Monday, April 15, 2013

Wisconsin: Rain, sleet and snow greet hunters for opening of spring turkey season

English: North Country Trail - Wisconsin, Brul...
English: North Country Trail - Wisconsin, Brule Bog, Douglas Co. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Wisconsin looks and feels very more like November than April this week as rain, snow and unseasonable cold moved in across the state. Needless to say, the weather has dampened the spirits of anglers, bird watchers and other outdoor enthusiasts, and created additional challenges to hunters looking for turkeys.

Many rivers in the south are running very high with some approaching flood stage. Slow-no-wake rules are in place on the Rock River in Rock County.

All trails are open to hiking but they are wet and soft. Most mountain bike trails are closed. Mountain bike trails typically remain closed each spring for several weeks until adequate drying of the trail base. Trails managers are asking people to please stay off the soft limestone screened trails until the tread hardens to minimize damage to the trail surface. Deep ruts or footprints are difficult to fix and the trail is easier to grade without these obstacles.

Opening day turkey hunters from the Brule River State Forest down through Columbia County were greeted with a sleet storm. Tom turkeys have been seen all over Iowa, Sauk and Trempealeau counties displaying for hens.

A variety of ducks in large numbers are migrating back from the south, especially on the Wisconsin River between Spring Green and Sauk City. The Crex Meadows Wildlife Area is also filling up with mergansers, wood and mallard ducks, shoveler, northern pintail, green-winged teal, golden-eye, bufflehead, tundra and trumpeter swans, Canada geese and more.

Lower Wisconsin State Riverway vsitors have reported hearing spring peepers and chorus frogs in the evenings. They are also beginning to call in Vernon County. Black bears have been seen emerging from their winter dens, so now is the time to secure any possible sources of food that could attract bears.

Ice fishing continues in the north, including Ashland and Polk counties, but icy conditions hamper the efforts of anglers across much of the state.

Good numbers of rainbow trout have been taken out of the Kewaunee River, near Footbridge and Bruemmer Park by using spawn sacs. In Milwaukee County, when the winds have been light, boats were reporting a good number of brown trout and a few lake trout being caught either jigging or trolling the gaps with spoons. Inland trout fishermen have been having good luck in the early catch and release season catching nice sized brown trout in Iowa County’s Love Creek.

On Racine County’s the Root River, anglers casting flies and spawn sacks reported good catches of steelhead earlier in the week at the Horlick Dam. The most productive Manitowoc County steelhead fishing continues to be on the West Twin River, with many fish holding up by Shoto Dam.

Freezing temperatures at night and warm days last week resulted in the best statewide maple syrup production of the year. Areas of southern and east central Wisconsin continued to have good runs of sap, while areas in the north and central parts of the state started seeing significant sap flows for the first time this year. Northern counties still have significant snow making sap collection challenging for producers using pails or bags. Producers are reporting higher than normal sugar content in their sap across the state this year. Several have reported 20-38 gallons of maple sap producing 1 gallon of syrup this year while the annual average is around 40 to 1. A cold front predicted for this week should extend the season in the south to a much later date than normal while the north is expected to have sap production continue for at least another week and potentially more.