Island Outdoors on French Island

Billy Isbell

Hey, it's Billy from Island outdoors.
Bluegills are about done spawning, so look for them on weed edges. Red worms, crawlers and plastics are the baits of choice.  
Walleye have been caught mostly on willow cats and leeches.  
Bass are doing well, also, using top waters and many crank baits.  
Flathead catfish are preparing to spawn and are very active. The preferred bait is a bluegill.  
Channel cats have been active as well. The most popular bait has been a night crawler. 

Jerry Davis

From Southern Wisconsin

Wild raspberries are mostly the black variety. Blackcaps they’re called. But a few red ones are found and fewer still are a blond version. There will be sunny locations, beginning this week, where picking can commence. The hope normally would be picking by July 4.
Picking wild fruits is more than a pie or cereal topping. It is the beginning of summer and one of the first grand gifts of gathering from nature. Many more sweet energy packets will follow.
As raspberries taper, mulberries, blackberries, blueberries, plums and mayapples will snag our attention in the weeks ahead.  
Summer has brought pests, too. Animals are scratching, swatting, swishing and some running to avoid the wrath of mosquitoes, black flies, gnat hoards, and bees and wasps lead to the bigger, meaner deer flies.
Sometimes the itching comes from ivies, now in flower. Parsnips are also blooming, and bramble scratches from picking blackcaps and wrenching multi-flora rose canes holding tight before ripping cloth and skin.
In many settings, a hat, turkey hunter’s face mask and long, light sleeves are better preventions than chemicals.
Some eaglets have fledged, even been pushed off the edges by sudden wind gusts. One Iowa County lone young bird found a county road the best place to first land, then like Wilber’s first flight, it managed to elevate to an oak limb snag as a safe perch for more than a day. The two adult birds provided carry-ins and will continue to do so until flight feathers and muscular rudders are fit for food pursuits and carrion stops.
Most than a dozen bird species have stripped the Juneberry fruits, but they will have plenty other flavors to feed from during the weeks ahead. Bird baths continue to attract now that some feeders are passed over by all but ruby-throated hummingbirds.  
Remember that half the hummingbird fledglings are males, but are likely to leave in September without first developing red throat feathers. They’ll look a lot like mom.
Harder fruits, particularly nuts, continue to show promise of respectfully making up for an embarrassing 2016 autumn. Second-year red oak nuts, white oaks current crop, shagbark hickories prize fruits and hazelnuts all look good so far.
Young-of-the-year animals are numerous. Rabbits head the list, but rafts of turkeys and nides of pheasants will follow. If grouse coveys avoid rain in the north, more pointers will point and shotguns discharge. Fawns continue to be counted in open areas. Bluebirds, too, are finishing their second flush.  Young squirrels are eyeing those hazelnuts that are filling out.
Past spring season’s turkey registrations have been released showing 43,341 tallies, a slight decrease from 2016. Slight was not given a number in the news, however. Those numbers should not embarrass hunters, however, with stretches of poor hunting weather during parts of the six-week season.  
Those listening can still hear gobblers calling, but hens are responding with assembly yelps to gather poults instead.
Ginseng flower buds are beginning to open. Many bud heads are particularly crowded, but these fruits will be for reproduction only, not eating, and must be planted if a plant is dug.
Continue to search the Department of Natural Resources’ web pages for season preparation information on deer management, fall turkey hunting, pheasant release plans and any new rules.
Not new, but quite unrealized by some, is the limitation on picking edibles from public land. In most cases, nuts and other fruits can be picked in wildlife and park areas, but only for personal consumption, not for selling.
Dusk animal viewing is ideal, but try not to put added stress on wildlife during hot, humid weather. 

You may contact Jerry Davis, a freelance writer, at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it., or 608-924-1112.

Around the Badger State

Around the Badger State

Wet weather has continued into our first astronomical week of summer, with rain falling in some or all of the state every day in the last week. This has continued to keep rivers high and many trails wet and muddy.
The lower Wisconsin River continues to flow at more than twice its normal flow and very few if any sandbars are available. The Oconto, Peshtigo, and Menominee rivers are all at or above flood stage.
One exception is the Bois Brule, which has returned to normal flow and is getting heavy use by paddlers.
Despite high water levels, anglers have been fishing the Flambeau River with some success for musky, walleye and bass. Crappies, bluegills and perch are being caught on northern lakes. A few walleyes are being caught around the mouth area of the Peshtigo River and anglers at the mouth of the Oconto River were having success catching catfish, smallmouth and sheepshead. Trout streams were just getting fishable again but levels are up again and running turbid with a lot of debris making it very tough to fish.
Anglers that got out southern Green Bay in between storms found some success trolling crank baits for walleyes along with a big increase in freshwater drum and catfish being caught. The weather conditions made the smallmouth bite throughout Door County much more inconsistent than past weeks. Some bass are still on beds while others are post spawn. Perch fishing is starting to pick up a bit in the bay side harbors of Door County.
Salmon fishing out on Lake Michigan also suffered some this week thanks in part to the abundance of almost-daily nasty weather. The most frequent catch of the week was steelhead, with a few coho and chinook mixed in. In Milwaukee, a thick cloud of alewives were stacked up on the lake side of McKinley Pier and the catch rate on the pier increased as the trout and salmon followed the baitfish closer to shore, with limits of trout and salmon landed.
Early-nesting species are fledging young now, including killdeer, American robins, eastern bluebirds, eastern phoebes, wood ducks, starlings, ruffed grouse, wild turkeys and more.
New wobbly elk calves and deer fawns are out and are now following their mothers all the time. A large bull elk has been seen feeding off a road in the Flambeau River State Forest with his antlers in full velvet.
In the north, the forest floor is bursting with swamp dewberries, bunchberry, twin flower, buttercups, blue flag iris, false Solomon's seal, Canada mayflower, oxeye daisies, yellow and orange hawkweed are in varying stages of bloom, and blueberries are ripe or soon to ripen. Pink lady slippers are blooming in Door County.
There is a New Moon on Friday so it should be a great weekend for astronomy programs being held this weekend at Kettle Moraine south, Governor Dodge, Wildcat and Devil's Lake state parks. There will also be music performances Saturday at Rib Mountain State Park and at Mirror Lake State Park. Shakespeare in the Park performances and workshops continue this weekend at Havenwoods State Forest Friday and at Devil's Lake State Park on Saturday. For a complete listing of events search the DNR website for "Get Outdoors."

Wild Birds Unlimited

Wild Birds Unlimited

We are fortunate enough to have catbirds in our yard.
I have three pair for sure this year. They enjoy a number of different foods at our feeders and are quite enjoyable to watch and listen to.Here are some fun facts about catbirds.
* Gray catbirds love water and could visit moving water features in your yard. They can be attracted to feeders with mealworms, Wild Birds Unlimited Bark Butter and Bark Butter bits, grape jelly and fruit. Catbirds, like bluebirds, robins and mockingbirds, enjoy raisins and currants that have been soaked in water to plump them up.
* Their call sounds like a cat mewing.* Often heard or seen alone in thickets.
* Catbirds are often heard before they are seen. They are secretive birds that dart into the bushes when approached. They are also very inquisitive and can sometimes be called back out of the bushes to check out a pishing sound or a sound like kissing the back of your hand.* Catbirds are gray with a dark cap on their head and a dark eye. Be sure to look for the rusty under-tail color that is not often seen.
* The catbird’s resting heart rate ranges from 307-427 beats per minute. The average person’s heart rate is 60-100 beats per minute.
* Average life span is 4-10 years.* Both sexes help build the nest, but construction is mainly by the female over five to six days. Breeding is May through August with an average clutch of four eggs. The female incubates the eggs and will continue to sit on the nest during hatching.
Be on the lookout for Catbirds in your yard.Our July special coming up for our Wild Birds Unlimited Seed and Suet Sale - 20% off all of our Wild Bird Unlimited 20# bags of seed. Then we have 20% off a case of suet (12) - you can mix and match flavors and/or 20% off case of 8 suet cylinders; mix and match flavors. This is a great sale and runs through July 16th.
Stop in and see us at Crosseroads Center, 9248 State Hwy 16, Suite 214, Onalaska, WI, 54650. We are located across from the Valley View Mall and next to the Hallmark store in Crosseroads Center. Phone us at 608-781-5088.
Happy Birding!
Karen Perry

Wisconsin Birding Report

In the bird world, and now the calendar as well, summer is firmly here.
Many birds are in the heart of their nesting season. Males are singing vigorously to announce their territories while females take up the bulk of duty incubating eggs.
By late June many of these nests host tiny, fast-growing young, meaning adults can often be seen carrying food in their beaks and chipping with agitation when potential threats, like us, get too close.
Our earliest-nesting species are even fledging young now, including killdeer, American robins, eastern bluebirds, eastern phoebes, wood ducks, starlings, ruffed grouse, wild turkeys, and more. The nesting season is a critical time for many birds, especially our rarer species, which makes stories like these on the peregrine falcon and whooping crane all the more pleasing.

Dickcissels invade the state
Making the biggest splash this month, however, is a sparrow-like bird of grasslands known as the dickcissel. Though common in the plains south and west of Wisconsin each year, their numbers vary here annually, perhaps related to poor, drought-induced habitat conditions in their typical core range. Well, this year is a great one for dickcissels in Wisconsin - the best since 2012 - so perhaps visit your favorite patch of grassland, pasture, or weedy field to look and listen for this showy species.

Feeders slow? Don't despair
A final note on breeding season - you may have noticed your feeders haven't been getting much action of late. That's pretty typical for this time of year. Natural food sources are plentiful, adult birds are busy feeding young, and nestlings generally require insects not seeds, all leading to less feeder use. That should change some come July, however, as families of grosbeaks, buntings, finches, chickadees, woodpeckers, orioles, and other species resume their feeder visits, often with youngsters in tow. And don't forget to offer a shallow water source, which often attracts more species this time of year than feeders do.

Rarities and reporting
The week's best find was no doubt a buff-bellied hummingbird seen briefly and photographed in Ozaukee county, marking a first state record of this species that typically nests from south Texas into Mexico.
You never know what you might find this time of year so be sure to report all of your sightings to Wisconsin eBird at
Good birding!

SOURCE: Ryan Brady, DNR Bureau of Wildlife Management research scientist in Ashland

West-Central Wisconsin

West-Central Wisconsin

VERNON COUNTY - There is no need to travel to Australia to view an animal that uses a kangaroo style means of locomotion. Meadow jumping mice use bipedal saltatorial locomotion or ricocheting to propel themselves with their two large hind limbs just like kangaroos and wallabies. When startled, they bound away with 2-3 foot long hops, stopping motionless after a leap or two.
Much like any other animal that uses this style of locomotion, meadow jumping mice have long tails for balance, large hind feet for take-off and landing and enlarged muscles in the hips.
These mice are found throughout Wisconsin and prefer moist sites with lush growths of grasses and forbs, including areas such as sedge meadows, swamps, marshes, shrubby fields, woodland edges, and grassy shorelines and streambanks. Meadow jumping mice are mainly nocturnal, but may exhibit infrequent daytime activity especially on cloudy days. They feed heavily on grass and weed seeds, berries, beetle and moth larvae, and certain fungi.
When traveling roads at night, especially quiet back roads that traverse grassy habitats, keep an eye out for these critters, as they are often observed bounding along the roadway. Their kangaroo-like hopping, long tails, and yellowish sides assist with identification, according to Dave Matheys, wildlife biologist in Viroqua.
EAU CLAIRE COUNTY - Anglers can find diverse fishing opportunities on the Eau Claire River near the Altoona River Prairie development. Since the River Prairie development is just upriver of the confluence, almost any species found in the Chippewa River can be found in the Eau Claire River. Smallmouth bass are the most abundant game fish in this stretch of river. They are hard fighters and a lot of fun to catch.
As the water temperature warms, smallmouth bass begin to feed aggressively. They can be caught on a variety of baits, but top-water baits seem to be preferred. Perch and walleye can also be found in this stretch of the Eau Claire River. These species will generally be found in deep pools and can be targeted with live bait. Another species that draws a lot of interest are musky. The Wisconsin DNR stocks musky annually at the Hobbs Boat Landing on the Chippewa River. A good musky fishery has developed in the Chippewa River near Eau Claire and on the lower Eau Claire River.
A reminder that illegal possession of lake sturgeon is a crime. Lake sturgeon are found in the Chippewa River and Eau Claire River downriver of the Lake Altoona Dam according to Scott Thiede, conservation warden in Eau Claire.
BUCKHORN STATE PARK - Mosquitoes have hatched with the rain and humidity/heat. Remember to bring bug spray, screen tents and/or thermo-cells. The beach is a great place to hang out! We still have openings for a camp host in September. Please call the park office at 608-565-2789 for information if interested, said Heather Wolf, park manager.
ROCHE-A-CRI STATE PARK - We still have an opening for a camp host in August. Please call the Buckhorn park office at 608-565-2789 for information if interested, said Wolf.

Bob Lamb

Out and About with Bob

Buffalo bagels!
Horse hockey!
Catfish cookies!
That's what happened last week while fishing off 'Ol Tom's boathouse in the backwaters of the 'Ol Mississipp.
I tossed out my two catfish poles with homemade stink bait about noon. WHEW! Is that bait ever getting ripe as the temperatures rise.
I watched the poles for 10-15 minutes, then decided to tend to a few clean-up chores in the back of the boathouse.
Several minutes later I noticed my favorite pole leaning to the right in my rod holder. The rod was bent severely and the line was streaking through the water for a place a I didn't want it to go. - a huge, partially submerged tree in the water.
Thank you beavers!!!!!!
I ran through the boathouse... as best as a 70-year-old can, grabbed my pole, and tugged. Oh yeah. This fish was hooked good. It was a biggie.
Before I could say "Catfish Cookies," the catfish took me into the submerged branches of the tree the beavers felled earlier this spring.
I knew I was in trouble, big trouble.
The catfish tugged. So did I.
It freed itself, then it dove to the bottom of the river.
I tried to bring it up to the top of the surface, but no way.
I knew what it would do next and it did.
The mammoth cat took me back into the submerged limbs.
It tugged. I tugged, realizing I had to be patient to not break my 17-pound test line.
We fought tooth and nail for the next 15 minutes before it must have wrapped around another limb.
So long, Bob. Nice try.
I reeled in my line, swivel and slip sinker. My No. 12 treble hook and catfish were history.
Gosh, I love fishing!
Until we meet, have a great day outdoors.