Wisconsin outdoors report (5-31-12)
There will be lots of opportunities to get out and enjoy Wisconsin’s great outdoors this coming weekend as Saturday and Sunday are Free Fishing Weekend, Saturday is National Trails Day and Sunday is Wisconsin State Parks Open House Day. No fishing license is required for residents or non-residents this weekend—though all other regulations such as bag and size limits still apply – and trail passes are waived on state-operated trails on Saturday, and admission fees and trail passes are waived at state parks, forests and trails on Sunday. Check the DNR website for Frre Fishing Weenend events and other activities being held over the weekend.
Recent heavy rains in some areas of the state have raised water levels on many river systems and many areas are reporting excellent conditions for canoeing and kayaking. The Kickapoo River was crowded with paddlers over the Memorial Day weekend. The Lower Wisconsin River had been low but is expected to rise due to the rain, but then drop back to normal levels. The Mississippi River was also rising and was up 4 feet above normal at Genoa and expected to rise as much as another 4 feet.
The erratic windy, rainy and cooler weather of the last week did slow fishing and boating activity in some areas. Despite the windy weather, musky anglers hit the waters in the Northwoods for the northern zone musky opener. Most anglers reported good action with many sightings and follows, and a good number of fish being boated. Most of the musky have been in the 30- to 38-inch size, but fish up to 44 inches have also been reported. Bucktails and surface baits such as hog wobblers seemed to produce the best. The mayfly hatch is well underway in the north and will disrupt the regular walleye bite for the next few weeks as mayflies are a major source of natural food for walleye this time of year.
Both bluegill and pumpkinseed have been moving back up into shallow water on warmer days and providing some good action. Northern pike action has been fair and bass action during the early northern zone catch and release season has been good.
Anglers were catching nice bluegills just about everywhere on Mississippi River Pool 8. Some walleyes and white bass have been caught on minnows below dams. Catfish activity along the Wisconsin River is booming, with many anglers catching some nice cats.
High winds and rain also kept fishing pressure low at time on Green Bay and Lake Michigan, but when conditions were good fishing pressure was heavy as word of excellent salmon fishing has spread. Smallmouth bass fishing was good along most of Door County and walleye action also remained strong in many areas along the bay. Trollers continue to report outstanding catches of chinook on Lake Michigan, along with a mixed bag of coho salmon and brown and rainbow trout.
This is probably near peak of the fawn drop, and fawns are being seen in large numbers now. Again, please remember fawns left alone are not abandoned. If you see a fawn alone, leave it alone, back away and its mother will take care of it. Black bears are being reported in Columbia County and residents are being urged to take down bird feeders and remove any other foods that may attract them.
The songbird migration has now largely ended and many early nesters are even feeding young or fledged young out of the nest, but the shorebird migration is still going strong with good numbers of sandpiper and plovers being seen along with sanderling and turnstones as well. Turkey and woodcock broods are being reported now along with what continues to be an excellent year for duckling and gosling broods.
A three-minute audio version of this report can be heard by calling (608) 266 2277.
A new report is put on the line each week.
Wildfire Conditions for May 31, 2012
Over the past week a total of 78 wildfires burned 28 acres. The majority of these fires occurred Thursday, May 24 when high winds resulted in numerous power line fires around the state. Two structures were lost and another 32 were threatened, yet saved with suppression efforts. Wildfire conditions have moderated across the state and areas are posting current fire danger is Low. Year-to-date wildfire numbers are 767 fires having burned 1,344 acres; in total, 20 structures have burned and 237 others have been threatened by fires.
Notice: For people wishing to conduct outdoor burning projects in Extensive areas, a DNR burning permit is not required from June 1 to December 31, except when emergency burning restrictions are in effect. It is still recommended that people notify their local sheriff’s office or fire departments of when they are burning and when the fire is out to prevent any unnecessary emergency responses. In coop parts of the state, people need to check with their local officials regarding burning restrictions. In general, everyone should be aware of the fire danger in the area where they wish to burn. This can easily be accomplished by calling 1-888-WIS-BURN or checking the DNR website (search “burn”).
When fire conditions here have subsided, fire control staff may have the opportunity to assist with suppressing wildfires in other parts of the country. The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources sent staff and resources to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan to assist with fire suppression efforts there. As we move into summer, staff may volunteer to assist on wildfires in Alaska or the more western states. Assignments generally last for two weeks. Not only is this possibility a great service to other states, it is also an excellent opportunity for our staff to learn how other agencies coordinate suppression efforts while they discover new terrain and vegetation types and have a chance to meet their counter-parts in other areas of the country.
Statewide Birding Report
Songbird migration has now largely ended and many early nesters are even feeding young or fledged young out of the nest. Birders in northern Wisconsin can still expect some warbler/songbird movements as that area continues to get an influx of lingering boreal warblers and flycatchers. Cedar waxwings, one of the later migrants, are now commonly seen statewide. Shorebird migration is still going strong with good numbers of semi-palmated sandpiper and plover and white-rumped sandpipers. Birders along Lake Superior and Lake Michigan are reporting good numbers of sanderling and turnstones as well, along with whimbrel, red knot , godwits and red-necked phalaropes. Birders can still expect good shorebird watching in appropriate habitat for the next week or so. Many birds are now sitting on eggs or feeding young. Woodcock broods are being reported along with many duck broods in open wetlands. Researchers working on a boreal bird survey in northern conifer swamps are reporting fledged gray jays following parents through the swamps. As always birders can reporting sightings to the Wisconsin eBird page http://www.ebird.org/WI (exit DNR) to help better track migratory bird populations.
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Ashland DNR Service Center area
Ashland County - The past week can be summed up with bad weather. On and off rain along with strong winds allowed for very limited chances to participate outdoors. Those without good wet-weather gear most likely got wet at some point. Rain totals exceeded 7 inches in many areas. Now high waters will restrict what can be done. Whitetail deer fawns are being seen and people should be reminded to leave them alone. They are not orphaned just because they are found by themselves without a doe in sight. Also remember to leash dogs when outdoors with them. Soon those little fawns will be large and strong enough to run away from both people and those at-large pets.
Bayfield County - Panfishing activity has picked up this past week on the inland lakes in the southern part of the county. Crappie have moved into the shallows and have begun to spawn. Minnows seem to be working best for those fishing the tree snags along the shorelines catching crappie. Sunfish and bluegill have also begun to spawn, with limits being caught on both Namekagon and Owen Lakes; wax worms and spike gulp bait have been working well. Many fawns are being seen with does this past week, so be prepared for those being seen along the roadways. Many hatches of both goslings and ducklings were seen on lakes last weekend. A reminder to boaters, don’t forget to check your boat before going out, you will need a life jacket that fits each person on board your boat and if your boat is 16 foot or longer in length, you also need to have a throwable type device, either a seat cushion or ring buoy which is designed to be thrown to someone in trouble. The majority of citations issued this past weekend were to persons who did not have enough lifejackets on board their boats. Many warnings were also issued to persons who did not have fire extinguishers or who failed to have their batteries secured down and the terminals covered. It only takes a minute, a minute you can’t take back.
Spooner DNR Service Center area
Polk County - People have been catching crappies and bluegills on Lake Wapogasset and Deer Lake using small artificial bait and lures.
Crex Meadows State Wildlife - Water levels have returned to more notmal levels at Crex Meadows, a different sight than during drought. Baby loons, swans, fawns, and wood ducks are being seen. Karner blue butterflies are in their first flight. A lot of wildflowers are blooming, including large-flowered beard-tongue and Indian paintbrush. Join a wildflower tour on Saturday, June 2 from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. to identify more unique flowers. Visit http://www.crexmeadows.org/events.htm for more information.
Park Falls DNR Service Center area
Upper Chippewa Basin fisheries report (Price, Rusk, Sawyer Taylor and inland Ashland and Iron counties) - The erratic and almost continually changing weather has made for some tough fishing conditions across the Northwoods in the past week. Several days of nice weather have been followed by storm and cold fronts, and this seems to have really disrupted fish activity. Fair to good fishing success has been experienced during the stable weather periods, but the wind and storm activity seem to really shut down the action. The biting insects have also started to come out in the far north and the first big hatches of mosquitoes, no-see-ums and black flies have been noted in the last week. With the Memorial Weekend Opener, musky fishing was the highlight of this past week. Most anglers reported good action with many sightings and follows, and a good number of fish being boated. Most of the musky have been in the 30- to 38-inch size, but fish up to 44 inches have also been reported. Bucktails and surface baits such as hog wobblers seemed to produce the best action. Walleye success has gotten real inconsistent in the last week. The mayfly hatch is well underway on many lakes and this will disrupt the regular walleye bite for the next few weeks. The mayflies provided a big source of natural food and the walleye seem to key on them at this time of year. This usually signals the end of the bite on jig and minnow combinations and the start of leeches and crawlers as the more productive baits. Panfish action could only be termed fair as the windy conditions and cooler water temperatures have chased some of the fish back to deeper water. Both bluegill and pumpkinseed have been moving back up into shallow water on warmer days and this has provided some good action when conditions were right. Look for this to greatly improve with any kind of warming trend, which will also trigger some heavy nesting activity. Crappie have pretty much finished up their spawning activity in the shallows and most fish have dropped back to the mid-depth cover. Northern pike action has been fair with anglers catching medium-size fish along the newly developing weed beds. Bass action during the early catch and release season has been good, with some very nice catches of both largemouth and smallmouth bass being made. Soft plastics and finesse baits have been the most productive and most largemouth have been found in the newly developing weed and lily pad beds. Both largemouth and smallmouth are in their final stages of spawning on most lakes and look for action on larger fish to pick in the next week or two.
Price County - The Flambeau and Chippewa river systems in the Park Falls area have good water levels making for great canoeing. Area ATV trails are open and already getting a lot of use. Some anglers are taking advantage of the reduced size limits on musky on Butternut Lake. The fishing action has been pretty steady despite the cooler temps.
Taylor County - Anglers and boaters were out on many lakes over the holiday weekend. Anglers were having fair success on panfish in the shallows as well as deep water too. Weed growth is prevalent on area lakes and boaters and anglers are reminded to become familiar with the AIS rules and educate others so the invasives are not spread further. Recreational boating increases as the water temperatures do and with that, boaters are reminded of the basic boating rules designed to keep users safe as they recreate on area lakes and rivers.
Flambeau River State Forest - Both the North and the South Forks of the Flambeau River are up due to the recent rains. Turtles are really on the move, please use caution to avoid hitting them. ATV trails opened May 15 and are in good condition. Free fishing Saturday and Sunday and vehicle admission fees are waived on Sunday. The Flambeau River State Forest will be having an open house/public meeting on Friday June, 8, 2012. Staff will be here all day to answer questions folks may have.
Woodruff DNR Service Center area
Vilas County - Panfish are now being caught in relative abundance on St. Germain area lakes. Smallmouth bass are on beds in many waters as well and can provide great action during the catch and release portion of the season. Memorial Day weekend brought fair numbers of people to the Eagle River area; however, the lakes didn’t see as much action especially for the recreational users due to mixed weather conditions and cooler water temperatures. Anglers were out in fair numbers though and reported catching a few muskies on the opener with many others at least raising some fish. Anglers are reminded that bass fishing remains catch and release in the north zone until June 16. Crappies are still spawning on a few lakes and bluegills are starting to spawn on most lakes. Although temperatures remain below average with lows dipping down below freezing mid-week, the outlook for average temperatures back into the middle 70s for the weekend is expected. Everyone is reminded to make sure to remove all vegetative material from their boating and fishing equipment prior to leaving a lake especially as temperatures begin to rise causing increased weed growth on area lakes. Goose broods are being seen on area waterways and the first fawns have been dropped.
Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest - Forest has completely greened out. Blackberries are blooming and a few wild strawberries can be found already. Star flowers, daisies and hawkweed are dotting the landscape. Many of the other spring flowers are done blooming. Lupines are starting to bloom along some roadsides and an occasional fawn can be seen. Goslings have been spotted with their parents and many other babies will soon be filling the woods!
Antigo DNR Service Center area
Lincoln County - Cooler weather may slow down fishing activity a little, but panfish will likely still be pretty active for the free fishing weekend. So far there are some positive indicators for a good goose population this year, with numerous non-breeding birds being seen feeding in farm fields throughout the area.
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Peshtigo DNR Service Center area
High winds and rain again this past week kept fishing pressure low. Water temperatures at the landings are in the mid to upper 60s.
Marinette County - Both shore anglers and boaters at the Peshtigo Harbor have been catching smallmouth bass using tube jigs and twister tails. The catfish bite is picking up on the Peshtigo River from Klingsborn’s landing to the river mouth, crawlers fished on bottom works well. Bow fishing for carp in the Johnson’s Bridge area has been providing some fast action. Drum, catfish, and walleye are being caught by shore anglers at the Mystery Ship Landing, crawlers fished on bottom have been working well. Menominee River boaters have been having limited success trolling for walleye during periods of low light, from the Turn Basin down river to the mouth.
Oconto County - Fishing for smallmouth from the dam at Stiles down to the J Bridge has been good, with tube jigs and crank baits working well. Susie’s Rapids was also producing some nice smallmouth along with the occasional walleye. Weather permitting, the walleye bite on the Bay from Pensaukee to Oconto Park II has been very productive. Good numbers of 17 to 23 inch fish were being caught in 6 to 10 feet of water by anglers trolling crawler/harness. There were reports of 25-inch-plus walleye being caught in 16 to 20 feet of water by anglers trolling stick baits.
Shawano County - Cooler weather has slowed boating a bit, but fishing is still good with panfish being the main target. Many calls regarding baby animals especially fawns are received. Most folks still don’t understand that does will come back for the fawn if they leave it alone.
Green Bay DNR Service Center area
Brown County - Over the Memorial Day weekend, anglers on the inland waters or Kewaunee and Manitowoc counties were having success catching panfish. Wardens contacted multiple boats with limits or near limits of bluegills and other panfish. Most were catching the panfish with earthworms or wax worms. Boaters travelling between lakes should be reminded to remove all water from the live wells and bilges as well as removing all plant material from the boats and trailers prior to leaving a body of water.
Manitowoc County - Fishing pressure is increasing on the lake with word spreading of the excellent salmon bite in the area. Kings are hitting a variety of lures and presentations. Good numbers of rainbows were also being caught along with an occasional coho or lake trout. Salmon fishing has been good off Manitowoc. Boats are setting up in 80 to 220 feet of water. Kings have been hitting throughout the water column with some hitting high rainbow setups while others are hitting presentations well below 100 feet. Flasher/flies as well as spoons have been effective with green/white flasher fly combos reportedly working very well. Coho were showing up mixed with king/rainbow catches. Lead core, copper line, dipsey divers, and downriggers were all working to help catch fish. Most boats are trolling around 3 mph. Some of the larger kings have been hitting the 18 pound range with many rainbows around 8 pounds. Fishing has been good at times from the Manitowoc and Two Rivers piers. Alewives are spawning near shore and this could be helping to draw salmon in. Anglers were catching fish on a variety of spoons in white or silver. Fish were caught in both the turbid river water inside the harbors, as well as clearer water on the lake side of the piers. Wind direction is an important factor for pier anglers. Sustained west winds are needed to bring cooler water shallow. River water levels have dropped considerably in the last week. Smallmouth bass have been active in area rivers. Occasional catfish are being caught in the Manitowoc River on cut-bait. With water temperatures continuing to increase on inland lakes, most bluegill, crappie, and bass are probably done spawning. Fish still may be feeding shallow near docks or thick weedbeds. Crappies may be deeper or near weed lines. Reports of decent bass fishing have come from Manitowoc County lakes.
Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center area
Door County - High winds kept angler pressure low in the first part of this past week; however, upon the arrival of the holiday weekend effort substantially increased and Sturgeon Bay Ramp, Ole Stone Quarry Ramp, Egg Harbor Ramp, Peninsula State Park Ramp, and Ephraim Ramp saw the bulk of the launching action. Smallmouth bass are in various stages of spawning activity, scattered in the southern areas and on their beds in the more northern areas. Anglers heading out of the Sturgeon Bay area up to Sister Bay continue to pressure smallmouth, northern pike, walleye, and perch. Smallmouth success was reported on crawfish colored and purple soft plastics including twister tails and tubes; live bait in the form of crawlers has also been working in the 5-10 feet of water range. A few northern pike have been caught on minnows in the Sturgeon Bay ship canal area. There were also a few reports of good walleye catches in the Sturgeon Bay area and to the south, with a few scattered catches reported to the north. Perch success reports are low, but a few are being caught in the Sturgeon Bay area. Trollers continue to report outstanding catches of chinook on Lake Michigan from Sturgeon Bay north to Bailey’s Harbor, fishing in 80-200 feet of water, using flies and dodgers. There were reports of a decent rainbow trout and lake trout returns in this same range. Pier and shore anglers are fishing the Sturgeon Bay canal shoreline, the Ole Stone Quarry shore and piers, Fish Creek, Ephriam, and Sister Bay piers with reports of decent smallmouth bass catches casting tubes, twister tails, other soft plastics, and live bait in the form of crawlers; a few walleye, northern pike, and perch have also been mixed in the catches. Anglers fishing the Sturgeon Bay piers and Sister Bay piers reported pressuring for brown trout with no catches. On Little Sturgeon Bay, anglers were targeting smallmouth bass and a few walleye. Sheepshead were still being caught with a few Burbot being caught as well. Smallmouth bass were being caught with live bait (night crawlers) and with artificial (mainly rubber worms, green in color). Water temperature was in the low to mid 60s as well. Memorial Day Weekend was very busy for Chaudoir’s Dock and Bayshore Park. A storm rolled through causing anglers to retreat for only a little while, but anglers continued to come and go and they were targeting Walleye for the most part. At Chaudoir’s Dock anglers were still mainly targeting walleye ranging in sizes of about 15 to 19 inches and about 1 1/2 pounds to 4 1/2 pounds. Perch are also being targeted, but numbers were very low this week. Crawler harnesses, crank baits, and flicker shads were the main baits of choice with purple being the most successful. The Walleye were caught in about 12 to 15 feet of water and the water temperature was about 63.5 degrees. Sheepshead and catfish continue to be caught as well. At Bayshore Park, anglers were targeting walleye and some were starting to target perch. Perch numbers remain low for this week, but walleye have been successful. At Sawyer Harbor, smallmouth bass were being targeted with a few anglers looking for walleye and perch. Lots of anglers are catching rock bass, a few largemouth bass, and sheepshead as well. Smallmouth bass were caught in about 5 feet of water, and the bait of choice was crank baits and jigs with purple being most successful. Some live bait was also used, mainly night crawlers. The water temperature was about 60 to 67 degrees.
Potawatomi State Park - Yellow lady’s slippers are in bloom. Saturday, June 2, there will be an Ancient Shorelines Walk from 7-8 p.m. Enjoy a leisurely walk along Potawatomi’s nature trail and discover the best spots to sneak a peek at the park’s white-tailed deer, pileated woodpeckers and wild turkeys. Sunday is state parks open house day with free admission. From10 a.m. to noon, the Nature Center will feature “Fish Fun,” where visitors can create a fantastic fish print, test fish ID skills, and check out a group of gobies during this drop-in program.
Kewaunee County - A mostly windy past week has made it difficult for the small boat trollers to enjoy salmon and trout fishing on Lake Michigan, with only two days in the past seven featuring calm or mostly calm seas. Fewer limits came in the past week, but there were still good to very good catches when anglers were able to get out. Instead of the larger chinook salmon that dominated the coolers throughout May, there was a greater mix of fish species and size ranges. Steelhead and an occasional coho salmon or lake trout have been caught from near-surface to 60 feet down, while chinook are coming 30 to 70 feet down at dawn and 50 to 110 feet down after sunrise. The 110- to 190-foot depths, roughly about 4 to 6 miles off shore, have been the most popular in the past week. Surface water temperatures have ranged from 44 to 50, depending on the day, depth and wind direction, while sub-surface water temps where most of the fish are cruising have mainly been in the low 40s. Slow-trolled flasher and fly combinations are popular in the cold water. Many boaters had success running between 1.5 and 2 miles per hour. Spoons, flasher and squid combos, herring strips, cut plugs and J-plugs were also being used. At Dyckesville (Green Bay side), the walleye reports remain very good for those trolling crawlers, stick or crank baits for suspended fish in 10 to 20 feet of water behind planer boards. Some anglers were also slip-bobbering the reefs with live bait, with occasional bites from walleyes, perch, smallmouth bass, sheepshead and bullheads. On the inland scene, bluegills and bass were cruising shallow spawning sites in area lakes, and river anglers enjoyed smallmouth bass, catfish, carp, northern pike and bullheads on the Ahnapee and Kewaunee rivers. Bass season is still catch-and-release only in the rivers and lakes north of State Hwy. 29.
Wautoma DNR Service Center area
Oshkosh DNR Service Center area
Fond du Lac County - Anglers are still catching walleyes on Lake Winnebago even though windy conditions in the last week kept some anglers on shore. Weather is anticipated to be cooler this week so fish activity might change from last week. Shore fishing activity has slowed from last week when many anglers were out enjoying the warm weather. The panfish bite has been decent at best on lakes in the Kettle Moraine State Forest. Long Lake has had the best overall activity but Auburn, Wolf, and Mauthe lakes have also provided action. Largemouth bass are being seen on weed edges as they get closer to spawning. The mushroom hunting window has been closed.
Outagamie County - Several things happening in the outdoors for the free fishing weekend. Outagamie conservation club is hosting the take a kid fishing for the morning of June 2. The pond has been stocked and prizes are awarded for biggest, smallest most, etc. Door prizes for the participants as well. Go to wiocc.com for more information. Friends of the Newtonblackmor state trail have a 10k and 5k walk run scheduled in conjunction with Black Creek sesquicentennial celebration. Anglers should be reminded that no fishing license is needed this weekend but pick up a regulation since size limits and bag limits still apply.
Winnebago County - Fishing has slowed down drastically from the Winneconne Bridge. However trolling on lakes Winneconne and Poygan was still producing many walleyes and white bass. The Fox River is also producing walleyes and white bass. Largemouth bass and northern pike were being caught in many areas of the Upriver lakes. Many spotted fawns, young geese, and young ducks are being seen everywhere in Winnebago County.
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Milwaukee DNR Service Center area
Cool temperatures this week in the Milwaukee area will most likely keep the numbers of people out an about low, but that provides others great opportunities to take advantage of the free fishing weekend. There are numerous urban ponds with fish and the rivers have been fairly active fish wise too. Lake Michigan has been doing quite well with an early influx of king salmon and some good numbers of coho. Just a reminder that test driving an unregistered ATV is operating an unregistered ATV.
Harrington Beach State Park - With recent rains, some trails have wet and muddy areas. Most if not all the migratory birds have made their return to Harrington Beach. Visitors can find various warblers, bobolinks, red-headed woodpeckers and many other varieties of birds currently in the park. There is construction on Highway 43 around Port Washington, which has the highway down to one lane.
Lake Michigan fisheries team report
Sheboygan County - Trollers in Sheboygan have been catching good numbers of chinook in 65 to 105 feet of water. Spoons and dodger and fly combinations have both been effective. Anglers fishing off the Sheboygan piers have been catching a mixed bag of chinook and coho salmon and brown and rainbow trout. Fish have been taken on glow-in-the-dark spoons, spinner baits, and alewives.
Ozaukee County - In Port Washington trollers have been catching decent numbers of chinook, along with coho, rainbow and lake trout in 65 to 180 feet of water. Spoons as well as dodger and fly or flasher and fly combinations have been productive. Port Washington anglers fishing off the pier and in the harbor have been catching a few brown trout and coho, and the most fish have been taken on alewives.
Milwaukee County - In Milwaukee trollers have been fishing for chinook and coho, and a few lake trout have also been picked up with the salmon. Most trollers have been focusing in 80 to 115 feet of water with baits about 40 to 60 feet below the surface. The best baits have been spoons of various colors and dipsey divers with flashers and flies. Fishing on McKinley pier has been very slow in recent days with a few coho and chinook and an occasional rainbow caught on live bait rigs of alewives during low light times of day. Casting spoons off the pier have picked up a few chinook as well. The shoreline along Summerfest is producing some small brown trout. Most have been caught on minnows and a few have been taken on spoons. Shore fishing at Jones Island has been slow. The Bender Park boat ramps will be under construction for the next several weeks; however, one launch lane will be open daily.
Racine County - Those fishing from shore in Racine have had their best luck casting spoons while soaking live bait on the bottom at low light conditions, but success has been limited. Anglers have been catching browns, coho, and a few chinook from the pier and in the harbor. Trollers have had good success with dipsey divers and flies as well as spoons in anywhere from 60 to 110 feet of water. Anglers have been catching good numbers of coho and Chinooks, with additional rainbows and lake trout not uncommon.
Waukesha DNR Service Center area
Waukesha County - Bluegill where being caught in the weed beds in 5 to 10 feet of water over the holiday weekend in Waukesha and Walworth county lakes. Anglers were reporting good numbers of bluegills from Upper and Lower Nemahbin, Nashotah, Phantom and Big Muskego lakes. Anglers report catching bluegill and crappie on Lake Keesus. Bass and northern pike activity has also increased, many anglers reporting success using plastic baits with a drop shot for bass. Anglers report catching largemouth and smallmouth bass on Pewaukee and Pine Lakes. Musky fishing has been slow on Pewaukee Lake. Bow fishing on the Fox River continues to be steady and good numbers of carp have found in shallow backwater areas. Conservation wardens have been seeing a lot of small craft such as canoes, kayaks and paddleboards without PFDs. These craft are all required to have life jackets and are easily capsized adding to the importance of having them worn or readily accessible.
Sturtevant DNR Service Center area
Kenosha and Racine counties - Fishing activity has picked up in the last few weeks. Bluegills and other panfish have been targeted from 5-10 feet of water and should be moving in to spawn with the water temperatures heating up. The bass bite continues to be impressive with anglers having the best luck in the mornings. The Fox River dropped very quickly last week after the significant rainfall, restricting access for larger boats with outboard motors. Anglers are still doing well on white bass, especially near Wilmot.
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SOUTH CENTRAL REGION
Dodgeville DNR Service Center area
Grant County - This should be a productive year for local waterfowl. Lots of goslings and duck broods have been seen recently, especially wood ducks and mallards in the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway marshes and sloughs. Some sandhill cranes have colts already, while others are still incubating eggs. Hikers have encountered numerous turkey broods and white tailed deer fawns as well. Mosquitoes haven’t been too bad in the riverway, but deer flies and horse flies are starting to emerge. The Wisconsin River has been running low, but will probably rise quickly after the recent heavy rains up north.
Fitchburg DNR Service Center area
Columbia County - Black bears continue to be spotted around the county, especially in the northern townships. Folks in these areas should continue to bring bird seed, garbage, pet food, etc. inside to a secure location at night. Female Blanding’s turtles continue to be seen crossing roadways heading back to water areas after laying their eggs. Please be on the watch for these and other slow moving reptiles on area roads. Wildlife management staff have been helping in local research projects ranging from putting radio transmitters on sandhill cranes and blue-winged teal hens, to putting out black tern nesting platforms for resident black terns. Based on egg development, blue-winged teal ducklings should start hatching as early as next week. Many fawns and other baby wildlife are reportedly being found. Remember, the best thing to do with baby wildlife is to leave them alone - the mothers are often feeding nearby. Wild indigo was seen blooming this week.
Dane County - Sandhill crane chicks have been observed by Stoughton. Fishing on the Madison lakes has been steady. Some giant bluegills were being caught on Lake Mendota. Anglers have also reported catching nice bluegills on lakes Monona and Waubesa. Some crappies were being caught but the crappie bite has slowed down. Several nice catches of walleye’s were also observed on lakes Waubesa and Mendota. Musky fishing has been decent on lakes Monona and Waubesa as well. Memorial Day weekend was the kick off for the summer boating season on the Madison Lakes. Boaters are reminded to make sure their registration is current, that they have enough personal floatation devices (1 wearable PFD for each passenger plus one throwable type for boats 16 feet or longer) and that their fire extinguisher is charged and in good working order. Also boaters are reminded to be responsible if they decide to consume alcohol. The legal blood alcohol level is 0.08 pecent. Several boating OWI arrests were made by the DNR and Dane County Sheriff’s Office over the holiday weekend. The hot sun and other environmental aspects such as winds and wave action may cause someone to display signs of impairment earlier than normal. Finally boaters are reminded to clean their boats and boat trailers so that they are not transporting any aquatic vegetation or other species like zebra mussels. Boaters also need drain all water from their boats and make sure they are not transporting any live fish that they may have caught.
Jefferson County - White bass have still been biting on the Rock River. The catfish are also biting in most rivers.
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WEST CENTRAL REGION
La Crosse DNR Service Center area
La Crosse County - Anglers were catching nice bluegills just about everywhere on Mississippi River Pool 8. Bass seem to be everywhere also and casting crank baits, pitching jigs and dragging crawlers on the bottom will also lead to northern pike, huge sheepshead and the occasional walleye. There were a number of anglers having good luck catching catfish as well. However, the water is rising and the bite is expected to slow down.
Vernon County - Mississippi River water levels have raised over the last several days due to heavy rains to the north. Water levels are about 4 feet above normal at lock and dam 8 (Genoa) and water levels are predicted to come up another 3 to 4 feet by June 6. Anglers were starting to catch some bluegills in the backwaters by fishing weed edges or down trees. Some walleyes and white bass have been caught with minnows below lock and dam 8. Boaters are reminded to use caution and wear life jackets with the predicted higher water conditions and strong current. Sidie Hollow Lake was the place to be for bluegill fishing. Largemouth bass were being caught on Runge Hollow and also Jersey Valley. Crappie have slowed down on Jersey Valley. The Kickapoo River was crowded with canoe traffic. The water levels are just right for the canoes and kayaks.
Eau Claire DNR Service Center area
Eau Claire County -ATV trails are in great shape in Eau Claire, Clark and Jackson counties. With the rain the area received over the last week, the dust is down and the trails have held up great. Fishing has been picking up and there should be some great bluegill fishing for at least another week in west central Wisconsin. With all the rain, river levels are great for canoe and kayaking.
Wausau DNR Service Center area
Marathon County - Duck and goose hatches are occurring throughout the area in central Wisconsin. Catfish activity along the Wisconsin River is booming, with many anglers catching some nice cats. Hummingbirds have been observed at area feeders. Honeysuckle and fireweed are blooming. Monarch butterflies are fairly common.
Wisconsin Rapids DNR Service Center area
Wood County - Nice size brown trout were being caught on portions of Ten Mile Creek in Southern Wood County particularly between Rangeline Road and Hwy. Z. Anglers should note that Ten Mile Creek- downstream from Rangeline Road is Category 5 and has the following regulations: Only artificial lures may be used and the daily bag limit is one trout with a length limit of 15 inches.
Buckhorn State Park - Free fishing weekend is coming up on June 2 and 3. The park open house day is on Sunday, June 3 and admission is free only on that day. Construction on Hwy 82 in Mauston in underway from the interstate to Hwy 58. Expect delays. People can also take 90/94 West to New Lisbon, take the Hwy 80 exit to County Rd A to Hwy 58 North to get to the park. The campground has been filling up on weekends. Mosquitoes are out – remember bug spray. Some campers are using small devices that repel mosquitoes in their campsites, screen tents, and hanging out at the beach or out in a boat to get a break from the mosquitoes.
Roche-A-Cri State Park - The park will have a rededication ceremony for the stairway on Sunday, June 3 at 11 a.m. at the kiosk, which is also state parks open house day with free admission. The Friends of Roche-A-Cri will be selling brats, hot dogs, chips etc. and there will be free cake. Free fishing weekend is June 2 and 3. The stairway is open from 6 a.m. until sunset. No food, drinks or pets are allowed and visitors are restricted to the stairway to protect the natural area. Please be respectful of the park and other users while using the stairway.