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BUMPY 
Weather Updates

Deer outlook uncertain as season looms

Updated: December 19, 2012 1:07PM



This is a year Indiana may buck recent trends in deer hunting with the firearm season, Saturday through Dec. 2.

Epizootic hemorrhagic disease outbreaks this summer and fall will have an impact, although EHD was not noticeable in northwest counties.

Second, there are options other than traditional check stations to check in deer. Hunters may report electronically at checkingame.dnr.in.gov (have your customer ID) or by calling (800) 419-1326.

Third, hunters may purchase a license bundle for the first time.

“This bundle allows for hunters to take two antlerless deer and one antlered deer in any season, though special public property restrictions may apply,’’ deer management biologist Chad Stewart said in an email. “It is a great plan for hunters who typically purchase firearms and muzzleloader licenses, and the bundle will also be available for the special antlerless firearms season in select counties.’’

All these variables has Stewart uncertain what the harvest will be by the more than 150,000 firearm hunters.

“Overall, I would suspect that our harvest still ends up amongst the highest ever,’’ he emailed. “With the addition of crossbows in the early archery season, our new bundle license that gets hunters out in more seasons, the expansion of the urban deer zones, and the additional late antlerless firearms season, I think our hunters will have a pretty successful year.’’

The weather for opening weekend looks “about as perfect as you could ask for throughout much of the state: Light winds and cool temps should make for an ideal opening weekend,’’ Stewart emailed.

Some 300 hunters are allowed at Willow Slough Fish and Wildlife Area, beginning sign-in as early as 3:30 a.m. At LaSalle FWA, there’s 150 slots.

Perch fishing: Speaking of weather, it looks stable for more than a week, just in time for late perch fishing on southern Lake Michigan. A lot of fishermen could be saying special thanks on Thanksgiving.

Shore fishermen at the Hole-in-the-Wall started picking up perch in the past week. On Wednesday, Mike Starcevich, guru of perch fishing from Mik-Lurch Fishing Tackle Outlet in Hammond, got out in his boat. They caught limits of good perch, including a dozen longer than 13 inches, six of which were over 14 inches.

“I did not expect to do what I did when I jumped on the ramp and saw the dirty water,’’ he said.

He was catching them in the traditional winter holes (36 to 37.5 feet).

He found the best action was when the sun was “hot, nice and bright, 11 to 2:30 was best. As (the sun) got lower, it got slower.’’

The key was using large fatheads with orange flies with glow.

“They won’t touch the baby roaches,’’ Starcevich said. “Split the belly on the fatheads to get the scent out. The guys on the Hole-in-the-Wall are stomping on (the fatheads) to get the same thing.’’

Fishing notes: Lake Michigan fisheries biologist Brian Breidert expects whitefish to be caught soon off the Michigan City pier and some walleye to begin in the harbor. ... There are reports of a few winter-run steelhead in the streams. Breidert said a few coho are still in the streams, but most salmon are gone. ... Some lakers are on the Port of Indiana reef, but poor water clarity has made it tough.

Hunting notes: Waterfowling slowed. Staff at Willow Slough said the best spots have been at the rookery, which is open every third day (today, Monday, Thanksgiving, etc.). At LaSalle, property manager Ken Bisacchi said they picked up a few more mallards but lost some wood ducks. ... Put-and-take hunting for ring-necked pheasants opens Saturday at Willow Slough and Winamac FWAs, but reservations were previously filled. ... Canada goose hunting reopens on Thanksgiving in the north zone.

Wild things: On Tuesday, the count of sandhill cranes at Jasper-Pulaski FWA topped 10,000 (10,147) for the first time this year. Best viewing is around dawn or dusk. More information is at http://www.in.gov/dnr/fishwild/3109.htm.



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