12-19-2019 Outdoors

Fishing The Department of Natural Resources, (DNR), stated there were few fishing reports this week, as temperature swings have once again hampered fishing conditions. Very few have been out with the extremely cold temperatures. Strong winds have kept pier anglers at bay. While some ice may be forming in the Upper Peninsula, the Lower Peninsula is going to take a bit longer. As of this DNR report, there is really no safe ice in the Southwest Lower Peninsula. Most of the inland lakes had open water and if there is any ice, it is not safe ice. Captain Kenny Bard of Rampage Fishing Charters out of South Haven reported very little action on the big lake. Most have taken their boats out for the winter. Captain Kenny took his boat out around the first of November. Due to wind, waves and cold weather the pier has been mostly unfishable. Local inland lakes have not been busy as anglers wait for the ice or are hunting. Most action has been seen in the rivers as a few steelheads have been taken out of the Kalamazoo River and an occasional steelhead from the Black River. Ellinee Bait & Tackle shop located on Big Paw Paw Lake by Coloma reported there seems to be no anglers on the local lakes. A few anglers have headed out to the river, but no reports locally. On the St. Joseph River walleye anglers are having some success, and the occasional steelhead may be found. The fall steelhead run is nearly done, as very few fish were observed at the fish ladders this past week. The fish ladders will remain open throughout the winter; however, past research has shown that few fish move upstream after the water temperature drops below 40 degrees. The live fish cam at the Berrien Springs fish ladder is suspended for the winter and will be reactivated around the beginning of March when the spring steelhead run begins. The 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 will respond to larger lures and more aggressive jigging. As time wears on, those fish will scale their intensity back – during that time smaller lures should be used. When all activity seems to have dropped off, anglers should consider sitting tight and waiting for the fish to come to them. Then, as sunset nears, often their activity will pick up and that is the time to revert to early morning strategies.

Hunting Hunters looking to squeeze in some hunting before the year is over should visit Michigan.gov/hunting to see which seasons are still open, which licenses are needed, where to hunt, and more. A late antlerless firearm hunt will be held January 2-5 and January 9-12 on private land in southern Alpena County. The DNR is offering this season to provide an opportunity for deer management at a localized scale in northeast Michigan’s bovine tuberculosis area. The hunt will be held on private land south of Highway M-32 in Alpena County. Hunters can take antlerless deer with an unused 2019 deer license, deer combo license or private-land antlerless license for DMR 487. Additional tags can be purchased at any DNR license agent through January 12. Disease control permits issued for 2020 will be valid for use during this season. Hunters that do not own property in the area still can participate. The Hunting Access Program (HAP) provides access to quality private land across the state. View enrolled properties at Michigan.gov/HAP and on Mi-Hunt at Michigan.gov.MiHUNT. Contact DNR Wildlife Health Specialist Emily Sewell with any questions at 231-340-1821. Get as many Pure Michigan Hunt applications for yourself or as holiday presents and stocking stuffers for your favorite hunters. Visit Michigan.gov/PMH for more details. Each $5.00 Pure Michigan Hunt application helps fund Michigan’s wildlife habitat restoration and management.

Birds are well known for their mobbing behavior. Individuals of a prey species will band together to harass, or even attack, a predator that has invaded their territory. Other animals also employ this anti-predation strategy. Mobbing species seem to live in close-knit social groups or tolerate geographically close neighbors. Dolphins and porpoises aggressively chase sharks. Bluegill fish in a spawning colony will not tolerate a snapping turtle in their area. The fish, males and females alike, will swim as a large group behind the turtle until it leaves the area. Some males will give threat displays but none actually attack the turtle. California ground squirrels will try to deter their predators (rattlesnakes and gopher snakes) by boldly approaching the snakes and kicking sand at them. Apparently, this interferes with the snakes’ hunting senses. Male red colobus monkeys will challenge their main predator, the chimpanzee, by forming a monkey-wall in front of their females and juveniles. The monkeys then jump as one unit and bite the chimpanzee until it leaves. The power of the “people” can be remarkably effective! Head out to the nature center for a Winter Break Scavenger Hunt with your family from December 21 – January 5 during regular business hours. Enjoy Sarett’s trails while completing a fun outdoor scavenger hunt looking for and collecting animal tracks! Stop at the front desk for details.

Grant recommendation moves forward for county park expansion

By Annette Christie Following a submitted grant application in March of this year, the Berrien County Board of Commissioners has been waiting to hear if the request would be approved. The Berrien County Parks Commission announced Friday, Dec. 13, 2019 that the Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund (MNRTF) recommended a grant of $80,000 for the acquisition of 63-plus acres along the Paw Paw River adjacent to Paw Paw River County Park located in Watervliet. Dick Schinkel, Chairman of the Berrien County Parks Commission stated, “The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund plays a vital role in supporting natural resources protection, recreation opportunities, tourism and the economy for the people of Michigan and Berrien County. This funding will provide for the acquisition of river front land along the Paw Paw River and the expansion of Paw Paw River County Park.” The Michigan Natural Resources Trust Fund receives its funding from royalties from the lease and sale of State owned mineral rights. No tax dollars are used for the grants that are funded by them. All grants are required to provide 25% of local matching funds. The remaining $30,000 needed for the grant match will likely come from the Parks Endowment Fund or the department’s general fund. “We are very fortunate that the property owner is willing to work with us on the grant process and understands the importance of protecting river front property that is undeveloped for public use and enjoyment,” said Brian Bailey, Director of Berrien County Parks. The MNTRF recommendations now move to the Legislature for funding approval and to Governor Whitmer for her signature. Typically, this part of the process is completed by summer. The property is owned by the Enders family and was formerly Watervliet Paper Mill property. This acquisition, which is a priority in the Berrien County Parks five-year plan, would protect the property from future development, add public access and land along the Paw Paw River Water Trial, and provide additional recreational uses such as hiking trails, biking trails, outdoor photography, and fishing. Paw Paw River County Park opened in October 2018 and quickly became a popular attraction to the northern part of the county. The park located on the east side of M-140 in the City of Watervliet, includes approximately 3.5 acres with one mile of Paw Paw River frontage, and is directly across the river from Hays Park. The development includes improvements to the river frontage, a pedestrian bridge connecting to the island, mature trees, a scenic walking trail on the island and other recreational opportunities. The park connects Watervliet directly to the St. Joseph River and Lake Michigan on the designated Paw Paw River Water Trail. This location is a trailhead and includes an ADA kayak launch, hard surface walkways, a parking area, security lighting, trash and recycles bins and bench seating which enhances recreational opportunities for the region. Two viewing decks are located off of the island trail.

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