Sunday, August 25, 2013

Wisconsin Outdoor Update

English: Willow Falls on the Willow River in W...
Willow Falls on the Willow River in Willow River State Park, Wisconsin, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Fall and winter are closer than we want to admit but there is still a lot of time to get out and enjoy the wonders in our backyards. Take the family camping, canoeing or to the lake for a picnic. Or just take the family fishing or on a bike ride. Get those last summer memories with the kids before they are back in school.
Fishing success has been pretty good in the Northwoods in the past week with the weather and the fish cooperating. Sunny skies and warm temperatures made for some pleasant angling conditions, with musky and bass especially active. Musky success continued to be good and most anglers reported some good action from small and medium-size fish (32 to 42 inches). Walleye action did pick up a notch and a few anglers have been reporting some decent catches. Leeches and crawlers fished along the weed edges and in weed pockets have produced most of the fish, though some also have been found on the deeper gravel and rock bars. Panfish action continues to be fair. Larger bluegill have been a little tough to find but some decent catches of crappie and rock bass have been reported.
Anglers fishing Lake Michigan waters out of Manitowoc County are reporting that good fishing for chinook and steelhead can be found in deeper water. Best catches have come from 120 to 350 feet of water and generally east of the commercial fishing nets.
In Door County, the 9th Annual Sturgeon Bay Offshore Challenge was a success. Winners of the ladies and kids division on Friday had a 5-fish bag weighing just over 68 pounds. Last week’s Shanty Days tournament in Algoma saw 10 kings over 20 pounds, with a 25.68 pound chinook taking the top prize. Top steelhead was around 12.5 pounds and the largest lake trout around 10 pounds.
Check the Lake Michigan fishing hotlines for more information: 920-746-2873 for northern Lake Michigan and Green Bay and 414-382-7920 for southern Lake Michigan.
On Theresa Marsh Wildlife Area in southeastern Wisconsin, staff has begun slowly reflooding the areas and will continue to do so over the next few weeks. Waterfowl hunters can expect water levels to be low during the early goose and youth duck hunts, but should be back to normal fall levels for the Sept 28duck season opener.
More than 20 wildfires burned across the state this week. The largest fire of the week burned 13 acres of swamp and forest land in Sawyer County. If you are considering outdoor burning, please put it off until enough rain has occurred to lower the fire danger.
Bird migration is now in full swing, most notably including large numbers of land birds this week. Warblers such as blackpoll, Wilson’s, Cape May, Tennessee and others have begun their push into the northern part of the state from breeding areas in the boreal forests of Canada. Southern Wisconsin also saw its first wave of warbler migrants, including chestnut-sided, Tennessee, black-and-white, and N. water thrush. Expect warbler numbers and diversity to build with each passing cold front over the next few weeks. Birders should focus in woodlots along lakeshores, stream corridors, city parks, and other local hotspots. Many flycatchers are on the move now as well, including the highly sought olive-sided and yellow-bellied, while large numbers of cedar waxwings also have been reported. Common nighthawk migration is underway as hundreds are being seen almost daily as far south as Sheboygan. Keep an eye to the sky in evenings for flocks of these unique birds winging their way to South America.
Blackberries are starting to ripen in the Waupaca area. Pickers are reported finding ripe berries in sunny areas. Along the Mississippi River, the Prairie Garden near the Wyalusing State Park Office is in full bloom and very beautiful. Flowers in bloom in the Prairie Garden include: royal catch fly, pale purple coneflower, butterfly milkweed, joe pyeweed, culver’s root, thimbleweed, prairie onion and grey-headed coneflowers. Black-eyed susans, grey-headed coneflowers and purple Coneflowers can be found in the fields near the office.
This week marks the retirement of Jeffrey Bolte, a visitor services associate at Willow River State Park. Jeffrey has been contributing to the Outdoor Report for 15 years. Jeffrey has supplied the Outdoor Report writers with very up-to-date and helpful information, and we want to thank him for helping people enjoy the great outdoors. Have a wonderful retirement Jeffrey, best wishes from the Outdoor Report staff and thank you for your service to DNR and the citizens and natural resources of Wisconsin!

Wildfire Report

Spotty rain and high heat? The dog days of summer may be upon us. This drying trend is accompanied by elevated fire danger across the state and we are seeing wildfire activity increasing. More than 20 wildfires burned across the state this week. The largest fire of the week burned 13 acres of swamp and forest land in Sawyer County. Five fire departments assisted DNR in putting out the fire. Wildfires are started by a variety of sources this time of year: equipment, people burning brush or trash, railroads, power lines, etc. People are urged to be extra cautious this time of year when working or playing outdoors. If you are considering outdoor burning, please put it off until enough rain has occurred to lower the fire danger. In many areas, DNR burning permits have been suspended until conditions moderate. You can always refer to the DNR web site for more information. Go to dnr.wi.gov and enter the keywords “fire danger.” Or call 1-888-WIS-BURN (947-2876) after 11 a.m.

Statewide Birding Report

Bird migration is now in full swing, most notably including large numbers of land birds this week. Warblers such as blackpoll, Wilson’s, Cape May, Tennessee and others have begun their push into the northern part of the state from breeding areas in the boreal forests of Canada. Southern Wisconsin also saw its first wave of warbler migrants, including chestnut-sided, Tennessee, black-and-white, and N. water thrush. Expect warbler numbers and diversity to build with each passing cold front over the next few weeks. Birders should focus in woodlots along lakeshores, stream corridors, city parks, and other local hotspots. Many flycatchers are on the move now as well, including the highly sought olive-sided and yellow-bellied, while large numbers of cedar waxwings also have been reported. Common nighthawk migration is underway as hundreds are being seen almost daily as far south as Sheboygan. Keep an eye to the sky in evenings for flocks of these unique birds winging their way to South America. Another evening ritual to enjoy this time of year is the communal roosting behavior of chimney swifts at select chimneys in our urban areas. Swallows have largely vacated the north but are congregating at wetlands in the south. These wetlands are also hosting concentrations of duck broods, rails, egrets, herons, and other water birds. Shorebird abundance and diversity is outstanding right now at suitable habitats and viewing locations [hyperlink "viewing locations" to https://maps.google.com/maps/ms?msid=210938529045015584872.0004e18e3115850023110&msa=0], including rarities such as American avocet, buff-breasted sandpiper, and ruddy turnstone. Closer to home, backyard birders are reporting high numbers of baltimore orioles and ruby-throated Hummingbirds at their feeders this past week although adult males of both species have mostly vacated the state now. Another adult male Rufous hummingbird was found in Wood County. As always, help us track bird populations and their migration patterns by reporting your sightings to www.ebird.org/wi. - Ryan Brady, Bureau of Wildlife Management research scientist, Ashland