Outdoor Report is your weekly snapshot for all things outdoors from across the state. Here is a brief look at what Wisconsin has in store for you this week.
This should be an excellent weekend for fall color viewing with colors peaking from Wyalusing State Park, through the Kettle Moraine and up to Door County's five state parks. Plan your fall color adventure using the official Travel Wisconsin Fall Color Report.
Colors are past peak in northern and central Wisconsin, and leaves are dropping or have dropped, significantly improving visibility for grouse, woodcock, turkey and archery deer hunters. Deer rut activity will be nearing its peak soon and into the early weeks of November. Waterfowl migration continues to climb, and the forecasted north winds should bring in more birds. Sandhill cranes are staging, getting ready for the fall migration. The fall salmon and trout runs are winding down, but anglers were still out trying to catch a few before the spawning season ends.
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Angler effort was low; however, a few parties were observed at the Fox River Metro launch. There also was light shore angling near the mouth of the river. Voyageur Park had low numbers of shore anglers fishing along the channel and downstream of the power lines. he Mississippi River water level is extremely high due to rain making fishing difficult. Those who want to launch their boats must wear waders.
The Mississippi River water level is extremely high due to rain making fishing difficult. Those who want to launch their boats must wear waders.
A few anglers were fishing along the Pike River, targeting salmon. There was limited fishing success, but one king salmon was caught using a crankbait. Water levels have gone down, but the water remains cloudy. Some anglers were spotted fishing along Kenosha harbor walls and shorelines, trying for some late season salmon with crankbaits or spoons as well as floating spawn with a bobber. Even with favorable conditions for fishing, no success was recorded. The water temperature in the harbor was about 51 degrees.
Fishing pressure was moderate this week. The majority of anglers were fishing below the dam on County Road J. The chinook catches have decreased from the previous week, but there are still some around. Some rainbows and cohos are starting to be caught with spawn sacks up the Kewaunee River near Bruemmer Park. Anglers have primarily had luck with spoons and yarn flies. The water level has been decreasing, and water clarity has been improving.
Fishing success this weekend was moderate, with a mix of smallmouth bass and chinook salmon caught. At the Shoto dam, the success rate was moderate with a report of several chinook salmon being caught using flies. At the Mishicot dam, there were reports of chinook salmon caught with flicker shad, spawn sacks and a treble hook with eggs. Unfortunately, due to windy weather this past weekend, there was a decrease in fishing pressure at many locations in Two Rivers.
With high flows and the recent drop in water temperature into the upper 40s, trout and salmon numbers are increasing in the lower Menominee and Peshtigo Rivers. Fishing was reported to be slow, with most catches taking place in the early morning or late afternoon. Both walleyes and brown trout were caught below the dam and off of Hattie Street Bridge in low numbers. Anglers were using spoons from shore and stick baits off the bridge.
Strong winds and choppy water made fishing from boats pretty difficult this week. Those who tried from McKinley Marina had some success with kings, but most anglers stayed ashore fishing off the ramps with success. A good amount of anglers were seen fishing the shoreline near Lakeshore State Park. Success with kings was hit or miss near the red lighthouse. Flooding has finally subsided on the Milwaukee River, and most anglers were seen targeting kings at Kletzsch Park.
Oak Creek remained very popular this week, with anglers fishing shoulder to shoulder. All anglers were targeting kings, mostly seeing success near the dam. The pier at the Oak Creek power plant was fairly slow all week.
The few boat anglers that were out of Oconto Park II (North Bay Shore Recreation Area) and Oconto Breakwater were trying for walleyes. Fishing was slow, with only a couple boats getting a walleye apiece. Fishing off of Young's Reef seemed to be the most popular area with trolling crankbaits getting the limited success. Shore anglers at the mouth of the Oconto River and Oconto Park II reported slow fishing with mostly small perch caught. Anglers were using both crawlers and minnows for perch. Water temps dropped below 50 degrees this week with upper 40s seen most days.
Anglers were fishing Sauk Creek at the power plant and in the marina. A few chinooks, a catfish, a shiner and some gobies were caught. Sauk Creek was running clear. Lake Michigan was relatively calm. Waters within the harbor and near the power plant discharge were turbid, except for west of the footbridge. A brown, a coho, a common carp and a catfish were caught at the power plant, while a few chinooks were caught in the creek.
Fishing activity on the Root River north of the Steelhead facility is still very high. Anglers are trying to catch a few salmon before the fall spawning season ends. The most common fishing method continues to be fly fishing with flies or spawn. Anglers had success catching a large mix of coho and kings using flies or spawn. Water levels have gone down quite a bit, but the water remains cloudy. The river south of the facility also saw plenty of fishing activity. Anglers were also using flies or spawn as bait, primarily on fly fishing tackle.
A few anglers were fishing at the Sheboygan south pier, with no catches recorded. The Pigeon River was clearer and slower than the previous week. No catches recorded along the river. Lake Michigan was fairly calm, a few boats were out, and some anglers were fishing at the south pier, but no catches were recorded. The Sheboygan River was clearer and lower than the previous week.
The Mississippi River water level is extremely high due to rain - those who want to launch their boats must wear waders. Duck hunting is slow due to the water level. Ducks are staying in normally above-ground areas where water levels have come over.
Conditions for grouse and woodcock hunting in Burnett County are improving. With leaves rapidly dropping shooting is easier. Woodcock numbers had declined from earlier in the week, and hunters are awaiting another push of birds from further north. Grouse flush rates were decent, two to four flushes per hour of walking.
Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area continues to see high water levels. Cattail bogs are breaking free and constantly moving throughout the marsh, creating dangerous conditions. Many access points are blocked. We suggest using extreme caution as many typical open areas are now inaccessible.
Last weekend, the Kettle Moraine State Forest-Northern Unit was busy with hunters. With the rain that arrived midweek, pheasant hunters should expect areas to be wetter than normal. Leaves in the forest have started dropping, which will help visibility for turkey and archery deer hunters. Deer movement has been on the increase in recent days. The fall waterfowl migration has been slow so far; we expect increased numbers in upcoming weeks as cooler weather arrives.
Leaves have mostly all fallen off of trees, giving hunters more opportunities to make successful shots. Grouse hunting is continuing to pick up and is better than the past couple of years. Woodcock have started to move through fairly slowly. High water levels have decreased the number of muskrat houses, but feed beds are abundant. Deer hunting has been slow, but with the rut right around the corner, more hunters should be out in the woods.
Deer rut activity will be nearing its peak soon and into the early weeks of November. Other hunting seasons are in full swing, with pheasant, rabbit, squirrel, and raccoon seasons open, to name a few.
With the leaf cover falling fast, the ruffed grouse and deer seasons are picking up. Partridge and woodcock hunters have had more success now that the leaves have fallen. Deer are moving more as the pre-rut season has started. Lake of the Pines remains open for anyone looking for a place to camp during a trip to the property.
Waterfowl migration continues to climb, and the forecasted north winds should bring in more birds. Divers such as ringneck, canvasback,and redhead are increasing in numbers. Good viewing conditions are on Highway 49. To view cranes and geese flying back into the marsh to roost, find a quality overlook an hour before sunset and enjoy the show.
Visitors are still seeing eagles, sandhill cranes and other resident birds at the Mauthe Lake Recreation Area and the Kettle Moraine State Forest-Northern Unit. We are waiting for the major waterfowl migration to begin; most seen so far have been resident populations. Above normal rainfall in the area have led to higher surface levels on ponds and kettles throughout the forest, which means waterfowl could be widely dispersed this year. A few late Monarch butterflies have been seen, and Clouded Sulphur butterflies have been noticed more.
The oak trees at Perrot State Park are beginning to turn their autumn colors, and the maples are providing a beautiful highlight to the Nature Center prairie. Larger groups of pelicans are migrating through the area and can often be seen circling above Trempealeau Mountain as they move down the Mississippi River. Other migrators you may see include eagles, cormorants, coots, and white egrets. Make sure to also visit the Trempealeau National Wildlife Refuge for additional birdwatching opportunities.
Sandhill cranes are staging, getting ready for fall migration. Water levels are high everywhere in Columbia County. Leaf color is close to 100%, with some trees starting to drop leaves. Walleye are active again on Lake Wisconsin. Car deer accidents are starting to pick up, but still a week or two away from full-on rut for the deer.
Fall colors are just about peak in northern Door County at Newport State Park. Due to the over-abundance of rainfall and continuous cloudy conditions, colors are a bit subdued this year but still worth seeing. There are a few muddy spots on trails, but all are easily accessible.
Colors are at full peak at Wyalusing State Park and water is still high. The boat landing is open, but there is no boat ramp in the water. Deer movement has been seen in the park, as wildlife is commonly seen this time of year.
Colors are changing quickly at Buckhorn State Park. There's still time for fall camping and hiking.
Some maple and oak trees are still hanging onto their leaves at Northern Highland American Legion State Forest, even though Mother Nature is doing her best to get them on the ground for the winter. The understory is slowly disappearing allowing increased visibility. The bright red of winterberry dots the landscape along swamps, luring migrating robins and thrushes. Water is high forest-wide.
Change is afoot at Devil's Lake State Park with autumn foliage, but also with park facilities, amenities and services. Many water facilities are already closed and will continue to be shut down during October. Fall color is at about 50%, with 20% of leaves already fallen. Colors will decline through the later days in October. Mountain bike trails are closed. Running water restrooms/showers and the RV dump/fill station are still open. Quartzite water facilities might remain open through October, but it depends entirely on weather and nightly temperatures.
Fall colors will peak this week at Kettle Moraine State Forest - Southern Unit before the oaks quickly drop. Enjoy leaves crunching underfoot on the Red or Orange loops at Nordic for great vistas. Be aware of pheasant hunters in prairie areas, but don't miss the beautiful oranges and yellows on display across the Scuppernong Prairie near Paradise Springs.
Colors are changing quickly at Roche-A-Cri State Park, and leaves are falling. Hike in from the winter lot along Carter Creek to see colors. The stairway is open from 6 a.m. to sunset, and no food, drinks or pets are allowed.
Most of the trees are past the fall color peak at Lake Wissota State Park. Heavy rain, wind and cooler temperatures have increased leaf drop. It is still a great time of year to spend in the park either camping, hiking or on the water.
Most of the Kettle Moraine State Forest - Northern Unit is slightly past peak colors. The oaks that were still green last week have started turning. Most of the tamaracks started turning on Monday, some still slightly green but most are a goldenrod gold. Parnell Tower and hiking trails throughout the forest are expected to be busy this weekend. Visitors looking for a gentle walk or bicycle ride to see the fall colors should check out the linear Lake-to-Lake trail that goes north from Headquarters Road, through the scenic Jersey Flats area near New Prospect/Dundee, and ends at the Long Lake Recreation Area. The Ice Age Visitor Center, a half-mile south of Dundee on Highway 67, will be open 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
The recent rains mean that some trails Council Grounds State Park hiking may have wet spots, and the river is high. The extended weather forecast looks promising for drier weather and some sun to wrap up the camping season.
Colors are past peak at Rib Mountain State Park. Hiking trails are in good condition.
At Kohler-Andrae State Park, the cold, wet and windy weather has knocked most of the leaves off of the trees. The ground is considerably wet, and the beaches are almost non-existent due to extremely high lake levels. Visitors are still coming to the park on weekends, but weekday visitation has slowed down due to the season change.
Hking trails at Perrot State Park are a little wet but in good condition. As the leaves begin to fall, views of the river and surrounding bluffs open up wider as you hike up Brady's Bluff and Perrot Ridge trails.
Starrett, Upper Gresham, Buffalo, South Trout, Cunard, Plum, Sandy Beach and East Star campgrounds at Northern Highland American Legion State Forest are closed for the season. The others remain open through self-registration and check-in at the visitor stations. Showers and dump stations are closed down and winterized. Crews are pulling out docks and getting trails ready for winter use.