DNR Outdoor Report: Improved Fishing | Environment
Beautiful yet unseasonable weather has graced the state this week, with comfortable highs in the mid 70s and lows in the 40s and even upper 30s to the far north. With these cool nights have come cooler water temperatures. Most lake temperatures have been holding steady in the low to mid-60s. In the deeper waters of Lake Michigan the water temperatures have been in the mid-40s in some areas such as Sheboygan.
The more stable and moderate weather has made for improved fishing success in the Upper Chippewa Basin waters in Price, Rusk, Sawyer, Taylor, Ashland and Iron counties. Anglers are reporting both musky and bass providing some very good action. Musky activity showed a nice little surge and most anglers reported some good action from small and medium-size fish (28- to 40-inch). The fish seemed to be active along the weed edges and deep break lines, with jerks baits and swim baits such as bulldawgs being the most productive.
Action for both largemouth and smallmouth bass has been consistent and some very nice fish have been caught and released in the last week. Largemouth bass have pretty much settled in to their summer pattern and have been relating to the thick cover. Walleye action has also picked up a notch and a few anglers have been reporting some very nice catches. A weekend musky tournament on Butternut Lake, just outside of Park Falls, produced some very good success for the 39 boats that participated. A total of 26 entry fish were tallied during the 2-day tourney, with the largest 45 inches long. Most anglers did report quite a bit of activity, with a lot of follows and short hits. There was a good number of small fish being caught and released as well (Butternut Lake has a 28-inch minimum length limit for musky).
The water levels and weather on the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway have been making for some great paddling and summer camping. Fishing has been good for smallmouth bass, panfish, walleyes, and sauger. White to pearl colored crank baits, and night crawlers have been the most successful baits used. Fishing on Cox Hollow in Governor Dodge State Park has been consistent with many panfish, bass, and a few walleyes being caught, on night crawlers and lures.
Perch anglers in Door County have been returning with some good results in the last week. Perch are being caught with minnows or crawlers in several places around the county. Walleye numbers were low around Door County, with the average size 18 inches in 20 to 30 feet of water.
Perch were also producing for anglers at Bayshore Park in Brown County. Fishing activity was high on Friday and throughout the weekend with the majority of anglers targeting perch and just a few seeking walleye. A good number of perch were caught with about half returning with their limits.
The signs of the fall season are already beginning to show. In Manitowoc some chinook salmon are already turning darker and moving towards shore. Around Manitowoc County there have been some large fish caught including a 30-pound chinook out of Manitowoc and a 15-pound rainbow out of Two Rivers. Signs of fall approaching are also appearing at Willow River State Park, where some of the trees are showing fall color already. Typically it is the ash trees which have a short growing season.
Statewide birding report
With shorter days and some cool northerly winds, southbound bird migration is kicking in statewide. Shorebirds continue to steal headlines as numbers build at mudflats, beaches, and flooded fields around the state. Horicon Marsh, Bong Recreation Area, and Lake Mills’ Zeloski Marsh have been especially active recently, though plenty of sites statewide provide viewing opportunities. Among the dozens of species seen this week were Red-necked Phalaropes, Marbled Godwit, American Avocets, and American Golden-Plovers. Many of these same wetlands are also hosting good numbers of other waterbirds, such as Great Egrets, Black-crowned Night-Herons, Forster’s Terns, and a variety of waterfowl species staging in family groups. New this week was the first obvious evidence of landbird migration as Olive-sided Flycatchers and Tennessee Warblers were found statewide. Several other warbler species were found south of their breeding ranges as well. Feeder watchers are reporting a major surge in hummingbird activity. Many adult males have already departed the state en route to wintering grounds but a wealth of immature birds has brought as many as 60+ birds to some feeders. Now is also a great time to look for (and report sightings of!) the rare Rufous Hummingbird. A striking adult male photographed in Portage County this past week is the season’s only known observation thus far. Also don’t forget that bird baths and related water features can be very active this time of year, as are native fruit trees and shrubs. Finally, one of Wisconsin’s signature bird migration events – the occurrence of migrating jaegers at Superior’s Wisconsin Point – is underway a bit early this year as up to 5 Parasitic Jaegers have already been reported there. The phenomenon will continue at this special concentration point until October. As always, help us track bird populations and their migration patterns by reporting your sightings to www.ebird.org/wi. And enjoy the birds!
Upper Chippewa Basin fisheries report (Price, Rusk, Sawyer Taylor and inland Ashland and Iron counties) - More stable and moderate weather in the last week have made for improved fishing success, with both musky and bass providing some very good action. Musky activity showed a nice little surge and most anglers reported some good action from small and medium-size fish (28 to 40 inch). The fish seemed to be active along the weed edges and deep break lines, with jerks baits and swim baits such as bulldawgs being the most productive. Any time of day has produced action and was mostly dependent on local weather conditions. Action for both largemouth and smallmouth bass has been consistent and some very nice fish have been caught and released in the last week. Largemouth bass have pretty much settled in to their summer pattern and have been relating to the thick cover. Soft plastics and weedless topwater baits have been the most productive and have to be fished in the wood, tight to the bog/marsh edges or in the weed pockets. Smallmouth bass also have been very active with the best success on the local flowages and larger rivers. The smallmouth bass have been a little harder to find on the bigger natural lakes. Small finesse plastics have been the favorite baits and the fish have been relating to wood near deeper water areas. Walleye action also has picked up a notch and a few anglers have been reporting some very nice catches. Leeches and crawlers fished on the mid-lake rock humps and along/in the weeds have produced most of the fish. Panfish action continues to be fair. Larger perch have been a little tough to find but some decent catches of bluegill, crappie and rock bass have been reported.
- Skip Sommerfeldt, senior fisheries biologist, Park Falls
Flambeau River State Forest - Paddlers are enjoying some great water conditions, especially on the North Fork of the Flambeau River. Blooming now are goldenrod, coneflower, boneset, jewelweed and black-eyed susan. Berries that are ripe are wild-sarsaparilla, red baneberry, pagoda dogwood and bunchberry.
- Judy Freeman, visitor services associate