River systems opening up for steelhead, trout runs

It may officially be spring but winter is holding on in the Northwoods with some areas receiving as much as 3 inches of new snow last week and even more snow over the weekend.

The Brule River State Forest re-groomed ski trails last week, and trails are also still in good condition at Pattison State Park and the Turtle Flambeau Flowage, but many other properties are done grooming even if more snow does arrive.

Snowmobile trails are also closed statewide and are not likely to reopen.

There is still 15 or more inches of ice on many northern lakes but the ice went out last week on Lake Wingra in Madison, large portions are open along the shore on Monona and the ice on Mendota is very gray so it might not be long before they open.

Many river systems are open and spring trout and salmon runs are underway. The popular spring steelhead season on the Bois Brule River opened March 31 for the lower stretch of river. Reports are that the ice is out north of Harvey Road, but not quite to the mouth. There are ice shelves along the banks and snow is still deep on some of the paths.

Along Lake Michigan, fishing pressure on the Sheboygan River was moderate to high, despite chilly conditions.

Anglers fishing below the Kohler Dam are catching excellent numbers of trout. Some fishermen reported that they hooked into over 20 fish in just a few hours.

Farther south, anglers continued to catch steelhead along Grant Park shoreline and the mouth of Oak Creek and upstream and to the dam.

Milwaukee River anglers, mostly fly fisherman, continued to enjoy the clear waters through the weekend. Those anglers that found success landed 4 to 6 pound steelhead.

The Menominee River had high fishing pressure with most anglers gaining access through Miller Parkway. Water levels and flow remain very low and action was very hit or miss, with anglers seeing small schools swimming throughout the river system, but catching them was another story.

Strong east-northeast winds and cold weather made piers inaccessible at times, due to high breakers and deterred many anglers from taking their boats into the water due to the high wave action.

Breezy and cold weather conditions also kept many anglers off the water and ice of Green Bay for much of the week.

Anglers fishing the west shore off of Lineville report a good 12 inches of ice in most places with open water starting to form along shore. Anglers were reporting decent catches of pike there and at Sunset Beach. Along the east shore ice conditions remain decent with many places still holding ice over 20 inches thick; however, many cracks are moving.

The whitefish bite was still good. Most anglers are targeting near shore areas often fishing cracks and hopping holes. Walleye action has also been picking up.

On the Fox River shore anglers at Voyageur Park report catching a few walleye after dark with the majority of fish being males in the 15-18-inch range. Shore and boat anglers both report lots of whitefish still in the river.

It was a slow week for bird migration due to cooler temperatures and lack of warm, southerly winds.

Waterfowl continue to provide the greatest birding opportunities wherever open water allows.

A few notable counts this week included 500-plus redheads on Lower Phantom Lake in Waukesha County, 2,500-plus common goldeneyes on lower Green Bay and 1,000-plus tundra swans at Lakeside Park in Fond du Lac County.

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