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Gary Engberg - River Currents - Now's the Time
It's the last day of October and outdoors people have been actively participating in the numerous fishing and hunting seasons that Wisconsin is blessed to have
at this time every year. Weather patterns change yearly, but the fall is without a doubt the best season to be outdoors taking advantage of the outstanding
opportunities we have without traveling for hundreds of miles and spending money on gas, motels, meals, and amenities. Some years, the cooler fall weather
can be a week or two away from what we consider "normal", but once it comes (and it has) hunting and fishing improve and give you some of the best outdoor
opportunities of the year.
The shorter days, the cooler weather with day time temperatures in the 40's and 50's, and night time lows in the upper 20's are all normal this time of year
and signal to fish and game that the tougher times are not far a way. These are some of the main factors that "tell" fish, game, waterfowl, and even migratory
birds that winter is coming and its time to feed heavily and start heading south if that's your normal pattern of migration.
Only a few weeks ago, we experienced warm weather with temperatures near 80 degrees. The water temperature which was heading downward suddenly was rising.
Occurrences like these happen, but weather patterns do normalize and when they do its time to fish and hunt as much as possible.
I'm out in a boat or out in the fields and woods almost daily this time of the year. I try to jot down a few things every day in my diary and log that
I've kept for many years. I may miss a day now and then, but I'm pretty regular in my diary entries. I try to mention what the weather is like, what
fish I'm catching, daily temperatures and weather, and anything else of significance. I had mentioned that I had't been seeing that many deer in my
travels and as of a few weeks ago I was really wondering about where the deer were in locations where I normally see them this time of the year.
Was the deer population down? Had hunters shot too many deer in the CWD Zones that I travel on daily? I had questions, but about a week ago, we
had a hard frost which seemed to get the fall hunting and fishing into gear. Lately, I've been seeing deer regularly and in good numbers in the
fields that seemed barren of life a few days ago. There's a field that was planted with soybeans which I pass regularly and have always seen
deer feeding in the bean fields. The soybeans didn't have a good year in this field and I recently I saw the farmer harvesting the field. I
think that the yield out of this field would have been so low that after a few passes the farmer stopped combining and decided that this field
wasn't worth the work for such a poor yield and would probably plow it under. Now, I see deer every day in this same field!
Suddenly, in just a few days, the temperature had fallen to what is normal with a hard frost and with the days continuing to shorten one could tell that f
all was really here and winter not far a way. Here are some other changes that have already happened or in the process of changing and signal to animals
and fish that winter is coming; 1) Most crops have been harvested or are in the process of being harvested giving hunters a much larger field of view.
The leaves have changed colors and for the most part have fallen giving hunters the added visibility for bow hunting and small game shooting. Bucks have
gotten active with the beginning of "rut" and their fall mating ritual. Deer are even becoming more visible out feeding even during the middle of the day.
2) We have had that hard frost which signals the season change and the advent of the "hard water" of winter to all fish and game. 3) The shorter days "trigger"
the coming of winter and have all game and fish feeding very heavily during most hours of daylight and deer which can feed nocturnally. 4) Many, if not most
lakes have turned-over giving lakes the same temperature up and down the entire water column. 4) Most if not all green weeds have died off, but if you can
find them and areas of more oxygen then you'll find all fish species active and very aggressive. There has been a good walleye and sauger bite on Lake Wisconsin
and the Wisconsin River. Evidence of this is the aggressive activity of all fish species. Besides the local walleye activity, muskies are active on most area waters
with a 44" and a 41" muskie caught this past weekend on the river. 5) I feed birds year-round and now most of my migrating birds are gone for the winter with blue
jays, cardinals, crows, woodpeckers, nuthatches, wrens, sparrows, morning doves, and finches are all the species that are left to feed. I constantly am filling my
feeders and my local squirrel population feeds and buries food all day long too. The woodchucks have hibernated weeks ago till spring. Many local ducks and geese
are still here and I have yet to see any northern ducks on their way south. I don't see many turkey hunters out in the woods, but there must have been a good spring
hatch because I see many turkeys from this year's hatch of all sizes and in good numbers. This is a great time for birders to see the many migrating birds and waterfowl,
not to mention the large flocks of sand hill cranes. I haven't seen any new eagles yet, but as the lakes and waters to the north freeze the eagles will come to the
Wisconsin River Valley to winter and feed on the waters of the Wisconsin River.
There is a great period of change in the air as we approach the snow and cold of winter. But, it also is a wonderful time to be outdoors hunting and fishing with
many of the largest fish of the year being caught plus the deer, ducks, geese, pheasants, doves, and turkeys that may still be harvested. Even if you don't hunt
or fish, this is still a time to be outdoors walking, hiking, and observing the wonders of nature. I suggest that everyone wear blaze orange when outside even if
you're just taking a walk. Be safe and have fun because November can be the last comfortable month to be in the outdoors!
For more fishing articles visit www.garyengbergoutdoors.com
Gary Engberg Outdoors
P.O. Box 92
Sauk City, WI 53583
Host of Outdoor Horizons on 1670-WTDY, Saturday's 8:00am-8:30am