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Weekly fishing tip


From the Michigan DNR

OUT-fishing-tip-walleye-april2-2015webEarly autumn walleye – what you need to know

Targeting walleye in the fall can offer some of the best fishing of the season. Here are a few things to keep in mind if you target this sport fish in the coming weeks.

  1. In early fall walleye can be found in a variety of locations within the water body, including deep, shallow or anywhere in between. Keep that in mind and don’t stick to one depth range.
  2. If you’re out in the morning, check the areas where deep water meets the shallow spots.
  3. As the day goes by, start heading deeper, as walleye can be photosensitive.
  4. Don’t forget to try your luck during the nighttime hours. This can be a very productive time during the fall, especially along rock points and flat areas.

 This tip was adapted from Michigan Outdoor News. 

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River fishing challenges

By Ranger Steve Mueller

By Ranger Steve Mueller

Fishing inland lakes in summer and ice fishing in winter is wonderful outdoor exposure. It’s a joy to look through the ice hole and observe swimming fish. Ice shanties create a dark room and sun filtered through the ice lights the water. The hole resembles a TV viewing screen. I find joy watching fish and catching them.

Now is a time when anglers crowd the rivers to catch fish swimming upstream. I am an infrequent angler and had little experience river fishing until I was teenager. At age 15, my older brother took me fishing to Fletcher County Park, near Alpena, and it became an annual Memorial Day weekend event.

At that park, I learned an important fishing lesson. Many Northern Pike were just under the size limit and needed to be released. It was fun for me to reel in a fighter big or small. I am sure that is not what the fish considered a good time. I prefer continuously casting my lure instead of sitting with a static line waiting for fish to bite. I am too antsy. Watching a bobber is not the best time for me.

Thunder Bay River flowed into and out from Sunken Lake. We floated the rowboat downstream to where we thought “the big one” would be lying in wait for its next meal. It was a great place to perfect casting skills. Too long a cast would land on a log; too short would not reach hidden hollows where fish were waiting; and too far to the left or right was not suitable for fish to hunt their prey. My older brother, Mike, was excellent at casting. Whatever he did was always better than I could do. I think that is true of older brothers in general (true or not).

As we floated down the lazy river, we would cast to where we thought fish were waiting. I hooked one and the fish decided it was not going to be landed. One must not to exert too much instant pressure on the line or it might snap. I kept constant pressure on the line and reeled the fish closer as it fought for freedom with powerful “fish moves.” Gradually the fish exhausted and was drawn close to the boat.

When it was close, I released some line and the fish took its chance to escape. Mike, with shock, said, “What are you doing?!” I said I wanted to play the fish longer. He said, “You cannot do that.” Instantly I learned why. The fish immediately swam to an underwater log and swam around the log. The log now caught me on one end of the line and the fish on the other. Mike rowed to the log that was submerged near the water surface. We could see the fish on a short line unable to get away.

It was near the water surface and Mike was able to net it. We landed the fish and prepared it for dinner. Mike explained more do’s and don’ts for fishing while we enjoyed a Northern Pike dinner. We enjoyed bass, sucker, and pan fish dinners on our fishing weekends. We smelt fished the Great Lakes. Each fish species has unique habitat requirements for temperature, depth, vegetation, currents, and prey.

The fish we catch taste better than those caught by other people. When one spends time exploring fish nature niches to learn behavior, selected habitats, and experiences time in beautiful wild places fishing, it adds flavor to the meal. This makes the fish we catch the best tasting. It is a psychological benefit that transposes to our taste buds.

I learned to never allow slack in the line because the fish will seize the escape opportunity. We were lucky to eat the fish that taught me a lesson. It is good for people to learn where fish come from. Too many people think they come from grocery stores or fish markets instead of rivers, lakes, and oceans. We cannot protect habitats if we do not know them from personal intimate outdoor experience. Go outdoors.

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

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Weekly fishing tip 


OUT-ChannelCatfishFishing for channel cats in the summertime 

From the DNR

These warm months can be the perfect time to target channel catfish throughout Michigan. Found nearly statewide, channel cats inhabit both lakes and streams.This species is typically pursued by anglers using live, dead or cut bait, though anglers have long used all manner of bait—cheese, shrimp, liver, spawn—or commercially prepared blood or scent baits. Though occasionally taken on artificial lures by anglers pursuing other species, channel cats are traditionally fished with bait presented on the bottom.
A good tip to remember is channel catfish will fight once they’re hooked. Consider using at least 12-pound test to ensure your line is tough enough to handle their strength.
This tip was adapted from Michigan Outdoor News. 

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Weekly Fishing Tip: 


Northern pike season open – now get out there and fish!

Seasons for northern pike are finally open across the state. Will you soon be getting out to try your hand at northern pike fishing?
Northern pike like to spend their time in the weedy shallows of both the Great Lakes and inland waters. In rivers, they can be found around log jams or fallen timber. They are often taken with live bait (such as large minnows) or different kinds of artificial lures. When fishing for northern pike, many anglers like to use a six to eight-inch wire or steel leader directly in front of hook or lure. Pike have large, deep mouths with extremely sharp teeth. They are known to engulf the entire bait or lure and sever the fishing line with their teeth when it is attached directly to the hook or lure. This leaves the angler watching as the fish swims away with their offering. Want to learn even more about northern pike in Michigan? Go to www.michigan.gov/dnr and type northern pike in the search box.

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C-obit-Clouse-fcMr. James Bernard Clouse of Cedar Springs, Michigan, age 65, passed away into the arms of his Lord and Savior on Thursday, January 29, 2015. He was born to Robert and Betty Jane (Chulski) Clouse on Sunday, June 12, 1949 in Grand Rapids, and had been a life long resident of the area. Jim received his Bachelor’s degree in Business Administration from Central Michigan University and later worked as a quality control engineer, a profession which he was exceptional at. He was also a veteran who proudly and courageously served his flag and country in the United States Marine Corps in London, England during the Vietnam Conflict. Jim loved many things in life. He was a great outdoorsman. He enjoyed fishing at the Pere Marquette River or deer hunting in the Upper Peninsula along the Paint River. He loved spending time with his family, being around his children, grandchildren, and his nieces and nephews. He also loved to tinker, always keeping a spotless garage. He was a selfless and altruistic man, putting others before himself, especially his family. His love for them was immeasurable. He was a loving father, proud grandfather, wonderful brother and uncle, and dear friend. His big-heartedness, kindness, and generosity will be deeply missed but fondly remembered by all those who knew and loved him. Jim is survived by his loving children Scott (Rachael) Clouse, Andrew (Karla) Clouse, Peter Clouse, Josh Clouse, and Kelly Clouse; adored grandchildren Lincoln, Paige, and Amber Clouse; siblings Dr. Robert (Carol) Clouse, Mary (David) Malecki, Michael (Cindy) Clouse, Gayle Barkey, Linda (Wesley) Ruwersma, Cindy (Neil) Kimball, and Diane (Ray) Weaver; and many, many nieces and nephews. Jim was preceded in death by his parents; and nephew Gregory Clouse. A  time of visitation was held on Monday, February 2, 2015, at Pederson Funeral Home, 127 N. Monroe Street NE, Rockford, MI 49341. The funeral service for Jim was celebrated at 11:00 a.m. on Tuesday, February 3, 2015, at Pederson Funeral Home. There will also be a one hour visitation prior to the service.

Arrangements by Pederson Funeral Home, Rockford, www.pedersonfuneralhome.com

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Muskegon River walleye egg collection to occur this spring


The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds Muskegon River anglers that Fisheries Division personnel will be taking walleye eggs below Croton Dam this spring.

The DNR plans to collect approximately 62 million walleye eggs from the Muskegon River in 2014 that will result in 13.4 million fry for transfer to rearing ponds throughout the Lower Peninsula. These walleye will be raised to fingerling size and stocked in late spring or early summer in lakes and rivers throughout the state.

Lake Michigan walleye populations in the Lower Peninsula depend on the fingerlings produced from Muskegon River eggs, as well as many inland lakes in the Lower Peninsula. The size of the walleye spawning run in the Muskegon River is presently about 40,000 to 50,000 each year. DNR crews will strip milt and eggs from approximately 700 adult fish, which will be returned to the river, except for 60 that will be sent to Michigan State University for fish health testing.

“This adult population consists of mostly stocked fish,” said Rich O’Neal, fisheries biologist for the Central Lake Michigan Management Unit. “The Muskegon River has the largest run of walleye in the Lake Michigan watershed south of Green Bay.”

The DNR plans to collect walleyes with an electro-fishing boat beginning as early as the week of March 24 and concluding by April 15. Eight days of fish collections are planned during this period. The actual date when collections will begin depends on water temperatures and the presence of ripe fish. This schedule can change on a daily basis for many reasons, but it is anticipated most work will be completed during the last week of March through the second week of April.

Sampling using electro-fishing usually begins each day at Croton Dam at about 8:30 a.m. and proceeds downstream to the Pine Street access site. If more eggs are needed, additional collections may occur downstream to the Thornapple Street access site.

Egg collection and fertilizing is conducted at the Pine Street access site, about 2 miles downstream of Croton Dam. This process generally begins between 10:30 and 11:30 a.m. The public is welcome to observe how the eggs are removed from the fish and fertilized before they are packed and shipped to Wolf Lake and Platte River state fish hatcheries.

Anglers who wish to avoid the walleye collection activities should fish downstream of the areas of the river previously noted. The DNR asks anglers to exhibit caution when fishing near the electro-fishing boats. Wading anglers will be asked to exit the water when the boat approaches to ensure anglers’ safety during the electro-fishing work. The DNR appreciates angler cooperation during this critical egg take operation.
Learn more about fisheries management and fishing opportunities at the DNR website www.michigan.gov/fishing.


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Weekly Fishing Tip:

*OUT-Weekly Fishing tip youth-ice-fishing-2014_originalFinding panfish through the ice


Have you been attempting to target panfish during your ice fishing trips this winter, but aren’t having much luck? Consider the following things:

Are the panfish sticking to shallow or deep depths?

Are they hanging out in the weeds or on the rocks?

Are they suspended or are they hugging the bottom?

Due to the weather much of the state has experienced recently, panfish are likely to be in deeper water to find more oxygen. Keep that in mind when you look for them!

Also keep your presentation efforts in mind. A popular effort includes putting a jig on the bottom and using a twitch-pause-twitch routine with it.

For more information on winter fishing in Michigan, visit www.michigan.gov/fishing.

This tip was adapted from Michigan Outdoor News.

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Fishing out of the dark house

Keith Stanton and a monster fish

Keith Stanton and a monster fish

by Jack Payne


Spearing is a long time tradition in the northern states and a great way to pass a cold winter day. As in any ice fishing sport, safety is always an issue. Be sure the ice is thick enough to support you and the gear you’ll need.

Spear fishermen usually use a saw to cut a hole in the ice about 3-feet by 3-feet. An icehouse or shanty is placed over the hole. It is important to keep the interior of the shanty as dark as possible. The light through the surrounding ice will illuminate the water under the shanty and make the target fish visible. Most spearing is done near a break or on the shallow flat in 4-8 feet of water. Pick an area close to a marsh or a large flat where small perch and gills will roam.

Weighted spears are used to harvest the fish. These spears generally have six to twelve tines, and are five to six feet in length. A small diameter rope is attached to the spear for retrieval.

Keith Stanton might easily be called a dark house fanatic. He loves spearing and fishing out of any type of dark house. Keith created his own web site just to share the joy of this type of fishing with everyone. His site is called www.pikespearing.com. In addition he produces videos of spearing and fishing from a dark house.

“First and foremost, it’s a blast,” remarked Stanton on his thoughts of spearing. “The closest thing I can compare it to is bow hunting for whitetail deer.”

In his opinion, spearing fish through the ice offers much more of a challenge than tip up or hook and line fishing for this reason. And just like with bow hunting whitetail deer, when you see the fish swimming through the spearing hole you get the same adrenaline rush as you do when you are staring down a whitetail buck.

But pike spearing really offers so much more than just spearing the fish, especially if you have friends or family in the shanty with you. As you sit and wait for the fish to come in, it is a great time to catch up with old friends or just hear about what is new with your kids.  And of course just watching the aquatic life under the ice is also very cool. You usually see bass, pan fish, muskrats, carp, crayfish and other underwater water dwellers darting in and out of the spearing hole.

Pike spearing is a relatively inexpensive sport to get into, as all you need is just a shack or a portable shanty, a spear and a decoy. With the advances over the years in the portable fishing shanties, it is easier than ever to come up with a “dark house.”

When spearing for pike through the ice patience is the key. Some days you can sit all day without seeing a single fish. Other days it seems as though you can’t keep them out of the hole. Don’t get discouraged or give up until you have landed or speared at least one fish. And after you have experienced that excitement, you will be hooked!

Spearing provides solitude, quietness and a time to share a sport with a friend. The shanty provides a dark background and keeps the wind and snow off of you. I enjoyed sitting there and watching the perch and gills swim through nearly as much as the pike sliding in for a kill.


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Weekly Fishing Tip


From the Michigan DNR 


*OUT-Weekly fishing tipAre you ready (and prepared) to go ice fishing?


Several parts of Michigan should hopefully have ice in the coming weeks, thus providing anglers with an opportunity to go fishing. Will you be joining them? Then it’s time to get prepared to head out safely on the ice!


You’ll need some special equipment if you head out ice fishing. Take stock of your spud/auger, skimmer, shelter and apparel to have an enjoyable experience out on the water.


Pick your preferred ice fishing technique and the species you wish to target and brush up on your skills. Whether that is hook-and-line fishing for bluegill, sunfish, perch or crappie; using tip-ups for northern pike, walleye or trout; or spearing for northern pike, muskellunge or sturgeon.


You should always stay safe when heading on the ice. These five tips can help: 1) Never fish alone; 2) Tell someone where you are going and when you expect to return; 3) Always test the ice with a spud; 4) Take the appropriate emergency items, such as a lifejacket and ice picks; and 5) Take a cell phone with you in case you need to call for help. Keep it in a plastic, sealable bag to make sure it doesn’t get wet.

Want more information on ice fishing? Visit www.michigan.gov/fishing.

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Late fall whitefish

Tom DeMaat holding two whitefish.

Tom DeMaat holding two whitefish.

by Jack Payne

Late November and into December is an excellent time for whitefish and Menominee on the piers of Lake Michigan. Muskegon, Grand Haven, Port Sheldon, Holland, Saugatuck and South Haven are top piers starting in November and lasting through the winter. Fishing in the dark is best but cloudy days with a chop will produce fish.

In addition to these connecting waters, we have some dandy inland lakes. Most are up near Benzie County such as Crystal Lake but don’t forget Higgins Lake just north of Houghton Lake.

“Fishing conditions can be tough but the action rewarding,” said John Barr, a regular on the after dark whitefish crew. On top of the weather conditions these fish bite soft. Normally the best action takes place on the inside or channel side of the piers.

The first wave of whitefish feed heavily on the eggs from the king salmon. As the water cools and the steelhead move in some anglers switch to skein in hopes of catching both. Most whitefish anglers use a single egg when chasing this delightful and wary fish. Single eggs from a female steelhead are the best.

An egg sinker with a small orange or red bead just above a barrel swivel is the basic technique during daylight hours. A number 8, 10 or 12 egg hook tied to a leader completes the rig.

The ideal day has a chop similar to the perfect walleye day. The length of the leader is based on the size of the waves. Flat seas require a 6 to 8 foot leader. Two-foot waves work best with a 3-4 foot leader. Anything over 4 foot swells and a 6-inch leader works best.

Anglers need to hold their rods or keep a very close eye on the tip. One tap is about all that you will get before your bait becomes dinner. Savvy pier anglers often paint their rod tips with glow in the dark paint or some bright color for easier visibility. A seven to eight foot rod with a fast tip and a decent backbone works great regardless of the technique.

The Muskegon pier generally sees action before the other piers in West Michigan.  The action starts north and continues south with the cold water. Safety reasons dictate not to fish when the waves are crashing over or if they become icy.

Hopkins spoons are a favorite at night with the anglers. A long rod is used and most of the action is taken while vertically jigging. The smallest spoons that you can find work the best. Other good choices would include Kastmasters, Rapala and if you can find them the Zip Spoon from Blitzer Creek. We make our own using the Do It Molds and add glow in the dark tape with a red eye!

The key is to tick the bottom and lift up 6-12-inches. Drop down and repeat while paying very close attention for a hit. Snagging fish can be a problem with spoons and all snagged fish must be released. There is no size limit on whitefish or their cousin the Menominee.

The diehard anglers pull a shopping cart onto the pier. Most anglers mount PVC rod holders and carry a five-gallon pail. Inside the pail anglers carry tools and small plastic tackle boxes with all of required gear.

Parking is provided near the piers at all of the ports except Saugatuck. Saugatuck requires a mile walk from the Oval Beach in Douglas. Muskegon pier is the longest with a lot of riprap rock along the pier. South Haven pier borders the downtown district with plenty of parking and good lighting.

There are few fish that can match the quality of eating on a grill or in the broiler better than a whitefish. Some of the piers have a cable that you can lean over and not worry about falling in, and on others you need to pay close attention.

Remember to bring along a long-handled net or you will be lying on your belly sucking in Lake Michigan water while trying to net a fish. Been there and it was not fun. Give whitefish a try before the ice fishing season starts.

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