Always up-to-date and accurate…reports on trail conditions and recreational opportunities in Price County.
Fall Color Report – 9/17/14
Fall colors typically peak around October 1st. More color is beginning to show up daily. Some early changing maples are showing pockets of orange and red. Staghorn sumac is bright yellow, orange and red in many areas. Major leaf drop doesn’t occur until around mid-October.
Paddling / River Report – 9/17/14
The North and South Forks of the Flambeau River are still very high but slowly receding. The river is currently at the ordinary high water mark. Water temperatures are in the upper 60s. When planning a river trip, check with an area rental/shuttle/guide service for the most current conditions and to select a suitable stretch of river based on experience.
Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest Storm Damage Report – 9/17/14
Storms during the first week of September caused significant wind and water damage across the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest. Please use caution if visiting the Forest and traveling on Forest Service roads. Forest Service personnel continue to clear trees, branches and debris from roadways, trails, campgrounds, picnic areas and other recreation sites. Please stop by or call the Park Falls office for the most accurate, up-to-date information on closures and trail openings – 715-762-2461.
Sailor Lake Picnic Area and Campground remain closed; however the Sailor Lake Boat Ramp has been reopened for public use.
The Wintergreen Ski and Hiking Trail System Remains Closed. In the Wintergreen Ski Trail System, besides the immediate issues of large amounts of blowdown and hazard tree removal, many root wads from sprung large trees have impacted the actual ski trail base. Following timber harvest this fall, the trail system will be reevaluated in efforts to find any potential loops of this trail system that could be useable for the 2014-2015 ski season.
ATV, UTV & Off Road Motorcycle Trail Report – 9/17/14
he Flambeau Trail System in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest is now open for motorized trail use. The exception is the Wintergreen Salvage Closure Area. Call 715-762-2461 if you have specific questions.
A section of the Georgetown Trail just south of where it crosses North Fork Skinner Creek may have standing water due to a beaver dam. A request has been placed to have the dam removed.
The Tuscobia State Trail, Solberg Trail and Flambeau River State Forest Trail are open and welcoming motorized trail enthusiasts.
Fishing Report – 9/17/14
With nearly all of the major hunting seasons open, and combined with the high water levels and cool temperatures, fishing pressure has shown a sharp decline on most waters across the Northwoods. Water levels have started to drop on the lakes, rivers and streams, but they still remain high for this time of year. There have still been a fair number of musky anglers getting out and for the last few days, they have been enjoying some decent weather conditions and pretty good success. Artificial baits such as bucktails, topwaters and plastic swim baits (bulldawgs) continue to be the lures of choice, and have produced a fair amount of action along the deeper weed edges. This is generally the time of year when many musky anglers begin dragging suckers around – but there seems to be a shortage of ‘musky suckers’ in the North this year. As such, anglers may have to adjust their fall fishing tactics and use more slow-moving artificial lures as the fall progresses. Pressure for walleye has been light, but action has been steadily improving with greater numbers of fish have been showing up in the shallows as the weeds are beginning to die back. Jig and minnow combinations worked on the deep edges and crank baits in the shallows near dark have produced the best success. With the high water levels, bass fishing continues to be especially erratic and both largemouth and smallmouth have been tough to find. Some modest largemouth success has occurred in the late afternoon hours after the water has warmed up over the course of the day. Soft plastics and finesse techniques have been used to entice the fish. Very few panfish anglers have been out and reports of success have been scant. Anglers are reminded that the general trout season closes on September 30 with most streams, rivers, and spring ponds closed to trout fishing. Many stocked trout lakes do remain open and those can be found in the Wisconsin Trout Fishing Regulations and Guide pamphlet. DNR Senior Fisheries Biologist Thomas “Skip” Sommerfeldt
Fishing/Hunting Guide Reports
When you visit the Price County region consider hiring a guide. Guides are on the water and in the woods on a regular basis and will put you on the right track in order to make your fishing or hunting trip successful and FUN. For more information on guide services please see http://www.pricecountywi.net/recreation/hunting/guides/.
9/16/14 - The high water level has changed the playing field. I would be expecting to see fish in the shallow weeds this time of year but that was not the case this past week. We fished open water suspended fish. We located pods of baitfish suspended over deep water and threw bulldawgs and crankbaits. We boated a number of muskies up to 45 inches. The fish were really aggressive as you brought the bait through the schools of bait. We fished dark, stained and clear water with similar results. Our shallow water bite just wasn’t there. Water levels are dropping a bit and water temps have cooled. There are still good green weeds and anglers should still continue to fish these areas. Joe Brezinski, Northland Guide Service – www.northlandguideservice.net/
9/15/14 - Despite the high water Ross’s Sport Shop Guides are still putting their clients on fish. We are finding Crappie in 10 to 30 feet of water and catching them with plastics or minnows on jigs, Walleye have moved into the higher current areas of the lakes, Ross’s Sport Shop guides have been catching most of their walleye on Bottom Feeder Tackle Jigs and plastics or Fathead Minnows. Musky action is picking up as the water temps fall, We are still moving Musky on Surface lures as well as plastics and jerk baits. Sturgeon fishing has been hampered by the high waters and should get better as fishermen are able to fish more areas after the water falls to more normal levels. John Carlson, Ross’s Sport Shop & Guide Service – www.facebook.com/RosssSportShop
Outdoor Report – 9/15/14
Bucks should start losing their velvet soon, if they haven’t started to already. Squirrels and chipmunks are busy harvesting and storing mast crops for winter. Mast crops such as acorns, hickory nuts & black walnuts are an important food resource for many large and small animals. There is a good crop of current berries and blackberries. Red raspberries and blueberries are past peak. Shorebird and songbird migration is past peak. Loons are beginning to migrate as well. Canada Geese have congregated into larger flocks and have been flying to and from feeding grounds. Sunflowers are getting tall and many are flowering or will be soon. Blooming wildflowers include Wild clematis, goldenrod & asters. Purple loosestrife and spotted knapweed, both highly invasive plants, are also currently blooming.
Calling all hunters, tell us what you see – The September 13 archery and crossbow openers mark the beginning of the 2014 deer hunting seasons and the start of the sixth annual Deer Hunter Wildlife Survey, an easy-to-do survey where hunters can record their observations of deer and other wildlife while out hunting.
2014 Wisconsin wild rice harvest season outlook – Reports on the abundance of wild rice across northern Wisconsin vary for the 2014 ricing season, but the season outlook is generally fair, according to state and tribal biologists. Overall, rice maturity will be later due to this year’s weather patterns, and rice found within river systems may be maturing slightly earlier than rice found within lakes and flowages.
Black Bear: The season began September 3, 2014. September 10 – 30 hunting is with the aid of bait, dogs and all other legal methods. October 1 – 7 hunting is with aid of dogs only.
Grouse Hunting: Grouse season is September 13, 2014 – January 31, 2015. Area hunters have reported seeing decent numbers of grouse. Major leaf drop occurs around mid-October. The spring drumming count on all four of Price County’s ruffed grouse survey routes were up from 2013. You can view the statewide 2014 Ruffed Grouse Drumming Survey results at http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/wildlifehabitat/documents/reports/finaldrum.pdf. A good fall grouse population will be the result of good nesting and brooding weather. According to the DNR 2014 Ruffed Grouse Preliminary Brood Survey results, birds seen per observer hour were down 10% compared to 2013 levels. Ruffed Grouse production was down in 2 of the 3 regions that compose the primary range for ruffed grouse, central (-59%), northern (-2%), and southwestern (56%). Ruffed grouse brood size rose from 3.8 in 2013 to 4.0 young per brood in 2014. While some areas of the primary ruffed grouse range will be better than others, it appears that ruffed grouse numbers will be no better than last year and well below their cyclic high of a few years ago.
A new feature that the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources has just unveiled is the Fields and Forest Interactive Gamebird Hunting Tool (FFLIGHT). This is an interactive mapping application that identifies quality grouse and woodcock habitat, stocked pheasant properties, and managed dove fields. For more information, go to http://dnr.wi.gov/topic/hunt/ruffedgrouse.html.
Turkey Hunting: The Fall Wild Turkey season is September 13 – November 20, 2014 and December 1 – 30 in Zone 4.
Permit numbers remain stable for 2014 fall turkey hunt – Fall turkey permit availability in 2014 will be equal to the number offered during the 2013 fall season.
Waterfowl Hunting: The Early Canada Goose season is September 1-15, 2014, with a daily bad limit of five geese. The Canada Goose Northern Exterior Zone season is September 16 – December 16, 2014, with a daily bag limit of two geese. The 2014 youth waterfowl hunt will be held September 20-21. The Duck Hunting Season in the Northern Zone will be Septemer 27 – November 25, 2014. Opening day shooting hours begin at 9 a.m. The daily bag limit statewide will be six ducks, including no more than: four mallards, of which only one may be a hen; one black duck; one canvasback; three wood ducks; two pintails; three scaup; and two redheads. For species of duck not listed, such as teal and ring-necks, the combined bag total with all other species may not exceed six ducks. It is important to note that possession limits have been increased to three times the daily bag limit.
2014 spring waterfowl surveys reflect mostly good to excellent breeding populations – Waterfowl breeding populations in 2014 are mostly good to excellent in Wisconsin and North America, according to recent surveys by state, federal and Canadian wildlife officials.
Dear Hunting: White-tailed deer bow season is September 13 – January 4, 2015; Gun season is November 22 – 30, 2014; Muzzleloader season is December 1 – 10, 2014. New this year is a crossbow deer hunting season which will run concurrent with the regular archery season; during the regular gun deer season, a gun deer license will authorize bow and crossbow use. It is important to note that persons purchasing a traditional bow and a crossbow license will receive only one set of tags.
County Deer Advisory Councils will provide great opportunity for local input and deer herd management throughout Wisconsin – Planning for the 2015 deer hunting season is underway, and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and Wisconsin Conservation Congress encourage anyone interested in discussing their local deer herd to attend a County Deer Advisory Council meeting this fall. Price County meetings – Thurs., September 18; Tues., October 21, and Tues., December 16, 2014. All meetings are being held in Phillips at the Price County Courthouse in the County Board Room 101 from 7-9 p.m.
Operation Deer Watch provides great opportunity to take part in management of Wisconsin deer herd In an ongoing annual effort to involve the public in deer management, the Department of Natural Resources will launch Operation Deer Watch. The program enlists the public to report the number of deer they see from Aug. 1 to Sept. 30.
Wolf Hunting: The harvest quota for the 2014-2015 season has been set at 156 animals. Visit DNR Wolf Hunting & Trapping for details.
Wisconsin wolf social survey results now available on Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources website – The results of a statewide social survey on attitudes toward wolves are now available on the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources’ website.
Furbearer Hunting and Trapping: A number of furbearer hunting and trapping seasons are open year-round or during various seasons throughout the year. To view season dates, go to http://ua.dnr.wi.gov/topic/trap/. The 2014 Muskrat and Mink Trapping season is Sun., October 25, 2014, through Sun., March 8, 2015.
Bird Watching: Shorebird migration is past peak and land bird migration is underway. Late-season migrators include yellowlegs, pectoral sandpipers, sanderlings, and plovers. You can report bird sightings to Wisconsin eBird (www.ebird.org/WI) so the migratory bird populations can be tracked.
Other: Opossum, skunk, weasel and snowshoe hare hunting has no season limits, bags limits size limits or possession limits. Coyote hunting is a continuous open season except during gun deer hunting seasons. To view a list of all hunting and trapping season dates, visit the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources website at http://ua.dnr.wi.gov/topic/trap/.
Equestrian – Smith Rapids Saddle Trail Bridge Closure
There is a closure issued for the bridge at the Newman Creek crossing of the Smith Rapids Saddle Trail, T.40N, R.2E, Section 27, due to instability of the bridge and bank. The remainder of the Smith Rapids Saddle Trail will remain open with the exception of a segment between Forest Road 149 east to the bridge site which is closed. From Smith Rapids Campground, the trail remains open east to Round Lake and west to Newman Creek. The closure will remain in effect until bridge and stream bank are restored to a safe and stable condition. For additional information, please contact the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest office in Park Falls at (715) 762-2461.
Snowmobile Trail Report
The trails will open December 11, 2014, conditions permitting.
Cross Country Ski Trail Report
The trails typically open in mid-December.
Snowshoe Trail Report
The trails typically open in mid-December.