Good News On Gun Control After the Eclipse

Good News On Gun Control and After the Eclipse

Jim Shepherd
from The Fishing Wire

We’re only hours away from the great solar eclipse of 2017, but that’s not the only thing happening in our world today (unfortunately). Although it’s still craziness as usual in Washington, it appears a ray of sanity has injected itself into Arizona’s dual-minded arguments over guns.

This is what the solar eclipse later today will look like – if you have NASA’s technology and know-how. The rest of us will likely see it in a different light. NASA photo with permission.
Last week, Arizona’s Supreme Court ruled – unanimously, no less- that cities, towns and counties have no right to enact their own gun regulations. That decision voids a 2005 Tucson ordinance that says when a police department obtains a gun through a seizure or surrender, the agency “shall dispose of such firearm by destroying the firearm.”

That’s in contradiction to state law, and the Arizona high court says that’s a no-no. Technically speaking, the ruling upholds SB 1487 a 2016 law that allows individual lawmakers to direct the Attorney General’s Office to investigate claims that run contrary to state statutes.

In fact, SB 1487 triggers an automatic investigation that can lead to the city losing half its shared state revenues. The 2005 Tucson ordinance mandating destruction of seized firearms came under that investigation after a state lawmaker used SB 1487 to complain.

Arizona state law bars enforcement agencies from destroying operable seized weapons and direct they be sold, not destroyed.

The implications for Arizona’s 19 charter cities is clear: they do not have the constitutional right to enact their own absolute laws -and in many cases the Arizona legislature will have the last word. Simply stated, except in narrow instances, in conflicts between state and local ordinances, the local ordinances fail.

Now, about that darkness…..

Emergency management personnel are on high alert across the country (seriously), preparing to deal with, well, whatever happens when the solar eclipse starts to race across the country in only a couple of hours (Actually, it’s scheduled to begin just after 9:00 a.m. Pacific Daylight Time).

Before it passes off the South Carolina coast just after 4:00 P.M. Eastern time, millions of Americans will have taken time out of their Monday to see what happens when the moon blocks the rays of the sun across a 14-state swath of the country. And everyone from the USFWS to the Audubon Society is anxiously waiting to see what wildlife will do when darkness happens hours ahead of schedule.

Will the birds nest? Will the fish stop biting? Will mosquitoes emerge -only to be fried to a crisp when the sun reemerges (sorry, wishful thinking on my part..nothing kills mosquitoes during summer in the south)?

Actually, no one’s exactly sure how wildlife will behave. But officials have some idea how the people who have jammed the path of the eclipse across the country will behave. They’ve ramped up emergency services, rented portable toilet facilities and agree with the advice offered by Oregon officials -especially when you’re dealing with the same kind of congestion you face during any big event.

Here’s the advice if you’re out to watch the eclipse in the path of totality: “Arrive early, stay put and leave late!”

Seriously, officials are already reporting congestion and crowds in advance of the eclipse, but it’s only expected to worsen throughout the day.

Here’s some very simple advice: make certain you have plenty of fluids to stay hydrated, have fuel for your vehicle, and be patient.

And if you’re out to observe the eclipse, we’d really like your perspective on the whole thing. You can send your images and observations to editor@theoutdoorwire.com and we’ll do some coordinating and sharing between our readers.

We’re especially interested in how the wildlife behaves, but don’t feel like you’re limited- if it’s interesting to you, it will probably be interesting to others.

One final word of caution: please don’t risk serious- and potentially permanent- eye damage by trying to watch the eclipse with your naked eye or through an unfiltered camera lens. Use the pinhole viewer, watch online or borrow a pair of #14 (the minimal safe number) pair of welder’s goggles.

Stay safe- and remember, we’ll keep you posted.

Lake Guntersville Fishing Report from Captain Mike Gerry

Lake Guntersville Fishing Report

Check out these weekly updated reports for selected lakes in Georgia and Alabama Lakes Fishing Report. If any guides or fishermen do weekly reports and would like them published on my site please contact me: ronnie@fishing-about.com

Captain Mike with nice Guntersville bass

Captain Mike with nice Guntersville bass

Fishing Report, Lake Guntersville 8/19/17

If history repeats itself we will see a slow down for a few days maybe a week around the end
of the summer and by the middle of September fishing will be really strong. I don’t know why
but in checking my history mid-August seems to be a slow period just before we start seeing
some cooling temperatures and short dead period before we return to greatness.

Having said that I had a couple of really good days for numbers this past week and one day
where I couldn’t get a bite. There is no doubt the frog bite will continue to get better the
grass is just setting up to be a banner frog year. It’s also been a fact that my patterns of fish in
the 8 to 13 ft. range has held up really well, you can’t always get them to bite but seeing
them on your Lowrance Structure scan has been good. Worms, D-Bombs, “48” and SPRO baby
Little John crank baits are my best baits at the moment.

Come fish with me no one will treat you better or work harder to see that you have a great
day on the water. I have days and guides available all year long we fish with great sponsor
baits like Picasso Lures, T&H Marine products, Power Pole, Vicious, Duckett and more.

Don’t forget to get your registration in for the 10/7/17 SPRO frog tournament, there is a cutoff
date where they won’t take entries so get signed up now on www.spro.com

Fish Lake Guntersville Guide Service

Email: bassguide@comcast.net
Phone: 256 759 2270
Captain Mike Gerry

Hot, Tough Fishing At Clarks Hill

We should have used spottails or some other live bait at Clarks Hill last weekend. In the Flint River Bass Club August two day tournament, six members fished for 15 hours to land 21 keeper bass weighing about 29 pounds. There was one five-bass limit and one member did not catch a keeper in the two days. It was hot, tough fishing at Clarks Hill.

I won with seven bass weighing 10.46 pounds, Travis Weatherly was second with four weighing 8.32 pounds and big fish of 3.69 pounds, Chuck Croft was third with six weighing 6.58 pounds and Alex Gober places fourth with three at 3.31 pounds.

I made a lucky guess and started on a bridge riprap Saturday morning at 6:05. I caught my first keeper at 6:10 and had five at 6:35, all on a spinnerbait. Then, for the next 7.5 hours, I landed three more keepers. I was shocked at weigh-in that I had five, Chuck had two and nobody else had caught a keeper in eight hours.

Sunday I started at the bridge and caught keepers on back to back cast at 6:20. One of them was a good bass weighing 3.21 pounds. Although I fished hard until weigh-in I never caught another fish.

It was a better day for others. Travis caught his four on Sunday after not catching a fish on Saturday and Alex got his three after zeroing the first day. All five of the other guys stayed at a cabin at Soap Creek and I stayed 17 miles away in my mobile home at Raysville Boat Club. Maybe they shared information!

I got really frustrated Sunday. It was miserably hot, without a cloud in the sky, contrary to what the weather guessers predicted, and there was no breeze. Even worse I broke my line three times when setting the hook, something that should never happen.

The first happened when I was fishing down a shady bank and saw a big rock in about three feet of water. I pitched my shaky head worm to it, felt a thump and set the hook, breaking my line. I figured my line was over the rock and got cut.

Later out on a rock pile on an old road bed I was bouncing my bait through the rocks felt a bite and again broke my line when setting the hook. I again figured it was cut the rocks so I retied and it happened again a few minutes later.

I switched to heavier line to try to stop that from happening again but never got another bite!

Waterproof Spinning Reels

Waterproof Spinning Reels Promise Long Life
By Frank Sargeant
from The Fishing Wire

For anglers who wade or fish from kayaks, in particular, the affordable new Tsunami Shield spinning reel is likely to become a favorite primarily because it’s engineered with a series of 10 seals that the manufacturer says will make the interior parts permanently waterproof so long as the seals are intact.

As all who wade-fish or cast the surf regularly are aware, there’s no way a reel is not going to get dunked occasionally. Fresh water does minimal harm if it’s not loaded with mud and if allowed to dry out, but a saltwater soaking, even once, assures big trouble if the reel is not completely disassembled and re-lubed. Simply rinsing won’t do it. If internal corrosion gets started, the reel’s days are numbered.

Tackle used in kayaks, which sits just inches above the water, is also subject to a whole lot of water exposure.

Those who fish spinning tackle offshore also run into this problem. Reels used in open water boats are unlikely to get fully submerged, but they may get hit with heavy salt spray all the way out and all the way back–few center console boats really keep the spray out of the cockpit on a hard run upwind on a bumpy day. The sealing system should give the Shield reels a huge advantage in all these situations if it works as advertised.

The screws are all secured with LocTite, which assures that they stay put through a lot of hard use and vibration in the boat. (To remove the side plates for annual cleaning, a special tool is required–it’s provided in the box.)

There are some other reels that also are designated waterproof but they are very expensive, including the Shimano Stella, which goes for almost $800(!) and several from Van Staal, starting at $450. Daiwa’s Saltiga line, similarly pricey, advertises sealed bearings, rather than sealing the entire reel. The Tsunami Shield, a made-in-China reel, obviously lacks some of the features of these high-end reels, but it’s a whole lot more affordable, with the 3000 and 4000 sizes $99.99, the 5000 and 6000 $109.99. Whether you could take the Tsunami with you to swim a bait out through the surf, as some have done with the Van Staal models, remains to be seen, but for the difference in price they are definitely worth a try.

They’re built to handle some serious drag, as well, with up to 20 pounds of pressure in the 3000 and 4000 sizes, which makes the reels good for bass fishing in heavy weeds and for handling reef species around cover. For those who take on big-running fish like bonefish and permit on the flats or kings offshore, the drag is butter smooth and starts without any tendency to stick, even at heavier settings.

They have five bearings, compared to nine in a $389.95 Shimano Sustain 3000, but they’re very smooth in operation and the all-aluminum frame should keep everything well aligned and functioning right for years. They are somewhat heavier than some more expensive models, at 9.5 ounces for the 3000 model, compared to 8.3 ounces for the Sustain 3000, a minimal difference but perhaps a point to consider for all-day anglers. For details on the Shield, see www.biminibayoutfitters.com.

Getting Bait

Getting bait was always fun but sometimes we tried weird baits. Like all good fishermen, if we heard the fish were biting something we had to try it. That is why there are such huge selections of colors and types of plugs and worms at Berry’s Sporting Goods!

One time this desire to use anything we were told fish were biting taught me a lesson. Uncle Slaton and his family was visiting from Texas and we were all camping at Clarks Hill. As usual, we fished for bass, bream or crappie during the day and ran trotlines at night for catfish.

One afternoon Uncle Slaton came back to the camp from fishing and pulled out a nice catfish. He said he was fishing in a cove and found a trotline. The catfish was on it and since the line had not been checked all day he took the fish.

More important, he held up a half of a black plastic worm. He said it was on the hook the catfish was on and the rest of the line was baited with other pieces of black worms.

We immediately pulled out all our black plastic worms and started cutting them up. That night we baited all our trotlines with them. The next morning we didn’t have a fish on our lines.

I do not know how Uncle Slaton smothered his laughs. He later told us he played a trick on us, there were no plastic worms on any of the hooks where he found the catfish.

We had to go to the store and buy more black worms for our bass fishing.

One time I heard catfish would bite little chunks of Ivory Soap. That sounded like a nice clean bait to use rather than the stinky chicken guts we usually used. You washed your hands every time you baited a hook.

We cut bars of soap into half inch squares and baited a bunch of hooks – one time. We did not catch a fish. I may be slow but after one night I gave up on black plastic worms and Ivory Soap on trotlines!

Spottail minnows are one of the best baits for many game fish, no joke. Guides on Lanier and other lakes bait up places with rice to draw them in and either set out traps for them or catch them in a cast net. Spotted bass love them.

The biggest spottails I have ever seen were less than three inches long, a good size for most game fish. Last weekend Jack “Zero” Ridgeway called me about them. He had been fishing from a dock at West Point lake and had caught some spottails six inches long. He sent me a picture of one of them.

Neither of us had ever heard of spottails that big, and that would bite a bait so you could catch them on a hook. I looked them up and found out that spottails are a type of shiner minnow and their average size is two to three inches, but they can grow up to six inches long. They range from Canada as far south as the Chattahoochee River drainage in Georgia. Since West Point is on the Chattahoochee River that fits right in.

Shark Fishing Tips

Shark Fishing Tips from NY DEC
from The Fishing Wire

Sharks are some of the sea’s most well-known but misunderstood inhabitants. They simultaneously provoke fascination and hysteria wherever they appear. Excessive fear of their ferocity and aggression has tainted people’s relationship with sharks, threatening their populations around the globe.

Sharks belong to the class of cartilaginous fishes that also includes rays and skates. They are primitive fishes whose skeletons lack true bones and instead are made of cartilage, the same material our ears and nose are made of.

There are over 500 species of sharks known through the world and are found in all seas, from near shore estuaries to the open ocean beyond the continental shelf. They are found in temperate, tropical and arctic latitudes as well as depths up to 6,000 feet.

New York’s marine waters are home to a variety of native shark species, as well as migratory species during the warmer months. During shark week, we will explore some of the lesser known sharks species found in New York’s marine waters and celebrate this misunderstood ocean predator.

‘Sharking’ in New York

Today, recreational and tournament anglers go shark fishing, also known as ‘sharking.’ Before heading out to try your luck at sharking, you must first register with the Recreational Marine Fishing Registry and apply for a federal Highly Migratory Species (HMS) permit

When fishing for sharks, you should be able to identify what species you are prohibited from taking. For a list of shark species you are prohibited from taking, as well as those you are allowed to take, visit Saltwater Fishing Regulations for Sharks.

If you catch a prohibited shark species while fishing from shore, please do not drag the shark onto the beach. If you hook a prohibited shark species you must return the shark to the water at once, without unnecessary injury to the shark. The easiest way to do this is to cut your leader as closely to the hook (as safely as practicable), while the shark is still in the water. Non-stainless circle hooks will rust free from the shark’s mouth in a short period of time.

For best practices, view NOAA’s Atlantic Recreational Shark Fishing: Handling and Release of Prohibited Species video.

If you’re going shark fishing please be familiar with prohibited shark species, and always follow the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) guidance, “If you don’t know, let it go!” For more information on how to identify shark species, visit NOAA’s Atlantic Shark website.

When fishing for sharks with baited hooks, you are required to use non-stainless steel, non-offset circle hooks.

Non-stainless steel hooks deteriorate over time, reducing harm to a fish if you are unable to retrieve the hook. A circle hook’s point is turned back toward the shank, forming a semi-circle shape. A circle hook is preferred to a J-hook for sharking. A circle hook is more likely to lodge in a shark’s mouth. A J-hook is more likely to be swallowed and damage a shark’s internal organs.

Keep your circle hook’s point in line with the shank. When a hook’s point bends sideways away from the shank, it becomes offset. Offset hooks can potentially injure a shark when you are removing the hook.

Ecological Role

Sharks have been roaming the seas for over 400 million years, predating the dinosaurs! They have survived many mass extinctions, including the event that extinguished the dinosaurs about 6 million years ago. Sharks have survived successfully for so long due to their ability to evolve. As a result, sharks have become the ocean’s top predators, also known as apex predators. Most sharks are aggressive apex predators that consume fish, turtles and marine mammals. The exceptions are the whale sharks, the basking sharks and the megamouth sharks, which are all filter feeders that consume plankton.

Apex predators are at the top of the food chain and generally have no natural predators. They play a vital role in maintaining a healthy population of organisms they prey upon. Ecosystems are extremely complex. Even small changes can have significant consequences in a variety of ways. Removing or reducing the population of an apex predator has the potential to upset the population balance of both prey and predators. This can have far-reaching negative consequences throughout the ecosystem.

Sharks had always been the apex predators of the oceans, until humans began refining our ability to harvest marine resources. Technology has improved many aspects of human life, but it has also given us the capacity to over-harvest finite resources.

Shark Conservation

Historically, sharks have largely been an underutilized resource in North America. Small, limited fisheries have existed for many years in areas along the U.S. coast. Large, well organized fisheries have occurred occasionally, but have been relatively rare and short lived.

The earliest known local commercial shark fisheries on the east coast occurred in the 1930s using long lines, chain nets and gill nets. Most of these fisheries were near shore and localized. Sharks were mainly harvested for their liver oil for the production of vitamin A and their hides for leather. Prior to the 1970s, there was little utilization of shark meat for human consumption in the U.S. Improvements in methods for handling sharks at sea, along with a marketing program promoted by the government, increased demand and consumption of sharks. Today, commercial fishing for sharks uses primarily long lines and gill nets.

Recreational fishing along the U.S. east coast was popularized in the 1970s. Advances in boat construction, efficiency and size of marine engines, fishing tackle and electronics technology, along with the ability of the public to purchase and own boats, made shark fishing much more accessible to recreational fisherman.

The National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) finalized a fishery management plan and began managing the U.S. shark fishery in 1993. Measures adopted included commercial quotas, a commercial observer program, regulations regarding the retention of shark fins in proper proportion to carcasses, recreational bag limits, and prohibition of sale of recreationally caught sharks. As sharks continued to be overfished, subsequent addendums in later years included size limits for both recreational and commercial fisheries, permitting and reporting requirements, expansion of the observer program and limited commercial access.

*Special thanks to all our photograph contributors.* Many organizations who helped us with photographs are conducting exceptional work in shark research and conservation. For more information on how DEC administers permits for research and handling of native New York shark species, visit our Special Licenses Page.

Yet Another Tough July Sinclair Tournament

Last Sunday 12 members and guests of the Spalding County Sportsman Club fished our July tournament at Lake Sinclair. We landed 24 keeper bass weighing about 29 pounds. There were two five-bass limits and two zeros.

Raymond English found the big one and a limit to place far out in front with 11.0 pounds and big fish of 5.81. My little limit weighing 5.15 pounds was second, third went to Jay Gerson with four keepers weighing 3.93 pounds and Robert Proctor was fourth with two at 3.92 pounds.

At least I am consistent. The weekend before I had five weighing 5.19 pounds. I caught all five of my keepers on a weightless Senko skipped under docks. The first one, my biggest, hit at the end of a dock about six feet deep at about 8:00 AM. After that I was surprised at how shallow the rest of the fish were.

At about 10:00 AM I was going between two docks along a shallow bank. The riprap dropped to about two feet deep and the water was clear enough to see the bottom where they ended. I cast the Senko to a little grass patch on the rocks and caught a short fish, then a few feet further I landed another one about 11 inches long.

At a patch of shade from the seawall I saw my line move out as the Senko sank. I figured it was another small bass and may not have set the hook hard enough. As soon as I set the hook a two pound plus bass flashed in the water. I fought it almost to the boat and it just came unhooked.

As I approached the next dock I saw a man and his dog come out of the house and head toward the dock and I figured he was going to fuss at me, so I started moving past it. But he was very friendly, asking me how I was doing and pointing to where his brush piles were underwater.

I got the far side of the dock and skipped the Senko under the walkway and caught my second keeper. Then, as I worked toward the next dock he said right where is banana plant grew on the seawall was a good place. I had passed it but threw back and landed my third keeper. It should have gotten off, as I lifted it over the side it came unhooked, hit the top of the gunnel and fell into the boat.

I caught one each on the next two docks, landing my fifth at about 11:20. That was it, I never hooked anther fish before the 2:00 weigh-in.

Detroit River Fishing

Detroit River Fishing – Some Good Environmental News for a Change
James D. Swan, Ph.D.
from The Fishing Wire

Mainstream media daily bombard us with tales of woe, corruption, scandal, crime, crises, conflict, and disaster. We need to hear some good news, and clearly the recovery of the Detroit River is some good news.

At an average rate of 175,000 cubic feet per second, the Detroit River surges through a strait less than a mile wide for 32 miles, passing five million people as it flows between Lake St. Claire and Lake Erie. As it enters Lake Erie, the river widens and the waters slip past two cigar-shaped islands. Along the Canadian shore lies 2.5 miles long Bois-Blanc Island, a former amusement park that today is a resort community. To the west in American waters is a 12 mile-long cigar-shaped island, Grosse Ile, the quiet home of more than 10,000 people.

A history of the Detroit River reveals how becoming “civilized” can influence water quality. In 1701 the French explorer Antoine de la Mothe Cadillac established Fort Pontchartrain du Détroit on the west bank of this strait. Within a couple decades, each winter the hay, straw, and manure from all the stables in Detroit were hauled out onto the frozen river and dumped on the ice. Spring thaws would then carry away downstream like one giant flush of the city’s toilet.

As Detroit grew from a trading post into a city, waste dumping increased. In 1823 Peter Berthelet was authorized to build a wharf from the shore out to deep water and install a pipe to supply water that would be free from contamination by the debris commonly dumped into the river.

By 1909 the pollution of the Detroit River had become so bad that an International Joint Commission of representatives from the United States and Canada was formed. Four years later the both countries admitted they were dumping untreated sewage into the river and they agreed to build sewage treatment plants. A 1929-30 follow-up study concluded the river was no longer polluted. My father, who lived nearly all his life on Grosse Ile, recalled how in the late 20’s he and his friends used to be able to see the bottom of the river when they dove off the bridge on the west side of the island.

As Henry Ford’s dream of creating the automobile manufacturing center of the world materialized, World War II drove Detroit into round the clock manufacturing of vehicles and the quality of water in the Detroit River again declined. A l946-48 International Joint Commission reported that the Detroit River was seriously polluted by some 1,739,120,040 gallons of municipal and industrial wastewaters that were flushed away on an average day! Oil slicks on the river were reported 1/3 of the time. Once abundant species, such as whitefish, blue pike, trout, and sturgeon, virtually disappeared from the Detroit River and Lake Erie, and those remaining often tasted oily. Major public-access sites displayed public health warning signs. You could still catch some fish from the bank, but not the same assortment of prime species as a few decades earlier, and they often tasted like oil.

A reminder of the bad old days for the Detroit River. James Swan photo.
Two decades later, in waste waters came an infusion of nitrates and phosphates from common household detergents stimulatong the growth of aquatic plants in the river and lake. These aquatic plants became so luxuriant that by mid-summer, boating was impossible in large areas. And as the plants died off in the fall, large amounts of vegetative material sank to the bottom, covering the bottom with a thick mat of rotting ooze. Starting in the late fifties, large areas of the river and lake became biological deserts for all but carp and goldfish.

In l964 an International Joint Commission report declared that the lower 26 miles of the Detroit River were “polluted bacteriologically, chemically, physically, and biologically so as to interfere with municipal water supplies, recreation, fish and wildlife propagation and navigation.” Wildlife biologist Dr. George Hunt estimated that as many as 10,000 ducks, geese, swans and gulls used to die nearly every winter from oil spills in the lower Detroit River.

Little wonder that in 1970 a cover story on Time magazine declared Lake Erie dead.

Earth Day 1970 finally drew focus on the serious pollution problems of that time, and an international movement began to clean up the Detroit River. So much progress has taken place in the Detroit River since then that in 2001 an International Wildlife Refuge was established in the lower Detroit River, with its initial offices on Grosse Ile.

Some examples of recovery accomplishments:

1) In the 1970s there was a nearly complete reproductive failure of bald eagles. In 2013, there were 18 active bald eagle nests in the vicinity of the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge.

2) The falcon population in Michigan was decimated in the 1950s. Falcons were reintroduced in Detroit in 1987 and since the early 1990s falcon reproductive success has steadily increased. Falcons now nest under the Ambassador Bridge

3) In 2009, a pair of osprey built a nest in a cell phone tower adjacent to the Gibraltar Wetlands Unit of the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge; the first time that osprey have successfully nested in Wayne County since the 1890’s.

4) Since the early 1960’s there’s been a 96% decline in nesting pairs of terns along the Detroit River. In 2012 two common terns fledged on restored Belle Isle habitat on Belle Isle; the first fledging since the 1960’s.

5) A hundred years ago, sturgeon were abundant in the Detroit River and Lake Erie. No sturgeon spawning was recorded in the Detroit River from 1970s to 1999. In 2001 sturgeon reproduction was documented on the U.S. side near Zug Island and in 2009 sturgeon reproduction was documented near Fighting Island on the Canadian side of the river

6) In 2006 whitefish spawning in the Detroit River was documented for the first time since 1916

7) The walleye population in Lake Erie was rated as in “crisis” in 1978. By 2012, fishery biologists estimated that 22.2 million walleye (age 2 and greater) were present in Lake Erie, resulting in a total harvest through sport and commercial fishing of 2.48 million walleyes. It’s estimated now that 10 million walleye ascend the Detroit River from Lake Erie each spring, The Detroit River and Lake Erie are now considered the “Walleye Capital of the World.”

8) Beaver were hunted to near extinction in lower Michigan during the “fur trade era.” During the 1940’s-1970’s, beaver couldn’t have survived in the Detroit River because oiled fur becomes matted and loses its ability to trap air to maintain body temperature. In 2008, two beaver built a lodge at DTE’s Conner Creek Power Plant. Beaver are now found in the headwaters of the Rouge River, and in 2013, beaver were seen at DTE’s Rouge Power Plant.

9) Steelhead and salmon are now found in the Detroit River and Lake Erie and some spawn in tributaries.

10) Wild celery (an important food for diving ducks) in the Detroit River declined 72% between 1950 and1985 because of oil and other pollution. It’s increased 200% since 1985.

11) The entire length of the Detroit River is now safe for water contact sports.

I’d add that when I was growing up on Grosse Ile, I saw one deer on the island before I left for college. There now is a deer season on the refuge.

The man to speak with about the current status and future of the Detroit River is Dr. John Hartig, Manager of the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge. http://www.fws.gov/midwest/detroitriver/

A life-long resident of Southeastern Michigan, John grew up in Allen Park in the 1960s, and would pedal his bike down Southfield Road to fish the Detroit River. When he’d come back home, Hartig recalls “The neighbors would say, ‘You’re not going to eat that fish are you?'”.

According to Dr. Hartig, the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge is the only international refuge in North America and one of only 14 priority urban refuges in the nation charged with bringing conservation to cities. It covers 48 miles of shoreline along the Detroit River and western Lake Erie – stretching from southwest Detroit to the Ohio-Michigan border and as far east as Point Pelee National Park in Ontario. The Refuge focuses on conserving and restoring habitats for 350 species of birds and 117 species of fish. USFWS currently owns or cooperatively manages 6,202 acres of unique lands and partners with Michigan Department of Natural Resource on conservation of 7,897 acres of state-owned land. A Canadian registry of lands includes 3,797 acres of Essex Region Conservation Authority lands and 981 acres of City of Windsor lands. In total, 18,877 acres of land in southeast Michigan and southwest Ontario are now being cooperatively managed for conservation and outdoor recreation for nearly seven million people living in a 45-minute drive.

The cornerstone of the Refuge is the 410-acre Humbug Marsh in Trenton – the last mile of natural shoreline on the U.S. mainland of the Detroit River.

As a result of considerable public outcry over potential development of Humbug Marsh, it was purchased by USFWS and preserved in perpetuity as the cornerstone of the Refuge. Humbug Marsh is considered an internationally important wetland because of its ecological importance in the Detroit River corridor and the Great Lakes Basin Ecosystem. Oak trees around the marsh have been aged at over 300 years old and were alive when Cadillac founded Detroit in 1701, and there’s a local healthy deer herd in that area.

Refuge Gateway Center (top) under construction will help educate the next generation while the 740-foot dock for the Great Lakes school ship (below) will also help teach them about conservation- and fishing. Photo by Tandem with permission.

An automotive manufacturing facility in Trenton that produced brakes, paints, and solvents for 44 years was located adjacent to Humbug Marsh. It was cleaned up to industrial standards and sat vacant as an industrial brownfield for over 10 years. In 2002, Wayne County Parks purchased this brownfield in Trenton to become the future home of the Refuge Visitor Center and to improve outdoor recreational opportunities including shore fishing, hiking, wildlife observation, kayaking, and more. It’s taken 10 more years to cleanup this former industrial brownfield and meet public use standards.

Through this restoration project there’s been: a net gain of over 16 acres of wetlands in an area that has lost 97% of its coastal wetlands to development; restoration of 25 acres of upland buffer habitat; control of invasive plant species on over 50 acres of upland habitats, including control of invasive Phragmites along 2.5 miles of shoreline. It’s also resulted in merging the 44-acre Refuge Gateway with the 410-acre Humbug Marsh into one ecological unit. Citizen involvement has occurred throughout the project, including public meetings, design charrettes, planting trees and wetland plugs, building trails, birding tours, and nature hikes to achieve local ownership/stewardship. It’s the only project in the world to successfully clean up an industrial brownfield to serve as an ecological buffer for a “Wetland of International Importance.”

At the Refuge Gateway under construction are: a 12,000 square foot LEED-certified, Visitor Center (two classrooms, a multi-purpose room, and one-third of the building devoted to hands-on and minds-on activities for children); a 740-foot dock for the Great Lakes school ship that will use the adjacent waters as a living laboratory for children; a universally-accessible 200-foot fishing pier; a canoe and kayak launch; three wildlife observation decks; and an outdoor environmental education classroom. There are three miles of hiking trails that will be connected to over 100 miles of greenway trails. When the visitor center and amenities open in 2018, it will attract hundreds of thousands of annual visitors, changing the image of the river and the refuge from a polluted “rust-belt” dump to a conservation treasure.

The International Wildlife Refuge Alliance and the Friends Organization for the Detroit River International Wildlife Refuge are currently leading a two-month, on-line fundraising campaign to complete the school ship dock and fishing pier at the Refuge Gateway in Trenton. See link

Their goal is to raise $50,000 in two months to complete this project by August 31. If they do, they’ll receive $50,000 in match funding from the Michigan Economic Development Corporation. Donations are welcomed.

One good example of conservation success like the Detroit River recovery can start a national, and international movement that can change the world, maybe even force the media to tell us more good stories.

Building Tree Houses – Growing Up Wild In Georgia

Do kids still build tree houses? That was always a favorite summer activity of mine. From the one in the pecan tree in my front yard to the ones we built down in the woods, they ranged from simple platforms ten feet high to complex ones so far up we put side boards on it to keep from falling out.

The house I grew up in had five pecan trees. There was a huge one in from of the house, another big one to one side and a third in the edge of the field past mama’s flower bed. There were two more smaller trees right beside the ditch on Iron Hill Road to the same side as the flower bed.

One of those smaller trees had a big limb about ten feet from the ground that was perfect for the base of a tree house. Boards nailed to the tree trunk provided a ladder for access. Then two by fours nailed to the limb made the base, with braces going back to the trunk below them.

I rebuilt that one several times over my youth as the boards rotted and became unsafe. I spent many summer days sitting in it, cooled by any breeze that filtered through the limbs and shaded by the leaves above me. I felt completely hidden from the world watching the occasional car or truck that passed just a few feet away. And although mama knew where I was, I could not see the house from my platform.

Taking sandwiches and a drink up in the tree to eat made many summer lunches pass quickly. In the fall there were always pecans on the platform for a snack. One special place was a limb knot hole right beside the platform where I often found pecan hulls where a blue jay or wood pecker had stuck a nut in the small hole and used it as a vice to hold its lunch as it pecked away the shell and ate the meat.

The highest tree house we ever built was in a huge pine tree behind Harold’s house. My memory tells me it was way too high but it was probably no more than 30 feet from the ground, still scary enough for a 12-year-old. It was hard work hauling the boards up that high, either pulling them up with a rope or passing them hand over hand between Harold, Hal and me while we perched with one leg hooked over a limb.

The platform on this one was probably 10 feet square, sitting on a big limb parallel to the ground. Another limb below that one that ran up at more of an angle provided a great place for supports so we could build it bigger. It was cross braced and around the edges we had nailed one by eights to provide a small lip.

We actually slept up there in our sleeping bags one time but near the base of it was our camp. We made prefab walls and a roof and struggled to get them the couple of hundred yards to the site. The three sided shed was a great place to store wood for a dry fire starter and some tools we used every time we camped there.

A rock fire pit with a homemade spit, made from two forked limbs and a cross piece with the bark stripped, was used for roasting squirrels and birds. We cooked breakfast in our mess kits on that fire and also put our “camp dinners” on it. Those were the big patty of ground beef topped by potatoes, onions, carrots and butter wrapped in tinfoil.

Other tree houses ranged from not much bigger than what I now put up for a deer stand to platforms we could lay one and stretch out. We never had anything like the fancy prefab “tree” houses on posts you see in yards nowadays. They are often nowhere near a tree, usually put up by the parents, and very complex.

I can’t help but believe kids are missing something by building their own houses down in the woods, all by themselves, with no adult supervision or help, like we did.

Hot Lake Sinclair Tournament

I didn’t think fishing could get any worse than the three tournaments in July but last Sunday West Point proved me wrong. I thought I had a really bad day until weigh-in.

At the Flint River Bass Club July tournament 10 members and guests fished from 6:00 AM to 2:00 PM to land 11 keeper bass weighing about 13 pounds. There were six spotted bass longer than the 12-inch size limit and five largemouth over their 14 inch limit. No one had a limit and there two people didn’t have a keeper.

I won with two fish weighing 2.40 pounds, Wes Delay came in second with two at 2.30 pounds, third was guests Glen Holcomb with one weighing 1.86 and that was big fish. Alex Gober was fourth with one weighing 1.71 pounds.

I started with a buzzbait near the ramp, something that has worked in the past but I never got a bite. After 30 frustrating minutes I ran about five miles down the lake to some trees in the water on a steep bank, the kind of place a friend told me it was easy to catch a limit of small keepers.

At 6:40 I threw a jig head worm to a small pine top in about four feet of water and when I tightened up my line it was moving toward the boat. I set the hook and landed a 13-inch spotted bass and knew at least I would not zero.

After working more trees over the next two hours I ran back up the lake to some more blowdowns but did not get a bite. I knew there was some brush a fisherman had put out way out on a long, shallow point and I fished the point out to my waypoint on it. When I cast my jig head worm to it I got a thump but before I could set the hook the fish took off, luckily for me setting the hook himself,

That was a largemouth weighing over a pound and a half and it hit in 22 feet of water. I decided I needed to fish deep and tried a variety of places but got no bites.

At noon I stopped on another long point with some rocks out in 20 to 30 feet of water and quickly caught four short bass, all under the size limit. I ended the day fishing the brush pile where I had caught the largemouth, hoping another one had moved to it to feed, but got no more bites.

It was so hot by 9:00 I realized I was fishing places where I could sit in the shade or in the little breeze, not really fishing where I thought the fish should be. I wish we still had night tournaments when it is cooler, boat traffic is much less and the fish bite better!