02-01-2018 Outdoors

Fishing The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) apologized for not publishing a fishing report for this week, due to unforeseen circumstances. Captain Kenny Bard of Rampage Fishing Charters out of South Haven reports that most of the inland lakes are unsafe for ice fishing, although a few days and nights of below freezing should make them fishable again. He noted a few anglers had been out on Swan Lake, but the ice is sketchy and soft. He reported the rivers in the area are running a little high, making fishing difficult. The Kalamazoo River and St. Joseph River have both been producing some Steelhead and one Brown Trout was taken. The Black River by South Haven hasn’t been producing anything, and the pier is too dangerous for fishing yet. Ellinee Bait & Tackle on Paw Paw Lake by Coloma reported that all the lakes in the area had lost their shore ice and may have 4” to 6” of ice in the center of the lake, but no way to get to the safe ice. He said a few cold days should build the shore ice up again. A couple of enterprising anglers came into the Ellinee for bait. When asked where they were going, one said they were not sure, but they would be going out fishing from a flat bottom boat they bought. Plan to enjoy Michigan’s Free Fishing Weekend on Saturday, February 17 and Sunday, February 18. On those two days everyone – residents and non-residents alike – can fish without a license, though all other fishing regulations still apply. In addition, during the free fishing weekend, the DNR will waive the regular recreation passport entry fee that grants vehicle access to Michigan’s 103 state parks and recreation areas. Several locations also may be hosting official 2018 Winter Free Fishing Weekend events that are perfect for the whole family. Official winter Free Fishing Weekend activities are being scheduled and coordinated by a variety of organizations and a full list of these events can be found online at www.michigan.gov/ freefishing. The DNR announced the totals from the 2017 fall fish-stocking efforts. They stocked nine different species totaling 834,175 fish at 76 locations throughout the state. Combining the totals with the spring and summer stocking efforts, that brings the total for 2017 to more than 26.4 million fish put into Michigan’s water to offer additional angling opportunities.

2018 OFFICERS… elected for Straight Shooters 4-H Club. Pictured are (from the left) Back row – President Darlene Mattson, Vice-President Maggie Avery, Secretary Maddy Swisher; Front row – Treasurer Morgan Lowell and Reporter Marissa Lowell. These officers will serve for the 2018 calendar year.

Hunting The DNR is working this year to bring additional awareness to Michigan’s elk population, while celebrating the 100th anniversary of the beginning of the recovery story. Michigan’s native herd of elk – massive animals standing 4 to 5 feet tall at the shoulder and weighing more than 600 pounds – had disappeared from the state by about 1875. In 1918, seven elk were brought from western states to Wolverine, Michigan. By 1939 historical accounts reported an estimated 400 elk in Michigan, and the number continued to grow to 1,000 by 1958. As elk numbers grew in Michigan, the animals dispersed outside their limited range, resulting in complaints. In 1975, the Michigan Elk Management Plan was developed to establish management goals. “Being able to see a wild elk in its natural habitat is a pretty special moment,” said Brian Mastenbrook, northern Lower Peninsula field operations manager for the DNR’s Wildlife Division. “Their size and presence can take your breath away, not to mention if you get the chance to hear one bugle.” On the DNR online site, you can listen to an elk bugle, see a Michigan elk centennial video, watch a video of a DNR elk survey and check out the current Michigan Elk Management Plan. You can also read the complete story of the elk by Katie Keen, of the DNR. The address for more information is www.michigan.gov/elk. The Michigan Pheasant Restoration Initiative has developed a document outlining the coalition’s goals for the next several years. Work outlined in the Michigan Pheasant Restoration Initiative Goals for 2016-2020 is already underway. The document is now available online at www.michigan.gov/ pheasant. The DNR announced that $100,000 is now available in Upper Peninsula Deer Habitat Improveme