Outdoor Report for July 11, 2013
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While much of the state has received additional rain in the last week – with areas of the north receiving several inches – water levels throughout much of central and southern Wisconsin have begun to finally drop.
In the north, the Flambeau River remains high for summer, and is offering great paddling opportunities, but the St. Croix, Wolf, Baraboo, Rock, Wisconsin and Mississippi rivers have all been dropping. Sandbars have finally returned to the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway and paddlers, sunbathers and campers were out in force over the long Fourth of July holiday weekend.
Even with the recent heavy rain in the north, fishing success has been generally good. Largemouth and smallmouth bass have provided the most consistent action, with largemouth getting well settled in to their typical summer patterns. Musky action has been continually improving, with some mid 40-inch fish being reported in the last week. Walleye success continues to be erratic, but a few nice catches have come along weed edges or deeper rock bars. Panfish action has been generally good, with crappie and bluegill found along deep weed edges and suspended near mid-depth cover.
Smallmouth bass and northern pike fishing is picking up on the Wolf River. Anglers reported catching bass and some walleye on Washington and Waukesha county lakes. Bluegills and walleye were being caught on Sauk County’s Lake Redstone. Catfish – both flatheads and channel — have also been caught on the Lower Wisconsin River. Panfish are also being caught at many of the sloughs, and there have been reports of large muskies caught below the Prairie Du Sac dam.
Lake Michigan trout and salmon fishing was improving in some areas but slower in others. Some large fish were caught in a salmon derby last weekend in Manitowoc, with a 28-pound chinook taking the prize in its division. Sturgeon Bay north to Baileys Harbor has been one of the better places for salmon in the Door County area. Port Washington trollers were catching four to five fish per trip, but action farther south was slower out of Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha.
White-tailed buck deer are developing this year’s antlers. Fawns are more active now and are being seen with their mothers out eating in the fields. There continue to be many bear sightings, but with the berry season starting, there should be fewer bears coming to feeders and garbage cans.
With all the rain, in some areas the berry crop for all kinds of berries looks better than it has in many years, but other areas are reporting seeing very few blueberries. Juneberries, blueberries, and even some raspberries have started to ripen. Blackberry plants are also setting their fruits, and many areas are reporting it looks like the upcoming blackberry crop will be high-yielding.
While it seems that summer is just getting going, the southbound “fall” migration is already underway with sightings of least sandpipers, lesser yellowlegs, ruddy turnstone, black-bellied plover, short-billed dowitcher, and other shorebirds at wetlands and along the Great Lakes. These represent the vanguard of adult shorebirds that nested in the arctic tundra of northern Canada and are headed to wintering areas from the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts south to portions of South America.
Statewide Birding Report
Summer birding is at a turning point. This is a great time for backyard bird watching or visiting your favorite local patch as bird song declines and family groups with fledged young become more visible. Forest edges, brushy fields, and emergent wetlands should be excellent this time of year for spotting a wide variety of species. Bird feeders may see a slight increase in activity. Providing water sources for birds is a great idea during these drier, warmer months. Believe it or not southbound “fall” migration is well underway with sightings of least sandpipers, lesser yellowlegs, ruddy turnstone, black-bellied plover, short-billed dowitcher, and other shorebirds at interior wetlands and along the coastal Great Lakes. These represent the vanguard of adult shorebirds that nested in the arctic tundra of northern Canada and are headed to wintering areas from the Gulf and Atlantic Coasts south to portions of South America. Their offspring will make the trek on their own in August-September. Federally-endangered piping plovers successfully hatched young from five nests on Lake Superior’s Long Island, while Kirtland’s warblers in Adams County suffered a tough breeding season – most nests were lost to predation and only a handful produced fledged young. Birders seeking unusual gulls continue to find success at Sheboygan’s North Point, where rarities such as laughing, little, and Franklin’s gulls are still being seen. Find out more about summer birding opportunities at dnr.wi.gov/topic/outdoorrecreation/activities/birding.html and help us track bird populations by reporting your observations from field or feeder at ebird.org/wi. – Ryan Brady, Bureau of Wildlife Management research scientist, Ashland