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Wisconsin has had a wet beginning to spring, with different parts of the state receiving anywhere from half an inch to more than 3 inches of rain in the last week. Water levels are very high on some rivers, especially on the Rock River, where slow-no-wake rules have been put in place in Jefferson County as well as Rock County. The Mississippi River was at 9.6 feet at Prairie du Chien this week, up more than a foot from last week, and expected to reach the 10-foot mark late this week or early next week.
The wet weather continues to have trails in parks and forests saturated and horseback and mountain bike trails remain closed. Bicyclists should continue to not use any of the limestone-screened linear state bike trails until they dry out completely. Using the trails when they are wet can leave ruts that will remain after the trails finally do dry out.
Ice is going out on lakes and rivers, with the Madison lakes opening up completely this week. Northern pike are spawning and fish refuges have been posted on the Yahara River. Ice went out of the Amnicon River in Douglas County last week. The "ice road" from Bayfield to Madeline Island across Chequamegon Bay is now closed, and the shuttle service and wind sled and have started running.
The Fox and Wolf rivers are now open in the northeast but anglers have been having only limited success for walleyes. Walleye and brown trout were being caught on the Menominee River in Marinette, but there have been no reports of steelhead moving in yet. Anglers are also watching the Peshtigo River for signs of steelhead movement. Fishing has been good on the Manitowoc and Little Manitowoc rivers, with anglers catching steelhead and browns that ranged from 6 to 10 pounds. Anglers fishing the West Twin River around the Shoto dam also caught some nice fish.
In the southeast, the Sheboygan and Pigeon rivers are relatively high, and fishing has been slow other than a few steelhead and browns. Boaters out of Port Washington have been catching browns in 30 feet of water. Anglers fishing the Milwaukee River have been taking a few rainbows and browns. The Milwaukee River remains relatively high, but some steelhead have been caught. Steelhead have also been caught in the Menomonee River and Oak Creek. Water levels on the Root River have dropped considerably in the past week, and water clarity has improved. A few browns and steelhead were being caught and fisheries crews have been processing fish at the Root River Steelhead Facility to collect eggs for hatcheries.
The spring bird migration picked up this week. Loons began arriving on Lake Monona in Madison as soon at the ice went out. Meadowlarks are back on their territories and are calling. Pintail ducks and common mergansers have been seen migrating along the Lake Michigan shoreline, and there is also some great waterfowl viewing on Pool 9 of the Mississippi River between Lynxville and Ferryville.
Tom turkeys have been observed strutting on sunny days over the past week. Goldfinches are molting their olive colored winter feathers and are sporting a bi-color yellow and olive coat. Bluebirds are displaying and pairing up at houses and are beginning to gather grass as a mating behavior. Great horned owl young are still fuzzy but have grown quite a bit and are almost ready for flight.
Silver maples are flowering and tapping of sugar maples picked up this week. The first deer ticks have been spotted already, so be on the lookout for them when working in or visiting the sugar bush.