DNR weekly report

Snow returns, steelhead runs underway, elk arrive from Kentucky

With a short warm period ending rather abruptly last week, weather in the state has been fluctuating rapidly as a large storm cell moved across the Midwest. The storm dropped from several inches to nearly a foot snow across central Wisconsin, while to the south an icy rain blanketed the ground.

Flood and late winter-storm warnings will hang on until late Thursday afternoon and early Friday morning. State park and forest properties will not be grooming cross-country ski trails, as most of that equipment has been put away for the season. Skiers are welcome to break their own trail, but unless trails are groomed, they also remain open to hikers. Most hiking trails will be more than a little soggy and most mountain bike and horse trails remain closed at this time.

The Mississippi River in the La Crosse area is about 6 feet above normal and crested March 23, but with recent rain and snow, the river could rise further. The walleye and perch fishing had been good, but the rise in water levels has decreased fishing activity and the bite has slowed dramatically.

The trout season opens this Saturday on some sections of streams that host Lake Superior fish runs, such as the Bois Brule River. The Flambeau River is open and starting to host the redhorse run.

Heavy rains on Tuesday of last week triggered a massive water release at the dams on the Oconto, Peshtigo, and Menominee rivers that pushed out the remaining ice in most places. Anglers out of Little River were staring to catch good numbers of brown trout trolling north of the landing. Shore anglers from the Hattie Street Dam to Stephenson Island were seeing increasing numbers of walleye being caught along with the occasional brown trout.

Steelhead runs have begun on southeastern Lake Michigan tributaries. Anglers fishing the Sheboygan River have been catching fair num- bers of steelhead below the Kohler dam and have also reported steelhead in the Pigeon River. Conditions in Sauk Creek have been good and steelhead were being caught. Fishing pressure on the Oak Creek has been steady and Milwaukee River anglers reported nice catches of steelhead prior to heavy rains last week. Fishing pressure on the Root River was consistently high this past weekend, with anglers catching a fair amount of steelhead. DNR crews processed fish at the Root River Steelhead Facility last week collecting more than 600,000 eggs so far. A total of 442 steelhead have been passed upriver. The next spawning day will be Monday, March 28.

There have been recent reports of some bucks still holding last year’s antlers due to the mild winter, but Clam Lake bull elk are starting to drop their antlers. In year two of elk reintroduction efforts, 39 elk from Kentucky have reached their new home in Jackson County this week. The elk will be held in an acclimation pen in the Black River State Forest through a quarantine period to satisfy health testing requirements before joining the elk that were released last year.

The harsh weather is buffeting recently opened pasque flowers in south central Wisconsin, but the precipitation and return of colder night temperatures has sap once again running in the sugar bushes.


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