Cooler temperatures in the last week had many people thinking autumn, which will officially arrive next Monday with the autumnal equinox. Although most trees are still green, leaves are starting to change colors, with some maples and sumac showing reds and ash trees starting to turn yellow and purple. Colors have reached about 25 percent in some counties on the Department of Tourism’s Fall Color Report (exit DNR).
Most trails are once again in good condition with repairs from recent storm damage completed. Washouts on the popular Sunset Bike Trail at Peninsula State Park have been filled and the trail reopened. The Black River State Forest and Jackson County ATVs trails are open and in good condition.
Water levels have started to drop on the lakes, rivers and streams, but they still remain high for this time of year. With high water levels and cool temperatures, fishing pressure has shown a sharp decline on most waters across the Northwoods. Bass fishing continues to be especially erratic and both largemouth and smallmouth have been tough to find. There have still been a fair number of musky anglers getting out and for the last few days, they have been enjoying some decent weather conditions and pretty good success. In the south, there have been some good catches of walleyes in the Rock River.
Poor weather also kept fishing pressure down on Green Bay, but there was some good musky fishing along the west shore with multiple catches reported by some boats. Along Lake Michigan, salmon and trout continue to move in along shore and fishing pressure was heavy on some piers and harbors, but there have only been a few reports of fish moving upstream on the Kewaunee and Ahnapee rivers.
The archery and crossbow opener had many reports of successful hunters bagging nice bucks, including quite a few with antlers still in velvet and hunters are reminded to contact a conservation warden for a permit if they want to keep those antlers. Many bucks are also being seen with polished antlers now. Cool weather has deer very active and deer movement will increase as the ground vegetation begins to turn brown and deer start thinking about breeding.
Many birds can be seen preparing for migration, while others are well on their way. Cranes and geese have been spotted gathering in fields in large numbers in the Sauk Prairie area. Robins and other resident birds are beginning to group up getting ready to head south. The migratory Canada geese that nest in Canada and migrate through Wisconsin in spring and fall are starting to build up in the Horicon and Theresa marsh areas.
Warm evening rains during this time tend to encourage frogs, toads and salamanders to migrate towards their wintering sites. On sunny days, you can expect to see snakes sunning themselves on the trails and travelling toward their winter hibernating spots. Monarch butterflies are gathering in small groups called flutters and the best time to see them is late afternoonson sunny, warm days.
Purple, blue, yellow, and white explosions of asters and goldenrods have come to life in the grasslands. Bonesets and brown-eyed susans are also still blooming.