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Wisconsin Outdoor Report and Calendar
October 12, 2017
The Wisconsin Outdoor Report is updated weekly by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
Fall colors are spreading across the state and many areas are already near or at peak. Tamaracks are starting to show yellow, tree canopies and brush continue to thin. For the most up-to-date information on this color forecast, check the Department of Tourism's Fall Color Report.
Temperatures are trending more toward that classic fall feel, with highs in the 50s and 60s, lows in the 30s and 40s and patches of rain and mist through sections of the state. Preliminary harvest numbers for archery/crossbow and the Youth Deer Hunt seasons are updated each week on the DNR website and the numbers are looking strong throughout the state, with more than 8,000 deer harvested statewide by youth hunters last weekend. Similarly strong numbers are coming in for duck and goose hunters, particularly as corn is harvested.
Anglers on the Oconto and Peshtigo rivers saw hits from bluegill and crappie, along with isolated reports of pike, smallmouth bass and walleye. The Menominee is still producing walleye and bass, and anglers trolling the lower River are also reporting pike, sheepshead and catfish in smaller numbers. A few salmon were reported on the Little River.
The salmon run is moving into full swing, with anglers taking to the Kewaunee, Manitowoc and East and West Twin rivers, where 50-plus anglers were crowding the banks at any given time over the weekend. Rain tamped down attendance, but has improved fish movement and salmon are showing up all over Door County.
Salmon also made an appearance in the southeast, with chinook and coho making up some of the catch off the Sheboygan River and northern pier. Off the piers and near the utility area in Port Washington, chinook, rainbows and coho were landed. In general however, conditions were windy and rainy, tamping down fishing pressure. Those angling from the shore in Racine also landed chinook as well as coho and brown trout. Those fishing the Root River saw success primarily downstream of the Steelhead Facility, with flies landing hits from chinook, particularly in the early morning. The Root River Steelhead facility will hold its ninth annual Salmon Spectacular Root River Steelhead Facility Open House this Saturday, Oct. 14 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Keep your eyes peeled as you drive, the deer are also becoming more mobile as the rut approaches and temperatures continue to drop. Migrant geese are still flying in to areas like Theresa Marsh and Horicon, which each have excellent viewing options and their own fall colors to share. Sandhill cranes are still flocking up in large groups.
A forecast for cool northwesterly winds on Sunday, Oct. 15, holds promise for a good raptor migration day, particular along the Mississippi River bluffs and Lake Michigan shore, with raptors shifting from smaller species such as sharp-shinned hawk and American kestrel to larger ones like red-tailed hawk and bald eagle.
Capital Spring State Recreation area will host a Harvest Moon Festival Friday night, the Kinnickinnic State Park Fall Festival Saturday and the Horicon Marsh Visitor and Education Center will host an Archeological Festival Saturday and Sunday with a buckskinners' encampment, artifacts, experts speakers and more. For all events search the DNR website for "get outdoors."
A three-minute audio version of this report can be heard by calling 608-266-2277.
Statewide Birding Report as of October 12, 2017
Bird feeder activity is picking up a little as the weather cools and natural food sources dwindle somewhat. Black oil sunflower is the single best seed to offer but white millet, nyjer (thistle), and suet are also good options for a more complete feeding station. Only a few hummingbirds remain in far southern counties but you can leave those feeders up through the end of the month, keeping an eye out for stragglers and rare hummingbird species. Last but not least, don't forget to offer clean, fresh water for drinking and bathing birds. This will bring a wider diversity of species, especially in drier areas where natural water is less available. Migrant raptors are shifting from smaller species such as sharp-shinned hawk and American kestrel to larger ones like red-tailed hawk and bald eagle. A forecast for cool northwesterly winds on Sunday, Oct. 15, holds promise for a good raptor migration day, particular along the Mississippi River bluffs and Lake Michigan shore. We should see more diving ducks and perhaps some geese come in behind the same cold front, although migration is likely to slow thereafter with warm southerly winds moving in much of next week. Rare birds spotted this week include harlequin ducks in Kewaunee county, a glossy/white-faced ibis in Chippewa, Iceland gull in Outagamie, black-backed woodpecker in Door, greater white-fronted geese in Waukesha and Green, and good numbers of LeConte's and Nelson's sparrows across wet fields in southern Wisconsin. As always, find out what others are seeing and report your finds at www.ebird.org/wi. Good birding! - Ryan Brady, Bureau of Wildlife Management research scientist, Ashland
Upcoming State Natural Area WorkdayOctober 17, 10 am - noon: York Prairie- Join us to collect seeds on the 3 units of the York Prairie State Natural Area and enjoy the beauty of these prairie remnants. The seeds will be used for a new prairie restoration at the York sites and at the Stauffacher Unit of Muralt Bluff Prairie State Natural Area near Albany, WI. We have several days scheduled so come to one or all. No experience is necessary, we'll teach you! This is a great way to start learning prairie plants.
October 18, 4 - 6 pm: Empire Prairie- Start a new effort by volunteers to collect the seeds needed to convert ag fields back to prairie. The Natural Heritage Land Trust is working to restore 214 acres of ag fields back to prairie surrounding the 14 acre remnant, Westport drumlin. We'll identify several different plants and learn how to collect their seeds. This will be a weekly event in October. No skills needed you will be trained onsite.
October 21, 10 am - noon: Chiwaukee Prairie- Join Chiwaukee Prairie Preservation Fund volunteers during our monthly workdays on the third Saturday and enjoy the beauty of this rich prairie in the process. We will be putting in fire breaks and cutting brush. Fire is an important natural process that stimulates native plants and removes invasives. Bring a bag lunch to eat afterwards. 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
Brule River State Forest - Fall colors are now nearing or at peak in this area. We had some heavy rain last week and more rain is in the forecast for the weekend. Sunny skies are expected for the early part of next week. High temperatures are expected to be in the 50s and 60s, lows in the 30s and 40s. Beautiful weather for looking at the fall colors, hiking in the crisp autumn air, or fishing on the river. Get out and enjoy it while it lasts! Archery and crossbow deer seasons are well underway. Preliminary tallies of the deer registrations from these hunting seasons as well as from the Youth Hunt are updated each week. In Douglas County, 153 deer have been harvested so far in the archery and crossbow season. Eighty-eight deer were harvested in the Youth hunt, compared to 75 that were harvested in last year's two-day Youth Hunt. Just a reminder that fishing on the Brule upstream from US Hwy. 2 closed on Sept. 30. Fishing on the remaining stretch of river remains open until Nov. 15. When I asked a fisherman recently how fishing had been, he replied "Fishing is always good-it's the catching that's the tricky part!". Last week's heavy rain has the Brule River flow much higher than normal for this time of year (247cfs currently), but the flow rate continues to drop to more normal levels. Check out the river conditions at USGS Streamflow information. The campgrounds continue to be busy with fishermen and families. First-come, first-served sites are available all year. - Diane Gobin, visitor services associate
Park Falls DNR Service Center area
Flambeau River State Forest - Flambeau River water levels are normal for this time of year. Anglers have been fishing the Flambeau River with musky activity definitely on the upswing. The Flambeau forest tree canopies are getting thinner and the under-laying brush in the forest is less and less prominent. The tamaracks are turning yellow and soon to drop their needles. Snakes are on the move, soon to disappear into winter dens. Acorns and hickories are dropping. Ripe hawthorn fruits are being eaten by birds and other wildlife. If you plan on collecting seeds for planting wild flowers or plants, now is the time to collect them. The deer and elk have been busy grazing in open fields and roadsides, filling up for the winter months. Elk bulls are still with the cows, but it is still too early for the deer rut. Temperatures are dropping with a few scattered frosts in the area. Turkeys are still on roadsides eating grasshoppers, leaves and grasses. Bird migration is in progress. The young fox of the year and other young predators are dispersing from their parents. Looking for a unique deer hunting experience? The Flambeau River State Forest allows "traditional deer camps" throughout the Forest in designated areas during the nine day gun deer season. For more information, give us a call at 715-332-5271 ext.111. Be sure to contact us before the Oct. 31 deadline. - Diane Stowell, forestry technician advanced and visitor services associate
Woodruff DNR Service Center area
Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest - The fall colors are still hanging on depending what part of the forest you are in. Lots of golds, yellows and maroons still dot the landscape despite the really early reds of stressed trees which are bare now. There is still plenty of understory with leaves, so the grouse are still protected from the hunter's eyes! Dramatic morning and evening light paint a lovely color pallet for the eyes of the beholder! It is a great time to be out in the woods! - Rosalie Richter, visitor services associate
Antigo DNR Service Center area
Lincoln County - Fall colors are at peak for Lincoln and Langlade counties. Great time to be outdoors doing some site seeing, bird watching, hunting, or trapping! As you drive around looking at the beautiful trees, keep your eyes on the road watching for deer and turkeys, both are on the move. Bear season is over, but plenty of hunting opportunities! Trapping starts on Saturday, Oct.14 for coyotes, fox, bobcat, fisher and raccoon, check your regulation books and tag requirements. Bow hunting for deer continues, private land antlerless tags are still available, so get out there and purchase a tag. Locally, last weekend's Youth Hunt was a success, several nice size deer were harvested and several kids got their first deer! You can also continue to hunt grouse, woodcock, ducks, geese, turkey, dove, cottontails, crows, and squirrels. Make sure you purchase the right license/tags for the species of interest. - Janet Brehm, wildlife biologist, Merrill
DNR Northeast RegionNorthern Lake Michigan fisheries team report
This report is for the week of October 1-7. It was a wet and windy week and the number of boats at the launches tended to lean towards water fowlers as opposed to anglers.
Marinette County - Anglers on the Peshtigo River report catching pike, small mouth bass, perch, and the occasional walleye fishing live bait, spoons and stick baits. Little River is starting to produce a few king salmon, but fishing is slow. The Menominee River is producing some walleye and bass up by the Dam at Hattie Street using live bait and hardware. Trolling the lower Menominee River, anglers report catching walleye, pike, smallmouth, sheepshead and catfish but not in large numbers. Most anglers are reporting catching a couple of fish of differing species. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo
Oconto County - Bluegill and crappie along with a few smallmouth bass are being caught below the Dam at Stiles on the Oconto River, live bait and small plastics are working well. The lower Oconto River is producing a few pike and smallmouth using spoons and stick baits. Reports of walleye being caught in 15 to 33 feet of water mainly trolling with large stick baits. The pike bite has been going good around the river mouths and weed edges. Perch are being caught in 6 to 15 feet of water around structure or weed beds using minnows and crawler chunks. A few pinks and King salmon have been seen at the Dam at Stiles. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo
Brown County - At the Bay Beach launch there were 10-12 trailers over the weekend, but all were duck hunters. One angler was observed at Voyager Park, fishing for yellow perch with no success. At Duck Creek over the course of the week and weekend there was an average of at least 3 trailers in the launches, again all duck hunters. At Suamico, during the week the parking lot had almost a dozen trailers in it by morning. During the weekend the parking lot had over 20 trailers in it by morning. Few interviews were taken of musky anglers but they did not have any success. - Adam Garlie, fisheries technician, Green Bay
Door County - Salmon are in all around Door County. Baileys Harbor Marina has been the most productive spot as of late but salmon have been spotted in many areas including Egg Harbor, Fish Creek, Sister Bay and local streams. Last weekend's rain should help move more fish upstream as we approach the peak of the run. The best bite seems to be at first light. Anglers have had luck on a variety of baits including crankbaits, spoons and spawn. Bass fishing has been decent with a few anglers traveling out to offshore structure and finding fish suspended near reefs and humps in 15-30 feet of water. The wind and rain on Saturday made for very few anglers out over the weekend. - Benjamin Thome, fisheries technician, Green Bay
Kewaunee County - Kewaunee County seemed to have a much better week of salmon fishing than the rest of the season so far. Kewaunee had many fish caught in both the river and the harbor. Fish continue to run and are being caught up to the Bruemmer Park area. Those fishing the pools around bends and faster moving stretches of water have had success with egg flies, beads, and spawn. Most of the fish caught were chinooks, but some anglers have reported that a couple rainbows and coho were caught earlier in the week also. Anglers fishing from shore in the harbor have finally had their week too. The chinook have been hitting both spoons and crankbaits (especially those with different action like shadow raps and scatter raps). Salmon have been hitting through the day, and the western part of the harbor seems to have more fished stacked up around it than the rest. Toward the end of the weekend, some anglers casting spoons also hooked into some coho. Few anglers were fishing the pier this week, and none reported catching any fish. Algoma is starting to see some consistent salmon action as well, finally. Chinooks have been caught in all parts of the river up to the dam at Forestville, especially in the morning. A couple anglers have caught fish casting crankbaits off the pier or in downstream stretches of river (both anglers reported they were using rippin' raps). Most of the fish were caught in the Forestville area of the river on egg flies, beads, or spawn sacs. Most of the fish were chinook, but a couple brown trout have also been caught. As stated earlier, morning has been the best bite, and as the sun comes up fish get spooky and skiddish until dusk. One boat fishing out of Algoma had a successful morning trolling outside the pier heads, catching a mix of chinooks, brown trout, and coho and reported that spoons and crankbaits both caught fish and color didn't matter. The rain this week has helped to raise river levels and make water a little cloudier upstream which will hopefully contribute to continuing success over the coming weeks. - Jacob Steckmesser, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay
Manitowoc County - Salmon are being caught along the whole length of river from mouth to dam in the East/West Twin and Manitowoc rivers. The East Twin in Mishicot has seen the most fishing pressure with 50-plus anglers crowding the banks at any given time over weekends. Some anglers are able to bag several chinook with the possibility of a coho or brown as well. The West Twin in Shoto is also producing some fish near the Dam. Manitowoc marina has been productive with chinook, coho and rainbow trout caught recently. Crankbaits, spawn and spoons all seem to work when the fish decide to bite. The Manitowoc River through town has produced a few fish. Salmon are also all the way up to the dam in Clarks Mills. The Branch River has had very low fishing pressure and offers a chance for the wadding fisherman to work holes and sight fish. - Benjamin Thome, fisheries technician, Green Bay
Peshtigo DNR Service Center area
Oconto County - Duck and goose hunters seem to be doing very well across the county. Corn has been seen being cut more and more and geese are flocking to the fields. Hunters have been asking farmers for permission to hunt their fields. Geese have been seen from Gillett to Oconto Falls, from Oconto Falls to Green Bay. Sandhill cranes have been flocking up and are big groups. Bug activity has decreased greatly and butterfly sightings have gone down. Fall colors are very nice right as trees are starting to turn, still a lot of green trees though. Once we get some more frost they will probably start to change. Deer are on the move with some of the colder nights we have had. Rain expected this weekend again, so plan accordingly. ATV trails will be closing first Sunday of November in Oconto County. - Paul Hartrick, conservation warden, Oconto Falls
Green Bay DNR Service Center area
Manitowoc County - This upcoming weekend looks to be a good one to get out and enjoy the outdoors. This past weekend waterfowl hunters have been reporting a good success rate and most hunters being able to get their limit on geese and a mix bag on ducks. Now that the cooler weather is moving in I think we will see an even larger amount of ducks and geese starting to migrate through. Monday there was a lot of flying activity in the sky. The fall salmon fish run is on with an abundance of fishermen taking to the rivers for their chance at a salmon. Point Beach State Forest is beautiful this time of the year with the fall colors changing and the cool crisp in the air. Get out and enjoy the remaining days of fall because soon the cold temperatures will be here to stay. - Alyssa Neff-Miller, conservation warden, Mishicot
Wautoma DNR Service Center area
Waupaca County - Some woodcock have drifted in and are providing hunting opportunity although the main migration has not arrived yet. Most deciduous trees have at least started to change colors in central WI, but we are not at peak colors yet. Lack of a killing frost and heavy vegetation from a wet summer has made for tough grouse hunting; although, staff have been finding a few birds. Trout fishing has been superb. It doesn't seem to matter what you throw at them, they just smash it! Does not seem to be any migrant ducks in yet, still mainly seeing Wood ducks - many of which are locally produced. Deer activity has been completely weather dependent- when it is cool they have moved very well, when it has been hot, they have not moved at all. And it has been a hot fall thus far. With the exception of yellow jackets, insect activity has been non-existent including ticks. - Karl Kramer, wildlife technician, Wautoma
Fall colors are nearing their peak in northern Waupaca and Shawano counties. And the weather is great for a fall hike or a kayaking trip. Anglers have been successful catching panfish on the Wolf River between the mouth of Lake Poygon and New London. Look to find fish in brush piles. As of now, the water levels are high so be sure to have safety on your mind. Archery deer hunters are reporting good success so far this season. Hunters have reported seeing scrapes already and the deer seem to be moving. - Ted Dremel, conservation warden, Wautoma
DNR Southeast RegionMilwaukee DNR Service Center area
Southern Lake Michigan fisheries team report
Sheboygan County - Fishing pressure was low throughout the week, at times due to windy and rainy weather conditions. Success was limited with neither boaters nor anglers reporting much success. Some chinook salmon, a rainbow trout, and a brown trout were caught on the Sheboygan River on skein and spoons. The water temperature was consistently 57 degrees over the weekend. Pigeon River water temperature was 58 degrees. The water level of both rivers rose about 1-2 inches from the rain. There was only one reported catch of coho salmon off the north pier on Sunday, October 8. Most anglers were using spoons. The surface temperature of the water ranged from 42-50 degrees. Boaters this week reported no catches. Few boats were present, even over the weekend.
Ozaukee County - Fishing pressure was low during the week. Anglers fishing off the utility area had most of the success. Sauk Creek water levels remain low, and the water temperature ranged from 48-56 degrees. No catches were reported off of the shoreline, however, one chinook salmon and one rainbow trout were caught off the piers. There were also several chinook salmon and brown trout, some coho salmon, and one small rainbow trout caught off the utility area. Both the coho salmon and brown trout had weights ranging from about 6.5-13 pounds. The chinook salmon had a larger weight range of 8-20 pounds. Most anglers were fishing with spawn sacs and spoons. While the surface temperature of the water by the utility area was undoubtedly warmer, the water temperature off the piers ranged from 43-49 degrees. Few boats were present.
Racine County - Most anglers concentrated their efforts fishing in the harbor with skein and crankbaits. Fishing was slow but a few anglers managed to catch fish. Anglers caught coho salmon, king salmon, and brown trout. No certain time period seemed to be better than another. The water temperature was 63 degrees. The Root River is currently flowing at 16.1 cfs. The river is still very low and the water is still very clear. Fishing has improved for anglers but it is still slow. Most anglers are concentrating their efforts at Lincoln Park below The Steelhead Facility and at Island Park. The water temperature above and below the facility is at 62 degrees. Only a few anglers were fishing above the facility this week and none reported catching any fish. A few fish were caught at Lincoln Park below the facility and at Island Park. Anglers caught king salmon on chartreuse egg flies, orange egg flies, play-doh, inline spinners, and black wooly buggers. Anglers seemed to catch the most fish in the early morning hours (sunrise to about 8a.m.). A few anglers fishing the lower stretches of the river caught some king salmon on crankbaits and skein under a bobber.
Kenosha County - Anglers caught some fish this week in harbor. No anglers reported catching any fish off the beach near the Pike River mouth. Anglers caught brown trout, steelhead, coho salmon, and king salmon. Anglers caught fish on skien under a bobber, small pearl or chartreuse tube jigs, and crankbaits. Fish were being caught throughout the day from early morning to late evening. The water temperature was 63 degrees.
Plymouth DNR Service Center area
Theresa Marsh State Wildlife Area - The fall colors in our area are very close to peak. Due to the lack of rain the past few weeks' colors may be less spectacular than some years. Migrant geese from Canada have been arriving at Theresa Marsh and throughout southeastern Wisconsin since late September, and their numbers will slowly build up until early November. Sandhill cranes are also staging for migration on Theresa Marsh and other local marshes. There are excellent viewing opportunities for geese, ducks, cranes, herons, egrets, and many other birds along Hwy. 28 just west of Hwy. 41, and from the Mohawk Road overlook on the east side of Theresa Marsh (about two miles south of Hwy. 28). Washington County youths harvested 49 bucks and 97 antlerless deer during the 2-day youth deer hunt last weekend, and over 8,000 deer were harvested statewide. Deer harvest numbers are updated weekly on the DNR website. The pheasant hunting season opens Saturday, Oct. 14 at 9 a.m. In Washington County, rooster pheasants from the Poynette state game farm are stocked for pheasant hunting on Theresa, Allenton and Jackson Marsh Wildlife Areas. Deer hunters are reminded that deer heads may be submitted for CWD testing at the self-service kiosk at the Pike Lake DNR office in Hartford. Other CWD sampling locations are found on the DNR website. - Tom Isaac, wildlife biologist, Hartford
DNR South Central RegionLower Wisconsin State Riverway - Weekly Riverway Report
DNR West Central RegionBaldwin DNR Service Center area
Kinnickinnic State Park - Autumn colors are beginning to replace the greens of summer. Maple trees are enveloped in red and orange. Oaks are holding fast to green, which makes the gold of the birches and aspen even more distinguished. Cooler weather will begin pushing waves of migrating waterfowl south. Due to recent autumn rains the St. Croix River water level has risen from its low summer level. It is currently at about 685 feet above mean sea level and is expected to remain above 683 for the foreseeable future. The entire St. Croix is currently slow no wake and will remain so until the level drops below the 683 foot threshold. Kayakers are enjoying the last warm days of the season and can find quiet solitude on the river.
Black River Falls DNR Service Center area
Black River State Forest - Fall is a great time to visit the Black River State Forest. Fall colors have really started to put on a show this week with 50-60 percent color in most places. Yellows and oranges are currently dominating throughout the forest but reds, russet and copper colors are also present. Some of the best locations to see the color show is along North Settlement road and Cemetery Road. Temperatures this weekend are expected to be in the high 50s to low 60s with a slight chance of rain. ATV and UTV trails will be closing for the season at the end of the day Sunday, Oct. 15. Trails will reopen for the winter riding season on Dec. 15, weather permitting. The shower/flush toilet building and dump station will be closing on Monday, Oct. 16. - Emily Alf, visitor services associate
Wisconsin Rapids DNR Service Center area
Buckhorn State Park - Not much for colors in the park at this time. All open backpack sites are non-reservable, first come at this time. Sites A1-A8, and group sites B1-B3 are also non-reservable and open for camping. The new campground is reservable through Oct. 15 for the north loop and Nov. 1 for the south loop. Water will be shut off starting Oct. 16. Dump station will close the week of Oct. 22. There is a frost free spigot next to the office restroom all year round. Accessible fishing pier and boat boarding piers will be removed Oct. 25. - Heather Wolf, park manager
Roche-A-Cri State Park - The main gate and camping are now closed. Parking is in the winter/prairie lot on Czech Ave and park stickers are required (self-registration box at parking lot). There is not much for color yet in the area. Turkey vultures can be seen circling the mound. - Heather Wolf, park manager
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