12-29-2016 Outdoors

Fishing

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reported that some anglers have started ice fishing across the state.  However, anglers need to use extreme caution, especially on the inland lakes.  First ice is dangerous ice and snow cover makes it even more dangerous.  The deep snow insulates the ice and prevents it from forming to a uniform thickness that is safe.

To stay safe if you are heading out, do not fish alone, wear a life jacket, and be sure to use a spud to test the ice thickness ahead of you.  Strong winds, rain and warmer temperatures this past weekend hindered the ice condition.

Captain Kenny of Rampage Fishing Charters out of South Haven reports the rain and warmer temperatures have opened up the Black River for fishing again.  Anglers are getting Steelhead.  Ice is still out there, but you have to be very careful as it is not real good or safe after the warm up.  Pine Creek and Portage Lake have been good spots to fish.

Ellinee Bait & Tackle by Paw Paw Lake in Coloma report not many anglers going out because of the iffy ice conditions.  Before the warm up anglers were doing well on the channels in Lake of the Woods and on the channels at Van Auken Lake.

Anglers are getting a few Steelhead in the St. Joseph River and Steelhead anglers did well on the Kalamazoo River when trolling silver and green Hot-n-Tots.

The DNR fishing tip for the week is targeting Northern Pike.  Many anglers will agree the first ice of the winter season often produces some of the best Northern Pike fishing you can find.

There could be a couple of reasons why this is so, perhaps it is because there are plenty of baitfish for them to target thanks to a decrease in weed cover…or perhaps it is because first ice is often clear and allows the sight-feeding fish to target their prey more easily because of the penetration of sunlight.  Regardless, the coming weeks (weather permitting) are a great time to target this species.

You will want to use a tip-up for this type of fishing, with a minnow or small panfish on the end of your line.  Keep in mind you can catch small panfish in the lake you are fishing and legally use them as bait in the same water body.

If you target similar areas that you may have fished for Northern Pike when there was still open water, you might see some success.

The Carl T. Johnson Hunt and Fish Center in Cadillac will offer the DNR Outdoor Skills Academy’s Hard Water School ice-fishing event two times this season; January 28 and February 25.  The class will cover how to set up equipment, how and where to fish, when to be out on the ice, how to fish with electronics and how to stay safe on the ice and follow rules and regulations.

The class will focus on techniques for Walleye, for panfish, and setting polar tip-ups to target monster Northern Pike.  In addition the DNR Outdoor Skills Academy pro-staff will be on hand to teach a variety of tactics on the ice.

The class costs $30 per person and includes lunch.  Participants are responsible for their own dinner costs. Clam Outdoors, Vexilar, HT Enterprises and Salmo USA have generously donated door prizes for the class. For more information or to register, contact Ed Shaw at 231-779-1321.

Hunting

Archery and Late Antlerless Firearm seasons draw to a close on Sunday, January 1, 2017.  With that, it ends the 2016 deer hunting seasons.  There are still some small game seasons open until March, such as rabbit, Snowshoe hare, fox, and squirrel which are all open until March.

With access to more than 100 parks and thousands of miles of trails, the Recreation Passport is the most affordable gym membership available!  Hit the road with your passport, and it is sure to have you feeling fantastic.

Guided hikes will be taking place at Ludington State Park, January 7 at 6 p.m.; Rockport Recreation Area January 7 at noon; Sleeper State Park January 7 at 6 p.m.; Straits State Park on January 7 at 5 p.m.; and Mitchell State Park on January 8 at 1:00 p.m.

Snowmobile Trail #14 in Marquette Township is to be reopened.  In order to maintain land permission, snowmobilers must avoid off-trail riding.  In order to maintain the permission for trail access, it is absolutely critical for all riders to stay on the marked trail.  If off-trail riding occurs in this area, the trail will be closed.  Law enforcement officials will be patrolling the area.  Learn more about snowmobiling trails and other recreational trail opportunities on the DNR website www.michigan.gov/dnrtrails.

Coloma Rod & Gun Club

The Coloma Rod and Gun Club will hold their monthly CCW Class on January 14.  Class registration is held on Sunday January 8 from 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.  The class is taught by a certified NRA and RSO instructor and the cost of the class is $100.  For more information or to be put on the list, call 269-621-3370.

Watervliet Rod & Gun Club

The Watervliet Rod and Gun Club will hold their monthly CCW classes on January 12 and January 14.  Registration is on January 10 between 6:00 and 7:00 p.m.  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.

Today was pedicure day for our screech owls… not one of their favorite days. Anyone who has had toenails cut by someone else can attest to the unpleasant feeling the owls feel.

Owl talons grow constantly, just like toenails. When wild birds grab onto a variety of perches, their talons are worn down and kept at a healthy length. Captive birds have a limited array of perches. Their talons can easily become overgrown and the resulting “bumblefoot” impairs the bird’s perching ability. So, a captive bird’s handler must take over the job of providing the manicure.

Beaks can also grow too long, making it difficult for the bird to tear apart its food. Wild birds prevent this by feaking. They rub their beaks on rough surfaces to clean them after eating. This wears down the sides and sharpens them. Captive owls need their handlers to cope (to trim and reshape) their beaks.

We love our owls but they do not love us!

Homeschooling families are invited to our Wednesday afternoon Nature Explorers from 2:30 to 4:30. The classes cover a wide variety of natural science topics. The spring session begins January 4. For more information, visit the website at www.sarett.com.

Adults can learn how to cross-country ski on January 7 at 2:00 p.m. The fee is $10 for the lesson and $5 for equipment rental. Please call (269) 927-4832 to register.

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