The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) weekly report said as we transition from ice fishing to open water fishing across the state, some anglers were getting out in boats while others are targeting the rivers for trout and suckers. Farther north, many of the bays and marinas were still ice covered last week, but the ice was not safe.
The DNR tip for the week is to try fishing the Detroit River. Many anglers say in late March and early April the lower Detroit River is a great location to catch Walleyes in decent quantities. As April moves on, fish move further upriver, but the opportunities are still bountiful. For more information on fishing for Walleye or any other species, visit the DNR’s “Michigan Fish and How to Catch Them” website.
Captain Kenny Bard of Rampage Fishing Charters out of South Haven reports excellent Coho fishing this past weekend. Boats out on Lake Michigan fishing deep, but only the top 25 feet of water, were catching Coho on spoons and body-baits. Anglers on the South Haven pier were also taking Coho with spawn and rapellas. Inland Crappie fishing has been picking up.
Ellinee Bait & Tackle by Paw Paw Lake near Coloma reports the rain and wind kept many anglers off the water of the inland lakes. A few hardy determined anglers went out and caught some panfish. The Paw Paw River is still producing some Steelhead, but the bite is slow.
The few boat and pier anglers that were out in the bad weather last week in St. Joseph had some success. The St. Joseph River had good Steelhead fishing up near the Berrien Springs Dam. As the week warmed, more anglers were out on the Kalamazoo River and were catching Steelhead.
The DNR reminds Muskegon River anglers that fisheries staff will be taking Walleye eggs below Croton Dam in Newaygo County this spring. They plan to collect approximately 50 million Walleye eggs, resulting in 14 million fry for transfer to rearing ponds and direct fry plants throughout the Lower Peninsula. Walleye fry transferred to ponds will be raised to fingerling size (approximately 1.5 to 2.5 inches) and stocked late spring or early summer in lakes and rivers throughout the state.
The DNR plans to collect Walleyes with an electro-fishing boat beginning as early as the week of March 27 and concluding by April 15. Five days of fish collections are planned during this period. The actual date those collections will begin, depends on water temperatures and the presence of ripe fish. The public is welcome to observe how the eggs are removed from the fish and fertilized before they are packed and shipped to Wolf Lake and Platte River state fish hatcheries.
The DNR asks anglers to exhibit caution when fishing near the electro-fishing boats. Wading anglers will be asked to exit the water when the boat approaches to ensure their safety during the electro-fishing work.
The DNR and Agriculture and Rural Development announced the finding of chronic wasting disease (CWD) in a Mecosta County deer farm in late January 2017. As part of the CWD surveillance effort in the area, the DNR requests that road-killed deer within specific townships in Mecosta and Montcalm counties be reported to a wildlife disease hotline.
Samples are being collected from road-killed white-tailed deer found within Mecosta, Austin, Morton, Hinton, Aetna and Deerfield townships in Mecosta County; and Cato, Winfield and Reynolds townships in Montcalm County. To report road-killed deer in these townships only, call 231-250-2537. Leave a voicemail (or text) with location information, and staff will collect the deer as soon as possible.
The DNR asks the public and hunters to continue reporting deer that appear ill or are exhibiting unusual behavior (e.g., excessively thin, drooling, stumbling, approachable, etc.). To report such a deer call the DNR Wildlife Disease Lab at 517-336-5030 or fill out and submit the online observation report form, found on the DNR website. For more information about CWD, including the CWD surveillance and response plan, go to www.michigan.gov/cwd.
Longer daylight hours, warming temperatures and new green plants have wildlife moving and sightings increasing. Michigan’s black bear is a species that attracts a lot of attention when spotted. The easiest thing people living in bear country can do to avoid problems is remove bird feeders during the spring and summer months.
Bears find bird seed and suet especially attractive because of their high fat content compared to other natural feed sources, and these foods draw bears out of their natural habitat, where normally they would be eating roots of early spring plants and insect larvae.
Bears that receive a food reward when around homes, yards and neighborhoods typically lose their natural fear of humans and can become a threat to humans and pets. For your safety, never intentionally feed or try to tame bears; it is in your, and the bear’s best interest.
Coloma Rod & Gun Club
The Coloma Rod and Gun Club will hold their monthly CCW Class on April 8. Class registration is held on Sunday, April 2 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 $100.00. For more information or to be put on the list, call 269-621-3370.
Watervliet Rod & Gun Club
The Watervliet Rod and Gun Club will hold their monthly CCW classes on April 6 and April 8. Registration is on April 4 between 6:00 and 7:00 p.m. 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.
An American mink provided some recent entertainment for the naturalist staff while cavorting about the front yard ponds. Normally minks hang around the shorelines of waterways, lakes and ponds but apparently, this guy was exploring for a new source of food.
The mink’s thick underfur and longer, oily guard hairs and fully furred feet insulated him as he rolled in the snow. He found an opening in the ice cover, dove into the water and came up with something to eat, perhaps an overwintering tadpole. Aquatic birds and their eggs, frogs, and worms can also be on the menu.
This sighting was exciting because, although minks are common, they are rarely seen. Nocturnal by nature they are most active at dawn and dusk and very secretive. They resemble otters but their bodies are much smaller. A fluffy tail and pointed snout also sets them apart. They are like otters in that they mark their territories with strong, pungent odors so we should be grateful this was just a quick visit.
Learn about the Piping Plovers of the Great Lakes on Saturday, April 1 at 3:00 p.m. Admission is $3 for adults.
Sarett Nature Center’s annual 5K Spring Stampede takes off on Saturday, April 8 at 9:00 a.m. A children’s 1-mile run starts at 8:30 a.m. Look for registration details on the website (www.sarett.com).