Category Archives: Conservation

Kayaking and Fishing with Kids and Teens

With it being Fathers Day Weekend, I thought this would be apropos…

I love to see parents who get their children out on the water at an early age. My son has been fishing with me since he was probably 4, fly fishing since 7, and paddling since about the same age. If he is free, he will go out with me, with other friends, or by himself. Here is how I developed that.

Start simple. If you are fishing, do it in a park setting where the child can quickly catch bluegill, and when they get bored, head over to the slides. When you catch a fish, let the child reel it in. Take pictures. Get them to touch the fish. Cheer them on. If you take your non-fishing spouse with you, they can then watch the child while you continue to fish more seriously. Do NOT abuse that though!

Plan trips carefully. When Josh started going on weekend trips with me, we would not fish for 10-12 hours a day. I would know what else is around such as museums, hiking, horse back riding, and ice cream. It is time with your son or daughter, so use it wisely. Do not frustrate them. Plan the more adventurous trips without them, and make sure to give your spouse a chance to take a trip that they want to enjoy. Oh yeah, bring lots of snacks and juice boxes!

Focus on safety. If you are in a boat, make sure that the child wears his/her PFD at all times (you should have yours on as well – set the example). Take the time to get one that fits well and is comfortable – the orange horse collars will just irritate them. If you are wading, make sure that she has waders that fit, a belt that is snug, and if necessary, attach a rope leash to them, and a PFD in water that you are not sure about. I have never used that, but know other dads who have<

Teach as you go. The Bible has a passage that says to teach them as you sit, walk, lie down, and rise (Deuteronomy 6:7). The same goes for life. As you rig your rod, teach the knots and the fly or lure that you are putting on. Explain the different types of fish. Talk about water safety. Pick up trash that you find and tell them about how to be a good steward of the environment.

Let them be kids! This means that you will be skipping rocks, looking for turtles, crayfish, getting wet and dirty (an extra set of clothes and a towel in the car is advisable). Don’t expect them to be able to pay attention for hours. When you go to the big box outdoor store or local bait shop, let them explore the fish tank, animal mounts, and bait sinks.

What you will discover is that as the years progress, you will be able to fish longer with them. The child will develop more confidence in the water and you will be able to let them venture out on their own. Do not force them. If they do not enjoy it, find other areas of interest to spend time with them.

Rachel on the Au Sable
Rachel on the Au Sable
I floated from Mio to McKinley on the Au Sable RIver just before Memorial Day with my 13 year old daughter. While she enjoys fishing with me, she enjoys the kayaking more. We fished the first half of the trip, wading at different points. Note that an inexperienced angler flyfishing from a kayak is not advisable. After our stop at Comins, she wanted to just paddle, so that is what we did. I had to put away the rod (passing up some beautiful streamer water!), and we talked and laughed as we paddled and explored.

Guess what, she’ll go with me again.

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Jack Pine Planting in Grayling

Help conserve jack pine forest – the Kirtland warbler’s paradise – by planting trees May 3

 Looking for an opportunity to get outside and give back to Michigan’s natural resources? OnSaturday, May 3, from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.volunteers will gather in Grayling to plant an acre of jack pine seedlings.

Kirtland's warblerThe jack pine forest provides the primary nesting habitat for the rarest member of the wood warbler family, the Kirtland’s warbler. Very restrictive habitat requirements result in nests in just a few counties in Michigan’s northern Lower and Upper peninsulas, in Wisconsin and the province of Ontario and, currently, nowhere else on Earth. Kirtland’s warblers are ground-nesters that prefer jack pine stands more than 80 acres in size, where the nest can be concealed in mixed vegetation of grasses and shrubs below the living branches of 5- to 20-year-old trees.

“Birding is a rapidly growing hobby and a growing market – in 2011 birders spent $41 billion on trip-related expenses in the United States,” said Abigail Ertel, Kirtland’s warbler coordinator for Huron Pinesciting a recent U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service report. “The Kirtland’s warbler is one of the rarest songbirds in North America, and northern Michigan is the place to see this amazing species, which creates an opportunity for local communities and the state to benefit economically.”

Biologists, researchers and volunteers observed 2,004 singing males during the official 2013Kirtland’s warbler survey period; 2,063 males were observed in 2012. In 1974 and 1987, when the lowest survey numbers were recorded, only 167 singing males were found.

“Huron Pines is excited to be partnering with the DNR to organize the jack pine planting day,” said Ertel. “We have a strong history of working with the DNR to accomplish conservation projects, and this volunteer event is a great way to celebrate this work while providing an exciting, hands-on learning experience for everyone involved.”

To join in on the fun, please register to attend at www.huronpines.orgVolunteers will meet for this free event at 9 a.m. at Staley Lake Road in Grayling, just steps from the Au Sable River.

Volunteers should bring gloves and appropriate footwear and expect moderate physical activity. A reminder with location and event details will be emailed to participants before the event.

Water, coffee and snacks will be provided. There will be sack lunches and a free gift from Gates Au Sable Lodge. Tshirts and e-subscriptions to Michigan Out-of-Doors magazine also will be available, provided by Michigan United Conservation Clubs (MUCC).

Additional support is provided by MUCC, Gates Au Sable Lodge, Fairmount Sand Mining Company and Saving Birds Thru Habitat.

For more information on the Kirtland’s warbler, visit www.michigan.gov/wildlife.

Contact: Dan Kennedy, 517-284-6194 or Huron Pines, 989-448-2293, ext. 21 orrsvp@huronpines.org

Volunteering Outside

If you are reading this, you have some interest in the outdoors. My question to you is “How are you improving your favorite area?”

Paint Creek Trail Access Point just down from Tienken. Jason C Davis Clinton Valley Trout Unlimited
Paint Creek Stair Project in February 2014

Here in Michigan, it has not been above freezing many days since Christmas. There is an 18″ snow base in my back yard. Paint Creek is completely frozen over. What good can I do outside beyond sledding, skiing, or snowmobiling?

While many scheduled winter projects have been rescheduled or cancelled this year, that has not stopped the planning.

Paint Creek Stairs
Stairs and streambank improvement on the Paint Creek

Last night my wife and I attended a Clinton River Watershed Council volunteer dinner for an ongoing project called the Clinton River Coldwater Conservation Project. Over the past 10 years volunteers have mapped out sections of the Paint Creek and Clinton River, assisting the DNR in their studies and promoting fishing and kayaking on the resources. It has also done stream restoration and access points for fishermen, kayaking, and trail enthusiasts. The presentations last night showed the work done in Rochester Park last year and highlighted the upcoming projects being planned.

This weekend is the Midwest Fly Fishing Expo here in southeastern Michigan. Along with all of the vendors, many conservation groups will be there promoting awareness of the various watersheds throughout Michigan.

I would encourage you to find a conservation group in your area and volunteer your time with them. Many of them have different types of fundraisers. Money is always welcome, but there is a joy in seeing something that your sweat helped clean up.

Here are some southeastern Michigan groups. Many of them are fishing related, but there are many trails and watershed councils throughout the state. If you cannot find something in your area, leave a comment below and I will help you out.

Clinton Valley Trout Unlimited
Vanguard Chapter Trout Unlimited
Challenge Chapter Trout Unlimited
Paul Young Chapter Trout Unlimited
Clinton River Watershed Council
Friends of the Paint Creek Trail
Michigan Steelheaders
International Federation of Fly Fishers

Anglers of the Au Sable
Michigan Trout Unlimited
Trout Unlimited