Fishing The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reports ice fishing continues to the north however waters in the southern sections of the Lower Peninsula are opening up with the rain and warmer temperatures. Sucker runs should start soon, and steelhead fishing should improve with the warm up. In the Southwest Lower Peninsula, the overall ice conditions are deteriorating quickly, and many lakes now have open water. A few anglers were still heading out however extreme caution is advised as any remaining ice will become soft and unsafe. The Grand River at Grand Rapids was letting anglers take a good number of steelhead below the 6th Street dam. Most were using jigs, spawn, wax worms or flies. A few walleye were also caught however that season closed on Friday, March 15. The Rogue River has open water and is producing some steelhead. The White River may be a better option for steelhead fishing as water levels there tend to go up and down much faster. On Muskegon Lake, even though the lake still had some ice at the end of last week, anglers will need to use extreme caution at this point especially with the rain, strong winds and much warmer temperatures. The shoreline ice is very soft and the strong current from the river will create unstable ice conditions. New boating and fishing laws take effect March 21. Recent changes in Michigan’s Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Act may affect you. Beginning March 21, 2019, watercraft users in the state are required to take steps to prevent the spread of aquatic invasive species. Also, anyone fishing with live or cut bait or practicing catch-and-release fishing will need to take precautions to limit the movement of invasive species and fish diseases. For boaters, amendments finalized near the close of the 2018 legislative season affect both motorized and nonmotorized watercraft, trailers and other conveyances used to move watercraft. In addition to the existing law requiring all aquatic plants be removed from boats and trailers before launching, the changes require the following prior to transporting any watercraft over land: Remove all drain plugs from bilges, ballast tanks, and live wells; draining all water from any live wells and bilges. Also, ensure the watercraft, trailer, and any conveyance used to transport the watercraft or trailer are fee of aquatic organisms, including plants. For anglers the amendments codify the Michigan DNR’s Fisheries Order 245 regarding the release of baitfish, collection and use of baitfish and cut bait, and release of captured fish, specifically. A person shall not release baitfish in any waters of the state. A person who collects fish shall not use the fish as bait or cut bait except in the inland lake, stream, or Great Lake where the fish was caught, or in a connecting waterway where the fish was caught if the fish could freely move between the original location of capture and the location of release. Whether purchased or collected, unused baitfish should be disposed of on land or in the trash – never in the water. Any baitfish an angler collects may be used only in the waters where it was originally collected. Seth Herbst, DNR aquatic species and regulatory affairs manager said, “Anglers who are catching and releasing fish should only release the fish back into the same water or in a connecting body of water the fish could have reached on its own.” For more information on the new boating and fishing laws, visit the Lows Section at www.michigan.gov/invasives. You can also contact Kevin Wallers at 616-250-8637.

Hunting The new license season is here and when hunters are picking up their hunt/fish combo or other licenses, they should not forget about Pure Michigan Hunt applications. Each application is $5.00 and gets them a chance at Michigan’s ultimate hunt experience, with licenses for elk, bear, spring and fall turkey, and antlerless deer and first pick at a managed waterfowl area for a reserved hunt. Anyone could also walk away with a hunting equipment package well worth over $5,000.00. Curious to see what Pure Michigan Hunt and hunting license dollars supports, check it out at the DNR Wildlife Division’s annual reports. The DNR announced the 2018 Wetland Wonders Challenge winners. To be entered in the drawing, participants had to hunt at three or more of the seven southern Michigan Wetland Wonders. The seven lucky winners of the 2018 Challenge are Rod Brummel of Fenton, Kris Kartje of Milan, Dustin Lemaire of Chesaning, Cameron MacLennan of Holland, Seth Martin of Smith’s Creek, Gage Newberg of Grant and Karl Weder of Monroe. The winners will receive prize packages worth approximately $750.00, including a Zink custom duck call, a $500.00 Cabela’s gift card and a “golden ticket” good for one non-reserved first choice pick at a managed waterfowl hunt area for the 2019-2010 season. To learn more about the Wetland Wonders Challenge and the wildlife-viewing and hunting opportunities in Michigan’s Wetland wonders, visit www.michigan.gov/wetlandwonders. Van Buren Sportsmen’s Club Spaghetti Dinner On Sunday, April 7 starting at 4 p.m. and while it lasts, the Van Buren Sportsmen’s Club is holding a Spaghetti Dinner at the Sportsmen’s Clubhouse, 54030 County Road 687, Hartford. The menu features Meat Sauce Spaghetti, Garden Salad, Garlic Bread and Dessert for only $7.00 for adults and $5.00 for children under the age of 10. Proceeds will help them fund their new rooftop heating and air conditioning unit. The public is cordially invited.

John Geisler returns to VBRGS Dr. John Geisler will return to the Van Buren Regional Genealogical Society on Monday, March 25 to present “Strange, Unusual, Weird, and Funny Highway Signs.” The meeting will be held at the Van Buren Conference Center, 490 South Paw Paw Street in Lawrence beginning at 7 p.m. The meeting is free of charge and open to the public. His presentation on highway signs came about as a result of researching historic highways throughout Michigan. For more information on the society, please visit their website at www.vbrgs.org.

Mushrooms are constant but sometimes overlooked organisms seen while walking in the woods. One of the most common mushrooms I see year-round is commonly called turkey tail, or Trametes versicolor. No, this fungus doesn’t have feathers. The shelf-like mushroom resembles a turkey tail by color, mostly browns and reds, and its wavy appearance. This is one of the most common mushrooms in North American woods and can be found mainly on dead hardwood logs and stumps, aiding in the decomposition process. There are some look-a-like turkey tails, but to tell if it’s truly the species Trametes versicolor, look on the underside of the mushroom. If it’s a true turkey tail, the bottom will look like it’s been poked with a bunch of tiny holes, or pores, which the mushroom stores its spores in for reproduction. The look-a-likes will either be smooth, have teeth, or gills on the underside, even if the tops look similar. Birders of all levels are invited to welcome back spring migrants during Sarett’s Spring Birding Bunch beginning Saturday,