Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Stay warm on the ice with Otter fish shacks

Mike Schneider, a pro staffer with Mark Martin's Ice Fishing Vacation Schools is always on the move. Besides driving his snowmobile onto the ice at Lake Cities Lake Missaukee, he's constantly checking his GPS and Navionics lake map to be sure he is on the spot he wants to be.
Once on the spot, he takes no time in setting up his Otter style Cottage fish shack. The Otter line of portable shanties is different from any other I've fished in.
First, they go up easy and quick which means a lot when it's bitter cold and windy. The place you want to be is inside something with walls to block the wind and provide some warmth.
All Otter models provide warmth through a unique blending of seamless stitching and insulation.
If you think a portable shanty can't be insulated you haven't sat in an Otter.
The insulation not only makes it warmer than non-insulated shacks, but the noise of wind blowing and other machines passing by is muffled.
Once holes are cut to fish from or hang electronics, light your propane heater, be sure the door is closed and zipped, then sit down on one of the bucket or bench seats.
In a matter of minutes you'll be looking around for a place to hang your heavy Ice Armor coat because the warm temperature doesn't take long to make the shack comfy.
Because of a unique sewing method, there are no outside seems to leaks or allow wind in. These Otters are tight.
But back to Schneider. Once he has the shack up, holes drilled and cleaned and heater running, he's on to rods, which lure to use and bait selection.
"Keep it just off the bottom," he says, "then jig softly and let it sit for a minute." Constantly observing and offering constructive suggestions, Schneider feels one of his objectives should be putting students on fish.
But sometimes the fish don't cooperate no matter the experience, type of lure or method of presentation. That's another reason it's called fishing.
In my opinion, Mike Schneider is one of the top pro staffers who constantly makes it his business to see  to it that students are comfortable with what they are doing, know why they do it, and correcting any of the mistakes they make.
Martin's net ice fishing school is set for Saginaw Bay, February 7-10. If you go, ask for Schneider to be your guide.  You'll learn a lot and won't be sorry.
Visist www.markmartisicefishingvacation schools.com.

Mike Schneider pointing out one of Otter's new Dome shacks. by Beukema

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Gaylord-home of Elk Viewing and Treetops Gourmet food for Skiers

With thin snow around Michigan, even the snow belts city of Gaylord was finding it strange not to have plenty of the white stuff around. The last few years with heavy snowfalls have made us expect plenty for winter activities.
By late Saturday night and into Sunday, phones were ringing off the hook at local ski resorts. Callers were inuring about snow depths and making reservations for snowmobiling, skiing, snowshoeing and all else having to do with snow sports.
The group I was with wound up show shoeing the Aspen Trail just outside of Gaylord proper. By mid-morning Saturday our group from the Michigan Winter trails had decided against cross country skiing, tubing or downhill skiing.
Many opted for hiking or strapping on the snowshoes in nearly 40-degree temperatures and light rainy.
Following our two-mile trail walk, we stopped to view elk in a 100-acre enclosure near Aspen Trail.
If you've not seen elk you will be amazed at their size, especially the bulls with huge racks.
All of that changed about 7p.m. Saturday night when the predicted snowstorm dumped nearly a foot on area slopes and trails.
our sleigh ride-in this case wagon ride-courtesy of Tree Tops resort, out to Project Nature and our dinner destination was enjoyable during the heavy snowfall.
We were treated to a gourmet 4-course dinner culminating in a snowy ride back to Treetops.
For more information on Treetops Skiable feast or Wilderness Sleigh Ride Gourmet Dinners visit treetops.com or call (877)TREETOPS.
Trail and other resort information can be found at mywintertrails.com.
Photo be Beukema of bull elk

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Twas the Night Before; Can't Be Without Snow

A little snow at Christmas helps set the season. When we lived in southern California, we would get up on Christmas morning, head for church, and be driving in short sleeves, sunny skies and palm trees instead of spruce and maples.
Truth be told, there are times when I wish we were still out there with the warm weather and sunny, vitamin D rich skies.
This weeks column is about a local man, Jay Stielstra. Jay is a sportsman; a bird hunter and fly angler still sling the flies on the long rod.
He's also a fine musician and song writer, having written over 150 songs. He's written poetry and five plays.
His work is all about Michigan and the outdoors. The "Manistee River Waltz" is a song about experiences along the Manistee and the many places fly anglers are familiar with.
One place I have never heard of was the Mecum bar. "Where is that at, Jay," asked him over the phone.
He chuckled then said, "there is no Mecum bar. You won't find it. But there is a Mecum Road along the Manistee River. We used to hide beer under a tree there and would say to others fishing, we'll meet you at the Mecum Bar."
Another song I just learned about is called "The Christmas Tree Ship." It's a song about the wreck of the Rouse Simmons, a 205-ton, three-masted schooner that disappeared on Lake Michigan in November, 1912.
A Wisconsin diver had discovered the grave of one of the most famous "Christmas tree ships" and its skipper, "Captain Santa,"captain Herman E. Schuenemann.
The ship gets it's name from hauling Christmas trees to Chicago and selling them dockside. Because trees were becoming popular and Chicago had a scarcity, several ships hauled trees to that port each year before Christmas.
For more information about Stielstra and his songs visit judithbanker@gmail.com.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

In Between Seasons; Just at Wrong Time of the Year

I used to think the in between times were somewhere just after ice out and the spring fishing seasons began.
But this weather has changed that. Hard water anglers are doing everything they can to have a hand in ice fishing.
There are contests being promoted for tackle and ice shacks, charters advertised for hard water once it gets here, promotions for everything new in the ice fishing world and so forth.
Here we are, just a couple of weeks before Christmas, and we're still looking at 50-plus degree temperatures later next week.
Ski resorts must be tearing their hair out. This is definitely going to be a late start for snow sports and ice fishing.
Longtime ice angler, Don Luenberger from Bay City has his equipment all ready to load up. "I'm waiting on the ice like everyone else," he said. "But I've heard the bay won't have enough ice to fish this year or next."
That's not good news for the small mom and pop retailers that cater to anglers and snowmobilers by renting rooms, selling gas, oil or the many tackle items fishermen need. For some, the winter season is the most productive.
But getting back to the Christmas season, check out my column in this Sunday's Oakland Press. Bob Luellen of Worldwide Marine Underwriters Insurance sent me information about his fishing buddy Randy Gaines.
Although the event took place earlier in December, it seems as though Gaines may have made a family near Salem, Ohio happy by helping to put food on their table.
Without telling too much of the story here, Gaines made friends with two young children as he was tying up his boat. Following a little conversation, Gaines knew what the right thing would be to do.
Along with this column, Luellen mentioned that the National Professional Anglers Association (NPAA) has a program that allows them to provide rod and reel combos, T-shirts and other goodies to the first 100 kids that show up for one of their tournaments.
Last year, NPAA held 118 tournaments. That's a lot of rod combos! To finance the program, NPAA hosts an auction with all proceeds going to the Future Anglers Foundation. The auction takes place January 9, 2016. For more information visit www.npaa.net.
Bob Luellen and a young angler holding fresh caught walleyes. Photo contributed

Saturday, December 5, 2015

Grab your Boards, Treetops Has Snow

"We've got snow," Treetops Resort general manager Barry Owens said. We were open for skiing a lot earlier last year but of course the weather was a lot different.
Owens was referring to the colder temperatures and all the snow we received last year in November. For you downhill ski enthusiasts, this news is good. Another bit of news,next week-Dec., 11-12-13, is the weekend for huge discounts on motel rooms that come with all-day lift tickets. These "Ski Free" packages include free learn to ski clinics.
Kids getting a ski lesson at Treetops
How can Treetops be making snow when we are all experiencing nearly spring-like weather?
"It's Gaylord," Gaylord Area Tourism Director Paul Beachnau joked. "Seriously, it's been cold here."
Next weekend is a great time for beginners or those that just want to try skiing out to get a lesson and hit the slopes.
While many of us are waiting for ice fishing to begin and some are in the woods for muzzleloading season, those that like your fun skiing can get the season started sooner rather than later.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

Oddities in Nature

Davisburg resident Cliff Butler has seen his share of unusual critters. This last Sunday I wrote about the amazing buck Butler took.
Butler called it a "10-point with a little extra." Great description. The buck weighed 180 pounds, field dressed.
But it had one additional point. Not part of the rack, though. This antler was growing out of the front of the bucks head.
Besides this one, Butler said he saw another buck with antlers that were individually twisted. That isn't the end though," he said.
"This spring I shot a turkey with two beards." Bucks with odd antlers and a double-neared turkey are indeed something we don't see on every hunt.
These deer remind me of the buck that was recently shot that was actually a doe! Go figure. The hunter swore he shot a buck, but when it got down to field dressing, "it didn't have buck parts but lady parts," he said in an interview.
I think the DNR would probably say these were abnormalities in nature that occur from to time. That's fine so long as these things seem to happen ever so often. While I think of it, we may have bucks running around without antlers! Why not?
Separate antler shown coming out of skull above left eye. Photo contributed by Cliff Butler.

Friday, November 6, 2015

Still not to to late to get zerod in of the woods.

Time if fast approaching for the November 15 statewide deer opener. Lots of time to make lists, pack and get to the firing range.
Lists are the only way I have of being sure I have everything along for the trip. If it's not on the list chances are it's not going along.
Some last minute things you may not have thought of. Get details maps of the area up intend to hunt. And be sure to let someone back home where you will be along with some phone numbers.
Besides being sure your hunting with a safe gun, check out your tree stand for safety issues that are problematic to it.
One area we all neglect is our vehicles. Lets get the oil changed, tires checked, you know the regular going over so we don't break down to and from the hunting camp.
Be sure and feet your deer into a deer check station and have them looked over to help DNR folks monitor the size of the heard and keep an eye on the disease. Be safe and happy hunting.