02-21-2019 Outdoors

Fishing The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reports that overall for the southwest Lower Peninsula the inland lakes were becoming fishable again last week, however anglers should use caution and test the ice ahead of them. Bluegill and crappie were being caught in the morning and evening on jigs and wax worms or spikes in 10 to 20 feet of water. Captain Kenny Bard of Rampage Fishing Charters out of South Haven reported the piers and Black River are unfishable due to the ice from Lake Michigan. Inland lakes have good ice, (still use caution) and anglers are getting good catches of bluegill and crappie. Some of the best lakes in the area are Duck Lake, Eagle Lake, and Swan Lake. The Kalamazoo River is still producing steelhead as well as the St. Joseph River, but the bite is slow. Ellinee Bait & Tackle located on Paw Paw Lake by Coloma reports very good ice fishing results on the surrounding inland lakes in the area. Several anglers reported getting their limit in crappies. An angler that was targeting pike on Paw Paw Lake got a nice 11-pound, 37-inch pike. Another nice catch was a 14-inch crappie from Sassafras Lake. Lake of the Woods has been on again off again on good catches. The best bait to use there seems to be wigglers, although the fish in other areas seem to go for the jigs with minnows or wax worms. Ellinee keeps a good selection of available minnows. The DNR reports that in Kalamazoo County the ice conditions on the inland lakes were still pretty good, but the thickness was variable. Caution needs to be used on lakes with inlets as snowmelt has caused rivers and tributaries to flow higher thus worsening the ice conditions where they flow into the lake. On Swan Lake in Allegan County the report is it was producing some limit catches of bluegill. Both bluegills and crappie were taken on teardrops with wax worms or spikes. A few pike were taken on tip-ups. On Lake Macatawa the yellow perch action has been very good at times. In a February 4 executive order, Governor Gretchen Whitmer announced a restructuring of Michigan’s environmental and natural resource agencies as part of her vision to improve Michigan’s air, land and water; protect public health and encourage clean energy. Executive Order 2019-2 creates the new Environment, Great Lakes and Energy Department (EGLE), formerly known as the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality. This Michigan Office of the Great Lakes and Michigan Agency for Energy will join the new department. The OGL, (Office of the Great Lakes), remains committed to its work with federal, state and local partners to fulfill its mission to protect, restore and sustain our Great Lakes and fresh water resources. The Buffalo Reef Task Force has released a Draft Preliminary Alternatives Analysis for protecting important reef fish spawning habitat from copper mine tailings (stamp sands) dumped into Lake Superior at Gay, Michigan 100 years ago. Shifts in the sand deposits over the years are threatening to bury Buffalo Reef, destroying the spawning habitat and recruitment areas important to Lake Superior whitefish and lake trout. The Task Force will be accepting comments on the Draft Preliminary Alternatives Analysis until March 8, 2019. Comments may be sent to Steven Check, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, via email at Steven.G.check@usace.army.mil or U.S. mail at 477 Michigan Avenue, Detroit, Michigan 48226-2550. To find out more about Buffalo Reef, visit www.michigan.gov/BuffaloReef.

Hunting The DNR reminds hunters that their 2018 base license is valid through March 31, 2019. Base licenses for the 2019-2020 season will go on sale March 1, 2019. The 2018 fur harvester licenses are valid through April 30. Don’t forget you have to have your 2018 base license before purchasing your 2018 fur harvester license – so be sure to get a 2018 base license before the end of February. Hunting licenses can be bought online at MDNR-eLicense.com or anywhere licenses are sold. Some small game hunting is still open for a time. Cottontail Rabbits and Snowshoe Hare hunting is open statewide through March 31. Squirrel hunting, for both fox and gray squirrels is open statewide through March 31 also. Crow hunting is open statewide from February 1 through March 31. Small game regulations and season dates can be found in the 2018 Hunting Digest. In furbearer hunting and trapping, coyote, gray and red fox, muskrat, and mink trapping seasons are open through March 1, statewide. Raccoon trapping season is open through March 31 statewide. Coyote hunting season is open year-round, and fox (gray and red) hunting is open through March 1 statewide. Information about additional fur harvesting opportunities and regulations is available at www.michigan.gov/trapping. The Michigan DNR citizen-based northern Lower Peninsula Wolf Survey, to detect the presence of gray wolves in the region, will take place February 19 through March 15. If you see a wolf or wolf sign between February 19 and March 15, please call the DNR Atlanta Field Office at 989-785-4251, ext. 5233 or report sightings online through Eyes in the Field, found at www.michigan.gov/eyesinthefield. It is important that observations are reported in a timely manner so the DNR can work with fresh signs. If observers find what they believe to be wolf tracks, preserve the physical sign and take a photo of the tracks with a rule in the frame to indicate size. Information on wolves in Michigan and links to other wolf-related web pages can be found at www.michigan.gov/wolves.

Coloma Rod & Gun Club The Coloma Rod & Gun Club will hold their monthly CCW Class on Saturday, March 9, 2019. Class registration is held on Sunday, March 3 from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. The class is taught by a certified NRA and RSO instructor and the cost of the class is $105. For more information or to be put on the list, please call (269) 621-3370.

BC Trophy Toms hosting Hunting Heritage Banquet Saturday The Berrien County Trophy Toms Chapter of The National Wild Turkey Federation will hold its Annual Hunting Heritage Banquet on Saturday, February 23, 2019 at Pebblewood Banquet Hall, 9794 Jericho Rd. in Bridgman. Doors open at 5 p.m. with dinner at 7:00 p.m. Each year, thousands of NWTF members and volunteers flock to banquet halls and civic centers across North America to share stories, a meal and common goals — conserving wildlife and protecting our hunting heritage. Anyone is invited to join them. For further information contact Dale Jasper at 269-921-3474.

Sarett’s coyotes have been putting on a show in the marsh. Sharp-eyed visitors witnessed the animals’ jump-pounce technique as they hunted for voles (meadow mice) in the grasses. If they are unsuccessful here, they will return to hunting along woodland edges or looking for carrion (dead animals). Coyotes look like half-grown German shepherds. However, their tails are bottle-shaped and carried low. Dogs have brush-like tails and usually carry their tails high. A coyote track trail will be relatively straight whereas a domestic dog tends to run willy-nilly checking out all the smells. During the winter, you see individuals. After pups are born in the spring the family stays together until late fall or early winter. One of the coyote’s most active periods is just before sunset. Join us Saturday, March 2 at 7:00 p.m. for a Trivia Night evening and test your knowledge on a variety of categories! There is a $200 Prize to the 1st place team. Buy a table for 10 people at $100.00 or join a table for $10/person. There will be a cash bar for pop, water, beer and wine. Adults only… call (269) 927-4832 to register. Welcome early spring with a “how to” class on maple sugaring on Sunday, March 3 at 2 p.m. Enjoy a talk and a stroll through the woods to learn how maple syrup is made. We’ll taste the sap, syrup and candy! Non-member adults is $5 (includes general admission fee).