By LOUIE STOUT
THE GOSHEN NEWS
As we reflect on the past outdoors season, it’s time to think about what the New Year will bring.
Overall, I’d say 2012 was a good year for outdoorsmen although the hot dry weather certainly impacted our time on the water and in the woods. Falling water levels and hot temperatures pushed fish deeper and those anglers who followed them into deeper water did well.
During the fall, fall, deer moved into woodlands earlier thanks to an early crop harvest, giving hunters more opportunities.
Indeed, it was an interesting year throughout Michiana and one can’t help but wonder what to expect this coming season year.
Here are a few questions worth pondering as we head into a new year:
Will we get enough snow this winter to bring our lake levels back to normal?
Could another extensive drought prohibit launching at some of the lake or river access sites next spring?
The large number of coho planted in the St. Joseph River two years ago should return in good numbers this fall. Will they help pick up the slack from the mediocre runs of steelhead we’ve been seeing?
If plant life returns to Lake Webster and fishing improves, will the lake association restrain from nuking the vegetation again?
And will Webster return to being one of the Midwest’s best muskie fishery?
How cool is it to see so many women are deer hunting and bagging trophy deer?
Will we really see “positive” results from the Indiana DNR’s newly imposed slot limit on St. Joseph River bass?
Now that the DNR announced it will utilize state prison grounds to pond-raise catfish for stocking, could we see walleyes raised there as well?
Given all the serious injuries suffered by deer hunters last year, will those who hunt from tree stands get the message that safety harnesses can save them from serious injury?
Would someone please step up and revive the Eagle Lake public access and parking area near Edwardsburg, Mich.?
I’m excited about the DNR’s new approach to stocking bigger walleye fingerlings even if they’re doing so in smaller numbers. Could this be the year we seen more of those reach legal size in the St. Joe?
Will the alewife population bounce back with the king salmon stocking cuts imposed this year?
Is there a better river smallmouth fishery in Indiana than the 6 Span stretch above the Elkhart dam?
After a dismal fall steelhead run, will those fish that didn’t make it to Mishawaka surprise us with a fabulous spring fishery?
Or did they all get caught in the lake last summer, as some biologists speculate?
Can we ever expect the DNR to make a serious effort to provide adequate parking area at the Lake Maxinkuckee public access site?
Anyone besides me find it disgraceful that Indiana’s second largest natural lake has such inadequate parking area?
Will the walleyes that were stocked in the Elkhart River this year adapt, and will fund-raising efforts provide enough cash to sustain it?
Will Michigan lower the number of antlerless permits it issues in those southwest Michigan counties that suffered extensive die-offs from the EHD epidemic?
Now that EHD crept into some northern Indiana counties, will it be more prevalent next fall?
Do we have any hope for an extended ice fishing season?
Can the Michiana Walleye Club’s Outdoor Show Feb. 1-3 at the Century Center this winter deliver the kind of quality event this area deserves?
Ice fishing derby
IndianaAnglers.com will conduct an ice fishing derby Jan. 12 on Kosciusko County lakes.
Entry fee is $20 with a 90 percent payout for the top three fish (by length) in each of three categories.
Categories include bluegill/redear/ perch (7-inch minimum); crappie (7-inch minimum), and mult-species that include walleye (14-inch minimum), northern pike (20-inch minimum), and all species of bass and catfish (state minimum or 7 inches, whichever is greater).
Registration and weigh-in will be at the Ye Olde Tackle Box in North Webster. Derby hours are 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Registration closes at 7 a.m. the day of the event.
For more information, visit www.indianaangler.com.
Poor Boys open house
Poor Boys Baits and Lurecraft will host its annual Open House at the LaGrange, Ind. business Jan. 25-26.
Poor Boys/Lurecraft is one of the Midwest’s largest supplier of hand-pour soft plastics and a sundry of lure components and bait making supplies.
Hours are 8-5 on Friday and 7-4 Sunday. Coffee and donuts will be served during morning hours and hot dogs at lunch.
Lurecraft has taken on several new fly tying supplies as well as lures components for all types of fishing.
The first people in the door each day gets a free goodie bag and special pricing on lures will be available.
For more information, visit www.poorboysbaits.com or call 260-463-2687.
The annual Dowagiac Conservation Club’s Hunter’s Rendezvous event is set for Jan. 26.
Visitors will get to eyeball huge deer, elk and other game that have been harvested by area hunters. You can also take your recently harvested bucks in for scoring by representatives of the Commemorative Bucks of Michigan and an antique gun appraiser will be available to offer free appraisals.
The free event has become popular for adults and youngsters, the latter of whom can learn from experienced hunters in a casual atmosphere. The club is located on M-51, north of Dowagiac.
There is no admission fee, although donations are accepted for deer chili and hot dog lunches that will be available.
Several hunting and conservation groups will be on hand to discuss their activities and the club’s “virtual reality” hunting equipment will be available for visitors to try out.
Proceeds generated from the event help fund the club’s Youth Education Fund. All youngsters who attend will receive a free youth membership to the club. For more information, call Atkinson at (269) 424-5186.