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Wisconsin Outdoor Report and Calendar
May 23, 2019
The Wisconsin Outdoor Report is updated weekly by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
Mother Nature reminded some people in the north last weekend that winter was not quite finished. Pattison State Park received 3 inches of snow, but it did not last long as temperatures rebounded to the mid 50s after the storm.
Memorial Day weekend has arrived and so has the green growth. A green up of vegetation and regular rains have lowered spring fire danger statewide.
Water levels are still very high on the Wolf River system and a number of central Wisconsin lakes and local government officials have placed emergency slow no wake orders on some waters. Check with county or local officials before boating.
The northern zone musky season opens this weekend. White bass have been biting very well on the Wolf River, where there are also still walleyes being caught but not as many as there were a few weeks ago. Walleye are beginning to find their way back to the Upriver Lakes and Lake Winnebago and anglers have been having some success on rock reefs, although strong winds made fishing difficult on the system, particularly Lake Winnebago. Panfish anglers have also been finding some crappie and bluegill action in bays and channels. Fox River walleye fishing has slowed and anglers were getting a lot of sheepshead out of Voyageur Park.
High winds and waves creating unsafe conditions also kept a lot anglers off Green Bay and Lake Michigan. Waves were said to be 8 feet in the bay. Waves were crashing hard against the Lake Michigan jetties made them difficult to fish off. There were a few brown trout reported at Port Washington. Coho and brown trout were the most targeted fish out of Racine and Kenosha but very few coho have been caught lately.
This is the final week of turkey season and hunters are reporting good success. Many birds are being seen and toms are still strutting.
Early reports of fawns have come in. Please remember that fawns are often left alone for very long periods of time. This does not mean they have been abandoned and need human intervention. Fawns give off very little scent and are spotted to help camouflage them from predators. Adults stay away to protect the fawns. Please leave fawns alone and enjoy watching them from a distance. If you have any questions about "keeping wildlife wild" please check out the DNR website . There have also been reports of fox pups, including one near the Woodruff DNR hatchery.
Ramps are abundant in the woods. Trilliums are blooming in Door County with their carpet of white, making the woods a magical place. Bloodroot, spring beauties, marsh marigolds, trout lilies and bellwort are flowering.
Scarlet tanagers, indigo buntings, Baltimore orioles, rose-breasted grosbeaks, ruby-throated hummingbirds, and American goldfinches have been providing a bonanza of color even casual bird lovers can get excited about.
People heading out to state trails for the holiday weekend should check current conditions on the DNR website because while a lot of progress has been made repairing damage from last summer's storms and flooding, some trail sections are still closed as repairs continue to be made.
A three-minute audio version of this report can be heard by calling 608-266-2277.
Statewide Birding Report
Beyond the backyard, peak warbler activity was noted throughout southern and central Wisconsin. That peak will shift northward over the week ahead so get ready north woods birders. Southern birders are already noting those later migrants like Connecticut warbler, Philadelphia and red-eyed vireos, yellow-bellied flycatcher, black-billed and yellow-billed cuckoos, and common nighthawks. Shorebirds are noteworthy for being late May migrants and this week proved no exception. Ruddy turnstones, least and semipalmated sandpipers, short-billed dowitchers, black-bellied and semipalmated plovers, and dunlin were a few of the species reported as they stopover on their way to breeding areas in the arctic tundra of Canada. A few notable reports were flocks of 18 and 45 marbled godwits in Calumet and Eau Claire counties, respectively, Hudsonian godwits in several locations, and 95 whimbrel in Manitowoc. Also on Lake Michigan, large numbers of northbound red-breasted mergansers and common terns were reported.
Wildfire ReportOver the past week, 29 wildfires burned 11 acres in DNR Protection Areas. Primary causes were debris burning and equipment. Green up of vegetation and regular rains have lowered fire danger statewide. This concludes the wildfire report until conditions cause the fire danger to rise. As a recap, 429 wildfires burned 1,123 acres so far this year; 18 structures were destroyed and another 269 were threatened but saved with firefighter assistance. Half of the fires were caused by debris burning. Be mindful of the weather and any drying conditions as we head into summer. Stay informed of statewide fire danger by checking our Fire web page as a part your outdoor work and recreation routine.
Firewise Tip: Make sure campfires are made in a fire-safe pit or container. Clear an area 10 feet around the fire pit and never burn when it's windy. Before leaving, drown your campfire thoroughly with water, stir the ashes and add more water until it's out cold.
Upcoming State Natural Area WorkdayMay 25, 9 am - noon, Sugar River Wetlands Workday: Help the Upper Sugar River Watershed Association (USRWA) restore the Sugar River Wetlands State Natural Area during our "4th Saturdays" volunteer work days. Volunteers will be spraying invasives, cutting brush, and girdling aspen. As you remove these species you will be promoting the growth of desirable native plants. It promises to be rewarding, fun, and a great way to experience the outdoors in spring.
May 25, 9 am - noon, Devil's Lake East Bluff Workday: Help pull garlic mustard inside Devils Lake at East Bluff SNA. Take in some of the most breathtaking views Wisconsin has to offer and help protect some of the most uncommon species and natural communities in the Midwest. We will concentrate work efforts in the woodland adjacent to the prairie and the Devils Doorway trail segment. This will be part of a series of monthly stewardship activities sponsored by Ben Bomkamp and Kerstyn Perrett of NatureWorks llc through 2019, who are hoping to help build enthusiasm and understanding of the role that we can all be playing to protect our state's most treasured and irreplaceable resources.
May 25, 9 am - noon, Haskell Noyes Workday: Please help to remove garlic mustard during the peak season of this highly invasive plant. Haskell Noyes is a premier southern mesic forest. The plant community here is threatened by the invasion of garlic mustard. Haskell Noyes is located in the Kettle Moraine State Forest - Northern Unit.
No skills needed you will be trained onsite. Check the State Natural Areas Volunteer Program page of the DNR website for details. - Jared Urban, conservation biologist, Dane. - Jared Urban, conservation biologist, Dane
DNR Northern RegionSuperior DNR Service Center area
Ashland DNR Service Center area
Iron County - Cool rains have made fishing difficult. Many fish are being marked on the Gile Flowage, Turtle-Flambeau Flowage, and many other lakes in the area, but few fish are biting. With warmer temperatures ahead, we hope to see fish become more lively and eager to bite. Turkey hunting has been wet and gobblers are shutting down; early mornings provide the best time to get a Tom to talk. Loons have been observed on nests, goslings are tagging along behind their parents, and the first fawn was observed in northern Iron County this week. Leeks are abundant and as the temperature climbs this weekend, we should see a snap of morels and other wild mushrooms. Trilliums also popped this past week. - Jenna Kosnicki, wildlife biologist, Mercer
Park Falls DNR Service Center area
Flambeau River State Forest - The North and South Fork of the Flambeau water levels are high but definitely navigable. There has been some sporadic river fishing. The musky season is open. There hasn't been a lot of activity yet on the area lakes but it will certainly be picking up. Memorial Day weekend has arrived and so has the green growth. Drive safely and be aware of new elk calves and deer fawns. Bears and cubs are out feeding and filling up after the long winter we had. Tundra swans, geese, cranes and ducks are flying overhead. Each waterhole seems to have some waterfowl in it. Bloodroot, spring beauties, trilliums, marsh marigolds, trout lilies, bellwort's and Virginia waterleaf are flowering, and the fiddleheads and wild leaks are up. Most trees are leafing out. The forest floor is still very wet and the road side ditches are still laden with water. Grouse are still drumming and the turkeys are strutting and gobbling and are gathering hens and the hens are nesting. ATV/UTV trails are open for use. Two sections are closed due to high water on the trail. The short segment from Highway W trail head to Nedli Road. Riders can use Hwy. W directly to Nedli Road. to access the southern trail system. Also, the section between Fishermen's Landing south is closed so just use Hwy. M for that distance. Every closure is clearly marked. - Diane Stowell, forestry technician advanced and visitor services associate
Woodruff DNR Service Center area
DNR Northeast RegionNorthern Lake Michigan fisheries team report
On Monday, May 20, DNR fisheries staff met with interested stakeholders to discuss the current status of the Lake Michigan fishery, answer questions and listen to comments. The presentations from this meeting are now available for viewing. The department is now taking comments on the future direction of the salmon and trout fishery in Lake Michigan. Interested people are encouraged to provide us information via an email through June 30, 2019. Comments and suggestions will be accepted in any form. However, your responses will be most useful if they address all, or most, of the following information:
Please let us know of any other suggestions you have to improve our Lake Michigan management decision making processes for the future. Are there any other management activities (besides stocking) you would like to see us pursue to assure sustainable Lake Michigan fisheries. Please send your comments via email to email@example.com - Bradley Eggold, fisheries manager, Madison
Marinette County - Fishing on the Menominee River and in the bay was slow this week. Some walleyes were caught in the river but not in high numbers. No walleye or brown trout activity reported from the bay with only a few northern pike caught. The fishing on the Peshtigo River picked up at the end of the week with a good walleye bite seen on Saturday by boat anglers trolling crawlers in the mouth of the river. The walleye tournament on Sunday was cancelled due to high winds and unsafe conditions in the bay and in the Menominee River. Waves were said to be 8 feet in the bay and 4 to 5 feet coming up the river between the piers.- Scott Poquette, fisheries technician, Peshtigo
Oconto County - Oconto Park II (North Bashore Recreation Area) Oconto Breakwater, and Pensaukee boat launches had moderate fishing pressure during the week. Most anglers were after walleyes with little to no luck. Some white bass were reported caught out of Pensaukee by walleye anglers. Also the occasional northern pike and perch was caught. A few bass anglers were seen out prefishing the weekend's bass tournament in Sturgeon Bay with spotty success. The weekend saw wind and rain which raised the water levels along the shorelines flooding docks and low areas. - Scott Poquette, fisheries technician, Peshtigo
Brown County - Early in the week Fox River anglers were hardly getting any walleyes only picking up one every once in awhile, and they had to work for it. A lot of sheepshead were being caught out of Voyageur Park. On Saturday a lot of the boats that were going to fish the bay got stuck fishing the river due to the roughness of the bay. Early in the week some boats were picking up a few walleyes out of the Suamico launch, but they really had to work to catch the few they did. Trolling with crank baits were doing better than night crawler harnesses. On Saturday the bay was rough, and kept most of the anglers fishing the river besides a few boaters very early in the morning. - Brandon Wagester, fisheries technician, Green Bay
Door County - A few anglers were using the Potawotami State Park to access Sawyer Harbor, but little to no angler success reported. Only a couple anglers used the Idlewild location this week. Success reported fishing for small mouth bass. At Little Sturgeon Bay a bass tournament at Wave Pointe filled this launch with trailered boats on May 18. - Riley Schultz, fisheries technician, Green Bay
Kewaunee County - Anglers at the Kewaunee Ramp was out on the water for 6 hours and didn't have a hit. They tried trolling in 8 feet of water and as deep as 115 feet of water. The water temps in shallow were 46 degrees yet, while it was 39 degrees out deep on the surface. Anglers fishing in the Kewaunee River were catching carp and occasionally a catfish. There was no one fishing on the pier. - Cody Flavionl, fisheries technician, Mishicot
Manitowoc County - There was very little fishing effort this week in Manitowoc or Two Rivers this week. Anglers out of Two Rivers this week that tried for whitefish, with no luck though. They targeted whitefish in the 90 to 100 feet of water. Anglers fishing off the piers in Two Rivers also had little luck. There was a report of someone catching a brown trout off the north pier. There was no one fishing on the piers this week. Harbor fishing is slow right now and anglers fishing for smallmouth bass didn't have any luck. The parking lot at Kewaunee was completely underwater up to the cleaning station over the weekend. - Cody Flavionl, fisheries technician, Mishicot
Peshtigo DNR Service Center area
Marinette County - Rain, LOTS of Rain...rivers are running very high, wetlands are full and many farm fields have flooded areas. Aspen are leafing out, marsh marigolds and trilliums are blooming and mushrooms are popping. This is the final week of turkey season and hunters are reporting good success. Many birds are being seen and toms are still strutting. Tick numbers appear to be up from last year while (so far) mosquitos have only made a slight appearance. Rose-breasted grosbeaks, hummingbirds, and orioles are now a common occurrence at backyard feeding stations. Unfortunately, bears like the seed too so if you have bears near your residence- consider waiting to feed the birds until later in the year when the bears have access to more diverse foods. A few early reports of fawns have come in. Please remember that fawns are often left alone for very long periods of time. This does not mean they have been abandoned and need human intervention. Please leave fawns alone and enjoy watching them from a distance. Have an enjoyable and safe holiday weekend! - Aaron McCullough, wildlife technician, Wausaukee
Green Bay DNR Service Center area
Manitowoc County - After a slow start to spring the trees have started to leaf and flowers are starting to bloom. This past week in Manitowoc County everything started to green up and is providing beautiful sights. This weekend the weather is looking to be great to get outside and enjoy the beauty the area has to offer. A reminder to all fishermen and boaters to make sure you do a safety check before you hit the water, make sure your life jackets are in good conditions, your fire extinguisher is working, and your boats are registered. This warm weather will help warm the water temperatures and will help bring the fishing activity up. If your not a fishermen take a hike at any of the public access points in the state. Point Beach State Forest trails are in great condition and ready for visitors. You can ride your bike on the trails from Point Beach State Forest all the way to the City of Manitowoc. - Get out and enjoy the great outdoors. - Alyssa R Neff-Miller, conservation warden, Mishicot
Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center area
Newport State Park - Wildflowers like hepatica and spring beauty are still around, and ramps are abundant in the woods. Clintonia is starting to bud out, as are several violet species. The trillium are blooming their carpet of white, making the woods a magical place. There have been reports of many bird sightings as migrating birds move through. Visitors have seen many kinds of warblers, Baltimore orioles, rose breasted grosbeaks, hummingbirds, indigo bunting, pelicans, mergansers, eagles, turkey vultures, bluebirds, phoebes and woodcocks. Our local woodpeckers have been putting on a show at our feeders near the nature center, particularly the pileated woodpeckers. There is a red headed wood pecker visiting too. Twice in the past week there have been fisher sightings, so keep your eyes out for these elusive mammals. On warmer days, we have seen some snake activity, particularly garter and fox snakes. Trails and campsites are in good shape, except for Fern Trail and parts of Europe Bay trail, which are currently under water. Alternate routes are available. Weather and temperatures can change quickly here, so come prepared for varied conditions. - Beth Bartoli, naturalist
Potawatomi State Park - All roads are open in the park. Hiking and bike trails are all open but wet in some low areas. Wildflowers are starting to bloom. Look for trillium, bellwort, trout lilies, and gay wings. All campsites, the shower building and dump station are open. The docks are in at the boat launch, and the fish cleaning station is open. - Jaclyn Moeri, visitor services associate
Wautoma DNR Service Center area
Waupaca County - White bass have been biting very well on the Wolf River. Recently, Fremont has been the best area to catch white bass. White bass have been easier to catch later in the day when the water warms up a little bit. If you find fish, they will bite on most everything. Lots of baby waterfowl and sandhill cranes in the central Wisconsin area at this time. There are still walleyes in the Wolf River - but not as many as there were a few weeks ago. Anglers are mostly catching male walleyes, as the females have left for Lake Winnebago. Water levels are still very high on the Wolf River system and local government officials have placed a slow no wake in most counties - such as Waupaca, Winnebago, and Outagamie. Please check these ordinances before boating the Wolf River. - Ted Dremel, conservation warden, Wautoma
Waushara County - Waushara County looks like it will have pretty good weather for Memorial Day weekend. Water levels are still extremely high on a number of lakes so please take care and observe any emergency slow no wake signage at some of the boat landings throughout the county. On lakes that don't have slow no wakes on them, please be cognizant of water levels, piers and other structures that may be under water. Fawns have been dropping all throughout Waushara County over the last week. While cute and sometimes seemingly alone please leave fawns where they are at. Just because you don't see mom around does not mean they are abandoned. Fawns give off very little scent and are spotted to help camouflage them from predators. The adults stay away to protect the fawns. Waterfowl and other birds have been hatching young as well recently so please be aware that the woods and waters are full of young. Take time to enjoy these little ones when you see them, but please keep your distance. If you have any questions about "keeping wildlife wild" please check out our website. As always take care, respect other users, and have a great weekend! - Ben Mott, conservation warden, Wautoma
Oshkosh DNR Service Center area
Lake Winnebago System
The strong wind events have made fishing difficult on the Winnebago System the past few days, particularly on Lake Winnebago. The spring walleye run has continued to progress, with fish beginning to find their way back to the Upriver Lakes and Lake Winnebago over the last few weeks. Anglers have been having some success for walleye with slip bobber and jigging techniques on the rock reefs. The white bass run on the Wolf River has also been fairly strong this spring, with anglers still picking up a few fish throughout the Fremont area. Panfish anglers have also been finding some crappie and bluegill action in bays and channels throughout the Winnebago System. Many anglers are hoping for some warmer and more stable weather conditions to trigger more fishing action. - Adam Nickel, senior fisheries biologist, Oshkosh
DNR Southeast RegionMilwaukee DNR Service Center area
Southern Lake Michigan fisheries team report
Sheboygan County - There was no angling effort seen along the shoreline. Waves were crashing against the jetties hard which made them difficult to fish off. The weekend was breezy with some thick fog covering the lake. Surface temperatures stayed around 58 degrees. A few anglers were seen trying their luck on the South Pier this week. Most tried throwing out spoons looking for trout and salmon but had no success. Water temperature averaged around 56 degrees and was mostly turbid. There were no anglers going out of the harbor, most likely due to the cold weather and thick fog over the weekend. The Cleveland Ramp is not put in yet. - Courtney Usadel, fisheries technician, Plymouth
Ozaukee County - Most anglers that were out were seen fishing the Utility area this week/weekend. Thursday was a little slow, with only a few anglers out targeting trout and salmon but ended up with one carp. One angler was specifically targeting catfish but had no luck at all. Saturday night one angler was able to pull in two browns from the harbor. Sunday morning also picked up as there were many anglers out early that reported catching multiple brown trout. There were a couple anglers seen on the piers during survey time, however decided to move down to the utility area after there was no success. Water temperatures remained around 58 degrees and mostly calm. The water was also turbid throughout the weekend. There were no trailers seen during the week, but early Sunday morning there were a few boats that launched early from the ramp, but overall was quiet. The Amsterdam Ramp looks like it is in the process of being put in. - Courtney Usadel, fisheries technician, Plymouth
Milwaukee County - Due to weather, it was a relatively slow week at McKinley Marina. Most of the action was due to pleasure boats and sailboats being put in the slips. The few fishing boats that came in reported little success. The pier was also rather quiet but a few anglers were out trying their luck with no success. Only a few anglers were seen fishing the north city shoreline during and no success was reported. Shore fishing was incredibly slow this week, likely due in part to weather. The South Shore Ramp and Bender Ramp were both quiet this week, especially this weekend due to rough waters. Those coming in reported little success. The pier at the Oak Creek Power Plant saw the most effort and success this week. Many anglers could be seen fishing at the far, right corner of the pier and caught a good number of browns, along with some coho and chinook. - Jessica Grace Jenkins, fisheries technician, Milwaukee
Racine County - Fishing the past several days has been slow. No fish have been reported caught on the piers or shores over the last few days. The weather has been very unpredictable, with rainstorms and high winds being frequent. Other times the weather has been nice and sunny. All of the fish catches have come from boats, but even the boats are having tough times consistently catching fish. The last day on the Root River for the season was fairly uneventful. Only a few anglers were spotted trying their luck. A few fish were caught though, including a few bass and even a bullhead. Water levels on the river remained fairly high, with water flow being high as well. Water clarity remains low with all the frequent rain. Fishing activity on the Racine piers and shoreline has been consistent but slow. The inconsistent weather and lack of fish being caught has kept the fishing efforts low. Most fishermen are throwing crankbaits or spoons but aren't having any luck. Most of the fishing effort has come along the south pier along Christopher Columbus Causeway. The fishing activity at the ramps in Racine has also been very low, except on Saturday May 18. The Pershing Park boat ramp parking lot was almost full on Saturday. Even with some activity at the ramp fishing success was limited. Coho still seem to be the most targeted fish but very few coho have been caught lately. A few lake trout were reported caught as well. The temperature at the ramp was about 55 degrees. - Andrew Krecak, fisheries technician, Sturtevant
Kenosha County - Fishing activity in Kenosha the past week has not been very productive. Some anglers are trying their luck along the piers and shorelines at Kenosha harbor, but they are having no luck. Anglers have been trying different ways of catching fish but nothing has been working. There hasn't been very much activity at the boat launch either. Only a few boat trailers were reported and the boats who did go out came back in with limited success. Fishing efforts along the Kenosha piers and shorelines have been a little slow but consistent. Several anglers were seen fishing on a day to day basis. The anglers that were out seemed to be targeting mainly brown trout and coho salmon. Even though these were the fish being targeted, none were being caught. Anglers have tried throwing spoons and crankbaits with no luck. Anglers have even tried alewives on a bobber or dropping an alewife to the bottom with a large sinker. These strategies haven't worked either. The lack of fishing success may be due to the overall poor weather we have had the past several days. Fishing activity has been very slow the past several days at the Kenosha ramp. A few boat trailers have been spotted. The boats that did attempt to fish had a rough time finding the fish. Only a few coho and one lake trout were reported caught throughout the week. Again, the poor weather hasn't helped fishing reports any. The water temperature at the launch was about 57 degrees. - Andrew Krecak, fisheries technician, Sturtevant
DNR South Central RegionLower Wisconsin State Riverway - Weekly Riverway Report
Fitchburg DNR Service Center area
Dane County - Spring bird migration/watching has been excellent! The colder temps have resulted in really great viewing opportunities for warblers and other neotropical migrants. Turkey hunters should expect good action in the last period. We've been getting good reports from public land hunters that turkeys are still gobbling and working for hunters. Focus on mid-day and early afternoon time periods for active gobblers that are without hens. - Andy Paulios, wildlife biologist, Fitchburg
DNR West Central RegionWisconsin Rapids DNR Service Center area
Buckhorn State Park - All campsites are now open and reservable up to two days in advance. Drinking water is available throughout the park. Small shower building by south shelter and flush toilet/shower building in campground is open. Dump station/potable water is open. Campsites are full for Memorial Day weekend. Fishing pier and boat boarding piers are in! People have been fishing by boat or on shore. Central Sands Nature Trail - the section along the lake is currently closed for replacement of 2 boardwalks (thanks to a Friends of Buckhorn grant) and campers for sites 4-7 and 13-15 have been rerouted to follow the trail to the left to their sites. - Heather Wolf, park manager
Roche-A-Cri State Park - The main gate and camping are now open. The stairway to the top of the mound is open from 6 a.m.-sunset, no food, drinks or pets are allowed on the stairs. Hiking trails are in great condition. Pick up a sheet at the office to check out the trail of trees on the Chickadee Rock Nature Trail. All sites are reservable and there are no first come sites. Sites are all filled for Memorial Day weekend but there may be a few sites open Friday night only. - Heather Wolf, park manager
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