DNR Outdoor Report: Feeling Like Fall | Environment
Cool and even some cold night temperatures in the last week along with at least a little rainfall across the state had lots of people thinking about the approaching fall season. The cold front dropped water temperatures in some areas, with Lake Michigan surface temperatures in the low 50s. Water temperatures on most inland lakes have been holding in upper 60s to low 70s.
With only minimal rainfall, river systems continue to drop and the lower Wisconsin and Mississippi rivers are now at the lowest levels they have been all summer. In the north, the Flambeau River is still at normal summer levels and is providing good paddling conditions on both the north and south forks.
The cold front that came through made for a big decrease in both fishing and recreational boating activity. Both largemouth and smallmouth bass have continued to provide the most consistent action on northern lakes. Walleye fishing continues to be erratic with the best catches made in the deep weed beds during the low light periods. The cool weather kept musky success down and many anglers have been having a tough time finding fish, but northern pike action continued to be good. Panfish action has been variable, with some nice perch being found along deep weed edges and crappie suspended near any deeper water cover.
Panfishing is almost always a good bet in summer. Panfish, as a category, are by far the most frequently caught fish in Wisconsin. Read results from a survey of anglers on what their desires for their Wisconsin panfishing experiences.
On Lake Michigan, a 41.5 inch, 32.41 pound “King” salmon caught last weekend near Washington Island in the Kewaunee-Door Salmon Tournament. The 2013 tournament saw 404 fish over 20 pounds, with the top 50 fish all over 25 pounds. This is in sharp contrast to last year where there were only 14 fish over 20 pounds.
The cold snap seems to have slowed the bass action a little along Door County, but there are still some decent catches coming all around the county. But perch fishing has been going pretty good, with some nice sized fish being caught at several places around the county.
Trolling out of southern Lake Michigan harbors was a bit slower, with winds and waves keeping boats closer to shore. Some of the best fishing was out of Milwaukee with chinook making up the majority of the catch, but a few lake trout and rainbows were also taken.
With the cooler weather, bear hunters were very active training dogs. Some fawns are beginning to lose their spots and bucks are in velvet. Skunks, raccoons, and woodchucks are busy raiding gardens and lawns. Many homeowners are calling to report nuisance activities of these animals. Lots of turkey broods are being seen with the poults now about chicken size.
Now is the time to think about enrolling in a Hunter Safety class if it will be needed. Go to the DNR website at dnr.gov and enter the keywords “hunter safety” in the search box.
Prairies are displaying a full bloom of black-eyed Susan, yellow coneflower, blazing star, cup plant, ox-eye sunflower, prairie dock, rattlesnake master and others. Yellow swallowtails and monarchs are starting to show up as well, and unfortunately, deer and horse flies have been out in full force.
Ashland County - Last week was wet and cool and perhaps even cold at times. Bear hunters training dogs were very active. Fishing activity was light and talk of football seemed to dominate conversations since training camps started during the week. Talk of deer hunting and other fall seasons are starting too. Blueberry picking has started.
- Matt Mackenzie, conservation warden, Ashland
Upper Chippewa Basin fisheries report (Price, Rusk, Sawyer Taylor and inland Ashland and Iron counties) - The major cold front that came through Wisconsin last week made for a big decrease in both fishing and recreational boating activity. Water temperatures on most lakes have been holding in upper 60s to low 70s and this at least has allowed a few patterns to develop. Both largemouth and smallmouth bass have continued to provide the most consistent action, with largemouth becoming less related to the weeds and lily pads and more associated with 'firm' overhead cover such as wood, brush, docks and bog edges. Smallmouth bass have also become more wood-oriented and look for this to increase as the water warms back up in August. Plastics worked slowly around this cover have produced the best success for both species of bass in the past few days. Walleye fishing continues to be erratic with the best catches made in the deep weed beds during the low light periods. Weedless jigs tipped with a leech or crawler piece dropped into open pockets in the weed beds have been the most successful method. The continued cool weather has kept musky success down and many anglers have been having a tough time finding fish. The deep weed edges have been producing a few fish, and the best lures have been medium buck tails and jerk baits. With the cool water temperatures, northern pike action continues to be good. Good numbers of pike are still being found along and in the weed edges, with shallow running crank baits and spinner baits producing the best success. Panfish action has been variable, with some nice perch being found along the deep weed edges and crappie suspended near any deeper water cover.
- Skip Sommerfeldt, senior fisheries biologist, Park Falls
Flambeau River State Forest - Both the North & South Forks of the Flambeau River are at a normal level and should be good for paddlers. Anglers are reporting good fishing conditions for smallmouth bass. Blooming are: swamp and common milkweeds, Canadian fleabane, common skullcap, water dock, common mullein, spotted knapweed, wild pink, water hemlock, great St. John’s-wart, climbing buckwheat, wood nettle, swamp thistle, wild cucumber, spreading dogbane, wild bergamot, common evening-primrose, agrimony, butter & eggs, enchanter’s-nightshade, Indian-pipes & vervain. Red raspberries and swamp currents are ripe. Fawns are losing their spots and bucks are in velvet. Saturay, August 3 there will be a “The Nights Alive!” program. Take a journey into the night with us as to see if the night is really as creepy as people think it is. Be sure to bring along a friend to be scared with! Also bring along a flashlight and camera in case we come across something extraordinary! Meet at Dusk
- Judy Freeman, visitor services associate