Wisconsin outdoor report for May 5
Wisconsin’s inland fishing season opens this Saturday, May 7, which is late a date as it can open on the 2011 calendar, but state fisheries managers say that’s setting up nicely for anglers, because with this year’s cold, wet spring, the later opener should lead to warmer temperatures, lower stream flows, and more active fish.
The later opener will give walleye, musky and other game fish a little more time to wrap up spawning and closer to post-spawn feeding binges. They’ll be in close to shore, giving shore anglers a chance to find them in the weeds. This late date also coincides with Mother’s Day weekend, so it would be a good weekend to take mom out and spend some quality time on the water.
Most northern lakes and flowages have been ice free for about two weeks, and even the largest lakes are now open, but the unseasonably cold weather has kept water temperatures down in the low 40-degree range. Walleye have just completed their spawning on all but the largest lakes. Northern pike have also completed spawning and action should be fair. The cold water temperatures have kept both largemouth and smallmouth bass in deeper water and generally inactive. Perch have mostly their completed spawning and crappie are about two weeks away from spawning, with bluegill and pumpkinseed likely beginning in three to four weeks. Most rivers and streams in are seeing relatively high flows, so trout anglers may want to consider the high-water conditions in their opening day plans. Mayfly nymphs have been seen moving in many waters.
Lake Michigan tributaries have been still running high and muddy, though some have dropped considerably in the last week. The spring steelhead run is over, however a few spawned out fish remain in the Menomonee and Root rivers. High winds and low fishing success have kept most trollers of the lake, but a few brown and lake trout were reported south of Milwaukee.
Sturgeon have just about completed spawning on the Wolf River system, though this activity has also been slowed considerably by the cold spring weather, and some sporadic sturgeon runs and spawning could last into late May as water temperatures finally warm up. People from 77 countries around the world watched DNR crews work and the sturgeon spawn at the Shawano spawning site on the Wolf River Cam this spring. Links to the cam are available on the sturgeon spawning page of the DNR website.
Migrant birds continue to arrive, but overall the spring migration is at least a week to 10 days behind schedule. Birders are reporting the first large influxes of warblers and other long-distance migrants into the southern tier of counties this week. The first orioles and humminbirds of the season have been reported. Early nesters are now feeding young, with reports of goose and mallard broods, fledged gray jays up north and eagles feeding young. Recent arrivals at Horicon Marsh include good numbers of white pelicans, cormorants, herons, rails, greater and lesser yellowlegs among others. This weekend is the 15th annual Horicon Marsh Bird Festival from May 6 to 9 and bird enthusiasts and families can participate in more than 50 tours, hikes, demonstrations and other bird-related activities.
A large number of trees are leafing out and maples are flowing in southern Wisconsin. Hepatica and the bloodroot are in bloom. There are still few reports of morel mushrooms, but that could change this weekend with rain and warmer temperatures in the forecast.