|Sunset looking west over Lake Winnebago at Oshkosh, Wisconsin, taken near the top of the Niagara Escarpment (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
Warm weather returns for holiday weekend; most reservable campsite filled; water levels remain good for paddling
With warm temperatures returning this week, conditions look excellent for the upcoming Labor Day weekend. As of Tuesday, only 37 reservable campsites were still available for the weekend at Wisconsin state parks and forests. Most parks have some non-reservable sites available, but they were expected to fill up quickly. People looking for last-minute campsites can check the camping availability at the Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest.
Continued rain over the past few weeks in the north have kept popular paddling rivers in good condition for the upcoming weekend, with both the Bois Brule and the Flambeau rivers flowing above seasonal norms. The lower Wisconsin River is flowing at seasonal normal levels, with many sandbars available for camping this weekend.
Musky fishing has been the highlight in the Northwoods and action continued to be good. Most anglers are reporting a lot of sightings, follows and strikes, and quite a few fish have also been landed. Most of the musky have been in the 30 to 38-inch size but a few in the 42- to 47-inch range have also been reported. Action for both largemouth and smallmouth bass has been sporadic, with smallmouth being most active on flowages and larger rivers. Northern pike and panfish action has been fair, but walleye action has remained generally slow.
Perch have started to bite along the east shore of Lake Winnebago, where white bass were also being caught. Perch fishing has also improved over the past couple weeks on Green Bay's east shore and the Sturgeon Bay shipping canal. Smallmouth anglers continue to report a tough time but there have been some reports of success especially for anglers returning to the Gills Rock and Sisters Bay boat ramps.
Lake Michigan anglers have been having mixed results over the last week. There was some success at piers for chinook and brown trout. A dense fog advisory over the weekend hampered boating getting out. There are reports that chinook salmon are beginning to stage inside the Port Washington harbor and at the mouth of the Milwaukee River.
Last Tuesday, Sept. 1 was the kick off for early teal, early goose, and mourning dove seasons. Early dove reports were mixed, with some areas reporting few hunters, possibly due to the heat and early fog in some areas, with other areas reporting excellent activity. Some areas of the state are holding good numbers of teal, while other areas reported sparse numbers of birds. Canada goose numbers are strong in most areas.
This coming week marks the beginning of bear and archery seasons, as well as turkey, rabbit, squirrel, and Zone A grouse seasons. Search for "FFLIGHT" on the DNR webpage to find dove fields, pheasant stocking sites, and grouse and woodcock habitat.
The nighthawk migration continues to be reported strong in many locations, with a group of more than 400 observed over Perch Lake in St. Croix County looking for roosting cover.
Chipmunks and squirrels are feverishly gathering and feeding on acorns, black walnuts, hickory nuts, pinecones, berries and seeds to cache away for winter needs. Many colorful mushrooms are popping up all over for the careful collector. Large number of leopard frogs and other frog species have been observed and turtle hatchlings are emerging. Very good numbers of monarchs are being seen amassing in a number of areas preparing for their migration.
New England aster, a stunning purple wildflower, is currently blooming, along with Indian pipe, mullein, Joe Pye weed, pearly everlasting, the pale and spotted jewelweed. Hints of red and maroon on the maple trees are showing up from a few red maples and staghorn sumac. The Wisconsin Department of Tourism's Fall Color Report (exit DNR) is now available online.