Wind and rain pelted most of the state following last week’s larger storm continuing to make for some very wet conditions. Most mountain bike and horse trails remain closed at state parks and forests.
Most of the snow from last week’s storm has already melted. Despite the wet conditions this spring, there have already been 73 wildfires in DNR Protection Areas and numerous other wildfires in parts of the state where fire departments are the primary responders. Homeowners cleaning up their properties are encourage to use a alternatives to debris burning – the number one cause of wildfires in the state — such as composting or leaving brush in the woods for wildlife cover.
Lakes are now starting to open up as far north as Polk and Burnett counties in the northwest and Marinette County in the northeast. With all the recent rain, many river systems are running very high. The Lower Wisconsin River was running at more than twice its normal flow this week at Muscoda.
Brown trout and walleye continued to be caught on the Menominee River in the northeast. There has been lots of fishing pressure on the Wolf and Fox rivers, but not many reports of success so far. Anglers on the Fox River are reporting water temperatures of 38 degrees below the De Pere Dam. Many anglers have been out casting for walleyes below the dam with little success being reported so far.
Southeastern Lake Michigan tributaries were running high and muddy after snow melt and rain last week. Anglers were taking steelhead prior to the rain, but fishing pressure dropped dramatically by the weekend. By early this week, fishing conditions improved on the Milwaukee, Root and Pike rivers, but rain later in the week could raise water levels again.
New panfish regulations will take effect on 93 Wisconsin lakes April 1. Three different experimental bag limits are being applied to 93 lakes to determine which is most efficient at improving panfish size. The new rules will be evaluated to determine whether they are improving panfish size as well as whether anglers continue to support the changes.
Black bears are beginning to emerge from their dens and many sows with cubs will be foraging for food during a time when little natural food is available. People living in bear country are encouraged to remove bird feeders, and secure garbage and pet food to avoid nuisance bear problems.
Numerous songbird species are finalizing their return to form this week and next. Keep your ears open for eastern bluebirds and phoebes, red-winged blackbirds. Woodcock are peenting and turkeys are gobbling. Trumpeter swans have returned to Crex Meadows State Wildlife Area and have claimed their nesting territory, feeding in the wetlands and moving about daily searching for food. Bald eagles are on nests with eggs due to hatch any day. Ruffed grouse are starting to drum.
The temperatures have been below freezing at night and above freezing during the day, which has allowed for good sap run in maple trees. That’s good news for the annual MacKenzie Center Maple Syrup Festival that will be held this Saturday, April 2. Enjoy guided tours of the sugar bush, demonstrations on tapping maple trees, and displays of how maple syrup has been made throughout history. The festival runs from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. For information about the center search the DNR website for keyword “MacKenzie.”