Last week northern Wisconsin was very wet with heavy rain on multiple days and some areas also experienced winds of 50 mph or more with the rain. Water levels in some area are very high. Meanwhile, the west central part of the state remains very dry and fire danger remains high in many counties, with burning permits suspended in some areas.
The Lower Wisconsin River continues to be at fairly low levels for the fall. However, there have been some big fluctuations in the past week, caused by discharges at the Prairie du Sac dam. The river has come up or dropped down as much as one foot in 36 hours, so paddlers are urged to take that into account when choosing sandbars for camping.
Musky have been the highlight of the past week in Northwoods fishing and action was very good. Nearly all anglers were reporting sightings, follows and strikes. Artificial baits have provided most of the action. Largemouth and smallmouth bass have also provided some very good action, northern pike fishing remains excellent and panfish activity has been sporadic with some decent crappie and bluegill found suspended around deeper water cover.
Lake Michigan trollers have been reporting decent catches with a mixed bag of large rainbows, coho, and chinook. Fishing pressure has remained steady on harbor piers with some chinook reported at Sheboygan, Port Washington, Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha. A few chinook were caught near the mouth of the Pike River, but there were no reports this week of salmon moving up rivers.
The early goose and dove hunting seasons opened last weekend and some hunters did very well on doves during opening weekend, especially in the Columbia County area. Some goose hunters reported success, while others reported that it was pretty hard to locate geese due to the late farming season. Few fields have been cut so the birds are still spending time in retention ponds and elsewhere.
Whitetail bucks are starting to shed their antler velvet and the red coats on deer are starting to turn to the darker winter color. Fawns are also changing, their coats are starting to turn dark and they are beginning to lose their spots. Cooler weather is increasing deer movement, especially during the day, so drivers should beware.
Coyotes have been very vocal over the last several weeks, enlivening quiet nights with their barking, howling and yipping. Family groups have established rendezvous sites where family groups will meet to socialize and prepare for hunts. Coyote pups are especially vocal this time of year and will readily respond when howled at by a human.
Some of the late summer-early fall flowers that can be seen now are large-leaved aster, native sunflowers, evening primrose, goldenrod, and jewelweed. Wild rice on northern lakes is ripe and will be harvestable for the next few weeks. Numerous regulated wild rice lakes have opened in the last week. Search the DNR website for wild rice for information on what lakes are open and harvest rules.
Oconto County – Geano Beach fishing pressure was slow by the end of the week, but it picked up by the weekend. Fishermen were targeting perch, walleye and musky. Walleye numbers were low with fishermen using cranks (all colors), spinners with worms, and plugs in about 30 feet of water. Only a handful of sheepshead were caught and all were released. The fishermen looking for perch did well, but did not keep their limit due to them being very small. They used minnows and night crawlers for bait in about 11-12 feet of water.
More fishermen are targeting musky with having no luck. Fishermen were using mainly bucktails (black and gold junior cowgirl) for bait in about 8-15 of water and no other species were caught while targeting the musky.