11-17-2016 Outdoors

Fishing

The unseasonably warm weather has been nice, but not so much for anglers or hunters the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) pointed out.  Warm water temperatures have once again slowed the bite on the inland lakes and rivers across the state.  Pike and Muskie fishing are good this time of year.  The DNR also reminded those that take frogs, toads, salamanders and mudpuppies that the season closed on Tuesday, November 15.

Ellinee Bait & Tackle by Coloma reports the pan fish bite has picked up and people are doing well on Paw Paw Lake and Rush Lake for Crappie and some Bluegills.  There have been no reports of Steelhead from the Paw Paw River.

Captain Kenny Bard of Rampage Fishing Charters reported Steelhead are moving into the Black River and are being caught in good numbers both on the river and from the piers.  Some white fish were taken at the piers also, but it depends on the wave action and last weekend five to nine foot waves were crashing on to the piers.

The St. Joseph River had some Steelheads and the DNR recommends trying up near the Berrien Springs Dam with spawn.  Fish will move through the ladders until water temperatures are consistently below 45 degrees.  The Steelhead fishing slowed down on the Kalamazoo River, but those targeting the deeper holes did find some fish.  A couple Walleyes were taken up near the Allegan Dam.

In Holland, the pier anglers and those surfcasting have caught some Steelhead.  Grand Haven pier anglers and those surfcasting have caught Steelhead on spawn.  Some have caught a few Menominee Whitefish when still-fishing with a minnow.

The DNR announced its decision to suspend Chinook salmon stocking in Lake Superior due to the success of the self-sustaining wild population.  Department officials called it a very positive development for anglers, salmon populations in the lake and the DNR.

More than 99 percent of angler-caught Chinooks in Michigan waters originated from natural reproduction.  This was determined through DNR creel surveys, which documented ratios of unclipped (wild) versus clipped (stocked) Chinook in Lake Superior since 2012.

On a related historical note, Michigan ceased the stocking of Coho salmon in Lake Superior after 2007, also because populations had become self-sustaining.  The Coho fishery in the lake has remained reliably strong since that time, supported completely from naturally reproducing fish.

Hunting

Conservation officers offer important reminders for a safe hunting experience.  All firearm deer hunters on any land during daylight hunting hours are required to wear a hat, cap, vest or jacket of hunter orange visible from all sides.  This includes archery hunters during firearm season.  Camouflage hunter orange is legal provided 50% of the pattern is hunter orange.

Treat every firearm as if it is loaded.  Until you are ready to fire, keep your finger away from the trigger and outside the trigger guard.  Keep the safety on until you are ready to fire.  Always point the muzzle in a safe direction and be certain of your target, and what is beyond it, before firing.

Do not run, jump or climb with a loaded firearm.  Unload a firearm before you climb a fence or tree or jump a ditch.  Pull a firearm toward you by the butt, not the muzzle.  When hunting from an elevated stand, always wear a safety harness and use a haul line to pull your unloaded firearm up and down your raised platform.

Avoid alcoholic beverages before or during hunting.  Also avoid mind or behavior-altering medicines or drugs.  Always let someone know where you are hunting and when you plan on returning.  Carry your cell phone into the woods.  Remember to turn your ringer off or set your phone to vibrate rather than ring.

These simple common sense tips can prevent hunting accidents and save lives the DNR said.  For more information on deer hunting in Michigan, go to www.michigan.gov/deer.

The 2016 bear hunting seasons are now complete and preliminary harvest information suggests that bear hunters have had good success and many have shared stories of their hunts at the mandatory bear check or by phone calls and email.  Official bear harvest information will be available in early 2017, when all bear harvest surveys and mandatory bear check information is compiled.

A group of individuals representing various sportsmen’s clubs, the U.S. Forest Service, the agricultural community, and non affiliated bait and hound hunters throughout Michigan will meet in St. Ignace on Saturday, December 17 to discuss the future of bear management in Michigan.   The bear forum meeting is open to the public, and DNR staff members will be available after the meeting to answer any questions.

Woodpeckers are fascinating birds. They can hear beetle larvae feeding and moving about under the bark of trees. They have long, sticky, barbed tongues to snag those larvae. Their brain can survive 1200Gs of force (pilots average a tolerance of 10Gs) each time they drum into a tree.

When that force is directed at trees, it is amazing, when it is directed at houses, not so much.

When a woodpecker searches for food or potential nesting or roosting sites, any wood becomes a potential source. Small holes in straight lines usually indicate where a bird has been looking for insects. Larger, shallow holes in clusters are evidence of territorial drumming. Large and deep holes are left from attempts to excavate a cavity for spring nesting or winter roosting.

The Cornell Lab of Ornithology (www.birds.cornell.edu) lists many safe and humane suggestions to convince woodpeckers that a real tree is better than the square tree.

Remember to check out the Nature Book Sale on November 19 and 20 during business hours.

Sarett’s Greens Workshop is on December 3 at 1:00 p.m. Attendees supply the tools, frames and inspiration and the nature center will supply several varieties of greens to create a holiday decoration. The fee is $10. Please call (269) 927-4832 to register.

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