State conservation wardens and specialized deputy wardens known as “Water Guards” will be out in full force over the Fourth of July holiday weekend to educate boaters and anglers about a new invasive species law that makes it illegal to leave a boat launch and drive on public roads with aquatic plants and animals attached to boats, trailers, or equipment. The new law is aimed at reducing the spread of zebra mussels, Eurasian water milfoil and other aquatic invasive species. Also, state park and forest officials are reminding visitors that most types of fireworks are illegal in Wisconsin state parks and forests.
After a very wet end of June, things have started to dry out, and most state parks and forests are reporting trails are open to most users; however, some mountain bike, ATV or horseback trails could still be closed due to wet conditions, so call ahead before heading out to make sure your favorite state park or forest trail is open this weekend. Many of the major river systems in the state continue to run at very high levels. Paddlers are being advised that some whitewater stretches are running fast and dangerous. Waterfall viewing is currently spectacular at Pattison, Copper Falls and other northern state parks. The lower Wisconsin River is very high and many sandbars are currently underwater.
The erratic weather and increased water levels continued to make for some very inconsistent fishing. Musky action has been slowly picking up on northern lakes. Walleye have been especially tough to find with just a few reports of success. Fishing for both largemouth and smallmouth bass has been slow. The typical summer pattern of associating with thick cover has not fully developed yet, and most largemouth have still been found along weed edges and in the lily pad beds. Panfish have provided the most consistent success, with quite a few nice crappie being found along with some decent bluegill and perch.
Along Lake Michigan, strong south and west winds last week brought in cooler water near shore creating great fishing conditions for pier anglers. Water temperatures near the lakeshore dropped to 58 to 61 degrees. Two Rivers pier anglers landed several 8-10 pound rainbows with a few browns and chinook salmon reported. Angles at the Manitowoc piers had success fishing for chinook salmon. Action out on the lake for trollers was mixed, with some ports reporting continued success for chinook along with some coho and rainbows, but other reporting action slowed.
The Mississippi River rose rapidly this week. The river stage was at 11.39 feet at Prairie du Chien Monday and was forecast to reach about the 13 foot mark. Flood stage is 16 feet. Boaters are urged to use caution on the Mississippi River as the rising water pulled some trees and debris off shorelines, with those obstructions now floating down the river. The heavy current, dirty water and floating debris and weeds caused problems for anglers, but some pretty decent bluegill action was still reported in the backwaters and walleye and sauger were still being found along wing dams.
Wood and Blanding’s turtles are still being seen making their way to nesting sites in the north. The young from second clutches of rabbits and squirrels are venturing from their nests. The giant Canada geese that nest in Wisconsin have begun molting. The adult geese will remain flightless until about the time the goslings gain the ability to fly.
Raspberries and blueberries are ripe in the north and a very good crop is being reported. Coneflowers, butterfly weed, beard-tongue, hoary vervain, prairie larkspur, brown- and black-eyed susans and yarrow are all blooming.
Superior DNR Service Center area
Brule River State Forest - After a very wet month of June things are starting to dry off…at least for now. Mushrooms are certainly liking the damp conditions as they seem to be popping up everywhere. Lawns have liked the damp conditions also; the grass has been growing very fast and it has seemed to be a difficult task to mow the lawn between the rainfalls. The Bois Brule River is almost back to average river flow after the rain from last week. It was flowing around 470 cfs but has gone back down to 176 cfs as of July 1. The 65 year average is 151 cfs. Turtles are still laying eggs…and many times crossing roadways to do so. Some turtles such as the wood and Blandings turtles take 15 years to reach maturity. If seen crossing the road, motorists are encouraged to move the turtle across the road in the direction that they were traveling (as long as the traffic conditions are safe). With the Fourth of July coming up the Brule River State Forest wishes to remind people that it is illegal to set off fireworks in Wisconsin State Parks and Forests. Sparklers are okay to use but anything that goes "boom", is self propelled, or has flames coming out is considered illegal. This law is in effect to protect the fireworks users, other recreationists, and the natural resources.
Pattison State Park - The waterfalls at Pattison State Park are flowing at extremely high levels due to recent rains. This is providing some of the best summer scenic views in quite a number of years. The recent rains have also cause an increase in E. coli levels at Interfalls Lake, resulting in the beach being closed. New samples have been taken, so call the park before coming to swim to see if we have been able to reopen the beach. Nightly naturalist programs are being offered each day, so call the park for a list of programs.
Ashland DNR Service Center area
Big Bay State Park - Campground and trails are drying out. There are plenty of fawns out and about. The first of the raspberries are ripe. The blueberries are abundant and starting to ripen. The highs have been in the lower 70s with the lows dropping down to the 40s. Access to Madeline Island and the park are usually done with the use of Madeline Island Ferry Line service. The ferries depart from Bayfield and carry passengers and vehicles of all sizes. They run 7 days per week. The frequency varies depending on the time of year. Contact Madeline Island Ferry lines through the internet at http://www.madferry.com/.
Copper Falls State Park – More than 4 inches of rainfall over the past week has made waterfall viewing excellent. River levels are higher than they have been for the past three years. Because of the rainfall trail conditions are wet. All trails remain open and are drying out. The Doughboy's Trail, the trail around Copper Falls, is in excellent condition and very popular with high water levels. Campers are encouraged to make reservations as campgrounds will remain near capacity through Labor Day weekend.
Hayward DNR Service Center area
Tuscobia State Trail – The gravel surface is in good condition. Visitors are reporting lots of great wildlife viewing, including grouse broods, fawns, bears and an abundance of flora.
Park Falls DNR Service Center area
Upper Chippewa Basin fisheries report (Price, Rusk, Sawyer Taylor and inland Ashland and Iron counties) - The erratic weather and increased water levels on Northwoods lakes has made for some very inconsistent fishing success in the last week. Musky have been the favorite target species lately and action has been slowly picking up. Weed lines and sparse weed beds have been productive areas, with jerk baits and slow-moving surface baits providing the best action. Quite a few small and medium-size fish in the 30- to 40-inch size have been seen and hook-ups are becoming more frequent. The increased water levels and addition of a lot of stained water to the lakes and flowages really seems to have disrupted the walleye and bass bite across the Northwoods. Walleye have been especially tough to find and just a few reports of success have been coming in. The best action has come on leeches and crawlers that have been fished over and in the mid-depth weed beds. Fishing for both largemouth and smallmouth bass has been slow, with success for largemouth being a bit better than for smallies. For largemouth, success has been only been fair and most of the fish have been in the 12- to 15-inch size. The typical summer pattern of associating with thick cover has not fully developed yet, and most largemouth have still been found along weed edges and in the lily pad beds. Smallmouth bass have been especially erratic in last few weeks, with the best action being found around hard bottom and deeper water woody structure. Panfish have provided the most consistent success, with quite a few nice crappie being found along emergent weed edges and over mid-depth cover. Some decent bluegill and perch are also being caught and most have been found around deeper cover and along the deep weed edges.
Flambeau River State Forest - The ATV trail from Oxbo south is currently closed but expected to be open for the July 4th weekend. Feel free to call the office for an update 715-332-5271 ext. 101. The North Fork of the Flambeau River is at an above normal flow and making for some great paddling. The South Fork is still high and parts of it definitely only an experienced paddler should attempt, please use caution.
Woodruff DNR Service Center area
Northern Highland American Legion State Forest - Water levels are still low on some area lakes, making boating with some of the larger boats difficult and launching them at some of the landings questionable. Small and non motorized watercraft still has many exploratory and fishing options. Water temperatures are quickly rising for the swimming enthusiast and pan fishers. The spring migrants are now defending territories and raising young, with many warblers being seen and heard. Campers will be serenaded by robins, hermit thrushes and rose breasted grosbeaks in the early morning and late evening. The forest is alive with its summer inhabitants. Daisies, hawk weed and water lilies are painting the landscape. Trail conditions are great at this time and be sure to bring along necessary protection from ticks and insects, if used.
Peshtigo DNR Service Center area
Fishing pressure this past week has been light due to rain and winds. Water clarity has suffered due to the run off. Temperatures at the landings are in the low to mid 70s, with the rivers running high and fast.
Marinette County - The Peshtigo Harbor catfish bite remains good, with the occasional smallmouth also reported. Worms and cut bait has been working well, enough weight must be employed to keep your bait on bottom. The Menominee River has been producing some nice catfish in the 3 to 6 pound range for anglers trolling crawler/harness. The evening bite for walleye has still been good. The bay is producing some nice salmon for anglers fishing fly/flasher and spoons in 60 feet of water off the mouth of the river and by Green Island.
Oconto County - Stiles Dam was still producing some panfish up by the dam along with some red horse suckers being caught on worms and night crawlers. Angles at the Oconto Breakwater report some nice catches of walleye caught by drifting and jigging along the weed beds in 12 feet of water. Some perch were also being caught in 9 to 12 feet of water in the weeds; however, the fish are running small. Oconto Park II angles also reported walleye and some perch activity.
Governor Thompson State Park - Flowers on the hiking trails are blooming, and there have been reports of baby fawns, bear cubs and fox kit sightings. Berry pickers along the road report blue berries are now ripening.
Green Bay DNR Service Center area
Manitowoc County - Strong south and west winds throughout the week brought in cooler water near shore creating great fishing conditions for pier anglers. Water temperatures near the lakeshore ranged from 58-61 degrees, with temperatures reaching nearly 65 degrees in 80 feet of water. Air temperatures through the week ranged in the upper 70s to low 80s. Scattered thunderstorms and heavy rain during the week slowed fishing at times, but with local fishing derbies approaching, many went out undeterred. Success of boaters at the ramps rose slightly to average 3-5 fish per boat. Out of Two Rivers, most fish appear to be coming into shallower waters, anywhere from 40 to 100 feet range. Some success has been out as deep as 120 feet. Most the boating pressure remains north of the trap nets off the lighthouse, with some boats fishing inside the trap nets off Two Rivers. Very few boats have tried fishing the pier heads, but that should pick up any day now. The fishing straight out of Manitowoc from 65-80 feet has been the hotspot for boaters during the week. South of Manitowoc, fishing has slowed down with only a few fish being caught. Out of both ports, coolers consisted of mostly chinook salmon with a few small rainbows and lake trout. The salmon have been relatively small compared to the last few weeks, with only a few fish in the 14-16 pound range being reported. The rainbows and lake trout caught were in the 3-5 pound range. Blue flasher/aqua fly and green dodger/green fly combinations remains the common theme for success out of both ports on the down riggers and pump handles. Green glow, blue/silver, and orange spoons have been successful both on the dypsies, down riggers, and high lines for salmon and rainbows. By the weekend, the Two Rivers’ piers heated up with anglers landing several 8-10 pound rainbows with a few browns and chinook salmon also reported. On the Manitowoc piers, first signs have been seen of successful pier fishing for chinook salmon. Several chinook have been caught during the morning hours, with a few rainbow and brown trout mixed in. Cleos, dare devils, and crocodile spoons took the majority of rainbows using an assortment of colors. Fishing off bottom also worked using shiners, alewife, or any other kind of bait fish that could be netted. No specific specie or size worked better than another. For salmon, 3/4 oz. champs have taken several of the fish. A few perch remain a common sight off both Manitowoc piers, with many anglers keeping 3-4 perch averaging 7-10 inches. Using minnows or crab-tails has brought the best angling success. A few ventured out for the opening of the perch season, with only a handful being caught of which all were very small. Chartreuse jig heads with a small plastic tail of several colors has been working with no live bait. The perch fishing in the area will only get better.
Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center area
Door County - Some wet and gnarly weather continued into the fourth week of June, but many anglers were still seen hitting the water. An intense storm cell hit the Egg Harbor area in the middle of the week causing some fallen trees near the Bay. Spotty storms and some patches of fog over the weekend caused some difficulty for anglers; however, good catches were still being reported. Salmon fishing remains steady county wide with many nice coolers coming in out of Sturgeon Bay on the Bank Reef and north out of Bailey’s Harbor. With some of the inclement weather water temperatures have been somewhat erratic, but most success has been had fishing 70-100 feet down in 120-130 feet of water. Flasher and fly combos have been a popular choice with some rainbow trout and lake trout still showing up sporadically. Perch fishing has remained hit or miss in the bay; however, anglers were still working hard for their catches. Some anglers have been bottom bouncing minnows while drifting very slowly along weed edges and the edge of the shipping canal, hoping to land on a school to stay on top of. Although numbers have been lower, some very nice size fish have been seen with some regularity. Walleye fishing and smallmouth bass fishing pressure has reduced in the most recent weeks with the salmon fishing going well, but fish can still be found trolling crank baits and crawler harnesses along the flats and along the shorelines around the county.
Peninsula State Park – Heavy and sustained rain over recent weeks has resulted in standing and flowing water across significant portions of Eagle Trail. Park staff are in the process of investigating the condition of other trails and making necessary repairs. The Sunset Bicycle Trail is in good condition. The off-road bicycle trails are open to riding, but may be wet in some sections. Please report impassable trails to park staff. Harebell, herb Robert, and bittersweet nightshade are currently in bloom. Visitors have observed flocks of white pelicans along the shoreline, and bald eagles have been seen frequently perched atop trees along the bluff near Eagle Tower. Ruby-throated hummingbirds visit the White Cedar Nature Center’s feeders throughout the day. Peninsula is currently keeping a record of all salamander observations. Please report any salamander sightings to the White Cedar Nature Center. The bat boxes attached to the exterior of the Welcker’s Point shelter building are home to a nursery colony of little brown and big brown bats. Bats can be observed exiting the bat boxes nightly, approximately 30 minutes after sunset. Nicolet Beach is open for swimming. Concessions and rentals are available daily. Flush toilets and showers at Nicolet Beach are undergoing replacement and not available.
Kewaunee County - The weather this week was not very cooperative with the anglers. Scattered thunderstorms with high winds hammered Kewaunee County throughout the week and limited the boats that launched from the boat launches. One benefit of the storms was that they brought a southwestern wind that helped cool the water temperatures down to about 62 degrees at the surface. The fishing in Kewaunee has been very sporadic this week with a few boats reporting catching limits in the morning but other boats returning empty handed. The boats having the most success seem to be catching the majority of their fish around 4:30-5 a.m. and have been on both dodger/fly combinations and spoons. The most successful spoon color seems to be glow green and orange. The most successful dodger/fly colors seem to be green dodger/green fly and blue dodger/ aqua fly. The anglers on the Kewaunee pier braved many of the storms but didn’t yield much success. The fishing seems to be better in the late evening around 9 p.m. The majority of hits have been on spoons that are green/silver or blue/silver. The pier fishing in Algoma has slowed down this week with a few rainbow trout being caught but have been few and far between. There have been reports of schools of alewives being spotted of the pier but the high water temperatures (64 degrees) seem to be slowing the catch. Fishing out of Algoma continued to be slow this week but the fish being caught seem to be in depths ranging from 70-130 feet of water with many of the fish being caught deep. The fish being netted seem to be smaller than average with most King Salmon averaging about 8-10 pounds and the rainbows are averaging about 4-6 pounds. The action appears to be split between spoons and flies with the best color green glow for spoons and blue flasher/aqua fly combinations.
Kettle Moraine State Forest - Northern Unit - All horse, mountain bike, and hiking trails are open. However, due to recent rains there may be some muddy areas. The Greenbush mountain bike loop 4 is expected to be completed in late summer. Long Lake and Mauthe Lake beaches and swimming areas are open. Fishing piers and boat launches are in. Mosquitoes and horse flies have been active in the forest. Deer are on the move, and turkey broods are being reported. Be careful - wild parsnip is beginning to bloom!
Kettle Moraine State Forest - Southern Unit - Last week, severe storms made their way through the Eagle area. The forest was very lucky and sustained only minor tree damage. All campgrounds are open. Expect trail conditions to be muddy. The mosquito population has exploded after the large amount of rain we have received. Be sure to bring bug repellant. Mountain biking and horseback riding Trails are open. If there is a significant rainfall, riders are asked to refrain from using the trails to help preserve the trail conditions. Please call the Trail Information Line for the most current trail conditions.
Kohler-Andrae State Park - All hiking and nature trails are open. Turtles are busy crossing roadways. Monarch and red admiral butterflies are fluttering about. Black eyed Susan flowers are blooming. The Wisconsin Great Lakes Beach testing conditions can be found at http://www.wibeaches.us/.
Lake Michigan fisheries team report
Sheboygan County - – In Sheboygan trollers have been catching chinook, coho, and rainbow trout. Most fish have been caught from 35 to 50 feet of water. Spoons and flies fished 20 feet down have been productive. Shore fishing in Sheboygan has been good, with chinook, rainbows, and coho caught off both piers. Spoons have taken the most fish.
Ozaukee County - Trollers in Port Washington have found a mixed bag of fish between 35 and 90 feet of water. Good numbers of chinook, coho, rainbows, and a few browns have been hitting spoons or flashers and flies, and fish have been from the surface to 50 feet down. Shore anglers in Port Washington have been catching perch on jigs and minnows fished off the harbor side of the pier. Anglers fishing the lake side of the pier have been catching rainbows, chinook, and a few browns on alewives. Boaters fishing for perch in Port have been catching fair numbers on fathead minnows at the south pier.
Milwaukee County - In Milwaukee trollers have been catching coho and chinook, along with a few rainbows and lake trout. Spoons have taken the majority of fish, and the best colors have been watermelon, white, and blue. The most consistent depths recently have been 40 to 60 feet of water, and most fish have been caught straight east of the harbor or north off the filtration plant. The hours before sunrise and after dark have been most productive for trollers. For shore anglers in Milwaukee, the most consistent spot has been McKinley pier. Live alewives fished off the bottom have taken browns and chinook, and perch have been taken on plastics. Boaters launching at Bender Park and fishing for perch have been catching good numbers at the boils off South Milwaukee, and near the Oak Creek Power Plant. Small minnows fished about a foot off the bottom have produced.
Racine County - In Racine trollers have been catching decent numbers of coho and chinook. Fish have been near shore, and the best catches have come in less than 60 feet of water. Shore fishing in Racine has been good the past several days, despite the muddy water being discharged from the Root River. The north pier has had the clearest water, but the fewest fish. Perch fishing has been fair to good, with fish being caught in nearly all manners from south pier all the way to the wastewater treatment plant. Along with the perch, there have been browns, rainbows and even a few coho hooked recently, many by those targeting perch and spoons accounted for the remainder. For those fishing in boats, the perch bite has been fair to good, with the breakwalls and the bubbler providing good action at times. Minnows and crab tails have both produced, as have jigs.
Kenosha County - In Kenosha the trolling bite remains consistent, with good catches coming from as shallow as 40 feet of water, to as deep as 100 feet or more. Nearly all methods have produced fish at times. Fishing in the Kenosha harbor has been improving steadily, especially in the evening hours and into the night. Silver & green spoons as well as glow in the dark have been catching fish, as have tube jigs. Most fish have been brown trout, and activity has been good from the Best Western all the way out to the ends of the piers. Perch fishing has been slow from the piers, but better from Southport marina, especially in the early morning hours. Live bait has accounted for a large number of perch. Boats out for perch have been having a good bite in the mornings. Minnows have been the most consistent producer, but others are having luck with jigs and plastic.
Fitchburg DNR Service Center area
Devil’s Lake State Park - No swimmer’s itch has been reported yet this summer. No hiking trails have been affected by recent heavy rains however mountain biking trails are closed. Sunday, June 27, a free concert by the Castaways will be held on the North Shore.
Governor Nelson State Park - The lake level is slightly higher than usual. Panfishing has been good with and bluegill being plentiful. Blue bird monitoring efforts have recorded 25 bluebirds fledged with 9 eggs left to hatch. A fawn was spotted in the park, being only 10 inches high, described as adorable with beautiful coloring and all of its dots and estimated around two weeks. The mosquitoes do pose a problem in the evening, however ticks have never been an issue and nothing has yet to break that trend. Visitors can hear frogs near the water but they are proving difficult to actually see. The prairie is blooming beautifully with early summer flowers, and in the evening is covered with fireflies, a beautiful sight to see. Flowers in bloom include the ox-eyed sunflower, the pale purple cone flower, and the Joe-Pye weed, and the bright orange butterfly weed. The pale purple cone flower covers the savanna trail, painting it a lavender color. The Joe-Pye weed can grow anywhere between 6 and 8 feet with lavender/pink flowers. This year hosts the biggest compass plant bloom in 7 years, thought to be due to an early wet spring. For berry pickers, raspberries are plentiful.
Lake Kegonsa State Park - There have been record numbers of blue bird sightings coupled with the blooming of the prairies. The Prairie Trail did suffer damage from the recent heavy rains, so please use with caution. Mosquitoes are getting heavier, and the lake has seen quite a bit of blue green algae.
Military Ridge Trail – The trail has had it's share of rain. Staff is doing it's best to repair any small erosion concerns and remove any brush/tree branch encroachments. Construction of a new informational kiosk is going on at Riley by the Friend's of the Military Ridge Trail. When complete, it will provide eight panels of information and history about the area, railroad, trail, Aldo Leopold, local flora and fauna. It will be a great addition.
Jefferson County - Recent warm weather has fueled the growth of noxious blue-green algae on Lake Kegonsa and this has prompted advisories to avoid swimming in areas blanketed with this type of algae. On the morning of June 29, most of the lake’s surface area was reported to have been supporting heavy blue green algae growth which can have a paint slick or pea soup like appearance. Such blooms can be a moving target, since wind and wave action can often make a bloom disappear or appear quickly. Blue-green algae, technically known as Cyanobacteria, are microscopic organisms that are naturally present in Wisconsin lakes, streams and ponds at low levels. When conditions are favorable, massive blooms can appear. Some species produce toxins that, with exposure, can harm the skin (rashes, lip blistering), liver or nervous systems of people, pets, livestock and wildlife. It can also produce sore throats, headaches, muscular and joint pain and gastro-intestinal symptoms. In rare cases, the toxins can be fatal to animals although not all blue green algae produce toxins. Anyone who is experiencing such symptoms should contact their clinic or physician. For more information on blue-green algae, check out the DNR’s website at http://dnr.wi.gov/lakes/bluegreenalgae/
Baldwin DNR Service Center area
St. Croix County
Willow River State Park - Wild turkey poults are out with their mothers. The poults are about the size of a large grapefruit. The other wildlife newsmaker was observed by park staff early this week; two badgers were on the White-Tail trail on Monday. Given all the rain, there is an abundant crop of raspberries on the way and the sand blackberries are coming along well. Bugs are not a problem in the camping areas. The group camp has quite a bit of firewood cut from dead trees. The Willow River and Little Falls Lake should be at normal levels for the weekend. This area missed most of the really heavy rain.
La Crosse DNR Service Center area
The young from second clutches of rabbits and squirrels are venturing from their nests. Oftentimes rabbits and squirrels will give birth to two or three broods each year, with four to six young per brood. Early broods tend to number on the higher side of the range: later broods on the smaller side of the range. Both of these mammals are extremely productive species. It is also molting time for giant Canada geese, the race of Canada geese that nest in Wisconsin. Molting takes place in brooding areas, typically marshes or ponds. The adult geese will remain flightless until about the time the goslings gain the ability to fly. Another interesting tidbit is that non-breeding giant Canada geese travel to northern Ontario to molt.
Perrot State Park - Trails are in good condition. Water levels are very low. Fishing is a real challenge and patience is important. The drawdown on Pool 6 is expected to result in the water levels in the bay being about 10-12 inches below normal, once the extra rain waters exit the river system. Thanks to lots and lots of rain, the mosquito hatch is expected to be impressive in the next week or so. Campers are advised to remember their bug spray since there is none to be purchased in Trempealeau. Summer has arrived and the following can be seen in the park: wild quinine, coneflowers, butterfly weed, hoary alyssum, tall beard-tongue, large-flowered beard-tongue, hoary vervain, prairie larkspur, brown-eyed susans and yarrow. Raspberries and mulberries are ripe all over the park and blackberries aren't far behind. There will be a Fourth of July weekend Trading Encampment at the park. Several local reenactors will be setting up a trading camp near the Nature Center on Friday, July 2, in the evening and remaining in the encampment through Monday morning. Visitors are encouraged to stop by and chat with these folks from history to learn a bit about life in the 1700’s. Possible demonstrations include: wood carving, pipestone carving, trade blankets, musket firing, flint knapping, hawk throwing and knife throwing. On Saturday, July 3, at 2 p.m. there will be a program on the Life of an 18th Century Soldier. Meet Rene Godefroy de Linctot, an early French fur trader, part-time soldier visiting the Rendezvous Encampment near the Nature Center. Learn about this tough lifestyle that required guts and determination. On Sunday, July 4, 2 p.m.: Ancient People, Magnificent Mounds Come learn about the early pre-historic people we call Mound Builders. Phil Palzkill will start with a short video, which will be followed by discussion and a short, optional hike to nearby mounds.
Great River State Trail - The trail is open and in good condition. Turtles are frequently seen sunning themselves below the bridges and warblers are hiding along the edges of the trail. Raspberries, mulberries and blackberries are ripe along the trail for those with sharp eyes! The water levels on the backwaters are very high due to recent rains.
Wildcat Mountain State Park - Trails are wet and muddy from recent rains - Trails will be drying out with sunny weather predicted this week. The water level for canoeing the Kickapoo River is good. Canoe rentals, shuttles are available nearby in the Village of Ontario.
Crawford County - A large amount of rain fell in the last 10 days. The Crawford County area didn’t receive as much rain as areas north. However, local rivers are being affected. Heavy rains fell in the upper basins of the Mississippi, Kickapoo, and Wisconsin rivers. Water levels locally have risen substantially. The Mississippi River rose rapidly this week. Last week at this time the river stage was at 9.73 feet at Mc Gregor. The Mississippi River was at 11.39 feet this week and rising. The forecast is for a continued rise to about the 13 foot mark, which is considered the “action” stage. Flood stage is at 16 feet. The Kickapoo River rose rapidly too. Last week the river stage in Gays Mills and Steuben was at 7.37 and 7.44 feet respectively; this week it was up to 11.15 and 11.4 feet respectively. It appears that the Kickapoo might have crested and is on its way down. The Wisconsin River has been up and down quite a bit this week. The river stage in Muscoda was 2.85 feet this week. Canoers and kayakers who spend the night camping on the Wisconsin River must make sure they secure their watercraft so it doesn’t drift away over night. Local trout streams are running high and a bit dirty. They are expected to clear up within a couple days. Boaters are urged to use caution on the Mississippi River as the rising water had caused some trees and debris to be pulled off the shorelines. Those obstructions are now floating down the river. Keep a sharp eye open and slow down. The “slow-no-wake” zone on the Mississippi River is in effect for the summer boating season. The main channel is marked with buoys in the Mc Gregor Iowa area. Carp are actively spawning in the backwaters. Bow fishers have been taking advantage of it. Fishing has been disrupted due to the high water. Heavy current, dirty water and floating debris and weeds are causing problems for anglers. Anglers have been finding some pretty decent bluegill action in the backwaters in the flooded timber and vegetation where the water recently flooded. Access to those areas by boat is tough. Most of the traditional bluegill fishing areas are now seeing strong current, even in the backwater lakes and sloughs. Horseshoe Lake and Sawmill Slough have produced some “gills”. Try finding weed edges with clear water and no current. Some decent perch have been taken along the deeper weed edges. Primarily anglers are using a chunk of night crawlers on a dead line. Crappie action has been very spotty to slow. White bass action has been very spotty with this high water. Some white bass action can be found along wing dams and up near the Lynxville dam. The high water has disrupted action a bit; however, anglers can still find plenty of action. Look for smallmouth bass on wing dams close to shore, on closing dams, and rocky shorelines. The Wisconsin River has seen some very good smallmouth bass action. Largemouth bass were also being caught all over the place. Look for “bucket mouths” in the weeds, weed edges, and in the timber. A variety of artificial baits have worked. Even with the high water walleye and sauger were being taken. Angler will have to move around a bit and try different tactics. Wing dams are probably the best bet, although some the deeper back water sloughs are producing fish. Drifting with live bait (leeches or nightcrawlers) and trolling are the most popular tactics. Areas to check for walleye and sauger would be up near the Lynxville dam, McDonald’s Slough, the “S” curve by Harper’s Ferry Slough, wing dams, Roseau Slough, and the Wisconsin River. Up on Pool 9 near Lynxville and Ferryville try the Deer Island complex and the area of the main channel by Lansing. It probably goes without saying, but sheepshead (freshwater drum) are very active, even in the rising water. Sheepshead are being caught on night crawlers throughout the area. Catfish, both channel and flathead had been good. However fishing conditions are a bit tough as most cats are caught fishing off the bottom. Floating weeds and other debris makes that type of fishing difficult. Fishing conditions aren’t the best, but even so anglers are finding decent action. Fly fishers, spinners and live bait are working well even with the high water. Trout anglers will find insect pests and shoreline vegetation might cause some problems. Gnats, deer flies, horse flies and mosquitoes are out. Poison ivy, parsnip and stinging nettle are also out. Some of the early season grasses are starting to seed out already. Black cap raspberries are ready for the picking. Black bear sightings are starting to slow down now that the corn and other vegetation is growing up. Area residents should not be overly concerned, however pet food, garbage cans and bird feeders should be secured or removed so the bears don’t make a habit of returning to those areas.
Black River Falls DNR Service Center area
Black River State Forest- All trails have been groomed in the last week and are in good condition to ride. The area received a lot of rain in the past few weeks resulting in a few wet patches on the trail. Repairs on the section south of the Highway 54 lot to Wildcat Road will be finished on June 30. After this date through Labor Day only smaller repairs will occur on the trail system with no associated trail closings. The state forest and Jackson County will not be participating in the utility terrain vehicle (UTV) pilot this year but are considering it for 2011. This year we will be assessing our trail for the feasibility of adding UTVs in the future. At a minimum we would need to improve signage and to establish a speed limit for the trail system.
Eau Claire DNR Service Center area
Brunet Island State Park – Wild bergamot, brown eyed susans, lesser daisy fleabane, the water lilies, some of the aster varieties, orange hawkweed, wild columbine, ox eye daisy, wooly yarrow, blackberry and raspberry vines are flowering. The common and wood strawberry are producing fruit. Species of birds seen or heard include: hooded mergansers, common loons, belted kingfishers, sandhill cranes, golden finches, red polls, mallard and bufflehead ducks, red winged blackbirds, phoebes, Canada geese, robins, mourning doves, nuthatches, ravens, black capped chickadees, piliated woodpeckers, great horned owls, and barred owls.
Wisconsin Rapids DNR Service Center area
Buckhorn State Park - Many visitors have been enjoying the warm weather swimming at the beach. People have been catching fish from the pier and at their campsites. Trails are in great condition for hiking with the warmer weather and many visitors have been camping, picnicking and fishing. Butterfly weed is blooming in the park. There are still some lingering mosquitoes so it is a good idea to bring bug spray. Canoes and kayaks are available to rent - check at park office for fees and to rent them. An accessible kayak and beach wheelchair is available for persons with disabilities to use for free - ask at the park office.
Roche-A-Cri State Park - Some coneflowers are just beginning to open. The butterfly weed is just showing a little orange on the buds. The stairway up the bluff is closed due to deteriorating lumber. A $354,600 project to replace it has been approved. We expect to seek bids for the project sometime this year. The petroglyph viewing platform at the base of the mound is still open and several miles of hiking trails are available.
Source: Wisconsin DNR