Muskegon River Lodge Blog

Conservation, Recreation and Life on the Muskegon River

2020 Fly Fishing Film Tour in Grand Rapids

Saw the (leap year) date: The Fly Fishing Film Tour is set for the Weathy Theater in Grand Rapids on Feb. 29. Tickets are $19 and may be purchased online here. The tour says “discount tickets” will be available soon at these shops: Nomad Anglers, Great Lakes Fly Fishing, and Orvis Grand Rapids. Support your local fly shop!

The tour has a Vimeo page with trailers. Like this one …

Get them outdoors

“Who doesn’t want to get out, have fun enjoy life?” That’s from Juwan, one of the young people in this video from Loop Nola, a nonprofit that provide outdoors experiences to kids in the Greater New Orleans area. (ht: Take Me Fishing).

According to the New Orleans based organization, “On average, American children spend 90% of their time indoors looking at some type of electronic screen. They rarely interact with the Outdoorsman’s Paradise right outside their windows here in Louisiana and the adventures it offers. Outdoor activities decrease stress, relieve attention fatigue and increase creativity, but there are few outdoor opportunities offered to children and youth in the Greater New Orleans area.”

Programs run year round — partnering with summer camps when the school year is over. According to Loop Nola, it served more than 2,500 hundred participants in the 2017-18 school year, more than half from low-income families, and collaborated with 34 school and nonprofit partners.

Get them off the screens and put a fishing pole in their hands. And watch the smiles.

Hard water fishing tips

Wikimedia: Winter fishing on Lake Michigan. Whymper, F. (1893)  Fisheries of the World : an Illustrated and Descriptive Record of the International Fisheries Exhibition, 1883

Download your free 24-page guide to ice fishing from the University of Wisconsin Sea Grant Institute. It’s especially helpful for beginners. The guide has advice on how to find fish, gear and gadgets, what to wear, and how to stay on top of the ice.

What to Do in a Breakthrough

If you break through while on foot, don’t panic. Your heavy winter clothing, especially a snowmobile suit, will not drag you down. Instead, if you remain calm, it provides excellent flotation.

To climb out, turn toward the direction you came from and put your hands and arms on the unbroken surface. Work forward on the ice by kicking your legs and using those nails, if you have them, to claw your way onto the ice. If the ice breaks, maintain your posi- tion and slide forward again. Once you are lying on the ice, don’t stand up. Roll away from the break until you’re on solid ice. Once you’re on safe ice, get to shelter and warm yourself immediately.

More there on what to do if you go through while driving a vehicle. That aside, there’s good stuff on ice fishing.

In selecting a site at an unfamiliar lake, move in among any group of ice anglers present. They usually have found a good location, and a certain amount of friendly crowding—short of “horning in”—is tolerated, even encouraged. Good manners in summer dictate plenty of elbow and casting room, but that doesn’t necessarily apply in winter.

If you must do your prospecting, cut your first hole close to shore and drop in a little bait to prime it. (Crumbled egg shells, which twist and catch the dim light as they settle, easily attract minnows—and they bring the larger fish in their wake.) Then start another hole a little farther out. In this way you keep active and warm, and you should locate your quarry more quickly.

Not all fish bite in winter. A smallmouth bass caught through the ice would make headlines—at least in some counties of Wisconsin. But lakes with such fish as bluegill, perch, northern pike and walleye often provide larger catches in the winter than in the summer.

In the mail: The Muskegon — The Majesty and Tragedy of Michigan’s Rarest River

The Muskegon River Watershed Assembly is selling what it says are the last hard cover copies of Jeff Alexander’s book. $25. Order here. Blurb:

“Journey with award-winning environmental writer, Jeff Alexander, down the Muskegon River, one of Michigan’s most surprising and interesting streams, and take a trip back into Michigan’s environmental history and forward into an uncertain future…” -Dave Dempsey, author of On the Brink and Ruin and Recovery.



Video: Joe Humphreys in ‘Live the Stream’

This is just too cool for words. Nomadic Studio, a film production company, has released a trailer to promote “Live the Stream,” the story of Joe Humphreys. Yes, he’s 90 years old and still at it (watch him pumping iron in the video … )

Who is Joe Humphreys? He’s “a man with a wonderful family, a wealth of friends, and a resume of remarkable talents. He’s a multi-lettered collegiate athlete who easily could have chosen another career path but, instead, decided to devote his life to fly fishing. Joe’s traveled the world representing the U.S. in fly fishing competitions, has guided presidents & celebrities, held a Pennsylvania record, hosted an ESPN show, and was inducted into the Fly Fishing Hall of Fame, yet Joe’s focus has always been on teaching, coaching, and passing on the joys of fly fishing to anyone who wants to learn.

“His books have helped many students better their skills and his classroom work as a 19-year instructor of the renowned Penn State Angling program is just as esteemed. If you’re familiar with fly fishing you’ll recognize “Hump” on the street or on the stream but if you know nothing about angling, you’d think he was an average Joe. He’s an icon happily living his life in a local community but his impact on fly fisherman all over the world is profound. There’s no way to know how many people Joe has inspired. This man never slows down… even at 86 years old and that’s impressive.”

You’ll note how Humphreys doesn’t go crashing into the river soon as he gets there but stops for a moment to watch. “He spots a giant.” And that slick bow and arrow cast? (Practice yours here with Orvis’ Pete Kutzer).

Streaky lake effect

NOAA National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service (NESDIS). NOAA Environmental Visualization Laboratory

Give you chills? Note the heavy band of lake effect snow all up and down the eastern Lake Michigan shoreline and a deep margin inland. Here’s the description from NOAA:

The Suomi NPP satellite’s VIIRS instrument captured these parallel rows of clouds, known as “cloud streets” streaming over the Great Lakes on Christmas Day 2017. These cloud formations helped deliver record-setting snowfall in Erie, Pa., where more than 60 inches of snow fell over a two-day period.

Long, parallel rows of clouds over the Great Lakes are common in early winter, when frigid arctic air from Canada crosses the relatively warm lake water. As winds from the west or northwest blow over the lakes, the cold air picks up warmth and water vapor from the lake surface, giving rise to columns of heated air called thermals. When the rising, warmer air hits the colder air above, it condenses into cumulus clouds, then cools and sinks on either side, creating parallel cylinders of rotating air that line up in the direction of the prevailing winds over the lakes. At times when there is a large temperature contrast between the surface air and lake water, these cloud formations can deliver heavy lake effect snows on the downwind shores of the lakes.

Although true-color images like this may appear to be photographs of Earth, they aren’t. They are created by combining data from the three color channels on the VIIRS instrument sensitive to the red, green and blue (or RGB) wavelengths of light into one composite image. In addition, data from several other channels are often also included to cancel out or correct atmospheric interference that may blur parts of the image.

Another bipartisan push for conservation

The House Natural Resources Committee voted to pass the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act and the Modernizing the Pittman-Robertson Fund for Tomorrow’s Needs Act on a strong bipartisan vote, according to the Congressional Sportsmen’s Foundation. More:

H.R. 3742, the Recovering America’s Wildlife Act (RAWA) of 2019 was introduced by Congressional Sportsmen’s Caucus (CSC) Vice-Chair Rep. Debbie Dingell (MI) and would provide additional funding to state fish and wildlife agencies for on-the-ground, proactive conservation. If signed into law, the bill will allocate $1.4 billion annually for state agencies and tribal nations to conserve nearly 12,000 fish and wildlife species that are in the greatest need of conservation efforts. This bill is a top conservation priority for the sportsmen’s community as it will give states much needed financial resources to address conservation challenges identified in State Wildlife Action Plans.

At the same time, the Foundation reports, “the Committee also voted to pass the Modernizing the Pittman-Robertson Fund for Tomorrow’s Needs Act (H.R. 877), an important bill for the future of wildlife conservation funding, which was introduced by CSC Co-Chair Rep. Austin Scott (GA).  

The National Wildlife Association applauded the move:

“Right now more than one-third of all wildlife species in the United States are at heightened risk of extinction — and demand immediate conservation attention. The Recovering America’s Wildlife Act is the most significant piece of wildlife legislation since the Endangered Species Act passed in 1973,” said Collin O’Mara, president and CEO of the National Wildlife Federation. “Thanks to the leadership of Chairman Grijalva and Reps. Dingell, Fortenberry and Huffman, and the bill’s more than 150 bipartisan cosponsors, this historic bill is making important progress in the House and is showing that even in these divided times, wildlife conservation can bring all Americans together.”

In February, the U.S. Senate “passed the most sweeping conservation legislation in a decade, protecting millions of acres of land and hundreds of miles of wild rivers across the country and establishing four new national monuments honoring heroes including Civil War soldiers and a civil rights icon.” The bipartisan measure is designed to create more than 1.3 million acres of Wilderness in western states, add three national parks, and expand eight others.

The 662-page measure, which passed 92 to 8, represented an old-fashioned approach to dealmaking that has largely disappeared on Capitol Hill. Senators from across the ideological spectrum celebrated home-state gains and congratulated each other for bridging the partisan divide.

Read “The Senate just passed the decade’s biggest public lands bill. Here’s what’s in it” in the Washington Post.

Roll up sleeves. Grab shovel. Plant tree.

A friend sent me a link to this #teamtrees project that aims to fund the planting of 20 million trees by Jan. 1. As of today, the organizers have raised enough to plant more than 17 million trees and have attracted a huge following on social media. According to an October report in The Verge:

The halfway point came quickly, thanks to some large donations from tech executives. Tesla CEO Elon Musk donated $1 million on Tuesday; Shopify CEO Tobi Lütke donated $1,000,001 on Wednesday; YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki donated $200,000 on Wednesday; and Twitter and Square CEO Jack Dorsey appeared to make two separate donations, of $150,000 and later of $200,000.
[ … ]
Major YouTubers also made some of the top donations. Jimmy “MrBeast” Donaldson, who was the driving force for organizing Team Trees, made two separate donations adding up to $200,002. Mark Rober, another organizer, donated $50,000; Felix “PewDiePie” Kjellberg donated $69,420; and Jessica and Tyler Blevins, aka Ninja, donated $15,000.

The initiative had a number of goals for YouTubers. For one, it was supposed to be a belated celebration of Donaldson passing 20 million subscribers. There was also the obvious goal of planting trees to improve the environment and contribute to combatting climate change (although planting trees is more complicated of a charity route than it sounds). And YouTubers saw it as an opportunity to prove that they could be a force for good, too, following a couple of years of chaotic drama around high-profile creators like Kjellberg and Logan Paul.

So far so good. But it’s one thing to plant a tree, another thing to nurture its growth. Mark Huxhum writing in The Conversation today:

… a lot can go wrong with planting. Take mangrove forests. More than 45% of them have been cleared around the world in recent decades for everything from agriculture to fish farming to tourism to charcoal production. This is an ecological disaster because they are truly extraordinary carbon sinks. At the field site where I have been stationed in Kenya, their waterlogged soils hold more than 1,500 tonnes of carbon per hectare, most of which is vulnerable to oxidation and release if the forests are removed. 

For these reasons, there have been numerous large-scale efforts in different countries to restore these trees, but they have often failed. In Sri Lanka, for example, a survey of 23 sites where planting had been attempted showed that in more than half, none of the mangroves survived – and over 50% of seedlings survived in only three sites. In another survey of mangrove replanting across 74 sites in Thailand and the Philippines, only 20% survived.

Getting the incentives right is essential:

To turn this situation around, international charities and scientists, including me, have been working on a project with local people in the south of the country. It allows donors from around the world to pay locals to maintain and reforest the area as a means of carbon offsetting while helping them develop other income streams that rely on the forest such as beekeeping and ecotourism. 

This has helped several villages to flourish, among other things by providing more money for education, clean water and healthcare. Since 2014, the project has seen 10ha of mangroves planted and another 117ha restored and conserved, while paying more than US$60,000 (£45,800) to the community.

While there’s good news about an increase in global forestation (up more than 7% since 1982) there’s still a net loss in the tropics. But if the tree planting movement tells us anything, it’s that private initiative, philanthropy and an ethic of conservation are potent forces for reforestation.

So get out there and plant some trees today. And don’t forget to give them enough TLC over time.

Video: Lodge and river flyover

Enjoy the gorgeous fall colors and this bird’s eye view of the Muskegon River Lodge and the Muskegon River.

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