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Outdoor Report

Published August 23, 2018 by the Central Office

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View current conditions for Wisconsin State Parks, Trails and Forests
Check out the Wisconsin Department of Tourism (exit DNR).

Torrential rains this week in southern Wisconsin washed out or flooded roadways in Dane and Iowa counties and have caused closures on some state trails. Sections of the Military Ridge and Badger trails are closed and the entire Sugar River State Trail is closed until further notice.

With up to 15 inches of rain reported, some southern lakes and rivers are at or near flood stage. All four Madison chain of lakes have risen to near or above the 100-year elevation. The boat landing piers at the popular Governor Nelson State Park boat launch have been removed because of high water levels. The gates of Tenney Dam in Madison are fully opened to allow water to pass down the chain. Dane County has issued a slow-no-wake ordinance for all four lakes and Rock County has issued a slow-no-wake ordinance for long stretches of the Rock River.

The rain also caused the Lower Wisconsin River to rise dramatically. The river doubled in flow at Muscoda from 4,500 to 9,500 cfs in the last couple days. The rise means that there will be many fewer sandbars and that the river flow will make paddling more challenging.

Meanwhile rain has been scarce in the north and the dry conditions are stressing some trees. Some leaves are falling already, some fall color is starting and the ferns are turning yellow as well.

Several of the harbors along the west shore of Green Bay saw heavy use from walleye anglers due to a walleye tournament on Sunday. Suamico and Geano Beach remained the heaviest fished spots on the lower bay west shore. Most boats were coming back with walleyes but the bite has slowed down from previous weeks. The catfish catch over the past week has skyrocketed with almost all the fishing boats catching at least one.

Along Door County, Egg Harbor boasted some good action over the weekend. Walleye anglers had success around the harbor, with some decent perch action also reported. On the Lake Michigan side, anglers had some decent shore action for smallmouth fishing at Baileys Harbor. Salmon anglers also had action landing some chinooks and rainbows.

Anglers going out on the lake out of Manitowoc had mixed results. Rainbows dominated the fish coming in but some chinook were being caught that have started to change color. Poor weekend weather with higher winds, waves, thunderstorms and even water spouts limited anglers from heading out on the lake from Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha. Those that tried their luck landed mostly rainbows and lake trout with the occasional brown trout or chinook.

A young porcupine seen along a trail at Whitefish Dunes State Park. - Photo credit: DNR
A young porcupine seen along a trail at Whitefish Dunes State Park.Photo credit: DNR

Fawns' spots are beginning to fade and turkey poults are nearly the size of their parents. Bull elk are losing their velvet. All velvet should be off by the end of August and bugling will commence.

Blackberries are still producing in some areas but other report the harvest has dropped off. There seems to be a decent acorn crop for the red and black oaks this year, which should bode well for early bow season and turkey hunting.

Common nighthawks are on the move! These acrobatic fliers are gracing Wisconsin's skies as reports of dozens and even hundreds of the birds came in this week. Look for flocks weaving overhead near dawn and dusk, their erratic flight patterns and bold white wing bars making for fairly straightforward identification.

It is a full moon this weekend and Merrick State Park is holding a full moon paddle and Governor Dodge, Mirror Lake and Kettle Moraine Southern Unit are all hosting astronomy programs. For all events search the DNR website for "Get Outdoors."

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Statewide Birding Report

It's that time of year - common nighthawks are on the move! These acrobatic fliers are gracing Wisconsin's skies as reports of dozens and even hundreds of the birds came in this week. Look for flocks weaving overhead near dawn and dusk, their erratic flight patterns and bold white wing bars making for fairly straightforward identification. Numbers typically peak in the last week of Aug or very early September. The past week also several good nights of migration for many birds, especially into Wednesday morning. Birders up north tallied nearly 20 warbler species, while farther south numbers and diversity of warblers are low yet but starting to build toward mid-September peaks. Other migrant landbirds being seen now include Philadelphia vireo, Swainson's thrush, and olive-sided flycatcher among many of our summering species in the midst of their departures, like indigo buntings, Baltimore orioles, swallows, and flycatchers. Hummingbird numbers are good this year in many locations, many immature birds congregating now at blooms and feeders. Keep an eye toward old chimneys at dusk for descending swirls of chimney swifts coming to roost. Waterbird migration generally comes later in the season, aside from the many juvenile shorebirds moving now. Horicon has been great for finding these species as usual, including big numbers of great egrets, great blue herons, American white pelicans, and other wetland birds. Meanwhile, some breeding activity continues, such as a few barn swallows, eastern bluebirds, and cedar waxwings still feeding young. Some of this week's rarities include snowy egret in Dodge, northern mockingbird in Chippewa, horned grebe in Vilas, and red-necked grebe in Bayfield. Help us track the migration by reporting your finds to www.ebird.org/wi. Good birding! - Ryan Brady, conservation biologist, Ashland

Fruit sources like this native American elderberry are excellent places to find many birds this time of year, including this uncommon Philadelphia Vireo.  - Photo credit: Ryan Brady
Fruit sources like this native American elderberry are excellent places to find many birds this time of year, including this uncommon Philadelphia Vireo. Photo credit: Ryan Brady

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Upcoming events at Wisconsin recreational properties


Friday, August 24, 2018

Saturday, August 25, 2018

Sunday, August 26, 2018

For all events search Get Outdoors

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Upcoming State Natural Area Workday

August 25, 9 a.m.-noon Sugar River Wetlands Workday: Seed Collecting - This month or main objective will be collecting seeds. We'll identify several different native wetland plants and learn how to collect their seeds. Seed will be scattered in fall to areas where invasive brush has recently been removed. We may also spend some time addressing invasive plants coming up. This work will expand the quality wetland areas and continue the efforts started by the Upper Sugar River Watershed Association and Wisconsin DNR. No skills needed you will be trained onsite.

August 25- 10 a.m.-noon and August 26, 2-4 p.m. - Pope Lake Workday. Help remove invasive cattails in favor of native vegetation! Since 2014 we have been removing cattails from large areas and seeing native vegetation respond well in the channel between Pope Lake and Manomin Lake. There are thousands of plants still clogging the channel and we can use all the help we can get. The work will involve cutting the plants at least three inches below water level. This is hard work! Access to the plants will be from both the shore and from boats.

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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Northern Region

Superior DNR Service Center area

New
This is the view of the Brule River in the background of the neew selfie stands.Photo credit: DNR
New
New "selfie stands" have been added at Wisconsin State Park system properties, including this one at the Brule River State Forest.Photo credit: DNR

Brule River State Forest - The last few mornings have started out with temperatures in the 40s, making it feel like fall. But the days have warmed up into the 70s to make for perfect late summer weather. After a week or so of hazy skies as smoke from Canadian wildfires blew in, we once again are seeing bright blue and clear skies. Rain has been scarce though, and the dry conditions are stressing the trees. Some leaves are falling already, and some fall color is starting. Fall is definitely right around the corner. Sunset is around 8 p.m. now; each day is about 3 minutes shorter than the day before. Summer babies are growing up. Fawns' spots are beginning to fade and turkey poults are nearly the size of their parents. Cool, crisp fall days will be here soon. The campgrounds have been full the last few weekends, and Labor Day weekend looks like it will be busy as well. This week, a new Selfie Stand was installed on the south side of the Ranger Station overlooking the Brule River. - Diane Gobin, visitor services associate

Park Falls DNR Service Center area

Flambeau River State Forest - The Flambeau River water levels are normal for this time of year, though perfect for paddling. Occasionally there is a tree in the canopy that's changing in color and the ferns are turning as well. Elk calves are weaning off of the cows and eating more vegetation. Bulls are hanging out in bachelor groups constantly eating. The bulls are losing their velvet. All velvet should be off by the end of August and bugling will commence. The Forest is hosting a bugling program on September 14th for folks interested in these magnificent animals. There are four logging sales at this time on the Flambeau River State Forest. Be aware of large logging trucks on the roads. The weather forecast for the weekend calls for a 70 percent chance of rain Friday with a high of 67 and low of 58. Saturday, will be partly sunny with a high of 78 and a low of 61. Sunday, has a slight chance of thunderstorms, with a high of 79 and a low of 61. - Diane Stowell, forestry technician advanced and visitor services associate

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Northeast Region

Northern Lake Michigan fisheries team report

Marinette County - On the Menominee River, the Menekauee harbor saw heavy use from walleye tournament anglers Sunday afternoon. Light angling pressure at the 6th Street slip from both boats and stream anglers. A few bluegill and yellow perch were being harvested on worms. Some effort put forth for muskellunge, with no reports of fish being caught. The Boom Landing ramp saw light angling pressure for Sunday afternoon. Some effort for walleye with minimal success. Report of a 7.5-pound channel catfish being caught and released. There was light fishing pressure from boats and shore anglers at the mouth of the Peshtigo River. Surface water temperature was 80 degrees at the river's mouth. Boat anglers continue to have limited success on walleye with crank baits, catching more drum than targeted species. The area is also a destination for owners of water loving dogs. Some catches of yellow perch by shore anglers fishing nightcrawlers on the bottom near submergent vegetation. A few anglers launching at Klingsborns to fish the lower river. Boat anglers were having some success harvesting yellow perch off of the Little River Ramp on Sunday. Larger perch preferred minnows to worms. Some sorting of catch needed to put larger fish to creel. Shore angling near the ramp was met with little success. Water was turbid and 78 degrees at the mouth of Little River. - Ron Rhode, fisheries technician, Peshtigo

Oconto County - Saturday afternoon hosted more activity from swimmers and kayakers than anglers at the Stiles Dam and Iron Bridge Area. Anglers targeting bass and panfish were met with limited success in the 78 degree water. Water levels remain at summer lows. The areas close proximity to Green Bay, coupled with public access, makes it a favorite for casual angling. The Pensaukee River boat ramp had high pressure Saturday from walleye anglers pre-fishing for a Sunday walleye tournament. Some kayakers fishing the river's lily pads for largemouth bass. Decent catches of yellow perch were reported. Water temperature was 77 degrees. Walleye fishing dominated angling efforts Saturday afternoon at the Oconto Breakwater Harbor Area. Part of the effort was due to a walleye tournament on Sunday. Anglers had to work for their catch, but released most fish that were caught. Surface water temperature was 79 degrees near the mouth of the Oconto. The Oconto Park II Area had moderate fishing pressure with some success for walleye being reported. - Ron Rhode, fisheries technician, Peshtigo

Brown County - Suamico and Geano Beach remain the heaviest fished spots on the lower bay west shore. Most boats are coming back with walleyes but the bite has slowed down from previous weeks. Average catch was three to five fish for half a day out on the water. The catfish catch over the past week has skyrocketed with almost all the fishing boats interviewed catching at least one. Anglers also caught freshwater drum and a few white perch while out trolling. A couple musky anglers were out but no fish were caught. Anglers fishing the Metro boat launch came up short in their search for walleye and bass. The rest of the groups interviewed were pleasure boaters. A few shore anglers at the Fox Point /fairgrounds launch ended up catching a bunch of white perch. The fairgrounds launch was closed for the fair this past weekend. Voyager averaged half a dozen anglers out over the past week in search of walleye or bass but no fish were landed. The majority of effort at Duck Creek was toward yellow perch with mixed success. Some boats would come back with half a dozen fish while others wouldn't catch a thing. While out anglers also caught a few white perch and round gobies. - Adam Garlie, fisheries technician, Peshtigo

Door County - In Baileys Harbor, anglers had some decent shore action for smallmouth fishing from the pier at Anclam Park. Small spinners and plastics both caught smallmouth, although the fish didn't exceed 12 inches. Salmon anglers also had action, with reports from around 100 feet of water claiming as many as seven hits for a morning of fishing. Anglers didn't land that many, but some chinooks and rainbows were harvested. Those receiving the most action reported that flashers and flies drew more hits, but orange spoons fished higher in the water also got some. Up in Rowleys Bay, fewer boats were out than during the week. Action on the piers included a mix of mostly gobies and small smallmouth. Anglers fishing with bobbers and worms or small plastics caught mostly gobies with some smallmouth mixed in, and anglers casting with small plastics but retrieving them off the bottom caught around a dozen smallmouth per hour. Most bass were under 12 inches, but one angler reported catching a 24-inch northern pike off the pier on a spoon. Gills Rock had a mix of salmon and bass anglers this weekend also, with the bass anglers having more success. The bass action came on small tubes and ned rigs fished on the drop-offs right across from the marina. The anglers reported catching around 12 bass in an hour-and-a-half. Salmon anglers reported fishing in 100-150 feet of water, with cold water present 50-75 feet down. One boat brought in a small rainbow and chinook and one came in with a zero, but they reported that fishing had been better before the north wind blew late in the week. Anglers fishing around the Ellison Bay harbor with worms under a bobber caught a good number of small smallmouth and 2 fish over 14 inches, with one of those being over 20 inches. One boat out of Sister Bay had only fished for a short while due to the strong winds, and came in having boated about 20 bass. They reported having caught their fish on small green pumpkin tubes. Some anglers hit the piers in Peninsula Park Saturday, but anglers reported being pestered by gobies more than anything. Egg Harbor boasted some good action over the weekend. A handful of walleye anglers had success fishing crawler harnesses. They reported fishing just off structure in 18-24 feet-of-water and having good walleye action (upwards of 10 fish) for multiple mornings. One boat reported trolling harnesses at 1.3-1.4 miles per hour and not catching a single goby, while another reported catching them, along with some drum and catfish reported from every boat. Anglers fishing around the harbor had good action too, with some decent perch, between 8 and 10 inches, along with rock bass and gobies being caught. Anglers were fishing with worms near the bottom and were able to see many of the different species they were targeting. Besides those, smallmouth bass, sunfish, and suckers were seen in good numbers along the rocks inside the harbor. - Jacob Steckmesser, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay

Manitowoc County - Anglers going out on the lake have had mixed results. Some anglers will come in with 10 fish while the next boat will have only two. Overall most anglers are coming in with fish. Rainbows are dominated the fish coming into the cleaning stations right now. The rainbows are being caught out in 150 plus feet of water. The chinooks that were being caught have started to change color. While there were fish caught off the pier last weekend there was no reports of any salmon or trout caught off the pier this week. The number of anglers that are fishing on the piers have increased. Anglers fishing in the harbor this week have had luck fishing for northern pike. The pike are being caught on casting spoons. Smallmouth bass and largemouth bass were also caught throughout the harbor. With surface water temps at 74 degrees Two Rivers anglers are searching to find cooler water. The cold water was eventually found 80 feet down, it was roughly 55 degrees. Even with anglers finding the colder water the number of chinook caught did not increase. Rainbows have been dominating the catch in Two Rivers as well. Early in the week there were a lot of shakers caught, but as the weekend progressed the fish increased in size. Fishing pressure on the Two Rivers piers was low over the week. The anglers that were fishing didn't have any luck for salmon or trout. Smallmouth bass were found along the rocks, but there was no luck on catching them. The anglers that decided to fish in the harbor were able to catch bullheads at will. That was the only fish that were caught in the harbor this week.- Cody Flavionl, fisheries technician, Mishicot

Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center area

Potawatomi State Park - This is a great time of year to hike in the park as everything is lush and green in the woods. A visitor said they saw an eagle soaring along the shoreline by the boat launch this week. Milkweed is in bloom along the roadside attracting monarch butterflies. Several fawns have been spotted near the office along with large families of turkeys. Please remember to leave wildlife alone and view from a distance. - Jaclyn Moeri, visitor services associate

Whitefish Dunes State Park - Bird feeders are being visited by hummingbirds. Thimbleberries and red raspberries are ripe and line most of the trails but also look out for poison ivy. This week a visitor spotted a baby porcupine walking along the green trail. There are lots of wildflowers in the park and it's a great time of year to hike. The First Beach Access at the park remains closed until further notice due to high water and erosion of the shoreline. While the first beach access is closed, access to the beach will be limited for disabled visitors and launching a kayak isn't realistic at the park. - Jaclyn Moeri, visitor services associate

Wautoma DNR Service Center area

Waupaca County - Finally got some nice cool weather this week, don't think it cleared 70. Blackberries are still producing good. Seems to be a decent acorn crop for the red and black oaks this year should bode well for early bow season and turkey hunting. Most rain has been either north or south of central Wisconsin, as a result our water levels are as low as they have been all summer. Mosquitos are quite annoying despite the dry conditions. Just a few red maples are starting to turn colors, otherwise the green is still going strong. - Karl Kramer, wildlife technician, Wautoma

Waushara County - The area received over an inch of rain, not as much as the southern part of the State, but still enough to make it wet even in sand country. The deer have been out feeding often and fawns are growing up and some are starting to lose their spots. The cooler temperatures aren't going to last into the weekend, but they will be back and before we know it as hunting seasons, fall harvest, and fall color change are just around the corner. The berries in the county have definitely dropped off at this point of the year. Folks will be out and about enjoying one of the last summer weekends before kids go back to school and it looks to be a good one. The water is still warm and the sun (for now) is supposed to be out and should be a great weekend. - Ben Mott, conservation warden, Wautoma

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Southeast Region

Milwaukee DNR Service Center area

Southern Lake Michigan fisheries team report

Milwaukee County - Poor weekend weather with higher winds, waves, thunderstorms and even water spouts limited anglers from heading out on the water this weekend. By Sunday, boaters tried their luck and landed rainbows and lake trout with the occasional brown trout or chinook. Although anglers fished in waters ranging from 100-310 feet of water, most success, with larger fish, headed to deeper waters out to 300 feet. Fish were reported hitting lines 60-80 feet of water. A variety of spoons or flasher/flies found the most success. Anglers continue to report many large bait balls and plenty of fish on their sounders. Those few anglers targeting salmon, trout, and bass from the McKinley Pier continue to see very little action. There has been lower fishing pressure at this location due to warmer surface temps (up to 74 degrees) and lack of alewives. Anglers targeting salmon, trout, panfish, bass or perch observed by the Summerfest grounds and near the lighthouse, Lakeshore State Park, Veterans Park, and McKinley Shore, saw little to no action using crank baits, spoons, artificial lures, worms, or minnows. Low fishing pressure occurred throughout the weekend from Jones Island, Cupertino Park and through South Shore. Anglers targeting salmon and trout saw very little action. A few carp were landed near Jones Island. There continues to be little presence of alewife schools near Jones Island. Low fishing pressure continues at the Oak Creek Power Plant. Those few morning and afternoon anglers trying their luck were targeting catfish near the discharge, using a variety of bait. Surface temperatures at the end of the pier are 74-76 degrees.- Reni Rydlewicz, fisheries technician, Milwaukee

Racine County - Most anglers fishing from 200-300 feet of water. Daily bags consisting of mainly lake trout and rainbow with the occasional coho and chinook. Most anglers using flies and spoons with spoons becoming more productive. Little pier fishing pressure this week. The anglers who were fishing were mainly casting spoons with no luck. No fish were caught. Water temps are 74 on the surface and 67 on the bottom. - Zak Feest, fisheries technician, Racine

Kenosha County - Most anglers fishing from 300-400 feet of water for silver fish. Anglers finding mixed bags trolling flies and spoons. A decent amount of rainbows have been caught during these times with coho and chinook not far behind. Pier fishing pressure seems to be slowed down with the reports of few fish being caught. Only three northern pike were reported during survey times for game fish. Anglers report a couple small bluegill and rock bass have been caught while fishing for perch. Water temps in the harbor are 72 on the surface and 68 on the bottom. - Zak Feest, fisheries technician, Racine

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South Central Region

Lower Wisconsin State Riverway - Weekly Riverway Video Report  - Otter Creek Landing, Lone Rock. Lots of wildflowers and milkweed. The river has come up dramatically due to the recent rains in western Dane and eastern Iowa counties. The river has doubled in flow at Muscoda from two days ago. Rain has caused many problems for the people of Cross Plains, Black Earth and Mazomanie. The flow went from 4,500 to 9,500 in the last couple days and the graph shows it going straight up. The Wisconsin River floodplain has the ability to absorb a lot of water due to the extensive backwaters. The water is also carrying a lot of sediment. Sandbars will not be as abundant as they were just a couple days ago and if you are going to camp look for a nice high sandbar. - Mark Cupp, executive director Lower Wisconsin State Riverway Board

Fitchburg DNR Service Center area

Badger State Trail - The trail is closed from Purcell Road south due to flooding from severe storms on Monday, August 20. Trail sections will reopen after the water recedes and any damage can be repaired.

Governor Nelson State Park - The boat landing piers have been removed due to high levels of water on the lake. They may be reinstalled this fall if the lake level drops to a suitable level. The Morningside Trail is currently closed due to standing water. Sections of the Oak Savanna Trail also have standing water but remain open, Caution is highly advised when hiking on the Woodland Trail due to trail erosion.

Lake Kegonsa State Park - Lake Kegonsa is currently under a complete slow-no-wake ordinance. The beaches are under a Water Quality Advisory due to e. Coli bacteria. A section of the Lakeshore Trail is currently closed due to flooding. - Sarah Bolser, park manager

Military Ridge State Trail - Flooding has closed several sections of the trail from Fitchburg west to Town Hall Road are closed due to flooding from severe storms that passed through the area on Monday, August 20. These sections will reopen after the water recedes and damage can be repaired.

Sugar River State Trail - The trail is temporarily closed due to flooding from severe storms on Monday, August 20. Trail sections will reopen after the water recedes and any damage can be repaired.

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West Central Region

No reports.



Last Revised: Thursday, August 23, 2018

Contact information

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608-267-2773