Fishing According to the Department of Natural Resources and our local informants, the number of anglers heading out continues across the state to decline. Windy conditions have hampered fishing along the Great Lakes. Good walleye fishing was noted on both Saginaw Bay and the Saginaw River. Ice was starting to form on the inland lakes however there is no safe ice to report. The 2019 Winter Free Fishing Weekend – February 16-17 – provides a perfect time to get more individuals and families out trying the sport of ice fishing. As part of the weekend, all fishing license fees are waived for the two days with residents and out-of-state visitors allowed to enjoy fishing on all waters for all species during their respective open seasons. Please note all regulations still apply during that time. To encourage involvement in the Free Fishing Weekend, organized activities are often offered in communities across the state. The DNR has compiled numerous resources to help you plan and execute an event in your community. Simply visit www.michigan.gov/freefishing and look through the Free Fishing Weekend Event Planning e-Toolkit. Ellinee Bait & Tackle on Paw Paw Lake located by Coloma agree with the DNR report of angler decline now. Anglers seem to be holding their breath, waiting for that first ice. Now is the time when you should be checking your ice fishing equipment to make sure all is ready. Steelhead is still being caught in the rivers, Kalamazoo, St. Joseph, and Black, but the catch is spotty. A few walleye are being taken after dark. Pier anglers along Lake Michigan, when they can get out on the piers are taking a few steelheads and the occasional whitefish.
Hunting Hunters are encouraged to check deer in counties where the state is actively monitoring for CWD, particularly Gratiot, Isabella, Jackson and Kent counties. Two new counties likely will be added to the list of Michigan counties where chronic wasting disease has been found. CWD is a fatal neurological disease that affects white tailed deer, mule deer, elk and moose. A 4-year-old hunter harvested buck in Pine River Township, Gratiot County; and a 2-year-old hunter harvested buck in Carmel Township, Eaton County; are suspected positive for the disease. The samples were sent to the National Veterinary Services Laboratory in Ames, Iowa for confirmation, which is expected next week. As of last week, the DNR has tested more than 16,000 deer in 2018. Twenty of those confirmed positive for CWD and there are an additional 18 animals suspected positive from townships in Clinton, Kent and Montcalm counties. Additional animals are being tested daily. Firearm deer season may be over, but there are many other opportunities to get out hunting and trapping yet this year. Small Game Hunting: Cottontail rabbit and snowshoe hare season is open statewide through March 31, 2019. Fox and gray squirrel season is open statewide through March 31, 2019 also. Pheasant season (male only) is open in Zone 3 from December 1 through January 1, 2019. Check out Michigan Hunter Digest for open areas. Pheasant hunters, the DNR would love to know what you saw when you were out hunting. Help them by filling out a pheasant cooperative report. Ruffed Grouse season opened back up December 1 and runs through January 1, 2019. Check out Michigan’s grouse enhanced management sites (GEMS) for premier bird hunting locations. Visit www.michigan.gov/gems. Trapping: Coyote, gray and red fox, muskrat and mink trapping seasons are open through March 1, 2019, statewide. Coyote hunting season is open year-round and fox (gray and red) hunting is open through March 1, 2019, statewide. Raccoon trapping season is open through March 31, 2019, statewide and raccoon hunting season is open through January 31, 2019, statewide. Beaver and other trapping seasons vary based on unit and trapper’s residency status, (more information in the Fur Harvester Digest). Additional fur harvesting opportunities and regulations are available at www.michigan.gov/trapping. 2018 Bobcat Season Reminders: Bobcat trapping season opens December 1 for Units A and B, and December 19 for Units C, D, E, and F. Bobcat hunting seasons for units A, B, C, D, E and F open on January 1, 2019. The Bobcat bag limit is two per resident. One kill tag is valid for all lands and all units combined. A second kill tag is valid for Unit A, ONLY, on private lands (excluding Commercial Forest lands). Volunteers are needed for stewardship in state parks for December. Workdays will take place Saturday, December 8 at Warren Dunes State Park (Berrien County), 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.; December 15 at Fort Custer Recreation Area (Kalamazoo County), 10 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Coloma Rod & Gun Club The Coloma Rod & Gun Club will hold their monthly CCW Class on Saturday, December 8, 2018. The class is taught by a certified NRA and RSO instructor and the cost of the class is $105. For more information or to be put on the list, please call (269) 621-3370.
Watervliet Rod & Gun Club The Watervliet Rod and Gun Club will hold their monthly CCW classes on December 6 and 8, 2018. 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.
Berrien Springs angler to compete as pro Fishing League Worldwide (FLW), the world’s largest tournament-fishing organization, announced the complete professional angler roster for the upcoming 2019 FLW Tour season. The field will be showcased along the 2019 FLW Tour, which features seven regular-season tournaments around the country with competition kicking off at Sam Rayburn Reservoir, Jan. 10-13, in Brookeland, Texas, and culminating with the world championship of bass fishing – the FLW Cup at Lake Hamilton, Aug. 9-11, in Hot Springs, Arkansas. Among the 170 professional anglers competing will be local angler Ron Nelson of Berrien Springs. Nelson will be one of 34 rookies on the Tour in 2019, and will look to accumulate the most points of his 33 peers to win the coveted FLW Tour Rookie of the Year (ROY) award. No stranger to success, Nelson has three career wins on the semi-pro Costa FLW Series tournament circuit. The complete FLW Tour roster for 2019 can be found at FLWFishing.com. FLW announced an expanded FLW Live schedule for the 2019 season. The live on-the-water broadcast will air on days three and four of all FLW Tour regular-season events from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. Watch for free any FLW Live broadcast by logging on to FLWFishing.com and clicking on the FLW Live page link.
Where have all the insects gone? They are spending the winter in diapause. All life activities and development stop during this period. When the temperature and, more importantly, the light-to-dark ratios of sunlight are just right they will resume their development. In order to minimize the effects of winter, the insects will first migrate vertically. They will move from higher places to lower, more protected places such as under leaf litter. Many species will then enter a different life stage before starting diapause (i.e. adults lay eggs, larvae form pupae). A keen-eyed observer may spy the hardened egg case of a mantid on a bush or the messy clump of cattail fluff in which the cattail larva is resting. Looking for these signs of life can turn a winter walk into a treasure hunt. On Saturday, December 8 at 1:00 p.m., Sarett is hosting a Greens Workshop. A variety of pre-cut greens will be available to create wreaths, swags, baskets or centerpieces. Bring your own clippers and other supplies. The $15 fee includes greens and instructions. Wreath frames, wire and ribbon are extra. Please call to pre-register. Santa will visit the Nature Center on Sunday, December 9 at 3:00 p.m. Parents are encouraged to bring their cameras. From 2:30 to 4:30, Sarett naturalists will have holiday nature crafts to create. Each craft will cost one to two dollars.