Outdoors: Weather, deer rule changes headline 2012
BY DALE BOWMAN Post-Tribune correspondent December 27, 2012 10:30PM
Updated: January 29, 2013 6:39AM
Weather fostered two of the big stories in the outdoors in 2012 in the area, but there was a significant shift also in deer hunting.
A package of changes and tweaks in deer hunting regulations took effect this year in Indiana. I suspect the introduction of the online harvest reporting will eventually have the most impact, at least in social significance among hunters. But that will take a few years to fully appreciate.
The extended stretch of record heat in March caused an unprecedented stretch of fishing in late winter/early spring on Lake Michigan. There has never been a run of perch fishing for boaters like the one in March.
“Not only numbers but also size were pretty good for the early spring catch of perch,’’ Lake Michigan fisheries biologist Brian Breidert said. “Annually we see some of that but not the extent we saw this past year.’’
That March heat carried over into the summer where 80-degree water came early on southern Lake Michigan, dramatically altering summer fisheries.
“The warm weather during the summer really wreaked havoc on the perch fishery with extreme temperatures — did not give us the cold upwelling we like, which helps our summer steelhead and perch alike,’’ Breidert emailed. “We did have a decent salmon fishery in June, albeit off shore in 100 foot of water.’’
But the Drought of 2012 and the accompanying heat otherwise had less of an impact locally than it did in other parts of the state, where there were fish kills from the heat in the summer, then a widespread epizootic hemorrhagic disease outbreak among deer.
I thought Breidert caught the big picture well with this.
“We learned that not every year is like the previous one,’’ he summarized. “That is really the big take home message to folks. You cannot always trust the way things are, be willing to adapt not only your style but also your presentation when conditions are not the same that you are used to. Try something new. That is [what] created all the different baits and lures we have today.’’
Hunting notes: The second duck season in the north zone ends Sunday. Locally ice-up has limited effort greatly in recent days.
On Saturday, opening day for the second season, property manager Ken Bisacchi at LaSalle Fish and Wildlife Area said hunters killed more than 100 ducks.
“It seems we had a pretty good push the Friday before,’’ he said.
Since then, it has been much quieter.
Icing has greatly limited success at Willow Slough FWA.
Hunting for ruffed grouse on private lands in Indiana ends Monday.
At least some nearby areas have enough snow to make for better rabbit hunting.
Fishing notes: Some winter steelhead started coming into the streams — especially Trail, Salt and Deep River—after the rains a week ago. Mik-Lurch Fishing Tackle Outlet in Hammond said spawn sacs are best. ... Shoreline fishing for perch continues to provide plenty of action (keepers take sorting) at the Hole-in-the-Wall and Chicago harbors.
A few local spots may have ice fishing later this week, but serious ice fishermen are better off heading north to Wisconsin, Michigan or the Chain O’Lakes in Illinois, where the first guys where out on backwaters this week.
Show notes: The Hammond Outdoor Sports Show will go the last weekend in January, even though the web site has not been updated yet.
Christmas trees: Remember, to use a Christmas tree as fish habitat on public waters in Indiana requires a license from the DNR and the permit fee is $100.