Fishing Ice anglers need to be careful especially with all the snow and now the warm up we are getting. Pre-existing holes can be covered as well as pressure cracks and other areas that can be dangerous, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) cautions. In the southwest Lower Peninsula, overall fishing continues on the inland lakes. Anglers have caught Pike, Bluegills, Perch, Crappie and even some Bass which must be released immediately. On the Grand River at Grand Rapids, anglers were still taking the occasional Walleye or Steelhead below the 6th Street Dam. The DNR tip of the week is: Factors to think about when fishing for Walleye in winter. Walleye are a popular target of ice anglers with many jigging for this aggressive species, but did you know that weather can play an important role in your opportunity to catch them? While you might not be able to notice the wind whipping outside your shanty, Walleye under the ice notice it. When the wind shifts it impacts things under the water, including the current and silt. This might mean you’ll need to change locations on the ice to find what you’re looking for. Fish are very sensitive to air pressure and when it’s consistent you’ll find the fish can be very active. But if the pressure drops you’ll also see a decline in bites.
ZEBRA MUSSELS IN PAW PAW LAKE? Lakefront owners have seen an increase of Zebra Mussels in the lake the past few years. The invasive species clings to surfaces under water and filters the water for plankton. The immediate benefit is clear water; then other wildlife is ultimately starved and dies off as the food chain is interrupted. Pictured is a pier pulled out of the lake this fall, it is nearly engulfed with Zebra Mussels. They also clog water intakes and their shells have razor sharp edges that are hazardous to swimmers’ feet.
Along with pressure you’ll see changes in activity thanks to temperature. Many anglers gravitate to their favorite spots of warmer days, only to find not much activity under the ice. Temperature drops affect the air pressure which turns many species off. Ellinee Bait & Tackle on Paw Paw Lake by Coloma reports anglers have been busy fishing even with all the snow we had. Now with the new warm up, use extra caution when you go out on the lakes of the area. Captain Kenny Bard of Rampage Fishing Charters out of South Haven reported that the Bluegill bite on the inland lakes has slowed down some. They are still biting, just less often. They are getting a few Steelheads out of the Kalamazoo and the Saint Joseph rivers. Black River in South Haven has been quiet. The inland lakes of the area are slushy with water on top of the ice; some still have a lot of snow. Swan Lake has produced some Pike and Scott Lake and School Section Lake has been producing Blue Gill. The DNR reminds anglers that this Saturday and Sunday, February 17 and 18 is the 2018 Winter Free Fishing Weekend. A license is not required to fish those two days, but all other fishing regulations will apply. There are many special events scheduled in locations throughout the state. Information about these events can be found at www.michigan.gov/freefishing. The DNR Recreation Passport is NOT required for entry to state parks and recreation areas for planned events this weekend. The DNR announced that the 2018 Sturgeon Harvest Season on Black Lake ended after two and a half hours on Saturday, February 3 with seven fish being harvested. The allocation of Sturgeon for Black Lake this year was seven fish, although the DNR officials set a harvest quota of six fish. There were 428 registered anglers on the ice Saturday, February 3, which was up from 332 last year. The first four Sturgeons were taken by 8:30 a.m. after an 8:00 a.m. start. The first fish was a 58-inch female that weighed 45 pounds. Fish two was a 41-inch female weighing 16 pounds. Fish three, female, was the largest at 72-inches and weighed 99 pounds. Fish four was a 56-inch male that weighed 36 pounds. Fish five was a 69-inch female that weighed 73 pounds. The sixth fish was a 53-inch male that weighed 31 pounds, and the 7th fish was a 64-inch female that weighed 66 pounds. For more information on Sturgeon in Michigan, visit www.michigan.gov/ sturgeon. There is still space available for the DNR’s Hard Water School ice-fishing class to be held February 24 at the Carl T. Johnson Hunt and Fish Center in Cadillac. For more information or to register, contact Ed Shaw at 231-779-1321. Hunting The DNR reminds waterfowl hunters to finish gathering punches for the Consumer’s Energy Sponsored Wetland Wonders Challenge and turn in or mail in their punch cards. The contest ran through February 15. Cards with three or more punches can be mailed to Detroit Metro Customer Service Center, Attn. Holly Vaughn, 1801 Atwater St., Detroit, MI 48207. Punch cards must be received by February 23. For more information, visit www.michigan.gov/wetlandwonders. The 2017 Elk hunting season statistics are in. Hunt period 1, which was from August 29 – September 1, September 15 – 18, and September 29 – October 2, saw 100 state hunters harvest 74 elk; 30 bulls and 44 antlerless elk. During Hunt period 2, December 9-17, all locations in the northern tip of the state were open to hunting. Another 100 state hunters harvested 84 elk (30 bulls and 54 antlerless elk) during this hunt. The winter elk survey just wrapped up and the DNR estimates between 834 and 1,512 elk are in Michigan. Based on this information, past surveys, damage concerns and disease issues, they will recommend to the Natural Resources Commission to continue reducing the elk population slowly over the coming years, said Brian Mastenbrook, DNR Wildlife Field Operations Manager.
Free invasive species program at Coloma Public Library
The Southwest X Southwest Corner Cooperative Invasive Species Management Area (CISMA) in partnership with the Coloma Public Library will be hosting a free workshop addressing invasive species of special concern in southwest Michigan on Wednesday, Feb. 21 at 6:30 p.m. at the Coloma Library. This is an opportunity to learn identification and control of invasive species that harm our native ecosystems and threaten local infrastructure. This presentation will also focus on Japanese Knotweed which has been detected in the city limits of Coloma and is a species that all residents should be aware of, as well as aquatic forms of invasive species that can be found in Paw Paw Lake. Potential future invasive threats to the Michigan landscape will be discussed as well. There will be free information for attendees to take home at the conclusion of the presentation and there is no charge to attend this event. If anyone would like a plant identified please bring a quality picture and no live plant materials.
Valentine’s Day… the time when human courtship behaviors lead naturalists to share some tidbits about animal courtship behaviors. A 2016 study of Cretaceous dinosaurs found that courtship displays have been going on for a long time. Scientists observed scrape marks that are similar to those that present day ground-nesting male birds produce as they woo females. Some spiders utilize flamboyant behaviors to not only secure a willing partner but keep them from becoming a meal for a non-willing partner. A male black widow spider literally dances for his life on a female’s web. His movement pattern must be distinctly different from one produced by the flailing of trapped prey… or he becomes the prey. A jumping spider dances and flashes his intended… with skin patches that reflect ultraviolet light. A female flashes fluorescent green palps (small leg-like appendages close to the mouth) to signal her receptiveness. Breeding is the “last hurrah” for a male antechinus mouse. For two weeks he does nothing but mate. Then he dies. Now that’s dedication. Children ages 7 to 12 with cabin fever can make crafts on February 17 beginning at 1:00 p.m. Craft prices are $1 to $2 each. Please call (269) 927-4832 to register. Nelson the Animal Guy returns on February 18 for two performances: 2:00 p.m. and 3:30 p.m. Admission is $6 for adults, $2 for children.