Petoskey is an Odawa name with more translations than you can imagine, I recognize the oral Odawa Translation of "Land Of The Rising Sun". Not in the sense of a daily sunrise, but rather a seasonal one. Summer is the time of the highest rise of the sun in the sky and that's why many traveled to this area. Warm weather breaks the arctic like grip winter has on the north leaving a clean and pure Michigan. The Many inland lakes and streams in Michigan are surrounded by the largest fresh water system in the world, the Great Lakes. It is truly a fishing paradise.
Century's ago as the sun rose to its summer high and the snow and ice retreated native Americans began their migration north to fish the Great Lakes and their tributaries. Spring spawning started with the Grayling and ended the season with Brook Trout. Many native species such as suckers, White fish, Cisco, Sturgeon were also spawning. As the summer season turned to fall the tribes would meet in mid August to begin their trek back south. They called it a pow wow and to this day they continue that tradition at the tribal head quarters on Pleasantview Road near Harbor Springs.
Today we do the same thing. We follow the sun. Michigan's trout season opens the last weekend in April and closes October 1st. Many new species have been introduced. The Rainbow Trout has replaced the Grayling as a spring spawning fish. The Brown Trout also introduced to this area spawns in the fall. Summer is a time of new life and all of nature is active and vulnerable. The three tribes, Odawa, Chippewa and Ojibwa still fish the way of their ancestral people. It is a stipulation they made under contract when they sold this land to the United States... smart. We however have many restrictions and techniques for fishing; chuck & duck, spinners, bait, and of course fly fishing. Each technique has its seasonal success. All types of delivery are based on throwing a weighted lure with your line following.
Fly fishing is the only system were you cast the line and the lure follows. The fact that the fly is near weightless makes fly fishing a real science. Northern Michigan is known for flying bugs.
If you live in rural northern Michigan, leave your outside light on and you will see thousands of bug species appear out of no where. The bug season starts as the temperature rises above freezing and continues until the freezes of late fall. Spring is a difficult time for the fly fishing anglers as the rivers are inundated with run off water which fill the streams with worms and other food sources. When our rivers settle down in late spring the trout begin to look to the surface for bug hatches.
Michigan's many streams are filled with logs and snags that make the dry fly floating on the waters surface a perfect approach. Casting to a surface feeding fish is a visual experience that the fly fishing enthusiast enjoys.
Challenges are tough on opening day trout season, but welcomed after a long winter in the Ole Cabin.
The latest news appearing in the papers is addressing the Coywolf. It is very interesting research by the MiDNR.
My interest is limited to field identification. The MiDNR is applying mitochondrial and other DNA procedures. Morphology and ecology with the DNA research is a complicated task. My research is; they are big, furry and they bite. I do know one thing after they all but disappeared in the 1960's, when they returned in the 1990's the coyote was bigger and hunted in packs. Their howls went from tenor to baritone. I watched during the 1990's as they congregated on the ice just south of the Waugashonce archipelago. Groups of six or more would interact 3 to 4 miles out on the ice. Single coyotes would cowl up to a group and the interaction was scary, with snarling and bared teeth the group would surround the individual. This social behavior I had never seen before. By 2005 their packing up at dusk became louder more deep throated howls and sounded like 6 to 8 coyotes in number. Many times when hunting I've heard this behavior to the point it that it doesn't amuse me anymore, and it does make me very uncomfortable. It doesn't take a backwoods man to tell the difference between a small dog yap verses the low pitch howell of a large dog. That's when my imagination begins to run wild.
The coyote of 50 years ago was usually about 25 pounds. He was a longer. He was very timid. Native Americans called him the trickster due to the fact that he was so elusive. One would be lucky to get a quick glimpse of a coyote in the wild. His ability to disappear was amazing. The questions that have arisen over the new behavior the Coywolf exhibits may never be answered. The fact that he is wedged in between the 30 pound coyote and the 80 pound Eastern Gray or Timberwolf and resembles both makes it almost impossible to identify.
So what's the verdict for outdoor sportsmen, canoeists, and backpackers. When in the woods that have such Apex Predators such as bears, cougars, wolves, coyotes and now Coywolves, behavior of said animals is the key. These mammals rely on stealth. They can out see, smell, and hear us. If they allow you to see them for any extended time that's not a good thing. You must use your head. Am I near it's food cache? Am I close to it's den or am I on the menu? Back tracking has always been my choice. Slowly, while facing the threat, move backwards a great distance. Exposing your back to the threat is a bad idea. It is exactly the position they are trying to attain.
We now are finally getting true spring weather. Most of us want a pleasant adventure in the wild. The warm weather brings nature back to life and spending time on a river is at the top of my list. Fly fishing for spawning rainbows is only days away for me. It's been a long cold winter and I welcome spring more each year. Get the equipment ready. Enjoying a safe Northern Michigan is pure and simple.
For further reading on the Coywolf : reelwatersmi / outdoor lore 6/5/2013.
Sweet Is The Lore That Nature Brings