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12-17-2020 Outdoors

Brumation is the reptilian and amphibian form of hibernation. Just outside the nature center doors in our small ponds, many frogs go to the bottom of the pond for brumation through the winter. These ponds are manmade so the substrate is plastic, covered by plant debris without mud.

Frogs that spend most of their warm-season time in the ponds, such as green frogs or bullfrogs, move to the pond bottom. They don’t burrow into mud because it is generally anoxic (lacking oxygen). Ideally, they will hang out by moving water (waterfall or inlet stream) where oxygen is constantly added to the water.

Their metabolism and other physiological processes slow immensely (by as much as 70%) thus reducing, but not eliminating, their need for oxygen. They are not in a true dormant state so their skeletal muscles still need oxygen. Some frogs will swim about under the ice, perhaps looking for a better place for their “rest.”

Brumation does not guarantee survival. If the winter proves especially snowy, the resulting snow cover can block pond plants’ photosynthesis and the release of a key by-product, oxygen. In addition, aquatic frogs, unlike their terrestrial counterparts, do not have the capability to survive if the pond freezes completely.

Support the nature center if you are looking for last minute gifts! You can purchase maple sugar treats, bird feeders, birdseed, birdhouses, and more from our online store though to pick up curbside.


Winter is coming said the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), so anglers should start planning their ice fishing adventures now! Fishing licenses are required; the DNR ice fishing page for safety has how-to videos and places to fish.

Ice fishing has started on the inland lakes in the Upper Peninsula, though extreme caution needs to be used. Some of the inland lakes in the northern section of the Lower Peninsula had skim ice, but no safe ice. Now is the time to get that ice fishing gear ready to go.

Remember, all anglers 17 years of age and older are required to have a fishing license.

Ellinee Bait & Tackle on Paw Paw Lake by Coloma reported there are not many anglers going out. Weather has had some to do with the lack of action, but most are waiting for ice now. Those that do venture out are finding the bite very slow.

Construction related to the dam removal and channel dredging on the Dowagiac River has resumed and may reduce water clarity and impact fishing. Work will continue until December 18 and then stop until early January.

The Kalamazoo River was busy, with a good number of anglers out targeting steelhead. Catch rates were decent. At Grand Haven a couple pier anglers managed to get out and target steelhead. No word on catch rates. On the Grand River near Grand Rapids, the upper grate at the 6th Street fish ladder has been cleared of debris. No fish were observed in the ladder. A few shore anglers continue to target steelhead and walleye, and the occasional boat was fishing the center run.

DNR fishing tip this week is how to target walleye throughout the day. When anglers target walleye through the ice, they often experience different levels of activity as the day progresses. In early morning, around sunrise, the fish will be active, and may want to use larger lures and more aggressive jigging. As time wears on, those fish will scale their intensity back – during that time select smaller lures.

When all activity seems to have dropped off, consider sitting tight and waiting for the fish to come to you. Then, as sunset nears, often their activity level will pick up and it is time to revert to early morning strategies. More tips on fishing for walleye are found on the Walleye Page on the DNR website.


Archery season is open until Jan. 1, 2021, statewide. Extended archery – urban deer management zone of Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties is open through Jan. 31.

Late antlerless firearm season is open until Jan. 1, 2021. The season is open on private lands only and hunters may take only antlerless deer (see exception below) – regardless of the type of license they are using. Valid licenses include: A private land antlerless license valid for the deer management unit (DMU) in which you are hunting; a deer management assistance permit valid for that DMU; a deer license or deer combo license (valid for antlerless deer only during the antlerless-only seasons); a deer kill tag issued under the mentored youth license (valid for antlerless deer only during the antlerless-only seasons).

Question should be directed to the DNR Wildlife Division at or 517-284-9453.

Offering in-depth, expert instruction, gear and hands-on learning for a range of activities, the 2021 Outdoor Skills Academy, (OSA), classes are now available for purchase online.

Ed Show, interpreter at the Carl T. Johnson Hunting and Fishing Center and originator of the OSA program said, “Our classes offer more than just a brief taste of outdoor activities – we spend a full day or more teaching the needed skills to get out and confidently try them.”

Classes in the new year include: Bear Hunting Clinic, Fly Fishing Clinic for Beginners, Hard Water School (ice fishing class) and Advanced Hard Water School. There will also be Clinic’s for Steelhead, Trapping, Walleye, Whitetail Food Plot, Wild Turkey Hunting and a Wild Mushroom Clinic. Cost for most of the classes is $25-40. All will take place at the Carl T. Johnson Center, located inside Mitchell State Park in Cadillac. Classes at other locations around the state may be added to the calendar throughout the year.

For class dates, detailed descriptions and registration information, visit Questions, contact Ed Shaw at 231-779-1321. Participants, along with DNR employees and volunteers, are required to wear face coverings and make every effort to maintain at least 6-feet of separation throughout the class. See class descriptions for more details about COVID-19 safety measures that will be followed.


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