Fishing The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reports that the state has pretty much open water fishing in the Lower Peninsula. Ice fishing could be found on some waters in the northern lower as well as the Upper Peninsula. The large deep lakes in the northern lower did not have safe ice. Ellinee Bait & Tackle located on Paw Paw Lake by Coloma reported poor turnout of anglers. There was some action in the river, but the lakes were poorly used with slow bites for the shore anglers. The channels on Van Auken and Lake of the Woods had skim ice only. The cold this week may bring a little ice to the area, but remember to fish safe. First ice is always tricky. Captain Kenny Bard of Rampage Fishing Charters reported only one boat he knew of went out on Lake Michigan, but did not come back with any fish. The pier is not being fished from and inland lakes are quiet. He and friends went out on a couple local inland lakes and neither boat caught anything. Captain Kenny said the only fishing action he has seen is in the local rivers, Black River, Kalamazoo River and St. Joseph River where there has been some good steelhead action. He’s hoping for more cold weather, but not a lot of snow to insulate the ice. Unusually large fish caught in 2019 could qualify for the DNR Master Angler program, which includes more than 50 species and recognizes large fish by anglers who practice catch-and-release or catch-and-keep. All fish must be taken by legal Michigan sport fishing methods during the open season and in waters open to the public. The application for submitting a 2019-caught fish is now available. Find the applications – and the full set of rules – online at www.michigan.gov/masterangler. The DNR reminds anglers who harvest a muskellunge that there is mandatory registration. The muskie harvest limit is one fish per angler per license year. A muskellunge harvest must be reported within 24 hours of the catch. Reports can be made online through the DNR’s Harvest Reporting System (www.michigan.gov/registerfish, toll-free by calling 844-345-3474, or in person at any DNR Customer Service Center) during normal business hours and with advanced notice of arrival. For those fishing for smelt this year, the DNR reminds anglers to make sure they know about a legislative change, signed at the end of 2018, that alters how anglers can target smelt in Michigan. The previous state statute let people use any number of hooks attached to a single line while fishing for smelt, alewife or other bait fish in the Great Lakes or recognized smelt waters. Now anglers fishing for those species can use no more than three lines per person, with no more than six hooks or lures on all lines. All hooks attached to artificial bait or “night crawler harness” are counted as one hook (note: for crappie/perch rigs and umbrella rigs, each hook is counted as part of the total six allowed). This means anglers may use up to six hooks on one line or spread the six hooks out over up to three lines. For more information on fishing regulations see the current Michigan Fishing Guide available at fishing license vendors or online at www.michigan.gov/fishingguide.
Hunting The DNR urges snowmobilers to ditch loud exhaust pipes and cans and is reminding riders laws against loud machine violations will be enforced strictly. The penalty for violating sound levels for snowmobiles is a civil infraction, carrying fines of over $200. Snowmobiles may be impounded. The DNR has received numerous complaints about loud machines and several of these complaints have resulted in private property owners revoking their permission to route snowmobile trails across their land. Hand in hand with the noise complaint is the trespass complaint on private property. For more information on snowmobiling in Michigan, including current laws and regulations, go to www.michigan.gov/snowmobiling. Moonlight snowshoeing, cross-country skiing, hiking, yoga and educational sessions await you at the second annual Michigan Runner Girl Winter Getaway, February 8-10 at the Ralph A. MacMullan Conference Center in Roscommon. Participants will experience a relaxing and rejuvenating two-night stay. Learn more at the DNR online, and register. It’s official! State parks’ birthday year begins. Nearly 100 years ago, people in Michigan were rallying to protect the state’s most beautiful outdoor destinations. On May 12, 1919, the Michigan Legislature established the Michigan State Park Commission, paving the way for Michigan’s state parks system. Consider this an official invitation to join the centennial celebration. Share memories and photos, attend special events, explore new (or favorite) parks and learn more about the history, visit www.michigan.gov/stateparks100.
Modular railroad chugs into S. Haven
By Nancy Albright The South Haven Center for the Arts usually displays works of art, but this month that will change when the center hosts a model train exhibit by the Holland Modular Railroad Club. The HMRC will bring its traveling railroad to the art center on January 18 and 19. Whether interested in trains or not, everyone will be amazed at this miniature universe that transports viewers into another world. The Holland model train group, along with Lakeshore Model Railroads, is one of just a handful of clubs in the area that transport their displays to public spaces. “It’s great to be hosting the club for the second consecutive winter,” said SHCA Executive Director and Watervliet resident Kerry Hagy. “It’s a really fascinating display and, as always, we welcome visitors from not only the South Haven area, but the Tri-Cities and beyond.” The display measures 544 square feet and runs two main lines – passenger and freight – on as many as eight tracks at once. Twenty-two members create their own 2×4-feet scenic modules that make up the display. “We use trains ranging from steam engines – which were phased out in the late 1950s – to modern diesel engines, and we create whatever scenes we like,” explained Club President Jack Wiest. Trains ride the rails through woods, tunnels and open land; past a city corner, an icehouse and an oil refinery; and stop at freight yards and train stations. Switches direct freighters to industry tracks and haul specialized cars carrying coal, wood chips, fuel, grain, steel coil, auto wrecks and cement. Buildings, vehicles, people, crossing lights and other surprises surround the lines, all accompanied by bells, horns, whistles and engine noise that sounds like the real thing thanks to engines equipped with speakers that broadcast digital sound. The railroad will be on display at 600 Phoenix St. on Friday, Jan. 18 from 10:00 a.m.-8:00 p.m. and Saturday, Jan. 19 from 10:00 a.m.-4:00 p.m. The display is free and open to the public. The art center will also have train-theme art projects for families. Call (269) 637-1041 or visit southhavenarts.org for more information.
A recent list was composed of the animal species believed to be extinct in the wild in 2018. Included in this list are three bird species, such as the Spix’s macaw, which was the star of the 2011 animated film “Rio.” Many more species are on the brink of extinction or believed to get there in the next few years. The last male white rhino died this year, leaving only two females left. Insect populations are plummeting around the globe, which can also cause huge losses up the food chain. Habitat destruction, human induced climate change and introduced invasive species are some of the main problems. Scientists estimate we are losing species at 1,000 to 10,000 times the rate of normal species extinction in history, which is one to five species per year. Join us Saturday, January 19 at 6:30 p.m. for a Supermoon Potluck! Depending on the snow cover, we will either cross-country ski or hike on the torch guided trail and enjoy hot cider by a bonfire. End at the Nature Center for the potluck. Cost is $5 for nonmembers and attendees should bring a dish to pass and their own table service. Call (269) 927-4832 to register. Join Naturalist Mike Mahler on Sunday, January 20 at 2 p.m. at the Nature Center for a program on his birding adventures to Ecuador. Cost is $5 for nonmembers.