Cooler than normal temperatures slow spring progression

River systems running high across state

Wisconsin DNR

Cooler than normal temperatures, clouds and rain dominated the last week and slowed down the spring progression, including bird migrations and fish spawning. However, a warm-up in the next couple of weeks could change that quickly.

Rivers high

River systems across the entire state are running very high, and while the Memorial Day weekend has traditionally been a popular paddling weekend, recreational safety specialists are cautioning that only experienced and properly outfitted paddlers should be on rivers when they are running this high.

The Lower Wisconsin River set a flow rate record this week of 42,000 cubic feet per second at Muscoda and there are no sandbars available for camping. The river is running fast and deep, with some boat launches under water.


Fewer anglers were out this week due to the rain and cooler weather and those that were reported mixed success.

Along Green Bay one hot spot has been out of the mouth of the Pensaukee River where anglers have been catching limits of walleye. White bass anglers had a great deal of success, with some harvesting more than 20 fish from a few hours of fishing.

Smallmouth bass anglers along Door County have been running all over trying to find active fish. Most are seeing fish cruising shorelines searching for bedding areas and possible mates, but have had a hard time getting these fish to bite.

Sawyer Harbor water temperatures seem to have the highest average compared to other bays, with anglers catching greater numbers of bass that have been pushing up close to shore to get ready to spawn.

Lake Michigan fishing was also slower, with some of the best action out of Port Washington where boaters have been targeting coho salmon with many getting limits, along with the occasional rainbow trout or chinook salmon.


Turkey gobbling has decreased rapidly over the past week for the last period of the spring season that ends May 30, but gobblers have still been moving around more looking for hens.

Most hens are nesting now and some of the nests found have had 14 eggs in them.

Bears, fawns

Bear activity has increased again this week with a spike in nuisance calls to wildlife managers. Remove all sources of food and if bears are hanging around make a lot of noise by yelling, honking a car horn, or banging pots and pans to scare them off.

Fawn drop is now at peak. People out and about this weekend should leave fawns alone if they see them in the wild. Does leave fawns alone for long periods of time, so predators are not attracted and fawns can stay hidden. They will return to care for them.

Bird migration

Many warblers continue to be seen statewide and some of the later-arriving species are just getting here. Connecticut warblers were found in above average numbers this week, amid 30-plus other warbler species.

Other late migrants, like common nighthawks, cedar waxwings, and cuckoos, have begun to arrive. A Lewis's woodpecker was seen in Bayfield County, marking only the fifth state record of this western species.

Star gazing

Astronomy programs kick off Memorial Day weekend with the "Starsplitters of Wyalusing" holding their first public program Saturday night and then the UW-Madison Department of Astronomy "Universe in the Park" series of programs begins Sunday night at Kohler-Andrae State Park.

Weather permitting telescopes will be available for night sky viewing following short programs on exciting new discoveries in astronomy.