Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Asian carp-officials lack of response

You would think that anything as important and potentially devastating to the state's econmy, tourism and sport fishing industry as the possibility of Asian Carp infesting the Great Lakes, the Department of Natural Resources and Environment would be more forthcoming and accomodating when it comes to the release and discussion of this issue.
Instead, I am told to call Lansing and talk with an official who would answewr questions in an effort "to be one voice."
What's wrong with officials anwering the phone and explaining what they are doing, along with taking some questions. It's better from the horses mouth, and more accurate.
It's timely as well. Understandably, the DNRE wantrs everyone to be on the same page, but speaking with one voice is sometimes difficult.
It's unfair to the public and those trying to become informed when so many obstacles are put in the way.
Recently, I spoke with the director of the Tennessee fisheries Bill Reeves. Unlike politicians and leaders today that spend more time dodging answers to questions, he was forthright, and stated exactly what he felt should be done.
"You need someone in charge that will make the decision. It's either river barges or contaminate the Great Lakes with Asian carp. There isn't anyone with the guts to make that call," he said.
I'm not saying our DNRE officials lack courage. In the pasdt they have always been accessible and willing to discuss issues without dodging the questions.
Why someone has decided with the Asian carp issue to put a lid on communication is strange to say the least.
As they say, stay tuned.

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Invasive critters

This week's column had to do with invasive species, specifically what we are coming to know as Asian Carp.
There is a little history and some background information to begin hopefully, what will turn out to be a series.
Anytime we find invasives or exotics in our ecosystem it's very serious. A few years ago the plant, purple loosestrife was on the loose. Brought over here from another country, this plant takes over, choking everything else out.
It isn't easy to eradicate either. At the time, the DNR was asking for volunteer help to pull plants up on public lands.
One of the early problems was people thought the purple blooms were colorful and wanted to see them growing everywhere.
What seemed to be a thing of beauty was actually a big nuisance. The message is to guard against exotics in every and all forms.

Monday, February 15, 2010


Invasive anything gets the mind conjuring what these things really look like and maybe later, what impact will they have on the ecosystem.
Years ago; probably the mid 1950's, growing up in Grand Haven then Spring Lake, I used to fish off the south shore pier in Grand Hasven for perch.
One year, the catch was really off. Anglers blamed it on the "alewives." In the spring we used to see thousands of them washed up on the beach of what is now called Grand Haven State Park.
At the time it was felt these creatures were destroying the sport fishing industry. Remember, salmon fishing had yet to make it's hay-day.
If we fast forward we have found that salmon will readily eat alewives. Today, with the alewive population down in Lake Huron, the salmon fishery is down as well.
That's not to say invasives are a good thing. But there are a few good stories that have come from the introuction of invasives.
But fish aren't the only form of invasive trouble. There is also vegetation in many forms that left alone will take over ponds, lakes and rivers in short order.
And what about those pesky zebra mussels and gobie's we all have had to deal with and now make their home in our inland lakes? Is there any good to come from these critters?
These and other questions, especially how we deal with the problem is very complex and will take more than electroshocking or canal closing to control. Stay tuned as they say!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

Today's story, Feb. 11, had to do with fishing Saginaw Bay during the annual Mark Martin Ice Fishing Vacation School.
Yes, there were fish being caught and no, I wasn't one of those doing the catching. It certainly had nothing to do with trying. My arm was both tired and sore from jigging. We were fishing about 7:30a.m. and began packing up around 6:15p.m. That's a long day and an even longer ride on the backend of a snowmobile across rough ice.
The important thing to take away from this trip is that issue of safety. Being on the ice with professionals as well as many local anglers that know the Bay better than their own yard, didn't allow for cutting any corners.
Cutting a corner in fact got one fishermen in trouble. Instead of taking the correct route back-althought it wasn't direct-he decided to cut the corner and make a straight line out of it.
A shortime later his maching went through the ice into open water. Thankfully he didn't go in with it and with help, was able to get his expensive quad out of the icy water.
I can't emphasize enough how unstable the ice can be. Out on the Bay you are sure to run into open water or expanding pressure cracks.
Mark Brumbaugh, pro angler form Ohio and one of Martin's staff, built a rack on the front of his quad to hold an alumninum extension ladder. I saw a couple more machines with ladders attached.
Great idea. Now get a pfd that you can wear over winter clothing, carry some rope and don't forget your picks. Another tool we used was a spud.
When in doubt as to the route we stopped. Someone walked ahead and tested the ice with a spud to be sure there was enough to support us.
Finally, I talked about the new IceArmor clothing; boots, suits, hats, gloves. This stuff is the real deal, and no I don't get any break from the company. What I did get this trip was the ability to stay warm, head all the way to feet.
Check it out at your sporting goods store or IceArmor.Com. Fish safe!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

This week's story has to do with Mark Martin's Ice Fishing Vacation School. If you have not ever gone, give it a try. It's not too far from Oakland County, it looks like the weather will cooperate, and according to everything I have heard, the fish are biting.
There's several good and positive things about attending. First is the emphasis placed on safety. Saginaw Bay is large and finicky. What may be good ice today can be truly hazardous tomorrow. In fact, under certain conditions, it can change hour by hour.
By going with experienced people, you'll be assured of getting out there and back, safely. They won't take chances and will error on the side of being safe.
Another plus is all of the individual attention a class of 25 gets from three professionals. Martin, joined by Mike Gofron and Mark Brumbaugh have been together for a number of years. The three have fished professionally all over the country and have been individual champions.
Their expertise is priceless. You tap into it at the seminar Sunday that is only for participating anglers.
It's here you'll learn how to rig up and get set for the next day's fishing. (I go most years and always learn a lot at these things.)
Then around meal time, more ideas and questions are prompted. Finally, sometime during the evening, anglers are asked to get up and briefly speak about how their day went-fish or not.
If you want to learn to fish a portion of Saginaw Bay and be safe doing it, give this outing a try. While fish aren't promised, you'll have a greater chance under these circumstances. Good Luck!