Fishing Last Saturday, May 25, was the opener for take and keep largemouth and smallmouth bass on the Great Lakes and inland waters. The season opener on Lake St. Clair, St. Clair River and Detroit River is not until the third Saturday in June. The late spring has slowed the bass spawning activity the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) said. In the southeast Lower Peninsula, the bass were on the beds in some lakes in the area. The panfish bite is slowly improving as the weather warms. Walleye, pike and suckers have been caught in the area’s rivers. Ellinee Bait & Tackle on Paw Paw Lake located near Coloma reported anglers busy catching panfish on all the local inland lakes. On Big Paw Paw Lake, the bluegills and crappie are in the shallows and the bass are on the beds. Crappies are biting well on minnows. A few walleye have been taken on hot-n-tots in Little Paw Paw Lake. The Paw Paw River has been quiet. Anglers going out on Lake Michigan from South Haven have caught lake trout along with the occasional chinook salmon. The lake trout were in 50 to 80 feet of water and chinook was scattered in 80 to 100 feet and deeper. Pier anglers caught a few coho with spawn. Boat anglers out of St. Joseph reported very good fishing with a good number of large chinook salmon caught in 80 to 130 feet or deeper. A decent number of lake trout were also caught. Magnum spoons, spin doctors and flies seem to work best. Pier anglers caught a few coho and lake trout. No perch to report. Earlier this month, Tyler Fisher of St. Charles, Michigan, caught a record breaking bigmouth buffalo, unseating the previous state record fish that was caught in 2017. Fisher caught the buffalo fish, weighing in at 32.01 pounds and measuring 38 inches, while bowfishing in the Shiawassee River in Saginaw County. Roy Beasley of Madison Heights, Michigan, held the previous bigmouth buffalo state record, a 27-pound 35.25 inch fish he caught while bowfishing on Monroe County’s River Raisin in May 2017. State-record fish are recognized by weight only. To qualify for a state record, fish must exceed the current listed state-record weight, and identification must be verified by a DNR fisheries biologist. See the current roster of record-setting fish at Michigan.gov/StateRecordFish. Anyone on the Great Lakes that catch a marked and tagged fish, the DNR wants to know. Since the 1980s the DNR has used the coded-wire tag program to mass mark various trout and salmon species in Michigan. Mass marking provides critical data as fishery biologists assess the value of naturally reproduced versus stocked fish, as well as lake-wide fish movement. Anglers who catch these tagged fish can then record needed information (like where and when the fish was caught, details from the tag, and the species, length and weight of the fish), remove and freeze the fish’s snout and drop it off at designated locations. Questions, contact John at 231-547-2914. For anyone new to sport fishing or just wanting to find a location that’s easy to access, good for the whole family and has a high likelihood of catching fish; check out the DNR’s Family Friendly Fishing Waters web application. This interactive tool features more than 200 quality fishing destinations, spread across all Michigan counties. Family Friendly Fishing Waters is not a downloadable app, but it is compatible with all types of electronic devices. Access it at Michigan.gov/Fishing in the Where to Fish section. Questions, contact Elyse Walter, 517-284-5839.
Hunting and other outdoor activities The last day for Spring Turkey Hunting Season is Friday, May 31. Today’s technology might seem worlds apart from the great outdoors, but in some cases they’re a perfect match. Consider the popular and growing trend of geocaching, including the new Michigan State Parks Centennial GeoTour that just launched May 24. Here in Michigan, geocachers of all skill levels can join in the GeoTour; a partnership with the Michigan Geocaching Organization offering 100 new caches and the opportunity to earn commemorative centennial geocoins and digital souvenirs. Learn more about the GeoTour and other ways the state is celebrating the 100th anniversary of Michigan state parks at Michigan.gov/StateParks100. Questions, contact Stephanie Yancer at 989-274-6182. Inspired by this year’s state parks centennial celebration, the DNR has released an all-new Stamp & Go Guide to help visitors log and plan their visits to state parks and hatcheries all over Michigan. The guide features photos and descriptions of each state park and fish hatchery, maps, kid-friendly activities and more. Visitors can get their guides stamped at more than 100 locations. For more information contact Arni Van Antwerp at 517-927-5059 or Elyse Walter at 517-285-5839. Water birds and waterfowl are on the move, and warblers have started to arrive. Join MI Birds for one of the following guided bird walks to get in on the action this summer. Allegan State Game Area in Allegan County; Saturday, June 15 from 9 a.m. to noon: Register for the tour while space is still available. Sharonville State Game Area in Jackson County; Saturday, June 22 from 9 a.m. to noon: Space is limited, so be sure to register for this tour. Houghton Lake Flats State Wildlife Area in Roscommon County; Saturday, July 13 from 9 a.m. to noon: Register for the Houghton Lake Flats guided birding walk.
Coloma Rod & Gun Club The Coloma Rod & Gun Club will hold their monthly CPL Class on Saturday, June 8, 2019. Class registration is held on Sunday, June 2, 2019 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 $105. For more information on the CPL class or Hunter Safety Class, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit their website at www.colomarodandgunclub.com.
Enjoy free fishing, off-roading and state park entry June 8-9 Looking for a great reason to get outdoors? How about three. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources has brought back the popular “Three Free” weekend – this year it’s Saturday and Sunday, June 8 and 9 – two full days when residents and out-of-state visitors can grab a fishing pole, ride the off-road trails and visit state parks, all free of charge. “Michigan is home to some of the best outdoor recreation opportunities and most beautiful natural spaces you’ll find anywhere,” said DNR Director Dan Eichinger. “Whether you’re already an avid outdoors-person or someone just beginning to explore the outdoors, our ‘Three Free’ weekend makes it easy to explore a new hobby, visit a new park or introduce friends to an outdoor experience you love.” To get more details or find a local event, visit Michigan.gov/FreeFishing.
The consistently spring-like temperatures have convinced our ectothermic (or “cold-blooded”) animals to end their hibernations. Ideal hibernacula can be hard to come by so many of these usually solitary animals may have been sharing a space. In wetlands such as those found at Sarett, most hibernacula are the burrows constructed by crayfish. Empty burrows at the edge of a pond are a great place for a garter snake or many garter snakes. Frogs and salamanders, some of the snakes’ usual prey, can safely share the same burrow during winter because all eating has stopped. Crayfish that have hunkered down in their burrows at Sarett may end up with a Massasauga rattlesnake as a roommate. Even if the rattlesnake was hungry, crayfish are not on its menu and so they co-hibernate very nicely. In addition to providing everyone with a space, co-hibernating has the added benefit of shared body warmth to help make it through the winter. Registration is currently open for Sarett’s summer classes for kids. Exciting and engaging programs for children 4 and up are planned starting June 18 including classes about turtles, frogs, butterflies, kayaking trips, and Muckin’ in the Marsh! Please visit www.sarett.org for a complete listing of programs or visit the nature center. Registrations can be taken in person or over the telephone at 269-927-4832.