Fishing The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reported that southeast Michigan still had open-water fishing for walleye and perch. With the cold temperatures, the inland lakes were starting to freeze, but the southern sections of the Lower Peninsula did not have safe ice for the most part. Ice jams were causing some problems on a few rivers. In the Southwest Lower Peninsula ice was starting to form; however, it was not safe in most places. Extreme caution needs to be used, especially with the amount of snow that came down during the initial freezing process. Very few anglers have been out. Ellinee Bait & Tackle on Paw Paw Lake by Coloma also reported that there were very few anglers going out. Mostly open water in the area is not what the anglers want. There was a little ice on some channels, but not enough to fish safely. High water, poor clarity, and ice jams are hampering fishing on the local rivers now. Grand River near Lansing has high water levels and so anglers try to stay out of the current and fish the quiet backwaters where pike and catfish can be found. In Muskegon County, Big Blue Lake was producing pike and bluegills. Muskegon Lake has frozen over; however, anglers should stay away from the newly formed black ice and stay away from the channel, which had open water. Those heading out would be wise to take a spud and check the ice ahead of them. A few pike were taken on tip-ups off Heritage Landing. A few anglers could be found in the northeast corner near the Conservation Club. For bluegills, try on the north end in Snug Harbor. The DNR gave four tips to help fish for northern pike in winter. Consider using fluorocarbon leader, which will be practically invisible to any pike, as opposed to a steel leader. Keep bait lively by using both a well-aerated bait container and very sharp hooks to minimize injury. Anglers should consider using something flashy with their bait, such as a small spinner blade, to entice pike in murky water. It is advisable to keep some slush around a fishing hole in the ice to prevent pike from being spooked by the opening. For more information on fishing for northern pike, visit the Northern Pike Page on the DNR website.
Hunting The Michigan deer management cooperator patch, given to hunters who bring their deer to a DNR check station, has been a popular collector’s item for hunters since the early 1970s. Every year the patch design is different, but always portrays the designer’s interpretation of white-tailed deer or deer hunting in Michigan. Those interested in sharing their design ideas for the 2020 deer patch are encouraged to enter this year’s contest, which is open to everyone. Design submissions for the 2020 deer management cooperator patch are due by March 10. Patch designs may be created in any medium and shape, with no more than five colors used. The work must be original and submitted by the artist. Complete contest information and submission guidelines are available at Michigan.gov/Deer under Cooperator Patches. This year’s contest winner will be contacted in early May. All questions can be directed to Emilie O’Grady at 517-284-9453. Another exhilarating year of elk hunting has ended, and the 2019 season statistics are in. Success rates continue to be high for Michigan elk hunters. Hunt period 1, which targets elk outside of their traditional range, was 12 days long, running August 27-30, September 13-16 and September 27-30. The first four days of the hunt, temperatures were slightly cooler than normal with good weather, leading to early success. During the first hunt period, 96 state hunters harvested 71 elk (29 bulls, 40 cows and two calves). Additionally, all three Pure Michigan Hunt winners were successful during this elk hunt period. Elk hunt period 2 which was held December 14-22, another 99 state hunters harvested 89 elk (30 bulls, 54 cows and 5 calves). The weather was ideal for hunters during the nine-day season, with multiple snowfall and temperatures below freezing, creating perfect tracking conditions. Due to a consistent trend in elk population data over the last several years, the annual elk survey will not be conducted this year. The aerial survey may resume in January 2021, when a Department of Natural Resources airplane will fly predetermined grids covering the entire elk range. Elk regulations will be revisited for the 2020-2021 hunting seasons at the March Natural Resources Commission meeting.
Coloma Rod & Gun Club The Coloma Rod and Gun Club no longer has regular monthly Concealed Pistol License (CPL) classes. Individuals interested in taking a class needs to contact the instructors through the Coloma Rod and Gun Club.com web page so the instructors can set up times when they have enough students. The class costs $100.00 and is taught by NRA Training Counselors and certified instructors. An attorney presents the law portion per state/NRA requirements. Registration for the next Hunter Safety Class is Sunday, Feb. 9 (8:30-11:30 a.m.). Class sessions will be on Saturday, Feb. 29 and March 7 at a cost of $5.00. Students must attend both sessions.
Watervliet Rod & Gun Club The Watervliet Rod and Gun Club will hold their monthly CCW classes on February 6 and 8. Registration is Tuesday, Feb. 4 at 6:00 p.m. The cost of the Concealed Pistol License Classes (CCW) is $100 and is taught by NRA Training Counselors and NRA instructors. The club will loan firearms. The class includes three hours of outdoor range time with 1-on-1 student to instructor. Please call 269-468-3837 to register.