01-11-2018 Outdoors

Fishing

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reports that ice fishing is on for most of the state however, ice conditions are variable in some locations. Anglers will need to use caution especially in those areas that have received a lot of snow. Check the ice ahead of you and around you when heading out and remember deep snow and slush will hide dangerous pressure cracks and depressions.

Steelhead fishing across the state has come to a standstill as most rivers have shelf ice or floating ice.

Overall in the southwest Lower Peninsula people have started ice fishing however, the ice thickness varies considerably due to heavy snow. Many lakes have several inches of slush under several inches of snow which is slowing the freezing process. Ice thickness can go from four inches to one inch in just a few feet. Anglers should use extreme caution if they decide to head out, especially in the high snow areas near Lake Michigan or on lakes with natural springs.

Ice conditions improve to the east including the area from Jackson to Lansing where there is less snow. Best advice is to use a spud and check the ice often. Anglers are catching bluegill and crappie using jigs and wax worms or spikes. With ice coming down the rivers, steelhead fishing has been difficult.

Captain Kenny Bard of Rampage Fishing Charters out of South Haven reports fishing difficult with the Black River frozen over and ice on Kalamazoo River, there has been no fishing. The local inland lakes have too much snow and not enough ice yet for it to be safe.

The channels on local lakes seem to be safe enough, but extra care should be taken. Captain Kenny said he heard there were anglers on Gravel Lake, but he also heard a couple went into the lake. Those that can fish the channels like at Lake of the Woods are catching bluegills and crappie, but the bluegills are running small.

Ellinee Bait & Tackle shop on Paw Paw Lake by Coloma reported few anglers able to get on the ice yet. Mostly they are fishing the channels on Paw Paw Lake and Lake of the Woods, catching crappie and bluegills on wax worms, jigs, and spikes.

Here are a few fishing tips from the DNR for a safe and enjoyable ice fishing experience.

Equipment: You’ll need some special equipment if you head out ice fishing. Take stock of your spud/auger, skimmer, shelter and apparel to have an enjoyable experience out on the water.

Techniques: Pick your preferred ice fishing technique and the species you wish to target and brush up on your skills – whether that is hook-and-line fishing for bluegill, sunfish, perch or crappie, using tip-ups for northern pike, walleye or trout, or spearing for northern pike, muskellunge or sturgeon.

Safety: You should always stay safe when heading out on the ice. These five tips can help: Never fish alone; tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return; always test the ice with a spud; take the appropriate emergency items, such as a lifejacket and ice picks; and take a cell phone with you in case you need to call for help. Keep it in a plastic, sealable bag to make sure it doesn’t get wet.

Hunting

The 2018 Spring Turkey Hunting application can be purchased now through February 1. You can purchase your application online at E-license or anywhere hunting licenses are sold. The 2018 spring turkey season runs from April 23 through May 31, with several hunt periods to choose from.

Beginning March 5, applicants can check if they were drawn at www.michigan.gov/turkey. Any leftover licenses will be sold until the quota is met in each hunt unit and hunt period. Hunt 234 licenses go on sale over the counter, with no application required on March 19. Hunt 234 offers the most days to hunt, valid from May 7-31 and is open statewide except pubic land in southern Michigan.

Coloma Rod & Gun Club

The Coloma Rod & Gun Club will hold their monthly CCW Class on Saturday, January 13, 2018. The class is taught by a certified NRA and RSO instructor and the cost of the class is $100. For more information or to be put on the list, please call (269) 621-3370.

Watervliet Rod & Gun Club