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Outdoor Report

Published July 11, 2019 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).

The heat of summer has finally arrived in Wisconsin and with it has come lush growth in forests and prairies. High water is continuing in many areas, especially in central and southern Wisconsin. Some northern waters also remain high while other rivers and lakes have begun to return to more normal seasonal levels.

Monarch butterfly. - Photo credit: Christopher Tall
Monarch butterflies are gracing the landscape and monarch caterpillars can now be found in feeding on milkweed leaves.Photo credit: Christopher Tall

Fishing has been superb on Lake Superior and on northern inland lakes for species from panfish to muskies. Water temperatures are beginning to reach the mid 70s in central part of the state, and the bluegill spawn has pretty much finished.

Lake Winnebago anglers were catching white bass, perch and walleye across the north end, but reported catching more sheepshead. It has been a good summer for flathead catfish on the Wolf River, with some topping 50 pounds. Fox River anglers were having some success averaging three to five walleyes. There are still docks on the river closed due to the high water.

Good numbers of boat anglers were seen this week along the west shore of Green Bay fishing for perch and walleye, with a few good reports of walleyes being caught. Anglers fishing along the east shore were also having success with most boats catching at least three walleyes.

Salmon fishing in northern Door County has started to improve. There were several boats catching chinook out of Bailey's Harbor. Smallmouth bass fishing has remained steady throughout northern Door County with smallmouth being caught on just about every kind of tackle.

Along Lake Michigan, waves were crashing over the piers and jetties at harbors this past weekend making for difficult fishing on shore and nasty wind and white caps on the lake. Anglers fishing out of Manitowoc, Sheboygan and Port Washington had good success catching at least one chinook or coho salmon or rainbow trout per trip. The fishing is still low for this time of the year, but a few boats reported up to five fish in a trip.

Monarch and admiral butterflies, as well as many dragonflies are gracing the landscape and monarch caterpillars can now be found in feeding on milkweed leaves. With all the high water earlier this year, mosquitoes were expected to be much worse than they have been but ticks and gnats seem particularly active this year. Now is an excellent time to get out at dusk and watch the twinkling of hundreds of fireflies lighting up.

Many different prairie and wildflowers species are blooming, including purple prairie clover, black eyed Susans, pale purple coneflower, leadplant, coreopsis, fireweed, buttercup, hawkweed, columbine and many milkweeds. Warm temps and scattered rains have wild fruits ripening including juneberries, blueberries, and a few wild strawberries. Wild rice is at floating-leaf stage and so boaters should operate around beds with care.

It's peak nesting season with fledged young or nestlings now for most species. Fledged eaglets have been observed while some osprey chicks are still being tended to by their parents. Bird song has decreased substantially as is typical of this time of year. Blackbirds and some swallows have begun flocking up. "Fall" shorebird migration is fully underway with lesser yellowlegs, least sandpipers, solitary sandpipers, and others already making the return journey south.

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Upcoming featured events at Wisconsin recreational properties

Merge some good exercise and nature study this weekend by taking a paddle at Copper Falls to learn about invasive yellow iris or hop on your bike at Harrington Beach for a birding by bicycle program. Learn about the International Wolf Center at Mirror Lake or about cranes, herons and egrets at Interstate. Shakespeare in the Park will be at Copper Falls Friday and Lake Wissota Saturday. Universe in the Park is at the Kettle Moraine Southern Unit Friday and Yellowstone Lake Sunday. Devil's lake is holding its popular archery program on both Saturday and Sunday.
Click on the links below for highlighted programs this weekend or click on Get Outdoors," for a complete listing of events.
Friday, July 12, 2019

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Saturday and Sunday, July 13 & 14, 2019

Sunday, July 14, 2019

For all events search Get Outdoors

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Upcoming State Natural Area Workday

July 12, 9 a.m.-noon: Ridgeway Pine Relict Workday: Removing parsnip and sweet clover - Ridgeway features towering cliffs of pine with northern plant species underneath and extensive oak savanna. Help the Friends of Ridgeway Pine Relict, Inc. care for this site by removing invasive plants and planting native plants. Workdays are regular including once a month on the second Friday. We will be removing invasives like wild parsnip by mowing, pulling, or spraying. No experience is necessary, you will be trained on site

July 13, 9 a.m.-noon: Bluff Creek Workday: Cutting/pulling sweet clover and collecting seed - Come help volunteers during our monthly Southern Kettle Moraine SNA workdays on the second Saturday. We'll divide into teams to cut or remove white sweet clover and wild parsnip as well as collect phlox seed. This work is done annually because white sweet clover and wild parsnip can displace the native plants living in the wet prairie.

No skills needed you will be trained onsite. Check the State Natural Areas Volunteer Program page of the DNR website for details. - Jared Urban, conservation biologist, Dane. - Jared Urban, conservation biologist, Dane

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Northern Region

Ashland DNR Service Center area

Iron County - River and lake levels have returned to "normal." Wild rice is at floating-leaf stage and should be operated around with care. Fishing has been superb on Lake Superior and inland; from panfish to muskies to salmon. Dry conditions have made ATV riding enjoyable and trails are in great condition. Strawberries have been fruiting for a week or two now and can still be found fruiting near the ground. Fledged eaglets have been observed on the Flambeau while some osprey chicks are still being tended to by their parents. Merlins are heard squawking for food from their nests during their final days (maybe weeks) before fledging. A late breeding season was observed in Iron County. - Jenna Malinowski, wildlife biologist, Mercer

Woodruff DNR Service Center area

Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest - The lush summer continues the State Forest. One cannot see into the woods due to the thick green wall of vegetation, so visitors should be aware of turkey broods, fawns and cubs bolting across the road at any given time! Adult songbirds are busy feeding their young and can still be heard singing, especially in the early morning and late evening. The summer color pallet of blooming flowers include: daisies, trefoil, yarrow, fireweed, buttercup, hawkweed, columbine and blue flag iris. Water levels remain high giving lots of breeding ground for those pesky mosquitos, horse and deer flies. Monarch and admiral butterflies, as well as many dragonflies are gracing the landscape during the day and lightening bugs during the humid nights! It's a great time to be out exploring! - Rosalie Richter, visitor services associate

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Northeast Region

Northern Lake Michigan fisheries team report

Marinette County - A few boats out on the Peshtigo River this week trying for perch. The Menominee River had a few bass anglers and walleye anglers with some walleyes being caught around the train bridge area upstream from Stephenson Island. Success was had trolling crankbaits with sheepshead also being caught. No walleye reports in the bay this week from Marinette to Peshtigo. A couple brown trout were caught this weekend in the bay fishing in depths of 35 to 60 feet. - Scott Poquette, fisheries technician, Peshtigo

Oconto County - Good numbers of boat anglers seen this week at Pensaukee, Oconto, and Oconto Park II. Boats were seen fishing between Oconto Park II and the Oconto River for perch and walleyes. A few good reports of walleyes being caught trolling crawler harnesses. Depth ranges of 8 to 20 feet so fish are scattered. A few walleyes were also reported caught in the Oconto River between Holtwood campground and the mouth. Perch anglers were concentrating on rock piles with weed growth using minnows and crawlers. Upstream at Stiles dam anglers were targeting panfish with bluegills and rockbass being caught. A few smallmouth bass anglers were out having very little luck on the river. - Scott Poquette, fisheries technician, Peshtigo

Brown County - This weekend there was an increase of pleasure boaters at the Fox River mouth. The anglers that are targeting walleye have been having some success with averaging three to five walleyes. Musky anglers haven't been having much luck I talked to about five anglers going for musky, and only one of them caught one. They have at least two docks closed due to the high water. On the Fox River the Foxpoint and fairgrounds launches were in high use during the weekend due to pleasure boaters. The boats that were fishing didn't have much luck. The boat launches docks in the beginning are under water. The anglers from shore weren't having much luck either. Majority of them were targeting smallmouth bass, but not having luck. Geano Beach launch had high use on the weekend with most anglers targeting walleyes. The anglers that were targeting walleyes were having success with most boats catching at least three walleyes. A few northern pike were caught on accident by anglers targeting walleyes. Duck Creek usage is starting to pick up. During the weekend there were multiple boat trailers, along with a bunch of kayakers. The anglers trying for perch or walleye haven't had any luck. The anglers targeting walleye have been getting sheepshead and catfish though. These boat launches the docks are under water just in the beginning for a little bit. Suamico River anglers have been having luck targeting walleye. The average size fish have been 15 to 22 inches. The usage of this launch has been very high. There has been a good mix of pleasure boaters and anglers launching from this site. During July Fourth it was majority of pleasure boaters launching from this launch. On Saturday night the road going past the launch flooded, so it was going across the road. In the flooded areas of the road carp were spotted trying to cross the road. The docks are perfect at this launch as they are not underwater. Brandon Wagester - fisheries technician, Green Bay

Door County - Angler effort and launch use was moderate at Potawatomi State Park; however, catch rates and success remained low. Idlewild access use remains very low. There was an increase of small recreational vessel traffic and pleasure boating. Little Sturgeon Bay Carmody launch showed steady use but mainly by pleasure boaters. Anglers continue to report low success fishing for walleye. Launch traffic at Bayshore Park was very heavy throughout the holiday weekend. Weather was mainly clear with wave action calm. Use was dominated by pleasure boaters with parties turning out in large numbers to enjoy the weather. Angler effort was low with those fishing targeting walleye and yellow perch. This location had low angler success. A passing storm on the afternoon of July Fourth, brought very heavy winds and rain for under an hour, which drove traffic off the water in most locations. Following the short storm, weather cleared very quickly. However, both pedestrian and launch use declined sharply. Chaudoir's Dock had steady traffic following the pattern of mainly recreational boaters. One angling party had standout success angling for yellow perch bringing in eight, the largest a little over 13 inches. Other angling parties, however, had little to no success with a focus on walleye or yellow perch. Shore angler effort increased at this location with low success. - Riley Schultz, fisheries technician, Green Bay

Salmon fishing in northern Door County has started to improve. There were several boats catching chinook salmon out of Bailey's Harbor. The anglers that were having success fishing for chinooks were all fishing from 100 to 200 feet of water. The surface temps ranged from the mid 60s in closer to upper 50s out in the 200 feet of water range. While the surface temps varied it seemed like the water temp was 56-58 degrees 50 feet down. Majority of the salmon were caught on flasher fly combos with diving disc lures no color pattern that seemed to catch more fish this week. A few fish were taken on diving disc lures with spoons. Anglers heading out past 300 feet of water are still catching rainbows with some chinooks mixed in. Many fish were caught in the top 50 feet of the water column. There was fishing pressure in Gills Rock again this week. A couple anglers were using the Bues Point Landing in Moonlight bay and had mixed results targeting smallmouth bass. Some of the anglers caught 20 plus fish using plastic baits. While other anglers got fewer than five fish. There were reports of some smaller smallmouth bass being caught off of Anclam Park in Baileys Harbor using crankbaits. The shore fishing in Rowleys Bay was slow throughout the week. However, the fishing near the mouth of the Mink River and throughout the bay was decent. Smallmouth bass were reported being caught on just about every kind of tackle you could think of. Water temps at the mouth of the Mink were 70-75 degrees.

Smallmouth bass fishing has remained steady throughout Northern Door County. There are reports of fish being caught near Ephriam and the surrounding area. Majority of the fish are caught on plastic tubes along the bottom. It seemed like the fish were being targeted in the 8-15 feet of water. The anglers that were catching bass said that they were spitting up alewife once the fish was in the boat. That corresponds with other anglers reporting of bait balls being seen throughout Door County. The majority of boat traffic over the weekend was pleasure boating, especially in the Egg Harbor and Sister Bay Area. The anglers fishing from shore in Ellison Bay are still catching smallmouth bass right in the marina. Using a minnow that is suspended off the bottom is key yet. A few rock bass were also caught in the Ellison Bay Marina. Andersons Dock in Ephriam had a good crowd out there over the weekend; however, the number of fish caught was low. It seemed like more fish were caught on Friday than the rest of the weekend. Using a worm was the most effective way to catch fish there. One perch fisherman managed to get a few perch in Egg Harbor. The number of perch caught this week decreased compared to last week. Getting out early in the morning and using minnows seemed to be the key there. Cody Flavion, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay

Manitowoc County - The anglers fishing out of the Manitowoc Marina have had good success catching at least one chinook salmon and/or rainbow trout per trip. The fish caught per boat is still low for this time of the year, but a few boats have reported up to five fish in a single trip. Most salmon being caught were big; the largest measured being 23 pounds. Anglers have continued to report good numbers of bait balls in various depth ranges. Spoons are showing the greatest success catching fish in 200-250 feet of water, with the most success coming between 5 and 9 am. Surface water temperatures ranged from 58-60 degrees near the shore to 50-55 degrees in deeper water. Fifty feet down, it has been roughly 46 degrees in 300 feet of water. Shore anglers were out in good numbers but many of them didn't stay long. Bait fish were spotted on the shoreline of the harbor along with carp and sheephead, which can make for a great non-traditional fishing opportunity. Fishing out of Two Rivers was similar to Manitowoc. Surface water temperatures were around 58-60 degrees near the shore and between 50 and 59 degrees in deeper water. Many fishermen continue to fish in deep water, anywhere from 200 to 350 feet of water. This tactic is becoming more common between the anglers fishing out of Two Rivers and Manitowoc. A good number of fish were seen surfacing out from Veteran's Park. On the weekend, strong winds from the north brought some cooler water and large waves keeping many anglers at home. Even with the north winds water temperatures increased from those reported last week. The trend of warmer water temperatures resulting in a greater yield of fish has continued.- Jake Fencl, fisheries technician, Mishicot

Peshtigo DNR Service Center area

Marinette County - Warm temps and scattered rains have the wild fruits ripening including juneberries, blueberries, and a few wild strawberries. Some warm season plants are now blooming, including; bergamot, spiderwort, butterfly weed, and common milkweed. Monarch caterpillars can now be found in various stages/sizes feeding on milkweed leaves. A few broods of young turkeys have made an appearance over the last couple of weeks. Fawns are now a fairly common site with a few sets of twins seen. Bear dog training season began on July 1. Hunting season however doesn't start until early September. Marinette county is home to two globally significant (rare) barrens habitat sites. One is on county land the other is on state owned lands. Both are currently being spot treated to control invasive plants. Parking areas on state owned lands in Marinette and Oconto counties have been cleaned of garbage and some have been mowed. Please enjoy your public lands and help keep them clean! - Aaron McCullough, wildlife technician, Wausaukee

Shawano County - Water temperatures are beginning to reach the mid 70s. The bluegill spawn has finished as we have progressed into the summer. It has been a good summer for flathead catfish on the wolf river, with some caught fish topping 50 pounds. The increase in catch is most likely due to the higher water levels on the Wolf River as a result of the increased rainfall. - Clark Delzer, conservation warden, Shawano

Wautoma DNR Service Center area

Waushara County - Waushara County is still facing considerable high water with many of the lakes under slow no wake emergency ordinances. The weather this weekend looks like it could be great for at least part of the weekend for those who want to venture out either on land or on the water. If you are venturing on land the berries are getting close, but I don't think they are going to be ready in vast quantities, but it won't be long. Fawns and other young critters are growing and showing themselves pretty frequently around the county. There have also been a couple of bear sightings recently in the north central part of the county. What every you choose to do this weekend, as always be safe, remember other users, and enjoy. - Ben Mott, conservation warden, Wautoma

Oshkosh DNR Service Center area

Outagamie County - The Fourth of July Holiday weekend brought out numerous boaters and fishermen on Lake Winnebago. The Lake is still very clear on the north end and has not been affected by a wide spread blue-green algae bloom. Fishermen were catching some white bass, perch and walleye across the north end, but most complained of catching more sheepshead than game fish. All boaters are reminded that a wearable life jacket is required for every person on board, including non-motorized watercraft such as kayaks, canoes and paddleboards. - Cara Kamke, conservation warden, Appleton/Menasha

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Southeast Region

Milwaukee DNR Service Center area

Southern Lake Michigan fisheries team report

Sheboygan County - Pier fishing remains consistent, however a little slower this week most likely due to the windy weather and the Fourth of July festivities. There were a few anglers out on the south pier trying their luck; however, there have been no reporting of any fish being caught. Most anglers again are targeting anything that will bite and trying a variety of different bait. Waves were crashing over the north pier and most jetties this past weekend making them difficult to fish from. There was no fishing effort seen along the shoreline. The Sheboygan ramps saw some action this week, but a little slower this weekend due to nasty wind and white caps on the lake. Most boats out were pleasure boaters, but there were a few out fishing. Anglers that went out were mostly targeting kings, coho, and some rainbows. Boats were bringing in a variety of different trout and salmon species, however the most common catch seemed to be rainbows. It seemed that there was only one or no kings being caught by each boat. Some anglers came in with no fish at all, but the average boat was bringing in around three fish totals. Again, a variety of different bait was being used but the most popular seemed to be flasher flies. Most successful anglers were fishing at 200 feet deep or deeper. The Cleveland ramp saw a couple pleasure boaters as well.

Ozaukee County - Fishing effort along the shore and the piers remained consistent. There were a few anglers out trying their luck. Most anglers were not targeting anything in specific, just whatever would bite. There was very few reports of any fish being caught, and most of them were carp and alewives. Only one report of a couple smaller trout was reported. Anglers continue to use a variety of different baits, both live and artificial. Most anglers were seen fishing off the pier next to utility center. There was minimal fishing effort seen at the utility this week. Surface water temperatures remained in the mid-60s. The water was mostly clear during the week but was turbid during the weekend most likely due to the wind. The Port Washington ramp was consistent this week. Some boats were pleasure boaters due to the Fourth of July; however, others were out targeting fish. The weekend slowed down a little bit due to weather conditions. But most anglers that were out came back successful. The most targeted fish were coho and kings. Most anglers came back with only one king, and the majority being rainbows. There were also a few lake trout caught as well. The average boat seemed to bring in about four to five fish. Anglers are using a variety of different baits as well as fishing at a variety of different depths ranging from 60 all the way to 200 feet deep. There were a few trailers seen at the Amsterdam road ramp as well this week, but most seemed to be pleasure boaters. - CJ Usadel, fisheries technician, Plymouth

Milwaukee County - McKinley Marina was fairly active this week. Most fishing boats came in with at least a couple fish, but few were anywhere close to bag limits. Steelheads and lakers were the most common caught, but a few salmon were also seen. From the pier, there was a bit of fishing effort but success was limited - with only one brown trout reported. Shore fishing near downtown continued to be slow, likely due to Summerfest crowds and traffic. Not many anglers were out. Those that were out were mainly targeting perch but reported no bites. South shore fishing efforts have increased this week, with most effort seen at South Shore Park. Most anglers were targeting bass and perch, but no fish were reported. Additionally, the gates at Jones Island were closed a few days last week, restricting fishing access. Fishing efforts remain slow at the South Shore Ramp and Bender Ramp. Only a few fishing boats were seen during survey times and just a couple fish were reported - mainly steelhead and coho. The ramps have mainly been used by pleasure boaters for the past few weeks. The pier at the Oak Creek Power Plant was relatively busy this week, with most anglers targeting coho and steelhead. Success was very low and no fish were caught during survey times. Many carp could be seen at the far end of the pier. - Jessica Grace Jenkins, fisheries technician, Milwaukee

Racine County - Fishing activity slowed down quite a bit this past week. This can be attributed to the rainy and windy weather conditions as well as the Fourth of July festivities. The piers and shores saw continued, steady action. Most of these anglers were perch fishermen. The piers and shorelines in Racine saw the continued steady action. Many anglers have stopped targeting salmonids and are now targeting perch. The anglers who did target perch had some luck. The most popular bait still remains minnows. The perch bite is slowing down though. It requires much more effort to catch perch now than it did a few weeks ago. The water off of the south pier read about 64 degrees. The ramp saw some activity this week, but the activity mainly consisted of pleasure boaters who were enjoying the holiday. The busiest day this week at the ramp occurred on July Fourth. Most of the boaters using the ramp weren't fishing, but the few boats who did fish had some luck. Some boats were targeting salmon while others were targeting anything that would bite. This week boats brought in a much larger number of Lakers than has been seen in past weeks. The usual coho and steelhead were brought in as well. Anglers reported catching fish in as deep as 300 feet of water. The boat ramp saw no activity over the weekend as it was way to windy to fish safely. The water temp at the boat ramp was about 66 degrees. - Andrew Krecak, fisheries technician, Sturtevant

Kenosha County - Fishing activity was slower in Kenosha this week. Shorelines saw the usual consistent but uneventful fishing action. A few perch are still being caught from shorelines, but not like the numbers they were being caught in over the past few weeks. The boat ramp saw very little to no fishing activity. Most of the activity at the ramp was from jet skiers or pleasure boaters enjoying the fireworks. The Kenosha piers and shorelines still saw some activity over the past week. Many of the anglers fishing from shore are still targeting perch, with a few anglers still holding out for salmon or trout. The only fish reported caught from shore were perch. Perch are still being caught, but anglers must work harder now to get a few perch. Minnows still seem to be the best bait for perch fishing. No shore fishermen were reported on July fourth due to all of the festivities. The dredging and construction in the harbor continue to operate. The water temperature in the harbor was about 66 degrees. Fishing activity at the ramp this week slowed down significantly. This was due to all of the holiday festivities and windy weather. No boats were reported at the ramp over the weekend as it was too windy and wavy to safely fish. The water temperature at the ramp was about 66 degrees. - Andrew Krecak, fisheries technician, Sturtevant

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South Central Region

Fitchburg DNR Service Center area

Columbia County - The heat of summer is upon us and with it have come the biting flies. Be prepared if out walking in the woods. Ticks and gnats also seem particularly active this year. With the high water we had earlier this year, mosquitoes were expected to be much worse than they have been. Now is an excellent time to get out to an area field at dusk and watch the twinkling of hundreds of fireflies light up above the vegetation. Turkey and pheasant broods are being spotted following their mothers around. Now is also a great time to take a walk in a local prairie. Many different species are blooming right now, including purple prairie clover, black eyed susans, pale purple coneflower, leadplant, cinquefoil, coreopsis, red milk wort, and many milkweeds. The invasive crown vetch is also in full bloom now as well. While this flower does provide food for pollinators, it forms dense mats that choke out all native species and is very hard for humans and critters alike to walk through. - Sara Kehrli, wildlife biologist, Poynette

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West Central Region

No reports.



Last Revised: Thursday, July 11, 2019

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