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

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
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.

Tuesday, October 27, 2015

Take a Hike

The next time someone tells you to take a hike, do it! Just be aware of the time of year you decide to take that walk.
With the firearms deer opener coming up beginning November 15, it would be a good idea to follow North Country Trail thru hiker and backpacker Luke Jordan's advice.
"I stay out of the woods during deer season," Jordan whose trail name is Strider, said. Staying off the trails during the time hunters are in the woods makes good sense.
Some hunters mistake movement for a deer approaching. Whether they see what that movement is or not doesn't make any difference to some. They shoot at the sound. Sometimes that sound is a human, even another hunter passing nearby.
Another factor is what you are wearing in the woods. Anything with white on it is going to attack hunter attention due to the white on a whitetail deer.
Nearby mountain bike trails in the Holly Recreation Area are posted with warnings about hunters in the woods this time of the year.
Your best bet is to stay home to ride and walk another day. There are still plenty good days left even after hunters have left the woods.
Luke "Strider" Jordan pauses along the trail.

Friday, October 9, 2015

Hunting Safely

Hunting from a tree stand isn't the sort of activity you should take lightly. This is not the place or time to cut corners.
I've bow hunted from a stand some 40-feet in the air. It was referred to the "high rise" stand because it was so high.
Crude steps had been placed along the trunk. A short-legged guy like me had trouble going up and down due to the unusually large distance apart the steps were positioned.
Once I made the stand proper it was a dizzying look back down to the ground. Between forks in the tree, a couple of 2x6's had been nailed to sit on.
Add to the height, lack of back support and long steps, the wind was blowing so hard it made the tree sway back and forth to the point I thought it might crack or break.
And along towards dark, I had to climb down. This all happened many years ago before climbing harnesses had been thought of and fastening steps into trees on state land was illegal. In fact, you hauled your bow and arrows up either on your back or with one arm through the bow string so could could climb up and down.
Today, I would never think of hunting in that fashion. I'm older and like to think a little wiser and a lot more safety conscious.
In fact, these days, I stay on the ground, hunting from a ground blind or natural break in the forest. You don't need to be 100 feet in the air. If you hunt from a tree, 15-feet is plenty.
At that height, should you fall you can still be hurt seriously if not, much worse. Unless you have practiced shooting from some kind of height, stay on the ground.
There's too much that can go wrong when you are swinging in the air with a bunch of razor tip arrows   either on you or hanging in a manner to hurt you. Stay safe.

Friday, October 2, 2015

Salmon trip interrupted-Injury to wife

I've packed and re-packed for my fall salmon trip. This year I thought for sure it would happen. In the past, we've been out of the country visiting our children and grandchildren. But this year we were free.
My original trip; the one I thought I would be taking part in didn't happen for me. Some others made it. I don't know of they had any success or not.
Then another chance came up. I had to cancel practically the last minute as wife was seriously injured in a bad fall she had.
When all was said and done, we found she had broken three bones in her wrist. The left side of her face and chest are black and blue but turning hello.
She's pretty incapacitated, requiring me to care for her. So my next move with salmon gear will be to stow it for another year.
As she gets stronger, I plan on getting in some fall fishing here in Oakland County. Sometimes things don't work out as we think they might, even after careful planning. Such is life.
My wife Pat in the emergency room. I don't know how she cold smile.

Thursday, September 24, 2015

Busy, Seasons, Caring for Spouse

This year has flown by for us. It certainly is true that the older you get the faster time moves. My wife and I can attest to that.
I'm caring for my wife Pat after she had a nasty fall one week ago. She was entering an office building for an appointment when she fell, full body, landing almost directly on her face and left hand.
The result was three broken bones in the left hand, heavy swelling to her left eye about the size of a lime, and lots of swelling with black, blue and now yellow on the left side of her face and down through her chest.
The palm and inside of the wrist of the left hand are black from bruising. Her poor, tiny hand is swollen and looks nasty.
The orthopedic doc is keeping it wrapped in a bandage and wants her to mover her fingers and thumb as a form of therapy. The rest will take time.
I was able to get out today on a local lake with my new Wilderness Ride 115 fishing kayak. Just a test run to see how she worked.
This thing is considerably stable to any of the other yaks I have owned or paddled. You can stand in it, which I did in shallow water close to shore, but it would take practice for an old guy like me to be able to do it with consistency and confidence.
This boat has a new, adjustable seat that is very comfortable. I had it in the high position most of the time on the lake which made casting a lot easier.
We  are in the midst of busy outdoor seasons. You can do just about anything you are interested in from hunting to fishing, bird watching and camping. There's something for all of us just outside the door.
Take care and have a safe fall.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Boots, Camo, and Hunters Orange Signal Fall Seasons

The true angler still has the boat on the trailer or tied up to the dock ready to get out for another go at the fish.
But some have put fishing on hold to take up fall hunting. Small game; rabbits, squirrels, turkey, waterfowl, and upland birds are some of the hunting to be had. Some of seasons are open while others will soon follow. Check the hunters guide for details or read my column this Sunday in The Oakland Press.
Anyone hunting with a gun by now should have taken it out of the case, check that it is unloaded and run a brush and cloth with a little oil down the barrel.
Likewise, a light coating of oil on the outside of the long gun will do wonders to keep it in good shape. Be sure the action works smoothly. If not give it a slight squirt of good gun oil and try again. If it's still not operating good, get it to a gunsmith.
It would hurt to shoot a few rounds through it before hitting the field. Pontiac Lake range is open and Oakland County Sportsmens Club invites the public to tune up on their range.
In any event, all of these things, cleaning the gun, working the action and taking it to the range, help remind us to be safe in the field. Be safe and enjoy the fall.
Hunter and four-legged friend enjoy some bird hunting. Photo courtesy of the DNR.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

Fall is Definitely in the Air

Whether we have officially arrived at the first day of fall isn't important to tell fall has arrived. (The first day of "autumn is Sept., 23.)
What is important are the signs that are being shown to us that the weather is changing. Sundown occurs sooner, cutting the length of daylight slightly more each day.
A big indicator to me is the sour cherry tree in our front year has started shedding leaves. There are probably other tree species that are beginning to lose their leaves, but because this one is right here at home, I notice it when it begins.
The other factor I've noticed is the lack of birds singing. From very early dawn-before early light-they  can be heard chattering and singing.
This pleasant sound is around all summer as sort of background music that accompanies us whatever we are doing outside.
Although for the most part the birds aren't singing, there are more of them feeding. Hummingbirds especially are plentiful around the few remaining flowers we have with the color red in them.
All summer long, one hummer shows up to feed either on it's feeder or the Baltimore Oriole feeder. Now there are as many as a dozen or more scrapping for a turn at flowers that are losing their bloom.
Both females and males are present often attacking each other at the feeder, on tree limbs or phone wires, and even in the air. Hummingbirds are known to be very territorial.
Check out my column this Sunday in the sports section of the Oakland Press for other changes signaling the arrival of fall.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Kids and Fishing

Kids grow up so darn fast. Those of us with children and grandchildren know this only too well. This Sunday's column is about our grandson Josh. He's 17 and a senior at Waterford Kettering.
It seems like a week ago we were seeing him for the first time, lying in a baby bed with his diapers on, as medical staff gave him a check up.
Fast forward to a few years ago and our youngest grandson, Ewan was born. He's now 5. Next came his sister Lily. She's 3.
Joshua lives near us but the other two live an ocean away. The kids, along with my daughter and son-in-law make their home in England. It makes for infrequent visits.
The many activities Josh is involved in through school keep us busy. He plays many sports, works part time and has just gotten his learner permit.
This is the year he's supposed to check out colleges to get an idea of where he may go in a year or so to further his education.Time flies. It's great to see these little ones grow up and begin learning so much of the world and life.
But for us anyway, we still wish they were all babies, making the sounds little ones do. High school was still a long way off. So were sports, travel baseball and other events in their lives.
Keep them close while you can. Time really does move way too fast.

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Graying still caught on the Annan River in Scotland

The Annan River in southern Scotland runs through the Dormont Estate, all 500 hectares of it. That amounts to a little over 1200 acres of land that has been in the same family for 600 years.
"My official title would be Land Master," Jamie Carruthers, the current member of the family managing the estate, said.
The slice of Scotland is six miles south of Locherbie known for the PanAm flight 103 crash 27 years ago killing 270 people,  including 11 on the ground.
We were here visiting relatives that live on the Dormont Estate. "We keep the land as a farming feature," Carruthers said.
He "lets" land out to farmers for dairy and beef cattle grazing and raising some feed crops. "You can see from how green the grass is from all the rain we get, that this is excellent for dairy cattle," he said.
But this part of the river is known for fishing, namely Atlantic salmon, brown trout, sea trout and grayling.
"We have generations of people coming here to fly fish for trout, mostly brown trout. Many people that stay here have been coming with their dads and granddads. They always book the same week every year," Carruthers said.
No other fishing is allowed while people have rented or let the cottage near the river. During their period of rental, they have exclusive rights to fish the river.
For more information on Dormont Estate and fishing the Annan River visit
Read more about River Annan in this Sunday's Oakland Press.
 View of the River Annan, Dormont Estate, Locherbie, Scotland. Photo by Donald Heermans II.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

So far, no news is good news on the chronic wasting disease front!

Chronic wasting disease (CWD) in deer is about like having a life-threatening disease in humans. In the case of deer, veterinarians are constantly looking over their collective shoulders to be sure all the bases have been covered lest the disease becomes more prevalent.
On the other hand, human beings with cancer, in remission or supposedly cured, always have the thought or fear in the back of their mind. Will this come back?
Speaking from experience on the cancer level, every new ache or pain, small bump pr bruise, gets the mind to shifting gears thinking, ah, yes, the cancer has returned just in a different form. No matter what the medical people tell us, its difficult to relax once you have gone through this crappy disease.
Nothing new has been heard from Lansing. And so far, no new cases of cwd have been discovered. But as we move closer to the fall hunting seasons the mind wanders and wonders if more deer will be found to have been contaminated.
Because more people will be in the fields and woods, if there are sick deer about, this should be the time they will be found out just due to more observers.
Wildlife Biologist Tim Payne who covers southeast Michigan and now days probably even more has said more deer will be closely examined for cwd this fall.
"Look for road killed deer and those brought to check stations to be thoroughly examined for cwd," he said.
In the past, DNR officials have encouraged hunters to have their deer checked at one of the many deer check stations around the state to help manage the deer herd.
This year and on it becomes even more important to make a quick stop and have your deer checked. The one you have strapped to the roof may be disease-free but on the other hand, it could be a new case in a different area.
By you stopping for an inspection, heading off a larger field of contamination for cwd or other diseases may have saved the day.

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) found in Ingham County whitetail

A six-year-old female whitetail was observed acting strangely around a residence in Ingahm County. The deer appeared to be severely underweight and unafraid of human contact.
Further investigation by DNR wildlife pathologists confirmed the animal suffered from Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD, a condition that affects the brain and nervous system.
School is still out as to why one animal in a particular area contracts the disease. So far, CWD isn't indicated in livestock.
Hunters are asked to be on the look out for deer acting strangely. Road kill deer could also be carrying the disease. In either case, the DNR should be contacted at the DNR Wildlife Disease Hotline, (517) 614-9602.
Presently, a core area that includes Clinton, Shiawassee and Ingham Counties ban deer and elk feeding and baiting and a prohibition the salvage of deer killed by collision with a motor vehicle within the core area.
Additionally, mandatory deer checking will be required during deer seasons to test for CWD of harvested deer.
Anterless quotas during hunting season will be increased to help reduce the population to help prevent deer-to-deer spread of the disease.
Licenses and combos may be returned for a refund and new licenses may be purchased prior to the start of deer seasons. After Sept., 19, licenses are considered used and cannot be returned.
For more information visit
Whitetail deer with CWD. Photo courtesy Wisconsin DNR

Friday, June 12, 2015

MVM-Michigdan, Virginia mafia rocks the smallmouth world

For the past 12 or so years, six friends have gotten together the week before Memorial Day to hang out, enjoy each others company and fish for smallmouth that are immediately released.
This gang of characters include John "Mini" Mainiaci, Bill "Mac" McElroy, Carlos Hathcock, Scott "Toxic" Hammer, Marke Cicero, and until this year, Ken Neeley.
Neeley, who owned and operated KD Outdoors passed away suddenly last year. This year's outing was full of Neeley stories. "It's time to get the fishes," was one favorite.
Prominent in the cottage on Harsen's Island the group rents annually was a small table, a memorial to Neeley of sorts.
The table held several pictures of Neeley enjoying life and friends, a cap dedicated to him and always a 1/2 glass full of an adult beverage.  Most of us had to walk by it to get to our beds or gather for meals. No one needed to point it out. The tribute spoke volumes just by being there.
This was not so much of a learning to fish weekend as it was enjoying the company of those we don't see until the following year.
However, fishing was on everyone's minds. Questions and comments about different types of fishing, baits and where to go were all topics when we gathered for the evening meal.
I've always enjoyed these kinds of outings. Whether it be trout or blue gill camp, deer camp or small time, one thing is for sure. They all are fun.
If you get a chance to attend a camp with friends or family, do it. Time flies. Before you know it, you'll have lost some members or perhaps become incapacitated yourself to the point that you can't enjoy these outings anymore.
Whether they are hunting or fishing, they are bound to be fun.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Don't miss Free Fishing Weekend

It happens twice a year. No, It's not your birthday or Christmas. It's the DNR's Free Fishing Weekend, this summer June 13-14.
Licenses are free for non-residents and residents but all other fishing rules and regulations apply. So, as I've said for many years, if you have wanted to get out and try fishing but didn't want to make a huge investment, Free Fishing Weekend provides that opportunity with a license fee.
Borrow equipment from a friend, neighbor or relative. Ask someone to take you along if only for a few hours.
Can't find anyone? No worries. Head for a state or Metropark that provides fishing and ask someone who has a line in the water for some help.
Anglers-ladies and men-usually are very generous with helpful tips, how to information and will even give you the right bait to use if you don't have any.
Get your line in the water, use the chair you brought from home to sit in and relax, keeping an eye on your line or bobber, depending on how you are fishing.
Time really does fly when you are having fun. Enjoy yourself.

Photo courtesy of Oakland Press Tim Thompson

Friday, May 29, 2015

Summer brings a variety of birds

Just because it's summer is no reason to stop watching birds. We keep our sunflower feeders full along with syrup for both hummingbirds and orioles.
Actually, it was the orioles that got us interested in trying to attract them to the backyard. Several years ago we had a male come into the yard. He hung around for a couple of days then left. By then, it was the beginning of fall and no doubt time for head for warmer temperatures.
The following year, we were ready with two oriole feeders and some commercial mix to make syrup. We attracted a few birds.
In the meantime, we saw a single hummingbird and decided to try getting it to feed and possibly attract others.
So far, we've attracted two hummers that continually fight around the feeders and orioles, both male and females.
This year, sightings have been down. I don't know whether we were late getting feeders up or there are less birds.
Both orioles and a hummer or two have hung around the past few years making them a joy to watch. "Oh look, there's an oriole," either my wife or I will say.
It doesn't take much to entertain us these days. Give it a try. You might surprise yourself as to what new birds you may see.
Male oriole at the feeder. By Beukema

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Gaylord Offers Plenty of Activities to Choose From

   Gaylord is the home to several resorts, motels, golf courses, and the only free-ranging elk herd in the Midwest.
   If fishing is your primary interest take your pick of 100 lakes or six cold-water rivers to try your luck.
   Bring your bike or a good pair of hiking shoes and enjoy one of the many scenic trails in the area. Bike trips can be as short or as long as you feel in the mood for.
   Some destinations are under 20 miles terminating near Gaylord. A different ride involves more mileage and goes all the way to Mackinac City.
   Big Bear Adventures in Indian River not only provides river trips and other activities, it has a shuttle service that will pick you and your bike up at the destination you choose. Call them at (231) 238-8181 or visit
   Treetops resort is the spot for all things golfing. Home to the number one rated par 3 golf course in North America, it's the best place to try your short game.
   If you are looking for something more challenging choose one of the five courses on the property designed by such golf course architects as Robert Trent Jones, Sr., Tom and Rick Smith.

   A drive through the Pigeon River State Forest is as peaceful as it gets behind the steering wheel. Automobile turnouts are as plentiful as the picnic tables waiting for you to spread your on.
   Keep your eyes open to see some of the only free-ranging elk in the Midwest. With trees just beginning to leaf out, this is a good time to observe wildlife.
   Morel mushroom hunters will find good areas and, if observant, find the tasty fungi. Move slow and  pay attention. There's a good chance to find them.
   If you need a bike-mountain or fat tire-call Treetops at (989) 732-6711 or visit

Photo courtesy of Bill Semion

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Ohio walleye tourney had a Michigan connection

   Last Sunday during the AIM Weekend Walleye Series tournament out of Port Clinton, Ohio Dearborn Heights resident, Ali Shakoor and his partner Brian Zarembski won first place good for $2,000.
   What seemed a tad unusual was all of the two-person teams participating were from Ohio with the except of Shakoor.
   The surprising thing was the light turnout of anglers for what seems to be known as a prime fishery. The weather was perfect; water surface smooth as glass, lots of water so no one got crowded off their spot and the best thing, fish on the bite.
   Everyone was trolling something. Most teams were on the crank bait bite while some pulled crawler harnesses.
   Walleye tournaments are known for being held in bad weather. Either it's cold, snowing, raining or sleeting, usually windy enough to make for some big seas and fishing hours cut short due to bad weather.
   On Saginaw Bay several years ago with good friend Lance Valentine of Walleye-101 when we got a call from a fellow angler well out beyond us taking on water.
   Seems as though his bilge pump had decided to quit at a moment when it was needed. Seas were running high and still building. We got to our fishing spot, turned around and headed back in without setting a line.
   We hung around to be sure our pal made it back safely. He was way down in the stern with the big motor pushing a water logged boat as best as it could.
   Anyway, being in that state south of Michigan was tough enough. But having a Michigan man on the winning team made it tolerable.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

Detroit River Fishing-Still Good But Slowing Down

According to the people that fish it regularly, the Detroit River is one-of-a-kind. "We have a world-class fishery here," tournament angler Bob Luellen said.
"The Detroit River is always good," former touring pro Mark Sak said. "I admire those guys that go out and handling," he added.
According to Sak, "There's a secret about the Detroit River. It's phenomenal after dark." Just be sure you know where you are at and where you are going. The river isn't a place to take chance or get caught with little or no experience.
These past several weeks have yielded many catches of fish in the nine-pound- plus range. Those five-pounders and "eater size" are barely getting any recognition.
Even though the spawn is over for the most part, there are still fish in the river. Catching them is another thing.
"There are so many white bass that for every walleye you hook, you catch 100 white bass," Sak said.
But this time of year, other seasons; trout, bluegills, bass, salmon and other species are beginning to bite.
A great way to gain both experience and confidence for fishing the river is to get out and practice. Launch in one of the many inland lakes then tool around with the trolling motor to get the feel of using it and concentrating on your electronics.
Granted, you won't be dealing with a fast current, but at least you'll get some time in the operation mode.
Ask someone who fishes the river regularly to go with you in your boat, allowing you to be the operator.
That way, you'll get on-the-spot corrections and advice while learning at the same time. The Detroit or St. Clair River systems are no place to be for beginners.
Dealing with boat and freighter traffic, waves and wind are just some of the problems. You must be on constant watch for debris; large logs, barrels, stumps and about anything else you can imagine, floating down bound.
Get your boat inspected courtesy of the Oakland County Sportfishing Club on May 20 at Oakland County Sportmens Club, correct any issues then get your boat in the water!
Nick DeShano of Offshore Tackle, holding a huge crappie. Contributed photo

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

New nests being built-birds singing

Just above my garage door light hangs a weedy next connected to the top of the light and the expensive vinyl siding we installed a few years ago.
Long tendrils of weeds, cloth and whatever else Mrs. Robin could carry in her beek to build the next hang down several inches below the next proper.
Soon, the inside of the nest will be lined to accept several powder or soft blue eggs. Mother robin will sit on the nest, devoting her time to keeping those eggs warm and warding off any intruders.
I usually sneak up to have a look when I know she is off and in search of feed. I never touch anything and get out of the area quickly.
But we have discovered a problem with one robin and one sparrow. Pecking at our windows. We had them tinted a couple of years ago to cut down on the damage the sun does when it moves to that side of the house.
This side, the west side, receives sunlight for several hours each day. The affect is finish fading on furniture and drapes and curtains becoming brittle.
These two birds peck all day and well into the evening. Even the rain doesn't slow them down. Experts say it's the tint that gives off a reflection making the birds think there is an intruder nearby.
I hate to take the tint off but don't know of another solution.
But back to the birds in the next. The DNR reminds us to leave young wildlife where you find it. Bird parents are aware when young fall from a next and have the ability to get them back.
When the scent of humans is transferred to any living wildlife chances are it will be abandoned. Fawns are a great example.
I've actually stumbled across them while traipsing through the woods. I come upon them all of a sudden.
Those white spots help make them blend in to most any background. Mom usually leaves them during the day to feed but is close enough to hear them cry if they are inn danger.
Deer especially are sensitive to scent and may abandon young offspring if you get too close. The best scenario is to back off and take a long way around that fawn.Don't worry, his mom will return to care for him.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Sunny Monday is welcome

Despite the wind and cold weather over the weekend, today feels warmer and more like spring even with the winds still blowing making it for a chilly start for the week.
Ice is prevalent around the lakes here in Oakland County. East and North on the Great Lakes ice break up is under way.
I know it's last ice but stay off. You not only put yourself at risk, you risk the lives of those that come to your aid.
No fish is worth a life or the rescue efforts that go into first finding you, then getting you off the ice and home safe.
I haven't made it into the garage for a cleaning and organizing trip yet. With no heat out there it's a little like stepping into a freezer/cooler in a restaurant or butcher shop.
For me, ice out is going to be time for the first launch of the season for my fishing kayak. If it were today I wouldn't be ready to go.
Too much stuff laying all around with nothing in it's right place. I'm envious of those that have garages you can eat off the floor, look around briefly and find that rod, bait or tool you need with very little searching.
It's time to get rid of more stuff or bite the bullet, put the time in and get it straightened out once and for all.
At this stage of life I've learned how important it is to put things back where they belong. My dad was fond of saying, "You've got it in your hand, go put it away." Great advice.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

AIM Weekend Walleye Series headed for Detroit River

AIM (Anglers Insight Marketing) will bring it's 2015 AIM Weekend Walleye Series to the Detroit River April 19.
This is a team event consisting of two anglers per boat. If you have wondered how you would fish against pros and other anglers this is the event to enter.
"The great thing about this series is it doesn't time away from family life," AIM National Tournament Director Denny Fox said.
Fox comes out of a background of tournament fishing and boat sales. "I grew up on Saginaw Bay then moved to Wisconsin fishing Lake Michigan and Green Bay. I was all set to moved into the PWT when that trail closed," he said.
If matching talent with experienced anglers bothers or intimidates you, keep in mind they all had to begin someplace.
At one time they were new to tournament fishing, the particular water you will be fishing that you may not be used to and the pressures associated with tournament fishing.
I've been fortunate to have participated in several tournaments as a co-angler and understand the frustration that comes with being on rough water all day working against rain and cold weather only to come up empty handed.
It takes a really good mental attitude to stay focused and in the moment, paying constant attention to all that is going on around you.
Tournament fishing may not be for everyone but this activity could be the one that eventually grows on you.
Who knows. One day you may see your name on the Freshwater Hall of Fame list of inductees. Good luck!
Pro walleye angler and Hall of Fame Member, Mark Martin with a Detroit River walleye. Even Martin began as a newbie when he first began fishing tournaments. By Beukema

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Fishing kayaks are affordable; makes lakes more accessible

Last Sunday's column in The Oakland Press talked about some of the advantages of a sit-on-top fishing kayak.
One of my big reasons is cost. Looking at a nice walleye or bass boat on top of a trailer in the garage would bother me.
Every time I walked by it I would be thinking I'm not getting my money out of it. Lets be honest. Many of us say if we had more time we would golf every day. In this case the comment is to fish every day.
No matter how much you like either sport, I think one would get sick of it in a hurry if you went every day. Besides there is the cost of gasoline in the tow vehicle, wear and tear in general and other hidden costs.
Looking at a big monthly payment on a trailer would bug me. On the other hand, a kayak hanging on the wall, probably paid for wouldn't cause much consternation other than wishing I was out using it but not overly concerned because I wasn't getting my money out of it.
Far be it from me to tell anybody how to spend their money. I've missed the boat and had some ill-thought purchases.
But owning a kayak hasn't been one of them. If I decide got use it tomorrow, hypothetically, it's a simple matter of sliding onto the roof of my pickup cap, cinching it down, tossing my tackle, rods and pfd in the back and I'm ready.
At the launch it's off the truck and to the water's edge where everything is loaded. Park the truck, put the pfd on and I'm off. Retrieval is just the exact opposite. In a few minutes I'm fishing.
And I don't feel guilty about not busting my hump to pay for the boat. If you are moving up from shore fishing, before taking a loan out the equivalent of the national debt think about purchasing a fishing kayak.

Grandson Josh Checkal admiring a bass caught out of a kayak. By Beukema

Monday, March 2, 2015

Springtime is getting close

Maybe I'm putting the cart ahead of the horse. But give me one day with warmer weather-even if it's in the 20's-and my thoughts go to cleaning the garage, slowly sorting through fishing tackle and just in general, staying outside longer, even if it is in the garage.
I have two kayaks that have been swinging from the garage rafters where they have been stored since last fall.
The trouble is they are just at the right height to chuck stuff into when I don't know where to put it. I think everything contained in both boats is related to kayak fishing but I won't know until I lower them or climb up so I can look inside.
Not the best way to operate but like many of you, I still fight the organization battle. And with me, it is a never ending battle.
I'm not going to tell you to get the yaks out, find the pfd's and getting ready for soft water. Not today, but if we get many more of these so called "nice days," I may cave in.
Soon, we'll all have enough to do and not enough time to get it done. Yard and garden work, those projects that need attending to on the house and gradually getting the warmer clothes to the front of the closet, putting the heavier winter stuff in the back.
But here in Michigan, one thing is for sure. Just when you think it's going to be nice weather and smooth sailing for awhile, bang, here comes another snowstorm.
Now where did I put my heavy coat and gloves?

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Outdoorama rolls into town for the 42nd annual show

Outdoors folks of all ages and interests will no doubt head to the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi for Outdoorama, February 26-March 1. Details on times, seminars and other information available at
The late Wilfred "Bill Baker," my longtime fishing pal talked me into attending this show back in the days when it was being held in several buildings at the State Fair Grounds.
We even booked a trip with Bill Chalis who owned a fishing and hunting camp, "...on Lady Evelyn Lake near Haleybury, Ontario, Canada.
Instead of getting there via the Bluewater Bridge out of Port Huron, for some reason, we went north the the Soo, crossed there then had to backtrack to get us head north and eventually on to our meeting spot.
It was the first time I met legendary fisherman, Dan Gapen, Sr. from Minnesota. He grew up doing the grunt work for his dad who was guiding on Canada's Lake Nippigon.
Known as a staunch supporter of river fishing Dan is known for pike, muskie, and walleye fishing in fast water.
His company, Gapen Tackle, is still operated from Becker, MN. He's been a member of the Fresh Water Fishing Hall of Fame since 2000.
Known for creating various ice jigs and baits like Gapen's Spin Bee, Crankbaits, Ugly Bug, Bait-Walker, Walk-N-Lizard along with many others, Gapen's name is well known to anglers throughout the country.
Attractions for this year's Outdoorama include Big Buck Night, over 100 seminars, special prices on tackle and boats, and outfitters coming from all over the country and Canada to help you book that trip of a lifetime.
Enjoy the show, take plenty of notes and be sure to visit vendors for those great show prices.

Photo of Outdoorama attendees at an outfitters booth. Photo contributed.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Saginaw Bay-Last stop for Fishing Vacation School

Sitting alongside Mark Martin in his insulated Otter Ice shack, you wouldn't know this longtime pro walleye angler was into the third and last ice school of the ear.
What singles Martin out from others is the "on" button he possesses. The guy is absolutely in gear and on anytime to talk about fishing.
He is the best representative of the sport I have ever come across. Not only does he fish hard and share his extensive knowledge, he works just as hard or harder presenting education-filled seminars, photography, personal appearances around the country and excellent spokesman for the products he uses and believes in.
Ask him a fishing-related question first thing in the morning. You may get a bit of a yawn then an explanation along with more information that you probably asked for.
In the evening after 14-hours of fishing, doing live interviews and working with students, that same Martin is still "on" and willing to answer questions, get up and speak or help rig your rod.
The most excited I have seen him is when I or someone else has a fish on. Yesterday was a great example.
I hooked into what turned out to be probably a five-puns walleye. With my rod bent double Martin moved to kneel alongside the hole I was trying to bring the fish through.
"That's it, keep reeling," he said. "I see him. That's a great fish." About that time the fish was just under the ice. It must have looked up, saw us and spit my glo-in-the-dark Slender spoon then headed back down into the 25-feet of water he called home.
We were using a Lowrance graph to show depth and fish. With the latest equipment, neither of us saw this fish come from the bottom right up to my spoon and attack it.
So much for having a world-class ice fishing professional seated alongside of you with all the latest equipment.
Sometimes it is about luck.
Mark Martin with a five-pound Saginaw Bay walleye. By Beukema

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Plenty of ice-fish it safely

It seems Saginaw Bay has had it's share and perhaps a little more of accidents including fatalities this winter season.
Several anglers have gone through the ice on a body of water that absolutely has to be respected. The size of the Bay, depth of water and the ever changing winds make for a challenging place to fish; summer and winter.
If you are going out in a group, stay with that group. Drive out and back in single file, leaving room for the machine in front of you. Toward the end of the line, someone should be carrying a length of rope.
Remember pressure cracks may be safe to cross in the morning but come nightfall they could have moved enough to make for open water.
Carry safety equipment. Ice picks worn around the neck are most beneficial to gain purchase on the ice if you go through. Make your own with a couple of old screwdrivers. Drill a hole through the handles to accept a length of rope. Tie each end off past the handle and hang the rope around your neck. (Some people have even used ballpoint pens to get a grip on the ice!)
Consider taking a boat cushion with a long section of rope attached. This gives you a throwable device and allows the person in the water something to hang onto.
Always, especially on the Bay, keep an eye on the weather. Check it the night before fishing and the morning before you shove off. Keep an eye on conditions throughout the day and be alert for any sudden changes like a wind shift.
Be prepared to pull up your equipment and head for shore. But do so in a safe manner keeping in mind those pressure cracks that may have expanded.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Organization-Another key to ice fishing

Mike Schneider of Twin Lake is on the pro-staff working with Mark Martin's Ice Fishing Vacation Schools.
"I've known Mark for 30 years," the often quiet Schneider said. Hardly ever sitting down, Schneider can be found loading or unloading equipment, helping students and fellow anglers and is usually within talking distance of Martin to help with anything unexpected that comes up.
Last Sunday at the Town Pump in downtown Lake City, Schneider was the first of several seminar speakers.
"I'm going to talk about keeping organized and I'll leave fishing and rigging to the others," he said as he began his talk.
A fan of Plano or Rapala large, plastic tackle boxes that come with heavy foam covering the inside, Schneider explained why he likes these boxes.
"When I first started ice fishing, I had a bunch of really nice spoons and jigs loose in a large box. When I got home that day after fishing, I looked at the box and all I could see was lead-looking baits. All of the paint had been chipped off those expensive lures because they were banging together all day."
A good way to solve that problem is to cut small slits in the foam then insert a lure into the opening. Each lure has it's own spot and is protected by the foam which holds the bait tight to keep it from rattling around in the box.
"It's the details; the little things that make a difference in any kind of fishing," Schneider said. "This sport is a lot of work."
The night before fishing, Schneider goes through a check list that includes his clothing, safety gear and tackle.
Give it a try and save some dollars! (Mike Schneider speaks in seminar on ice fishing in Lake City) photo by Beukema

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Think skiing is tough? Try juggling going downhill on the snow!

Tommy Tropic (Petrie) is a good downhill skier. Give him three bowling pins and the East Jordan resident will juggle them all the while negotiating turns, going downhill on the snow and talking to people, especially children on the way down.
Tropic has been juggling for 30 years and does it full time. "It's how I make my living," he said with his warm, big smile.
When he's not on the hill, he'll juggle and do magic tricks indoors at one of the slope-side restaurants or warming huts at Treetops Resort in Gaylord.
Even if you don't ski and can't stand winter, book a weekend-Tropic juggles on Saturday's-get in on some resort specials and head to Treetops.
Book your trip for January 24, 31, February 15, 21, and March 7 and ask about reserving your spot on    a Wilderness Sleigh Ride that includes a gourmet, four-course dinner at the Wilderness Cabin.Call (855) 222-5449 for more information or visit

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Be extra careful on river ice

The DNR warns anglers that while fishing rivers through the ice may be productive it can also be potentially dangerous. That's due to moving water that has difficult freezing enough to allow for ice fishing.
You definitely need a pfd on river ice and absolutely should know the rive, it's currents, and any other pertinent local information to help give you a safe day.
Wear creepers and carry ice picks and a rope. Let someone know where you will be fishing and when you intend to be off the ice.
Slush or snow on ice is a warning that the ice may be unsafe. Stay off the ice in those conditions. When you do go out, wear bright colored clothing and carry a cell phone.
Keep an eye out for large cracks or depressions and avoid those areas. Places like Saginaw Bay are famous for cracks that form, getting larger as the day goes on.
Because you are over moving water remember that it doesn't freeze as uniform ally as lake ice does.
If you do fall through, turn back in the direction you came from as that ice may be stronger. If you have ice picks a screwdriver or even a pen, drive the item into the ice to give you some kind of hand-hold.
Pull yourself onto the ice and remain prone, crawling until you get to thicker ice. Then get a call into 911 for help, warm clothing and heating up your core temperature.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Be careful on the ice, despite recent cold temps

We've definitely had colder weather this past week with even lower temperatures predicted for this coming week.
"She's makin' ice," is a common expression among hard water anglers. She may be making ice but be sure, before heading out, that there is enough to support you.
Last night, on my way home from mass, I saw several guys on clear ice on a couple different northern  Oakland County lakes.
The good thing, they weren't out very far. I don't know if there was a bad side to this other than it was dark, the ice was clear and we haven't had that many cold days yet.
I've said in other columns and blogs that test the ice before getting too far out. Wear a good pfd and take a spud along.
Use the spud to test the ice in front of you. If it goes through easily, turn around and get back on shore as soon as you can. Don't try and find another way across the ice thinking the ice may be thicker over this or that way.
How much ice is safe ice? No DNR official or sheriff's department water rescue will give you a number. In fact, most will tell you there is no such thing as safe ice.
So, before you head out, get information from local sporting goods shops, other anglers, then knock the dust off that spud you no longer use because of a power auger.
Leave that auger at home for the first few trips and take something along that will test the ice. And wear a pfd.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Ultimate Fishing show rolls into town

Next weekend, January 9-11, the Ultimate Fishing Show makes its annual appearance in Novi. Fishing junkies need to get to one of these shows at least one year, if not more often.
In the fishing world, just when you think everything to use is out there, along comes a new type hook, always different bait colors and enough gadgets to make Ace Hardware jealous.
While these shows don't offer everything under the sun, they offer enough to keep people coming back each year.
I have always remarked on the relative ease and the lack of cost to learn all you can about any aspect of fishing by way of the numerous seminars presented around-the-clock during show hours.
I know this sounds like a broken record but come with a notebook and pen to take notes. Grab a program when you enter the show and check out which seminars you would like to attend.
The next part is up to you. Get to the seminar room a little early so you can get seated and settled. Then prepare yourself to learn something, just like going to school.
This is the only chance many of us will ever have to ask professionals in the fishing business any number of how to questions.
From what knot to use, when to use snaps or swivels, which colors work best under what conditions, and what methods produce the most fish.
Seminars at sport shows are the cake. The icing is all of the gear that travels with the show. It's up to you to get there, ask questions, take notes and come home a better educated angler.
Mark Martin, one of the seminar speakers holding a freshly caught Lake Gogebic walleye. By Beukema