Saturday, July 18, 2015

Wisconsin Outdoor Report

Rains continue to sweep across the majority of the state this week. Several storm cells that brought 1/2 inch, or more, rains to areas in the north last week have also kept insect levels high. Mosquitos, deer flies and horse flies have all been seen and experienced in abundance. Luckily, a growing population of damselflies and dragonflies is eagerly feeding on many of those biting bugs. With 1-2 inches of rain in several counties in the Eastern region, water levels are great for hunters ready to scout for an early teal, or dove season. Heavy rains have kept water levels high on the Wisconsin River and sandbars that were accessible last week may be shrinking for a time.
Skip with fishThe same rains have brought muck and mud to trails across the state. A small section of the Glacial Drumlin Trail near Jefferson County was closed Monday due to storm damage and downed trees, but is expected to reopen in the near future. Bikers and hikers are encouraged to move with caution, as small debris may remain after primary cleanups.
Despite the wild weather, fishing success continues to improve across the state. General surface water temperatures continue to float between the upper 60s and low 70s for much of the state. Walleye action continues to increase in the Northern counties. There are reports of early morning and evening success in mid-depth weed beds. Large and smallmouth bass have moved into their mid-summer habitats. For largemouth this is near woody cover, under docks or near bulrushes. Smallmouth are moving towards woody cover as well as rock bars. Musky outlook continues to improve, with several anglers reporting sightings and follows. Edging the weeds with bucktails and medium-sized stick baits continue to be productive. Despite a recent drop in panfish catches, this week's reports have brought fair success for bluegill, perch and rock bass, again in weedier areas near mid-depth.
Anglers along the Eastern shore of Green Bay, fishing off of the pier in Potawatomi Park, continue to catch yellow perch. However, some anglers have noted they're sorting through smaller sizes. Worm chunks under a bobber have been the most popular method. Those casting out of Chaudoir's Dock fished 8 to 15 feet of water in the mornings and evenings. While they were looking for walleye, they also found freshwater drum, channel catfish and white perch. Anglers casting at the Kewaunee ramp reported promising steelhead catches. The piers were packed this week with anglers hunting for chinook, brown and steelhead. Early rising anglers coming back into Algoma reported several fish per boat and pier anglers in Manitowoc were landing rainbows.
Those casting on Lake Michigan in the Southern counties have reported more mixed success, with the most frequent catches consisting of chinook, coho, brown, lake and rainbow trout. Most trollers are using spoons in orange, green and blue. Alewives remain common bait, with worms fitting the bill for perch. Perch success has been sporadic, with the best catch biting before sunrise. While fishing in Milwaukee County has been slow, several anglers off McKinley Pier landed browns and chinook using spoons and alewives. The Salmon-a-Rama fishing tournament is underway at Racine and the ramps should be especially busy. Lake trout and coho salmon remain the most consistent catches. Though deeper waters were especially popular last week, trollers in Sheboygan have been moving in between 70 to 120 feet of water and landing rainbows, browns and chinook.
Numerous bird species are shaking the water off their wings this week and loon calls can be heard reverberating across lakes in the Northwoods. As we head into the weekend, keep your eyes peeled for egrets, great blue herons, teal, sand hill cranes and a variety of terns. Also moving about are plenty of fox, raccoons and rabbits. Fawns continue to grow in size and antler sets are doing the same.
If you're stopping by for a hike, witness the blooming black-eyed susans, spiderwort, ox-eye sunflower and monarch-favored milkweed. While it is important to correctly identify any wild fruit before eating, grab some blackberries while you're at it! They're just starting to ripen in many areas of the state and it won't be long before the bears, squirrels and a host of bird species gobble up this delicious fruit.