With the exception of some strong storms that moved through northern Wisconsin this week, the rest of the state has been experiencing a dry spell. Current fire danger is high in west central Wisconsin but low to moderate in most of the state.

The rainfall in the north is keeping river systems flowing and paddling conditions remain good on the Flambeau and Chippewa rivers. But dry conditions in the south have the lower Wisconsin River flowing at very low levels. While that means there will be abundant sandbars for the upcoming holiday weekend, navigation may be difficult.

With warm weather continuing in the forecast for the holiday weekend, conservation wardens are expecting boating traffic to be very high. Boaters will need to use caution in high traffic areas and are encouraged to keep a lookout at all times. Be safe and courteous to other people on the lake so everyone is able to enjoy their time on the water.

Despite the warm temperatures, fishing activity remained pretty hot across the Northwoods this week, with both largemouth and smallmouth bass again the highlight. Smallmouth were found being near structure along hard bottom areas that were also close to deeper water, while largemouth bass have been favoring woody cover, deep weed lines, and bog edges. Musky activity also continued to be good, but no especially large musky have been reported. Walleye fishing continues to be sporadic and panfish action has been fair.

Along Lake Michigan, winds and high waves limited trolling activity at times in the last week, while shore and pier fishing activity picked up. Boats out of Racine and Kenosha were trolling in 20-30 feet of water this week as the king salmon have started moving closer to shore. Farther north, some fish were seen jumping in the Ahnapee River, heading upstream, so there is a good chance that the first few fish are preparing to make their fall runs up the river. Fish will often make a few ‘false starts’ before moving in for good.

The first of the fall hunting seasons open this coming week, with the opening of the early Canada goose and dove seasons on Sept. 1. The early goose season targets locally breeding giant Canada geese, which have begun to flock up and congregate on area lakes and wetlands. Doves have been showing up in good numbers over the past week and hunters should look at the morning dove hunting section of the DNR website for locations of planted sunflower fields.

Hunters who forgot to apply for a fall turkey permit can purchase leftover permits in zones 1, 3 or 4 at any DNR license agent. Check the DNR website for leftover fall turkey permit availability.

Whitetail bucks are still in velvet but should begin shedding soon. Young foxes and coyotes are being seen. Young of the year often wander during the day and are more visible less wary than adults. The high cottontail rabbit population will likely result in more young foxes and coyotes this year.

Flocks of bluebirds and blackbirds are gathering. Bluebird concentrations tend to number about 10-20 birds, but blackbird flocks reach several hundred to more than one thousand birds. And birders and non-birders alike went crazy over common nighthawks this week, as these aerial insectivores conspicuously winged their way across Wisconsin’s evening skies en route for wintering grounds in South America. Though breeding populations of this species are on the decline, late August and very early September bring peak numbers of Canadian migrants to the state.

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