Outdoor Observations

PATIENCE. The old-adage “good things come to he who waits” is
sometimes a tough sell. Holding out for a bigger buck or a trophy
tom is easy on paper, but difficult when venison tenderloins or a
turkey roast is staring you in the face. I’ve often heard it
countered with another adage, “he who hesitates is lost.”

In terms of the two-week extension to the walleye, pike, and
muskie fishing seasons in the Upper Peninsula, you’d best adhere to
the former rather than the latter – unless you’re looking for a
ticket. That’s because the extension doesn’t take effect until the
new fishing year begins on April 1. That means the season won’t
officially be extended until 2009. It doesn’t make a lot of sense,
but that’s the way the rules process works.

Back in November, the state Natural Resources Commission
approved a DNR proposal to extend the walleye, pike, and muskie
fishing seasons in the U.P. until March 15 – same as in the Lower
Peninsula. Currently, the U.P. seasons end at the end of February.
(We actually get one extra day to fish this year since it’s a leap
year – 29 days in February)

DNR fisheries biologists cited data from the L.P. season as well
as reward tag returns on fish caught in the U.P. to form their
opinion. What they found was that harvest of these species in
February and early March is low compared with the rest of the year.
Therefore, biologists concluded, extending the U.P. season through
March 15 will provide an additional two weeks of recreational
fishing opportunities for U.P. anglers without having an adverse
effect on the populations. The NRC agreed and voted appropriately.
Done deal. Cool!

The rule change is printed in the all-new 2008 Michigan Fishing
Guide, which is due out any day. But those rules apply from April
1, 2008 to March 31, 2009. Prior to April 1 2008, the old rules
remain in effect.

“The rules for 2008 will be the same as previous years, meaning
that the closing date for walleye, pike, and muskie fishing in the
Upper Peninsula will be Feb. 29,” says Steve Scott, Fisheries
Division Lake Superior Basin coordinator.

The earlier closing date was implemented in the 1990s because of
concerns for the walleye populations. Why pike and muskies were
included is anyone’s guess, probably just to keep the season
closings simple by having them fall on the same date. Why the new
closing date couldn’t have been retroactive to the 2008 season is
another great mystery of the world, but it is what it is, so you’d
better pull your lines in on Feb. 29 and wait to enjoy the
extension in 2009.

TAKE THE WOOD DUCK CHALLENGE. There are lots of signs that
spring is approaching, and one of them is the announcement of the
Outdoor News Wood Duck Challenge.

It’s geared toward those 18 and younger, but that doesn’t mean
those older than 18 can’t support wood ducks by building and
erecting a wood duck nesting box. Better yet, recruit someone under
18 – a nephew or niece or maybe a neighbor – and help him or her
complete the task. The benefits are numerous, with the best one
being that you’re taking an active role in a waterfowl enhancement
project.

Check out pages 22 and 23 of this edition of MON for all the
details, then go to work. And don’t forget to send us a photo.

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