2017-05-18 / Columns

Outdoors This Week in the Eastern U.P.

By Stephen King

This past Sunday was Mother’s Day, and if you’re looking to find something for Mom to do with that new fishing pole you gave her, there are tons of things happening.

Monday, May 15, the brand new pike and walleye season opened. This means the lake fishing has just turned up a notch or two. Catching pan fish is fun and tasty, but everyone likes to hook into a big one now and then. It’s time to get that rod bender back on the line.

Ever since I was a wee lad, I just loved to hook into a big pike. They may not be the best eating fish in the pond, but they do put up a battle. Do not do what the anglers on television do with the bass: Do not stick your fingers in the fish’s mouth and pull them up by the lips. If you do, you probably will be on your way to the emergency room for some sewing. They are toothy.

A saying used by fly fishing people is “match the hatch.” This means think about what the fish you are after are eating. Around here, pike love to eat either little perch or little blue gills. For bait, a small perch cannot be beat. You can throw all of the spinners, and spoons, and taste tested rubber worms you want, but nothing beats live bait and nothing beats a small perch. That is primarily what the pike are looking for. When they suddenly see one, suspended there, it’s just about like ringing the dinner gong for them.

What you do is you take the perch, about two feet of line, a baseball-size bobber, and toss it out and forget it. Take your other rod and fish pan fish. You don’t even need to watch the bobber that carefully. Check from time to time to see that there isn’t too much slack in the line and that your little perch hasn’t found a hiding spot. It ruins the whole deal when the bait finds a place to hide. The reason you don’t have to watch very carefully is that when the big pike hits the bait, the bobber goes down in a hurry and makes a big “kersplunksh!” Do make sure the rod is secured, otherwise the next splash you hear will be the rod jumping in after the pike.

Over in Curtis, Mick at Mick’s Bait Shop said the boats have been out in force and they have been catching perch and gills like crazy. Mick noted that this weekend is the Walleye Jamboree in Curtis. Mick and any other business in Curtis has information about this.

Tabatha at K&V Grocery in Moran said a whole lot of people were heading out onto the lake for the opener. People are also picking up a few mushrooms, but not a lot just yet. Over in her area, lots of people are enjoying the spring weather on off road vehicles. There are quite a few people out riding and good reports from the trails.

I heard a similar report from a group of friends in the Engadine area. These are twenty-something aged friends of mine and Saturday night, they were all mud covered and happy looking. They had been out on the trails and having fun. All said riding was good and that they had put on well over 100 miles.

The report from Wilderness Treasures in Pickford is that plenty of people are out fishing, and they have still been getting reports of perch and splake caught in the Cedarville and Hessel area.

Over the past weekend, I saw patches of leeks that totally covered the forest floor. Loads of them. I like them with just a sprinkle of salt, like a green onion, but they are also tasty in soups, on salads, and, for a different flavor, take a few leaves and put them on a burger. With the warm weather, this should be getting into the best time for picking morels. This is also prime time for just walking about outdoors.

If you don’t feel like walking, Paul. E. Gaberdael, DNR EUP trails coordinator, said he is pretty sure the 108 miles of new ORV trails slated for Mackinac County will be open pretty soon, probably late spring, or early summer.

Did you know, about 80 % of the smelt out in the lakes are now reproducing out in the lakes? This is why we are not seeing nearly so many in the streams as in years past. Even so, head down to the stream. There is still a good chance you could find a few smelt, and an even better chance you might find a few suckers. So, catch and release right into the frying pan.

There are lots of things to do. So, get Outdoors in the EUP This Week.

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