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.
Despite snow for Halloween in many parts of the state, there are still fall colors throughout the southern part of the state. Take in the sites because this could be the last weekend to enjoy them. With the rain-snow mix that arrived midweek, leaves have been dropping, which is helping visibility for turkey, grouse and archery deer hunters. There have been multiple reports that deer are in full rutting behavior. The waterfowl migration has been slow so far, but there are thousands of sandhill cranes in the Waushara County area, making for an incredible sight.
Cooler weather and dropping water temps have triggered the fall fish bite with many lakes producing fish from crappie and bluegill to walleye and sauger. Anglers are still targeting salmon on Lake Michigan tributaries as the spawning run is slowly coming to an end. Brown trout have moved into the lower Menominee River, and whitefish have begun to show up in the Green Bay tributaries. Northern anglers are reporting good action on muskies, and walleyes have been biting on the Wolf River.
For more on Wisconsin's outdoors, check out the full Outdoor Report below.
The Fox River in Green Bay was busy with anglers targeting smallmouth and walleye. Anglers also saw success with walleye in the bay. Most were trolling with shad raps. It was also steady in Suamico with fishers targeting musky and walleye. Many of the walleye that were caught were on the small side and were released.
Mississippi River Pool 10 in Prairie du Chien is about five to six feet higher than usual for this time of year, which makes finding fish difficult. Water temperatures are average for the time of year—around 40 degrees. The active walleyes are being caught on brightly colored jigs and plastic in deeper holes, on deep-diving crankbaits along steep drop-offs or on the edges of wing dams. Many species, such as largemouth bass and panfish, are moving into backwater lakes to where they will spend the winter months.
Fishing activity along the Pike River in Kenosha this week increased slightly. Anglers were fishing farther upriver this week, with no action being seen at the mouth of the river. They are still targeting salmon as the spawning run is slowly coming to an end.
The water level has dropped slightly and clarity has improved. This week, fishing pressure has remained low in both Algoma and Kewaunee. There were a few reports of rainbows being caught with spawn sacks up the Kewaunee River.
Seven salmon processing days have happened so far this fall at Besadny Anadromous Fisheries Facility. To date, 1,344 chinook salmon have been processed for data and removed from ponds and 154 coho salmon. An additional 424 coho were sorted, counted, and kept in a holding pond for future egg processing.
At La Crosse, the river is 5.6 feet higher than normal for this time of year, and discharges through the dams are over three times normal. The current in most backwaters is keeping away panfish that would normally migrate there for winter. Backwaters with no current may contain fishable numbers of panfish. Tailwaters of locks and dams do contain good amounts of walleye and sauger, although these locations can be dangerous with excessively high flows. Watch for large mats of floating wild celery, which makes fishing difficult due to line entanglement. The Mississippi River is predicted to drop only one-half foot over the next seven days.
Fishing success this weekend was moderate, with mostly a small handful of chinook salmon and rainbow trout being caught. Rainbow trout were caught in the Manitowoc Harbor, Silver Creek and Branch River. At the East Twin River and Shoto dam, there were reports of chinook salmon. It was reported that starting mid-week, the fishing success in the East Twin River rapidly declined.
Brown trout have moved into the lower Menominee River over the last week. A DNR fish survey on Oct. 23 resulted in 30 brown trout sampled, the largest was 34 inches. Several rainbow trout were also sampled. Most activity this week was in the Menominee River, except for a few boats in the bay over the weekend. Whitefish have beginning to show up in the Green Bay tributaries. Water temperatures are in the upper 40s but expected to fall in the coming week.
Perch fishing improved this week with most of the popular shore spots producing fish. Oconto Park II, Oconto Breakwall and the ditches along County Y all had angling effort throughout the week. Most perch were caught using minnows and were averaging six to nine inches. The best area was Oconto Park II, with the first few hours of the day being best. Water temps were in the upper 40s throughout the week.
Rhinelander-area anglers are reporting good action on muskellunge using brook trout color patterns. Water temperatures are in the low 40s, so slower presentations and live bait tend to work best.
Fishing activity on the Root River remained high this week. The salmon spawning run is still going strong, and plenty of anglers were spotted trying to catch fish before the run ends. Anglers were also focusing on steelhead and brown trout. While fishing activity on the river remained high, very little fishing occurred on the lakefront.
Sauk Creek in Port Washington is running swift and clear, and temperatures are near 48 degrees. A few anglers were fishing at the creek and within the marina, with a chinook being caught early in the morning. Lake Michigan, with temps near 52 degrees, was calm, but waters within the marina and harbor were turbid. Nearshore and harbor waters, at 52 degrees, were rough and turbid. In Sheboygan, Lake Michigan, at 54 degrees, was more turbulent with waves crashing over the piers. Limited angler success was recorded along the Pigeon River, Sheboygan River, Kohler dam and Esslingen Park.
The Wolf River is still high, and it is reported that Waupaca County lifted its slow no wake ordinance on Wednesday. This should help anglers navigate the system more efficiently. Walleyes have been biting in the New London area, and some good catches of crappies and bluegills have been seen. These are being caught near brush piles using a minnow or worm for bait.
Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area continues to see a challenging and dangerous situation with moving cattail bogs. Most main access points to the marsh are now blocked. Please use extreme caution as bogs are moving quickly and have the potential to trap hunters in areas of the marsh.
With the rain/snow mix that arrived midweek, pheasant hunters should expect areas to be wetter than usual. Leaves in the forest have been dropping, which is helping visibility for turkey and archery deer hunters. Deer movement continues to increase. The fall waterfowl migration has been slow so far, but we expect increased numbers in the upcoming week as cooler weather settles in.
There have been multiple reports in Dodgeville that deer are in full rutting behavior, with numerous sightings of bucks actively chasing does. Pheasant stocking is in full swing.
Deer hunting at the Flambeau River State Forest is starting to heat up with the rut approaching. Waterfowl action should begin to pick up as well with the colder temps bringing birds down from the north. Grouse hunters have reported slow hunting with few birds being taken. The river is still seasonably high, and some of the shallow areas of small lakes and ponds have been freezing over at night.
The annual deer rut is beginning in Wautoma, and archery hunters are reporting to see more deer activity - especially during the mid-day hours. In the Waupaca area, upland bird hunters have been reporting seeing more woodcock on the annual migration southward. With the wet conditions, hunters are finding woodcock in some unusual places, but all within the thick brush.
With the snow and north winds at the Kettle Moraine State Forest-Northern Unit, we expect excellent conditions for migrating waterfowl. Expect duck, geese and crane numbers to increase. Watch the surrounding farm fields for geese and cranes during the day. Several tree sparrows and juncos are now being seen as well.
So far, visitors continue to see only resident birds throughout the Kettle Moraine State Forest-Northern Unit. As of Monday, we are waiting for the major waterfowl migration to begin. Above-average rainfall in the area has led to higher surface levels on ponds and kettles throughout the forest, which means waterfowl could be widely dispersed this year.
There are reports at the Yellowstone Wildlife Area that deer are in full rutting behavior, with multiple sightings of bucks actively chasing does.
There are thousands of sandhill cranes near Poy Sippi and the Tustin area in Waushara County—it is an incredible sight.
At Lake Wissota State Park, colder weather is setting in. The fall colors are past its peak, but there are enough colors to still make for beautiful hikes on the trails. Fall fishing and hunting are well underway. Please remember, the park doesn't open for hunting until Nov. 15.
Fall colors are at peak to a little past peak in Columbia County. Cooler weather and dropping water temps have triggered the fall fish bite with many area lakes producing fish from crappie and bluegill to walleye/sauger. Car-deer collisions are on the upswing in the county, which means deer rut is starting.
With the recent rains and wind at Newport State Park, fall colors are quickly changing. Though past peak, there are still plenty of colors to appreciate. Trails are in good condition, with very few problems with muddy areas, although Sand Cove/Duck Bay Trail has Lake Michigan washing up very close to trail edge. Sightings of deer and porcupine have been mentioned.
All water at Wyalusing State Park, including the dump station, is shut down for the season, along with the concession stand. Fall Colors are past peak. There is a lot of deer movement in the park, and gall hunting will start on Nov. 15. Water is still high, and while the boat landing is open, there is no boat ramp in the water.
Fall colors are beautiful in Mirror Lake State Park. With the colder temperatures, they are quickly moving through peak, with both the oaks and maples turning at the same time this fall.
The Flambeau River State Forest just pulled the docks from Lake of the Pines and Connors Lake, along with the fishing pier at Lake of the Pines. Most of the leaves are off the trees, with a few oaks still holding on.
Fall colors have peaked, but most leaves have not dropped yet at the Kettle Moraine State Forest-Southern Unit. Enjoy leaves crunching underfoot on the Red or Orange loops at Nordic for grand 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.
Most leaves at Roche-A-Cri State Park have changed colors and are falling with the cooler temperatures. Visitors can hike in from the prairie/winter lot on Czech Avenue. Enjoy the fall colors as you walk down the hill and along Carter Creek. The stairway is open 6 a.m. to sunset, and no food, pets or drinks are allowed.
All campgrounds at Governor Knowles State Forest have been winterized for the season.
The Kettle Moraine State Forest-Northern Unit is well past peak. With the leaves dropping, hikers are enjoying views not seen since spring. As of Monday, forest staff winterized all facilities at Mauthe Lake Rec Area; the shower building, dump/fill station and the 500s loop are now closed for the season. Camping is still available at Mauthe Lake on a first-come-first-serve basis, including the electrical sites in the 100s, 200s and 400s. Campers can get potable water from the well located behind the entrance contact station. The Ice Age Visitor Center, a half-mile south of Dundee on Highway 67 will be open this weekend.
All water at Wyalusing State Park, including the dump station, is shut down for the season, along with the concession stand. Old Immigrant Trail at Wyalusing State Park is closed. Keep in mind that hikers may encounter almost any condition on the trails, so please plan accordingly.
There is still time for fall camping at Buckhorn State Park. Leaves are past changing and are falling fast with the wind and cooler temperatures. Bowhunters have been finding scrapes, rubs and seeing more deer movement in the park. Visitors can fish from shore or boat, even though boat piers have been removed.
Vibrant leaf colors at Devil's Lake State Park have been bringing crowds of leaf peepers. The main trails of the park may have been busy, however finding lesser hiked trails in the backwoods provides some solitude. This weekend could be the last chance to see the colorful leaves.