11-16-2017 Outdoors


The Department of Natural Resource (DNR) fishing report notes that as the days grow shorter, so does the fishing report. Fewer anglers are out and most of the Creel Clerks are done for this year. This is still a good time to target walleye, perch, pike and musky as the bite picks up as the water temperatures drop. Steelhead fishing in the rivers should be good from now until freeze up. The season to take frogs, toads, salamanders and mudpuppies closed on November 15.

The DNR fishing tip this week is how to target steelhead this fall. While many are preparing to head into the woods for the next several weeks, others are taking advantage of fall steelhead fishing. There are two great strategies to try when targeting steelhead; surf fishing the piers and beaches of the Great Lakes and/or river fishing.

To surf fish, consider using a slip sinker rig and live bait, such as spawn bags, night crawlers or shiners. You can also try casting small spoons, spinners or body baits. Focus on depths of 12 feet or less as steelheads are hanging in the shallows looking for food.

If you target the rivers, consider using wigglers, caddis or wax worms drifted under a slip bobber. The depth below the bobber should be set to present the bait just off the river bottom. Anglers can also be successful this time of year casting spinners and medium diving crank baits into holes or other holding water that provides steelhead with some depth for cover. The retrieve should be as slow as possible to get the lure down to the bottom without snagging up.

There has not been a lot of fishing activity in the area. You can catch fish on the inland lakes, but not many are trying. The Ellinee Bait & Tackle located on Paw Paw Lake by Coloma reported that some pier anglers in St. Joseph were catching White Fish.

Ice anglers are waiting for that big freeze to come. Now is the time to check on your winter gear and see what is needed. Mention that you saw in the Tri-City Record that Ellinee Bait & Tackle will give you 20% off your ice fishing gear, you will get the discount, but it ends at first ice and you must mention where you saw it.

The St. Joseph River had steelhead moving through at the Berrien Springs Dam. Look for more fish by the end of the week as rain and colder temperatures will have fish on the move.

The DNR will host three public meetings this month along the Lake Michigan coast – November 28 in Manistique, November 29 in Traverse City and November 30 in Grand Haven – to hear from the public on two issues that will affect the lake: a draft management plan and future stocking activities.

A copy of the draft plan is available for public feedback and can be found online at https://mdnrlmfmp.wordpress.com. This draft plan sets long-term vision and goals for the Lake Michigan fishery. It also outlines the process for ensuring the public is involved and is aligned with shorter-term strategies and tactics. For more information, contact Jay Wesley at 269-685-6851.

Hunting

As the firearm deer season opens, the DNR conservation officers encourage hunters to brush up on safety tips and hunting regulations to ensure a safe, enjoyable experience. Here are a few simple, common-sense tips that can help prevent accidents and save lives.

Treat every firearm as if it is loaded and keep your finger away from the trigger and outside the guard until you are ready to fire. Keep the safety on until you are ready to fire and always point the muzzle in a safe direction. Be certain of your target and what’s beyond it, before firing. Know the identifying features of the game you hunt and make sure you have an adequate backstop.

Unload your firearm before running, climbing a fence or tree, or jumping a ditch. Wear a safety harness when hunting from an elevated platform and use a haul line to bring up your unloaded firearm. Avoid alcoholic beverages or behavior-altering medicines or drugs before or during a hunt.

Always wear a hat, cap, vest or jacket of hunter orange, visible from all sides, and make sure at least 50% of any camouflage pattern is in hunter orange. The law also applies to archery hunters during firearm season. Always let someone know where you are hunting and when you plan to return. Carry a cell phone into the woods, not only to call for help if necessary, but a newer phone emits a signal that can help rescuers locate you.

The DNR reminds hunters in the northern Lower Peninsula that wild elk also are found in this area and cannot be harvested without an elk hunting license.

Elk and white-tailed deer are close relatives and from the same Cervidae family, but hunters can tell the difference between them by looking at a few characteristics.

Deer and elk have a significant size difference. Elk can weigh several hundred pounds more and stand 2-4 feet taller than a deer.

Elk males also have a different appearance, with lighter back and hindquarters and a darker, reddish-brown neck and head. Females are a reddish-brown without a color variation.

If you know of a wildlife violation that has taken place or you have made a mistake, call the Report All Poaching line at 1-800-292-7800.

Before the colder temperatures arrived, we were treated to another of nature’s autumn shows. A midge swarm formed at an edge of our front pond where the tiny gnat relatives fluttered up and down in a vertical column. A different generation performed for us in the spring. Although the weather was a bit cool, the insects could stay warm because of the heat generated from their rapid wing-beats.

Most of the dancers were males waiting for a female to pass through the cloud. After she was fertilized, the female dropped to the pond to lay eggs in the water.

The tiny larvae that will emerge in a few days will overwinter in the mud of the pond. They will feed on plankton, algae and decaying matter. A spring breeding swarm will then form as new adults finish pupation.

Recent observations suggest that some adult midges may feed on the sugars produced by non-floral nectaries. However, it seems most do not feed at all. So, the midge life cycle, and swarm, is short-lived.

Compete in a Geocaching Scavenger Hunt on Sunday, Nov. 19 at 1:30 p.m. After a brief introduction to geocaching, teams will race to find hidden objects along the trails. The fee is $7. Please call (269) 927-4832 to register.

The annual used Nature Book Sale takes place November 18 and 19 during regular business hours.

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