Importance of life jackets emphasized as boating season begins

Outdoors report

For many, the Memorial Day holiday weekend marks the start of the boating season.

The Michigan Department of Natural Resources is again teaming up with McDonald’s of Michigan to increase awareness of boater safety and the importance of wearing life jackets.

From this weekend through Labor Day, conservation officers will hand out vouchers to youth and teens who are seen wearing life jackets while boating. Each voucher is valid for a free ice cream cone or apple slice package at participating McDonald’s locations.

“We’re in our third year of this partnership, and it’s always nice to see kids and parents get excited when we reward them for being safe on the water, and have that positive law enforcement interaction,” said Lt. Tom Wanless, the DNR’s state boating law administrator and recreational safety, education and enforcement supervisor.

In national boating-related fatalities in 2021, 83% of victims were not wearing life jackets, and two of every three victims were considered good swimmers, according to U.S. Coast Guard statistics.

The Wisconsin DNR, meanwhile, reminds boaters to minimize the spread of aquatic invasive species by removing plants and animals from your boat before and after launching, draining all water from compartments and never moving live fish away from any waterbody.

That said, fishing prospects for the weekend are looking up.

“With water temperatures rising, the fish will likely be biting,” said Justine Hasz, Wisconsin DNR bureau director of fisheries management.

The Michigan DNR reported this Upper Peninsula activity:

Little Bay de Noc: Walleye anglers reported fair to good fishing. Limited success for those fishing near the mouth of the Whitefish River. The east bank, Gladstone, the Escanaba and Ford rivers were productive. Anglers were both trolling and jigging. Trolling small profile crankbaits and jigging structure with soft plastics or worms produced good results. Some large fish were reported, but mostly good eating-sized walleye were spotted.

Big Bay de Noc: Walleye anglers had mixed results. Smallmouth anglers were catching quality fish. The yellow perch bite was slow.

Keweenaw Bay/Huron Bay: Most anglers had luck trolling for coho salmon, Chinook salmon and lake trout. Anglers who had success were in shallower water using artificial presentations. Most anglers reported an increasing water temperature and have seen many fish on radar with activity increasing. Most successful trips of fishing were during the mornings with some anglers reporting fish being done biting by 9 a.m.

Big Traverse Bay/South Portage Canal: Anglers were trolling and jigging on successful trips. During jigging trips, anglers found lake trout usually deeper than 100 feet while trolling produced more fish in shallower waters. Trolling catches included coho, brown trout, Chinook salmon and lake trout. Lake trout and coho salmon made up the majority of the catch.

Cedar River and Green Bay (Lake Michigan): At J.W. Wells State Park and Cedar River State Harbor, walleye fishing was sporadic out on Green Bay. Some anglers were finding quality sized walleye in 12 to 18 feet of water while trolling crankbaits. People were catching a mix of smallmouth bass, walleye and northern pike in the Cedar River.

Munising Bay: Boat anglers did well this past week for coho with incidental catches of splake and a few Chinook salmon. Anglers were mainly trolling within the bay. Water temperatures were still cold around 40 degrees offshore. Shore fishing remained slow.

Grand Marais: Boat anglers did well for coho with a few scattered reports of rainbow trout, brown trout and lake trout. Anglers were mainly trolling just outside the breakwall either east or west in about 20 to 30 feet. Whitefish anglers reported fair to good catches off the pier using single eggs. Anglers that were specifically trolling for lake trout did well reporting limits with most fish averaging around 3 to 4 pounds.


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