Outdoor Report by DNR

OCCH 001Most of the state is now free of snow on the ground, with the exception of heavily wooded areas in the far north that still have a foot or more of snow. Spring is progressing rapidly in the south, with reports of bloodroot and round lobed hepatica blooming in the Southern Unit of the Kettle Moraine State Forest.

OCCH 038Lots of anglers are wondering whether lakes will be ice free in the Northwoods by the May 3 general inland fishing opener. While it depends on the weather between now and then, at this point most lakes still have upwards of 15 inches of ice covering them, so there is a definite possibility that the larger, deeper lakes will still be ice covered, so anglers may want to have alternate plans such as fishing flowages, lakes and spring ponds, as well as streams and rivers.

OCCH 016While northern lakes are still ice covered, access is poor with shorelines having a lot of soft grainy ice and a fringe of open water, so for the most part, the ice angling season has ended. Spring walleye fishing on rivers that remain open year round for game fish had been excellent on some waters, especially northern Lake Michigan tributaries and the Fox, Wolf, Wisconsin and Rock rivers. Action slowed this week, though, with mostly males reported, indicating runs may be coming to a close.

The spring turkey season is now open and turkeys are starting to break away from the winter flocks. Hunters in the first turkey period saw mild temperatures and conditions overall. With the snow melting in the north, deer have begun to disperse from their deer yards, with many being seen feeding on the grass that has just begun to green up.

The spring bird migration is ramping up, with the vanguard of warblers, including yellow-rumps, palm, pine, orange-crowned, hooded, black-and-white, and northern waterthrush seen in the south. The first whip-poor-wills have returned to the south as well. Overhead, the first kettles of broad-winged hawks have reached Wisconsin from their central and south America wintering areas. Loons are staging on southern lakes such as Mendota and Monona in Madison waiting for ice-out on northern lakes.