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Wild Things: Fishing and Boating Week on the Peninsula

We’re in the middle of National Fishing and Boating Week, an annual observation and celebration of the benefits these two recreational pursuits provide to individuals and the economy.

Those seasoned with decades of fishing and boating experience are already hooked on the benefits of these recreational pursuits, but it’s not too late to start.

One of my favorite reasons to fish, paddle or power out on the water is to just get away from the everyday stresses, whether it be work or the never-ending list of chores to do around home. Sometimes that might mean a solo outing, but many times it’s connecting with family and friends. 

“Take a Kid Fishing” has been one of more popular catch phrases for National Fishing and Boating Week. It’s even more important in these days of increasing screen time. The only time the phones should come out is to take pictures, check the radar or find out how many minutes are left to savor the adventure.

Now’s a perfect time to work the inland lake shallows for spawning panfish and bass, or cast the bay shallows for smallmouths, bluegills, rock bass, perch and pike.

Some important reminders:

•Always carry out what you brought in and never leave behind plastic containers or packaging. Fishing line is very dangerous to birds and other wildlife, so pick up and recycle. 

•To protect the water from  invasive species, never move fish or plants from one water body to another or release unused live bait into the water. Clean off aquatic plants, animals, and mud from all equipment, including hulls, interiors, and motors; drain motors, bilge, livewells, and other water containing devices; dry everything, and dispose of unwanted bait, fish parts, and packing materials in the trash.

You can help spread the joy and benefits of fishing and boating through social media with the hashtag #NFBW2024. Learn more at asafishing.org/fishing-share-the-fun/.

Meanwhile, it’s good to know that funds from your purchase of fishing licenses, tackle and boat registrations go toward the conservation of our natural aquatic areas. Among other things, that includes habitat protection, boating access, and fisheries management, research and education. Learn more at fws.gov/program/wildlife-and-sport-fish-restoration.

BKD in Salmon

Michigan’s Department of Natural Resources recently euthanized more than 31,000 Atlantic salmon that were infected with bacterial kidney disease (BKD) in a state hatchery.

BKD has been known to cause mortality in trout and salmon and is believed to be largely responsible for the decline in Great Lakes Chinook salmon populations in the mid-1980s.

A prescribed 28-day antibiotic treatment was completed, the treatment was not fully effective in eliminating the infection. Since the fish still showed signs of active BKD, they could not be stocked.

There were just over 100,000 Atlantics in another hatchery that were healthy and were to be stocked at four locations, including more than 26,000 in the St. Mary’s River at Sault Ste. Marie.

Birding Book

Birds of North America: A Photographic Atlas, is a new book providing photos and information on the 1,144 known bird species found in North America, including Hawaii. 

The book features more than 1,200 full-color photographs and illustrations and more than 700 large format range maps. Unlike field guides, the author describes each species’ ecology, behavior, seasonal movements, nesting biology, and conservation status.

Special sections provide information on choosing birding gear, planning field trips and introducing conservation groups. There are also sections on the most popular apps and websites for birders, as well as birding community initiatives such as Project FeederWatch. 

This massive hardcover is available for $59.95. Take a peek inside at  press.jhu.edu/books/title/12817/birds-north-america#book__information.

Another Cheater Caught

An Indiana man was recently cited on six charges, including attempting to commit theft, for allegedly cheating in a bass fishing tournament in Illinois.

A witness had seen the man acting suspicious on a river the night before the event. Conservation officers followed up and learned the angler had hidden four smallmouth bass on a stringer. They set up surveillance the next morning and observed him take the fish and place them into the boat’s livewell.

The weight of his catch would have been big enough to win the event by more than four pounds. A court date has been set in Cook County.

Fish Free in Michigan

If you’re in northern Door County waters or taking a road trip this weekend, it’s Michigan’s annual Free Fishing Weekend, with no licenses or stamps needed to fish that state’s waters.

There’s even a Kids Fishing Day Saturday at the Michigan Department of Natural Resources’ Pocket Park, located on the U.P. State Fairgrounds in Escanaba. Popular activities include bluegill fishing, minnow races and face painting.

Storms Boost Lake

Heavy precipitation in the past month has Lake Michigan and Green Bay water levels nearly back to last summer’s levels. Even before this week’s deluge, there’s been a four-inch increase in the past month. Despite a 29-inch drop since the record set in 2020, levels are about five inches above the 100-year average.