Fishing Inconsistent late summer weather has made things difficult for anglers, especially on the big lakes, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reported. The recent storms and strong winds will change fishing conditions. Fall fishing is beginning to take shape. The DNR stated that summer may be drawing to a close, but great fishing is far from over. Many anglers agree that fall is a wonderful time to cast a line as fish prepare for the colder months by ramping up their feeding efforts. Most anglers target – and see much success pursuing – salmon, walleye, perch, panfish and bass. Get ready to reel in some of these beauties at fall fishing hot spots across the state. Find more tips on targeting various species at Michigan.gov/Fishing. Ellinee Bait & Tackle on Paw Paw Lake, located by Coloma reported good catches of panfish and bass, but they are deep right now. Some nice perch are being caught in Paw Paw Lake, and they are also very deep, near the bottom. King salmon have been moving up the Paw Paw River and the anglers in the Watervliet area are happily pulling them in. They are biting on Oslo’s and Spinners. Captain Kenny Bard of Rampage Fishing Charters reported not many boats have been going out of South Haven onto the big lake. They had gone out Tuesday morning and caught a few lake trout on the bottom with Laker-Takers in 100 to 150 feet. They caught a couple of coho too, but had to come in as the water got rougher as the day went on. South Haven pier fishing has been very slow for all species. Perch were few and far between but could be found south of the pier in 35 to 40 feet. A few king salmon were taken on the Black River and the Kalamazoo River. Inland lakes are producing nice catches of bluegills, but deep. Very few boats have made it out of St. Joseph this week. Perch fishing was slow and pier fishing was slow for all species. The St. Joseph River anglers are beginning to troll for salmon. Very few fish were caught, but there are Chinook and coho in the fish ladder in Berrien Springs. Holland pier anglers casting for salmon had no luck. At Grand Haven, the Harbor Island launch will most likely remain closed the rest of the season due to high water. On the Grand River near Grand Rapids, boat and shore anglers have caught coho, along with a few Chinook and steelheads, using Cleo’s, thunder sticks, spawn, flies and yarn. On Hardy Dam Pond, walleye, perch and smallmouth bass were caught along with the occasional pike. Bluegills were caught on Bruce’s Bayou and Sterns Bayou. The Michigan Natural Resources Commission adopted regulation changes that started Friday, Sept. 11, and for the remainder of the 2020 fall salmon run – that closes the Betsie River Homestead Dam in Benzie County to fishing within 300 feet of the lamprey barrier and fish passage facility from Aug. 1 to Nov. 15. The popularity of the Betsie River salmon fishing has attracted thousands of anglers to the area annually. Some high-use sites, including the Homestead Dam site have been severely degraded by bank erosion, littering and unlawful activities. DNR conservation officers have responded to hundreds of complaints from the area, including illegal snagging, exceeding daily fish limits, cutting trees, illegal fires, trespassing and angler conflicts. The new fishing regulations came in response to these reports. Recent changes to the DNR land-use order for the Dam access site also prohibits, between 1 and 4 a.m., the use or occupancy of certain state forest lands in the area to prevent camping and tending fires, which have caused extensive resource damage at these locations. More information about fishing and camping rules and regulations is available at Michigan.gov/DNRLaws.
Hunting The youth and – new for 2020 – veterans/ active-duty U.S. military personnel waterfowl hunting weekend will be Sept. 19-20. This statewide hunt is for properly licensed youth 16 years of age and younger and eligible veterans and active-duty U.S. military personnel only. For more information go to the DNR site and look it up in the Michigan Water Fowl Digest. The early antlerless firearm season (Sept. 19-20), is open on private lands only in all mainland Lower Peninsula deer management units (DMU). See page 40 of the 2020 hunting digest. Valid licenses for the early and late antlerless firearm deer seasons includes: a private land antlerless deer license issued for the DMU upon which you are hunting, a Deer Management Assistance permit valid for that DMU, a deer or deer combination license (used for take of antlerless deer only during the early or late antlerless seasons), or a deer kill tag issued under the mentored youth license which must be used to harvest an antlerless deer during the antlerless only seasons. All remaining antlerless deer licenses will be sold on a first-come, first-served basis until license quotas are met in each DMU. Current leftover license availability may be viewed at Michigan.gov/Deer. Archery hunting begins Oct. 1. The season is open statewide Oct. 1 – Nov. 14 and Dec. 1 – Jan. 1. Extended Archer – Urban Deer Management Zone of Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties: open through Jan. 31, 2021. The DNR Regional 2020 deer hunting preview states that the winter in southern Michigan was very mild and likely had no impact on the deer herd. Deer numbers appear to be quite high, and large bachelor groups have already been seen across much of the region. Field staff anticipates more hunter success this season.
Watervliet Rod & Gun Club The Watervliet Rod and Gun Club is offering monthly CPL (Concealed Pistol License) classes. September’s class will be held on the 17th and 19th. For price and more information, call 269-470-9191 or 269-468-3837.
Fall migration is upon us! With the end of summer very near and daylight hours lessening, many birds across Canada and the United States are making their way south back to their wintering grounds. Migratory bird species such as warblers, flycatchers, and hummingbirds fly hundreds to thousands of miles to their winter homes, and this can be a great time to catch sights of these species. An unidentified waterthrush, usually secretive warblers, even visited just outside my office window by the pond for a few moments last week. These birds travel all the way to southern Florida or Central America for the winter. Hummingbirds passing through will visit your feeders to fuel up for their long migration, so keep them up for another month or more. Contrary to popular belief, they will not be enticed to stay just because you leave your feeder out. Your resident hummingbirds will leave and new migrants may stop by for a feeding. Enjoy the tiny migrants as long as you can and remember to keep up with cleaning and changing the water. Want to see the birds in the field? Grab a pair of binoculars and take a hike on our many miles of trails for chances to see some of these migrating beauties. Look out for hummingbirds in the wetlands feeding on the orange and yellow flowers of the jewelweed plant!