conservation warden, Sturgeon Bay

Potawatomi State Park - Due to the recent snowstorm most of the campground is under water. There is a list of suggested sites at the office registration station. The boat landing still has significant ice along shoreline. The park received about 25 inches of snow on April 15 and trail conditions vary as the snow melts. All trails are open to hiking but may have snow, ice, or muddy. Overall there is a lot of standing water. - Jaclyn Moeri, visitor services associate

Whitefish Dunes State Park - Trails remain in mixed condition as the snow melts from the 26 inches of snow the park received on April 15. All trails are open to hiking and will have snow, ice, and mud. If you do not have a pet the best hiking option at this time is the beach, which is free of snow but has a few rocks to get past in the first beach section. This is a great time for birding along the Lake Michigan shoreline. This week there were sightings of red breasted mergansers, long tail ducks, goldeneyes, and buffleheads. A visitor spotted an American woodcock along the trail this week. The bird feeder has been busy with juncos, American tree sparrows, woodpeckers and squirrels. - Jaclyn Moeri, visitor services associate

Wautoma DNR Service Center area

Waupaca County - Southern portions of this area down into Marquette County are snow and almost frost free They area only got 4-6 inches of snow from the last storm. The northern end of Waupaca County still has large snow banks, snow on north aspect slopes and in the woods and has almost no frost out yet. North end was at epicenter of storm with most areas getting between 24 and 32 inches of snow. Many area lakes still have some ice on them but are not ice fishable. Given the current sloppy conditions, avoid off-road vehicle travel to avoid road/trail damage. After the blizzard and the following warm spell, you would need a canoe or kayak to catch-n-release trout fish as the streams are out of their banks. Deer are feeding in farm fields like crazy. Turkey hunters seem to be having decent success. The only new migrant birds noticed in the last week were: tree swallows, common loons, and red-shouldered hawks. Takes a while to get rid of 30 inches of snow. - Karl Kramer, wildlife technician, Wautoma

Wild Rose State Fish Hatchery - Earth Day Open House Celebration - Let's welcome Spring with some fishing fun! Saturday, April 28, 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. at the Hatchery Education Center, Kids Learn Fish Casting, Fly Tying, Build a spinner, fish printing, Egg stages of development and guided tours at 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. Call ahead for groups of 8 or more at 920-622-3527, Ext. 209 or email joan.voigt@wisconsin.gov Walk-ins welcome

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Southeast Region

Milwaukee DNR Service Center area

Southern Lake Michigan fisheries team report

Sheboygan County - Many boats were spotted at the Deland Park ramp, but only one angler who was using a stick bait in 10-20 feet reported catching an 8.5 pound brown. Pressure on the South pier was very high this weekend because of the nice weather. Anglers are reporting good numbers of brown trout along with the occasional steelhead. Spoons are the bait of choice, although fish are being caught on shiners and crank baits as well. Pigeon River fishing continues to be very slow and anglers targeting steelhead had little luck. The water temperature hovered near 36 degrees, water visibility is low, and water levels are very high. Anglers targeting steelhead on the Sheboygan River near the Kohler dam were reasonably successful despite the fast and high water, which was quite murky. The fish averaged 4 pounds and were caught on bead rigs. Pressure was very low throughout the week and water temps hovered around the high 30s.

Ozaukee County - Pressure at the Port Washington ramp was moderate, with several boats spotted fishing in the harbor. Most anglers were fishing crank baits and spoons in 10-20 feet of water, but no catches were reported. Fishing pressure on the Port Washington piers was light. A few fishermen casting spoons, streamers and plastics off of the North pier stated that they had no luck catching any fish. The Port Washington Utility remains the most popular fishing spot and pressure was high throughout the weekend. Good numbers of brown trout are being caught along with several steelhead, carp and white suckers. Anglers fishing worms, spawn sacs, and crank baits were all successful at catching fish. A few fly fishermen who were casting yarn flies in the Sauk Creek Nature Preserve reported having two steelhead on, but lost them in the fast moving water. The water has risen considerably and the water temp was 32 degrees.

Milwaukee County - Anglers targeting brown trout out of the McKinley Ramp found success in mostly 20 feet of water using a variety of spoons, cleos, and crank baits. The occasional small coho and even a lake trout were also caught using crank baits, in deeper water, up to 60 feet. Calm weather through the weekend brought little to no action for McKinley Pier anglers targeting salmon and trout both on the lakeside and harborside of the pier. As the April 30 closing of the perch season approaches on Lake Michigan, fishing has been very slow for anglers targeting perch by the Summerfest grounds or under the Hoan bridge. Most anglers did not have the chance to catch their limits and those that did land a few fish were using minnows or spawn. Anglers targeting brown trout were observed near the Summerfest grounds, Lakeshore State Park in the lagoon, and McKinley Shore landing browns (mostly 2- 4 pounds and one just over 10 pounds) using crank baits, minnows, and spawn. Very few boaters used Riverfront through the weekend as there are still larger chunks of debris from last week's spring storm that made it less than ideal to launch from this ramp. However, the few anglers that were able to launch, targeted brown trout and found the most success using stick baits. The South Metro Pier is now open to anglers until October. Fishing access and the parking lot is located in Oak Creek off of Fifth Avenue. Fish generally caught at this location include salmon, steelhead, and brown trout. South City shore anglers from Jones Island, Cupertino Park, and South Shore found very little success through the weekend . A brown trout was caught near old Jones Island using minnows. Also around the old Jones Island, night time smelt netters are once again trying their luck and reported landing a only handful of these fish. Anglers continued to target brown trout and steelhead along Grant Park shoreline and the mouth of Oak Creek with very little success. Last week's spring storm and the subsequent warmer temperatures brought high flow to Oak Creek with high water levels and low water clarity. Temperatures throughout the creek were 44-45 degrees. Through the weekend with high fishing pressure, anglers (mostly fly fisherman) found success landing steelhead throughout the waterway, using a variety of flies or spawn. Those anglers staying toward the falls reported hooking into many white suckers while targeting steelhead. Bender Park ramp boaters found much success fishing in 20-30 feet of water using crank baits and spoons landing mostly brown trout, as well as a few other salmonid species including chinook ( about 10-15 pounds), coho ( about 3-5 pounds) and a lake trout. Higher fishing pressure continues at the Oak Creek power plant as anglers are still landing 2-6 pound brown trout (mostly at the end of the pier) using crank baits or minnows. Anglers also reported catches of carp and shad. - Reni Rydlewicz, fisheries technician, Milwaukee

Plymouth DNR Service Center area

Kettle Moraine State Forest, Northern Unit - Most hiking trails still have some muddy stretches, and the Tamarack Trail is very wet on the north end. The horse and mountain bike trails remain closed; this report will be updated as soon as those trails are able to be opened for the season. The Lake to Lake trail is in fair condition, and open for bicycles and hikers. The Mauthe Lake campground is now open, and sites are reservable. The showers, flush toilets, and dump station water are now available, but some of the water fountains may still be shut down. - Deb Harder, visitor services associate

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South Central Region

No reports.

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West Central Region

Baldwin DNR Service Center area

Kinnickinnic State Park - The high sun angle and warmer spring temperatures have greatly reduced the park's snowpack. Many south facing slopes and open areas are nearly snow free. Other areas with less direct sunlight, such as in the woods or on north facing slopes, have knee deep snow. Loons, hooded mergansers and wood ducks have been seen on the waters of the park and in surrounding areas. Nesting eagles have been active and can be observed from the St. Croix overlook. Blue birds and tree swallows are staking out their nesting boxes in the prairies and gobbling wild turkeys can be heard by those who visit the park during the early mornings. The St. Croix's main channel is generally ice fee. Spring snowmelt has impacted river levels. The river is predicted to rise above the 683 foot slow no wake threshold. Boaters should monitor river levels and conditions prior to venturing out on the river. The hill from the St. Croix parking lot to the beach is closed to vehicle traffic. It is still accessible to foot travel and is the most convenient access to the St. Croix River. All park trails are open to foot travel. Trail surfaces vary from scattered snow and puddles, to mud and grass. Spring weather causes conditions to change day by day. Waterproof footwear with good traction is encouraged. Mountain bikes and/or fat tire bikes are not allowed on park trails. Fishing on the Kinnickinnic River is open for Wisconsin's early catch and release trout season. A valid Wisconsin fishing license and trout stamp are required. Anglers have been finding success with a variety of nymphs, midges and dry flies. - Eric Klumb, ranger

La Crosse DNR Service Center area

Vernon County - Finally! Warm temperatures have created favorable conditions for increased animal activities. Spring peepers are peeping, chorus frogs are singing, wood frogs are croaking, snipe are winnowing, woodcock are peenting, turkeys are gobbling, and turkey vultures are soaring. Turkey vultures are marvelous birds with several unique characteristics and adaptations. As the mornings brighten, turkey vultures may often be seen sunning themselves by spreading their wings and exposing them to sun's warmth for several minutes before they fly. This sunning behavior helps elevate their body temperature before they try to fly and also supports vitamin D production within their body. They tend to be late risers, waiting for the sun to warm them and to create thermals so they can circle and fly directly to a food source located the previous day. Turkey vultures use their 6-foot wingspan to glide and soar extensively on thermal updrafts and seldom flap their wings for powered flight. While soaring, turkey vultures use their acutely developed sense smell and sight to locate carrion, their primary food source. As a group, most birds have poorly developed olfactory senses, but it is the complete opposite in turkey vultures. Weak feet and talons for the bird's size preclude turkey vulture from carrying off carrion in their talons. Instead, they gorge themselves at the feeding site and use the lift of their wings to become airborne. If they have consumed too much food to become airborne, they may regurgitate a portion to decrease their weight. Turkey vultures appear to have excellent immune systems, feasting on carcasses without contracting botulism, anthrax, cholera, or salmonella. Turkey vultures are social birds and often gather and soar in large flocks known as kettles. They do not construct nests, preferring to lay their eggs in the ground in dark recesses among rocky ledges, caves, crevices, or hollow logs. Sometimes they will utilize abandoned stick nest of other large birds, mammal burrows, or abandoned buildings. Fortunately, turkey vulture numbers have increased over the past 50 years and are strong throughout North America. - Dave Matheys, wildlife biologist, Viroqua

Black River Falls DNR Service Center area

Black River State Forest - Spring temperatures have finally arrived with highs in the 60s and low 70s this week. Snow is melting quickly with only the larger piles of snow remaining. This is a great time to visit the state forest; birds are moving through on their spring migration, insects populations are still low, and trees are starting to bud out. Hiking and biking trails are open but may be a little muddy in spots. Temperatures this weekend are expected to be in the high 50s to mid 60s. The East Fork Campground will open on Friday, April 27. The shower/flush toilet building and dump station at Castle Mound will reopen on Tuesday May 1. - Emily Alf, visitor services associate

Wisconsin Rapids DNR Service Center area

Buckhorn State Park - People have been fishing from shore at the Buckhorn bridge. The flowage is still in draw down and piers will not be installed until the lake level is normal (should be around the last week of April to beginning of May). Cranes, osprey, eagles, wood cocks, turkeys, grouse and more are being seen all around the park. One little brown bat has returned to the office bulletin board. Turkey hunting is open the first two periods in the park and wildlife areas and are Zone 1. (April 18-May 1) Maps available online or at park office. Periods 3-6 are then allowed only in the Yellow River Wildlife Area. The new campground is open and nonreservable until May 1.- Heather Wolf, park manager

Roche-A-Cri State Park - The main gate will open May 5 for the park's Work & Play Day event. Turkey hunting is open the first two periods in the park and wildlife areas and are Zone 1. (April 18-May 1) - Heather Wolf, park manager



Last Revised: Thursday, April 26, 2018

Contact information

For more information about news and media, contact:
James Dick
Director of Communications
608-267-2773