Wis. DNR Outdoor Report: Summer Weather Arrives

Posted at: 06/12/2014 2:42 PM

People enjoy fly casting during the 2014 Brule Family Fun Day.
People enjoy fly casting during the 2014 Brule Family Fun Day.
Photo: Wisconsin DNR photo

With the exception of some rain statewide last Saturday, Wisconsin has been enjoying some very nice summer weather. Even with the rain, most rivers, with the exception of the St. Croix and Mississippi, are finally dropping to normal summer levels. The slow-no-wake rule has finally been lifted from the Rock River in Rock County. The North Fork of the Flambeau is at normal levels, while the south fork is still running a bit high. The Mississippi River, however, is back on the rise and is predicted to rise 2 feet at Cassville.

The warm weather has greatly increased recreational boating activity on lakes, and conservation wardens are reminding boaters of rules in place to avoid the spread of aquatic invasive species. Boaters must remove all plants from boats and trailers and drain all water from live sells and bilges before leaving a boat landing.

Bluegill spawning is winding down in the south with fish moving off nests. Panfishing has been good at many locations. Fishing for catfish has been very good in the last week on the Mississippi, Wisconsin, Rock, Chippewa, Fox, and Oconto rivers and many spots along Green Bay. Lake Winnebago anglers were still reporting some limits of walleye, along with good numbers of sheepshead, white bass and crappie. A husband and wife out trolling landed a 15.5 inch black crappie last Monday.

Smallmouth bass action has really picked up on Green Bay with bass being caught at many locations on the bay and lake side. On Sunday, two anglers reported catching 60 smallmouth in six hours, a rate of 10 fish per hour. Lake Michigan trollers report fish have become more spread out and are moving into deeper water, but good populations of alewife also continue to keep fish near shore. Most report a mixed bag of rainbows, coho and chinook.

Whitetail deer fawns are now starting to move around more and there have been increasing reports of vehicle deer collisions, so be alert for deer and if a deer crosses the road watch for a young fawn that could be following. The recent warm and moist weather has resulted in large hatches of mosquitoes and biting flies being reported across the state, but especially in the north. The bugs aren't only bothersome to people but also to wildlife. There have been reports of loons in the north being driven off their nests by the biting flies. In Vilas and Onedia counties there are estimates that 70 to 80 percent of loons have abandoned nests due to extremely high black fly numbers. Deer being seen during the day using open areas seeking breezier spots to escape the stings and bites.

Flowers currently blooming include wild rose, wild geranium spiderwort, columbine, wild lily-of-the-valley, and blue bead lily. Lady's slippers are blooming in Door County and spiderwort, golden alexander, flowering spurge, and puccoons are all in flower in the prairies. Butterfly numbers are starting to peak including pearl crescent, little wood satyr, black, eastern tiger and giant swallowtails, viceroy, monarch and silver-spotted skippers. There have also been many hatches of dragonflies including many kinds of skimmers and dot-tailed whiteface and green darner.

Regional reports

Brule River State Forest - Mosquitoes are certainly still out but they are reported to have lessened a little over the past couple of days. Many deer have been out on the roadsides and in fields to escape the persistent mosquitoes.  They are quite noticeable now as their coats have turned to their summer red color.  Numerous fawns are being sighted now and buck antlers are beginning to grow. The Brule Family Fun Day, last weekend, started out rainy and was thick with mosquitoes, but that did not stop the participants.  Attendance was a little lower from recent years, but over 140 people still showed up to tie flies, practice their archery skills, do some fish printing, cast for fish, put out the pretend wildfire, check out the North Country Trail tent and trailer, learn about the aquatic critters with the electrofishing demonstration, and paddle down the Bois Brule River. Campers at the Brule River State Forest are reminded that wildlife can come in and around the campground area…especially if food is left out or the lock to the dumpsters are not latched.  Please keep food contained and trash in the locked dumpsters.
- Catherine Khalar, Visitor Services Associate

Burnett County - Panfishing on area lakes has been good but will slow down as the weather warms. The St. Croix River has high to very high water levels for upcoming canoeing and fishing trips. Please use caution on any paddling events on the St. Croix River over the weekend. Area horse trails and hiking trails are cleaned and clear. A word of caution associated with hiking trails and horse trails, the Grantsburg area currently has a robust insect population. Please think about removing bird feeders to avoid unwanted black bear encounters.
- Christopher Spaight conservation warden, Grantsburg

Straight Lake State Park - Most of the Ice Age Trail segment running through the park is in good condition. With recent rains, some sections are muddy and there is some standing water on parts of the trail. Fishing has been slow; however, panfish have been seen in the shallows on the north side of Straight Lake. Boat access to both Straight and Rainbow lakes is carry in only and no motors are allowed. Flowers that are currently blooming in the park include columbine, wild lily-of-the-valley, blue bead lily and wild geranium. Wild chervil and invasive species are also currently blooming in the park. Like other invasive species, wild chervil can dominate an area, making it harder for native species to survive. For more information on wild chervil, click on the following link: http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/invasives/fact/wildchervil.html. Bald eagles, osprey and trumpeter swans have been seen around Straight Lake. Many other bird species can be seen and heard in the surrounding wetlands and forests.
- Matthew Densow, ranger

Flambeau River State Forest - The north fork of the Flambeau River is at a normal flow and the south fork still on the high side. ATV trails are open and in good shape with just normal routine maintenance planned throughout the season. Turtles are out on the move, mosquitoes are out in full force and we are seeing lots of dragon flies. Goslings and ducklings have made their appearance. Daisies, Jack-in-the-pulpit, irises & day lilies are blooming. Tree frogs are singing and indigo buntings are here along with all of the other colorful migrants. Both Lake of the Pines and Connors Lake Campground are in great shape and lots of open spots are available. On June 14 from 1-2 p.m. at Connors Lake Picnic Area Join us for some Fun with Dad in making it a Happy Father's Day Weekend! Challenge Dad in a game or two, horseshoes, egg toss, croquet, or get a team together for a game of whiffle-ball. Equipment for all games will be provided.
- Judy Freeman, visitor services associate