02-14-2019 Outdoors

Fishing The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds anglers that are planning, (or hoping) to submit a Master Angler Fish in 2019, some rules for this year have changed. Including the fact that no more than one entry for fish species of the same size will be allowed and at least one submitted photo must show the fish being measured. See the 2019 application at www.michigan.gov/masterangler for full details. Many anglers flock to Saginaw Bay in the winter to target walleye and experience an added perk – the possibility of catching Lake Whitefish! To target walleye, many anglers jig with spoons of various colors. Tipping the spoon with a minnow further entices them. To target Lake Whitefish, many anglers use spawn or a wax worm on a spoon to encourage bites. The DNR suggests a visit to www.michigan.gov/fishing for even more information on fishing for walleye and Lake Whitefish. The DNR reports that for this past week; ice fishing continues around the state and more anglers are heading out now that temperatures have warmed back up. While the deep freeze slowed steelhead fishing, now the rivers are running high after the rain and snow melt, so fishing will be more difficult. Some rivers have ice floes coming down which is causing ice jams. In the Southwest Lower Peninsula, the warm-up impacted ice conditions. Much of the snow had melted and the ice was wet and slushy. Anglers will need to use caution as the wet areas may refreeze, but the ice will not be as strong. Ellinee Bait & Tackle on Paw Paw Lake by Coloma reports good ice on the inland lakes of the area. Most have four to six inches of ice. But anglers still need to be cautious when going out on the ice as there may be weak spots. Use a spud to test the ice in front of you. Fishing locally has been very good with plenty of bluegill limits and crappie limits being taken. Anglers are using minnows, spikes, and wax worms and fishing sometimes on the bottom or a few inches off the bottom in 25 feet of water. A few smallmouth bass have been taken on tip-ups; but they cannot be kept, as it is not bass season. Don’t forget that this is the 2019 Free Fishing Weekend, Saturday, Feb. 16 and Sunday, Feb. 17. A license is not required to fish those two days, but all other fishing regulations still apply. Throughout this weekend, too, State Parks will waive the Recreation Passport entry fee normally required for vehicle entry. The Free Fishing Weekend is an ongoing effort to promote Michigan’s plentiful world-class fishing opportunities. While many people will bundle up and head out to fish on their own, there are several organized events scheduled throughout the state. Check for events in your area by visiting www.michigan.gov/freefishing. Questions can be directed to Elyse Walter at 517-284-5839 or 269-845-2227. For those planning to fish for yellow perch this spring, keep in mind that there’s a new daily possession limit – 25 fish, reduced from 50 – starting April 1 on nearly all state waters. Exceptions include: Lake Erie, which will retain a 50-fish daily limit and Lake Gogebic in Gogebic and Ontonagon counties, which will have the 25-fish daily limit, but with no more than five of those fish being 12 inches or longer. The Michigan Natural Resources Commission approved the proposed fishing regulation change late last year, after extensive public and scientific reviews. The new regulation is effective with the start of the 2019 Michigan fishing season. If you have questions, contact Christian LeSage at 517-284-5830. This year’s Black Lake Sturgeon season ended at 9:18 a.m. Saturday, Feb. 2, after only 78 minutes of fishing. The season was scheduled to run February 2-6 or until the harvest quota had been reached. This year’s allocation of sturgeon for Black Lake anglers was seven fish, although DNR officials set a harvest quota of six fish. There were 403 registered anglers on the ice, slightly down from 422 the year before. Anglers of all ages again participated, including a good number of supervised-youth. According to the DNR, the first four sturgeons harvested were males ranging from 52 to 60 inches, and 25 to 47 pounds in weight. The final two fish were females ranging from 61 to 72 inches long, and 54 to 80 pounds in weight. Three of the six fish taken had been captured before by Michigan State University and DNR during spring spawning runs in the Black River.

Hunting DNR announces winners of the 10th annual Pure Michigan Hunt. Clinton, Lapeer and Oakland county residents win hunting licenses and prize packages. The DNR announced the three winners; Greg Burks of White Lake (Oakland County), Jesse Jubb of Bath (Clinton County), and John Murphy of Lapeer (Lapeer County) and each won an array of licenses and more than $4,000 worth of hunting gear each. Each Pure Michigan Hunt winner receives Elk, Bear, Spring and Fall Turkey, and Antlerless Deer licenses and a base license to be used in 2019. In addition, the winners – along with three hunting companions each – will get first pick for a reserved hunt at any of Michigan’s premier managed waterfowl hunt areas.

Learn to hunt the right way!!! Get ready for the hunt! The Coloma Rod and Gun Club is offering classes for a Hunter Safety Course including archery with Tom Fogarty. Know your gun and/or bow, know your responsibilities, and your way around the woods. This DNR recognized and approved instructional course will be offered March 2 and March 9, 2019 from 8:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. For more information, call Tom Fogarty at 269-325-2019. Coloma Rod and Gun Club is located at 6145 Angling Road in Coloma.

Train to be a volunteer on Friends of Good Will The Michigan Maritime Museum in South Haven has announced the 2019 dates for Basic Seamanship Training for their tall ship Friends Good Will. Built for and by the Michigan Maritime Museum in 2004, Friends Good Will is a replica of an 1810 merchant ship that plied the Great Lakes in the early years of Great Lakes shipping. New Ship’s Company crew work alongside trained staff and seasoned volunteer crew members, with the ship sailing up to four trips each day, seven days a week. Trained volunteers will have ample opportunity to sign up to crew as much as they desire, be it one or two sails a week or one or two days per week on multiple sails. The dates for Basic Seamanship Training are April 27-28 and May 18-19. Training consists of both classroom and on-water training. Participants must complete both weekends of training to be considered for crew. Minimum age requirement is 16 years of age. The course is free to the participants. Museum membership is required. To register, call 269-637-8078.

Woodchucks, or groundhogs, are true hibernators and spend the winter curled up in a hibernation burrow underground and drop their body temperature from about 97 degrees to less than 40. Their breathing slows to about one beat every six minutes and they survive on their storage of fat from the previous summer and fall. They are a large brown-furred mammal with small ears and a bushy tail. Woodchucks are common in Southwest Michigan but are only seen about half of the year. During the over 50-degree day last week I spotted the woodchuck, living in a burrow under my back porch, poking its head out from under the wooden boards. The next day, and last time I observed it, it was gnawing on a piece of wood railing. Perhaps doing some teeth maintenance? Woodchucks have large incisors used to cut into its plant food. This is the earliest I’ve observed a woodchuck emerging in the winter. While this is a normal time for woodchucks to emerge in southern parts of the United States, we still have many weeks of winter left in the north. They are usually observed emerging in March or April. Some possible reasons it was awake include the significant warming in temperature after the polar vortex. It is also possible it is a male woodchuck seeking out a female to mate with before going back into hibernation.