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Weekly fishing report


From the Michigan DNR

Some of the river systems are experiencing high water levels after all the rain and wet snow this week. Skim ice is starting to appear on some of the inland lakes, especially in the northern sections of the state. It’s that time of year to start getting ready for ice fishing season.

Southwest Lower Peninsula Fishing Report (as of December 2):
St. Joseph River: Water levels are up so anglers could see more fish moving in. Try small spoons in orange and silver or blue and silver, rapalas, small spinners, or floating spawn and wax worms under a bobber.
Grand River at Grand Rapids: Has very good steelhead fishing. Those fishing off the wall are floating a wax worm under a bobber. Those fishing on the ladder side are floating spawn just off the bottom.
Grand River at Lansing: No word on steelhead in the Lansing area however fish are still being caught all the way up to the Webber Dam when floating spawn or wax worms.
Muskegon River: Is producing good numbers of steelhead below Croton Dam. Try casting small spoons, spinners, and rapalas or floating spawn and flies.

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Weekly Fishing Tip


From the Michigan DNR

Check out the DNR’s weekly fishing tip, obtained from various angling resources throughout the country.
December 1, 2011: Have You Fished for a Muskellunge Yet?
As we’ve been sharing in many tips this fall, the autumn season is a great time to fish for specific fishes – including muskellunge.
Many lakes you might visit to pursue muskies are fairly empty – leaving you plenty of opportunities to fish for this unique species. It’s recommended that you use large crankbaits – larger than eight inches – and large jerkbaits – larger than 10 inches.
You can fish for muskellunge in most waters right now, but keep in mind the season on the most popular spots of Lake St. Clair, the St. Clair River and the Detroit River will close on Thursday, December 15.
For more information on muskellunge, visit http://www.michigan.gov/dnr/0,1607,7-153-10364_53405-214034–,00.html.

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DNR urges hunter to use Mi-HUNT


The Department of Natural Resources reminds hunters that Mi-HUNT is a cutting-edge, web-based application that can optimize a hunter’s experience. No matter where you are in Michigan, you can find public hunting land. The interactive mapping application can be found at www.michigan.gov/mihunt.
Mi-HUNT provides the platform for users to view and navigate through public and private lands open to public hunting and trapping in Michigan. The interactive layers of Mi-HUNT allow the user to view all state game and wildlife areas; vegetation cover types on DNR lands; the topography of huntable lands;
1.    recreational facilities such as forest campgrounds, trails, wildlife areas and boat launches; and street maps and directions to huntable areas.
This year, the DNR received a grant from the National Shooting Sports Foundation (NSSF) to improve Mi-HUNT for the user. It is being updated to provide more services to the user while improving the ease-of-use.
“We are listening to our customers and making these modifications to improve their hunting experience,” said Russ Mason, chief of the DNR Wildlife Division. “Mi-HUNT is an incredible and very useful web-based application and ties in perfectly to DNR Director Rodney Stokes’ recruitment and retention priority. We appreciate the grant funding from NSSF.”
The DNR also wants to remind hunters they have an additional opportunity to receive turkey, bear, elk, deer, and reserved waterfowl licenses by applying for the 2012 Pure Michigan Hunt drawing. Each application is $4 and you may apply as many times as you like. Three lucky winners will receive a hunt package that also includes a rifle and crossbow.. For more information, go to www.michigan.gov/puremichiganhunt.

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Weekly fishing report


From the Michigan DNR

This is the time of year when fishing reports are harder to come by as most anglers turn their attention to deer hunting. Those heading out for the firearm season are reminded that late fall and early winter offer prime fishing on inland lakes for hungry walleye, pike and bass. It is also a good time to catch big perch, bluegill and crappie.
Southwest Lower Peninsula (as of November 10):
St. Joseph: Pier anglers are catching whitefish on a small hook with a single egg. Steelhead were caught in the harbor in the early morning or late afternoon.
St. Joseph River: Has prime steelhead fishing right now even though angler numbers were down.
Kalamazoo River: Had good numbers of steelhead all the way up to the Allegan Dam. Those fishing below the dam caught walleye.
Grand River at Grand Rapids: Salmon fishing is pretty much done but the steelhead action continues to grow with some large fish caught between Fulton Street and the dam. Try spawn under a bobber, small spoons or flies.
Grand River at Lansing: Steelhead were reported in Prairie Creek near Ionia and below the dam at Lyons. No reports for Lansing.
Muskegon River: Has lots of steelhead downstream from Newaygo. Some are fly fishing while others are floating fresh spawn. Walleye and pike were caught near Hardy Dam and smallmouth bass were caught upstream of the dam.
For other areas in Michigan, or to get it in your email, go to www.michigan.gov/dnr and click on fishing, then weekly fishing report.

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Michigan state parks capture national award


Lake Michigan’s Grand Haven State Park on Lake Michigan.

The Department of Natural Resources announced Wednesday that Michigan state parks and recreation areas have won the 2011 National Recreation and Park Association (NRPA) Gold Medal for the top state park system in the nation. The DNR was notified today by the American Academy for Park and Recreation Administration and NRPA.
Michigan was named one of four finalists in May, and beat North Carolina, Florida and Missouri for the top honor.
“This award is a credit to the people of Michigan,” said Michigan Governor Rick Snyder, who recently appointed a blue-ribbon panel to guide the parks system into the future. “For more than 90 years, Michiganders have realized that these unique areas are an integral part of the cultural enhancement, economic enrichment and overall quality of life that we value. Our parks are what we make of them and the people of this state clearly prize these treasures. I commend the DNR for its outstanding stewardship of these resources and look forward to working with all stakeholders so that we have a parks system that serves our state and its visitors for generations to come.”
The Gold Medal Award honors communities throughout the United States that demonstrate excellence in long-range planning, resource management, and agency recognition. Each agency is judged on its ability to address the needs of those it serves through the collective energies of citizens, staff, and elected officials.
“We are very proud to receive this award, and I want to recognize the employees of the Parks and Recreation Division who have worked hard to make sure our 99 state parks and recreation areas remain excellent places for our citizens and visitors to experience Michigan’s abundant and amazing natural resources,” said DNR Director Rodney Stokes. “This is the result of teamwork, talent and vision that is aimed at protecting our special places, and also making sure that visitors have an enjoyable, high quality experience.”
In its winning application, the DNR focused on innovation, such as the Recreation Passport, which is the new funding model for state parks and outdoor recreation in Michigan. The $10 optional fee that Michigan residents can pay when renewing their vehicle registration at the Secretary of State gives them annual access to all Michigan state parks and boating access sites and also supports state forest recreation programs. A portion of the funding also supports a grant program for local parks.
“This achievement is indicative of the tremendous staff who works in the Parks and Recreation Division, who strive for excellent customer service every day to provide a positive experience for our customers,” said DNR Parks and Recreation Chief Ron Olson.
Michigan is home to 99 state parks and recreation areas, offering visitors more than 13,000 campsites, trails, access to inland lakes, rivers and the Great Lakes.
For more information on state parks in Michigan, go to www.michigan.gov/stateparks.

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Volunteer program kicks off in state parks


The Department of Natural Resources announced the schedule of volunteer stewardship events as a part of the new Volunteer Steward program in southwestern Michigan state parks and recreation areas. Volunteering for these workdays is a great way to get outdoors in Michigan’s state parks, breathe some fresh air, get a bit of exercise and enjoy fall foliage and beautiful landscapes.
The Volunteer Steward program kicked off in October with native seed collection for prairie restorations. Volunteers are now needed in November and December to help remove invasive, non-native shrubs in natural areas within state parks and recreation areas. These activities will help protect and restore the unique habitats by improving conditions for native species and restoring ecosystem function. In doing so, volunteers will be benefiting many species, some of which are threatened or endangered, while also learning about invasive species and hands-on management. Volunteers in need of service credit, such as Conservation Stewards, Master Gardeners, scouts, service clubs, school groups and others are welcome to attend.
Dates, times, and locations of the workdays are as follows:
Saturday, Nov. 5: P.J. Hoffmaster State Park (Muskegon County), 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 6: Fort Custer Recreation Area (Kalamazoo County), 1-4 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 12: Saugatuck Dunes State Park (Allegan County), 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 13: Yankee Springs Recreation Area (Barry County), 1-4 p.m.
Saturday, Nov. 19: Muskegon State Park (Muskegon County), 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Sunday, Nov. 20: P.J. Hoffmaster State Park (Muskegon County), 1-4 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 3: Fort Custer Recreation Area (Kalamazoo County), 1-4 p.m.
Sunday, Dec. 4: Grand Mere State Park (Berrien County), 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Saturday, Dec. 10: Yankee Springs Recreation Area (Barry County), 10 a.m.-1 p.m.
Sunday, Dec.11: Fort Custer Recreation Area (Kalamazoo County), 1 to 4 p.m.
Volunteers should wear appropriate clothing for outdoor work, including long pants, boots, gloves, and bring drinking water. Don’t forget to bring your hiking boots to enjoy the many trails that traverse through forests, dunes, prairies, fen, and the other unique natural areas protected by our state park system.
The Volunteer Steward program is part of the Parks and Recreation Division, Stewardship Unit’s mission to “preserve, protect and restore the natural and cultural resources present within Michigan State Parks for this and future generations.” For information about the specific tasks at each workday and to obtain directions, visit the DNR website at www.michigan.gov/dnrvolunteers and link to the “Calendar of Volunteer Stewardship Workdays.” All volunteers are asked to register using the forms available on the website. Please contact Heidi Frei at 269-685-6851 ext. 147 or freih@michigan.gov for registration or questions about the Volunteer Steward program in southwest Michigan.

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DNR approves online snowmobile course for youth


An online snowmobile safety course aimed at youth operators has received the endorsement of the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. It is the first online course for snowmobile safety endorsed by the DNR.
Successful completion of the online course would satisfy Michigan’s snowmobile safety education requirement for youth operators. Under Michigan law, snowmobile operators at least 12 years of age, but less than 17, are required to successfully complete an approved safety training program. Youth operators are also required to carry the safety training certificate with them whenever they are operating a snowmobile in Michigan.
The online course, offered by Fresh Air Educators Inc., provides another option for those interested in taking an approved safety course. Traditional in-person classroom courses are still offered throughout Michigan. There is a $29.95 fee to take the online course. More information on the online course can be found at www.snowmobilecourse.com/usa/michigan/. There is also a quick link on the DNR website under Education and Outreach when searching for available Recreational Safety classes in your area.

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Sporting swine classified as invasive species


A Department of Natural Resources director’s order listing sporting swine as an invasive species took effect over the weekend on Oct. 8, making it illegal to possess the animals in Michigan.
“Absent a regulatory program in Michigan law for sporting swine facilities, the invasive species order is being put into effect,” said DNR Director Rodney Stokes.
Stokes said active enforcement of the invasive species order will not start prior to April 1, 2012, with compliance visits to swine shooting and breeding facilities planned after that date.
Sporting swine facilities can use the next six months to schedule hunts to reduce the population of sporting swine on their properties. Facilities still in possession of sporting swine on April 1, 2012, may face violations and fines.
The DNR acted to list sporting swine as an invasive species to help stop the spread of invasive swine across the State to eliminate the disease risk they pose to humans, domestic pigs and wildlife, and to prevent damage to agricultural and other lands. The state is working with the U.S. Department of Agriculture to eradicate feral swine. Legislation was also passed last year allowing people with any valid hunting license to shoot feral swine on public land and on private land with the permission of the landowner.
For more information on feral swine in Michigan, or to report all feral swine sightings, kills and damage, go to www.michigan.gov/feralswine.

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Deer check stations


The Department of Natural Resources wildlife officials remind hunters that the DNR would like to check as many deer as possible during all the deer seasons to continue gathering critical data of Michigan’s deer herd. The data is important for monitoring the herd’s health and determining population size.
During all deer seasons, deer can be checked at DNR Operation Service Centers from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., Monday through Friday (except state holidays). Other check stations are only open on specific days. For more details, see the list of deer check stations for 2011 on the DNR website at Michigan.gov/dnr. Click on “hunting and trapping” and then “deer check stations.”
The last day to check your deer will be Jan. 6, 2012. The DNR will test any deer that is identified as “suspect” for chronic wasting disease (CWD) and bovine tuberculosis (TB). The DNR will also collect samples of deer from areas where disease concerns have been identified, which include the five counties in the Northeastern Lower Peninsula within the TB area, as well as Iosco, Shiawassee, Cheboygan, and Emmet counties.

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New regulations for fur harvesters


The Department of Natural Resources reminds fur harvesters that new regulations are in effect for all species that require registration this season.
Trapping season begins Oct. 15 with the opening of fox and coyote season statewide and raccoon and badger seasons in northern Michigan (Zones 1 and 2).  Seasons for species with mandatory registration kick off with otter season in the Upper Peninsula beginning Oct. 25.
Fur harvesters are required to submit entire skulls from marten, fisher, bobcat and otter when presenting pelts to the DNR for registration and sealing.
Skulls will be used for aging to help the DNR with population modeling and management policies. Skulls will not be returned to fur harvesters. The required submission of skulls standardizes data collection among all furbearer species that require registration.
In previous years, the DNR only collected the skull from fisher and a tooth from marten and bobcats when they were registered. Submission of otter skulls or teeth was not required.
Pelts that have been registered and sealed will be released to fur takers immediately.
“The data we collect will help us better understand population dynamics of these species and will enable us to make appropriate harvest regulations,” said DNR furbearer specialist Adam Bump. “We appreciate the hunters’ and trappers’ cooperation with this effort.”
For more information on furbearer registration and harvest seasons for these species, please see check the 2011-2012 Hunting and Trapping Digest or visit www.michigan.gov/hunting.

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