Out and About with Bob

Bob Lamb

We're headed up nort' this Memorial Day weekend to visit our oldest son, daughter-in-law and two grandsons in Barnes, WI, just north of Hayward.
Big things are planned - an old-fashioned outdoors fish fry, golf, turkey calling, and of course, fishing. The girls mentioned something about a shopping trip to Hayward for them, too.
Jon's and Sara's cabin is on Turtle Lake, which froze out years ago, but has rebounded quickly, particularly the last two years. Lake levels have increased so much that "The Kids" had to add two more lengths to their aluminum dock this spring.
The lake has not only added more water, but more fish, too. We caught some 8- and 9-inch sunfish last year fishing right off the dock. However, the grandsons said they haven't had any luck so far this spring.
Jackson, 12, sent me a text earlier this week, stating "We heard a couple of old-timers at the bait shop say that the water isn't warm enough yet."
Closer to home, fishing gets better each day at Ol' Tom's boathouse off French Island. So far this spring, I've caught sunfish, perch, bluegills, rock bass, northern pike, sheepshead and bass, including a 17-inch largemouth last weekend.
Meanwhile, across the Mississippi River, Minnesota DNR conservation officer Tyler Ramaker, stationed in La Crescent, spent the week checking anglers and ATV operators.
Two recent alcohol-related ATV crashes that resulted in serious injuries are unfortunate reminders of the danger of mixing alcohol and riding.
Bass and northern pike fishing has been picking up and some anglers are finding limits of sunfish. Enforcement action was taken for anglers taking an over-limit of sunfish, using extra lines and fishing without licenses.
DNR conservation officer Tom Hemker, in Winona, reports a busy week of fishing with limits of sunfish, crappies, bass and walleyes checked.
There were very few people continuing to turkey hunt, and mushroom hunting was slow.
All waters and state properties continue to see very high usage. There were several baby and nuisance-wild-animal calls.
DNR conservation officer Mitch Boyum, in Rushford, reports checking anglers on area trout streams. Success was fair to good. Violations encountered were no license and no trout stamp.
Time was also spent patrolling state forest campgrounds and day areas. Enforcement action was taken for illegal operation of a motor vehicle.
Boyum also checked ATV complaint areas and trails. Compliance was good.
Until we meet, have a great day outdoors.

Jerry Davis

From Southern Wisconsin

Ambling outside can be a fantastic method of learning what is out and about and to anticipate what to expect later this spring and beyond.
Forests, woodland edges, prairie entrances and flowing springs give enthusiasts plenty to ponder and predict just by looking, smelling and listening.
Hear that hummingbird’s drone? Smell the wild plums? See the oak’s flowers?
Despite varied weather, garlic mustard is robust. Who would have wondered that when it was transported to the U.S. as a salad green it would be so problematic? Its predominance along animal trails augurs some of what dispersed this alien. Muddy feet carry teeny seeds, which grew into biennial plants and more seeds. Late frost nipped at leaves and left flowers to form and stems to be nibbled at by deer, often the guilty vector. Pull a few or a hundred while hiking. At least it gives a feel-good sensation.
Frost touched ginseng and tender shoots of others, too, sometimes setting them back a year or forever.
Yellow lady-slippers and showy orchis stemmed that hazard while other fast-growing herbs did, too.
Mayapples are split between two-leafed flowering stalks and singles resembling umbrellas. It will be edible lemony fruit in a couple months.
Morel “trees” look the same as always, but those that produce or are too old, give few clues for their poorest of showings this year.  There’s still time, barely. The hazards of poor moisture and low temperatures have righted, but this is an autumn underground grower, so answers are more entwined with something as complex as a fall maturing underground hyphal mat, root connections and spring conditions.
Morel buyers, serious pickers, and novice hikers generally say something like, “Worst year since 1972, or instead of 100 pounds, I picked 20.”
The return of ruby-throated hummingbirds is upon us, along with other migrants, even deep within woodlots. One male hummingbird appeared as though it were on a string, swinging a 20-yard arc while the lady didn’t seem to appreciate or understand.  For someone having not experienced this act, a pause could have been wise, even revealing. Who knows, maybe a nest was soon to be built. Apple blooms have provided some nourishment already.
With hummers about, sapsuckers are sure to be close at hand, some drilling sap holes, only to be robbed of juices by hungry hummers.
Burned prairies, dead elms, live oaks and apples seemed to be in a fog regarding morel growth, even though shooting stars, ginseng, and orchids were budded and some opening.
Even trees without flowers, cone trees, are spewing pollen, waiting for the wind to carry sperm-laden grains to seed cones.
The last turkey hunting period, (F), is ongoing, and toms are still courting. Many hens are nesting. One hen was noticed leaving feathers hanging on brambles when she left a partially disturbed nest. This particular nest (pictured) looked more like a planned structure big enough to contain a dozen eggs and a 10-pound hen.
Red cedars, at least on wet days, appear to have been decorated for the holidays with orange balls forming gelatinous projections.  This display is much more complicated than hanging gall-shaped balls. A fungus that jumps between apple trees and cedars is the culprit, with spores going back and forth.
COVID-19 has been accused of causing another Ungreatest Depression. To help cope with many takeaways, reading Beuna Coburn Carlson’s book, “Farm Girl, A Wisconsin Memoir,” published by The University of Wisconsin Press in 2020, is a great place for outdoor-minded folks to begin to cope. The book originates in Plum City, Wis.
This pandemic could be an opening for deer management folks if they allow it. People during Carlson’s childhood, and now, will continue to need food. How about loosening the deer regulations and seasons during these troubling times? How about a system “allowing” hunters to kill a deer for non-hunters? The deer population can stand it in most areas. Following COVID-19, start over with season discussions.
Other outdoors activities can assist the need for food, the need to be alone, and the need to allow nature to drown out the vortex of dealing with something as complex as a disease-causing parasitic particle.
Summer is starred with strong fishing, including trout, walleye, panfish and catfish.
Many fruits have already started forming. Put faith in the fruit of the bloom.
Farm crops - alfalfa, soybeans, corn and oats - remind one of a Victory Garden to occupy time and feed our hunger.
The great outdoors continues to be an answer to some questions and problems we face.

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

Chad Knapmiller

Schafer's River Rentals

We seem to be on the tail end of the crappie spawn. The crappies are still out there and you can catch some nice ones, but I expect they will move out this week with the warm temps.
Those warm temps should also be a kickstart to the bluegills moving into the shallows to spawn. With the water being low on Lake Onalaska and the temps increasing as quickly as they are, things are going to change fast.
The bass and northern continue to bite, and top-water season is here!
Stop in for the latest report.

Wild Birds Unlimited

Karen Perry from Wild Birds Unlimited

First of all, it seems the Global Migration brought in scarlet tanagers, indigo buntings, both Baltimore and orchard orioles, and redstarts to name a few.  
We received some pictures from one of our new backyard bird feeding customers with both an oriole and a scarlet tanager on her grape jelly feeder. She was so excited!
We’ve had sightings of hummingbirds as well. Remember to make sure you keep your nectar fresh as the weather warms up. Also, some folks are reporting not seeing their hummer after it returns.
Remember, birds get going on with their mating and nesting pretty quick when they return. This means they are busy and you may not see them visit your feeders, but they are around. Also, keep in mind that hummers eat other things besides nectar, such as spiders, gnats, fruit flies, mosquitoes and sometimes even small bees!  During a rain storm, hummers would rather eat small insects than nectar.
Also, sometimes there is a “bully” hummer that likes to keep the feeder for himself. It’s always good to have more than one feeder and keep them relatively close together making it harder for the bully to dominate.
As I mentioned last week, Wild Birds Unlimited is open again, but five people in the store at a time. Masks are optional. Stephanie brought in some fun "Down Under" pots that are quite the HOT seller. They make a great natural hummingbird feeder. Plant a hummingbird friendly plant in it such as petunias or impatiens, hang it up near your deck, porch or patio and you’ll have hummers close by!
We are located in Crosseroads Center in Onalaska. Hours are Monday-Friday, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. We will be closed Monday in honor of Memorial Day, Saturday 10 a.m.-5 p.m., and Sunday noon-4 p.m.  
You can call us for curbside pickup at 608-781-5088. We will still be offering that as long as there is quarantine for COVID-19.
Happy birding, stay safe and have a happy Memorial Day!
God Bless America!
Karen Perry