The deep yellow of goldenrod and purples of asters brighten up yards, prairies, and open areas when summer melts away into autumn. These two groups of plants are very closely related and can usually be found growing beside one another, as well as with fleabane plants. The flowers provide late-season nectar and pollen for a myriad of insects, including the common buckeye butterfly, a regular pollinator of aster plants. While walking through a half acre patch of brilliant color this week I happened upon one of these butterflies going between goldenrod and aster plants looking for a meal. Monarch butterflies also visit these plants for fuel on their migration south and many resident insects use the food source to prepare for hibernation. On a sunny day, patches of goldenrod and asters draw in dozens of species of insects, and insect predators, like spiders. Some species of insects, like the goldenrod gall fly, lay their eggs on the plant causing it to create a gall or growth around it. Asters and goldenrod don’t just benefit insects. Downy woodpeckers and black-capped chickadees predate on the fly larvae in the galls in fall and winter. Ruffed grouse and wild turkeys, as well as eastern chipmunks and white-footed mice, occasionally eat the aster seeds and leaves. Look for these flowers in the open, sunny areas when hiking the trails at Sarett this fall.
Fishing The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reports that with the windy conditions, fewer anglers have been out fishing. Those heading to the rivers to find salmon are getting some fish. On the inland lakes, fish will soon be starting their feeding frenzy before winter sets in. Ellinee Bait & Tackle located on Paw Paw Lake by Coloma reported plentiful catches of bluegill and a few crappies. Walleye fishing has been slow and a few pike have been caught with Oslo’s. Anglers targeting the salmon in the Paw Paw River have gotten some nice hits on Oslo’s which seems to be their favorite now also. Boat anglers from South Haven were fishing south of the piers in 55 feet for perch, but perch fishing was slow. The windy conditions have been keeping anglers off Lake Michigan. The few that made it out, found lake trout on the bottom in 80 feet. Pier anglers targeting salmon caught a few when casting spoons. Those trolling for salmon in the Black River reported slow catch rates. By St. Joseph, water temperatures around the pierheads were still on the warm side. Boat anglers targeting salmon reported slow fishing for the most part. A few did manage to catch a couple trout and salmon, but they were fishing very deep. Pier fishing was slow, with only a couple fish taken on spoons. There was very little perch effort. On the St. Joseph River, Berrien Springs had a good run of coho, with increasing numbers of steelhead and a few Chinook in the mix. Though fishing was slow, a decent number of these fish should be moving through Buchanan and Niles this week. The DNR fishing tip this week is on fishing for trout in Michigan’s rivers and streams. Casting into the seams is the place to catch them. A “seam” is an area where two currents converge and it looks like a line or bubble trail in the water. Trout like seams because the joining currents create feeding lanes that collect drifting food – insects and larvae. Before casting, take a moment to read the river and observe structures in water such as rocks and logs, then locate any seams. With some experience, you’ll be able to detect seams as subtle lines along the surface where slower current meets with fast current, and in the seam is one of the places you’ll find trout. Visit Michigan.gov/TroutTrails to learn about lesser-known sites for excellent trout fishing. The Michigan Dam Safety Task Force held its inaugural meeting with a presentation about the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy’s (EGLE) Dam Safety Program and an outside expert program review that was requested after the failures of two dams in Mid-Michigan in May. The 19-member Task Force also set its future public meeting dates, with the next meeting scheduled for 10 a.m. on Oct. 1. Meeting dates and information about how to attend will be posted on the Task Force’s web page, where the public can access information about the Task Force, meetings, and presentations and how to offer comments about dam safety in Michigan. Hunting Deer check and CWD/TB testing changes for 2020 hunting season. The DNR advises deer hunters to be prepared for big changes to DNR deer check stations this fall. Staffing and financial shortages, due to both funding and the COVID-19 pandemic, will result in reductions in check station and drop-box locations, dates and hours operated, and the number of deer heads that will be accepted for chronic wasting disease testing (CWD). Information about the new check station procedures can be found in the 2020 Hunting Digest or at Michigan.gov/CWD. Hours and locations of deer check stations will be updated this week and will be available at Michigan.gov/DeerCheck. Before hunters head into the field, they should check the latest hunting regulations in their area by looking at the 2020 Hunting Digest. The following sections refer to specific pages of the digest for more information on these topics. Baiting and feeding is banned in the entire Lower Peninsula and the Core CWD Surveillance Area in the Upper Peninsula. Exception: Hunters with disabilities who meet specific requirements may use bait, five days before and during the Liberty and Independence hunts only, in areas where baiting is banned. See pages 33-34. Note: Youth hunters may not use bait in areas where baiting is banned during the Liberty Hunt. See pages 44 and 50 for additional information about the baiting and feeding bans. Antler point restrictions (APR) new this year; mainland Lower Peninsula hunters may harvest an antlered or antlerless deer on their deer or deer combo licenses during archery, firearm and muzzleloader seasons. Be sure to check the APR chart before heading out. Lower Peninsula APR chart, see pages 42-43. Upper Peninsula ARP chart, see pages 48-49. The firearm deer Independence Hunt will take place on private lands, and some public lands requiring an access permit, October 15-18. During this hunt, a deer or deer combo license may be used to take an antlered or antlerless deer. Antler point restrictions do not apply. An antlerless deer license or deer management assistance permit may be used to take one antlerless deer only, if issued for the area/land being hunted on. The bag limit for this season is one deer. All hunters participating in this season must wear hunter orange. Additional details can be found on page 34 of the Hunting Digest.