Wisconsin continued to receive ample rain in the last week, keeping rivers and flowages running very high. Some areas of the state received as much as 5 additional inches of rain over the last week. The major rivers like the Black, Chippewa, Fox, Rock, Wisconsin and Mississippi area all running very high. Some northern rivers are high while others are closer to seasonal norms. Canoeists and kayakers on the Lower Wisconsin River should be aware that most sandbars are submerged, making it difficult to find camping spots. Many waters in both Columbia and Sauk counties are under slow-no-wake ordinances. Many of northern Wisconsin’s seepage lakes remain at a relatively low levels, but they have been creeping up with the slowly increasing ground water levels.
The unsettled weather has kept angling success real variable. In the north, musky continue to provide the most consistent action and are showing much more of a typical summer pattern. Top-water baits continue to be the most successful and some nice catches in the 36 to 42-inch size and some up to 48 inches have been reported. Bass and walleye fishing have both generally been slow. Panfish action has been fair, with decent catches of crappie, perch and rock bass reported, with bluegill a bit tougher to find.
Despite the storms of the last week, fishing pressure on Green Bay and Lake Michigan was heavy this week. A smallmouth bass tournament on Green Bay had around 100 boats hitting the water. Fishing was slow entering the weekend but picked up for the tournament. The Two Rivers and Manitowoc piers were also packed full over the weekend for a fishing derby. Trollers were averaging seven to eight fish during the week with a few limits reported. Trollers out of southeastern Wisconsin harbors continued to report good success with a mixed bag of chinook, coho, rainbow, and a few brown and lake trout. A angler out of Racine reportedly brought in a 41.5 pound brown trout last Friday. Shore fishing has also been good, with fair numbers of chinook, some browns and a few perch taken off piers.
The nesting season is winding down but some species are still working on late nests or their second or third clutches. Tennessee and Nashville warblers and other species are moving around now that their breeding season is almost over. Bald eagle fledglings are now hunting on their own. Outdoor enthusiasts and wildlife watchers from across the state have reported 422 game bird brood observations during the first month of the survey period.. The most frequently observed game bird species is turkeys with an average of four poults per hen. Ruffed grouse are the next most frequently seen game bird followed by pheasants, with both averaging five poults per hen. People can continue to report observations throughout the remainder of July and the month of August through the Wisconsin Game Bird Brood Observations page of the DNR website. Red admiral and monarch butterflies are prevalent.
Blueberries and raspberries are ripe in the north and bountiful crops are being reported. Mid summer wildflowers blooming include asters, bergamot, coneflowers, compass plant, goldenrods, milkweed, mullein, sunflower, evening primrose, hoary vervain, yarrow, queen Anne's lace and big and little bluestem.
Superior DNR Service Center area
Brule River State Forest – The Bois Brule River is running at normal seasonal levels. Blueberry pickers (and bear) are enjoying the bountiful crop. Pin cherries and chokecherries should ripen in the next few days. Flowers that have started blooming in the past couple of weeks are campion, sorrel, milkweed, mullein, native sunflower, evening primrose, asters, fleabane, and big blue stem. Invasive species that are blooming now are spotted knapweed, butter and eggs, hoary alyssum, and tansy. Summer seems to going quickly now as there is a little over a month before kids are back in school. It is not too late to get out to the Brule River State Forest to do some camping, picnicking, canoeing, fishing, hiking, checking out the Hatchery, or soaking in the sun on the beach. Admission stickers are only required in the campgrounds and the picnic area at the Bois Brule Canoe Landing, everywhere else has free admission…a fun and inexpensive way to spend a summer day!
Ashland DNR Service Center area
Big Bay State Park – The highs have been in the 80s with the lows in the 60s.Trails are in good condition. The raspberries and blueberries are abundant and ripe. Campsites have been quickly filling up, and reservations are highly recommended. Access to Madeline Island and the park is via the Madeline Island Ferry Line service. The ferries depart from Bayfield and carry passengers and vehicles of all sizes. They run 7 days per week
Park Falls DNR Service Center area
Upper Chippewa Basin fisheries report (Price, Rusk, Sawyer Taylor and inland Ashland and Iron counties) - The Upper Chippewa Basin received about another inch of rain in the last week. This has kept most streams and flowages at a high level and made for some tough fishing conditions. However, many of the seepage lakes still remain at a relatively low level and they have just been creeping up with the slowly increasing ground water levels. Weed densities continue to be real variable, with emergent vegetation such as wild rice, bulrush and water lily appearing to be at typical densities. But submergent weed growth such as pondweed, musky cabbage, coontail and milfoil continues to be relatively light for this time of year on many lakes and flowages. Angling success continues to be real variable and the constantly changing weather seems to be keeping most species pretty tight-lipped. Musky have been providing the most consistent action as the fish are showing much more of a typical summer pattern. The best success has been coming from weed edges and over the weed beds, with top-water baits providing some very good action. Some nice catches have been made, with most of the fish in the 36 to 42-inch size and some up to 48 inches also reported. Bass fishing has been generally slow, with both largemouth and smallmouth being somewhat tough to find. Largemouth still do not seem to be in their typical summer pattern and the fish that have been caught have been found in a variety of different habitats. From deep-water structure, to bog edges, to shallow weeds, to woody cover – all have produced some fish, but none have produced real consistently. The same has held true for smallmouth, and they seem to be even more finicky than the largemouth lately. A few nice fish have been caught on a slow presentation of plastic finesse baits – worked near woody structure in 5 to 8 feet of water. Walleye action continues to be slow and many anglers have just given up trying to catch this species during these dog days of summer. The catches that have been made have come on small weedless jigs, fished with a leech or a piece of crawler that is worked thru the mid-depth weed beds. Panfish action has been fair. Some decent catches of crappie, perch and rock bass continue to be made, but larger bluegill have been a bit tougher to find.
Peshtigo DNR Service Center area
Lots of rain has the rivers running high and fast, combine this with the heat and humidity and fishing pressure in most places has been light. Lots of debris still hampers river and bay anglers alike.
Marinette County – The Peshtigo Harbor has still been producing some catfish and sheepshead but it takes an ounce or better of weight to keep bait in place. The salmon bite out of the Menominee River has been good from the 3 Sisters to Chambers Island, no one color stands out at this time although green seems to work well. The walleye bite on the Menominee is alive and well with trolling in the evening netting anglers some nice eye’s in the 17 to 20 inch range. With the fast moving water trolling up river is the only effective means of presenting a lure.
Oconto County – A few panfish were being caught up by the dam at Stiles but most of the activity is coming from kayaks, canoes, and rafters enjoying the rivers. The perch bite is spotty out of Oconto Breakwater and Oconto Park II. If you get on a school there are some nice fish, with minnows being the bait of choice. Find the weed beds in 8 to 16 feet of water.
Green Bay DNR Service Center area
Brown County – Bayshore Park anglers have had some good walleye action. Most anglers have been fishing crawler harnesses. Anglers have been fishing water depths ranging 8 to 24 feet of water depending on the day. Perch fishing is still hit or miss. Minnows or worms seem to be working the best for perch anglers.
Manitowoc County – High temperatures in the mid-80s combined with light winds early in the week created excellent pre-fishing for area anglers participating in the Two Rivers Kiwanis Fish Derby. By Thursday, the winds picked up out of the west at 15-20 mph, bringing in cold water to help out pier anglers. Water temperatures varied from the mid-50s to the lower 60s over the weekend which was the biggest challenge for derby contestants. Boats were averaging 7-8 fish during the week with a few three person limits, but fishing consistency slowed for the derby. Pier fishing has been consistent all week, with several of the top fish in the derby being caught off the piers along the lakeshore. Out of Two Rivers, the best action has moved in shallow between 15-30 feet from Two Rivers ranging south to Cleveland. Most boats by the weekend were fishing the gaps of both the Manitowoc and Two Rivers piers. Coolers have consisted mostly of chinook salmon of all age classes, along with rainbows and browns. The brown trout have been relatively big, with many in the 13-18 pound range. The majority of boats have had success using spoons up high with J-Plugs on the down riggers and also up higher on planer boards. Green in both plugs and spoons continues to be the color of choice, but some days any color catches fish. With fishing so shallow, scatter the water column and you will find where the fish are. Keep an eye out for cooler temperature breaks and try working those areas. With the derby over the weekend, the Two Rivers and Manitowoc piers were packed full this past week. The catch has been dominated by three and four year old kings ranging from 12-18 pounds with a few large rainbow and brown trout. Casting with green champs, any type of green spoons, and jigging with gulp minnows have been reported for taking most of the kings, rainbows, and browns. Using alewife on bottom or on bobber four feet down has also been very successful with kings and rainbows. Get out as early as you can, both in the morning and afternoon, considering most fish have been taken near the end of the piers.
Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center area
Door County – The third week of July was dominated by a nasty mid week thunderstorm and inclement weather. A large storm cell came through the area Wednesday and shook fishing conditions up a bit. Spotty showers continued through the week and into the weekend. The mid week thunderstorm had some affect on fishing; however, fish were still being caught on both the lake and the bay. Fishing the bank reef has been busy to say the least with most success coming on a variety of baits including flies, spoons and j-plugs. Occasional rainbows were being caught in the upper 70 feet of the water column, but most coolers have been dominated by salmon. A smallmouth bass tournament was held over the weekend with around 100 boats hitting the water. Fishing was slow entering the weekend but picked up for the tournament. Plastics were the popular bait, along with some stick baits and spinner baits. Perch fishing has been decent, finding keepers has been the only obstacle. Minnows have been the most productive bait working in a variety of depths from 15 to 40 feet of water. Most anglers report about one keeper per two or three fish caught. Fishing countywide has continued to be productive. Chaudoir’s Dock anglers have been fishing perch with some success. Most have been fishing south of the landing in 20 feet of water. Minnows have been working the best rigged on a slip bobber or a bottom rig. Anglers were also catching a few walleye with most being caught on a crawler harness. Anglers fishing walleyes have also reported numbers of drum and catfish being caught as well. Little Sturgeon Bay anglers have been having good success on perch fishing in the weeds in the bay. A few walleye are being caught by anglers trolling, most have been caught on crank baits. Sturgeon Bay anglers have been catching some perch. The best action has been in the weeds off the State Park.
Peninsula State Park – All hiking trails and the Sunset Bicycle Trail are open. Heavy and sustained rain over recent weeks has resulted in standing and flowing water across portions of Eagle Trail. Otherwise, trails are in good condition. The off-road bicycle trails are open to riding, but may be wet in some sections. Please report impassable trails to park staff. The American redstart–a warbler which nests in the park–has been frequently spotted by park visitors in recent weeks. Grouse are having second broods. Red admiral and monarch butterflies are prevalent. Self-heal, bergamot, harebell, rudbeckia, herb Robert, and bittersweet nightshade are currently in bloom. Peninsula is currently keeping a record of all salamander observations. Please report any salamander sightings to the White Cedar Nature Center. The bat boxes attached to the exterior of the Welcker’s Point shelter building are home to a nursery colony of little brown and big brown bats. Bats can be observed exiting the bat boxes nightly, about 30 minutes after sunset. Nicolet Beach is open for swimming, but the bathrooms and showers are still undergoing replacement and are not available. The nearest showers are located in the North and South Nicolet Bay campgrounds. A toilet trailer has been provided at the beach for convenience. Construction of the pre-fabricated shower building is scheduled to begin in the coming weeks. Mosquitoes are out in full force due to recent rain. Plan to bring insect repellent for hiking Peninsula’s inland trails.
Kewaunee County – Some major storms made their way through the county this week and brought with them varying wind strengths and directions. The wind did not seem to remain blowing in one direction consistently and caused the water temperatures at the surface to change by more than 10 degrees some days. This brought a week of very up and down fishing out on Lake Michigan. The Kewaunee pier had a few reports of king salmon and rainbow trout being caught but the fishing continued to be very slow this week. The most productive lures were spoons that were red with black flecks. This week the fishing out on the lake near Kewaunee continued to show varied success. Some days had reports of fish being caught early in the mornings but shutting down around 6 am and remaining slow for the remainder of the day and night. Other days the bite seemed to be pretty consistent throughout the day and into the evening others. The fish caught throughout the week seemed vary in depths ranging for 70 feet to about 180 feet of water. The anglers that were able to find water temperatures in the mid 50s had consistently caught fish while any temperatures about 56 degrees seemed to be slow fishing. The fish seemed to be split almost 50/50 on spoons and flies with no particular color doing better than others. Once again the pier fishing in Algoma was very slow with reports of only two fish being caught all week. The two reported fish were caught on fire tiger spoons and were both rainbow trout. The fishing all week was hampered by a combination of warm waters and storms that ravaged the area. The average catch per boat this week was down dramatically to only 2-3 fish and the size of the fish considerably smaller as well.
Havenwoods State Forest – Trails are in good condition. Deer, squirrels, raccoon, turkeys, red-tailed hawks, cooper’s hawk, owls, mourning doves, chickadees, nuthatch, downy woodpeckers, flickers, song sparrows, meadowlark, bluebirds, bobolink, Baltimore orioles, American redstart, wood ducks, and mallards are all being seen in the forest.
Kettle Moraine State Forest – Pike Lake Unit – All trails are open. Trails east of Powder Hill Road have some wet and muddy areas. Temporary planks are on the trail in these areas to help hikers avoid the mud. The accessible trail pier is in place for the season. Swim area buoys are in place for the season. The lake water is tested four days a week for elevated bacteria levels. Any warnings will be posted.
Lake Michigan fisheries team report
Sheboygan County – In Sheboygan trollers have been catching chinook, rainbow, and lake trout. Most fish have been caught throughout the water column in 25 to 50 feet of water. Shore fishing in Sheboygan has been good, with rainbow, chinook, and a few brown trout caught off both piers. Spoons and alewives have taken the most fish.
Ozaukee County – Trollers in Port Washington have found a mixed bag of fish between 30 and 60 feet of water. Good numbers of chinook, coho, rainbow, and a few brown and lake trout have been hitting spoons, flashers and flies, and J-plugs. Shore anglers in Port Washington have been catching perch on jigs and minnows fished near the power plant as well as off the harbor side of the pier. Anglers fishing the lake side of the pier have been catching chinook. The most success has been with alewives, but some fish have been taken on spoons as well.
Milwaukee County – In Milwaukee trollers have been catching mostly chinook, along with a few coho and rainbow. Fish have been caught in 40 to 60 feet of water, and spoons have taken the majority of fish. Some boats have also taken chinook while jigging at Milwaukee’s north gap. For shore anglers, the most consistent spot continues to be McKinley pier. Chinooks have been caught off the pier after dark and before dawn, and most have been taken on alewives. Perch anglers have had some limited success at Cupertino pier and the Lake Express Ferry dock. Small shiners have produced the most when fished early in the morning.
Racine County – In Racine trollers have been catching good numbers of chinook and a few brown, coho and rainbow. Fish have been near shore, with the best action in 25 to 50 feet of water. Spoons, flies, and J-plugs have all taken fish, and green and silver have been the most productive colors. A 41.5 pound brown trout was taken north of Racine last Friday. Congratulations to the angler and his crew on this fish of a lifetime! Shore fishing in Racine has also been good, with fair numbers of chinook taken off the piers in the early morning hours. Both spoons and alewives have taken fish. Perch anglers fishing from shore have had the most success near Gateway, and boats have taken a few limits near the DeKoven Center.
Kenosha County – In Kenosha the trolling bite remains consistent, with good catches coming from 20 to 60 feet of water. Nearly all methods have produced fish at times. Fishing in the Kenosha harbor has been spotty, with some chinook taken off the south pier either before dawn or after dark. Silver & green spoons as well as glow in the dark have been catching fish. Perch anglers have occasionally been catching fair numbers off of the south pier and in Southport Marina, and the boats continue to catch some at the bubbler. Both crab tails and minnows have produced.
SOUTH CENTRAL REGION
Fitchburg DNR Service Center area
Much of Columbia County and Sauk County are under slow-no-wake orders due to high water. Algae blooms continue to be a problem on Lake Wisconsin and Beaver Dam Lake causing odor and health concerns. The Wisconsin and Mississippi rivers are both running very high, making navigation quite difficult. There is a lack of sandbars to camp on in the Lower Wisconsin Riverway during these high water conditions.
WEST CENTRAL REGION
La Crosse DNR Service Center area
Perrot State Park - Trails are in good condition. Water levels are extremely variable this summer due to the drawdown on Pool 6. At times, the bay is VERY low, but after heavy rains, the water can be very high. The level can change over the course of the day and large boats may have difficulty reaching the Mississippi River from our boat landing. Caution is advised. Baby toads are hopping around the park. Fledgling bald eagles are learning to hunt in the bay. White pelicans are soaring overhead amid large groups of turkey vultures. Spotted fawns are still prancing about on the North Road. Butterflies and dragonflies are dancing about in the prairies. Plants currently blooming in the park include: hoary vervain, yarrow, compass plant, prairie dock, cup plant, monarda, coneflowers, daisy fleabane, creeping bellflower, mullein, Canada and showy tick-trefoil, swamp milkweed, grey-headed coneflower, wild quinine, leadplant, hoary alyssum, coreopsis, goldenrods, sunflowers and queen Anne's lace. big bluestem, little bluestem and side-oats grama are also in bloom. Mosquitoes are out and about. Campers are advised to remember their bug spray since there is none to be purchased in Trempealeau.
Great River State Trail - The trail is open and in good condition. Prairie flowers are blooming along the sides of the trail and the sweet smell of bergamot fills the air. Goldenrods, button bush, swamp milkweed, and Joe-Pye weed are the stars of the show. Mosquitoes and gnats are out in pretty good numbers and users are encouraged to be prepared.
Black River Falls DNR Service Center area
Black River State Forest - Water levels on the Black River are very high and there is much more water in the channels. Two sections of All-terrain Vehicle (ATV) Trails closed by last week’s storm have reopened. Only the Wildcat loop remains closed. Crews hope to repair this section by early next week and have it open by July 30. The entire trail system has been groomed within the last week and is in good condition with some areas of standing water. Please remember that it is never appropriate to leave the trail system even to avoid a wetter area. This behavior in past years has resulted in short-term closures of the system. The state forest is hard at work upgrading the entire system to make the trails less susceptible to large rainfall events. Those portions that have been upgraded faired very well even with the recent rain. After Labor Day weekend crews will continue work on the section of trail just south of the Highway 54 parking lot and begin work on the section running just south of the Castle Mound area of the forest.
Wisconsin Rapids DNR Service Center area
Buckhorn State Park - Many visitors have been enjoying the warm weather swimming at the beach. People have been catching fish from the pier and at their campsites. The kid's fishing pond has had many visitors using the new parking lot. Kids have been catching and releasing small bluegills , bass and some crappies from the pier at the pond. Trails are in great condition for hiking with the warmer weather and many visitors have been camping, picnicking and fishing. GPS units are available to checkout at the park office. There are not too many mosquitoes but there has been some biting flies. Canoes and kayaks are available to rent at park office. There will be a night hike and naturalist program on Saturday, July 24 from 7-10 p.m. Campfire stories and craft, hike the 1 mile tiki torch lit trail.
Roche-A-Cri State Park - Many wildflowers are blooming in the prairie. Friendship Lake is just a mile down the road and has a swimming beach. The stairway up the bluff is closed due to deteriorating lumber. A $354,600 project to replace it has been approved. We expect to seek bids for the project sometime this year. The petroglyph viewing platform at the base of the mound is still open and several miles of hiking trails are available.