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10-17-2019 Outdoors

Fishing The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reports that all the big waters were stirred up after the rain and strong winds last week, so fishing was a little more difficult. The inland lakes were producing bass, pike, panfish and walleye. October is a good time to head out on the inland lakes. Many anglers have now switched to hunting. Ellinee Bait & Tackle located on Paw Paw Lake by Coloma reported good inland fishing for any brave enough to go out. They report few are going out right now. The wind has been kind of strong for several days, with a fall nip to it. Those going out on Paw Paw Lake and other inland lakes in the area are getting some perch and walleye with minnows. The Paw Paw River has salmon in it and anglers are catching steelhead with Oslo Spinners and spawn. Boat anglers going out from South Haven have been trolling around the pier heads but reported fishing was slow. A few lake trout were caught in 80 feet of water. Perch fishing was inconsistent as anglers reported excellent catch rates one day then very slow the next. Pier fishing was very slow for all fish. On the Kalamazoo River at the Allegan Dam steelheads were being caught. Few boats went out this past week from St. Joseph, however those trolling near the river and around piers reported slow catch rates. Perch fishing in the area was slow. Pier fishing was slow for steelhead and whitefish, but anglers did catch a couple catfish and freshwater drum. In the St. Joseph River, a good number of fish were reported in the fish ladder at Berrien Springs – mostly coho along with a fair number of steelhead and chinook. Boat anglers out of Grand Haven were catching lake trout and the occasional salmon in 110 to 180 feet of water. Lake trout were taken with green and yellow spin-glo on the bottom. The Grand River at Grand Rapids water levels were receding. Salmon and some steelhead were caught up near the dam. Those targeting the Rogue River caught the occasional salmon. Bass anglers were finding fish early morning and evening. DNR fishing tip for this week is how to catch muskellunge when others can’t. For many anglers muskellunge can be quite elusive but having a few tips in your back pocket can make your trips more successful. The first thing to consider is the type of lure to use. Many experts recommend using a jerkbait-style lure to trigger vertical follows. The next item to consider is where to look for muskellunge. Always be looking for cover, including weed patches or downed trees – these are prime spots for them to linger. Lastly, the DNR says don’t be afraid to focus fishing time to late afternoon / early evening. These hours can produce some quality opportunities. For even more information on fishing for muskellunge, visit their page on the DNR’s website.

Hunting Pheasant season (male only) opened for Zone 1, October 10 to October 31. Zone 2 and 3 opens October 20 to November 14. Zone 3 will open December 1 to January 1. The daily bag limit for pheasants is two birds. For Zone 1 Pheasant Management Unit and Zone 3 December Pheasant Management Unit information, please see page 54 of the 2019 Hunting Digest. The Michigan Legislature passed Public Act 618 of 2018, which appropriated $260,000 from the general fund to the DNR for a pheasant release program during fall 2019 and 2020. The pheasant releases are being done in partnership with the Michigan Association of Game Breeders and Hunting Preserves. Association members will be releasing the birds on a weekly basis at the 11 designated game areas listed below, this year. Bay County: Pinconning State Game Area; Cass County: Crane Pond State Game Area; Clinton County: Rose Lake State Game Area; Lapeer County: Lapeer State Game Area; Monroe County: Erie and Pointe Mouillee state game areas; Saginaw County: Crow Island State Game Area; Sanilac County: Minden City State Game Area; St. Clair County: St. Johns Marsh State Game Area; St. Joseph County: Leidy Lake State Game Area; and Van Buren County: Cornish State Game Area. The DNR reminds waterfowl hunters across the state to take extra precautions to prevent the spread of any invasive aquatic plants. Help by cleaning equipment, including waders, decoys, anchors, boats and trailers; drain all water from boats, trailers and equipment; dry boats, gear and equipment for five days (if possible) before transporting to another body of water; inspect all gear and equipment before and after use and remove any plants, debris or soils; and remember that the new Michigan boating laws took effect March 21, 2019. Questions can be directed to Joanne Foreman at 517-284-5814.

Watervliet Rod & Gun Club The Watervliet Rod and Gun Club will hold their monthly CCW classes on October 24 and 26, 2019. Registration is on Tuesday, Oct. 22, 2019, between 6:00 and 7:00 p.m. and cost of the class is $100. 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.

Watervliet Library Garden notes… Purple Hyacinth Bean One of the Library Garden favorite plants is Dolichos lablab (Purple Hyacinth Bean). Still displaying a few scattered lilac colored blooms for the season, this heirloom plant is covered in glossy eggplant colored pods and striking purple stems this time of year. Native to Asia, this rambling vine gets its name from the Greek word “dolikhos” meaning “elongated” and the Aboriginal word for bean “lablab”. Fun Fact: Thomas Jefferson purchased this fine plant from nurseryman Bernard McMahon in 1804 to plant at Monticello and is still featured in the Kitchen Garden there today. Just to be clear, the purple pods picked when young and tender are edible. These young, tender pods and beans are used in Asian stir-fry vegetable dishes. However, the old pods and dry beans may be poisonous! So be aware. This annual vine is easily started in early spring from seed. The seeds are quite hard, so soaking in water overnight will improve germination. PHB seeds can be started indoors and transplanted as seedlings after danger of frost, or directly sown in the garden once the soil warms in May. A word of caution: Bean seeds tend to rot rather than germinate in cold wet soils. If you are collecting seeds from the vine, choose the brown dried pods with swollen hard seeds (the ugly ones). The “pretty” glossy purple pods do not have viable seeds yet (they won’t germinate next spring). The library will be harvesting seeds off this plant as they ripen this fall to give away in the library. Stop by in November!

If you walk around wetlands in the fall you may notice a white, cotton candy-like growth on an alder or maple tree. Don’t try to eat it because this is actually a group of insects called wooly alder aphids. They are sap eaters and use their food to create protective waxy, stringy “hairs.” The 1/8th inch insects, prociphilus tessallatus, also can create sweet honeydew from their abdomen with the excess food they eat. The honeydew contains water and vital nutrients, which some other insects have realized is a good source of nutrition. One insect in particular, the ant, has formed a mutualistic symbiotic relationship with these aphids, and has been described as the aphids “ranchers.” The ants will protect a colony of wooly alder aphids from other predatory insects, and in return can use their antennae to tickle the aphids and get sweet honeydew from their abdomens. The public is invited to Halloween at Sarett on Saturday evening, Oct. 26, between 6:30 and 8:30 to explore our fun and spooky Halloween trail for families! There will be a lighted walking trail with activities for little ones, a dark and scary trail for those who want a little more fright, a spooky hayride, and treats plus a craft inside the Nature Center. Cost is $5 per person. All children must be accompanied by an adult. NO reservations necessary.


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Nature Notebook

The numerous, tiny piles of soil that indicate earthworm activity are beginning to appear in yards. The earthworm’s body is mostly water so how did it survive our bitterly cold winter?


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