01-05-2017 Outdoors


 The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) does not put out a fishing update between Christmas and New Year, so we do not have across the state information.  But judging from the local action, I would say that the ice fishing is picking up.

Captain Kenny Bard of Rampage Fishing Charters out of South Haven reports the Black River and Kalamazoo River are open and anglers are getting a decent number of Steelhead from both.  Inland Lake of the Woods, Pine Creek, Portage Lake, Gravel Lake on the channels, and Van Auken back channels has ice.  Fishing was slow but was improving over the weekend.  You have to be careful on the ice, although some places have four to six inches of ice.

Ellinee Bait & Tackle out of Coloma by Paw Paw Lake reports that some of the channels on Paw Paw Lake are frozen and fishing is picking up.  Anglers are catching fish on the channels of Lake of the Woods also.  Most of the smaller lakes in the area have some ice, but you need to be very careful when going out.  The fishing is spotty, but getting better all the time.

Talk to anyone familiar with Michigan’s invasive species and you are likely to hear their concern about carp – voracious, prolific, invasive carp.

News of the electric barriers and fish flying into boats may sound like a big fish story, but while they are sizable creatures, there is nothing exaggerated about the ecological and environmental damage that would occur if bighead and silver carp were ever to enter the Great Lakes.  That is why a good deal of attention is being paid to the work done by researchers and biologists in the Great Lakes states and Canada.

In addition to this ongoing work in Lake Michigan and its tributaries, Michigan Department of Natural Resources Fisheries Division staff and researchers are also focused on the problem of Grass Carp in the Lake Erie Basin.

Small numbers of Grass Carp have been caught in the Great Lakes and its tributaries since the 1980s.  While Bighead and Silver Carp are believed to have escaped from aquaculture ponds, Grass Carp were stocked intentionally in water bodies throughout many states for the purpose of aquatic plant control.

The Grass Carp used in this manner were required to be sterilized so that they could not reproduce, however, periodic captures of fertile – or diploid – Grass Carp and the discovery of Grass Carp eggs in the Sandusky River in 2015 suggest that either the methods used to sterilize these fish were not always effective or compliance with state regulations barring fish able to reproduce was not complete.  It is illegal to possess or stock Grass Carp in Michigan.

Though similar to Silver and Bighead carp in their breeding and habitat requirements, Grass Carp are different in two very important ways.  Grass Carp feed exclusively on plants, whereas Bighead and Silver carp devour large quantities of plankton – the same food source required by native and sport fish species.  In large numbers, Grass Carp can cause significant damage to wetland ecosystems and waterfowl habitat.  Unlike Silver Carp, Grass Carp do not jump out of the water at the sound of a boat motor.

When speaking with the scientists about the Lake Erie project, they both agree that it is still too early to predict the potential severity of the issue, as so much depends on the feasibility and success of control or eradication methods.  “It’s better to be proactive rather than reactive.”  Get more information on invasive species, including carp at www.michigan.gov/invasives.


  Even though the big game hunting season is over, there is still small game hunting and all kinds of outdoor activities to entertain you.  Michigan state parks kick off 2017 with “Shoe Year’s Day hikes.”  Visit www.michigan.gov/shoeyearhikes to view the calendar of events.

The ultimate winter adventure awaits you at the Muskegon Winter Sports Complex, located along Lake Michigan in Muskegon State Park.  It is one of the most popular cold-weather destinations around.  It boasts a luge track (one of only four in the United States), ice skating rinks, ice skating trails, a sledding hill, cross-country ski and snowshoe trails, a heated sports lodge and more.  More information is available at www.msports.org.

Snowmobiling season is here!   Gather your friends and do not miss out on nearly 6,500 miles of designated snowmobile trails.  With varying amounts of snowfall so far this season across the northern section of the state, the DNR is urging snowmobilers to use caution riding trails.

Trails are being groomed in most areas; however since snow depths are limited in many places it is making trail grooming difficult.  Many areas have not had enough cold weather to freeze swamps and soft ground or unfrozen water covered by snow.

Before riding trails, check with local trail grant sponsors for current trail conditions.  For more information on snowmobiling in Michigan, visit the DNR’s webpage at www.michigan.gov/dnr or www.michigan.gov/snowmobiling.

Coloma Rod & Gun Club

  The Coloma Rod and Gun Club will hold their monthly CCW Class on January 14.  Class registration is held on Sunday January 8 from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.  The class is taught by a certified NRA and RSO instructor and the cost of the class is $100.00.  For more information or to be put on the list, call 269-621-3370.

Watervliet Rod & Gun Club

  The Watervliet Rod and Gun Club will hold their monthly CCW classes on January 12 and January 14.  Registration is on January 10 between 6:00 and 7:00 p.m.  They will have a lawyer explaining the law pertaining to concealed carry during class.  Please call 269-468-3837 or 269-470-9191 for more information.

About a month ago, our staff happened upon an interesting star-shaped fungus during an exploratory hike on a newly acquired property. “It’s an earthstar fungus!” said a staff member. I snapped a photo and we went on our way.

Upon further investigation, I learned this mushroom is not in the earthstar family at all, but is called a false earthstar, or astraeus hygrometricus.

Its name comes from Greek, meaning star-shaped and measures humidity. This inedible fungus reacts to the humidity in the air, distending or retracting its outer layer depending on moisture.

On a humid day, a false earthstar will open its rays to expose its spore sac, and then close them when conditions are drier. This allows the fruit body to disperse spores at optimum moisture and reduce evaporation during dry times.

False earthstar is ground dwelling and prefers nutrient poor or sandy soils near pine or oak trees and open fields.

Adults can learn how to cross-country ski on January 7 at 2:00 p.m. The fee is $10 for the lesson and $5 for equipment rental. Please call (269) 927-4832 to register.

Grab your snowshoes (or rent from us) and join a naturalist for a walk through the wilds of Sarett on January 15 at 2:00 p.m. Fee is $3 per person. Adults only please, as we will be traveling through the marsh.


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