The weather is looking to be almost perfect for the Fourth of July weekend and people are expected to be out enjoying lakes, parks, trails and campgrounds. State officials are urging everyone to have a safe and fun weekend. Boaters should make sure they have a life jacket for each person on board and are encouraged to wear them. Personal watercraft operators are reminded they must operate at slow no wake within 100 feet of another watercraft.
Fireworks are prohibited on all state properties and rangers will be enforcing those rules at parks and forests. Even though fire danger is currently low, errant fireworks can still cause wildfires. And campers are reminded that instead of packing up firewood with everything else this holiday weekend, plan to get your firewood where you’ll use it. You’ll help protect the trees at your destination from pests and disease by keeping firewood local.
Water levels on streams and rivers continue to remain above average on my areas of the state. The high flows on rivers and streams have made for good float and canoeing conditions, but anglers have had some difficulty in fishing many of their spots.
The most consistent action in the Northwoods has been for bass, as both largemouth and smallmouth are starting to settle into their normal summer patterns. Largemouth have been migrating toward thick overhead cover and are more apt to be holding near one piece of cover for extended periods of time. Smallmouth bass have been showing up near the mid-depths woody cover and under docks. There continue to be enough late mayfly hatches to provide food for walleye. Bluegill and pumpkinseed have still been seen on spawning beds, but most panfish species have finished spawning and are spending time near the deep weed edges and other cover.
Fox River catfish anglers were catching solid rates of fish throughout the river this week. On Green bay, at professional the walleye tournament in Sturgeon Bay this past weekend the more than 130 boats participating caught a combined 5,000 pounds of walleye. Chinook salmon have been slowly working their way north toward Washington Island, and this past week a few were showing up near Gills Rock. Salmon and trout fishing is now in full swing and fish are being caught throughout the peninsula. Anglers were reporting mostly chinook, but a mix of lake trout, rainbow trout, and coho salmon were occasionally being reported.
A fire at the Algoma marina closed down a large amount of sport fishing and some charter fishing out of that port this past week. Rough water conditions and a strong westerly wind kept fishing pressure lower than normal in the early part of the week at other Lake Michigan harbors. When winds died down Sunday, good numbers of chinook were coming in to Kewaunee. Trollers out of Sheboygan, Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha reported a good week with some boats coming in with limits, mostly coho and rainbows, with some chinook and lake trout
Snapping turtles are completing their spawning season. Turkey broods are still walking around and fawns are still following mom. In the Southern Kettle Moraine, wood lily, Culver’s root, flowering spurge and others are blooming for the first time and over a dozen species of butterflies have showed up to offer some excellent challenges for photographers.
Wild strawberries, juneberries and blackberries are beginning to or already ripening. Hopefully enough wind remains to keep some of the mosquitos and flies that are now being seen in greater numbers away from berry pickers.