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Wisconsin Outdoor Report and Calendar

October 18, 2018

The Wisconsin Outdoor Report is updated weekly by the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.
( Reports from conservation wardens, wildlife and fisheries staff and property managers from around the state )

Northern | Northeast | Southeast | South Central | West Central
Outdoor Calendar

Fall colors continue to be near peak across much of the center part of the state on the Wisconsin Department of Tourism's Fall Color Report. Colors are past peak in the far north where tamaracks have now turned gold, and many leaves are dropping. Colors are still approaching peak in the most southern tier of counties.

Drier weather for the past week has allowed some rivers to begin to drop but many waterways across the state are still well above average for this time of year.

Strong winds resulted in slow fishing this past week on Green Bay. When anglers could get out they found turbid waters that made fishing difficult. Many areas of the Fox River were seeing white caps. Those anglers that ventured out on the Fox had some luck catching a couple of walleye each.

Along Door County yellow perch anglers had success fishing in Little Sturgeon Bay and Sawyer Harbor. Bass anglers fishing from Sister Bay, Ellison Bay and Gills Rock have been finding a few bass, including fish over 6 pounds being caught.

The fall salmon run is slowing down. Anglers fishing on the Manitowoc River found murky water conditions that made it harder to target salmon moving upstream. Anglers fishing the East Twin River were still catching chinook by the Mishicot dam. Browns and coho are starting to be caught more frequently. Despite high West Twin River water levels anglers were able to catch chinook up by the Shoto dam. Sauk Creek saw a lot of fishing pressure with some anglers reaching daily bag limits. The Milwaukee River and Oak Creek were seeing higher fishing pressure with anglers finding some success catching kings or the occasional brown trout. Fish were still being caught on the Root and Pike rivers where water levels are starting to drop.

Snow in Canada and colder weather brought a rush of ducks migrating through this past weekend. Hunters were having success on the rivers and in the marshes. Grouse and woodcock hunters are happy that the leaves are falling quickly now. Woodcock hunting was very good last weekend in northwestern Wisconsin. Conditions are shaping up for a wet, windy pheasant season opener this Saturday due to the high water still persisting across many areas.

The underbrush is opening up and making for more visibility in the woods. Archery hunting activity is picking up. Hunters are encouraged to search the DNR website for "CWD sampling" to find locations where they can drop off a head from their harvested deer for sampling for chronic wasting disease. Increased numbers of car-killed deer are being seen, indicating deer are becoming more active. Pay attention while driving in the north not just for deer but for eagles feeding on dead deer along roads. Give them plenty of room to take off as they are slow to get out of the way.

The Mississippi River Valley is also host to large numbers of waterfowl with a report of an estimated 100,000 ducks and coots at Lake Onalaska. Nearly 1,000 red-breasted mergansers were seen along Lake Michigan. Common loons are on the move showing up on the Great Lakes and various inland water bodies. Thousands of sandhill cranes were reported at Navarino and Crex Meadows and other wildlife areas as they stage for their southward departure in coming weeks.

This will be a spooky weekend at Wisconsin state properties with nearly a dozen Halloween-themed events taking place. Search the DNR website for "Get Outdoors," for a complete listing of events.

A three-minute audio version of this report can be heard by calling 608-266-2277.
A new report is put online each week.

Statewide Birding Report as of October 18, 2018

Falcon, Wisconsin
Merlin migration peaked along Lake Michigan this past week, over 100 of the small falcons counted from a single Ozaukee County site!
Photo Credit: Ryan Brady
The past week saw several good migration events. A major hawk flight took place along Lake Michigan on October 15, where over 300 sharp-shinned hawks, 100 merlins, and many other species were seen. Elsewhere, golden eagles from the Canadian arctic have begun their earnest descent into the state, where some will spend the winter. The hill country of Wisconsin's Driftless Area is the best albeit not the only place to find one. The Mississippi River Valley is also host to large numbers of waterfowl now, one observer reporting an estimated 100,000 ducks & coots at Lake Onalaska on October 16, many of which were canvasbacks and American coots. October 17 featured an excellent flight of Canada geese statewide and nearly 1,000 red-breasted mergansers past a waterbird watch at Harrington Beach State Park. The day also yielded large numbers of migrating dark-eyed juncos, ruby-crowned and golden-crowned kinglets, hermit thrushes, yellow-rumped warblers, purple finches, and other late-season species. Migration of northern saw-whet owls is at or near peak with several nocturnal research stations banding dozens of the small owls this week. The first short-eared owls were also reported. Common loons are on the move, now showing on the Great Lakes and various inland water bodies, including the Madison area lakes. Thousands of sandhill cranes were reported at Navarino and Crex Meadows state wildlife areas and other locations as they stage for their southward departure in coming weeks. Other signs of winter include the arrival this week of rough-legged hawks, northern shrikes, and snow buntings. American robins and a few cedar waxwings are taking advantage of fruit sources across central and southern Wisconsin, while some lingering species there include eastern towhee, eastern phoebe, American redstart, and a few shorebirds such as killdeer, Wilson's snipe, greater yellowlegs, and dunlin. Among the rarer birds spotted this week were pomarine jaeger in St. Croix county, long-tailed jaeger in Wood, Townsend's solitaire in Monroe, and rufous hummingbird in Fond du lac. Look for more great migration conditions and better weather to enjoy it over the week ahead. Good birding! - Ryan Brady, conservation biologist, Ashland

Upcoming State Natural Area Workday

October 20, 10 am - 1 pm, Chiwaukee Prairie Workday: Removing brush - Help Chiwaukee Prairie Preservation Fund volunteers during our monthly workdays on the third Saturday and enjoy the beauty of this rich prairie in the process. Remove brush threatening the prairie. No skills needed you will be trained onsite

October 20, 9 am - noon, Help out at Rocky Run SNA! Help care for this site and learn something in the process. Rocky Run is a priority site because it is large, has rich sand prairie and oak savanna, and rare plants and animals live there. We are expanding the good areas by removing pine plantations, brush, and spreading native seed. We will be collecting seed to scatter in areas where brush has been removed and pines have been harvested. Bring something to share for a potluck if you'd like.

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 Region

Superior DNR Service Center area

Brule River State Forest - The rain stayed away this week, and although the temperatures were cool, we saw the sun again! The sun should stay with us for the coming week and temperatures may even reach 60 degrees for a day or two before dropping back to daytime highs in the 40s. The dry weather for the past week has allowed the Brule River flow to steadily drop. Although flow is still above average, river conditions are much better now for fishing and for a late fall paddle trip. The tamaracks have turned gold, the leaf color is just past peak now, and the leaves are falling. The forest is full of activity as animals prepare for the coming winter, and hunters try their luck. Be sure to visit, Keyword "hunting" to find links to regulations and tips that pertain to the type of hunting you are doing this fall. The new bridge on the Coyote Loop of the snowshoe trail at the AfterHours trail system is nearly complete. Work is underway on the trail and bridge approach. - Diane Gobin, visitor services associate

Spooner DNR Service Center area

Burnett County - A quick report from Burnett/Douglas county that woodcock hunting was very good last weekend. Good numbers of birds in appropriate habitat. Grouse also present in moderate numbers if you're in good habitat. - Andy Paulios, wildlife biologist, Fitchburg

Crex Meadows State Wildlife - Fall migration is in full swing in the Grantsburg Area! Thousands of sandhill cranes are gathering in the marshes and the fields around Crex Meadows, Fish Lake, and Amsterdam Sloughs. Though we are not quite at our peak numbers yet, we are getting close and the birds are already putting on a good show in the mornings and evenings! Try looking for the cranes on Main Dike Road (south of the refuge on Crex Meadows), West Refuge Road (near Dike 2 on Crex), or Grettum Dike Road (down on Fish Lake WA). We are also seeing many different waterfowl species, including mallard, wood duck, green and blue-winged teal, northern pintail, northern shoveler, and ring-necked duck. If you are interested in trumpeter swans, try driving down Phantom Lake Road to see them in large groups on the lake. Also, be sure to keep an eye out for tundra swans that may be showing up in the area soon (we have not had any reports just yet!). Other highlights this week include merlin, cackling goose, redhead, golden-crowned kinglet, and ruby-crowned kinglet. - Lauren Finch, wildlife educator

Governor Knowles State Forest - All campgrounds have been winterized for the season. Water will be available at the registration building at the St. Croix Family Campground and the Trade River Equestrian Campground. - Brandi Buchholz, ranger

Woodruff DNR Service Center area

Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest - With the amount of rain the north has had and water levels at springtime levels, one may feel confused when they see it is actually October, not April. The grouse hunter is happy that the leaves are falling quickly now, but the grouse is not. Strong winds and snow showers at times are reminders of what season is to come. Flocks of juncos litter the ground in their quest for food as they migrate south and a few turkeys can still be seen along roadsides. The good news is there aren't any mosquitos out! - Rosalie Richter, visitor services associate

DNR Northeast Region

Northern Lake Michigan fisheries team report

Heavy rain and strong winds resulted in slow fishing this past week on the east shore of Green Bay. When anglers could get out on the bay they found turbid waters that made fishing difficult. - Steven Hogler, fisheries biologist, Green Bay

Marinette County - On the Menominee River, water temperatures dropped from 52 to 44 degrees throughout last week. Flows were very high, and above flood stage in the upper Menominee River for several days. By the weekend, flows were around 14,000 cubic feet per second compared to a normal of around 2,000 cfs. All fishing activity was up by the dam. Anglers had good luck catching a few brown trout, rainbow trout, and several walleyes. Anglers mentioned that people in the morning were getting browns also and a couple whitefish were seen caught off the bridge at Hattie Street. Spoons and zip lures were the popular lures. On the Peshtigo River, flows remained high at over 2,000 cfs and water temperatures dropped throughout the week to the mid-40 range. Some anglers were trying their luck at the Municipal Ramp but no reports of fish caught. - Alex Keiler-Klein and Scott Poquette, fisheries technicians, Peshtigo

Oconto County - Throughout the week, the water temperatures for the Oconto River ranged from 44-55 degrees. As the week progressed the water temperature remined relatively constant until Oct. 12 when the temperature took a significant drop. Flows remain high, at over 2,000 cubic feet per second at the Stiles dam. Oconto Breakwater Harbor fishing pressure was high for primarily boaters, and only a few shore anglers were seen. Fishing pressure remained steady at the Stiles Dam and Iron Bridge Area as the weekend progressed with anglers targeting trout, salmon, and walleye but catching bass and panfish instead. High fishing pressure was observed at the Pensaukee River boat ramp, with some duck hunters using the ramp as well. Oconto Park fishing pressure has been high with anglers targeting yellow perch. Reports of a large numbers of yellow perch were recorded. Minnows were the bait of choice. - Alex Keiler-Klein and Scott Poquette, fisheries technicians, Peshtigo

Brown County - Walleye anglers fishing from Bayshore County Park had a slow week of fishing with very few walleye caught. Several musky anglers tried their luck off of Bayshore Park but didn't hook any fish. On Saturday, walleye anglers fishing upstream of the Highway 172 on the Fox River had better luck with anglers catching a couple of walleye each, however many of these fish were small in size, with keepers between 20 and 24 inches in length. - Steven Hogler, fisheries biologist, Green Bay

Numbers remain low at all of the boat launches on the Fox River. Voyager only had a couple people out in search if anything but those who braved the weather failed to land a fish. It was rainy and windy over the past week with many areas of the Fox seeing white caps. That coupled with low water clarity kept people home or in their deer stand. Duck Creek effort was low over past week. A few people were out in between rain clouds. There has also been a large decrease in the number of duck hunters out as well. Fishing effort was low at both Suamico and Geano beach as well. There were a few shore anglers catching some yellow perch. - Adam Garlie, fisheries technician, Peshtigo

Door County - Walleye anglers fishing out of Chaudoirs Dock and Little Sturgeon Bay had limited success this week with few walleye being caught or harvested. Yellow perch anglers had better success fishing in Little Sturgeon Bay and Sawyer Harbor. Although perch anglers had to sort through their catch, some nice perch between 8 and 10 inches were harvested. - Steven Hogler, fisheries biologist, Green Bay

Rain, wind and cool weather has kept many anglers off the water. The bass anglers fishing from Sister Bay, Ellison Bay and Gills Rock have been finding a few bass. Numbers have been low but the size of fish has been excellent with fish over 6 pounds being caught. No bass action from shore in the past week. There are still some king salmon cruising through most of the marinas and a few anglers have been targeting them with mixed results. No boats have been seen fishing for salmon in open water. Baileys Harbor marina is still holding some salmon and shore fishermen have been trying their luck with mixed results. Most fishing pressure in Door County has been focusing on the canal. Local perch anglers are still fishing hard, with 20-plus feet of water in the canal with minnows has been the best bite. Results vary greatly day to day but the most successful anglers stay mobile and find active fish. Salmon action has slowed as most fish have now moved upstream to Strawberry Creek. Many anglers also report catching the occasional pike while perch fishing or trolling.- Ben Thome, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay

Manitowoc County - A couple of anglers tried their hands fishing on the south Manitowoc pier over the week with no success. No one was fishing on the North Pier. Anglers fishing in the harbor have had mixed success. Anglers fishing for smallmouth and largemouth bass had little success over the week. While those fishing for pike managed to catch a couple pike. Although, the pike that were caught were under the 26-inch size limit. Rainbows are starting to be spotted and caught occasionally on spawn sacs in the harbor. Anglers fishing on the Manitowoc River are fighting the same issues that are present on both the East and West Twin Rivers. Murky water conditions also made it harder to target salmon as they were moving upstream. Anglers had success catching chinook by Cato falls and even by the dam in Clark Mills. It seemed like throwing spoons had more success compared to using spawn sacs. There were only a handful of people fishing on the Branch over the last week with no fish caught. Anglers fishing the East Twin River in Mishicot are still catching chinook by the dam and across from the fire station. Although, the number of fish being caught are starting to decrease. Browns and coho are starting to be caught more frequently. Occasionally a steelhead is caught by the dam. Anglers are having success on spawn sacs and throwing spoons. Water flows is still moving through Mishicot at a high and so is the water level. There is a lot of debris coming down the river with the leaves falling off the trees. Despite high West Twin River water flows and water levels anglers were able to catch chinook salmon up by the dam in Shoto. The high water levels forced all anglers to fish from shore as no anglers were willing to take the risk of wading into the high water levels and flows. The fish that were caught came on spawn sacs with a few fish caught on spoons. Few anglers were found fishing in the Two Rivers harbor. Those anglers that were fishing had no success. They were mainly targeting salmon. - Cody Flavionl, fisheries technician, Mishicot

Peshtigo DNR Service Center area

Marinette County - Fall colors have waned though still enjoyable. Lots of leaves have fallen now making it a bit easier for grouse and woodcock hunters. Cold weather has settled over Marinette county for a while now with the last couple of days struggling to get into the 40s. Judging by the increase in car killed deer seen, I think deer are becoming more active. Please pay attention while driving as there are a lot of eagles feeding on dead deer along the road and they are slow to get out of the way. Give them plenty of room to take off. Rivers are still running very high and most low areas are holding water right now. Bow season is in full swing now and hunters are reminded that Marinette County is now under a baiting and feeding ban due to a recent CWD positive captive deer. Hunters in the northwest part of the county can help us sample the wild deer herd by dropping off a head from their harvested deer at one of kiosks. Search 'CWD sampling' on our website to learn more.- Aaron McCullough, wildlife technician, Wausaukee

Oconto County - Cooler temperatures have the deer on the move. Now that it isn't raining anymore farmers are chopping corn and soybeans. The deer are looking more for food sources. As always there are plenty of opportunities to hunt public lands as half of the county is public hunting land. Fall colors are going quick but still are very pretty as most maple, oak, basswood, and other hard woods still have leaves. Aspen are losing leaves quick and maple are right behind them. There are only a few more weekends left of ATV riding in Oconto County on the trails as they close Nov. 4, 2018. - Paul Hartrick, conservation warden, Oconto Falls

Green Bay DNR Service Center area

Manitowoc County - The fall color of Manitowoc County is starting to come down from the peak. One can still see beautiful colors on the trees and landscape, as the cold weather continues and the wind keeps blowing the leaves will continue to fall. The annual fall salmon fish run is slowing down as well, anglers are still catching fish on the East Twin and West Twin Rivers but much slower than last weekend. The cold weather brought a rush of ducks migrating through this past weekend. Hunters are having success on the rivers and in the marshes throughout the county. Archery hunting activity is picking up, hunters are taking to the woods and some having success and filling their freezer. The weather looks good for the weekend, limited chance of rain. A great opportunity to get outside and enjoy the fall weather! - Alyssa R Neff-Miller, conservation warden, Mishicot

Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center area

Whitefish Dunes State Park - Leaf color is nearing peak. This is a great time to hike the trails to see the leaves. This week a visitor spotted a baby porcupine walking along the green trail. A timber harvest started Oct. 15 in the park. This is a 33-acre timber harvest thinning the pine plantation out of the pine parking lot located on the south end of the park. - Jaclyn Moeri, visitor services associate

Wautoma DNR Service Center area

Waushara County - The county is in a whirlwind of warm, cold, rain, snow, and the weekend forecast looks like more of the same. A little chillier temps and rain Saturday, but a nice day on Sunday to really get out and enjoy the fall colors as they are going fast with all the wind and rain as of late. The underbrush is opening up and making for more visibility in the woods for any kind of hunting you want to do. Snow in Canada is pushing some waterfowl south and with the warmer weather in the state that should keep some of those birds around. Even if you aren't out hunting this is a great time of year to enjoy the quieter things outdoors, hiking, watching bird migration, leaves falling in the wind, or just getting away from the hustle of the work week. As always enjoy and have a great week! - Ben Mott, conservation warden, Wautoma

DNR Southeast Region

Milwaukee DNR Service Center area

Southern Lake Michigan fisheries team report

Sheboygan County - Not much action was seen on the Sheboygan piers this week, and those that did fish have not had any success with crankbaits. The only action seen on the Sheboygan River this week was near the Kohler Dam, where fly fisher-people saw a ton of success with kings and brown trout. The rest of the river was quiet all week. Not many people were fishing on the Pigeon River, but those that were used fly rods and crankbaits. No fish were reported. - Jessica Jenkins, fisheries technician, Plymouth

Ozaukee County - Little action was seen at the Port Washington ramps. The harbor was elbow-to-elbow this week, with many anglers using crankbaits or spawn sacks with bobbers. A majority reported no hits, but a couple anglers caught some kings. Many fish were seen jumping but not a lot of action was seen. The piers saw very little fishing effort this week and anglers did not report any fish caught.: The Port Washington utility was very crowded this week and success was hit or miss for the most part. A majority of the anglers did not see much success, but some were catching kings and brown trout off of spawn sacks and crankbaits. Lots of fishing action was seen in Sauk Creek, with a lot of pressure being applied to kings running up the river. Some anglers were reaching daily bag limits, and almost all anglers reported at least one catch. Fly fishing was the most popular method being used in the creek. - Jessica Jenkins, fisheries technician, Plymouth

Milwaukee County - Weekend boaters targeting salmon continue to be few and far between. Those that found success landed mostly kings and remained in or near the harbor using skein. At the McKinley Pier many fish, mostly kings, continue to jump at the surface throughout the day, yet landing them has proven to be has more difficult. Those targeting salmon or the occasional rainbow or brown trout found the most success harborside using skein or spawn sac.Surface water temperatures lakeside and harborside, range between 54-56 degrees. Fishing pressure continues to be high shoreside. Those anglers targeting salmon observed by the Summerfest grounds and Lakeshore State Park continue to see little to no action. Anglers targeting salmon around McKinley shore and harbor found action very slow, landing a few kings here and there ,using skein or spawn sac. No particular color netting on the spawn sac or time of the day seemed to prove more successful. At the mouth of the Milwaukee River surface temperatures range from 58-60 degrees. With the on and off rains, water levels and flow are normal with sometimes murkier clarity. Water temperatures range between 55-57 degrees farther upstream. Estabrook, and Kletzsch Parks are seeing higher fishing pressure. Fly fisherman using a variety of flies or yarn have seen little action, anglers are finding the most success catching kings or the occasional brown trout using skein or spawn sac. The occasional northern pike are also being landed casting a variety of artificial lures The Menomonee River had low fishing pressure throughout the week/weekend. Water levels and flow are normal with clear water in the tributary. Temperatures range between 58- 63 degrees near MMSD. Around Miller Park/Three Bridges, temperatures are 56 degrees. The Grant Park Shoreline had higher fishing pressure through the week/ weekend. Anglers trying their luck for browns or kings using a variety of spoons and crank baits saw very little action on the pier and the mouth of the creek, but do continue to report fish jumping at the surface. There was continued high fishing pressure on Oak Creek near the falls. Expect tight fishing quarters if this creek is your destination of choice. Anglers are continuing to see fish throughout the creek, but landing the salmon is proving to be a challenge. Most fish are the spawning kings (already dark in color) with the occasional coho. Anglers using a variety of flies and yarn saw very little action, skein or spawn sac (no particular color netting) has been most successful bait of choice. Water levels are low, clear, and with normal flow. Temperatures throughout the creek are around 50 degrees.- Reni Rydlewicz, fisheries technician, Milwaukee

Racine County - Most pier anglers were casting spoons and floating spawn. No fish were caught during survey times. Water temps were down to 58 degrees by the light house. Root River water levels are starting to drop. Most fish are being caught by the damn however anglers have also had luck near colonial park. The colors seeming to work best are small purple and green flies. - Zak Feest, fisheries technician, Racine

Kenosha County - Most boaters were staying in the harbor trolling cranks and floating spawn. A couple chinook were reported caught. Most pier anglers are using spawn and casting cranks or spoons. Firetiger seems to be the hot color. A few chinook and rainbow trout have been caught. Water temps were down to 59 degrees in the harbor. On the Pike River anglers are using flies targeting chinook. Many anglers having success near the golf course and mouth of the river. Black is currently the hot color for chinook. - Zak Feest, fisheries technician, Racine

DNR South Central Region

Lower Wisconsin State Riverway - Weekly Riverway Report

Fitchburg DNR Service Center area

Columbia County - Leaves changing color, but still not at peak. Oaks are quickly adding their rust browns to the hue of colors. Conditions are shaping up for a wet, windy opener for the pheasant season. Due to the high water still persisting across much of the Pine Island State Wildlife Area near Portage, stocked pheasant numbers will be somewhat lower than predicted as there is much less huntable acreage than a normal year. Bring your waders, as the swales are holding water levels of at least 2 feet, and much more in other areas. Bucks activity has ramped up in the past week or so as has deer movement in general. Motorists should be especially cautious as deer are on the move. Ducks, especially wood ducks, seem to still be fairly spread out with the high river levels around the area. - Sara Kehrli, wildlife biologist, Poynette

DNR West Central Region

Wisconsin Rapids DNR Service Center area

Buckhorn State Park - Visitors have been hiking, boating, and fishing. Trails, campsites and boat launches are in good condition - no flooding at the park but trails are muddy in a few spots. Accessible fishing pier and boat boarding piers will be removed Oct. 24. Drinking water is available in the campground and at the office (frost-free spigot next to the restroom). All other backpack sites are closed for the season. Dump station and flush toilets/showers are still open until Oct 24. - Heather Wolf, park manager

Roche-A-Cri State Park - The main gate and camping are now closed until the beginning of May. Parking is in the winter lot on Czech Ave and park stickers are still required. Visitors can hike through the woods to the petroglyphs and stairway. A section of trail before the bridge coming in from the prairie is wet and muddy but passible along the sides. - Heather Wolf, park manager

DNR Find Wisconsin Lakes

Copyright © 2018 Wisconsin DNR. Used by permission.
For more information, contact Spokesperson: James Dick, Phone: 608-267-2773.

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