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Outdoor Report

Published October 25, 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).

For current statewide information on statewide fall color, log onto the Wisconsin Department of Tourism's Fall Color Report (exit DNR).

Fall color is now peak in counties across most of southern and southeastern Wisconsin, with still some good color through central Wisconsin on the Wisconsin Department of Tourism's Fall Color Report (exit DNR). Most of the north is past peak and leaves are down or dropping in many areas. Some golden oak leaves are still in the tree canopy. Tamarack are glistening gold right now in the swamps.

Fall colors are still at or just past peak in southern and central Wisconsin. - Photo credit: DNR
Fall colors are still at or just past peak in southern and central Wisconsin.Photo credit: DNR

A snowstorm concentrated in a very small area of northern Wisconsin last weekend dropped 3 to 4 inches of snow, which was melted within a day or two. Water levels remain high on river systems. Fishing and boating docks are being removed from state properties in the north for the winter season.

Fox River angling numbers increased over the past week due to more walleyes being present in the river, but success has been inconsistent. Anglers on Duck Creek reported catching limits or near limits of yellow perch though with many small ones tossed back. Rain and wind has made it tough for anglers to get out bass fishing on Green Bay. A few kings are still hanging out in Door County marinas and creeks but the spawn is past its peak.

The Lake Michigan tributary salmon run is slowing down. The chinooks catch is starting to decrease. Steelhead are starting to be caught and coho have started to move up though not in high numbers. Fishing pressure remained high on the Kewaunee River and anglers report that the chinook were in still in good edible condition. West Twin River Fishing pressure is continuing to decrease as well as the number of fish being caught. East Twin River anglers were still catching chinook by the dam. The Pigeon River saw more action this week and a few anglers fishing Sauk Creek were reaching bag limits on kings. Estabrook and Kletzsch parks on the Milwaukee River were still seeing fishing pressure with anglers finding success. Oak Creek had continued high fishing pressure near the falls, with tight fishing quarters.

Fish enthusiasts can visit the Wild Rose Fish Hatchery on Saturday, Oct. 27 for an open house. Visitors can enjoy exhibits, join in fish printing, fly tying and casting and other activities, then stroll the historic hatchery grounds and see big brown trout up close in the show pond and raceways, and then stay for the final presentation in a series on lake sturgeon.

Grouse, fall turkey and archery hunters are out in force. Grouse numbers are fair in the Park Falls Area. Grouse and turkeys are hanging around the road sides eating insects, leaves, and seeds. Waterfowl hunters have been doing OK with some of these cold nights pushing more birds south. The elk rut is winding down and the deer are in the chase stage of their rut with some scrapes and rubs in the woods and some bucks seen fighting.

A water-bird watch at Harrington Beach State Park reported 3,300-plus red-breasted mergansers, 700-plus double-crested cormorants and 240 common loons. Numbers of tundra swans are slowly increasing, as are snow buntings, northern shrikes, rough-legged hawks, and golden eagles.

There's still time to celebrate Halloween with a spooky Night in the Museum at Kettle Moraine South and a Creepy Crawly Critter Campfire at Devil's Lake Friday and the annual Willow River Halloween Bash and a Monster Survival Hike at Kettle Moraine South on Saturday. There are also to opportunities to help out this weekend with fall cleanups at Newport and Pike Lake on Saturday. For all events search the DNR website for "Get Outdoors."

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Statewide Birding Report

By both calendar and bird life, winter is approaching. Numbers of tundra swans are slowly increasing, as are snow buntings, northern shrikes, rough-legged hawks, and golden eagles. The first Iceland and glaucous gulls have arrived from the arctic, while some winter finches are on the move, including red crossbills and the first Bohemian waxwings up north and pine siskins statewide. No snowy owls have been reported yet, however.

As landbirding wanes, birders often turn to water this time of year. Inland lakes around Madison, Horicon, and many other locations are hosting good numbers and diversity of waterfowl, such as American coots, horned, pied-billed, and red-necked grebes, shovelers, pintails, bufflehead, common goldeneye, and other species. The waterbird watch at Harrington Beach State Park reported 3,300-plus red-breasted mergansers, 700-plus double-crested cormorants, and 240 common loons on October 23, plus another 3,200-plus red-breasted mergansers and 263 long-tailed ducks migrating past on October 24. All three scoter species -- black, surf, and white-winged -- are also being seen on the Great Lakes, with scattered records inland.

Dark-eyed juncos are prevalent statewide, flocks scattering from roadsides and often joined by white-throated, fox, and/or American tree sparrows. Other late-season birds being seen include eastern bluebirds, hermit thrushes, American robins, kinglets, winter wrens, rusty and red-winged blackbirds, and brown creepers. Some tree swallows, chimney swifts, ruby-throated hummingbirds, rose-breasted grosbeaks, and various warblers linger as well. Shorelines and flooded fields are hosting occasional dunlin, greater yellowlegs, and just a few other shorebird species at this late date. Rarities were few this week, highlighted by harlequin duck in Sheboygan County, western grebe in Fond du lac, possible parasitic jaeger in Ozaukee, and possible arctic tern in Brown. Good birding!

Snow geese, such as these two blue-morph birds, were reported in small numbers from many sites this week.  - Photo credit: Ryan Brady
Snow geese, such as these two blue-morph birds, were reported in small numbers from many sites this week. Photo credit: Ryan Brady

Snow geese, such as these two blue-morph birds, were reported in small numbers from many sites this week. Photo by Ryan Brady.

- Ryan Brady, conservation biologist, Ashland

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Upcoming featured events at Wisconsin recreational properties


Fall color is still hanging on in southern Wisconsin and this Friday Pike Lake is hosting a fall color hike.  There's also still time to celebrate Halloween with a spooky Night in the Museum at Kettle Moraine South and a Creepy Crawly Critter Campfire at Devil's Lake Friday and the annual Willow River Halloween Bash and a Monster Survival Hike at Kettle Moraine South on Saturday.  There are also to opportunities to help out this weekend with fall cleanups at Newport and Pike Lake on Saturday.  #OutWiGo and get some exercise raking up all those colorful fall leaves.
Friday, October 26, 2018

Saturday, October 27, 2018

For all events search Get Outdoors

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Upcoming State Natural Area Workday

Oct. 26, 9 a.m.-noon - Quincy Bluff Workday this Friday! Collecting seed. Help secure seed for new areas! Help restore prairie and oak barrens by collecting native seeds by hand from remnant prairie and barrens areas. We'll learn native prairie plant species together and how to collect their seeds. The seeds collected will be used for prairie restorations.

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

Park Falls DNR Service Center area

Flambeau River State Forest - The Flambeau River water level remains high. Some golden oak leaves are still in the tree canopy. The forest floor is thick with downed leaves. Tamaracks have turned yellow and soon will be losing their needles. If you plan on collecting seeds for planting wild flowers or plants now is the time to collect them. Many migrant birds are currently moving through the area. There are a few ducks and geese left but most of them have migrated. Grouse numbers are fair. Grouse and turkeys are hanging around the road sides eating insects, leaves, and seeds. Acorns and hickory nuts are falling. The deer and the elk have been busy grazing. The elk rut is winding down and the deer are in the chase stage of their rut. Grouse, fall turkey and archery hunters are out in force. We hear conflicting reports from all. The weather forecast for the weekend calls for a 50 percent chance of showers Friday with a high of 46 and a low of 36. Saturday, chance of rain and snow showers before 4 a.m., then a chance of rain showers, with a high of 46 and a low of 35. Sunday has a chance of rain and snow showers before 8 a.m., then a slight chance of rain showers, with a high of 46 and low of 34. - Diane Stowell, forestry technician advanced and visitor services associate

Woodruff DNR Service Center area

Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest - Water levels still remain very high in the state forest, so hunters and hikers use caution. The oaks are still hanging onto their leaves, but most of the other deciduous trees have shed their fall splendor. Tamarack are glistening gold right now in the swamps. Deer, grouse and turkeys are having a harder time hiding! Docks are being removed from area lakes as the forest prepares for winter season. It's a great time to sneak down a trail or two. Docks are currently being removed for the season on the lakes the State Forest takes care of. Cunard, South Trout, Plum Lake, Sandy Beach, East Star, Starrett, Upper Gresham and Buffalo Lake campgrounds are all closed for the season. Crystal, Musky, Firefly, Indian Mounds, Carrol, Razorback, West Star, North Trout and Big Lake are all open with self-registration at most until the snow closes them. Clear Lake remains open year around. The shower facilities have all been closed for the season. Dump stations are still open for dumping, but there is no water for flushing. Drinking water is available at the front of the Clear Lake Visitor Station. - Rosalie Richter, visitor services associate

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Northeast Region

Northern Lake Michigan fisheries team report

Marinette County - The water temperature of the Menominee River ranged between 47 and 42 degrees throughout the week. Gage height decreased from 16 feet to 12 feet by the end of the week. Most of the fishing effort was below the Hattie Street dam. Anglers reported a few walleyes caught off of the walkway bridge, while some brown trout and walleye were caught below the dam. No reports of whitefish caught this week. A few yellow perch anglers were successful while fishing at Red Arrow Park. Peshtigo River water temperatures fell from 48 to 44 degrees during the week. Discharge of water decreased to 1,500 cubic feet per second. Fishing pressure was low throughout the the Peshtigo River, but duck hunters were out in good numbers. - Alex Keiler-Klein and Scott Poquette, fisheries technicians, Peshtigo

Oconto County - Oconto River water temperatures ranged from 41 to 45 degrees throughout the week. Flows decreased as the week progressed to approximately 1,000 cubic feet per second by Sunday, Oct. 21. Shore anglers were fishing Oconto Park II for yellow perch with several anglers doing well and a few anglers catching their limit of 15 perch. Sorting through smaller perch was common. Reports of some yellow perch being at the Breakwater area. Shore anglers were using primarily minnows, worms, or night crawlers. One boat targeting walleye had no luck with walleye but instead caught and released a smallmouth bass. One angler fishing the Stiles Dam for walleye instead caught a northern pike. Other anglers targeted panfish and walleyes. Duck hunters were the primary users of the Pensaukee River ramp. - Alex Keiler-Klein and Scott Poquette, fisheries technicians, Peshtigo

Brown County - Fox River angling numbers have increased over the past week due to more walleyes being present in the river. Success has been inconsistent though, with some boats finding fish near the dam while others spent 6-plus hours on the water and failed to have a bite. A few people had some luck catching fish in voyager park off the walleye pier but success was few and far between. Overall walleye fishing has been very hit and miss out on the river. Anglers did report large amounts of shad being present while out. Effort on Duck Creek remained low over past week with only a few anglers. All the boats that were fishing were for yellow perch with good success. Anglers reported catching limits or near limits for a few hours on the water. Fish ranged from 6-8 inches with many small ones being tossed back. There has also been some success for shore anglers. Though the numbers weren't as high, they were catching decent numbers of good fish. Fishing effort remains low at both Suamico and Geano beach. - Adam Garlie, fisheries technician, Peshtigo

Door County - Rain and wind has made it tough for anglers to get out bass fishing on Green Bay. Between the wind and rain. Bass can be hard to find but some fishermen toughing out the wind have been doing very well. A few kings are still hanging out in local marinas and creeks but the spawn is past its peak. The few fish being caught are spawned out. Fishing pressure has been very low in general. A few boats have tried fishing Rowleys Bay and Moonlight Bay for bass. A few perch fisherman are still fishing the canal but are having a tough time with the recent storms.- Ben Thome, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay

Kewaunee County - Fishing pressure remains high on the Kewaunee River, especially from Bruemmer Park upstream. Chinook are the main target, and the anglers didn't report coho up the river. Anglers did report that the chinook they were catching were in good edible condition, so it might still be worth a trip over, whether you're looking for a good fight or to pack out some meat. Anglers have been deploying typical river tactics, using yarn balls, beads, marshmallows, and similar egg-like objects. Most of the successful anglers have been fishing around the first bend downstream from the Highway F bridge. Some of the females caught are pouring out eggs on anglers' walks back from the river, and that coupled with reports of lower catch rates may be indicative of the chinook run winding down. - Jacob Steckmesser, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay

Manitowoc County - Steelhead were caught occasionally in the Manitowoc Harbor throughout the week on spawn sacs and alewife on the bottom. The overall size of the fish were on the smaller size, but it beats catching no fish. Manitowoc River fishing pressure remains fairly low with most of the anglers focusing near Cato and Clark Mills. The fishing has been mixed, with some anglers having success while most only caught one or two salmon. Steelheads are starting to come up but are far and few in between right now. West Twin River Fishing pressure is continuing to decrease as well as the number of fish being caught. The majority of the fish being caught are chinook salmon still with the steelhead being the next most common fish. Coho have not been caught by the dam yet. The steelhead were caught on spawn sacs while the salmon seemed to come off of spoons. East Twin River anglers were still catching chinook salmon by the dam and across from the fire station. These fish are being caught on spawn sacs and spoons as well. A few coho and steelhead were caught by the dam over the weekend. The number of anglers have been decreasing as the weeks have progressed. Fishing pressure is still the highest on the weekends with roughly 50 anglers fishing per day over the weekend. - Cody Flavionl, fisheries technician, Mishicot

Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center area

Whitefish Dunes State Park - Leaf color is past peak but the woods still has a lot of fall colors. This is a great time to hike the trails to see the leaves. Salmon have been recently spawning in Whitefish Bay Creek and you might see this hiking along the creek. The Whitefish Creek spur is only open on weekends due to logging taking place during the week. - Jaclyn Moeri, visitor services associate

Wautoma DNR Service Center area

Waushara County - The area is starting to lose some of its color, but those Oak trees sure like to hold onto leaves, so you can still catch some hanging around. This weekend looks like it will be another pretty good late fall weekend weather wise. Upper 40s and sun with a small chance of rain at this point, but still beats snow! Waterfowl hunters have been doing OK, I don't believe we have had a huge migration from the north yet, but some of these cold nights are certainly pushing a few birds south. I have had reports that the rut may be starting a little early in the area with some bucks seen fighting and others have been chasing. I have seen some scrapes and rubs in the woods myself indicating the time is drawing near to make sure you get in the tree stand at least a little. The warm sunshine on these late fall days make it a great time to get out and walk your local trails as well. Just be mindful that with the warmth of the sun that our little friends the ticks like to make their presence known too. So, whether it is just you or your four legged friend out and about make sure to do a tick check thoroughly as I have seen a number of deer ticks out as of late. Other than that make sure to get out and enjoy all that your area has to offer. - Ben Mott, conservation warden, Wautoma

Wild Rose Fish Hatchery - Families and fish enthusiasts of all ages will want to visit the hatchery one last time on Oct. 27 for an open house, fun fishing-related activities, and the final presentation in a series on lake sturgeon. The open house runs from 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. and the presentation begins at 4 p.m. All events are free and open to the public, and this special day is the last big opportunity to visit the hatchery before it closes to visitors in November through March. During the open house , visitors can enjoy exhibits and aquaria in the education center, including a new exhibit on lake sturgeon. They can join in fish printing, fly tying and casting and other fun activities at the center, and then stroll the historic hatchery grounds and see big brown trout up close in the show pond and raceways. Visitors also can see what modern fish rearing techniques and equipment look like through a viewing window into Wild Rose's coldwater facility up the hill. Here, hatchery crews are raising 800,000 chinook salmon and 400,000 each of brown trout and coho salmon for stocking into Lake Michigan. At 4 p.m. in the education center, visitors can join Mike Hoffman for stories and conversation about "Indigenous Perspectives on Lake Sturgeon." Hoffman is an Elder who is a descendant of the Menominee and Ottawa tribes. He is a fluent speaker of the Menominee language and serves as Cultural Consultant to the Menominee Clans Exhibit at the University of Wisconsin - Stevens Point Museum of Natural History. The presentation is the last in a series on lake sturgeon sponsored by the Wisconsin Humanities Council, one of the sponsors of the new sturgeon display, along with Sturgeon for Tomorrow, the DNR and Sport Fish Restoration dollars.

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Southeast Region

Milwaukee DNR Service Center area

Southern Lake Michigan fisheries team report

Sheboygan County - Fishing remains slow in Sheboygan, with a majority of anglers concentrated at the Kohler Dam. The Sheboygan River saw very little fishing pressure this week, aside from action at Esslingen Park and the Kohler Dam. Anglers reported a few steelheads being caught, and there are unconfirmed reports of lake trout being caught near the dam. Most action was seen on fly rods, but some anglers tried their luck with crankbaits. The Pigeon River saw more action this week, with many anglers targeting salmon. A young, lucky angler got a steelhead, king, and brown trout on Sunday near County Road Y, but no other fish were reported over the weekend. The piers, shoreline, and ramps remained very quiet this week, and anglers that did test their luck here had no success. - Jessica Jenkins, fisheries technician, Plymouth

Ozaukee County - Fishing efforts have really slowed down in Port Washington, but anglers are continuing to target salmon in the Utility, harbor, and Sauk Creek. Anglers in the Utility were mainly using crankbaits, but little success was being seen and no fish were reported. In the harbor, anglers tried crankbaits and spawn sacks, and although a ton of fish were seen jumping in the late evening, none were reported caught, and anglers were reporting very little action. Sauk Creek saw the most success, with a few anglers reaching bag limits on kings, but a majority of the salmon have already ran up the creek and the quantity and quality of the fish is way down from last week. No action was seen on the ramps. - Jessica Jenkins, fisheries technician, Plymouth

Milwaukee County - Weekend boaters targeting salmon or brown trout out of the McKinley ramp continue to be few and far between and found little to no action. They do report marking fish and bait balls near the gaps and in the harbor. The McKinley Pier had low fishing pressure. Anglers reported only few fish jumping at the surface. Anglers targeting salmon around McKinley shore and harbor found action very slow, landing only a few of the remaining kings here and there ,using skein or spawn sac. No particular color netting on the spawn sac or time of the day seemed to prove more successful. Surface water temperatures lakeside, range between 46-48 degrees. By Sunday waters were still mixed due to the 30-plus mph northwest winds and flurries from the day before. Those anglers targeting salmon or brown trout by the Summerfest grounds and Lakeshore State Park continue to see little to no action. At the mouth of the Milwaukee River surface temperatures range from 46-48 degrees. With the high winds and flurries on Saturday very few anglers saw success through the weekend targeting kings, coho, steelhead or brown trout. Water levels and flow are normal with sometimes murkier clarity. Water temperatures range between 46-47 degrees farther upstream. Estabrook, and Kletzsch Parks were still seeing seeing fishing pressure. Anglers are finding the most success catching fish using skein or spawn sac. The Menomonee River saw no fishing pressure throughout the week/weekend. Those anglers targeting salmon or brown trout mear Jones Island saw little action. Anglers trying their luck for salmon and trout at the Grant Park shoreline found success using spoons or spawn landing a few steelhead or the occasional lake trout in the morning hours. Oak Creek had continued high fishing pressure near the falls. Expect tight fishing quarters if this creek is your destination of choice. Anglers were seeing only a few spawning kings remaining through the waterway hoping for steelhead and coho to begin runs. Anglers continue to use spawn as the bait of choice. Water levels are low, clear, and with a slower than normal flow. Temperatures throughout the creek are around 42 degrees. - Reni Rydlewicz, fisheries technician, Milwaukee

Racine County - Most shore anglers were casting spoons and floating spawn with spawn being the most productive. Anglers are having the most luck catching kings. Water temps were down to 56 in the harbor. The Root River had lots of anglers out this weekend. Most anglers were using multiple different colored flies having luck catching coho and kings. Seems like the number of kings in the river has increased. Water levels have still dropped a little more since last week. - Zak Feest, fisheries technician, Racine

Kenosha County - Very few boaters going out and the ones who are typically are staying in the Kenosha harbor. Most fish were caught on skein and boaters report seeing lots of fish in the harbor on their graphs. Water temps were down to 57 degrees in the harbor. Most shore anglers were floating spawn and casting cranks/spoons. Most fish caught are on skein with a offset hook. Pike River water levels have decreased making the fish more visible. A few anglers have had luck using small dark green or black flies. Only chinook have been reported. - Zak Feest, fisheries technician, Racine

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South Central Region

Fitchburg DNR Service Center area

Devil's Lake State Park - As of Friday, Oct. 23, fall foliage is about 50 percent turned to color and 40 percent fallen. The timing of fall colors is impossible to predict, but usually the peak color season is about the middle two weeks of October. Peak color season may last a week or ten days, or it may be a single glorious afternoon, followed by a rainy blustery day that removes half the leaves from the trees. Lesser-used running water facilities will be closed down gradually during October. Beginning in November, the only running water restrooms will be open in the north shore headquarters and Visitor Center (and possibly the restrooms in Quartzite Campground). - Richard Hesed, visitor services associate

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West Central Region

Wisconsin Rapids DNR Service Center area

Buckhorn State Park - Some winter sites are open and are non-reservable. All other backpack sites are closed for the season. The first loop is open and reservable through Nov. 1. Dump station is closed for the season. Fishing piers and boat boarding piers have been removed for the year. - Heather Wolf, park manager



Last Revised: Thursday, October 25, 2018

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