Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Stranger at the feeder

   "I saw a strange bird at the feeder today," my wife said. She described it as quite large, with black, white and red coloring.
   My guess was some variety of woodpecker. However, this stranger hung on the sunflower feeders eating seeds and didn't seem to be interested in any pecking on the suet feeder the way woodpeckers do.
   A check of the bird book identified this new arrival as a male,Rose-breasted grosbeak. He is black and white with a rose colored triangle on his breast.
   These birds will come to sunflower feeders. They like to forage in trees for insects, seeds and fruits. They prefer small trees and shrubs along parks and gardens to set up home.
   At inches tall and a wingspan of 12 and a half inches they are a fairly sizable bird. Females are dark brown with white underparts, streaked similar to a sparrow.
   If you are feeding birds, keep a sharp eye out. You never know what new bird might show up.

Monday, June 27, 2011

   "Fishing should be a sporting activity and not a contest to see who can catch the most fish in the allotted time with larger penalties for dead fish. The law states "so many #of fish in your possession", not how many in your live well or stringer. Soon some species will go the way of the Buffalo. "
   That was a comment received relating to Friday's Blog about the possibility of re-stocking Grayling in a lake.
   Grayling, at one time were abundant. So much so that apparently anglers took them in a "wholesale manner." That is to say they caught them, then threw many up on the river bank where they eventually died.
   Yes, fish could go the way of the buffalo if anglers are left to police themselves. I think the majority of us are responsible, conscientious sports people.
   But like anything else, it's the few in the crowd that spoil it for the rest. You have to ask yourself, who in the world can use a freezer full of fish fillets?
   The same is true with several deer all cut up and processed. When is enough, enough? We complain about rules and regulations; laws that are put in place.
   Some feel laws are enacted just to take away our fun especially in the pursuit of outdoor activities. But without some sort of controls, we would be remembering fish from photos and stories told to us by others that were fortunate to experience fishing when there was something to catch.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Grayling returning-stay tuned

   A couple of recent reports about stocking the extinct Grayling, once found in abundance around the northern city named for this fish have recently been received.
   Present information seems to indicate a lone individual is introducing the Grayling into a lake. We'll follow up and see what the story is about.
   It's too bad that this once abundant gamefish has gone the way of other species. In this case it apparently was fished out.
   Reports of river boats overloaded with hundreds of fish are told. There have also been reports of large catches being summarily thrown away. Such a waste.
   We have nearly experienced that in more modern times with various species of trout, walleye, bass and other fish species.
   For some reason, man, by his very nature is a greedy soul, never really happy with what he has. One or two of anything is never enough.
   Deer are one example. One in the freezer isn't enough. Some need to stack several deer carcass' in there like cord wood.
   Walleye is another example. The legal limit is five in possession. For some reason anglers and even charter boat operators find it acceptable to take a limit into the shore, leave it, then return for another limit.
   If everyone that fishes walleye did that how long would the species last? We may find restrictions coming down the way along the lines of bass and trout.
  Fishing with artificial bait only, catch and release-well you get the picture. Stay tuned for the Grayling story.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

MonsterQuest to benefit Robert. D. Matchan Nutrition Center feeding 30,000-year

   MonsterQuest IV Bass tournament is back and more Monstrous than ever!!!
This is a team event, $150.00 entry fee includes Big Bass Pot. Sign-up starts at 5am at the ramp. You may pre-register at KD Outdoors and get early boat position.
   Our generous sponsors have donated a lot of great prizes for this event, and we will also be raising money for the Robert D. Matchan Nutrition Center in Oakland County, a St. Vincent DePaul organization.
   This Center feeds over 30,000 people a year in our local area. Bring 2 cans of non-perishable food items and receive a Raffle Ticket for a Prize Package valued at over $500.00 Launch at Harley-Ensign on Lake St. Clair.
   As usual, we will have coffee and doughnuts in the morning, and a gourmet Monster Buffet at weigh-in.
   Contact Ken at KD Outdoors, 248-666-7799 or Terry Melvin from LunchMoney Lures at 248-240-5245 for more info.

Monday, June 20, 2011

MUCC Charity shoot for kids a smooth event

   Last Friday I was invited to attend the 19th annual Lt. Governor's charity shoot to benefit kids programs on behalf of Michigan United Conservation Clubs, "Get Kid's in the Outdoors," held at Grand Blanc Huntsman's Club.
   Shooters tried their skills at shooting clay targets along the walking course that covered 10 sstations. From the arrival and registration, ammunition selection , lunch catered by Country Smokehouse in Imlay City, then on to the safety meeting and then the actual shooting, this event ran smooth.
   Shooters comprised one of three groups going off at different times. Each group listened to rules of the course, safety instructions and a short presentation from MUCC officials before heading off.
   I was with old friend and sometime hunting pal Tom Huggler. Also with us was Bill Parker and Tom Watts. We all know each other but rarely get out to enjoy an experience like this together.
   Huggler, who has affectionately been called "the General" by hunting companions for his days of hard hunting, led our group in points.
   "That's the best I've shot in a long time," he said. He carded 44 out of 50. Using a borrowed shotgun and not expecting much, I managed a respectable 34 out of 50. I'll take it and run any day. My shooting has never been very good and since I haven't mounted a long gun in sometime, I was surprised at how well I was able to do.
   Sporting clays is another great sport we can enjoy in the outdoors and not hurt a hair or feather on any animal if that is your goal.
   Check it out at a range or ask for advice at a good gun shop. Like they say, "It's like golf with a shotgun."

Friday, June 17, 2011

Hunters happy with past deer season according to survey

   Although 6 percent fewer whitetails were taken in 2010 than in 2009, according to the DNR's annual mail survey, hunters said they found the season more enjoyable than the previous year.  
   An estimated 656,500 hunters spent 9.6 million days afield, taking nearly 418,000 deer. Overall, 44 percent of hunters harvested at least one deer.
   The survey was sent to more than 50,000 deer-license buyers and showed a 4 percent decrease from 2009 in the number of individuals buying deer licenses in 2010 and a 4 percent decrease in the number of licenses sold.
   Hunters killed 1 percent fewer antlered bucks and 10 percent fewer antlerless deer than in 2009. However, hunters reported increased satisfaction with the season in terms of number of deer seen, deer harvested and overall hunting experience.
   Granted, this is a sampling of licensed hunters but it speaks more positively about Michigan's deer herd and the opportunities hunters have enjoyed.
   But deer seasons are subject to many factors. And one hunters idea of a great season may not compare with another who didn't see any horns or even a doe.
   Still, it's nice to get some positive information once in awhile about our natural resources.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Warm weather makes you want to be outdoors

   There's so much to do in the outdoors this time of year that it's really difficult to pick and choose. Unlike the winter where activities are somewhat limited due to weather conditions, this time of the year, the plate is quite full.
   Lessons are one way to improve your abilities while at the same time being outdoors. Swimming, canoeing, kayaking, golf, and a host of others await you and the choice you make.
   Fishing is a sport this time of the year that can be done about anyplace that has accessible water. A boat isn't required.
   Take a comfortable lawn chair, find a spot on the bank of a pond, lake or river and give it a try. In some cases you are better off fishing from shore because feeding fish are headed to shallow water to feed.
   Take a hike. There are plenty of hiking and biking trails close by. This time of year lends itself for those activities.
   Whatever you choose, learning a new skill or getting out to put into practice one you already know, the important thing is to spend some time outdoors.

Monday, June 13, 2011

Saginaw Bay Walleyes a slow bite

   The weather experts predicted Monday on Saginaw Bay waves would be running from 1-2 feet, winds NNE, 10-15, and air temperatures starting out around 60 degrees then later in the afternoon, 74.
   Next time you hear a weather forecast, figure on the exact opposite so you won't be in for any surprises. Fishing with Duncan Wooster, a Walleye-101 staffer and all around nice guy, my son-in-law Jeff and I were ready to see what the "bay" had in store for us.
   Good thing we packed accordingly; long sleeved shirts, heavy hoodies, and lightweight winter jackets along with rain gear.
   All but the rain gear came in for use. Most of the day we were bundled up with hoodies and jackets. By Early afternoon we were able to shed some of the outer layers when the sun finally warmed things up.
   Those 1-2 footers turned into steady 3, 4, and even 5 footers. We took the weather straight on the nose after launching at Quanicassee. Later, the bay calmed down to those 1-2 footers.
   Despite the rough seas, Jeff was able to boat two respectable walleyes, and one good-size catfish. "I wish we could have caught more fish," Duncan said. "But it was a good trip. You learned how we do it here. Next year when you come over we'll try it again," he told Jeff who will leave tomorrow to fly back to his home in England.
   All in all, it was a good day on the water shared by good friends. Add a couple of fish to the mix and some great learning experiences, and it was a fine day despite the meteorologists predictions. (Jeff Minns with his first ever walleye. Duncan Wooster looks on.)

Friday, June 10, 2011

Reaching too far, recipe for disaster

   That's the way it goes when kayak fishing. My son-in-law, Jeff,  is visiting here from England  and was fishing from a kayak, his first ever yak fishing experience.
  I had given him some basic instruction, stayed close by for a bit, but when he looked as if he could handle himself, I moved off to fish.
   Sometime later he hooked into a nice bass. The fish had taken the hook quite deep. Jeff, my son-in-law, was trying to get the hook out of the fish and had leaned way over the side of the kayak.
   The next thing he knew, he, along with the rod and reel went into the lake. Of course all the gear went straight to the bottom.
   Not the worse for wear, Jeff got back into the boat, and as the British say, sorted himself out. About that time I found him and learned of his experience.
   Rods and reels can be replaced. We had taken the time prior to launch to get into good PFD's, something I always wear on the water, especially in my kayak.
   Today the one Jeff was wearing proved to be one of the most helpful pieces of gear we had along on the trip.
   As a former high school teacher was fond of saying: "A word to the wise should be sufficient." Be safe on and around the water.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Downtown Clarkston to host River Day June 11

   Main and Washington Streets is the location for kayak demos and registration area to buy a raffle ticket for the chance to win a kayak provided by Bass Pro shops.
   The raffle takes place during River Day celebration. Garden art and sculptures will be available for viewing and to bid on during a silent auction at Depot Park from 10a.m.-1pm.
   All proceeds go to public education about the use of wild plants in landscapes and and shoreline restoration.
   Raffles are sponsored by the Wild Ones-North Oakland County Chapter. For more information visit
   A naturalist led walking tour to identify native and invasive species, face painting for children, book signings by several authors and a rain garden/children's garden planting at Depot Park all go toward making this a great family day.
   Kayak and fishing demos will take place at the Mill Pond. The event is from 10a.m.-2p.m., Saturday, June 11.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Kayak fishing catching on around Great Lakes

   Fishing from kayaks seems to be taking hold just about any place you go in the state. That's good news for those trying to grow the sport.
  Last weekend I was at Frank's Outdoors in Linwood for their annual kayak demo day. Retailers typically set aside days during the paddling season to allow customers to test paddle kayaks.
   With a pond located at the rear of Frank's, potential kayak owners have a great opportunity to paddle a wide variety of boats-from sit-on-tops to sea or touring boats.
   I attended to show off a new Hobie Mirage Sport all decked out with my fishing gear. Coming in at just under ten feet and 45 pounds, it makes for an easy load and unload if you are by yourself.
   Seeing one of these boats out of the water-the Hobie in particular with it's pedal drive- prompts all sorts of questions not only about fishing but stability, how the pedal drive works and how rugged the boat itself is.
   It's also a good time for potential anglers to see how fishing kayaks are rigged and to ask questions. In just a few short years comments upon seeing a rigged sit-on-top (SOT) have gone from "I didn't know you could fish from one of those" to "That's what I'm looking for."
   If you hear of a kayak demo day in your area and are interested in kayaking, get out and give them a paddle.
   First, it remains the best way to see what fits you, and second it gives you a chance to see if you might like to take it further and fish from one of these boats. Have fun!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Free Fishing Weekend-give it a try

   The yearly Free Fishing Weekend is set for June 11-12. A fishing license isn't required for residents and non-residents. All other rules and regulations apply.
   Free Fishing Weekend has become quite popular and now is held in almost every state. In Michigan, the event is held twice yearly. The next time will be over the winter to allow people to try ice fishing.
   If you've never fished but wanted to give it a try, borrow some gear from a friend, neighbor or relative, get a little instruction and get fishing.
   In fact, through the simple act of borrowing gear, you might get an invite to go along with the angler you are borrowing equipment from.  By nature, anglers are gregarious; helpful and willing to show newcomers how to get started.
   This is an inexpensive way to see if you like fishing. Anglers that purchase a basic license and want to give trout fishing a try can do so without the purchase of a trout stamp.
   There's plenty of opportunity for everyone. A boat isn't required either. Fish from shore, a dock or pier or a boat if you get invited.
   Fishing will improve your outlook, help you relax and can involve the entire family.