03-16-2017 Outdoors


  The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds anglers that Walleye, Pike and Muskellunge season on the Upper Peninsula Great Lakes, inland waters, St. Marys River and all the Lower Peninsula inland waters closed March 15.  Walleye and Pike season is open all year on the Lower Peninsula Great Lakes, Lake St. Clair, St. Clair River and the Detroit River.

Captain Kenny Bard of Rampage Fishing Charters out of South Haven reports anglers seeing some action on the pier where anglers are catching Steelhead, Coho and an occasional Lake Trout.  When boat anglers make it out on to Lake Michigan they have been catching limits of Coho when trolling.  Most were using spoons and plugs, and orange was the hot color.  No word on inland lake fishing yet.

Ellinee Bait & Tackle on Paw Paw Lake by Coloma reports that the Paw Paw River is still a little high but anglers were catching Steelhead.  Inland lake fishing has been slow with the cooler weather.

In St. Joseph pier anglers are catching some Coho, Brown Trout and Steelhead.  When the weather permits, boat anglers willing to go out to 200 feet have been taking limit catches of Coho when trolling orange plugs and spoons 50 to 80 feet down.

There was a good push of Steelhead in the St. Joseph River and lots of fish were using the ladder in Berrien Springs.  The water is high and dirty. The Kalamazoo River also has plenty of Steelhead being caught, but the water is high and dirty, making it much more difficult.

The DNR reminds everyone that after the ice and snow cover melts on Michigan’s lakes this early spring, it may be common to discover dead fish or other aquatic creatures.  Winter conditions often can cause fish and other creatures such as turtles, frogs, toads and crayfish to die.  For more information on fish kills in Michigan, visit the DNR’s website.  If you suspect a fish kill is caused by non-natural causes, call the nearest DNR office or Michigan’s Pollution Emergency Alert System at 1-800-292-4706.

As part of its Outdoor Skills Academy, the DNR will offer opportunities to learn more about Steelhead, Walleye and Bass fishing with upcoming clinics at the Carl T. Johnson Hunt and Fish Center in Cadillac.

The Steelhead Clinic will be held Saturday and Sunday, March 25-26.  This class is taught by instructors with more than 30-years experience fishing Steelhead.  The class is for both beginners and advanced anglers.  Cost for the class is $40 and lunch is included.  To learn more about the Carl T. Johnson Hunt and Fish Center and its programs, visit www.michigan.gov/huntfishcenter.

Each year, Michigan anglers eagerly await the warm spring days and rainy evenings that trigger rainbow-smelt spawning runs.  Spawning runs begin in early spring, soon after the ice disappears and extends over a three-week period, as long as the temperatures stay in the low to mid-forties.

The smelt runs are shadows of their former selves, when rivers and streams would run black, with billions of migrating smelt.  With only a few dips of the net, garbage cans could be filled with the tasty, bite-sized fish.  More and more smelt are breeding in the lake waters as opposed to heading up-stream and past angler’s nets.  The dismal state of the smelt population has been confirmed and the Natural Resources Committee has decided to limit the catch to two gallons per angler.  This is the first time in Michigan’s long history of smelt-netting that a limit has been imposed.

If you decide to go spelt dipping during the spring spawning run, you need a valid Michigan fishing license, a net and bucket, some warm clothes, dry waders, a personal floatation device (life jacket) and a flashlight.  In some areas especially where the current is strong and the water is deep, a long-handled dip net comes in mighty handy.  People dip-net them from the streams, but remember to keep only those you intend to use.

For more information about smelt, read the Fishing Guide.  The DNR Fishing Report Hot Line is open 24/7 and we will report runs when we hear about them.  Call toll free 1-855-777-0908.  The best smelt-dipping hours are between 10:00 p.m. and 2:00 a.m. each night as the smelt spawn.


  The DNR reminds hunters that the Spring Turkey hunt drawing results are now available on line at www.michigan.gov/turkey.  Those who applied but were not successful will be able to buy remaining turkey licenses staring March 13.  On March 20 at 10:00 a.m. all remaining licenses are available to anyone, including those who did not apply.

With a Hunt 0234, also known as the late season license, no application is needed.  Hunt 0234 can be purchased starting March 20 and gives you 30 days of chasing turkeys in May.

The Natural Resources Commission approved bear hunting regulations for the 2017-2018 hunting seasons. In order to stabilize hunting quotas, bear hunting regulations currently are reviewed every two years instead of annually, which has been the previous practice.

Michigan bear hunters will see the following changes beginning in the 2017 bear hunting season:  Chocolate and cocoa products completely banned as bear bait; nonresident license cap increased from a maximum of 2% to 5 % total license quota; license quota in all three northern Lower Peninsula bear management units (BMU) increased by 19% overall, totaling 155 additional licenses; UP quotas adjusted by individual  BMU, both increases and decreases; quota increased from one to five on Drummond Island; number of dogs to pursue bear for hunting or training increased from six to eight.

The bear hunting application period is coming up, May 1 to June 1.  Learn more by watching a video about the bear drawing process or by visiting www.michigan.gov/bear.

Watervliet Rod & Gun Club

The Watervliet Rod and Gun Club will hold their monthly CCW classes on March 16 and March 19.  Registration was on March 14. They will have a lawyer explaining the law pertaining to concealed carry during class.  Please call 269-468-3837 or 269-470-9191 for more information.


Val, our turkey vulture, is quite the sun worshipper. As she sits on her perch she busily attends to her preening chores… until a direct ray of sun shines on her. Then, she sits erect with her wings fully outstretched. If a cloud comes by, she wilts back to her former posture.

Wild vultures assume this “horaltic pose” in the morning before leaving their nighttime roost areas. Not too early, however. Scientists believe one purpose of this basking is to warm themselves after experiencing self-imposed nightly hypothermia (implemented as an energy conservation measure). Spread one’s wings before the solar radiation is strong and one loses even more body heat to the atmosphere. Wait until it’s stronger and you warm up without expending any muscle energy.

Wet feathers increase heat loss for the birds. The horaltic pose is vital, and is performed more often, if the vulture is wet.

Sarett’s Spring Birding Bunch begins March 25 at 8:00 a.m. New birders are especially welcome to join “old pros.” Fee is $8 per session or $40 for whole season.

Visit Sarett Nature Center on March 25 at 1:00 or 3:00 p.m. to experience an up-close learning adventure with live raptors from the Lake Milton Raptor Education Center. The prices for this open-seating event are $5 for adults, $2 for children.

Please call (269) 927-4832 to register for programs


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