Sporadic and punctuated rain and storm events across the state have tempered off into cloud cover and light rain, after what was an excellent Fourth of July weekend. Severe winds in southern Wisconsin took down trees and power to some areas earlier this week, but most trails have been cleared or will be going into this weekend.
Water levels are continuing to drop closer to average across the state. Many sandbars were submerged on the Lower Wisconsin State Riverway, but there are still sandbars showing. It looks like it will be an excellent weekend to take a canoe or kayak down any of Wisconsin’s major rivers.
The holiday weekend’s pleasant weather saw large increases in angling pressure across the Northwoods. Panfish and bass produced erratic action, with rock bass and pumpkinseed showing the most consistent success, along with some musky bite. Large and smallmouth bass have both settled into their summer residencies, deeper along weedy and woody edges. Walleye success seems to be a hit or miss proposition, with just a few reports of decent action being found.
On Green Bay, fishing pressure was relatively high this week with Fourth of July traffic. The walleye bite was inconsistent, and walleye anglers were having a tough time finding active fish. But anglers were catching decent numbers of yellow perch although the average size was about 6 inches. Smallmouth bass were a little tougher to come by but anglers were still finding a few fish.
Along Lake Michigan, fishing pressure and reported successes out of both Kewaunee and Algoma made for the busiest weekend of the year to date. Both landings were full and good numbers of chinook salmon were coming into both ports, including some weighing well into the mid to upper 20-pound range and even a 30 pounder was recorded in Kewaunee. Success was also good in southeastern harbors, with good numbers of chinook and coho salmon along with some rainbow and brown trout coming in to Sheboygan, Port Washington, Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha, including many limits.
White-tailed bucks are starting to get some very noticeable antler growth. Rabbits and squirrels are beginning to give birth to their second litters. Songbirds such as wrens, chickadees, sparrows, and bluebirds have fledglings.
Along the prairie and oak savannas compass plants are flowering, as is pale Indian plantain and purple prairie clover should bloom within the next week or two. Be mindful of invasive and/or poisonous weeds along roadsides and trails. Wild parsnip is in bloom at this time and its oil will cause burning when exposed to sunlight, even on cloudy days.
Along other edge habitat, including bike paths and hiking trails, blackberries are beginning to set their fruits. Look for their ripening in a month or so and be prepared for competition; more than 100 bird species eat blackberries, including robin, cardinal and ruffed grouse.
Scarlet tanagers, cerulean warblers and yellow-throated vireos will continue their song for a short while longer as their young leave the nest and begin to feed themselves. Brightly colored butterflies, amazingly camouflaged moths, and boldly patterned dragonflies are being seen in many areas. Unfortunately they have been joined by many mosquitoes, deerflies and “ankle-biters” out in force with the recent rains and humidity to be a nuisance to outdoor recreationalists.