The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reports though ice fishing is on, it is hard to say what impact the rain and above freezing temperatures last week have had on the ice conditions. Anglers will need to use caution and watch for pressure cracks. Windy conditions could also impact ice conditions. Overall, the ice conditions in the southwest Lower Peninsula still vary in this area of the state. The smaller shallow lakes had ice although thin spots were reported in some places. The large lakes like Gun Lake and Gull Lake have areas of thin ice and caution needs to be used. Those able to get out on the lakes have done well on Panfish and Pike. Captain Kenny Bard of Rampage Fishing Charters out of South Haven reported good Bluegill and Crappie catches out of Swan Lake and Lake Macatawa. Pine Creek has been good for Bluegills and Pike. Most lakes in the area were still iffy, but the cold spell should help improve the ice by the end of the week. Ellinee Bait & Tackle on Paw Paw Lake by Coloma reported some solid ice to fish from in the surrounding lakes. But extreme caution should still be used going out on the ice. Using small jigs, wax worms, mousies, spikes, and small minnows, anglers that went out on the ice caught some nice Pike, Bluegills and Crappie. The main thing is to be wise and use caution to check the ice you are going out on. Have you been attempting to target Panfish during your ice fishing trips this winter, but aren’t having much luck? The DNR suggests a few ideas to follow. Are the Panfish sticking to shallow or deep depths? Are they hanging out in the weeds or on the rocks? Are they suspended or are they hugging the bottom? Due to the weather much of the state has experienced recently, Panfish are likely to be in deeper water to find more oxygen. Keep that in mind when you look for them. Also, keep your presentation efforts in mind. A popular effort includes putting a jig on the bottom and using a twitch-pause-twitch routine with it. The DNR has announced that the 2018 Lake Sturgeon fishing season on Black Lake in Cheboygan County will begin at 8:00 a.m. Saturday, February 3. All anglers wishing to participate in the season must register. The 2018 total allocation to state of Michigan anglers for Black Lake is seven Lake Sturgeon. However, to reduce the chance of exceeding this allocation, officials will close the season once the sixth fish is harvested, or if five fish have been harvested at the end of any fishing day. Fishing hours are 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. each day of the season, which will end either 2 p.m. Wednesday, February 7 or when one of the two above scenarios are met, at which point, anglers will be notified on the ice by DNR personnel that they must immediately stop fishing for Lake Sturgeon. For more details, anglers may call the Gaylord Customer Service Center at 989-732-3541 or visit www.michigan.gov/fishing. As the winter fishing season gets under way, the DNR reminds anglers that fisheries staff again will be stationed at several locations throughout the state in order to interview anglers about their fishing trips. The DNR appreciates angler cooperation in sharing feedback about their experiences, because the information provides critical data for fisheries management. To see past creel results, visit www.michigan.gov/fishing and click on Fishing in Michigan in the left-hand toolbar.
The DNR is teaming up with the Belding Sportsman’s Club and several other sportsmen’s clubs and local businesses to sponsor a youth rabbit hunt at the Belding Sportsman’s Club on Saturday, January 20. The program is free, but may be filled. To check, call the Flat River State Game Area at 616-794-2658. Wolf Lake State Fish Hatchery Visitor Center by Mattawan will offer Snowshoe Walks and Fly-Tying 101 on January 20. The snowshoe walks will take pace at 9:00 a.m. and at 11:00 a.m. The program is dependent upon snow conditions and are subject to cancelation. Cancelations will be communicated via Facebook at www.facebook.com/wolflakehatchery. The Fly-Tying 101 class will be held at 8:30 a.m. and at 11:30 a.m., Class size is limited and pre-registration is required. For more information, contact Wolf Lake at 269-668-2876. With snowmobile season in full gear, DNR conservation officers remind riders that safety is key to enjoying the sport. “Snowmobiling is a great way to spend the winter months,” said Lt. Tom Wanless, DNR recreational safety programs supervisor. “But when operating a snowmobile or any type of vehicle, safety comes first. This includes riding within your own abilities, operating at safe and appropriate speed for the terrain, always wearing a helmet and proper clothing, and never operating your machine while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.” Snowmobile safety education training and online safety courses are recommended for all snowmobile operators and are required of those who are 12 to 16 years old. They also should learn the rues and regulations for snowmobiling in Michigan as well as the universal snowmobile trail signage developed by the DNR to help ensure safety on the trails. A valid snowmobile registration from the Michigan Secretary of State, or another state or province, is required for all snowmobilers. Snowmobilers also must purchase a trail permit, which is valid for one year (Oct. 1 to Sept. 30), when operating on public trails. Don’t trespass. If you don’t know whose property you are on, you probably don’t belong there. Learn more about snowmobiling in Michigan at www.michigan.gov/snowmobiling.
The recent warm temperatures provided an opportunity to witness the appearance of hundreds of thousands of springtails congregating on the surface of the snow. Scientists believe this mass migration up from the leaf litter may be part of the reproductive cycle. Springtails mate in the spring (or on spring-like days). Afterwards, everyone descends back into the leaf litter. After a few weeks, deposited eggs will hatch into miniature versions of the adults. The courtship ritual is rather amusing. Upon sighting a larger female, a male will bang his head into hers. She pushes back, and he returns the push. Eventually the male will grab ont