12-10-2020 Outdoors

We have a new holiday tradition at my house. My husband and I wanted to set up a tree to celebrate this year, but we have indoor cats and they do not allow any plants to stay intact or upright. Our solution – set up the tree on our back porch! Not only does this allow for our enjoyment, but we decorated the tree with edible ornaments for wildlife to use. We scoured the yard and woods for décor and found recycled childhood paper garland to string as well.

We cut a few thin wild grapevines to hang collected pinecones and cranberries hollowed with a cherry pitter. We trimmed fluffy beige goldenrod plants and placed them into the branches along with broken pieces of paper birch bark. We even used big open beech nuts as birdseed holders.

Many bird species have already visited the tree and I even watched a tufted titmouse hop from branch to branch to eventually find the perfect spot to cache a sunflower seed.

Remember not to use thin string or floss to hang outdoor ornaments as wildlife can get stuck easily. Try a thin vine or natural rope as alternatives. When you are done with your tree, remember you can recycle it outside into a brush pile for wildlife to use.

Try this at your house to see what wildlife you attract!

Participate in Sarett’s annual Christmas Bird Count on Thursday, Dec. 31 at 8 a.m. Sign up by calling (269) 927-4832 or email Mike at mikem@sarett.org.

Fishing

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reports that the windy conditions continue to hamper pier fishing across the state. A few more anglers were out on the inland lakes catching a few fish. The lower water levels in the rivers have made trout fishing a challenge.

In the southwest Lower Peninsula steelhead continue to trickle into the St. Joseph, Kalamazoo, Grand and Muskegon rivers. Try running plugs behind a boat or simply drifting spawn along the bottom through the deep runs and riffles.

In the St. Joseph River, those fishing near the Berrien Springs dam continue to catch the occasional steelhead. Fish movement through the ladder slowed with the colder temperatures last week. Water levels continue to be very low and clear. A couple walleye were caught by shore anglers.

At Grand Haven, when the weather allows, both pier and shore anglers are catching steelhead on spawn. The whitefish action has slowed in the channel, with only a few taken by those jigging small spoons that glow.

The Grand River near Grand Rapids continues to see a light number of steelhead moving into the area. Shore anglers are using spawn up near the dam. Walleye anglers are fishing off the wall. Most places in the state are seeing cold temperatures, but fishing for northern pike will continue to pick up. Pike are extremely popular during the ice fishing season but are readily available throughout much of the year.

There are many notable northern pike fisheries located throughout Michigan, including on Muskegon, Portage and Manistee lakes and Michigamme and Houghton lakes. But this species can be found in many other lakes and virtually all large rivers in the state.

Please note there are many regulations for northern pike regarding minimum size and possession limit. Be sure to read up on this species in the current Michigan Fishing Guide and on the Northern Pike Page on the DNR website.

The DNR reminds boaters and anglers to “Clean, Drain and Dry” boats, trailers and all equipment and gear after each use on any lake, river or stream to prevent spreading invasive plants and organisms from one body of water to another.

State law requires: Making sure watercraft and trailers are free of all aquatic organisms and plants before transporting or launching; removing drain plugs and draining all water from bilges, ballast tanks and live wells before moving watercraft.

Following these simple steps can limit the spread of invasive plants and animals like phragmites, European frog-bit and zebra mussels that can cause significant harm to wildlife habitat, reduce waterfowl hunting opportunities, and damage equipment.

It was announced Dec. 8 that emergency construction work has started this week at the remaining portion of the Edenville Dam and along the Tobacco River in Gladwin and Midland counties to protect residents, infrastructure and natural resources from future flooding events downstream of the failed dam.

The Edenville Dam is still classified as a high hazard dam, which means that another collapse could result in severe downstream flooding impacts and even a loss of life. Fisher Contracting Company expects to have a crew of approximately 15 working six days a week for the next 2-1/2 months to complete the project.

The $2.3 million contract for the time-sensitive work was approved by EGLE and MDOT after Boyce Hydro Power LLC, the dam’s owner, refused in September to undertake the critically needed safety measures. Some project work that is not time-sensitive will be performed in the spring and summer of 2021 and further work may need to be performed at a later date.

Hunting

Hunters have a small window of opportunity for deer this year. Archery opened back up and runs through Jan. 1, 2021. Extended archery – urban deer management zone of Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties is open through Jan. 31, 2021.

Muzzleloading in Zones 1, 2 and 3 is open to Dec. 13, 2021. The late antlerless firearm season runs Dec. 14, 2020 – Jan. 1, 2021.

Duck hunting continues in the Middle Zone through Dec. 13 and in the South Zone, Dec. 26-27. See the table on page 7 in the 2020 Michigan Waterfowl Hunting Digest for more details. Goose hunting in the North and Middle Zones ends Dec. 16; in the South Zone runs Dec. 26-27 and Jan. 23 – Feb. 8, 2021; Allegan County Goose Management Unit runs Dec. 19 – Feb. 8, 2021; Muskegon County Goose Management Unit runs through Dec. 22. Look at the 2020 Digest for more details.

Enjoy small game hunting with just a base license. Small game species currently open to hunting: Cottontail rabbit and snowshoe hare through March 31; Ruffed Grouse through January 1; Squirrel hunting (both fox and gray) through March 31; Pheasant, in portions of Zone 3, through January 1. Visit Michigan.gov/Hunting for small game hunting information and the 2020 Hunting Digest for regulations and bag limits.

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