River Currents

by Free Speech on September 11, 2009

Lodi, WI~

Lodi Valley News serving Lodi, WI & the Lake Wisconsin area with local information since Earth Day 2008.

Lodi, WI
by Gary Engberg
©2009 Gary Engberg Outdoors

Fall Outdoor Activity is Just Beginning

Wayne Whitemarsh of Sauk City takes advantage of fall pheasant hunting

Wayne Whitemarsh of Sauk City takes advantage of fall pheasant hunting

Though this weekend may mark the end of summer to some people, there are still many weeks of outdoor activities remaining and some include the best times of the year for being in the outdoors. People often curtail their outdoor time after Labor Day, but no matter what you enjoy doing in the outdoors you still have time for some of the year’s best opportunities and weather left to pursue.

The Labor Day weekend marks the end of summer to many people with children returning to school, days getting shorter, and the weather cooling off. But, there is still time to continue your summer pursuits of fishing, canoeing, outdoor photography, camping, hiking, and boating to name a few passions that can be enjoyed throughout the fall. This past weekend, there were more people on the Wisconsin River than I have seen all summer. The “River” was packed with people enjoying the superb weather and the multitude of activities available on the Lower Wisconsin Riverway. The relatively shallow water keeps the number of larger boats to a minimum, but there was an abundance of kayaks, canoes, jet skis, and fishermen. The September 5th opening of the hook and line sturgeon season brought out many anglers to fish for these prehistoric fish with their great smoked flesh and most importantly, their caviar. The 60 inch minimum size limit has reduced the local catch and put the harvest near or below the 5% harvest rate that the DNR wants in their sturgeon management plan. As of Sunday, despite the hoards of fishermen and women there had been only 1 legal sturgeon registered at Sauk Prairie Bait and Tackle. The sturgeon anglers were having a great time with all the local campgrounds full, the visitors spending their hard-earned money at local businesses, and enjoying the beauty of the Wisconsin River Valley. What was once a 6 week sturgeon season is now a 4 week season and as I crossed the Highway 60 Bridge Sunday night the shoreline and water was aglow with campfires and lanterns as the sturgeon seem more active at night and in low-light periods.

This summer has been cooler with below normal temperatures, but plenty of sunshine. The number of days in August when the thermometer went above 80 degrees can be counted on one hand. But, September can also be a month with warm weather and plenty of sunshine. October can also be enjoyable for many outdoor activities with the opening of many hunting seasons and the month’s changing colors add beauty to being outside in Wisconsin. This weekend, I noticed that there were trees (mainly maples and aspens) displaying their fall colors

This is not the time to put your boat a way since the fall is the best time of the year to catch the biggest fish of the year. This applies to all fish species. As the days get shorter, fish realize that winter is on the horizon and this internal mechanism triggers them into active eating and “bulking” up for the cold of winter when their metabolism drastically slows down. If you’re an angler, this is the prime time of the year to fish for trophy muskies, walleyes, and bass. The fisherman can also find panfish and perch active on most waters in southern Wisconsin. If you fish northern Wisconsin, you’ll most likely get to fish into November before lakes begin to freeze up for the winter. The muskie season closes in Wisconsin on November 30th and it’s possible to fish till the month’s end in most years. This late season fishing may be for the “hard-core” anglers, but any fisher can easily fish well into October with good success. The nice thing about fishing in the fall is that the crowds of summer are gone, boat landings are empty, and fishing can be very good.

Hunters have been dreaming about the fall most of the year since to many Wisconsinites fall means bow (deer), duck, goose, turkey, pheasant, ruffed grouse, rabbit, squirrel, and dove hunting. The fall hunting season culminates with the gun deer season in middle November where over 600,000 hunters hit the woods and fields of the state. This year, Wisconsin also has a mentor hunt where youngsters 10 years and older can now hunt with a qualified adult, an early goose season, and other early hunts for deer, geese, turkey, and pheasant where children can be introduced to hunting and the outdoors. Young hunters are needed to fill the voids left from the loss of many “baby-boomers” who have stopped hunting for numerous reasons.

There are many other outdoor activities besides the traditional fall hunting and fishing which more people should take advantage of especially in a state with the natural beauty of Wisconsin. Camping, hiking, kayaking, canoeing, bird watching, and outdoor photography are activities that can be outstanding and even better in the fall months. An afternoon or overnight float on any local river can be an awesome activity for the whole family. There’s wildlife to view and photograph along with the brilliant colors of fall. Many different bird and waterfowl species will be passing through the state on their way to their wintering grounds and give “birders” a chance to see and photograph many different breeds.

Devil's Lake is great in the fall.

Devil's Lake is great in the fall.

Soon, most agricultural crops will be harvested which will allow you to see the many animals that are rarely noticed like deer, wild turkeys, sandhill cranes, coyotes, foxes, and if near the water beavers and otters. It’s amazing that all of these birds and animals can be seen within a 30 or 40 mile radius of Madison.

If you are an angler or hunter than this is your “time”, but there are so many other outdoor activities and sights available to everyone who gets out and looks at the wonders of nature! Here are a few suggestions for the coming fall; take a trip to Devils Lake for a day of climbing and camping, float and paddle the Wisconsin River for the day or an overnight camp, visit the Goose Pond near Arlington for great bird watching as birds and waterfowl migrate, visit any of the state’s wildlife area’s for a good hike and a chance to see wildlife in their natural setting (if it’s near the deer season wear blaze orange so you can be seen), take a drive along the Mississippi River on the Great River Road for beautiful fall colors and scenery, or even take a day trip to one of the state’s many apple orchards. These are just a few ideas for those looking to extend their outdoor time during the fall. There is so much to do this time of the year in Wisconsin, so take a look at the many activities and opportunities and find one that suits you. The fall is my favorite time of the year and if you need any help in finding a good location for wildlife and bird viewing, renting a canoe, or finding a good campsite you can always contact me at gengberg@garyengbergoutdoors.com . Get out and enjoy the outdoors!

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