While shooting video footage with fellow Sarett Naturalists at Grand Mere State Park, we observed the most spectacular display of cardinal flower, Lobelia cardinalis, any of us had ever seen! For hundreds of feet, we walked along the trail, surrounded on both sides by the most vibrant scarlet red wildflower found around southwest Michigan. While this isn’t a rare plant it is not typically this abundant, even in other prime habitats. This cardinal flower display is found on a trail the naturalists have been hiking and teaching on for years without so much as seeing more than a few dozen plants at a time. The trail sits next to South Lake, which has consistently flooded over the trail for the last few years. This flooding has killed the trees that are flood-intolerant, which allows light to spill through the canopy onto the wet soil cardinal flower thrives in. Not only was the abundance of these flowers impressive, but so was the height of some of the individual plants with some reaching over our heads (6-7 feet)! Cardinal flower typically stands about 3-4 feet. The small flower petals are designed for their primary pollinator – the ruby-throated hummingbird. The red flower looks like a small tube projected above the scarlet petals, which the hummingbirds pollinate by brushing their foreheads against the tube tip to get to the nectar below. If you are interested in visiting this spot, email firstname.lastname@example.org for directions. Happy hiking!
Fishing Windy conditions had limited access for many anglers the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reported. North winds are slowly cooling water temperatures, especially on the Great Lakes. Catch rates will only get better as we move closer to fall. Captain Kenny Bard, owner of Rampage Fishing Charters out of South Haven, reported that fishing on Lake Michigan had been picking up some the beginning of the week. Fish are deep and anglers that fished at 100 to 160 feet found plenty of fish. Lake trout were being taken on the bottom with Laker-Takers. Salmon were biting best in 120 to 135 feet of water, using an assortment of baits, like Area 51’s, Lucky Charms, Double Trouble, and Wonder Bread. Green and white seemed to be the color of choice and a few steelhead and coho were taken along with a couple of king salmon. The perch were biting south of the piers and the fishing was decent. Fish were scattered in 35 to 70 feet. Pier fishing in South Haven was slow with a few sheepshead and catfish taken. The Black River was producing some nice catfish. Anglers on the Kalamazoo River were taking some smallmouth bass. Ellinee Bait & Tackle, located on Paw Paw Lake by Coloma, reported fishing winding down as fall heads our way. Local lakes are still producing bluegills and other panfish; they are biting on red worms or wax worms under bobbers. Bass are keeping anglers busy who are using soft plastics or wacky-worms. There is still no word of pike biting anywhere. The best catches are being made by anglers that get out just as day breaks. The bite slows down after the early hours. Boat anglers going out of St. Joseph caught a few chinook and coho, but the fish were deep and well beyond 100 feet. Spin doctors and flies worked best. The perch fishing was slow as the fish were scattered over large areas and depths. Pier anglers caught smallmouth bass and freshwater drum when casting spoons and jigs. Steelhead fishing was slow. DNR fishing tip this week is on catching bass on top of the water. To fish for this species on top the water, it mostly comes down to location and lure selection. Target areas that provide good cover for the bass, such as weed beds, logs, big rocks, etc., that have a few feet of water over them. Cast a floating lure next to the cover and play with it a bit before reeling it in. When it comes to lures, an angler should select those that float and that are designed to resemble the favorite foods of bass such as frogs. Topwater fishing for bass works best in low-light conditions such as early in the morning or late in the evening.
Hunting For an additional opportunity to participate in a reserved waterfowl hunt enthusiasts should apply for the 2021 Pure Michigan Hunt. Each application is $5 and anyone can apply as many times as they like until Dec. 31. Three lucky winners will receive a hunt package that includes first pick for a reserved waterfowl hunt plus elk, bear, turkey and antlerless deer licenses. For more information, visit Michigan.gov/PMH. The Michigan DNR reported that the state’s wolf population has remained relatively stable over the past nine years, with the most recent survey completed this past winter. DNR Wildlife Division staff who participated in this latest survey estimated there was a minimum of 695 wolves found among 143 packs across the Upper Peninsula. Wolves in Michigan remain a federally protected species and may be killed legally only in defense of human life. More information about Michigan’s wolf population can be found at Michigan.gov/Wolves. While enjoying the outdoors, don’t be surprised to spot one of Michigan’s resident snakes. They can be found in just about every habitat type: forests, grasslands, wetlands, farmlands and cities. Snakes play an important role in ecosystem health by keeping rodent numbers in check and, in turn, feeding larger predators like hawks and owls. While most snakes in Michigan aren’t dangerous, there is one venomous species found in the state – the Eastern Massasauga Rattlesnake – a threatened species that is rarely encountered. Learn tips and features to look for to identify Michigan snake species with the DNR’s “60-Second Snakes” video series or by visiting Michigan.gov/Wildlife.