10-29-2020 Outdoors

Fishing

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reports that poor weather conditions are keeping anglers off the water. Parts of the Upper Peninsula, including Marquette, saw snow this week, with some getting a couple of inches or more.

In the South Haven area, wind, rain and wave action has kept anglers off the lake and piers. St. Joseph had no activity from boat anglers due to the weather. When they could get out, a few anglers were targeting walleye in the lower river.

On the Kalamazoo River salmon were being caught on fresh spawn bags and yarn. The Allegan dam saw some action also.

In Holland the wave action prevented most anglers from getting out on the piers. When they could, some were jigging for walleye, but catch rates were slow.

In Barry County on Jordan Lake, good bluegill action was found when drifting in 15 to 30 feet. A good number of fish were taken on a black spider with rubber legs.

The DNR fishing tip this week is how to fish for smallmouth bass on the Great Lakes piers. On the piers in the fall, as lakes cool, minnows will congregate around the piers.

Large, educated river smallmouth bass migrating downstream in the fall often will drop their guard when goring on minnows at the river mouth, allowing some very nice fish to be taken on minnows that otherwise would be very slow to bite.

Find more information and tips on the smallmouth bass page on the DNR website.

Hunting

During the first hunt period of the Elk Season, which has concluded, 83 hunters harvested a total of 81 elk. Two bulls were harvested by two of the Pure Michigan Hunt winners. They took a total of 29 bulls, 52 cows and two calves.

The early elk season is designated to target elk outside of their traditional range over the course of 12 days. Hunters had excellent weather conditions throughout the three hunt periods (September 1-4, September 18-21 and October 2-5), with mild temperatures throughout the days, cool nights and little rain or wind.

Elk licenses were awarded to 100 Hunt Period 1 hunters and 160 Hunt Period 2 hunters. The late elk season will take place December 12-20.

Anyone can help the DNR monitor ruffed grouse and woodcock populations by becoming a ruffed grouse and American woodcock cooperator. Cooperators have been reporting their hunting season information to the DNR, providing an indicator of the hunting season and population status of these birds. Interested hunters can download the cooperator form and provide information on days spent afield and flush rates. The DNR encourages both past and new cooperators to download and complete the form. To learn more about these birds visit Michigan.gov/Hunting and click on the Small Game tab.

Check the 2020 Fur Harvester Digest for updated season dates, unit boundaries, bag limits and other regulations someone would need to be aware of before heading out.

New this year: Otter bag limit changes and beaver and otter season date changes. The 2020 kill tags for bobcat, fisher, marten and otter are available to licensed resident fur harvesters. Bobcat kill tags are available only through November 30. The fur harvester license is valid through April 30, 2021.

Hunting for coyote is open year-round, statewide. Raccoon hunting is open through January 31, statewide. And fox (both red and gray) hunting is open until March 1, 2021.

Goose hunting seasons are open in most areas now. The North Zone and Middle Zone are open until December 16. The South Zone is open until December 6, then December 26-27 and again from January 23, 2021 to February 8, 2021. Allegan County Goose Management unit is now closed but opens again November 7-14, November 26-December 6 and December 19-February 14, 2021. Muskegon County Goose Management Unit is open until December 22.

Duck hunting seasons are still open in all three zones. North Zone is open to November 22 and again November 28-29. Middle Zone is open until November 29 and again from December 12-13. The South Zone is open to December 6 and again December 26-27.

Regulation changes for 2020-2021 include changes to the scaup daily bag limit during the season. Depending on when and where someone is hunting in the state, they may harvest either one or two scaup daily. See the table on page 7 of the 2020 Michigan Waterfowl Hunting Digest for more details on the DNR website.

Watervliet Rod & Gun Club

The Watervliet Rod and Gun Club will not hold CPL (Concealed Pistol License) classes for the month of November. The next class will be in December. Registration is on Tuesday, Dec. 1 with classes held Thursday, Dec. 3 and Saturday, Dec. 5.

We recently discovered our education owls glow! No, they don’t have glow paint on them for Halloween. During preparations for a black light hike in the evening on Sarett’s trails, one of the naturalists read that owl’s wings can fluoresce, and they were right!

We tested the black light on our eastern screech-owl first in the dark and noticed a soft but bright pinkish-orange glow! So we tested it on our barred owl, Cookie, who was recently molting feathers and had many brand new ones coming in under her wings. When we shone the black light under her wings the three of us looking gasped and awed at the amazing colors we were seeing! It was the same pinkish-orange, but so much more pronounced than on Rufus’ feathers.

So why do they fluoresce? We don’t know exactly, but in the 1980s researchers discovered the fluorescence in the wing feathers correlates with the age of the feathers in owls. New feathers glow brightly, and older ones, which have lost some of the pigment that show this, appear duller under the black light.

These pigments on the feathers, when exposed to the UV light, absorb it, rather than reflecting it and provide the coloring when the UV light is shone on it. And it’s not just shone with owls either. King and emperor penguins have glowing beaks and many parrot species also have fluorescent plumage.

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