Areas of northern Wisconsin are reporting fall colors are near or at peak and the next two weekends should provide some of the best fall color viewing. Areas of central Wisconsin are approaching peak and are a week or two away from the best viewing, while some areas of southern Wisconsin are reporting the drought has had an impact on trees and some trees are dropping leaves. Still, some good to very good fall color should arrive in the south in two to three weeks. For current statewide information on statewide fall color, log onto the Wisconsin Department of Tourism’s Fall Color Report.
The last of the waterfowl season openers, the southern duck zone, opens this weekend and wildlife biologists and wardens are cautioning hunters that because of the dry conditions, many marshes and ponds that have held ducks in the past are dry this year. As a result, ducks and geese are more concentrated on larger open waters, and hunters will need to be patient and remain calm when dealing with potentially crowded conditions.
Hunters in the northern zone opener last weekend reported good numbers of wood ducks and mallards, as well as fair numbers of blue-winged and green-winged teal. Increasing numbers of migrant Canada geese are also being reported moving into the state, with a few thousand in the Theresa Marsh area.
Archery hunters are reporting white-tailed deer bucks are becoming more active with the cooler nights and more scrapes are being seen and some sparring among bucks was reported this week. There are still a few lingering reports of bucks in velvet.
An excellent acorn crop continues to be reported in many areas, and while squirrel hunters are reporting very good success due to very active squirrels, bear hunters continue to report bears are nearly nonexistent at baits due to the abundant mast crop.
Anglers on Lake Superior are getting some lake trout as well as starting to target coho salmon and brown trout around the mouths of the tributary streams. But along Lake Michigan the lack of rain and extremely low water levels on tributaries has made the fall salmon run more of a crawl so far. But spawn-minded chinook along with a few brown trout and coho have been entering some tributaries, including the Manitowoc, West Twin, Ahnapee and Kewaunee rivers. Southeastern tributaries are extremely low, and only a few salmon have been seen in the Milwaukee, Menomonee and Root rivers.
Water levels remain very low on the Lower Wisconsin River and the Mississippi River. Paddlers have had to get out and drag boats through some low water stretches. There were a few anglers catching walleye and sauger on both Mississippi River pools 10 and 11 fishing the wing dams and rock points. Anglers are reminded that the hook-and-line sturgeon and inland trout seasons close this Sunday, Sept. 30.
Sandhill cranes are congregating in areas around the state before their migration, with several thousand at Crex Meadows Wildlife Area and hundreds at Theresa Marsh Wildlife Area. Northwestern winds over the weekend brought in a huge influx of passerines and marked the beginning of the downward slide for Neotropical migrants like warblers, hummingbirds, vireos and thrushes and the first large waves of short-distance migrants including kinglets, creepers, towhees, rusty blackbirds, yellow-rumped warblers and large numbers of sparrows.
Logo courtesy Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources