"It's been a while since I've seen so many green leaves still on the trees in November," said WW&W fall correspondent Autumn Equinox. "There are still green weeds in some of my favorite Yooper lakes too," she added. "The kinda working weedbeds that attract wandering walleye, northern and big smallies, all prowling for food and as eager to munch my minnow as anyone's."
With cover in the woods and water for game and fish, there's some pretty hot bite and flight action going on for late-season Yooper anglers and bird hunters who enjoy double-dipping as long as they can before the snow flies, the universal Yooper deadline for all things. Air and water temperatures are tied in the mid 40s, so you can take your snowmobile suit off in the boat when the sun comes out.
From Gratiot Lake to Lake Gogebic there are remnant weedbeds still standing, some still green. Find them, drop in a lively minnow on a slip bobber and hang on tight. The same treachery works at the edge of a drop-off. If you wanna underwrite the bite, try sticking your rod in the rod holder and pouring a cuppa coffee.
From now til opening day of deer camp, a good day for me is a day spent fishing, duck and partridge hunting. Yooper woodcock season closes tomorrow, partridge season ends Nov. 14, and waterfowl season ends Nov. 30.
"My goal is having at least one of each to say grace over at dinner," said WW&W senior religion correspondent Amazing Grace, "there's a lot to be said for food you've shot and caught yourself. It keeps you connected to the land and outa the house."
She's right; there are worse things than woods and water, the heart, mind and soul of this column. And who'd say no to a meal of fresh-caught fish and fresh-shot fowl, especially with a bottle of homemade Yooper chokecherry wine?
"Waterfowl hunting goes hand-in-hand with fishing," Grace continued. "I'm amazed the way ducks hang out with beavers and brookies, and share the cover of weedbeds with walleye," she elaborated. "The awesome part is you can tie a fly with a feather from a bird and catch a fish, proving God was the original recycler," she added reverently.
"While I'm fishing, I'm scouting for places to hunt ducks and geese," she multi-tasked. "First look for natural flyways and habitat; Second, a handy food source - diving ducks like fish and crustaceans, they munch the same minnows walleyes do.
"Being on the eastern fringe of the Mississippi Flyway, we attract a lotta stragglers from mallards, mergansers and canvasbacks to red heads, coots and wood ducks."
Frequently asked waterfowling questions from the WW&W email bag:
"How do you decide on your decoy placement for ducks?"
"I start with a basic horseshoe spread and then tweak it depending on what the ducks want," replies WW&W waterfowl correspondent Red Head. "You have to change to stay productive, and use the most realistic decoys you can afford."
"I like using layout blinds when I'm field hunting for ducks and geese," Grace added, "Match your blind with what's available, use grass or brush growing around it; same goes for boat and pop-up blinds. It's amazing what you can get away with."
Another reader writes "What are your calling tips for ducks?"
"I like to call ducks aggressively, but less is more is usually the best all-around approach," Grace advised. "Again, it's amazing how the ducks will show you what they want."
"How can I attract waterfowl to private property?" another reader asks.
"If you've got a pond, wetlands or crick on your land, you're already a duck magnet," Grace replied, "In the first place, they don't care if your property is private or not, they're looking for food and shelter. When you're wooing woodies and ducks in general, corn, rice, millet and soybeans are good attractants.
"Wood ducks like acorns, you know," Grace added, "but if you like woodies as much as I do, it's amazing how quick they show up when you give them a roof over their heads. Go to ducks.org for free wood duck box building plans to get woodies coming to you.
To learn more about waterfowl migrations, biology, habitat and duck hunting, visit Ducks Unlimited at ducks.org or call 1-800-45-DUCKS. To get involved locally, call Barb Manderfield, Copper Country Ladies Ducks Unlimited, 523-4321, for tickets to the Ladies DU banquet, Nov. 10 at Michigan Technological University Memorial Union Ballroom.
Jim can be reached 24/7/365 at firstname.lastname@example.org.