01-24-2019 Outdoors

Fishing The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) noted that ice is finally starting to form in the southern portions of the state but has quite a bit to go before it is safe ice. Elsewhere activity is starting to really pick up. Overall the southwest Lower Peninsula still doesn’t have much safe ice, but may be fishable by this weekend. Ellinee Bait & Tackle on Paw Paw Lake by Coloma reports that there are some ice anglers going out on in the channels of Paw Paw Lake, Van Auken Lake, and Lake of the Woods. They have been getting bluegill and crappie, but they are smaller in size right now. Some anglers targeting pike have been successful with tip-ups. This week’s weather should help to make some good ice after the rain and freezing rain gets rid of some of the snow and the cold moves into the area behind it. Be safe though, and check the ice with your spud before you step forward. The DNR fishing tip of the week is how to find panfish through the ice. If you have been attempting to target panfish this winter, but are not having much luck, consider the following things. 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 fishing 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. For more information on winter fishing in Michigan, visit www.michigan.gov/fishing. The St. Joseph River continues to produce steelhead. Meanwhile, in the lower portion boaters were catching some yellow perch. Kalamazoo River was also continuing to produce steelhead, especially while trolling crankbaits or drifting spawn. A few fish were caught below the Allegan Dam and some pike were caught near Albion. The Black River in South Haven is still producing some steelhead. No action on the piers. The Largemouth Bass Virus (LMBV) has been found in two additional lakes in Michigan’s northern Lower Peninsula, following an initial discovery this last October in Cedar Lake (Losco County). This time LMBV was found in smallmouth bass in Beaver Lake (Alpena County) during the investigation of a fish kill and in Avalon Lake (Montmorency County). These latest discoveries indicate the virus is spreading northward in Michigan. LMBV is one of more than 100 naturally occurring viruses that affect fish. Its origin and methods of spreading are unknown, but anglers are considered a likely transmission path. Anyone moving live, infected fish from one body of water to another, or using contaminated or unclean gear or boats in uninfected waters could easily spread the virus. LMBV is not known to infect humans, and infected fish – if thoroughly cooked – is safe to eat. For more information on fish diseases, visit the DNR webpage at www.michigan.gov/FishHealth. This winter fishing season, DNR creel clerks again will be out and about at many fishing spots to interview anglers about the details of their trips. Most interviews take just a few minutes, but the critical information gathered makes a big difference to successful fisheries management. Sometimes the clerks might ask to measure or weigh fish and take scale samples to gather key biological information on those fish. These data help fisheries managers make decisions about fishing regulations, habitat improvement and fish-stocking needs. Learn more about creel clerks and anglers’ surveys on the DNR webpage or contact Tracy Claramunt, 517-282-2887 or Elyse Walter, 517-284-5839.

Hunting The DNR reminds hunters that if they want to be one of the more than 30,000 hunters who harvest a turkey during the spring season, they only have a week left to apply for the turkey hunt they want this spring. Applications for the spring hunt drawing are $5.00 and can be purchased from anywhere DNR licenses are sold. The application deadline is February 1. There is no guarantee that leftover licenses will be available for any hunt unit. If any remain after the drawing, unsuccessful applicants who possess a current base license may purchase a leftover turkey license online or from any license agent on a first-come, first-served basis. Unsuccessful drawing applicants may purchase one leftover spring turkey license beginning March 11 at 10 a.m. EDT. Beginning March 18 at 10 a.m., any hunter may purchase one license until quotas are met, including hunters who did not apply for a spring turkey license.

Coloma Rod & Gun Club The Coloma Rod & Gun Club will hold their monthly CCW Class on Saturday, Feb. 9, 2019. Class registration is held on Sunday, Feb. 3, 2019 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 $105. For more information or to be put on the list, please call (269) 621-3370.

Watervliet Rod & Gun Club The Watervliet Rod and Gun Club will hold their monthly CCW classes on February 7 and 9, 2019. Registration is on Tuesday, Feb. 5, 2019, between 6:00 and 7:00 p.m. and cost of the class is $100. 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.

It’s winter and there are few live insects moving around outside. Wildlife, whose diets are comprised of mostly live insects, deal with this problem in winter by migrating. Many birds migrate, but did you also know that bats migrate too? Bats are mammals and deal with winter in two different ways. They will either migrate or hibernate. Bats from Southwest Michigan, such as the most common big brown bat will migrate south to Indiana or more southern states. Bats in the Upper Peninsula will head to old mines to hibernate. Some bats hibernate in old caves or rock crevices. Bat hibernation requires individuals to rely on stored fat from autumn. They will slow down their heart rate, metabolic rate, and respiratory rate and match their body temperature with their surroundings. They can stay in this state of “torpor” for about a month before a brief arousal period when their body temperature returns to normal. A hibernacula, or a place an animal hibernates need to have ideal conditions for bats to successfully hibernate. This means stable, semi-cold temperatures with the right humidity and low chance of disturbance. Join us Saturday, Jan. 26 from noon to 2 p.m. for a Snowshoe Demo Day at the Nature Center hosted by Wanderlust Outfitters. Test out their MRS snowshoes for free! No registration needed, but there is still a $3 general admission fee for non-member adults.