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Wisconsin Outdoor Report and Calendar
July 2, 2015
The Wisconsin Outdoor Report is updated weekly by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
The forecast looks great for the Fourth of July weekend, with no rain expected until late Sunday. Temperatures are expected to be in the low 80s for highs. Most reservable state park campsites are booked for the holiday weekend, but people looking for a last-minute campsite can check the availability of non-reservable sites at the Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest through the DNR website.
While several major storm cells made their way through Wisconsin this week, the large rain events of the past month have generally lessened. Water bodies are returning to normal levels, but still offering good early summer paddling opportunities. Sand bars are beginning to reappear on the lower Wisconsin River. Hiking, biking and ATV trails also continue to improve, as the drier conditions are allowing crews to mow the abundant grass from all the rain.
The more stable weather in the last week made for increased fishing pressure. Bass fishing continues to improve in the Northwoods. Top-water baits and finesse plastics have been key for smallmouth in particular. Walleye success has been generally good with some very nice catches being made in and around the mid-depth weed beds. Musky action has also continued to be consistent with most anglers seeing several fish per trip. Panfish action has dropped off a bit as most bluegill have completed spawning and the bigger fish have retreated to deeper water.
Perch anglers on Green Bay are beginning to see small schools move in and have landed some moderately sized fish suspended in 14-18 feet of water. Smallmouth bass action on the bay continued to be a bit spotty, but some still reported catching a fair number. Musky anglers on the bay had variable success, while action has picked up for chinook salmon and steelhead. Salmon action has also been improving on the lake side of the Door Peninsula, with anglers out of Baileys Harbor and Rowley's Bay catching mostly chinook off reefs in 70 to 140 feet of water on spoons and flies. Kewaunee, Algoma and Manitowoc have seen an influx of anglers with boats averaging three to four fish, mostly chinook and steelhead.
Anglers out of southern Lake Michigan harbors reported mixed success. Action slowed some out of Sheboygan but remained good at Port Washington for steelhead, chinook salmon and lake trout. Trollers out of Milwaukee have been targeting chinook and coho, but almost half of the catch has been lake trout. Racine and Kenosha trollers continue to catch predominantly coho and lake trout, but a few chinook and rainbow and brown trout have also been caught.
It's peak bird nesting activity now. The past week has brought many fledglings statewide with reports of orioles, warblers, flycatchers and other long-distance migrants feeding young outside of the nest.
Native wildflowers like the compass plant, purple prairie clover, rattlesnake master and milkweed are blooming. Monarch butterflies lay their eggs exclusively on milkweed plants, and when the eggs then hatch the larval caterpillars feed on the plant. Following the wet spring, it looks like a great year for blackberries, with vines laden with unripe fruit. Now is also the time to be on watch for the invasive wild parsnip, whose chemical makeup can cause serious skin irritation when exposed to sunlight.
A three-minute audio version of this report can be heard by calling 608-266-2277.
Statewide Birding Report as of May 7, 2015
In the north, after an initial trickle earlier in the week the flood gates opened last night and this morning we have Baltimore orioles, ruby-throated hummingbirds, rose-breasted grosbeaks, gray catbirds, house wrens, and the first good wave of various warblers here in the far north. Most notable breeding activity has been fledged young of two irruptive species - red crossbill and pine siskin. The latter are especially numerous and folks should be keeping an eye out for nests and fledglings. Please enter to the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas project. - Ryan Brady, Bureau of Wildlife Management research scientist, Ashland
DNR Northern RegionPark Falls DNR Service Center area
Upper Chippewa Basin fisheries report Price, Rusk, Sawyer Taylor and inland Ashland and Iron counties - The more stable weather in the last week made for increased fishing pressure - and action has continued to be pretty good for most species. The highlight of the week has been bass angling, with both largemouth and smallmouth providing some great action. Largemouth are settling into their typical summer pattern and have been found near woody cover, along bog edges and in/along lily pad and weed beds. Top-water baits and so feet plastics have been the favorite baits and quite a few 17 to 19 inch largemouth have been reported. Smallmouth have been showing up in increasing numbers near mid-depth woody cover and small finesse plastics have been key in getting the smallmouth to bite. Walleye success has been generally good with some very nice catches being made in and around the mid-depth weed beds. A leech or piece of night crawler fished on a slip bobber or small leadhead jig (1/32 or 1/16 ounce) and dropped into pockets in the weeds has been the key to catching these mid-summer walleye on many waters. Musky action has also continued to be rather consistent and most anglers have been seeing several fish per trip. The best success has come from deep weed lines and the most productive lures have been bucktails and stick baits. Panfish action has dropped off a bit as most bluegill have completed spawning and the bigger fish have retreated to deeper water. Pumpkinseed and rock bass have still been observed nesting and these species have been providing some fair action. Some nice crappie are still being found along emergent weed lines and over mid-depth cover such as fish cribs, brush piles and weed beds. - Skip Sommerfeldt, senior fisheries biologist, Park Falls
Flambeau River State Forest - Trails are in good, but sometimes wet conditions especially north of Highway 70 towards the Tuscobia Trail. We've had a bit of wind this past week and have been out checking trails, so should have them all relatively clear. Both the North and South Forks of the Flambeau are at a good level for paddlers. Both Lake of the Pines and Connors Campgrounds are in great shape and it's looking like beautiful weekend weather wise. We are seeing lots of young wildlife, turkeys, grouse, ducklings, goslings, mink, skunks and fawns (no fawn multiples just singles this year most folks are reporting). Bucks are in velvet. We are seeing lots of monarch butterflies this year, and the milkweed is just about to bloom. The mosquitoes are not nearly as plentiful this year, but are still out and about. - Judy Freeman, visitor services associate
Woodruff DNR Service Center area
Oneida County - Fishing has been good to great at the end of June. Bass and panfish anglers are still catching fish in shallow water on their beds. Walleye anglers are also doing well fishing traditional summer patterns. The musky anglers are reporting a little tougher bite but it should be improving. - Tim Ebert, conservation warden, Woodruff
Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest - Campers in the forest have been reporting lots of wildlife sightings. A coyote has been seen hanging around the entrance to the Crystal Lake Campgrounds. The bear sightings have moved from the campgrounds out to Highway N between Highway M and Sayner. Lots of eagle activity out on the island on Musky Lake, and flying over campsites. Other reports include a jumbo bunny and painted turtles along the side of the road, and squirrels and chipmunks on campsites. Water levels on area lakes and streams are returning to close to normal levels. The Manitowish River is above normal flow for this time of year. Due to the mostly sandy soil on the Northern Highland- American Legion State Forest, flooding has not been a factor. Mosquitos at this time are not present in great numbers. A dense shaded forest will have many mosquitos, but day time, sunlit areas have not had great numbers of mosquitos. Ticks are still going strong and deerflies numbers are increasing. People that spend time in the field or camping know that insect numbers increasing this time of year is a normal annual event. Some trail work has been done on the Clear paved trail sealcoating an area that has had some cracking. Due to the recent storms some trees may be down on trails and we will be out clearing the trees and debris as time permits. Volunteers continue to improve sections of the mountain bike loop at the Raven trail. Campgrounds are getting busier with the holiday weekend approaching. Some of our busiest campgrounds (Clear Lake, Crystal Lake, Firefly Lake, Musky lake, etc.) are expected to be full for the holiday weekend, but don't let that discourage you from a holiday camping trip on the forest. Several of our outlying campgrounds will have campsites available. You can check our campsite availability (updated twice daily) on our iPhone app and on the web. All campgrounds on the forest are in good summer condition. As we continue to get frequent rain, grass and other vegetation are growing very quickly. Campground maintenance crews are spending every spare moment mowing to try to keep up with the mowed areas. It's hard to believe, but this season's first group of volunteer campground hosts has already reached the end of their stay. Please remember that fireworks are illegal in Wisconsin state parks and forests. Have a safe and wonderful holiday weekend! - Kimberly Krawczyk, visitor services associate
DNR Northeast RegionNorthern Lake Michigan fisheries team report - Compiled by Daniel Olson, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay
Brown County - Anglers continue to catch fair numbers of walleye at Bayshore Park; however, overall numbers of keepers are down. Early morning fishermen are seeing the best catch rates with the majority of fish being landed in 8-12 feet of water. Crawlers and cranks are producing equal numbers of catches; however, cranks trolled at 1.8-2.2 mph greatly reduce the number of undesirable fish. Midday action continues to be in 24-28 feet of water with many anglers running baits near 18 feet down; however the majority of action has been seen in the early morning and late evening hours. The bite continues to come light. Perch anglers are beginning to see small schools move into the area and have been able to land moderately sized with shiners suspended in 14-18 feet of water working best. Water temps in the area have climbed this week with most areas reporting 66 degrees in the morning hours, rising to around 71 degrees in the afternoon. Clarity remains moderate to good. Fishing pressure at the Green Bay Metro launch was relatively low this week. Fishermen launching from here were primarily looking for walleye in the southern part of Green Bay. Weekend catch rates were higher than those during the week. Multiple limits were observed. Lucky anglers were targeting waters 20 feet and deeper. Crank baits seemed to outperform crawler harnesses. Side catches by this group included freshwater drum, catfish, northern pike and yellow perch. Catfish anglers also had some decent luck using crawlers and shrimp. At the mouth of the Fox River the majority of anglers were casting for drum and catfish. Night crawlers on, or just off of the river bottom were the primary approaches. The number of both drum and catfish caught was moderate to relatively low. At Voyager Park most anglers were going for walleye, smallmouth or catfish. Walleye and smallmouth anglers were casting crank baits and jigs. Walleye catch numbers were quite low. Smallmouth numbers were better. The catfish crowd reported catching low numbers. They were throwing live bait off or near the bottom. Shore anglers on Duck Creek were fishing for yellow perch, northern pike or catfish. All three groups went with night crawlers. The bite was reported as tough. Fishing pressure from boaters launching onto the Suamico River was modest most of the week. Those fishing were nearly all targeting walleye. Most anglers caught at least one fish. A few limits were reported. Crank baits and crawler harnesses were being used at about the same rate. Over 20 feet of water seemed to land fish. Other catches by walleye fishermen included catfish, drum and northern pike. Perch anglers were having some success using live bait. Musky anglers were having the most success using bucktails.
Door County - Angler pressure in the Sturgeon Bay area increased throughout the week reaching a peak on Sunday. Anglers fishing from shore struggled but found some success with smallmouth bass. The one area that appeared to be a hot spot for rock bass was the pier and harbor at the Old Stone Quarry Park. Anglers fishing from boats this week had fair success with smallmouth bass using plastic baits and crawler harnesses. They found the best success in 8 to 12 feet of water. Smallmouth bass anglers reported catching a fair number of freshwater. Anglers going out after dark have reported good success with walleye, from Sand Bay to just south of Egg Harbor. They have been primarily trolling (with flicker shads and husky jerks) and vertical jigging. Fishing pressure has been light within the Sturgeon Bay Ship Canal this week. Here too anglers fishing from shore have struggled, with only a few individuals reporting success with smallmouth bass and perch. Musky anglers returning to the Sturgeon Bay City ramp reported poor success this week throughout the canal. Now that the chinook salmon and steelhead trout have begun to bite angler pressure on Lake Michigan has dramatically increased this week. Anglers are focusing their attentions on the Bank Reef and are having better success with chinook salmon. Anglers that have found success have been fishing in the top 40 feet of the water column in 90 to 100 feet of water. A group of anglers that had success with both steelhead and chinook salmon reported starting their trip in the afternoon fishing at 520 feet of water, and as it became dark moving into 65-70 feet of water. Spoons seemed to be the best lure this week for both steelhead trout and chinook salmon. More perch continue to school in the area around Sawyer Harbor, with numbers of boated fish increasing. Shiners and wax worms are reported to have equal success; however, shiners are producing less gobies than worms. Smallmouth action has continued to stall but leeches, fished under a bobber, have produced fair amounts of bass. The water temps in the area are still slowly climbing with most bays reporting near 70 degrees and the channel holding near the mid to low 60 degree mark. Water clarity is moderate to good through the area. Fishing in the area around Little Sturgeon Bay continues to be slow. The smallmouth catch continues to dominate; however, the action continues to be spotty at best. Most anglers reported boating less than 10 fish; however, a few anglers reported 30 plus. The best action has come on darker colored tubes and buzz baits. Perch have yet to arrive in the area with no reported catches through the weekend. Water temps continue to average around the 70 degree mark and clarity has been moderate to good in most areas. Fishing pressure has been low near Chaudoirs Dock but those who did get out and tried for walleye reported having to work for the bite. Cranks and crawlers are producing equal numbers. The most action has been coming in 24-28 feet of water north of the launch. Fire tiger colors are out producing any other color in the area, be it on harness blades or cranks. Perch anglers fishing out of the area continue to struggle to produce fish. Most boats are returning with low numbers, but like Bayshore, sizes are larger than in recent years. Shiners continue to be the bait of choice and the majority of anglers are targeting 22-28 feet of water. Water temps continue to average in the upper 60s and water clarity has diminished slightly in the last few days. Smallmouth bass fishing continues to be slow in Northern Door County, but does seem to be improving from previous weeks. There have been reports of success fishing from Egg Harbor to Ellison Bay in about 10 to 15 feet of water using plastics and live bait with live bait working better. There have been some perch being caught out of the harbor in Egg Harbor using live bait but the action has been slow. The salmon action has been improving over the past week. Out of Baileys Harbor and Rowley's anglers have been catching mostly chinook salmon off of the reefs in 70 to 140 feet of water on an even mix spoons and flies. There have also been scattered reports of success out of Gills Rock at about 100 feet water with no one bait working better than the other. Anglers launching out of Ellison Bay have also been catching Chinooks off of Ellison Bay Bluff at decent rates in about 70 feet of water.
Kewaunee County - Kewaunee saw an influx of salmon and trout anglers this week reaching a peak on Sunday. The chinook salmon and steelhead bite remained consistent throughout the week with anglers averaging three to four fish per boat. Anglers reported that the morning bite (before 5 a.m.) was superior to the evening bite. Anglers reported the best success with chinook salmon in 120 to 140 feet of water and better success with steelhead trout in 130 to 300 feet of water. Throughout the week both the chinook salmon and steelhead trout bite moved closer to the surface, and on Sunday anglers reported the best success in the top 40 feet of water. This week chinook salmon seemed to prefer primarily spoons, whereas steelhead were taken on spoons, dodger flies, and flasher flies. Anglers were reporting water temperatures that ranged from 55 degrees to 62 degrees. Now that salmon fishing has begun in earnest, the Algoma City ramp saw heavy use this week. Here too anglers found good success with chinook salmon and steelhead trout. The method that appears to be working best for anglers is to start out shallow (75 to 130 feet of water )in the early morning and then move deeper (140 to 250 feet of water) as the day progresses. Chinook salmon and steelhead trout appear to be biting best from the surface to about 45 feet of water. Anglers reported success with spoons, and both dodger and Howie flies. Anglers reported water temperatures ranging from 57 degrees near to shore to 53 degrees in 250 feet of water.
Manitowoc County - Anglers at Manitowoc harbors and piers were catching some smallmouth bass near the marina this week. The water temperature in the harbor is 72 degrees. Fishing pressure has been high at the Manitowoc ramps and anglers have been doing well catching a mix of chinook salmon, rainbow trout, and lake trout in 50 to 150 feet of water using blue and silver spoons to best effect. Many nice chinook came through Two Rivers over the weekend. Some anglers reported marking fish and bait at 100 feet. A few other anglers mentioned making their catch in 70 to 80 feet of water.
Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center area
Whitefish Dunes State Park - With the warmer weather lots of wildlife sightings. Look closely behind the deer and you might see a little fawn following behind. Lots of bird activity in the area with terns soaring down the beach. At the bird feeder by the office look for the pileated woodpecker, downy woodpecker, and red bellied woodpecker. The thimbleberry plants are growing quite large and are currently flowering with a large white flower. Some flowers in bloom in the park are the blue flag iris, columbine, harebell, and look closely for any wild strawberries growing close to the ground. - Jaclyn Moeri, visitor services associate
Wautoma DNR Service Center area
Waupaca County - With a wet summer partially behind us, looks like a great year for blackberries. Vines are simply laden with unripe fruit. Turkey broods are now the size of ruffed grouse. Fawn are becoming more active and are hanging out more and more with mom. Streams look great right now. Bucks are starting to get some nice racks on them, saw a dandy one just the other day. - Karl Kramer, wildlife technician, Wautoma
DNR Southeast RegionMilwaukee DNR Service Center area
Milwaukee County - With our excellent summer weather, check out one of our many local outdoors hotspots, such as Havenwoods State Forest in northern Milwaukee County, Lakeshore State Park near the Summerfest grounds, or hike along the Hank Aaron State Trail through the central part of the county. Kayaking opportunities also abound along the many rivers that run through Milwaukee; for more information visit this website. Our prairie wildflowers are beginning to bloom in earnest, and dragonflies, damselflies, and butterflies are all active. Young wild animals such as raccoons, fox, and fawns are also beginning to move around, and rabbits and squirrels are beginning to give birth to their second litter. If you see a young wild animal you think is injured or lost, call the DNR Customer Service Hotline (1-888-WDNR-INFo; 1-888-936-7463) or your local wildlife rehab center, or visit the DNR webpage and search keyword "keep wildlife wild". This last week, wildlife staff and many volunteers in Racine, Kenosha, Waukesha, and Walworth counties combined efforts to band approximately 470 geese. The data collected from banding will help us better understand migration activity, annual reproductive success, and harvest rates. - Dianne Robinson, wildlife biologist & regional educator, Waukesha
Southern Lake Michigan fisheries team report - Compiled from creel clerks by Cheryl Masterson and Jeffrey Zinuticz, fisheries technicians, Milwaukee
Sheboygan County - In Sheboygan fishing has been fairly slow for trollers, with most boats averaging just a couple of fish per boat. Chinooks have been caught in highest numbers, followed closely by rainbows. Many boats have been working in 70 to 100 feet of water, but some have also reported doing well for chinook in water as deep as 300 feet. Spoons have been effective for chinook in green glow, chartreuse, and silver colors; and orange and silver spoons worked best for rainbows. Flies continue to produce some chinook as well, and these were most commonly blue, green, or aqua colored. Along the Sheboygan shoreline fishing has improved slightly off of the south pier, with some anglers reporting browns averaging three or four pounds. The fishing has been better very early, around 4:30 a.m., and drops off around 6 a.m. Spoons in silver, green, and blue were used most commonly. North pier anglers have been catching whitefish, but in fewer numbers than last week. Alewives, shiners, and plastic gulp minnows were most effective for whitefish when fished close to the bottom. The water temperature inside the Sheboygan harbor was 60 degrees on Sunday.
Ozaukee County - Port Washington trollers have been averaging about four to five fish per boat, with the majority of them chinook, followed by rainbow and lake trout. Most boats have been fishing in 100 to 150 feet of water, but others have reported doing well in water as deep as 250 feet. The best bite has been in the early morning hours, and it drops off considerably after 6 or 7 a.m. Orange, silver, and green spoons have produced, as well as blue or green flies. Shore fishing off of the breakwall has picked up, with both rainbows and browns taken near the lighthouse. The rainbows have averaged 9 pounds and the browns around 4 to 5 pounds. Most fish have been taken on alewives, and many remain in the area. The harbor temperature was 58 degrees over the weekend.
Milwaukee County - The majority of boats in Milwaukee have been trolling in 80 to 120 feet of water, either north of the harbor from the water filtration plant to Fox Point or south of the harbor and east of the Green Can Reef. Trollers have been targeting chinook and coho, but almost half of the catch has been lake trout. The South Shore Park boat launch will be closed during the South Shore Water Frolics. The ramp will close at midnight on Wednesday, July 8 and will reopen on Tuesday, July 14. Boats fishing for perch have done okay at the boils off of the South Shore Water Treatment Plant. Fishing pressure has been heavy with 12 or more boats crowding into the small area around the boils. Milwaukee anglers fishing from McKinley pier have been catching a mix of chinook, coho, rainbow, and whitefish. Crank baits, spoons, and small shrimp have all produced at times. Shore anglers continue to catch nice size rock bass on night crawlers at the old Coast Guard station. Rock bass, smallmouth bass, and bluegills have been caught in the lagoon at Lakeshore State Park. Access to the park is open during Summerfest, but parking spaces are limited. On the south side of town, fishing pressure on Cupertino Park pier has been steady, with an average of 6-8 anglers fishing for perch. Only 15-20 perch have been landed on the pier since the season opened on June 16, but they are decent size averaging 12 inches. Fishing pressure on the Grant Park shoreline has been steady with the majority of anglers targeting perch, but success has been limited. This past week, a few small brown trout were landed on the South Metro fishing pier by an angler soaking night crawlers under slip bobbers.
Racine County - Racine trollers continue to catch predominantly coho and lake trout, but a few chinook and rainbow have also been caught. Almost all success has come from spoons recently, and most fish have been about 50 feet down in the water column. Fishing off the Racine piers improved this week, with some coho and decent size brown trout landed on the south pier. Alewives have been scarce in the area, and spoons have been catching the majority of fish. Perch fishing in Racine has been slow.
Kenosha County - Trollers in Kenosha have reported better success fishing in deeper water, around 90 feet or more. Brown trout and chinook salmon have begun to appear in coolers in higher frequencies, although most of the fish brought in have still been lake trout and coho. Shore fishing in Kenosha has been slow overall, but a few perch were taken early in the week on minnows. Anglers casting from the ends of the piers have caught occasional coho as well.
Plymouth DNR Service Center area
Theresa Marsh State Wildlife Area - A variety of summer prairie flowers are blooming in grassland fields around the area. Peak blooming is from now through early August 1. Dog walkers are reminded that all dogs need to be leashed from April 15 through July 31 on most state lands, including Theresa, Allenton and Jackson wildlife areas and scattered habitat areas. Pike Lake DNR staff finished goose banding last week and are focusing on property management projects like dike and road repairs, boundary posting, finishing seeding projects, etc. A pair of whitetail bucks was seen with small forked velvet racks. The weather forecast for the rest of this week looks great for enjoying the scenery and wildlife. - Tom Isaac, wildlife biologist, Hartford
Sturtevant DNR Service Center area
Racine County - Drivers along the I-94 corridor in Pleasant Prairie may have noticed a new development that may seem out of place. A new bird nesting colony is forming in a wetland area west of I-94 in the Village of Pleasant Prairie, Kenosha County. Double crested cormorants and great blue herons have taken up residence in a shallow wetland, building stick nests in dead trees. The colony has been growing slowly over the last couple of years to about 10 -12 nests currently. Double crested cormorants are a fishing eating water bird that was placed on the state endangered species list in 1972 due to population declines from habitat loss; pesticides impacts; and human disturbances at nesting sites. The ban of the pesticide DDT, protection under the Migratory Species act and installation of nesting platforms has helped the population to recover in Wisconsin. The majority of cormorant nest sites are found in the Lake Michigan area by Green Bay, with other smaller nesting sites found in Door County, Lake Superior, the Mississippi River and Lake Winnebago areas. Locally, cormorants are being seen more frequently in the Kenosha and Racine counties as evidence this new colony. Great blue herons are a common wading bird frequently seen on rivers, streams, and lakes in Wisconsin. Generally great blue herons form nesting colonies away from areas of high human activity or traffic, which makes the location of this colony somewhat unusual. A few of the local heron colony sites in Racine and Kenosha counties have been abandoned due to encroachment of new developments in recent years, so it is encouraging to see a new colony forming. If people visit this new natural development it is recommended that they view the nesting colony from a distance, not walking near or under the nesting trees to avoid disturbing the birds and affecting the colony negatively. - Marty Johnson, wildlife biologist, Sturtevant
DNR South Central RegionGlacial Habitat Restoration Area - Whether you live in the area or passing through during the holiday weekend, early summer can be a great time to explore the scattered parcels of the Glacial Habitat Restoration Area. Native wildflowers such as compass plant, purple prairie clover, and rattlesnake master are beginning to bloom. Wetlands are teeming with tadpoles and frogs, while egrets, sedge wrens, and other avian species remain active. Department staff have been performing follow-up management on grasslands which had been burned in spring to enhance species composition and control brush. - James Christopoulos, wildlife biologist
Dodgeville DNR Service Center area
Iowa County - The bass and northern pike have been biting on Helen Lake and walleye have been biting about a mile down from the Arena boat landing on the Wisconsin River and some anglers are reporting success in catching catfish on bank poles. Nice size walleye have also been biting among the newly fallen trees upstream from the railroad bridge near Spring Green. Remember that if you are wearing your PFD it should be zipped and or buckled otherwise it will come right off if you go into the water. - David Youngquist, conservation warden, Dodgeville
Wyalusing State Park - Trails are drying out from heavy rain fall. A few trails are slippery and muddy. River water levels at boat landing are starting to drop to normal level. Fishing is slow. Bluebirds nesting at park office. Hummingbirds very busy drinking the nectar at park office. Flowers blooming in the prairie garden are butterfly weed, cream false indigo, purple cornflower and spider wart. Insect are Io moth, click beetles and Luna moth.
Fitchburg DNR Service Center area
Columbia County - The water level in the Wisconsin River has finally come down below action stage and a few sandbars are starting to show up. Boaters will have to relearn where the navigation channel is as it has changed with all the high water this spring. It is recommended that anyone on or in the water wear life jackets to help prevent drowning. Fishing has been slow but reports are coming in of a few fish in the slot size and some fish that are undersized. Reminder that any "firework" that explodes or leaves the ground is illegal. - Paul Nadolski, conservation warden, Portage
Dane County - We are at peak bird nesting activity right now. The past week has brought many fledglings statewide and now is a GREAT time to go out and make your breeding bird confirmations for the Wisconsin Breeding Bird Atlas. Many reports of orioles, warblers, flycatchers and other long-distance migrants feeding young outside of the nest. Good numbers of duck broods at local wetlands. Goose banding was very successful in Rock/Green/Dane counties with numerous sites having strong goose production. - Andy Paulios, wildlife biologist, Fitchburg
Jefferson County - Common milkweed is blooming in Jefferson County! Some may ask why that's a big deal; milkweed is oftentimes considered a nuisance weed. Milkweed, however, is one of the most beneficial plants on the landscape for our native pollinating invertebrates. Many of these pollinator species have been declining in recent years, including the monarch butterfly. Monarch butterflies will lay their eggs exclusively on milkweed plants, the eggs then hatch and the larvae (caterpillars) feed on the plant. Milkweed contains a chemical toxic to mammals. The caterpillars that feed on the milkweed ingest the chemical, making them distasteful to predators. Beyond being critically important for pollinating invertebrates, milkweed flowers have one of the most pleasant aromas of all our native plants. Why not stop and smell the milkweed this Fourth of July weekend? - Mark Witecha, wildlife biologist, Lake Mills
Janesville DNR Service Center area
Rock County - Enjoy the great outdoors and local festivities over the Fourth of July weekend. If you are planning on hitting the water this weekend please keep in mind the boat traffic is going to be higher than normal. If you plan on water skiing and/or tubing be aware of your surroundings and the increased boat traffic. Lots of spotted fawns and turkey poults have been spotted in northern Rock County. With this in mind staff want to remind you to keep your dogs on a leash when visiting state properties. State law requires dogs to be on a leash no longer than 8 feet while on state owned properties. Wild parsnip is very common throughout Rock County. The chemicals in the wild parsnip plant can cause irritation of the skin once exposed to sunlight. Wild parsnip is commonly found in disturbed areas and ditches. Poison ivy and poison oak have also been found throughout the county. - Dale Romback, conservation warden, Fort McCoy
DNR West Central RegionBlack River Falls DNR Service Center area
Black River State Forest - The forecast looks great for the Fourth of July weekend, with no rain expected until late Sunday. Temperatures are expected to be in the low 80s for highs. Campers looking for options to attend fireworks can attend the Festival in the Park in Black River Falls on Saturday night. ATV trails were groomed this week and should be in great condition for the holiday weekend. All state forest trails are open with the exception of the Wildcat loop, which is having some wetland crossing upgrade work completed. Jackson County has one section of trail closed as well due to the new gas pipeline project. Trails will likely be dusty this weekend so make sure you ride with your headlights on. Also be sure to review our tips on ATV safety. Camping is in full swing at the state forest. All campgrounds have reservable campsites. - Peter Bakken, superintendent
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