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Outdoor Report

Published May 3, 2018 by the Central Office

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Wisconsin's general inland fishing season opens this Saturday and while lakes across the lower two-thirds of the state are ice free, many lakes in the north are still locked in ice. Warm temperatures in the last few days have more lakes opening and some smaller northern lakes will likely be open by Saturday. As of Thursday lakes were opening up across Barron, Rusk and Price counties. Anglers who want to fish in the Northwoods this weekend should check out smaller lakes, or fish the open water of the Wisconsin and other major rivers.

Most of the snow cover is now gone statewide, but snow banks still remain in northern areas. Prior to this week's rain, fire danger conditions had reached extremely high in some areas and Red Flag Warning went into effect in several counties. In the past week, 161 wildfires burned 520 acres in DNR protection areas and 15 buildings were destroyed while another 88 homes and other buildings were threatened but saved with firefighter assistance.

Pasque flowers are blooming in southern Wisconsin. - Photo credit: Sara Kehrli
Pasque flowers are blooming in southern Wisconsin.Photo credit: Sara Kehrli

With recent rain many trout streams are high and even out of their banks in some locations. Trout anglers who fish stocked waters should be aware that while stocking of catchable size inland trout has occurred in southern inland waters, deliveries of fish to some northern inland waters is delayed beyond the fishing opener due to road weight limits and ice conditions.

Both the South and North Forks of the Flambeau River are completely open, high and running fast and there has been some success fishing for redhorse. Anglers on the Menominee, Peshtigo and Oconto rivers reported fewer walleye and increasing numbers of suckers. Anglers are still making some great catches of walleyes on the Wolf River and now white bass are showing up as well. Walleyes haven't been active on the Fox River, with both boat and shore anglers catching very few. Ice is still being reported at some locations on Green Bay and even at ramps that have opened floating ice is still a serious hazard.

People interested in watching fish should note the Fox and Wolf river sturgeon runs are underway. This year's spawning run is starting a bit later than normal due to the colder temps, and there is a good chance that it will be a quick run due to the warmer temperatures this week. Fish are expected to be spawning on the Wolf River at Shawawo by the weekend.

Tom turkeys are gobbling and displaying for the hens. Spring turkey hunting is in the third period and many hunters are having success. Ruffed grouse are drumming. Groggy bears and cubs are out of hibernation and have started to visit bird feeders so remove feeders if they attract bears.

Pussy willows are blossoming and most of the trees are in the bud or flowering stages in the north and are leafing out in the south.

Swamps are full of water, and chorus frogs, spring peepers and wood frogs are singing. Pasque flowers, bloodroot and hepatica are blooming in the south.

Loons are stacked up in central and southern Wisconsin patiently waiting for the northern lakes to open up. Literally millions of birds winged into Wisconsin this week on favorable south winds. Baltimore orioles, rose-breasted grosbeaks, ruby-throated hummingbirds, the first indigo buntings and scarlet tanagers, chimney swifts, thrushes, flycatchers, bobolinks, eastern kingbirds, and whip-poor-wills. And a remarkable 29 species of warblers were found statewide this week.

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Wildfire Report

In the past week, 161 wildfires burned 520 acres in DNR protection areas (approximately half the state); 88 homes and other buildings were threatened but saved with firefighter assistance and 15 buildings were destroyed. Debris burning was the most common cause (67 fires); other causes included equipment, power line, railroad, campfires, ash disposal, and smoking. The largest fire of the week burned 124 acres and threatened 13 buildings in Eau Claire County, cause was debris burning. Fire danger ranged from Low to Extreme across the state, with Red Flag Warnings in several counties. As the vegetation dries out on the days we don't receive rain, expect fire danger to increase, particularly in areas where standing dead grass and other dry vegetation remains. As vegetation greens up, people often become complacent and conduct their burning projects during the day instead of following the time restrictions on burning permits. In DNR protection areas, if you do choose to conduct outdoor burning, remember that a free annual burning permit is required to burn small piles of debris and to burn in a burn barrel. Burning permits are frequently suspended this time of year when fire danger increases. You must check the day's burning restrictions every day you intend to burn by calling 1-888-WIS-BURN (947-2876) or by checking online at dnr.wi.gov, keywords "fire danger." Larger piles and daytime burning requires a special permit from a DNR Ranger. Piling your debris in a campfire pit does not make it okay to burn during the day. If your property is outside a DNR protection area, check with local officials for burning restrictions.

Firewise Tip: Homeowners are encouraged to make weekly checks around your home or cabin for windblown leaves and needles on your roof, around your foundation, and under decks and elevated porches; keep these areas clean. The debris that collects in these places could be easily ignited by flying embers produced during a wildfire. - Jolene Ackerman, wildland urban interface coordinator, Madison

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Statewide Birding Report

Sample Caption and Alt Text - Photo credit: Beverly Engstrom
Sample Caption and Alt TextPhoto credit: Beverly Engstrom

Birdwatchers live for May, and this week proved exactly why. Literally millions of birds winged their way into Wisconsin, especially Sunday and Monday nights on favorable south winds. Baltimore orioles flooded north, even as far north as Lake Superior. Rose-breasted grosbeaks reached, in good numbers, as far north as Eau Claire and Wausau. Ruby-throated hummingbirds generally lag a few days and although some have reached Green Bay, most are still not farther north of Madison and Milwaukee. The first indigo buntings and scarlet tanagers arrived, as have a long list of other long-distance migrants returning from tropical wintering grounds, such as house wrens, chimney swifts, all of the thrushes, least and great-crested flycatchers, bobolinks, eastern kingbirds, blue-headed and warbling vireos, grasshopper, lark, and Henslow's sparrows, whip-poor-wills, and more. Not to mention the warblers, a remarkable 29 species found statewide this week alone, albeit dominated yet by the two earliest species, yellow-rumped and palm warblers. Haven't seen many of these birds yet? Don't despair, the action has been heavily centered in southern Wisconsin so far and this is just the first wave for most migrants. There are plenty more to come in the next few weeks.

This radar image from around 1am Tuesday morning shows millions of birds nocturnally migrating across the eastern U.S. from Gulf Coast states northward toward Wisconsin. Image courtesy of the National Center for Atmospheric Research. - Photo credit: NOAA - Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory
This radar image from around 1am Tuesday morning shows millions of birds nocturnally migrating across the eastern U.S. from Gulf Coast states northward toward Wisconsin. Image courtesy of the National Center for Atmospheric Research.Photo credit: NOAA - Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory

Shorebirds made a great showing this week as well, including flocks of willets along Lake Michigan and several interior counties, large numbers of both greater and lesser yellowlegs in flooded fields and shallow wetlands, and a good showing of American golden-plovers en route to breeding grounds on the arctic tundra. Spotted, solitary, and least sandpipers, and several Wilson's phalaropes were also seen. In the skies above, birds of prey have been pouring north, particularly ospreys, sharp-shinned hawks, turkey vultures, and broad-winged hawks. Observers at the north end of Door County - a natural funnel for migrating landbirds - estimated approximately 30,000 broad-wings circling north on May 1. Rough-legged hawks and common redpolls are finally departing in earnest, as are the fox sparrows, American tree sparrows, and dark-eyed juncos, all of which zipped through the north woods in rather rapid fashion this year. Purple finches remain common at feeders up north, however, while white-throated and white-crowned sparrows are also becoming more prevalent.

An impressive list of rarities reached the state this week, as if often the case in May. Among them were a long-billed curlew photographed in Portage County (only Wisconsin's second since 1975); white-winged doves in Washington and Racine; summer tanagers from at least five counties as far north as Bayfield; white-eyed vireo in Dane; loggerhead shrike in Price; eared grebes in Dane and Oconto; two yellow-crowned night-herons in Dane; little blue heron in Waukesha; white-faced ibis in Dodge; worm-eating warbler in Brown; yellow rail in Winnebago; black-backed woodpecker in Polk; cattle egret in Marathon; and Smith's longspurs in Dane. Join the fun of eBird's Global Big Day on May 5, and find out how far north your favorite migrants have reached at https://bit.ly/2HRRLEk. Good birding! - Ryan Brady, conservation biologist, Ashland

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Upcoming State Natural Area Workday

May 5 9 a.m.-noon, Waubesa Wetlands - Join the new volunteer effort to restore Waubesa Wetlands! Waubesa is known for its large, high quality wetlands and spring complexes. With increased prescribed burning and brush control DNR crews and volunteers have increased efforts to improve this site. This workday will focus on removing invasive garlic mustard on an oak ridge overlooking the meadow. Some areas will have sloping and uneven terrain. No skills needed you will be trained onsite. Click for more information.

Check the State Natural Areas Volunteer Program page of the DNR website for details. - Jared Urban, conservation biologist, Dane. - Jared Urban, conservation biologist, Dane

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Upcoming events at Wisconsin recreational properties
Saturday, May 5, 2018

Sunday, May 6, 2018

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Northern Region

Superior DNR Service Center area

These three little guys along with another sibling and their mother were spotted near the Ranger Station earlier this week. - Photo credit: DNR
These three little guys along with another sibling and their mother were spotted near the Ranger Station earlier this week.Photo credit: DNR

Brule River State Forest - The forest is filled with the sights and sounds of spring. Ruffed grouse are drumming, spring peepers are peeping, the maple trees are blooming and the poplar trees are displaying their catkins. Bears are out of hibernation so put away the bird feeders!  There are no marsh marigolds or other spring wildflowers quite yet. But change is happening quickly and another week may bring out leaves on the trees and some flowers. Unfortunately, as soon as the snow disappeared, the wood ticks showed up. But that is part of the season, too. Opening day of fishing season is this Saturday. Fishing on the Brule River upstream from Highway 2 opens on Saturday. Wild fire season is in full swing. 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 clean-up event last Saturday was a great success. Approximately 40 adults and 60 cub scouts and their families were on hand to pick up garbage at the angler parking lots and along the roadways. The cub scouts were also treated to a tour of the Brule Hatchery where they got to feed the fish and roam the hatchery grounds. On Saturday, May 12 from 10 a.m. to noon, the fire-year anniversary commemoration of the Germann Road Fire will take place at the Barnes Town Hall. On May 14, 2013 the Germann Road fire consumed 7,499 acres and destroyed 104 structures (23 of them residences) in the Towns of Gordon and Highland in Douglas County and the Town of Barnes in Bayfield County. The public is invited to learn more about the Germann Road Fire and the recovery that continues today. - Diane Gobin, visitor services associate

Spooner DNR Service Center area

Crex Meadows State Wildlife - The late spring and a lot of ice on the larger flowages combined to make this one of the best weeks ever on this date for bird watching at Crex Meadows! Birds were concentrated in small areas of open water, making them easy to find. Sixteen species of ducks were found, many in large numbers. These included mallards, blue-winged teal, green-winged teal, gadwall, American wigeon, hooded merganser, common merganser, red-breasted merganser, ruddy ducks, northern pintails, bufflehead, wood ducks, ring-necked ducks, lesser scaup, northern shoveler and redheads. Tundra swans were also seen moving through the area. Highlights this week were the golden eagle that was sighted and a very rare and out-of-range mountain bluebird seen along East Refuge Road! Many hawks including broad-winged, rough-legged, red-tailed, merlin, cooper's, sharp-shinned and American kestrels were present. A few sharp-tailed grouse were also spotted on Crex Meadows. Trumpeter swans were at all time high numbers this week, and so were American tree sparrows (for this time of year). - Lauren Finch, wildlife educator

Park Falls DNR Service Center area

Flambeau River State Forest - The loss of snow and the warming temperatures are greening up the landscape. Grazing wildlife is prevalent throughout the forest. 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 3rd season. Tundra swans and geese are flying overhead and no doubt many heading north. 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 viewed by area residents and Forest staff. Pussy willows are blossoming and most of the trees are in the bud or flowering stages. Chorus frogs can be heard in the warm low spots, peepers and wood frogs also. The lakes in the area are partially covered with black ice. The South and North Fork of the Flambeau River are completely open, high and running fast. There has been some success fishing for redhorse. - Diane Stowell, forestry technician advanced and visitor services associate

Woodruff DNR Service Center area

Larger lakes are still ice covered as of May 3, but some lakes under 200 acres will be ice free, depending on how much rain and wind there is over next few days. Anglers planning to come north for the fishing opener should check small lakes first, and if iced in, seek opportunities on the Wisconsin and other rivers. In the north. Mike Vogelsang, fisheries supervisor, Woodruff

Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest - The state forest is creeping out of its long winter. Pussy willows are either just starting to pop, or are turning green from the sudden surge in temperatures. Waterfowl and loons are patiently waiting for the area lakes to open up, which will be pretty slim for the opening weekend of fishing season. Phoebes, purple finches and white throated sparrows can be heard singing from favored spots. More waves of spring migrants are highly anticipated. Groggy bears and cubs have started to visit the unsuspecting bird feeders in yards. Most of the snow is gone, but snow banks still remain in areas. Swamps are full of water, spring peepers and wood frogs are singing, and area hiking trails are soft. Dock placement in area lakes has stalled due to the ice and area road limits. The north is coming alive with the sounds of nature. - Rosalie Richter, visitor services associate

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Northeast Region

Northern Lake Michigan fisheries team report

Marinette County - Anglers had mixed luck fishing for walleye this past week on the Menominee River. 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 40 degrees throughout the weekend. Anglers were reporting lower numbers of walleye being caught on the Peshtigo River this past week. Anglers also have reported increased numbers of suckers being caught. Anglers were having success using blue and silver stick baits. Some anglers were having success catching walleye near the mouth of the Peshtigo River. The Peshtigo River has increased to 47-48 degrees over the last couple of days. - Ben Olson, fisheries technician, Peshtigo

Oconto County - Good numbers of anglers were out on the Oconto River this past week. Anglers were reporting mixed success. Some anglers were reporting good catches of walleye, while others were reporting little activity. The anglers at the Breakwater Harbor were having good luck catching walleye in water depth between 9-13 feet. Anglers were reporting increased catches of suckers this week. The Oconto River water temperatures ranged from 46-50 degrees over the weekend. - Ben Olson, fisheries technician, Peshtigo

Brown County - As of April 29, locations from Suamico down to Duck Creek are open water with ice still out farther in the bay. Geano Beach is still mostly ice covered with patchy open water. Few anglers were observed at Suamico but due to the ice still being in the bay they were unsuccessful in catching any fish. Longtail and Duck Creek locations had a few anglers. Due to the recent weather changes walleyes haven't been active on the Fox River, with both boat and shore anglers catching very few walleyes. However, those that have been fishing the early morning hours from midnight to 7 a.m. have been catching in the upwards of 30 walleyes per person. 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 Radke, fisheries technician, Green Bay

Door County - Action has been very slow for boat anglers in search of brown trout, northern pike and walleye. Anglers casting from shore have caught a few browns in the canal and from the piers as they open up around Door County. Almost all walleye fishermen went home empty handed this weekend. A few northern pike have been caught but even most pike anglers had no luck. Water temps in the Sturgeon Bay Canal and on Lake Michigan remain in the low 40s. There is a lot of ice on the west end of the Sturgeon Bay Canal that blocks travel out to the bay depending on wind direction. Stone Quarry, Fish Creek, Ellison Bay and Gills Rock ramps are now open but floating ice is still a serious hazard. As of last weekend, Egg Harbor and Ephraim were still locked with ice. Sister Bay should be open in a few days with the current forecast. Other than Egg harbor and Ephraim, all ramps should be open for the opener next week. Steelhead action has remained good but it is near the end of the steelhead spawn. The trout are upstream spawning or heading back to the lake while the suckers are starting to move into the creeks. - Ben Thome, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay

Manitowoc County - The water levels and flow have decreased drastically in the rivers throughout the county. The water levels would be ideal for steelhead; however, there was only a handful of steelhead caught. Water clarity has increased and should not be an issue if you plan on sight fishing. East/West Twin Rivers water levels have decreased over the past week to more fishable levels. Steelheads were caught by the Shoto Dam, both the large dam and the smaller dam. In addition, suckers were being caught throughout the week. The numbers of suckers in the West Twin River by the dam has decreased as the week progressed. Village Park in Mishicot has produced some steelhead in the past few days. There are reports of steelhead jumping at the dam. Anglers that have caught steelhead were using spawn sacs. The dock at Seagull Marina in Two River is now in, which could be beneficial as the parking lot in Vets park is being resurfaced. The boat lunch at Vets park is still open while the parking lot gets resurfaced. Few anglers have had found some success while fishing for brown trout as the water temps increased. Fishing on the Two Rivers piers has been slow, but hopefully with warmer weather in the forecast it will increase fishing on the piers. Some brown trout have been caught on of the piers with more success coming in the morning. The few browns have been coming off of spawn sacs and casting with little cleos. Anglers trying for catfish in the harbor have had success and even had a surprise northern pike caught. Just like in other rivers in the area the water levels and flow have decreased in both the Manitowoc and Branch rivers. In addition to the decrease in water levels the number of anglers trying for steelhead have decreased as well. More anglers are starting to target suckers, catfish, and northern pike. Few suckers have been caught throughout the past week. Anglers fishing in Silver Creek have not had much success lately. Anglers fishing in the Manitowoc harbor have been doing well with catfish. Majority of people fishing for catfish have been fishing across from the submarine and toward the lake. Anglers fishing in the morning and into midday have been doing just as good as the anglers fishing later into the night who are targeting catfish. A few brown trout have been caught off the piers using spawn sacs and casting with little spoons. As the temperature increases the fishing should increase as well. The weather hasn't been beneficial to anglers who are wanting to go and try for brown trout out of the Manitowoc ramp. When the weather broke and provided opportunity for people to get out anglers had mixed results. Some anglers didn't have any fish, but the ones that were able to find warmer water had fish. Water temps have rose to 44-46 degrees. Fish have been caught on crankbaits, with the best color being black and orange, as well as firetiger. - Cody Flavion, fisheries technician, Mishicot

Peshtigo DNR Service Center area

Oconto County - The walleye run on the tributaries is slowing down. Most of the rivers and lakes south of Highway 64 are open. An abundant amount of song birds including robins have been returning. Turkey season is well underway and many birds are showing themselves in open fields and many hunters are having success. Oconto County ATV trails are still currently closed due to snow and trail conditions in the northern half of the county. Trails will be reassessed this weekend and Oconto County will determine next week if they should decide to open them. - Paul Hartrick, conservation warden, Oconto Falls

Governor Thompson State Park - Almost all the snow and ice is gone. The turkeys are gobbling, frogs are singing and the woodcock are dancing in the streets. It is spring here! Ice is off Woods Lake, but launch facilities at Caldron Falls were still iced in as of April 30. - Maggie Kailhofer, park manager

Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center area

Potawatomi State Park - All trails are open to hiking but may have snow, ice or mud. Overall there is a lot of standing water. All campsites are opens and available to reserve, otherwise a few non-electric sites are non-reservable. The shower building is open on weekends until a septic maintenance project is complete. Hopefully it will be open on a daily basis before Memorial weekend. The fish cleaning station is open for the season. The ice finally melted around the boat launch area and the docks are going to be installed either at the end of the week or early next week. - Jaclyn Moeri, visitor services associate

Wautoma DNR Service Center area

Waupaca County - For the past few days, the sturgeon have been running on the Wolf River. A good place to view them is at the Shawano Dam in Shawano or "Bamboo Bend" in Shiocton as some of the southern Wolf River spawning sites no longer have many fish. Anglers are still making some great catches of walleyes on the Wolf River and now the white bass are showing up as well. Good fishing should continue for the next few weeks. Now that the snow has melted, turkey hunters are reporting lots of activity. The hens and toms are starting to move and are laying eggs. - Ted Dremel, conservation warden, Wautoma

Between 25-plus inches of snowmelt and the near 2 inches of rain this week, trout streams are out of their banks and nearly unfishable. That will likely not change before the opener as more rain is predicted. All area lakes are now open. Turkey hunters reporting good success as of late. After all the moisture and a week of warm weather, lawns and grass fields have greened up overnight. Maples and willows have also popped buds. Wonderfully insect free right now, even very few ticks! Have now heard spring peepers and chorus frogs in our local wetlands. Should be a nice weekend. - Karl Kramer, wildlife technician, Wautoma

Waushara County - The weather has the opening weekend looking pretty good considering the roller coaster of the last few weeks. The lakes are clear of ice and folks are getting their boats out and ready to go. The turkey woods has been tough for a lot of folks, successes have been there, but it took time or luck. Birds are "henned" up and have been quiet the last few days, but with sunshine in the forecast I would imagine they will start becoming more vocal as we go into the weekend. I have seen photos of some goslings already this year so not all was lost in the record breaking snow storm a few weeks ago. Some dedicated parents protected their nests and they hatched in some good numbers. Other birds have been seen building and getting their nests ready to go. Waushara received around an inch and a half of rain this week and has turned from a brown grass land waiting to be burned to new green shoots popping up all over the place. Fire dangers have diminished for the time being and spring is coming. New growth and buds on the trees are out in full force. Take advantage of the weather this weekend and get out and do a little fishing or just enjoy nature waking up from its slumber. - Ben Mott, conservation warden, Wautoma

Oshkosh DNR Service Center area

Lake Winnebago System

The 2018 lake sturgeon spawning run on the Winnebago System commenced on Friday, April 27 with fish spawning on the upper Fox River in Eureka. Spawning on the Wolf River began just a couple days later on April 29 at the Sturgeon Trail in New London. As of Tuesday evening, fish were spawning at the Sturgeon Trail and Pfeifer Park in New London and at Bamboo Bend. Spawning likely will continue for a few days in the Shiocton area and fish should begin to show up in Shawano by the end of the week. DNR fisheries crew was out tagging sturgeon on the Wolf River between New London and Leeman this week, along with on the Embarrass River in New London. One crew worked the New London area and handled 49 fish at Pfeifer Park (Embarrass River) and 19 at the Sturgeon Trail. The second crew started their morning by handling 54 fish at Bamboo Bend (Shiocton) before heading upstream to a site on private property in Leeman where an additional 18 fish were handled. Spawning appears to be all but done at the Sturgeon Trail as catch has really tailed off the last two days. Spawning activity also seems to have decreased in intensity at Bamboo Bend relative to yesterday. We did check the Shawano Dam for spawning activity this afternoon. Fish were sparsely observed, but present, on both the power house and Sturgeon Park sides of the river, but no spawning was observed. More fish will be starting to show up at this location over the next one to two days, but I don't anticipate spawning getting underway in Shawano until Friday and likely going into the weekend. There should still be some fish activity this week at Bamboo Bend in Shiocton and some early cruising activity at Shawano. - Ryan Koenigs, fisheries biologist, Oshkosh

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Southeast Region

Milwaukee DNR Service Center area

Southern Lake Michigan fisheries team report

Sheboygan County - Activity at the Deland Park ramp earlier this week was very low, but increased significantly over the weekend. One angler stated that he and two other anglers caught their bag limit of brown trout on Tuesday fishing stick baits in 10 feet of water. Others report success catching lake trout on spoons in 40-50 feet of water. Pressure on the South Pier remained very high throughout the weekend. Anglers fishing between 5-8 a.m. reported good numbers of brown trout along with an occasional lake trout. Spoons are the bait of choice, although fish are being caught on shiners and crank baits as well. Pigeon River fishing remains slow, but some trout were still being caught by anglers, who were using egg patterns. Pressure was the highest near Mill Road and County Y. Visibility has increased dramatically from last week along with the water temperature, which ranged from 43-48 degrees. Pressure was extremely low on the Sheboygan River this week. One angler who fished below the Kohler dam on Saturday had luck catching several pike using spawn sacs, minnows, and spinners. The water visibility has improved greatly and the temperature was consistently in the high 40s.

Ozaukee County - Pressure on the Port Washington Piers was very light this week; however, the few anglers who were fishing the south pier had success catching browns with stick baits. Fishing pressure is increasing along the shoreline of Rotary Park as weather conditions improve. A few fish have been caught at by anglers using spoons, one of which was a respectable 11 pound brown trout. Many anglers have stated that fishing has been slow at the Port Washington Utility because of the power plant shutdown, which will temporarily halt the warm water discharge for an unknown period of time. However, browns and suckers were still being caught by anglers using worms or spawn sacs. Several anglers continue to target steelhead in the Sauk Creek Nature Preserve with little success, although one fisherman had a trout on but broke his line. Many white suckers are being caught by anglers who are using egg pattern nymphs intended for trout. Water visibility increased as the week progressed and water temperature ranged from 46-48 degrees. - Jarrett Mapes, fisheries technician, Plymouth

Milwaukee County - McKinley Ramp anglers targeting brown trout found success in mostly 30 feet of water or less using minnows, shiners, or a variety of spoons. The occasional small coho and even a lake trout were also caught, in deeper water up to 40 feet. Little to no action continues for anglers targeting salmon and trout both on the lakeside and harborside of the McKinley Pier. A 33-inch, 9-pound northern pike was caught lakeside, using spoons on Sunday morning. Monday April 30 was the closing of the perch season on Lake Michigan and its tributaries, it will reopen June 16.. Anglers targeting brown trout were observed by the Summerfest grounds, Lakeshore State Park and McKinley Shore, with little success using crank baits, spoons, cleos, artificial lures, minnows, or spawn. Milwaukee River anglers, continued to enjoy the clear waters of Estabrook and Kletsch Park through the weekend. Water temperatures range between 51-53 degrees. Water levels and flow are slightly higher than normal. Anglers are still seeing steelhead throughout the river system but have had very little luck with landing the species. Most anglers landed white suckers while targeting steelhead. Anglers targeting smallmouth bass had success in Estabrook using a variety of artificial lures. The Menomonee River continues to have fishing pressure with most anglers gaining access through Miller Parkway and Three Bridges. Water levels and flow remain low and water continues to be clear with temperatures ranging between 52-55 degrees. Action continues to be very hit or miss and anglers continue to see small schools swimming throughout the river system, but catching is another story. Those steelhead fisherman that found success used a variety of yarn flies and spawn. The South Metro Pier is now open and anglers caught salmon, steelhead, and brown trout. Around the old Jones Island, night time smelt netters continue trying their luck and continue to report landing only handful of these fish. Anglers found success landing 1-3 pound brown trout along Grant Park Shoreline and the mouth of Oak Creek using spawn. After the spring storm from two weeks ago, Oak Creek water levels, flow, and clarity have returned to normal with temperatures throughout the creek between 43-44 degrees. Through the weekend, with high fishing pressure, anglers, mostly fly fisherman, found success landing steelhead using a variety of flies or spawn. White suckers continue to be caught near the falls. Fishing pressure continues at the Oak Creek Power Plant as anglers are still landing 1-3 pound brown trout using crank baits, spawn, or minnows. - Reni Rydlewicz, fisheries technician, Milwaukee

Plymouth DNR Service Center area

Kettle Moraine State Forest, Northern Unit - The horse and mountain bike trails are now open for the season! Riders should still be cautious for scattered muddy spots. A reminder that trail passes are required for all riders age 16 and older. The Tamarack Trail is very wet on the north end. The Mauthe Lake campground is now open, and sites are reservable. The 600,700, and 900 loops of the Long Lake campground are now open and reservable. New Prospect Horse Camp and Greenbush Group Camps are now open and reservable for the season. 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

Fitchburg DNR Service Center area

Columbia County - It is officially spring - pasque flower was seen blooming in a local remnant prairie. The county seemed to turn green overnight after the storms blew through Tuesday evening. Lawns and ditches are green. The first goose and woodcock broods have hatched, fox kits are showing themselves at den sites, and area eagles can be seen feeding their young. Pelicans are back in the area and can easily be seen on the WI River below the dam at Prairie du Sac. An uptick in dead deer along area roads have been seen recently as deer are feeding on new green growth near the roads; drivers should be especially cautious driving during the evening hours. Turkey hunters in period B experienced much better conditions that first period hunters and many hunters reported success in the field. Many shrubs, including the raspberry family and honeysuckle are starting to pop leaves out. - Sara Kehrli, wildlife biologist, Poynette

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West Central Region

Baldwin DNR Service Center area

Willow River State Park - Wildlife has been abundant. Pheasants, deer, turkeys, and waterfowl can be seen throughout the park. There have been numerous owl sightings and many migratory birds are showing up in the park. All trails are open for hiking. Trail Conditions will vary. Bikes are allowed on the paved roads and on the trail from the 300 campground to the dam. Camping is open in all campgrounds. All waters systems and buildings are scheduled to be opened the first week of May. Little Falls Lake is still drawn down. Work to rebuild the Little Falls Dam is expected to take several years. The river will continue to flow through the lake bed. Access is still allowed, though much of the shoreline is extremely soft and muddy. - Aaron Mason, property supervisor

La Crosse County -

Vernon County - The fields and forests of Vernon County are alive with the musical songs of recently arrived Baltimore orioles, rose-breasted grosbeaks, house wrens, eastern (rufous-sided) towhees, brown thrashers, field sparrows, and a host of warblers and other migratory songbirds. Birds produce their melodic songs and calls by vibrating some or all of the membranes contained in their vocal organ, which is known as a syrinx. The syrinx is as unique to birds as are its feathers. They are the only living animal to possess such a vocal organ. A bird's syrinx is located at the base of its trachea, about where the trachea forks into the lungs. In contrast, mammals have a larynx located well above the bifurcation point, and it has only one side to produce sounds. In songbirds, each side of the syrinx is controlled independently, allowing some songbirds to sing rising and falling notes simultaneously, producing a true two-voice song. Humans, being a mammal, have a one-sided voice box and, no matter how well trained they may be in voice control, are incapable of singing rising and falling notes at the same time. Gray catbirds, brown thrashes, and wood thrushes are examples of local songbirds that frequently generate different sounds simultaneously. Catbirds and thrashers are also excellent mimics of other bird calls and sounds. Take time to enjoy the tremendous variety of musical songs produced by our remarkably talented songbirds. - Dave Matheys, wildlife biologist, Viroqua

Wisconsin Rapids DNR Service Center area

Buckhorn State Park - Boat boarding and accessible fishing piers are in! Many short walk-in campsites are open and reservable. The 300 yard to 1.2 mile campsites are still closed as toilets have not been set up yet and there is work to complete from late winter. There are many reservations on the weekend so please check at the office before self-registering because a site you may want is already taken. The new campground is open and 1st loop is reservable. The dump station and flush toilet/shower buildings are still close. There is a frost free spigot next to the office restroom all year round. Turkey hunting for periods 3-6 are allowed only in the Yellow River Wildlife Area. - Heather Wolf, park manager

Roche-A-Cri State Park - The main gate will open May 5 for a Work & Play Day. Call 608-565-2789 to sign up to volunteer and help clean up the park that day. The friends group will be providing lunch for volunteers. Bring rakes, leaf blowers, gloves and water bottles - Heather Wolf, park manager



Last Revised: Thursday, May 03, 2018

Contact information

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