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Archive | Outdoors

Casting spinner rigs for walleye and bass

John Huyser with a small mouth bass caught on a crawler and a spinner.

John Huyser with a small mouth bass caught on a crawler and a spinner.

by Jack Payne

Recently we were taking advantage of the quick change in water temperatures on Lake Michigan. Whenever the lake flips over, the walleye move into the connecting waters. For most anglers this means trolling many rods and the use of planner boards.

We found the fish stacked just behind the pier heads and with a good breeze, casting was far more productive. That got me to thinking, which can be dangerous, and I remember many such days where we casted crawler harness rigs for both walleye and bass.

First with the walleye. When the walleye are suspended at a set depth and stacked into tight locations, casting keeps your bait in their face. Second, when trolling you are into the fish quickly and then out of them as fast. A slow drift or using the trolling motor will keep you over the pod of fish.

Jack Baar with a spinner walleye.

Jack Baar with a spinner walleye.

When casting for bass or walleye matching the sinker weight and style of sinker is very important. We use egg sinkers most of the time and we place them onto our main line above a barrel swivel or snap swivel. Then we attach our Ultra Violet Colorado crawler rigs from Stopper Lures. Add on a fat crawler and you are set to go.

Cast out and count down to the depth that the fish appear on your graph. Then a nice steady retrieve keeping the harness rig in the strike zone. You might need to play with your sinker weights. Some days an eighth ounce works best, other days it might take a half ounce weight.

Besides suspended fish coming in from the great lakes, this system will work over rock piles, reefs or even deep holes is your favorite river. An over looked location is any type of wood. Docks, standing timber and fallen trees are great casting locations.

On all of the connecting lakes to Lake Michigan, anglers will find many points to fish. You can spend an entire day just running the points and working each one for a few minutes. Throw in docks that run tight to the drop-off and you will stay busy all day.

Bass anglers should look for the same locations plus a healthy weed bed. Nothing beats a cabbage weed patch that borders a deep point. Work the spinner over the tops of the weeds and alongside of the weeds.

When working the deep side of the weeds or a deep point, cast out and let it sink to the bottom. Then start a nice retrieve that keeps the blade spinning. I know that a lot of bass anglers turn their nose up at the mere thought of live bait, but a crawler harness rig is the fastest way to a limit of bass. With the two hook rigs most of your bass will hit the last hook and be hooked in the jaw. This greatly reduces the chance of a gut hooked fish.

Right now I like the deepest structure when chasing bass. A deep point or a weed bed that drops off into a very deep hole are favorites. Fishing deep or over the tops of the weeds reduces the number of hits from small panfish. You still will get picked at but many times if you increase your retrieval speed the panfish will leave you alone.

The Ultra Violet Rigs from Stopper Lures are more visible than a standard rig in deep water or when faced with dingy water. That being said, it is also much easier to catch a walleye in dark water or dingy water during the day than when fishing clear water. The same applies to bass fishing.

On your favorite bass lakes fish the deep points, the deep weed beds or timber. Walleye anglers concentrate on suspended fish or deep points and any type of concrete or rock ruble. Carry along 2-3 dozen fat crawlers and a handful of Ultra Violet Spinner Rigs and be ready to do battle.

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Rare Bear

 

By Ranger Steve Mueller

 

A black bear was reported to have crossed Northland Drive near 15 Mile Road a few years ago. I wondered if it had followed the Rogue River to Cedar Creek, made its way to Little Cedar Creek, and possibly wandered through Ody Brook before getting to 15 Mile Road. A visitor told me he saw a bear track here a few years ago but I personally never saw evidence of the bear. The track was seen about the time bear crossed Northland. Many people may also recall the sow bear that wintered near Ada and emerged from her winter sleep with young.

Michigan’s regeneration of forest and wild land vegetation has made it possible for bears to re-inhabit areas where they lived prior to forest clearing and large human population settlement. Living near bears may present some problems. Generally, we can co-exist, but not always.

One September I was camping at Yellowstone National Park, at the edge of the campground. A ranger drove through the campground with a loudspeaker warning people to put coolers away and to clean camp well after eating because a bear was coming into the campground for easy food. The park service set a live trap to capture the bear for relocation but had not been successful yet.

My tent was set up with one side over me but I folded one side open so I could view the forest. At about 11 p.m. I was lying in the sleeping bag and saw the bear walking directly towards me. I was deciding if I should get out of the bag and into my vehicle but it was too late. The bear walked past my tent ignoring me. I heard it beat a food cooler on the picnic table that the campers next to me had not properly stored. After breaking it, the bear proceeded to bear proof garbage cans where it pounded them and walked on.

I went to sleep until 3 a.m., when I woke to the noise and breath of a bear. It had walked around my tent and was peering in at me. Our noses were inches apart. In the moonlight, I could see its silhouette. I experienced some fear. Bears are powerful and can be unpredictable. If the bear was getting used to people it might be more likely to injure me in some way.

I have encountered bears in the Upper Peninsula and other locations. In each instance the bear has immediately turned and ran in fear. Their escapes were noisy as they ran through brush, making stems push apart and slap back together.

This bear was inches from my head and a startle might cause it strike out with a powerful paw, break my neck or otherwise injure me. Maybe it would take a quick defensive bite before leaving. Fortunately, I did not have any food in my tent.

For a brief moment the bear and I looked each other in the eye. Almost instinctively I quietly said under my breath “hello.” The bear realized it was where it did not want to be. It turned and started trotting into the forest. I said “hello, hello, hello” a little louder with each word as it left. It picked up speed with each hello. My purpose at that point was to make noise that would keep the bear moving away.

The bear was not interested in me and probably feared me. It was looking for easy food. The neighbor campers were endangering the bear by leaving a cooler accessible. If the bear was captured, moved to a new location and later returned to the campground, it would probably be killed. People can learn to live with bears in nature niches but we need to act intelligently in their presence.

If I shouted at the bear when I first saw it nose to nose, it might have been more defensively aggressive and swipe me with a paw or bite me. Instead, a quiet hello alerted it and it departed quickly. It remains a pleasant memorable experience for me instead of tragic for either of us.

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at the odybrook@chartermi.net Ody Brook, 13010 Northland Dr, Cedar Springs, MI 49319-8433. 616-696-1753.

 

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Deer seasons in Michigan

 

 

It’s that time of year again, when hunters take to the woods for deer hunting season. For the most up to date changes and requirements for deer and other game licenses, see the Michigan DNR’s Hunting and Trapping Digest. It can be downloaded for free at www.michigan.gov/dnr.

Deer seasons:

Early Antlerless Firearm: Sept. 20-21

Liberty Hunt: Sept. 20-21

Independence Hunt: Oct. 16-19

Archery: Oct. 1 – Nov. 14 and Dec. 1 – Jan. 1

Regular Firearm: Nov. 15-30

Muzzleloading:

Zone 1: Dec. 5-14

Zone 2: Dec. 5-14

Zone 3: Dec. 5-21

Late Antlerless Firearm: Dec. 22 – Jan. 1

 

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Is your tree stand safe?

 

 

Hunting from a tree stand is a popular way for hunters to enjoy their season, but nearly every year a Michigan hunter is seriously injured or killed falling out of a tree stand. Conservation officers at the Department of Natural Resources remind hunters of the top safety tips when it comes to tree stands.

Before a hunt, know your equipment:

• Read and understand the manufacturer’s instructions and warnings before using a tree stand and harness.

• Check the stand, straps and chains before you go out for signs of wear and tear or missing parts.

• Practice at ground level with your tree stand and harness with a friend or family member.

• Learn how to properly use your harness. The DNR recommends a full-body harness.

• Waist belts or upper body-only harnesses can cause serious injuries or death in a fall.

• When scouting for a tree:

• Choose a healthy, straight tree that is the right size to hold you and your stand.

• Check the tree beforehand for insect nests or animal dens.

• Avoid using climbing stands on smooth-barked trees, especially during icy or wet weather.

• Clear debris from the base of the tree to minimize injury from a fall and to ensure a sturdy base if using a ladder stand.

During your hunt:

• Tell a reliable person where you are hunting and when you can be expected to return.

• Wear a full-body harness and make sure it is connected to the tree at all times. If using a ladder stand or climbing sticks, attach the harness before securing the platform to the tree or stepping onto it.

• Climb higher than your stand and always step down onto your platform.

• Wear boots with non-slip soles.

• Never carry equipment when climbing – use a haul line to raise and lower equipment, unloaded firearm or bow. Do not attach the line near the trigger or trigger guard of your firearm.

• Have emergency equipment – a knife, cellphone, flashlight and/or whistle.

“DNR conservation officers responding to tree-stand falls see the same mistakes over and over – not using a harness or a haul line,” said Sgt. Tom Wanless, supervisor of the DNR hunter education program. “Nationally, 82 percent of hunters who fall from a tree stand are wearing a harness, but it’s not connected. And 86 percent of tree-stand falls take place during the climb up or down. Harnesses and haul lines save lives.”

For more information about tree stand safety, go to the Treestand Manufacturers Association website at www.tmastands.com.

For more information about hunting in Michigan, visit the DNR website at www.michigan.gov/hunting.

 

 

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Catch of the Week

OUT-Catch-WitteKaleb Witte, 9, of Kent City, caught two red salmon with great-grandpa Leon and a friend, in the St. Mary’s River, in Detour, Michigan, in the Upper Peninsula. They measured about 20-inches long. Kaleb is the son of Bobbi Jo and Rood Vaughan.

Congratulations, Kaleb, you made the Post Catch of the Week!

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Ody Brook Nature Sanctuary expansion

 

By Ranger Steve Mueller

 

 

Walk Ody Brook Nature Sanctuary with the Michigan Botanical Club on September 13 at 2 p.m. or with the River City Wild Ones on Sept 20 at 1:30. The local conservation clubs will explore the sanctuary in search for plants, animals, and their ecological requirements while enjoying the company of nature enthusiasts.

This will be a great introduction to a couple different nature clubs and great people where many will share their knowledge and excitement for things natural and wild.

Ody Brook is managed to enhance nature’s biodiversity to support a healthy and sustainable human community. The sanctuary is located in the headwaters for Little Cedar Creek south of Cedar Springs on Northland Drive across the road from V&V Nursery. Come explore nature and meet nature enthusiasts from local conservation groups.

Meet and park at V&V Nursery. Spend some time at the nursery considering fall selection specials on plants prior to winter dormancy. V&V Nursery helps area residents beautify yards and lives. We will start the field trips from the nursery parking area. We appreciate V&V’s willingness to allow parking. Parking space is not available at Ody Brook Nature Sanctuary.

Over 116 bird species, 24 mammals, 11 herps and 52 butterfly species have been documented along with 250 species of plants. Dragonflies dart with beauty as they feed on aerial insects. They lay eggs in Little Cedar Creek where naiads spend months to years growing to the adult stage. Trout feed and utilize the headwaters in spring.

We will encounter other beautiful insects that are active in the fall. Snowy Tree Crickets, katydids, beetles, colorful flies, and various true bugs are expected. This is an opportunity to view a variety of life and to receive help with identification.

Fall flowers provide nutrition for wildlife while plants focus on seed production for their own species survival. Come learn to recognize plant families and species common to our neighborhoods. Both field trips will be fun enriching afternoons for families. Come for a short stay or for an hour and a half.

Trails lead around a pond, through the floodplain, over bridges crossing the creek and through upland field and forest. Wear long sleeved shirts and pants to protect legs. Good footwear is recommended. If it rains prior to field trip days, the floodplain may be wet and somewhat muddy.

The sanctuary recently expanded to 54 acres and protects the creek headwaters leading to Cedar Creek, Rogue River, Grand River, and Lake Michigan. This is a great open house opportunity to explore Ody Brook Nature Sanctuary’s expansion. The privately owned and managed sanctuary accepts donation support and welcomes scheduled visits.

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at the odybrook@chartermi.net Ody Brook, 13010 Northland Dr, Cedar Springs, MI 49319-8433. 616-696-1753.

 

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Weekly Fishing Tip

 

Avoid these mistakes to experience great fishing

 

OUT-Fishing-Tip
Did you know simple mistakes can make-or-break your fishing adventures? Check out these basic things to avoid if you want to have better success on the water:
• Make sure your reel is filled to capacity with line – don’t wait until it gets to half-empty and risk losing a great catch due to inadequate line.

• Check your knots – monitor their strength and durability after each fish you catch. If the strength gets compromised, cut the line down a few feet and start again.

• Set the hook – don’t forget to do this each time you even think you’ve got a bite. Why waste a great catch just because you forgot to set the hook?
Want even more tips for fishing in Michigan? Visit www.michigan.gov/fishing.

 

 

 

 

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Special everyday sightings

By Ranger Steve Mueller

 

 

Celebrate special opportunities. Today I was sitting on the back porch, when I would rather walk trails and explore Ody Brook Nature Sanctuary nature niches.

It was a comfortable 77 F. The sunshine felt too hot. A flycatcher landed on a dead tree branch and it was difficult to identify the species. I thought it was in the Empidonax flycatcher group that has several look-a-like species. To separate species vocal calls or songs are required.

I narrowed the choices to Alder Flycatcher or Least Flycatcher but finally decided I was still wrong. It was most likely not an Empidonax species but an Eastern Wood-Peewee. It did not have an obvious white eye-ring. Wing bars were faint. Its behavior of perching, flitting out to prey on insects, and then return to the perch is typical for peewees. I usually expect the peewees to be in the dense forest but this one found the forest opening good for hunting.

While contemplating the flycatcher identification, a Cooper’s Hawk flew through the backyard about six feet above ground. It was in view for only a few seconds. Its size was too big for the look-a-like Sharp-shinned Hawk and it had a rounded tail instead of being squared off. I enjoy a visit to the yard by the bird eating hawks. They are seldom successful in capturing a meal.

I rejoice with them when they succeed in filling their stomach or get food to feed their young. They are a natural and healthy component in nature niches. Predators prevent other species from over abundance whether they are insect predators, bird predators, or mammal predators. I take sorrow in the death of birds, butterflies, or creatures I work to support with food, water, and shelter. Life is not easy for any creature but each has it place. Predators are welcome.

Despite my sorrow in one creature’s death, I celebrate the continued life of another. Unfortunately, several species native to other parts of the world have established in our area and are disrupting ecosystems, causing the death of species, and causing millions of dollars in damage to crops, landscapes, and species we cherish.

A Pileated Woodpecker flew over, brightened my day and was quickly followed by another that called as it passed. It was my birthday and I pretended it was wishing me a fine day. I am pleased my efforts over 35 years have created conditions for life. I reap benefits and joys of nature in the yard daily.

Closer to the ground level Giant Swallowtail, Red-spotted Purple butterfly, Cabbage White, and Clouded Sulphur butterflies traversed yard openings. A Pearl Crescent landed on the dog. I spend the most time watching birds and butterflies, but in late summer, dragonflies like meadowhawks are abundant. Grasshopper populations are peaking and provide energy for birds getting ready to migrate.

Many people do not approve of Cooper’s Hawks filling their stomach with birds, but the same people have no objection to insect eating birds killing and eating their prey. If managed ideally, our yards will provide healthy conditions for a balanced biodiversity that supports life forms including all predators.

Sit, observe and celebrate occurrences of minute to large wildlife in your neighborhood.

Natural history questions or topic suggestions can be directed to Ranger Steve (Mueller) at the odybrook@chartermi.net Ody Brook, 13010 Northland Dr, Cedar Springs, MI 49319-8433. 616-696-1753.

 

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Catch of the Week

OUT-Catch-of-week-Zeppi-JobseThis 16-inch large mouth bass was caught by Zeppi Jobse, 12, while fishing on Lincoln Lake, in their boat, with grandpa Bill Jobse, of White Creek Lumber, on Friday, August 22.

“The Bass gave him quite a battle, fighting through the lily pads, but Zeppi hung on for the catch,” remarked Bill. “He was so proud. This is the first big bass keeper of his season.”

He added that they are enjoying fishing together, after restoring their 14ft. Lund fishing boat.

Congratulations, Zeppi, you made the Post Catch of the Week!

 

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Fall flutter for giant panfish 

OUT-Giant-panfish-Jack-Payne

by Jack Payne

I hear fish stories many times about a lake that is killer on giant panfish. Rarely does this pan out for me. However we did find a little gem in Mason County. Round Lake is nearly 600 acres and sits between Fountain and Walhalla.

The very first bluegill that I caught went an even 10 inches. Over the better part of three days we only caught four gills under seven inches and the majority went 8 inches or better. Our crappies were all over 10 inches with the average nearing the 12-inch mark.

Bass were a bonus fish and all went 15-20 inches and were caught while chasing the slab crappies. Now before you hook up your boat and head there, understand that we never caught our limit of fish. We caught big fish and our best 3-hour outing produced 21 fish. We averaged 16 fish each time out.

The most productive locations have cabbage weeds and the best depth was between 6-8 feet on Round Lake. Other lakes that we like include Crooked, Pine, Gun or Miner Lake and the depth might reach 10 feet. Using your graph or your eyes you will easily be able to locate the few spots that have both cabbage weeds and the depth.

When fishing the cabbage weeds in late summer or early fall, only a few lures are needed. We rigged our rods up with an action spin snell, a 2.5 inch rival worm and the Whip R Shad or Whip R Snap jigs, all from Stopper Lures.

The mini spinner has one small hook and #0 blade. The best-colored blades were chartreuse or gold. Some of the better blades will have chartreuse on one side and gold or brass on the other. Tip this rig with a small red worm.

On the calm days, we found that when we dragged near the bottom the action was best. On the windy days, casting it and working it over and through the cabbage weeds worked well. If possible, go weightless. If a sinker is needed, one number seven split shot is best.

Action tails are hands down my favorite. Due to the shallow water and the numerous cabbage weeds there is a right way to rig and fish them and the wrong way. Trust me on this—I landed 13 fish before my partner landed one.

Go light, very light. I used two one sixty four ounce jig heads. I use the jig heads that come with the Whip R Snap tails. Tie one jig on about 18 inches up from the end of your line. Tie a loop so that your jig has the greatest movement. Tie the second jig on the end of your line.

Now comes the fun part. Place a Whip R Snap on one jig and a Whip R Shad on the other jig. These ultra-light jigs will flutter up and down and can be worked through the cabbage weeds.

A painstakingly slow retrieve is needed. Lift the jigs up and over a cabbage weed and then let it flutter to the bottom. Continue working the retrieve over and over. The majority of your fish will suck in your small jig when worked in this manner. Casting and reeling over the tops of the weeds only works when the fish are extremely aggressive. Dropping the lures into their face and teasing the fish results in many more fish.

The majority of your strikes will come on the fall. About the time that your jig disappears from view is when a hungry slab reaches up from the bottom and sucks it in.

The small rival worm is the junior bait to the original Bass Stopper Worm. This little worm with its mini front spinner lands big gills and specks. Fish it in the same manner as a jig. Work it over the tops of the weeds, drop it down in a helicopter fashion and slide it briefly over the bottom.

These three lures will land plenty of panfish from Labor Day until Halloween.  Fish the tallest cabbage weeds in your lake and fish ever so slow. Watch your line and your rod tip and go as light as possible. Enjoy the fall fishing season.

For more information check out www.jackpaynejr.com or facebook outdoorsinmichigan.

 

 

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