Friday, May 6, 2016

Wisconsin Outdoors Report 5/6/2016

Warm weather, high fire danger in much of the north to greet anglers for the opening of Wisconsin's inland game fish season
Wisconsin's 2016 inland game fish season opens this Saturday with unseasonably warm weather in the forecast. While conditions may be great for open water fishing, state forestry officials are cautioning that there are very high fire danger conditions in northwestern Wisconsin and high fire danger conditions across about half the state. Much of the southern half of the state, where vegetation is nearing full green-up, has decreased to moderate fire danger.
Forestry staff, in consultation with the National Weather Service, have issued a "red flag alert," for the region on Thursday, May 5 through 8 p.m. Friday May 6, under which all burning permits are suspended and the public is asked to refrain from all outdoor burning, including campfires, outdoor grills and smoking, and to be extremely careful with other possible sources of ignition including chain saws, off-road vehicles and other small engines that could spark a wildfire.
In the north, walleye have completed their spawning activity on all but the largest of the lakes. With a continued warming trend, look for an excellent opening weekend walleye bite with both live and artificial baits likely to produce good action. With water temperatures nearing the mid-50s, both smallmouth and largemouth bass have started to show up in shallow water.
For panfish, perch have their completed spawning, crappie are about a week or two away from starting spawning, while bluegill and pumpkinseed are about three to four weeks away. Some nice crappie and bluegill have been showing up in the shallow, warmer bays.
New in 2016 are simplified trout regulations designed to create more uniformity for anglers. Search the DNR website for "trout fishing" to find regulations and new color-coded maps.
On Green Bay, boaters reported good numbers of walleye, pike and a few brown trout being caught from Oconto to the Pensaukee River. High winds from the northeast last week limited fishing pressure along the east shore of the bay. Anglers who braved the waves managed to get a few walleyes. A few steelhead were still being found upstream in the West Twin and Branch rivers but the fish remaining have been tough to catch. On Lake Michigan, the strong winds and high waves also kept fishing effort relatively low. Most boats have been trolling inside harbors due to the winds and large waves. Some brown trout were landed near the mouth of the Milwaukee River. When the winds are favorable, boats have been out targeting coho and brown trout out of Racine and Kenosha.
Turkeys are very active now, with many hens already sitting on nests. Turkey hunters continue to report success, with some nice birds being harvested in the third period. Sharp-tailed grouse are dancing in the early mornings. Saw-whet owls were calling and short-eared owls are present. Hummingbirds, orioles, whip-poor-wills, bobolinks and barn swallows, rose-breasted grosbeaks have returned. Great blue herons, green herons, osprey and bald eagles are on their nests.
The choruses of spring peepers and chorus frogs have quieted some, but American toads and tree frogs have begun to sing.
Pasque flower, kitten tails, golden Alexanders, and prairie buttercup are blooming in the prairies and oak savannas. In the woodlands, there has been a profusion of wildflowers, including hepatica, bellwort, and bloodroot. In the wetlands, the marsh marigold and willows are blooming. Trilliums are blooming in the south but are just emerging from the leaf litter in the north. Fiddleheads of ferns are up and soon they will develop into fronds. Morel mushrooms are being found.
The first black flies are out, a few deer flies and mosquitoes have been seen. Make sure to do a tick check when you are done hiking because the ticks are out and abundant.
The 19th annual Horicon Marsh Bird Festival is this weekend, with guided hikes, bird banding, boat tours, speakers and more. Visit Horiconmarshbirdclub.com for more details and a list of all the amazing bird related events.  This is also the last weekend to get out for a Work*Play*Earth Day event.