12-12-2019 Outdoors

Fishing The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) fishing report noted that hunting season led to fewer anglers on the water and colder temperatures had smaller lakes beginning to freeze across the state. The ice has not been safe in most locations yet. Anglers reported limited success on the river systems. Ellinee Bait & Tackle located on Paw Paw Lake by Coloma reports few anglers are going out to fish. Most are waiting for the ice to show up for ice fishing. Some skin ice had formed in the last cold weather we had and probably will this week, but nothing that is safe ice. The 2020 Winter Free Fishing Weekend to be held February 15 and 16 will provide a perfect time to get more individuals and families out trying the sport of ice fishing. As part of the free fishing 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. These activities are coordinated by constituent groups, schools, parks (local/state), businesses and others. For anyone wishing to plan an event, the DNR has compiled numerous resources to help groups plan and execute an event in their community. Simply visit Michigan.gov/FreeFishing and look through the Free Fishing Weekend Event Planning e-Toolkit. St. Joseph pier anglers continued to try for steelhead and whitefish with occasional success. In Grand Haven when weather conditions allowed, boat anglers were catching a good number of yellow perch when using spikes and minnows. Pier anglers were catching steelhead on spawn and those jigging for whitefish reported slow catch rates. A team of engineers and scientists from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers is working with the Buffalo Reef Task Force to develop cost estimates and other details for three finalist action plans, (13 were under consideration), aimed at protecting the reef’s important Lake Superior fish habitat. Over the past 100 years, historic copper mine tailings, called stamp sands, were moved by winds and waves south down the shoreline roughly five miles, inundating natural sand beach areas and threatening to cover spawning habitat and recruitment areas important to Lake Superior whitefish and lake trout in and around Buffalo Reef. Meanwhile, the Michigan DNR is funding efforts to pull back a 25-foot-tall cliff adjacent to the shoreline at the original stamp sands pile at the city of Gay. “On average, about 26 feet of material from the cliff erodes into Lake Superior annually, even more at today’s record high lake levels,” said Stephanie Swart, a task force member and Lake Superior coordinator for the Michigan Department of Environment, Great Lakes, and Energy. “Pulling the cliff back and depositing the material farther away from the lake will dramatically reduce new erosion into Lake Superior.” The DNR Outdoor Skills Academy offers expert instruction, gear and hands-on learning for a range of outdoor activities, from hunting and fishing to birdwatching, mushroom picking and more. A hard water school (ice fishing class) will be held January 25-26 and March 7-8. Advanced Hard Water School (ice fishing clinic) will be held February 21-23. A beginners’ Bass fishing clinic will be held on May 17 and a Fly-fishing Clinic on May 23.

Hunting Hunters do not want to miss out on the remaining winter waterfowl hunting opportunities. In the North Zone, dark and light goose hunting is open through December 16. In the Middle Zone, Dark and light goose hunting is open through December 20. Duck, Coot and Merganser hunting is open December 14-15. In the South Zone, dark and light goose hunting is open December 28-29 and January 25-February 10, 2020. Duck, coot and merganser hunting is open December 28-29. Waterfowl hunting dates, bag limits and regulations are available at Michigan.gov/Waterfowl. There is still time to enter the Wetland Wonders Challenge. By visiting just three of the state’s official Wetland Wonders Challenge sites, hunters can put themselves in the running to win a prize package that includes: a $500 gift card for duck hunting gear, a Zink custom duck call, A YETI water bottle, and a “golden ticket” good for one first-choice pick at a managed waterfowl hunt area drawing (non-reserved) for the 2020-2021 waterfowl season. Hunters who visit four or more sites will receive a bonus entry for each additional site visited giving them more chances to win. Wetland Wonder sites can be visited through February 10, 2020. Seven (7) grand-prize winners each will receive the prize package. Get full information about the challenge at Michigan.gov/WetlandWonders. Questions? Contact DNR Wildlife Division at 517-284-9453. Coloma Rod & Gun Club The Coloma Rod & Gun Club will hold their monthly CPL Class on Saturday, December 14. The class is taught by a certified NRA and RSO instructor and the cost of the class is $105. For more information on the CPL class or Hunter Safety Class, email inquiry@colomarodandgunclub.com.

Upton, Quigley legislation to support Great Lakes fisheries passes House Legislation introduced by U.S. Representatives Fred Upton and Mike Quigley of Illinois to support fisheries within the Great Lakes Basin passed the House of Representatives as part of a broader bill aimed at preserving coastal communities and natural habitats. H.R. 729, the Coastal and Great Lakes Communities Enhancement Act, included the text of Quigley and Upton’s bipartisan legislation, the Great Lakes Fishery Research Authorization (GLFRA) Act. The GLFRA Act was introduced to provide the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Great Lakes Science Center with funding to conduct critical monitoring, scientific assessments, and research of fisheries between the United States and Canada that lie within the Great Lakes Basin. “Michigan, the Great Lakes region, and the entire nation rely heavily on Great Lakes fisheries to support the economy and feed our families,” Upton said. “The GLFRA Act will provide the Great Lakes Science Center with the necessary funding and cutting-edge tools they need to help ensure our fisheries remain a strong economic driver for generations to come. I am grateful for the bipartisan efforts that helped make this legislation possible and am proud to see it pass the House.” “Over 35 million people depend on the Great Lakes for everything from drinking water and recreation, to fish and wildlife activities and commercial navigation. The passage of this legislation means that the Great Lakes Science Center will be able to protect this precious resource for those millions for years to come,” Quigley said. “For too long, the Great Lakes Science Center has been forced to rely on unreliable, piecemeal funding to support its mission. I am proud to have championed this legislation to ensure that the fishery industry continues to thrive.” The Great Lakes hold 18 percent of the world’s fresh water supply and cover over 9,000 miles of shoreline. Over 40 million people depend on the Great Lakes for drinking water, recreation, fish and wildlife related activities, industrial water supply and commercial navigation. Within the region, the Great Lakes support well over a million jobs and generate tens of billions of dollars in wages. The language from the GLFRA Act will replace the current Great Lakes Science Center authorization, widely viewed as vague and confusing, and provide a dedicated funding stream to replace their piecemeal funding. These changes will allow the Science Center to more effectively contribute to Great Lake research efforts. As a member of the House Great Lakes Task Force, Upton introduced this legislation in the 115th Congress.

As we head into the winter season, most insect activity comes to a pause. Some insects stay active however, rather than hibernate in the winter. If an insect species wants to better its chances for reproduction, then avoiding insectivorous predators would be a good bet. Stoneflies, winter crane flies and snow scorpionflies wait until winter when bats and birds are gone, to finish their metamorphosis into the adult stage. Their “juvenile” life stages are spent in the water away from those major predators. The insects are tiny. They range from 1/8 to 3/16 inches long. They fly above or walk on the snow looking for mates. Most species do not feed; this life stage is usually quite short. After a successful mating, the males die. The females lay eggs then they also die. Snow fleas (not really fleas, but springtails) are the most common insect on land. The snow covered base of a large tree on a sunny or warm day is the only place you’ll see these pepper-sized insects. Their microscopic food is in the leaf litter under the snow. They “migrate” by hopping across the snow surface. Saturday, Dec. 14 at 2:00 p.m. is a program on the Science of Birdsong by Drs. Sharon Gill and Maarten Vonhof of Western Michigan University. Enjoy learning about the rich soundscape of our feathered friends and expand your acoustic horizons. Cost is $5/person.

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