Wisconsin outdoors report (5-25-12)
With a warm Memorial Day weekend in the forecast, conservation wardens are expecting there to be lots of activity on Wisconsin’s lakes and rivers and are reminding people to be sure they have a life jacket for each person on board that is readily accessible or, better yet, being worn. Wardens are also reminding people not to launch a boat or leave a boat landing with aquatic weeds on boats or trailers, and to follow the proper rules to avoid spreading aquatic invasive species or the deadly VHS fish disease.
Many state park and forest campgrounds are reporting that reservable sites are booked up for the holiday weekend and that they expect first-come sites to fill up quickly. People can check on availability of sites through the park reservation website. Campers are also reminded that firewood rules in place to help avoid the spread of emerald ash borer and other insects and diseases require firewood brought to state properties to be from Wisconsin, from within 25 miles of your destination, and not from a quarantine area. And despite nearly complete green-up in northern forests, fire danger remains high in some areas and there were still 74 wildfires this week, including a 74-acre fire in Vilas County.
Water levels have begun to drop and most river systems and were approaching normal summer levels in most locations. The lower Wisconsin and Mississippi rivers both dropped, and there are once again abundant sandbars on the Lower Wisconsin Riverway. Water levels were still good for paddling on the North and South forks of the Flambeau River.
Some fantastic salmon fishing was reported this week on Lake Michigan and Green bay with many reports of bag limits of chinook coming in along with some coho, and brown and rainbow trout at many harbors. Walleye fishing also continued to be good on both the east and west shores of Green Bay, and smallmouth bass action was good at many locations along Door County, with many fish caught during last weekend’s Sturgeon Bay Smallmouth bass tournament. Perch season has opened on the bay, but has been slow so far.
Inland, walleye fishing continued to be fairly good in the Northwoods, though the rain and cold front that came through last weekend seemed to put a damper on what had been a rather consistent bite for walleye and panfish. Both bluegill and pumpkinseed have begun nesting and good numbers of crappie continue to be found near shallow water cover. Largemouth and smallmouth bass activity has also been increasing. Largemouth have started to build nests on many lakes, but varying water temperatures seem to continually chase the fish back to deep water. Northern pike success continued to be good around newly forming weed beds.
The spring turkey season came to a close this week, and last period hunters were reporting some toms and jakes were alone and ready to come into calling locations, with some reports of toms still actively gobbling.
There were reports of trumpeter swan cygnets hatching this week, and loons chicks have been seen on Northwoods lakes already, so boaters are being cautioned to operate at slow-no-wake within 100 feet of shorelines were loons may be nesting, and to give loons wide berth on lakes.
There were many reports of butterflies being seen this week, including cabbage white, clouded sulphur, little yellow, spring azure, mourning cloak, American lady, painted lady, red admiral, monarch, and eastern tiger swallowtail. Dragonflies are also emerging. Eastern gray-tree and green frogs as well as toads are calling profusely.
New wildflowers that can be seen are wood betony, nodding trillium, star flower, wild ginger, and fringed polygala. Prairie plants in bloom include golden Alexanders and lupines and foxglove penstemon and pale purple coneflower are in the bud stage.