It’s a great time to get into the woods as spring blooms

DNR REPORT - Rain, though it paused for a spell, was back in force this past week, with as much as two-and-a-half inches reported in the north. The rainfall has lowered fire dangers levels statewide and is leading to green-up of grasses and leaf out of trees. The lower fire danger is welcome as pine trees are candling, meaning the new growth in the crowns are very dry and if fire conditions are high there is a greater chance of crown fires.

The recent rain also have waterfalls running high in the north and brought mud back to the trails and paths in parks and forests, so those planning for a hike may want a good pair of boots and mountain bikers should call ahead to confirm if trails are open.

Another sign of spring is the three tunnels on the Elroy-Sparta State Trail have been opened, although the grading and packing of the limestone surface will not begin until next week, so expect to encounter rough spots, ruts and branches. Many campgrounds are beginning to open and some have even begun to open shower buildings.

The sturgeon are done spawning and it was very short run this year. Walleye spawning is also pretty much over and the steelhead run is slowing down on Lake Michigan tributaries. Anglers out this past week reported some difficult conditions, from rain to the hard winds driving it, but also several catches for boat and shore anglers alike.

White bass anglers are coming out in larger numbers on the Fox River, but catch rates have only been modest. Catfish seekers along the Fox saw good numbers, particularly near Green Bay, while those near De Pere reported sighting some musky. Walleye, brown trout, steelhead, northern pike and smallmouth bass were all being targeted around the south and north shores of Green Bay.

Turkey hunters report an abundance of jakes and older toms gobbling along and egging on hunters, a benefit of the previous mild winters.

Geese are being seen with goslings as heron and osprey continue nest construction.

Grouse are drumming and there are currently blinds open on certain dates for sharp-tailed grouse viewing at Namekagon Barrens Wildlife Area. For scheduling information, visit So far this spring, reports from viewing blinds have been very positive.

Several song-birds, from finches to sparrows, are starting to bring more music to the woods and savannahs. They’re adding their song to the croaking, burbling sounds of chorus and wood frogs.

Black cherries are blooming in the woods and wood violet, marsh marigold bloodroot and other early spring ephemerals is getting ready to bolt, so this is an excellent time to cut and treat woody invasives and to pull and bag garlic mustard.

If there weren’t enough reasons to get outside already, the morel hunt is beginning “early” this year, with some mushroom hunters already reporting their first finds in the southern counties.

While some areas are reporting heavy tick activity, we seem to have evaded any early mosquito company, making this a great time to get out in the woods or around the streams and rivers, despite the otherwise damp conditions.

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