01-26-2017 Outdoors

Fishing

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reports that those looking to go ice fishing will need to head north, but will still need to use some caution as even some of these lakes reported ice that was not consistent.  The Upper Peninsula should be good, but slush could make travel on the ice difficult.

In the Southwest Lower Peninsula, the bite improved with the warmer weather, but ice on the inland lakes in this region is inconsistent and dangerous.  The DNR said if anglers are heading out they would be wise to fish in shallow waters only.

Captain Kenny of Rampage Fishing Charters out of South Haven said he does not recommend going out on the ice locally.  Last weekend’s warm up made it very unsafe.  The Black River and other rivers are producing some nice Brown Trout and Steelheads as the warmer water brought them in.  The rivers are still running high from the snow melt and rain, but should improve by the weekend.

The Ellinee Bait & Tackle shop by Paw Paw Lake in Coloma reports no safe ice in the local area.  Although the St. Joseph River is running high right now, anglers on the piers are taking some Salmon.

The DNR reminds anglers that the 2017 Master Angler program is underway!  If you catch an exceptionally large fish, consider submitting it to the program.  It has two categories; catch-and-release and catch-and-keep and includes 46 different species.

At the end of each program year recognition certificates are awarded to anglers entering the top five fish in each category.  The deadline for submitting a 2017 entry is January 10, 2018.  To download the 2017 Master Angler application or to learn more about the program, visit www.michigan.gov/masterangler.

As the winter fishing season gets under way, the DNR reminds anglers that DNR staff again will be interviewing them about their fishing trips.  The DNR appreciates anglers’ cooperation in obtaining this critical data for fisheries management.

The clerks will ask anglers about how long they fished, what species they targeted, what they caught and where they live.  In a few instances, the clerks will ask to measure or weigh fish and take scale samples to gather key biological information about anglers’ catches.

To see past creel results, visit www.michigan.gov/fishing and click on Fishing in Michigan in the left toolbar.

The DNR announced totals from its fall fish stocking efforts.  They stocked 10 different species totaling more than 300,000 fish that weighed nearly 8 tons.  Fish were stocked at 99 locations throughout the state.

DNR Fish Production Manager Ed Eisch said, “When added to our successful spring and summer stocking efforts; that brings the total for 2016 to more than 14 million fish put into Michigan’s waters.”

Fall fish stocking in 2016 consisted of 10 species including Brook Trout, Brown Trout, Lake Trout, Rainbow Trout, Steelhead, Atlantic salmon, Lake Sturgeon, Channel Catfish, Walleye and Muskellunge.  In general, fish are reared in the state hatcheries anywhere from one month to one and a half years before they are stocked.

The DNR welcomes visitors to its fish hatcheries and interpretative centers to witness firsthand the fish rearing process and to learn about Michigan’s waters.  For more information, visit www.michigan.gov/hatcheries.  To find where fish were stocked, visit the DNR’s fish stocking database at www.michigandnr.com/fishstock/.

Hunting

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) was confirmed this week in two female deer from a Mecosta County deer farm.  CWD is a fatal neurological disease that affects white-tailed deer, mule deer, elk and moose.  This is the second time the disease has been found in a farmed deer facility in Michigan.  In 2008, a white-tailed deer from a Kent County deer farm tested positive.

MDARD and DNR are implementing the Michigan Surveillance and Response Plan for Chronic Wasting Disease of Free-Ranging and Privately Owned Cervids, and are taking the following steps: Quarantine the affected farm; Complete trace investigations to identify the potential sources of infection and possible areas of spread; Work with the producer to depopulate the facility; Test all deer from the affected herd for CWD; Identify all other deer farms in a 15-mile radius, which will undergo a records audit, fence inspection and increased surveillance testing; Conduct targeted surveillance testing on free-ranging white-tailed deer near the facility; Have mandatory deer check for hunter-harvested deer in a nine-township area.

An informational meeting for deer farmers is scheduled for Wednesday, February 1 at 7:00 p.m. at the Big Rapids Holiday Inn.

For more information about CWD – including Michigan’s CWD s