03-23-2017 Outdoors

Fishing

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reports that thanks to extremely cold temperatures and snow last week, fishing has slowed once again.  Some piers became iced over from the strong winds and high waves and keep the anglers from going out.  The same was true for boat anglers trying to go out and fish on Lake Michigan.

This is probably a good time to store your ice fishing equipment for next season.  The key is to do it properly so you will be ready to hit the ice next winter.

The DNR shares a checklist of things you should do: If you have an auger, check it for any damage and then dry all the blades before storing.  You may want to consult your power auger’s manual to know how to appropriately handle any leftover gas and how to protect the engine. Remove the batteries from any of your electronics to prevent any damage from leaking batteries. Make sure your portable shelter is completely clean and dry before storing.  You may want to put some moth balls in it or hang it to keep pests at bay. Take a full inventory of your rods, reels and tackle to see what you might need/want to purchase next year.  Also remove all bait or line from your hooks and lures for storage and make sure everything is dry.

By the time everything is properly stored you will be itching to get out on your favorite stream, river or lake for some spring fishing.

Captain Kenny Bard of Rampage Fishing Charters out of South Haven reports those anglers able to get out on Lake Michigan have taken Coho and Lake Trout anywhere from 40 feet near shore to as deep as 200 feet of water.  Some pier anglers have gotten some Steelhead, but the river has been running high and the bite was slow.  Inland lakes are still a little quiet.

Ellinee Bait & Tackle reported Little Paw Paw Lake and Van Auken Lake have been giving up some nice Crappie and pan fish on minnows and wax worms.  Anglers using Oslo’s and spawn have been successful along the Paw Paw River in Watervliet and other spots along the river as far east as Hartford.

The St. Joseph River water levels were back to normal last week according to the DNR, however water temperatures were cold.  The Steelhead bite will pick up when the temperatures warm back up.  Kalamazoo River water levels were back to normal and a few Steelheads could be found in the deeper holes and up near the Allegan Dam.

The DNR has released its draft inland trout management plan and is seeking public comment on it.  The plan, available online at www.michigan.gov/fishing under Angler Alerts, focuses on the ecology and management of populations of inland trout in rivers and inland lakes of Michigan.

This report does not cover species such as Chinook or Coho Salmon and migratory Rainbow Trout (Steelhead), which reside in the Great Lakes and migrate inland on a seasonal basis.  It does cover inland trout that primarily reside in streams and inland lakes throughout their lives.

Public comments may be submitted via email to DNR-Fish-ManagementPlans@michigan.gov by Friday, April 14.  Written public comments also will be accepted at Marquette Fisheries Research Station, attention Troy Zorn, 484 Cherry Creek Road, Marquette, MI 49855.

Hunting

The Outdoor Skills Academy welcomes the National Wild Turkey Federation for the academy’s first wild turkey clinic.  The clinic will be held on Saturday, April 1 at the Carl T. Johnson Hunt and Fish Center in Cadillac, Michigan.  The class cost is $25.00 and includes lunch.

Starting at 10:00 a.m. and running four or five hours, this “A to Z” class on how to hunt wild turkeys will cover everything a beginner needs to know, including how to find a location, scouting, calling and gear.  The clinic will be held both in the field and in the classroom.

The DNR and Michigan Rural Development announced the finding of bovine tuberculosis (TB) in a sample taken from a 2-year-old steer from Newaygo County.  In accordance with the DNR and MDARD joint bovine TB response plan, the DNR is responsible for testing a minimum of 30 free-ranging deer within a 3-mile radius of the affected facility.

It is critical that hunters understand there is no link between CWD and TB.  This response is standard protocol for the DNR when cattle are found positive for TB outside Deer Management Unit 487, which does happen from time to time.  Bovine TB was last detected in October 2016 from a cattle facility in Huron County. Voluntary deer check is the only change hunters will see due to the TB-positive steer.

Take an evening walk to a damp field adjacent to some woods and you may hear an interesting buzzing sound. It’s too early for insects to be making noise, so what could it be? The American woodcock, a bird that likes damp forests and fields, uses that open area to put on a song and dance show for the ladies.

The males have camouflage coloring and like to court in dusk’s low light, which makes it a bit difficult for potential mates to find them. They solved this problem by developing a spectacular aerial display.

It starts on the ground where the woodcock calls out “Peent!” with a buzzing voice 20 to 40 times. Then the bird soars up into the sky. Modified wing feathers produce a whistling twitter during the ascent. The male descends in a seesaw motion and chirps at the same time. He dive-bombs the last 20 feet in silence. After landing, he struts around bopping his head as if to say “Yeah, I’m good. I’m the best.” On a good night, the show goes on for hours.

The woodcock’s nest will be constructed in tall grasses on the ground in April. After a few weeks the offspring will join their mother in probing the damp soil for earthworms.

Join us Saturday, March 25 for an up-close learning adventure with the Lake Milton Raptor Center at 1:00 p.m. or 3:00 p.m. Cost is $5/adult and $2/child.

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