03-07-2019 Outdoors

Fishing The weekly DNR fishing report for Southwest Lower Peninsula area shows overall ice fishing on the inland lakes remains good. Bluegill and crappie continue to provide decent catches, and it is becoming more of a late winter bite with most of the action at twilight. Yellow perch are becoming more active. Lakes connected to Lake Michigan may have severe pressure cracks due to the high winds and waves so use caution. Steelhead action was good on the warmer days. Slight temperature increases help the steelhead become more active. Anglers are picking up some nice brown trout. Ice fishing continues around the state however fewer anglers have been out, so reports are very limited this week. After the high winds, watch for pressure cracks; additionally, deep snow coupled with drifting and slush will make travel on the ice much more difficult. The 2019 fishing licenses went on sale Friday, March 1. This gives anglers now less than one month to purchase a new license before the 2019 license year kicks off on April 1. All anglers 17 years of age and older are required to have a fishing license. Winter conditions – very cold temperatures and heavy snow over ice, for example – can kill fish and other aquatic creatures like turtles, frogs, toads and crayfish. When ice and snow start to melt in the spring, it’s likely that people will begin to discover those deaths. Anyone spotting a fish kill in larger quantities – 25 fish or more – should report it using the Sick or Dead Aquatic Species form available under the fish icon at Michigan.gov/EyesInTheField. People also can contact local DNR offices. It’s important to report observations as soon as possible, allowing fisheries staff to collect the best-quality fish for analysis. For more information, visit Michigan.gov/FishHealth or contact Gary Whelan, 517-284-5840 or Elyse Walter, 517-284-5839. For anyone interested in talking with DNR fisheries staff about local and statewide issues important to their community stop by the upcoming “Conversations & Coffee” event Monday, April 8 from 6 to 8 p.m. at Wolf Lake State Fish Hatchery Visitor Center in Mattawan.

Hunting The spring turkey hunting season dates are approaching. The dates are Apr. 22 through May. 31, 2019 and vary depending on the hunt unit. Detailed information about spring turkey regulations, management units, hunting hours and more can be found in the Spring Turkey Digest. Hunters that put in applications for the Spring Wild Turkey Hunt can see the drawing results posted online. They were available March 4 at www.michigan.gov/turkey. Unsuccessful drawing applicants may purchase one leftover spring turkey license beginning March 11 at 10 a.m. EDT. Beginning March 18 at 10 a.m., any hunter may purchase one license until quotas are met, including hunters who did not apply for a spring turkey license. There is no guarantee that leftover licenses will be available for any hunt unit. If any licenses remain after the drawing, unsuccessful applicants who possess a current base license may purchase a leftover turkey license online or from any license agent on a first-come, first-served basis.

To receive hunting application reminders via text message, text, “MIDNR HUNTAPP” to “64468.” You will receive an application reminder the day they go on sale, midway through the application period, and on the last day they’re available. You will also receive a text when application results have been posted.

Hunters are reminded that squirrel season – Fox and Gray (black phase included) – ends March 31. No matter where you are in Michigan you can find public hunting/trapping land with MI-HUNT. This interactive map application, which now works on mobile devices, contains the most up-to-date information to help you plan your next hunting trip. MI-HUNT includes both public hunting land and private land open to the public for hunting.

HIT THEIR TARGET… Club secretary Maddie Swisher (left) and Vice President Darlene Mattson finished their fall season with Straight Shooters 4-H Club tackling this handsome velociraptor at Watervliet Rod and Gun Club.

Straight Shooters 4-H Club hosting Open House March 24 at Watervliet Rod & Gun Club Straight Shooters 4-H club is having an open house Sunday, March 24, 2019 from 2-4 p.m. at the Watervliet Rod and Gun Club located at 3413 Hennessy Road in Watervliet. The 4-H club is looking for new members. Enrollment is limited due to child – adult ratio! Children ages 9-19 interested in shooting sports are welcome as well as adults interested in becoming involved with the kids. Straight Shooters practice archery, air rifle, 22 rifle and shot gun with trap. Members that choose to be competitive can be ready for the state shoot the first weekend of August, or just learn a new sport. After the state shoot members will get into learning more about hunting. To shoot fire arms, hunter safety instruction is mandatory. For archery, leaders highly recommend hunter safety instruction but it is not required. Please text or call Julie Holtsclaw at 269-277-2233, Herman Mattson at 269-208-7452 or John Andrasi at 269-861-1824 for additional information.

The month of March is spring’s herald. More importantly, it’s sugaring time! The combination of cold nights and warmer days creates pressure within the maple tree’s sapwood. Any breach of the sapwood (natural or manmade) provides an outlet for the “squished” sap, which we collect and cook into syrup. Maple trees are not the only species that react this way to the early days of spring. The sap of white walnut (or butternut) trees is similar to that of the sugar maple. Birch trees can also be tapped though their sap is not as sweet. Birch beer originally was produced from the sap of the black birch. Sycamore tree sap has lower sugar content but its syrup is said to have a butterscotch flavor. It is possible to tap an ironwood tree, but you’d better have strong tools because it is aptly named. Welcome early spring with a “how to” class on maple sugaring on Saturday, March 9 at 2 p.m. at the nature center. Enjoy a talk and a stroll through the woods to learn how maple syrup is made. Learn to identify maple trees, how to tap and collect the sap and how to turn that sap into delicious amber syrup. Non-member adults are $5. Members and children are free.

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