Thursday, December 21, 2017

Wisconsin Outdoor Report December 21, 2017

Snow is piling up on properties in northern Wisconsin, but has been melting away in southern counties. The Brule River State Forest is grooming cross-country ski trails after an additional 2-3 inches of snow brought their total to around 10 inches. The Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest is also packing trails for skiers but still has not been able to set tracks. Trails have also been groomed at Newport, Peninsula and Potawatomi state parks in Door County but most of the southern half of the state has no snow cover. A couple more northern counties have opened or partially opened snowmobile trails but conditions are only fair to poor on the Wisconsin Department of Tourism's Snow Conditions Report (exit DNR).

In the north, many smaller lakes have 4 to 6 inches of ice, but some of the larger lakes just froze up completely in the last week and have only 1 to 4 inches of ice. There is a fair amount of snow on the ice which is leading to slush and inconsistent ice underneath. People should be very careful if they venture out to fish. Anglers finding good ice were catching bluegills in shallow green weeds and crappies a little deeper over flats or near cribs. Walleye anglers are catching walleyes on small minnows set under tip ups on the outside edges of weed beds. Pike action on tip ups has been slower than average.
Southern areas that had been forecast to get several inches of snow this week, will likely now only see a dusting. This means easy access for those looking to get out on a hike this coming week. The last firearm deer hunt is just around the corner in the Farmland Zone--the Holiday hunt runs from Dec. 24-Jan. 1 and is an antlerless only hunt. One last reminder for pheasant hunters: the state game farm will be releasing an additional 1,500 birds on five wildlife areas prior to the holidays for some late season hunting.
There are many mammals moving around, with tracks of grey wolves, fisher, coyotes, and even a black bear were seen around Crex Meadows State Wildlife Area.
Rough-legged hawks have been observed recently in the valleys of Crawford and Vernon counties stocking up on rodents before the coming freeze. These large raptors get their name from their furry-looking legs, which are thoroughly covered to the toes with soft feathers. They breed in the Arctic tundra, but winter primarily in the lower 48 states, where they hunt small mammals on open fields.
Eagles are starting to move in to the Prairie du Sac area and can frequently be seen hunting the Wisconsin River. Other migrants have been seen along the Lake Michigan shoreline in Milwaukee, with scaup, goldeneye, mergansers and even a handful of scoters, long-tailed ducks and harlequin ducks being seen on occasion. The snowy owl count continues to sit at 173 across 57 of Wisconsin's 72 counties as of December 13.
Amnicon Falls will host a New Year Eve candlelight hike with candles leading up to the histoic Horton bride offer views of thee waterfalls. - Photo credit: DNR
Amnicon Falls will host a New Year Eve candlelight hike with candles leading up to the histoic Horton bride offer views of thee waterfalls.Photo credit: DNR Kevin Feind
Ring in the New Year with a New Year's Eve candlelight hike at Amnicon Falls State Park and then start the New Year off on the right foot by taking part in any of 17 First Day Hikes that will be held at Wisconsin State Park System properties across the state. And get ready for other candlelight events that will begin the first weekend in January with more than 35 events running through early March.

Northern Region

Superior DNR Service Center area
A snowy scene along the Brule River. - Photo credit: DNR
A snowy scene along the Brule River.Photo credit: DNR
Brule River State Forest - Happy Winter Solstice! The calendar says Dec. 21 is the first day of winter, but it has looked like winter here for a while now. The area received an additional 2-3 inches of snow the night of Dec. 20, bringing the total on the ground to about 10 inches. The After Hours cross-country ski trails are open and being groomed after this new snowfall. Conditions are good. Trail conditions are kept up to date on and Last week temperatures were above freezing, but the temperatures for the weekend are going to be frigid. On Christmas Day, the high temperature is forecast to be at or just below zero. It will definitely be a white Christmas in the Brule River Valley this year. - Diane Gobin, visitor services associate
Pattison State Park - The Pattison State Park Ski Trail was groomed Dec. 20 but track for classic skiing was not laid due to lacking a consistent smooth base. There will be a candlelight hike at Amnicon Falls State Park on New Year's Eve from 4-8 p.m. It is a free event, but a vehicle admission sticker is required. The Friends of Pattison and Amnicon Falls State Parks will be having hot cocoa, cider, and s'mores to enjoy. - Kevin Feind, property supervisor
Hayward DNR Service Center area
Sawyer County - Most smaller lakes have 4 to 6 inches of good ice, but some of the larger lakes just froze up completely in the last week and have 1 to 4 inches of ice. There is a fair amount of snow on the ice which is leading to slush and inconsistent ice underneath. People should be very careful if they venture out to fish. Anglers finding good ice have found the fishing good. Bluegill were biting well both in shallow green weeds (5-10 feet of water) and off of deeper cribs. Walleye are taking minnows on tip-ups on the outside edges of weed beds in 10 to 20 feet of water. Pike action on tip ups has been slower than average, but that might point to good pike fishing in the near future. Pike never seem to stay inactive for long in the winter and can typically be caught in 5-15 feet of water, particularly where there are weeds. - Max Wolter, fisheries biologist, Hayward
Spooner DNR Service Center area
Crex Meadows State Wildlife - Birds are very scarce now in the Grantsburg Area. Recent cold weather and snow have forced most of the remaining migrants out of the area, leaving only the winter inhabitants. There were still a few water birds around this week, including Canada geese, trumpeter swans, mallards, and an American wigeon. Highlights this week were the snowy owls (one spotted on Main Dike Road), red crossbills, and common redpolls. A few large groups of common ravens and wild turkeys were seen over the weekend, as well as a large group of rock pigeons. There were many mammals moving around within the last week as well. Tracks of grey wolves, fisher, coyotes, and even a black bear were seen around Crex Meadows. - Lauren Finch, wildlife educator
Park Falls DNR Service Center area
Price County - Ice development is coming along very slowly on area lakes. Some lakes have 4-6 inches of ice while others have less than 1 inch in spots. Last week's cold spell did not put on as much ice as anticipated. This week's snowfall will insulate the ice and slow any development that is taking place. Extreme caution should be used when venturing out onto the ice. Anglers that have been getting out in the Park Falls area are catching fish. Bluegills are biting in 4-7 feet of water on small jigs with spikes. Crappies are being found a little deeper over flats or near cribs. Minnows with slip bobbers are working well for them. Walleye anglers are catching walleyes in 3 to 6 feet of water on small minnows set under tip ups. Every day has been different as far as action. Somedays they are biting well, somedays they have been very picky. It has been dependent on the weather fronts pushing through. - Chad Leanna, fisheries technician, Park Falls
Flambeau River State Forest - The Flambeau Hills Cross Country Ski Trail has been packed several times in preparation for setting track. There is a base setting up and the snow in the forecast and the cold temperatures will certainly add to that base. The trail is open for skate skiing. Weather pending, the trail will be packed again on Saturday Dec. 23 and groomed the first week of the new year. The snowmobile trail has been groomed and is in use. Hiking trails are open throughout the Forest. As the snow depth mounts, you may only have access with snowshoes. The snow depth is about 7 inches with more in the forecast. Dabbles of ice are flowing down the Flambeau river and the Lake of the Pines and Connors Lake have about 3 inches of ice and a little more along the edges. This Wisconsin winter is going to be a shock for the 30 Kentucky elk and calves released July 6 in the forest. They were originally trapped in 40, 50, and 60 degree Kentucky January weather. However, they're "hard wired" and adapted for the cold. The originator elk for the Kentucky herd came from out west, where subzero cold and blowing snow is common place. Though many of these imports have had it easy they do have the "equipment" to adapt. An elk's winter coat has even greater insulation than a white-tail's winter coat. There are eight timber sales occurring throughout the forest. There will be more starting after the New Year. The weather forecast for the weekend indicates Friday will be mostly cloudy, with a high of 26 and low of 7. Saturday, mostly sunny with a high of 12 and a low of 2. Sunday is forecasted to be mostly cloudy with a chance of snow and a high of 12 and low of -8. Christmas Day will be partly sunny and cold, with a high near -2 and a low of -13. Lake of the Pines Campground and Connors Lake Campground are closed for the season. - Diane Stowell, forestry technician advanced and visitor services associate
Woodruff DNR Service Center area
Oneida County - Anglers have been on the ice for the last couple weeks. Some early reports are that some folks are catching walleyes of decent size. Ice conditions are still variable up here. It's been cold, in the teens, but the amount of steady snow we've had hasn't been the best for making good ice. People are reporting anywhere from 2-8 inches or so depending on lake (smaller lakes tending to have more); however, anybody going out should still exercise caution. - Hadley Boehm, fisheries biologist, Woodruff
Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest - Cross-country ski trails were groomed Dec. 19. All trails have been packed with the groomer but track has not been set. McNaughton has no bare spots but a wet area on the Red/Skaters loop just after leaving the trailhead. Escanaba and Madeline trails have all loops packed with the groomer. Raven Trail is packed with no bare spots but still thin under the conifers on the Red loop by "Hemlock hill" and by Hemlock lake. - Tony Martinez, parks and recreation specialist

Northeast Region

Peshtigo DNR Service Center area
Marinette County - About 8-10 inches of snow fell late last week. Warm weather followed and reduced the depth to about 6 inches. More snow is predicted for this week. Some snowmobile trails have been groomed, but remain closed. Ice fisherman have been testing the ice on area lakes. Ice conditions are poor on a number of area lakes with only a couple of inches of ice covered by slush and snow. Some fisherman have reported 5 inches of ice on portions of Lake Noquebay. No permanent shacks have been seen on lakes just yet. The last rifle hunt is just around the corner for the Farmland Zone of the county--the Holiday hunt runs from Dec. 24-Jan. 1 and is an antlerless only hunt. All hunters are reminded to wear blaze orange/pink. Snowy owls have been spotted in southern portions of the county near the Peshtigo River and the bay of Green Bay. - Aaron McCullough, wildlife technician, Wausaukee
Sturgeon Bay DNR Service Center area
Newport State Park - There is about 8 inches of new snow. Trails have been groomed for cross country and skate skiing. We ask hikers and those with snow shoes to please stay off of the tracks. More snow is in the forecast for next week, so conditions could change rapidly. - Beth Bartoli, naturalist
Peninsula State Park - The Blue, Purple, Orange, Red and Yellow cross-country ski trails have been groomed and are in good condition. There are some bare spots and the hills on the Purple Loop are more poor than good due to the rocks. There are small bare spots in the more heavily wooded areas. Reminder: Hiking, snowshoeing, fat tire bikes and pets are not allowed on snow covered ski trails. The sledding hill is currently closed; when it opens only tubes and plastic sleds can be used on the sledding hill. - Jessica Doell, visitor services associate
Potawatomi State Park - The park received about 10 inches of snow on Dec. 13. All ski trails have been tracked. Classic trails are in fair condition since the warm temperatures have caused the tracks to sink to the base of trail in a few spots. The skate skiing trails are in good condition. More snow predicted later this week will improve trails now that there is a base. Please remember that hiking, biking, and pets are not permitted on ski trails when snow-covered. Please see the Potawatomi winter use map [PDF] for trails open to winter hiking and snowshoeing. Bikes may be ridden on park roadways. - Jaclyn Moeri, visitor services associate
Wautoma DNR Service Center area
Waupaca County - Deer have been getting very active during daylight hours. Should be a good opportunity for those who chose to hunt during the holiday hunt. Almost all area lakes iced over, a few people out fishing - have no report on their success. We only had a couple inches of snow on the ground and it got to 40 degrees today. One can only assume there are no trails open. - Karl Kramer, wildlife technician, Wautoma
Waushara County - The area was looking forward to getting some decent snow for Christmas, but now it looks like we will just receive a nice light covering to whiten things back up. That means that the Ice Age Trail will be pretty easy to access for some hiking and other state lands for the upcoming Holiday Hunt. Be prepared to bundle up though as later this weekend the temperatures are about to plummet. Make sure to have some extra layers and be careful when venturing out, the temperatures being forecasted are enough to cause frostbite and hypothermia if out in the cold for too long and not prepared for it. Remember to make a plan and stick to that plan and always let someone know when you plan to be back and where you plan to go! The ice has done OK in the warmup, but still is nowhere near completely safe (as no ice ever is), but the cold will be making more ice every day and ice fishing has been pretty decent as of late. Take care and have a great Holiday. Use this time to get out and enjoy the frigid temps with family! - Ben Mott, conservation warden, Wautoma

Southeast Region

Milwaukee DNR Service Center area
Milwaukee County - With the warm winter weather, most of our waterways are currently free of ice. However, we should see cold and snow over Christmas weekend, with more ice cover on our inland lakes and ponds. Our winter migrants are in Milwaukee again, with an abundance of scaup, goldeneye and mergansers, and even a handful of scoters, long-tailed ducks and harlequin ducks being seen on occasion. As of Dec. 13, an estimated 173 Snowy Owls have been tallied across 57 of Wisconsin's 72 counties. Check out the map of recent sightings here. This total puts us on track for one of the largest irruptions in recent years. Visit the snowy owl page at the DNR website for more information. There are antlerless deer bonus carcass tags available for purchase across the state, including in Milwaukee County, and now is the time to take advantage of our archery deer season, which runs through Jan. 31 within our metro subunits and Jan. 8 in the rest of the state. If you already harvested an antlerless deer, you can visit the DNR website to see where in the state additional antlerless carcass tags are available. You can also visit the department website for updated deer harvest information across the state. - Dianne Robinson, wildlife biologist, Milwaukee
Kettle Moraine State Forest, Lapham Peak Unit - The man-made ski trail was groomed Dec. 19 and was in good shape after the grooming. Warm temps will soften the trail as the day goes on. Lights will be on until 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday. Please no hiking on any of the man-made snow, the most damage from hikers occurs with soft snow. - Jay Abts, ranger

South Central Region

Fitchburg DNR Service Center area
Columbia County - Snow enthusiasts are still impatiently waiting to get out and enjoy the outdoors. What little snow we had on the ground has mostly melted away in the past few days. Most waterbodies have some level of ice on them and some brave souls have ventured out at Whalen's Grade at Lake Wisconsin and other early ice areas. With the warm temps, animals like raccoons and skunks have been active and moving around more than normal for this time of year. Eagles are starting to move in to the Prairie du Sac area and can frequently be seen hunting the Wisconsin River. Hundreds of cranes were staging in Lewiston and Newport townships at the end of last week and will likely stick around for a bit yet. Hunters at the Mud Lake Wildlife Area between Rio and Poynette are in for a holiday treat - a last 'stocking' of pheasants will occur just before the holidays. Enjoy the rest of the pheasant season! - Sara Kehrli, wildlife biologist, Poynette

West Central Region

La Crosse DNR Service Center area
Vernon County - Rough-legged hawks are being observed repeatedly in the area. These large buteos breed in the Arctic tundra and migrate to and winter primarily in the lower 48 states. They feed mainly on small rodents and often hunt for them by facing into the wind and hovering above a grassy field before diving down on the unsuspecting prey. Deep snow cover tends to push the birds farther south. Rough-legged hawks get their name from their furry-looking legs, which are thoroughly covered to the toes with soft feathers. The ferruginous hawk and golden eagle are the only other American raptors that have legs feathered all the way to the toes. For a raptor, rough-legged hawks have relatively small feet and bills. In flight, rough-legged hawks display long, rounded wings, smooth, shallow wingbeats, primary feathers with very pale undersides, and square, dark wrists or carpal patches. These strikingly beautiful birds are often encountered on the open ridgetops or wide valleys in Crawford and Vernon counties. - Dave Matheys, wildlife biologist, Viroqua
Eau Claire DNR Service Center area
Lake Wissota State Park - Species of birds seen or heard include: ravens, black capped chickadees, phoebes, northern juncos, pileated woodpeckers, barred owls and bald eagles. The campground is closed for the winter season. Ice anglers should be thinking about 'gearing up' as first ice has formed in the bays adjacent to the park. Cross country skiers are anxiously waiting additional snowfall as there has not been enough to groom the trails yet.- Dave Hladilek, park manager
Wisconsin Rapids DNR Service Center area
Buckhorn State Park - The trail into the new campground is open for dog walking and is packed when there is enough snow. Mark your calendar for the First Day Hike from 1-3 p.m. on Jan. 1. Meet at the South shelter parking lot to hike or snowshoe. Hot chocolate and cookies after the hike! Bow hunting is happening in the park and wildlife areas until Jan. 7. There is no holiday hunt in the surrounding area. Pets are not allowed on the ski trails when they are groomed. - Heather Wolf, park manager

Roche-A-Cri State Park - The stairway is not maintained in winter and can be icy; it is open from 6 a.m. to sunset. . Bow hunting continues to Jan. 7. All other hunting/trapping is now closed. - Heather Wolf, park manager

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Wisconsin Walleye Initiative funding boosts state and private production

MADISON - A record 881,977 walleye were stocked in key Wisconsin waters this past year as state, private and tribal hatcheries continued to put Wisconsin Walleye Initiative funding to work for anglers, state fisheries officials said.

"We're very pleased that the investment made to hatcheries through the Wisconsin Walleye Initiative and the hard work of our fisheries crews and our partners are once again paying off for Wisconsin anglers," says Justine Hasz, fisheries director for the Department of Natural Resources.
State fish crews collecting extended growth walleye from the Art Oehmcke State Fish Hatchery near Woodruff. - Photo Credit: DNR
State fish crews collecting extended growth walleye from the Art Oehmcke State Fish Hatchery near Woodruff.
Photo Credit: DNR
The initiative, proposed by Gov. Scott Walker with the 2013-15 biennium budget and approved for continuation through the 2017-19 budget, has paid to upgrade state hatcheries and provided extra operating funds needed to keep fish on site longer and feed them minnows. The initiative also provided grants to upgrade three tribal hatcheries and six private facilities to meet the stocking demand statewide.
"We stocked a record number of fish again, meeting the need identified by fisheries biologists and we're poised to meet the needs long into the future for walleye stocking using public and private partnerships," says Dave Giehtbrock, DNR fisheries culture section chief.
Natural reproduction accounts for more than 80 percent of the walleye caught in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Walleye Initiative is part of DNR's overall management strategy to help restore naturally reproducing populations of walleye in lakes that formerly supported naturally reproducing populations and improve walleye numbers in lakes that need regular stocking to maintain good fisheries.
While stocking the larger, extended growth fingerlings makes sense in some lakes, DNR also stocks about 1.4 million small fingerlings each year, and works with several cooperators to stock walleye fry into several bodies of water. DNR fisheries biologists develop stocking plans for the different sized fish based on specific lake conditions; in some lakes the smaller fish perform very well and are more cost effective than the larger fish.
In the last year before the launch of the Wisconsin Walleye Initiative, DNR stocked 142,121 extended growth walleye. Since the initiative began, DNR has stocked 455,307 large fingerlings in 2013, 719,670 fish in 2014, 760,969 fish stocked in 133 waters in 2015 and 797,815 in 2016.
Those totals include the contributions from tribal and private hatcheries. In 2017, 177,891 fish came from private and tribal hatcheries.
Walleye are a favorite quarry for Wisconsin anglers and boost the economy by driving expenditures for lodging, dining, retail purchases, guided trips and tournament participation among other things. Wisconsin remains one of the top three fishing destinations in the U.S. with resident and nonresident anglers generating an economic impact of nearly $2.3 billion per year, according to the American Sportfishing Association.
To learn more, visit the DNR website,, and search "Wisconsin Walleye Initiative."

Monday, August 14, 2017

Conservation Wardens Need Your Help!

Assembly Bill 411 Seriously Undermines Fish and Game Enforcement

Assembly Bill 411 threatens the ability of Conservation Wardens to effectively enforce hunting, fishing and trapping regulations on the 80% of Wisconsin that is privately owned.

Under current law any law enforcement officer including conservation wardens has the authority to enter open fields of private land to assure compliance with laws. They do not have authority to enter buildings or areas near buildings.

Wardens need the authority to enter open fields to assure that individuals hunting, fishing or trapping have the appropriate licenses and stamps to hunt, fish or trap and to assure that individuals on private land are complying with all hunting, fishing and trapping regulations.

Fish and wildlife are owned by the public and unless conservation wardens are allowed to go onto the open fields of private land to enforce hunting, fishing and trapping regulations, fish and game on that property from a practical standpoint becomes private.

There should be the same fish and game regulation enforcement on private lands as public lands.

Support your local Conservation Warden

Ask your State Senator and State Representative to Vote NO on Assembly Bill 411.

Go to the legislative website first page to find out how to contact your legislators:

Source: Wisconsin Wildlife Federation’s - Wisconservation

Monday, July 17, 2017

Tiny Quagga Mussels Have Big Impact on Lake Michigan . . . And Perhaps Climate Change

July 17, 2017

By Marie Zhuikov

As prior researchers have demonstrated, Wisconsin Sea Grant researchers further confirm that the tiny quagga mussel has an outsize impact on Lake Michigan. What’s novel about the study team’s work is the exploration of the age-old biological truth: what goes in must come out. They found the invasive mussels’ sheer numbers and feeding efficiency are changing the lake’s ecosystem dynamics. Perhaps the climate, as well.

Laodong Guo and his graduate student Stephen DeVilbiss, researchers at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, looked at the impacts of quagga mussels from an aquatic chemist’s point of view in a paper published this year in the Journal of Great Lakes Research. They took measurements in Lake Michigan and collected mussels from the lake. They brought the mussels into the lab to assess filtration and excretion rates, and the type of things excreted to better understand their role in the lake’s carbon cycle.

The researchers found that the mussels are highly efficient; each one can filter up to 578 gallons of water every year, with younger, smaller mussels pumping more efficiently. In addition to feces, the mussels excrete dissolved nitrogen and phosphorus, and they “breathe” out carbon dioxide into the water -- so much carbon dioxide, in fact, that it could impact the climate.

“There are so many mussels that the carbon dioxide they release into the water, which gets into the air, may add to the problem of global warming,” Guo said. “Normally, in places like the ocean environment, the water absorbs carbon dioxide. However, Lake Michigan is somewhat oversaturated with carbon dioxide because of the quagga mussels. We need to look at whether this is causing acidification in the lake.”

Estimates of the number of quagga mussels in Lake Michigan by NOAA researchers range from 750 to 950 trillion. More information about how quagga mussels are impacting carbon dioxide dynamics in Lake Michigan and other Great Lakes can be found in a paper Guo and his postdoc, Peng Lin, published last year in Nature’s Scientific Reports.

Another impact the researchers found from their field studies is that quagga mussels are changing the way phosphorous is cycled in the lake. Normally, the amount of phosphorous, a vital nutrient needed for diatoms and other species important in the food web, rises during the winter when it is released from particulate matter resuspended from coastal sediment during storm events and turbulence. The sediment then gets transported from shallow areas to deeper regions in the lake.

“Because quagga mussels carpet the bottom of the lake, the resuspension of phosphorus during winter and during storms is less than it used to be,” Guo said. “When we compare data from
before and after the invasion of the quagga mussels, we find there’s only about one third to less than half of the amount of total phosphorus present in the winter water column.”

Guo thinks these findings will be useful for fishery and environmental managers and Great Lakes researchers. He plans further investigations into how the mussels are impacting the lake’s nutrient and carbon cycling. “It’s kind of unbelievable how the vast numbers of tiny quagga mussels are changing Lake Michigan,” Guo said.

Friday, July 14, 2017

Stalking a Fish Virus

Wisconsin Sea Grant research team tracks the location of the deadly viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus.

July 14, 2017

By Aaron R. Conklin

First, they developed the test. Now they’re using it to track a stealthy, fish-killing virus.

In 2013, Tony Goldberg, a UW-Madison professor of epidemiology, and Kathy Toohey-Kurth, a virologist at the Wisconsin Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory, used funding from Wisconsin Sea Grant to lead a team that created a quick and accurate test for viral hemorrhagic septicemia virus (VHSV), a deadly disease that attacks the internal organs of fish, leading to bloody and large-scale fish kills. Over the past year—again with support from Wisconsin Sea Grant--Goldberg and his research team have ventured into the rivers and streams of Wisconsin, from the Apostle Islands to Janesville and the Wisconsin-Illinois border, working with the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to collecting fish samples to test and track the virus’s current locations and movement among fish populations.

The goal? Developing an effective management strategy to contain VHSV.

“If we catch wildlife diseases early, there’s a lot we can do about them,” said Goldberg. “There’s a window where you can intervene and be adaptive and smart and prevent or even get rid of some diseases with really careful management. VHSV will not be the last fish disease to plague Wisconsin. If we do this exercise and are effective with it, we have a test case, an action plan for the future.”

Taking steps toward that plan has involved a substantial amount of fish sampling and laboratory work. Last fall, Goldberg’s team collected samples from several thousand fish across most of Wisconsin’s major geologic zones.  Whitney Thiel, a graduate student in UW-Madison’s freshwater and marine sciences program, has spent the intervening months performing enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) tests on the scores of fish samples, generating data on the fishes’ antibody levels, which rise in response to an exposure to diseases like VHSV.

The data will help the team solve the project’s biggest mystery—finding the specific cutoff point between negative (never exposed to VHSV) and positive (exposed to VHSV) fish.

“This test has never been applied to many of these fish species before,” explained Goldberg.  “Once we’re able to say what proportion of fish in a lake are serologically positive or negative, that will tell us where in Wisconsin fish have an immunity to the virus.”

That’s critically important information to have, particularly for fisheries managers. VHSV is particularly insidious. Past research (including Goldberg’s) indicates that it can lie dormant in fish population for years, a lurking threat in the absence of visible fish kills. Goldberg studied freshwater drum in Lake Winnebago, using the test his team developed to discover that the fish were maintaining the virus at low levels.

“We know from experience that if you have a na├»ve population and expose them to the virus for the first time, it’s bad--you get fish kills,” explained Goldberg.  “If we have areas where there are a lot of positive fish, we would want to make sure we didn’t move fish out of there into other areas. If we know our fish hatcheries are free of the virus, we might want to stock fish preferentially into lakes that don’t have the virus so they don’t all die and we don’t waste our money.”

Researchers still don’t know how VHSV manages to persist within lakes. Several possible explanations exist, including the fish shedding the virus during spawning. One of Goldberg’s colleagues at Michigan State University, Mohamed Faisal, recently conducted a study that suggested the virus may be associated with Diporeia, the microscopic Great Lakes zooplankton that historically served as a primary food source for multiple fish species.

“We have a virus that wasn’t here before, and it’s pretty clear it kills fish,” Goldberg said. “So what do you do about it? You have to know where it is. If we just close our eyes and choose not to know where the virus is, it’s just going to spread. We need to set management zones, we need to know which fish to move, we need to educate the public.”

Thiel still has several more months of sample testing to complete before a clearer picture of VHSV in Wisconsin can emerge. In the coming weeks, the research will be taking samples from infected fish to  better understand how their immune systems respond to it.

“Honestly, at this early stage, I would not be surprised by any result,” said Goldberg of the ongoing study. “The only thing I’m pretty confident in is that we’re going to find positive fish where we have found them before.”

Tuesday, July 11, 2017

Bipartisan Group of Senators Introduce the Modern Fish Act

Recreational Fishermen Laud Wicker, Nelson and Colleagues

July 10, 2017 (Washington, DC) - Today, the recreational fishing and boating community praised the Senate introduction of the Modern Fish Act by Senators Roger Wicker (R-Miss.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Roy Blunt (R-Mo.), Brian Schatz (D-Hawaii), John Kennedy (R-La.) and Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.). The "Modernizing Recreational Fisheries Management Act of 2017" (Modern Fish Act) would improve public access to America's federal waters, promote conservation of our natural marine resources and spur economic growth. A companion bill, H.R. 2023, was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives on April 6, by Congressmen Garret Graves (R-La.), Gene Green (D-Texas), Daniel Webster (R-Fla.) and Rob Wittman (R-Va.).

"On behalf of America's 11 million saltwater anglers, we thank Senators Wicker, Nelson, Blunt, Schatz, Kennedy and Manchin for their leadership and commitment to modernizing federal recreational fishing management," said Jeff Angers, president of the Center for Sportfishing Policy. "Recreational fishing is a tradition worth safeguarding through proper management policies and a critical component of the U.S. economy, with an annual economic contribution of $63+ billion. With a bipartisan bill introduced in both chambers, we are hopeful the Congress will ensure all Americans have fair and reasonable access to our nation's marine resources by passing the Modern Fish Act."

For years, the recreational fishing community has been hindered by antiquated policies that restrict access to public waters, hurt the U.S. economy and detract from conservation goals. The Modern Fish Act addresses many of the challenges faced by recreational anglers, including allowing alternative management tools for recreational fishing, reexamining fisheries allocations, smartly rebuilding fish stocks and improving recreational data collection. The bill aims to benefit fishing access and conservation by incorporating modern management approaches, science and technology to guide decision-making.
"We applaud Senators Wicker, Nelson, Blunt, Schatz, Kennedy and Manchin for working across the aisle to introduce the Modern Fish Act in the Senate. When passed, this landmark legislation will modernize the federal regulations governing access to the public's natural resources by boaters and anglers," said National Marine Manufacturers Association President Thom Dammrich. "We appreciate the commitment of Senators Wicker, Nelson, Blunt, Schatz, Kennedy and Manchin to finding solutions that allow for better management of our recreational fisheries and bring federal management into the 21st century."

"The Modern Fish Act will achieve many goals, the most important of which is getting more Americans outdoors and enjoying our wonderful natural treasures," said Mike Nussman, president of the American Sportfishing Association. "This bipartisan legislation includes key provisions that will adapt federal fisheries management to manage recreational fishing in a way that better achieves conservation and public access goals. Recreational fishing provides many economic, social and conservation benefits to the nation, and with this legislation, the federal fisheries management system will better realize those benefits."

"The Magnuson Stevens Act is designed to be reviewed regularly because the management needs of our nation's fisheries are constantly evolving. Since the last reauthorization, it has become abundantly clear that the law needs to be revised to provide quality angling opportunities for all stakeholders," said Patrick Murray, president of Coastal Conservation Association. "This legislation signifies that our elected officials on both sides of the aisle recognize the unique needs of the recreational angling sector and the changing nature of fisheries management. We commend Senators Wicker, Nelson, Blunt, Schatz, Kennedy and Manchin for providing a pathway that provides for proper conservation and better management of our marine resources in the future."

"The Modern Fish Act offers reasonable solutions to a management system designed primarily for commercial fisheries but which has failed to address the needs of millions of saltwater anglers," said Congressional Sportsmen's Foundation President Jeff Crane. "The simple adjustments in this bipartisan bill would continue to ensure conservation of our nation's saltwater fisheries, while finally establishing greatly needed parity for the recreational fishing community."

"The Modern Fish Act would fix key issues in the law governing marine fisheries that keep recreational anglers from enjoying access to healthy fisheries," said Jim Donofrio, executive director of the Recreational Fishing Alliance.

Friday, July 7, 2017


Help Needed July 29th/rain date July 30th

The Hunger Task Force is requesting our help again this year at the Brew City Fish Tournament hosted by Great Lakes Sport Fishing Club at McKinley Marina on Lake Michigan at: 1750 N Lincoln Memorial Drive, Milwaukee, WI 53202.

Through the generosity of tournament attendees that may choose to donate their catch to the HTF, we are able to process the fish and distribute cleaned filets to the community.

This is a great community outreach program servicing those less fortunate that would not have the funds to purchase salmon & trout in the marketplace. 

As a possible added bonus, we might even end up encouraging recipients to become anglers and fish on their own!

How can you help? Volunteers are needed at the fish cleaning area from about 12 pm – 4 pm.

Please note that not all volunteers need to know how to clean fish. We also need volunteers to bring the fish to cleaners and also volunteers to put the cleaned filets into zip lock bags and into the refrigerated truck. 

For more information or to volunteer to help, contact us at:

Friday, May 19, 2017

Outdoor Report for May 18, 2017

Published by the Central Office

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Strong storms that swept across Wisconsin with high winds earlier this week downed trees in some state parks and forests but crews have been out clearing the damage and all park and forest campgrounds and public use areas remain open. High water on the Chippewa River has closed one section of the Chippewa River State Trail south of Eau Claire.
With all the recent rain, many rivers are running above normal spring flow for this time of year. Both the Brule River and Flambeau River state forests are cautioning paddlers that their rivers are running high and fast. The Lower Wisconsin River had started to come down, with some sandbars again beginning to emerge, but with this week's rain, it could begin to rise again by the weekend.
Fishermen have been having some success fishing the Flambeau River for walleye and bass. Some northern pike, walleye and smallmouth bass were being caught on the Oconto, Peshtigo and Menominee rivers.
On Green Bay, high winds from the northeast kept fishing pressure low much of the week, but many anglers still ventured out. Anglers that braved the wind found the walleyes were looking for warmer water. Anglers are reporting catching walleye and smallmouth bass out of the Oconto Breakwater Harbor. In the southern bay, most anglers were catching multiple harvestable walleyes as well as white bass and freshwater drum.
Along Door County, fishing pressure on Little Sturgeon Bay was high last week due to the tournaments that were held in Sturgeon Bay over the weekend. Anglers were primarily targeting smallmouth bass with a few anglers trying for some walleyes. Smallmouth anglers success varied widely, the key to catching good numbers of fish seemed to be staying mobile and finding the warmest water. Rainbows are finishing up spawning but are still holding in some of the Door County streams, likely waiting for warm water to force them back into the lake.
Along Lake Michigan, fishing pressure on the Milwaukee lakefront increased with a week of calm, stable weather and temperatures in 60s and 70s on the weekend. Large schools of alewives are starting to show up along the lakefront. Large flocks of seagulls were diving on the alewives as they swam towards the North Avenue Bridge. Activity at the McKinley and Riverfront ramps increased with limits of coho being caught on the weekend.
Fourth season turkey hunters reported quite a bit of early success, but as the week went on it sounds like the birds have been pretty quiet. Bears are out and about and looking for food. 
Black bears are out.
Black bears are out. Prevent bears from getting into trouble by bringing in bird feeders, securing garbage cans, not feeding pets outside and cleaning out the grease from grills.
Photo Credit: Michele Woodford
Fawns are being born and are being seen in many locations. Remember, fawns are rarely abandoned. It is normal for deer mothers to leave fawns unattended because keeping fawns hidden and alone is actually an adaptation to protect them from predators. If you see a fawn in the wild, leave it alone, back away, and it's mother will return to care for it.
It is also turtle nesting time. Watch out for turtles trying to cross roads to get to warm sandy spots in which to nest and you can report turtle crossing sites to help biologists protect our native turtle species.
The spring songbird and warbler migration is in full swing, with 18 species of warblers seen at Wyalusing State Park this week, along with several species of flycatchers and thrushes. This weekend will afford many opportunities for bird watching, with six state properties hosting birding activities, including the Crex Meadows Bird Festival this Saturday. For a complete list of activities, search the DNR website for "Get Outdoors."
Upcoming events at Wisconsin recreational properties
Friday, May 19
Saturday, May 20, 2017
Sunday, May 21, 2017
Wildfire Report
With green-up nearing completion in the north and timely rains across the state, the spring wildfire season appears to be coming to a close and there will be no further wildfire reports this spring unless conditions change. - Joanne Ackerman, wildland urban interface coordinator, Madison
Upcoming State Natural Area Workday
May 20, 10 a.m.-1 p.m. - Help Chiwaukee Prairie Preservation Fund volunteers during our monthly workdays on the third Saturday and enjoy the beauty of this rich prairie in the process. We will scout for and remove garlic mustard and dame's rocket, which threaten to outcompete native plants. We will remove these using a variety of techniques including herbicides, shovels, and our hands. Bring a bag lunch to eat afterwards. No skills needed you will be trained onsite.
Check the State Natural Areas Volunteer Program page of the DNR website for details. - Jared Urban, conservation biologist, Dane. - Jared Urban, conservation biologist, Dane

Northern Region

Superior DNR Service Center area
Brule River State Forest - With all the rain this week, the river flow is very high. Check the USGS flow rate data before you head out. The view from the Ranger Station has changed since last week. The view looking upstream from the Ranger Station has been photographed many times over the years. The view is different now, as the leaning white pine finally came down yesterday. The tree was likely about 200 years old and measured around 30-plus inches in diameter. With the recent significant rainfall amounts, the bank finally gave way. When the tree uprooted, it spanned the river. It took several hours to cut away the middle section of the tree to provide a passageway for canoes. Sunshine and warm temperatures at the end of last week and over the weekend got the leaves popping this week, changing the outside view as well. Marsh marigolds, wood anenomes and violets are in bloom. Ferns are unfurling, and the forest is greening up! More rain over the weekend is forecast, and then some sunshine and temperatures in the 60s will get additional flowers blooming. A snapping turtle was looking for a spot to lay her eggs near the hatchery this week. She weighed an estimated 35-40 pounds and her shell measured about 20 inches from front to back. It is turtle nesting time--watch out for turtles trying to cross roads to get to warm sandy spots in which to nest. - Diane Gobin, visitor services associate
Tree about to fall over
May 11, 2017
Tree in the river
May 17, 2017

Spooner DNR Service Center area
Crex Meadows State Wildlife - Most of the waterfowl have already migrated through the area, so the ducks seen on the property now are mostly our nesting populations. We should start to see some broods of young in the next few weeks. Be sure to keep your eyes open for the many broods of young Canadian geese that are on the properties. We should also start to see cygnets appearing soon. Songbird migration is in full swing in the Grantsburg area, and we added many new species to the list in the last few days! Some of the highlights for bird watchers have been pine warblers and blackpoll warblers. There was also an Indigo bunting spotted on Crex on May 12. The pair of Red-necked Grebes are nesting on Phantom, and have been seen many times either on the nest or swimming around near it. Highlights from the weekend were a red-headed woodpecker that was spotted, the sharp-tailed grouse that are still dancing in the early mornings, and the three different thrushes that are moving through (hermit, Swainson's and gray-cheeked). The Crex Meadows Spring Bird Festival will be held this Saturday, May 20 from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. This festival is an opportunity for bird enthusiasts of all levels to celebrate birds while enjoying the camaraderie of fellow birders at one of the largest state owned wildlife areas in Wisconsin. Enjoy guided bird tours through the property, songbird banding, presentations by avid birders, bird activities for kids, and a pancake breakfast in the morning! Also join area birders in documenting any birds seen on May 20 on our 270 bird species checklist! Some events require pre-registration; call Lauren at 715-463-2739 for more information. - Lauren Finch, assistant naturalist
Park Falls DNR Service Center area
Flambeau River State Forest - Fishermen have been having some success fishing the Flambeau River for walleye and bass. It sounds like the northern pike were biting on Connors Lake. Water is high from recent rain and storms. Anyone planning to paddle down the Flambeau River this weekend should keep in mind the water levels, it may be fast moving. Blooming plants are everywhere. Large flowered bellwort, trilliums, bloodroot, side oats, marsh marigolds, jack-in-the-pulpits, sessile bellwort, trout lily, early season violets, lilacs...the list goes on. Geese and ducks are nesting and groups of goslings have been seen. A family of woodcocks were seen and chicks were described as tan little ping pong balls with sticks for legs. Song birds are defending their territories where the females are already sitting on the nests. Robins, mourning doves, yellow finches, phoebes, tree swallows, house wrens, owls, wood cock, sandhill cranes, swans, red breasted grosbeaks, orioles and kingfishers have been seen. There even was a siting of a yellow warbler and Myrtle's warbler. Bear are trying to fill up on proteins. Elk cows have been making calf scouting moves looking for a safe quiet area to have their calves. Spring turkey Period E is open through May 23. The few forest logging operations have come to a standstill because of heavy precipitation we are having this week. The weather forecast for the weekend indicates Saturday will have showers likely with a high of 58 and low of 46, and Sunday mostly cloudy, with a high of 59 and low of 43. - Diane Stowell, forestry technician advanced and visitor services associate
Woodruff DNR Service Center area
Oneida County - Goslings have hatched and Canada geese can be found in open grassy areas feeding on new greens. A burst of warm weather and some rain has Aspen trees budding new leaves. Trillium flowers and Cherry and Juneberry trees are blossoming their white flowers throughout our woods. Woodcock, grouse and turkeys are setting on nests. May is the month to bring in your birdfeeders, Bears are out and about and looking for food. Prevent bears from getting into trouble by considering these few simple steps: never feed bears, bring in bird feeders, keep garage doors closed if you store garbage inside, don't feed pets outside and clean out the grease can on your grill. For more information visit our website and do a key word search for "living with bears [PDF]". - Michele Woodford, wildlife biologist, Woodruff
Northern Highland-American Legion State Forest - The drenching rain of the last few days is helping everything growing to suddenly explode with lovely spring green colors. June and Pin cherry are blooming, adding to the pallet of green pastels. Regular and barren strawberries are blooming, trilliums are starting to bloom and wood anemones are on the downward cycle. Rose breasted grosbeaks and indigo buntings are joining the warblers and hummers that are starting to arrive. The woods are full of song! The hermit thrushes and loons are serenading into the night. What a lovely time of year to get out and enjoy the north. - Rosalie Richter, visitor services associate
Antigo DNR Service Center area
Council Grounds State Park - Camping season is picking up at the park. All sites are first-come-first-serve until May 25 when the reservation season starts. Showers and flush toilets are open. All sorts of wildlife species are out and about. Deer are beginning to drop their fawns. Turkeys are laying eggs and nesting. Turtles are starting to sun themselves on the exposed river rocks. Birds are making their way back to their warm habitats. It's looking a lot like spring at Council Grounds! - Dawn Bishop, property supervisor

Northeast Region

Northern Lake Michigan fisheries team report
This report is for the week of May 7-13. Early in the week high water made fishing difficult on the Oconto, Peshtigo, and Menominee Rivers, but by the week end things were returning to normal. Most of the fishing activity was happening from the Oconto Breakwater Park to the Pensaukee River.
Marinette County - Fishing for walleye from the Peshtigo Harbor to the mouth of the Menominee River has been slow. Some pike, walleye and smallmouth are being caught trolling in 7 to 12 feet of water with crawler harness and stick baits. Browns are still being caught out of Little River using spoons and cranks in water 12 to 15 feet. Heavy current and the closure of the Hattie Street Bridge has cut down the number of anglers to a very low level. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo
Oconto County - A few panfish and smallmouth were being caught on the upper reaches of the Oconto River using live bait and artificial. Catch rates are low. At the mouth of the Oconto River smallmouth bass, pike and walleye were being caught in okay numbers using a variety of artificial and live bait. The walleye bite is best early morning and late afternoon. As for trolling, Pensaukee has been producing the best bite using stick baits and crawler harness in 7 to 12 feet of water. Anglers are reporting catching walleye and small mouth out of the Oconto Breakwater Harbor by keying on the rock piles and reefs jigging with live bait and Rip'n Raps. - Kevin King, fisheries technician, Peshtigo
Geano Beach anglers were targeting walleye with similar pressure and success to other launches in the area. Anglers have been seeing an increase in the catch of northern pike this year. Most anglers also caught many freshwater drum which is not uncommon. - Adam Garlie, fisheries technician, Green Bay
Brown County - Walleye fishing this week at Bayshore Park was very much up and down. High winds from the northeast kept fishing pressure low much of the week, but many anglers still ventured out. Anglers that braved the wind found the walleyes were looking for warmer water and wanted flicker shads trolled slowly. Most anglers were managing to catch 1 or 2 fish with a few anglers getting their limit. Other than walleyes, anglers reported catching white perch, yellow perch, freshwater drum, channel catfish, and northern pike. Water temperatures are hovering around 49 to 51 degrees. - Derek Apps, fisheries technician, Green Bay
Over the past week walleye anglers have seen improved success with most boats out of the Metro Launch harvesting at least one walleye for a half days effort. It was not uncommon for a group of anglers to harvest four or more walleye. At the Fox Point launch, similar success to metro launch, anglers were targeting walleye with increased success from previous weeks. Most anglers were catching multiple harvestable walleyes as well as white bass and freshwater drum. Few anglers were seen fishing from shore. Mostly walleye fishermen out of fairgrounds with a few shore anglers. Walleye anglers saw success catching fish comparable to other launches around the area. Shore anglers were catching white bass, freshwater drum, as well as the occasional smallmouth bass. Anglers were out at Voyager Park fishing for white bass over the past week. Most caught a wide variety of fish for a half of day's effort, including white bass, freshwater drum, and common carp. Some anglers even caught a few yellow perch. A couple anglers were seen wading of shore as well. At Suamico, success increased from previous weeks with some boats catching more than seven walleyes for three to four hours' worth of fishing. There has also been in increase in the number of northern pike being caught, with at least half the anglers interviewed catching at least one. - Adam Garlie, fisheries technician, Green Bay
Door County - At Chaudoirs Dock with many anglers were struggling to find warm water and active fish. Anglers were reporting that the best fishing is taking place right at dark and into the night. Water temperatures reported were in the upper 40s and water clarity is improving with the lack of precipitation. Fishing pressure on Little Sturgeon Bay has been high this week due to the tournaments that were held in Sturgeon Bay over the weekend. Anglers were primarily targeting smallmouth bass with a few anglers trying for some walleyes. Smallmouth anglers success varied widely, the key to catching good numbers of fish seemed to be staying mobile and finding the warmest water. Many anglers were using suspending jerk baits or soft plastics to catch the smallmouth. Other species that were caught by smallmouth anglers were walleye, northern pike, round gobies, and common carp. The report for Sawyer Harbor is much the same from Little Sturgeon Bay. High fishing pressure seemed to have spooked some of the bass, lowering overall catch numbers. Anglers reported seeing many more fish in Sawyer Harbor compared to Riley's, Sand, or Little Sturgeon Bay. This is likely due to the warmer waters in Sawyer, reportedly anywhere from 56-58 degrees. With the warm weather coming this week the water temperatures should only increase bringing in more fish driving them to bed up and spawn. - Derek Apps, fisheries technician, Green Bay
Smallmouth fishing has been picking up as temperatures increase. Although anglers are finding many fish in shallows, the bite it tough. Most had better luck catching the prespawn fish staging in 10-15 feet of water. Smallmouth and pike can be seen from shore in many places, but as you travel north, you will see fewer and fewer fish since water temperatures in the northern end of the bay are cooler. Pike action has been good in most places around the county. Live minnows have worked the best. Walleye action is fairly slow but consistent. Anglers are finding fish but catches remain small. The southern end of the bay seems to be more productive. Brown trout action has diminished since most anglers have shifted gears to fish for other species. Browns can still be seen cruising the shorelines and piers in many places. Rainbows are finishing up spawning but are still holding in some of the Door County streams, likely waiting for warm water to force them back into the lake. - Benjamin Thome, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay
Kewaunee County - Fishing is still slow throughout Kewaunee County. The rivers are low, warm, and clear, and no anglers were seen to interview about steelhead fishing, so it may be finished for the season. A few boats out this weekend caught a brown or a rainbow in passing, and reported water temperatures ranged from 47 to 52 degrees. Many anglers agree that the brown trout fishing is over for the spring and they are looking forward to salmon fishing picking up. - Jacob Steckmesser, fisheries technician, Sturgeon Bay
Manitowoc County - There were a few warmer and calmer weather days this past week, which allowed more anglers to get out and spend time in the rivers and lakeshore. Catfish have been caught in the Manitowoc River as well as trout. Anglers were out on the West Twin River preparing for the upcoming carp tournament and having a fair amount of success. With the warm weather on Mother's Day, many families took advantage of the lakeshore and Manitowoc River and were enjoying the day on boats, kayaks and jet skis. - Mallary Schenian, fisheries technician, Mishicot
Peshtigo DNR Service Center area
Marinette County - Warm wet weather has brought more gnats and mosquitos. It has also helped morels and other mushrooms to pop, given bats some food, and greened up the woods. Trilliums and marsh marigolds are in bloom. Whip-poor-wills are now commonly heard calling in the evenings. Hummingbirds, bluebirds, orioles and numerous other migratory birds are now back. Anglers report catching some bluegill and bass on inland lakes. Snakes and turtles are a more common sight now. Please watch for turtles crossing roads and help them to the side they are headed to when it is safe for you to do so. Fawns will be dropped soon, so a reminder that does will leave their fawns for what seems like an excessively long time. Give the fawn space and leave it alone as its mother will likely return to care for it. Do not pick up, corral, feed, or otherwise interfere with the fawn. If you have reason to believe the mother will not be back, then please contact your local DNR biologist. - Aaron McCullough, wildlife technician, Wausaukee
Peshtigo River State Forest -
Governor Thompson State Park - The forest floor is covered in wildflowers. Turtles are starting to migrate. Baby painted and snapping turtles that over-wintered in the nest are now starting to hatch on sunny days. We are hearing spring peepers, toads and tree frogs. It is a great time for hiking - not too hot, and the leaves are just starting to pop open. There are 16 miles of hiking trails waiting for your next adventure. - Maggie Kailhofer, park manager

Southeast Region

Milwaukee DNR Service Center area
Southern Lake Michigan fisheries team report
Milwaukee County - Fishing pressure on the lakefront increased with a week of calm, stable weather and less than a quarter-inch of rain. Daytime temperatures increased to the 60s and 70s on the weekend. Large schools of alewives are starting to show up along the lakefront and on the lake side of McKinley Pier. Anglers on the pier had no trouble catching alewives on Saturday morning. Small coho 5- to 6-pound brown trout were caught on alewives. The surface water temperature on the lake side of the pier increased from 46 degrees last week to 49 degrees on Saturday. A 40-inch northern pike was caught and released recently in the Lake Shore State Park lagoons by an angler soaking shiners under slip bobbers on 3 fishing poles. Most of the brown trout landed recently in the harbor behind Summerfest were caught with live bait (fathead minnows and shiners). Activity at the McKinley and Riverfront ramps increased with limits of coho being caught on the weekend. The weather conditions were near perfect for trolling on Saturday morning with 5-15 mph west/southwest winds and a large number of boats went out from McKinley. A few nice size brown trout and small coho were landed in the current on the lake side of the Oak Creek Power Plant fishing pier. The majority of boats out of Bender Park targeted coho salmon with good success during the week. The Milwaukee River flow rate and water level decreased this week. Anglers at Kletzsch Park continue to land smallmouth bass, rock bass, largemouth bass, and suckers. A large number of smallmouth bass and rock bass were caught and released at Estabrook on Sunday afternoon. Large schools of alewives have been stacked up below the former North Avenue dam for the past two weeks. Large flocks of seagulls were diving on the alewives as they swam towards the North Avenue Bridge. The water level on the Menomonee River continues to fall. There's been very little fishing pressure at Miller Park since the rainbow spawning run came to an end. - Steve Nagel, fisheries technician, Milwaukee
Racine County - One boat angler fished out at 130 feet of water and caught two coho salmon on a dodger/fly combo. Another boat angler fished in 25 feet of water and caught one lake trout on a spoon. The Root River is currently flowing at 110 cfs and the water visibility is about 14 inches. No anglers reported catching steelhead this week. One sucker and two smallmouth bass were reported caught. The water temperature was 60 degrees above the Steelhead Facility and 61 degrees below. Only a couple of anglers were fishing upstream of the facility this week and none reported catching any fish. Not many anglers fished downstream of the facility this week. One angler reported catching two smallmouth bass on live worms at Lincoln Park. Another angler fishing near the 6th St. Bridge reported catching a sucker on live worms. - Dominic Cavalieri, fisheries technician, Sturtevant
Kenosha County - A boat angler reported fishing in 150 feet of water and catching a majority of the coho salmon on a dodger/fly combo, with blue and/or green flies working best. Another boat caught a two-person limit of coho salmon at 200 feet of water and most of their fish were caught on a dodger/fly combo. They said that green flies seemed to work best. Both boaters said that they caught most of their fish in the late morning to early afternoon hours. - Dominic Cavalieri, fisheries technician, Sturtevant

South Central Region

Lower Wisconsin State Riverway - The water levels on May 18, at the Prairie Du Sac dam was 17,731 CFS. Please call 1-800-242-1077 for current river flow at the Prairie Du Sac dam. Please remember that camping is restricted to no more than three days on state-owned islands and sandbars. Camping at these locations is restricted to persons and their equipment arrived by watercraft only. A camping permit is not required. Portable toilets are in place at most DNR managed landings along the river and water is turned on at locations where available. - Matt Seguin, property manager
Weekly Riverway Report  - The River is still a little bit high but some sandbars are popping up. There may be an uptick in river flow depending on upriver precipitation this week. Rain is in the forecast for the weekend. Mosquitoes are out. - Mark Cupp, executive director Lower Wisconsin State Riverway Board
Dodgeville DNR Service Center area
Wyalusing State Park -Just before you get to the Wyalusing State Park on Highway C there are a pair of trumpet swans in the back waters of the Wisconsin River. Birds that have been reported in the park are the following: American white pelican, double-creased cormorant, great blue heron, Canada goose, wood duck, bald eagles, broad-winged hawk, wild turkey, killdeer, spotted sandpiper, American woodcock, mourning dove, barred owl, chimney swift, ruby-throated hummingbird, belted kingfisher, eastern wood pewee, Acadian flycatcher, willow flycatcher, least flycatcher, great crested flycatcher, northern rough-winged swallow, bank swallow, barn swallow, black-capped chickadee, tufted titmouse, brown creeper, veery, gray-cheeked thrush, brown thrasher, blue-winged warbler, golden-winged warbler, Tennessee warbler, Nashville warbler, northern Paula-yellow warbler, chestnut-sided warbler, magnolia warbler, Cape May warbler, yellow-rumped warbler, black-throated green warbler, Blackburnian warbler, yellow throated warbler, bay-breasted warbler, Cerulean warbler, black and white warbler, Prothonotary warbler, northern water thrush, Louisiana water thrush, Kentucky warbler, Canada warbler, scarlet tanager, rose-breasted grosbeak, indigo bunting, Vesper sparrow, Henslow's sparrow, Lincoln's sparrow, red-winged blackbird, eastern meadowlark, Baltimore oriole, house finch, house sparrow. Trails are open. And in good condition. Treasure Cave is now open. It is the time of the year to watch the road sides for the doe deer and their young. Campers have sighted one near Whitetail Meadows Trail. Water has been high at the boat landing. This last weekend, there were canoers canoeing the back waters and capturing the view of lots of wildlife. Concession stand is now open Fridays, Saturdays and Sunday mornings and are renting canoes and kayaks. The concession stand will open during the week days starting May 26. Starsplitters will be having a Public Program Saturday May 27 at 8:30 p.m. at the Paul Lawrence Interpretive Center. Wild Flowers are starting to bloom in the Native Prairie at the Park office. Shooting star, cream false indigo and columbine. - Pam Dressler, visitor services associate
Horicon DNR Service Center area
Horicon Marsh State Wildlife Area - Migrating songbirds are finally arriving with a variety of vireos, warblers and flycatchers now moving through. Reports of hummingbirds at feeders are now more prevalent as they move into the area. It's definitely time to have your nectar and orange feeders out if you don't already! Trillium and wild geranium are in bloom. Visit the Horicon National Wildlife Refuge Visitor Center located off of Highway Z on Saturday May 20 from 9am-1pm for a Wildflowers for Wildlife native plant sale. Native wetland, woodland and prairie plants will all be available and proceeds will benefit the Friends of Horicon National Wildlife Refuge. Visit for more details or call 920-387-7893. - Elizabeth Herzmann, natural resources educator
Fitchburg DNR Service Center area
Columbia County - Well, the mosquito season has officially kicked off, and they are out with a vengeance this year! If you are heading out to the woods, make sure to bring bug repellant. The ticks have been very bad this year too. Fourth season turkey hunters reported quite a bit of early success, but as the week went on it sounds like the birds have been pretty quiet. Fifth and sixth period hunters usually have more success with ambush techniques than with trying to call toms to them. Many geese, ducks and cranes have been noted with their young and the first reports of fawns being seen are starting to trickle in. Morels were still out this past week and wild asparagus is out. Lupine started to bloom as well. - Sara Kehrli, wildlife biologist, Poynette

West Central Region

Eau Claire DNR Service Center area
Chippewa River State Trail - The trail is flooded between mile 5 and 6 near Jopke Road south of Eau Claire. Plan on using the Highway 85 rest area or Caryville to access the trail to the south. - Calvin Kunkel, ranger
Wausau DNR Service Center area
Wisconsin Rapids DNR Service Center area
Buckhorn State Park - We have six non-reservable, first come-first served sites for Memorial Day weekend. All reservable sites have been filled. Boat launch repairs at the launch inside the park are completed. Showers at the south picnic shelter will be on soon after a repair is completed. Showers are open in the new campground. Drinking water is available throughout the park. - Heather Wolf, park manager

Roche-A-Cri State Park - We have three non-reservable campsites for Memorial Day weekend. All reservable sites are filled. - Heather Wolf, park manager