May 31, 2012
Update (June 1): The Michigan DNR reports that fire crews are making good progress on the Duck Lake Fire in Luce County and that campgrounds, state parks, resorts and other businesses throughout the region and the Upper Peninsula are ready & waiting to deliver Pure Michigan fun!
The massive Duck Lake Fire, which started with a lightning strike last week, has burned over 22,000 acres and destroyed almost 100 structures. Over 200 firefighters from Michigan along with aerial water bombing crews have been fighting the fire, which they estimate to be 55% contained. Absolute Michigan has a bunch of photos, videos and links for the Duck Lake Fire.
You can see more photos there and on the Michigan DNR Facebook.
May 30, 2012
Lota is an ancient name for this fish, which has many common names. These include lawyer, eelpout, cusk, and freshwater cod. The last name is appropriate, because the burbot is a member of the cod family. Although sometimes referred to as dogfish, Michiganders more commonly use that name for the unrelated bowfin.
The burbot is a winter spawner, moving into shallows at night and often spawning under the ice. Burbot can spawn in lakes or streams. Small burbot (up to a foot long) are often common in cold and cool streams, although they are rarely encountered by anglers. Burbot are typically nocturnal, and feed during the dead of night. Divers in Lake Michigan often find adult burbot resting in rocky crevices during the daytime. Large adults are common catches while ice fishing in some lakes.
The burbot is not likely to win any beauty contests. Looking like a cross between a cod and an eel, this fish also has the odd habit of wrapping its slimy tail around the hand or arm of unsuspecting anglers when caught. Perhaps because of its appearance, the burbot has never been a popular sport or commercial species in Michigan.
The flesh of burbot is white, firm, mild in flavor, and as boneless as walleye or bass. This freshwater cod is most often prepared as ‘Poor Man’s Lobster” by steaming chunks of meat and dipping in drawn butter. They are also excellent when fried.
You can read today’s Weird Wednesday on Absolute Michigan that extolls the virtues of the burbot. This article from the Great Lakes Echo in 2010 doesn’t have a whole lot good to say about burbot, but it’s interesting to see how native fish in the lake can have an effect on pond-raised lake trout. In case you’re fearing the water a little more, consider that Wikipedia notes that the world record burbot weighed just a scale over 25 pounds. Michigan’s state record burbot, caught in 1980 from Munuscong Bay in the Upper Peninsula, weighed 18.25 pounds.
Christopher writes that Grand Traverse Bay is shockingly warm this year, with temps already between 57 and 63 degrees.
As for the Burbot. The pic was actually taken on May 25th a few years back. I was diving Elmwood – aka the Greilickville Park – and thought I saw something. I made a pass at about 15 feet of depth to get a better view and spotted a huge burbot. I dove on it with the camera in video mode, expecting it to spook. It didn’t and I was sort of alarmed to find myself mere inches from probably the weirdest looking fish I’d ever seen. I switched the camera to still mode, as I lay on the bottom at 36 feet, and took several shots of it’s amazing face. At about 3:34 in this video you can see the approach dive. For the record, I have never, before or since, seen a burbot that weird looking.
This Saturday (June 2, 2012) the Kingsley Library hosts the 1st Annual Adams Fly Festival. They will have northern Michigan fly rod maker R.W. Summers on hand (click for an interview with him on Absolute Michigan today). There will also be fly tying lessons, a silent auction with some great items, music, food and an original Adams fly on display.
In The Adams: History Revisited in Hatches magazine, Tom Deschaine writes that the Adams fly is probably the most famous fly in all of history.
It’s carried in the fly boxes of fishermen in every country where trout are found. It would probably be an understatement to claim that the Adams fly, with all its variations, has collectively caught more trout then any other fly pattern in existence. It can be used in a variety of waters, and, with its brownish-grayish coloration it imitates generally acceptable food items found almost anywhere in trout fishing environments. Most fishermen would agree that if they were allowed to use only one dry fly pattern — it would be the Adams (or some variation there of).
The story of the Adams begins just 12 miles south of Traverse City, Michigan, off County Road 611 in the small township of Mayfield. It was here, in 1922, at the Mayfield Pond where Leonard Halladay created the famous Adams fly.
Leonard Halladay (1872-1952) was originally from New York but his family, lured by the lumber industry, migrated to Mayfield when Leonard was just a young boy. As a growing young man he would see the last of the grayling and brook trout whose demise was brought about by over fishing, and habitat destruction from the logging industry. It was around this time when Michigan began introducing the German brown trout to its rivers.
…The historically accepted story goes on to say that on a summer’s day in 1922 at the impoundment of Swainston Creek known as the Mayfield Pond, Mr. Halladay said: “The first Adams I made I handed to Mr. Adams who was fishing in a small pond in front of my house, to try on the Boardman that evening. When he came back next morning, he wanted to know what I called it. He said it was a ‘knock-out’ and I said we would call it the Adams, since he had made the first good catch on it.”
Mike Cline took the photo and tied the fly. Click through to see it bigger.
May 28, 2012
Decoration Day, Kingsley, Michigan, 1909, courtesy Kingsley Branch Library
Decoration Day is the most beautiful of our national holidays…. The grim cannon have turned into palm branches, and the shell and shrapnel into peach blossoms.
~Thomas Bailey Aldrich
Wikipedia’s Memorial Day entry notes that the holiday may have begun as Decoration Day on May 1, 1865 when freed slaves joined with clergy, teachers and citizens of Charleston SC to form a gathering 10,000 strong to memorialize 257 Union prisoners of war and celebrate the “Independence Day of a Second American Revolution.” In 1866, the commander-in-chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, Gen. John Murray, proclamation for “Decoration Day” to be observed nationwide. May 30th was selected specifically because it was not the anniversary of a battle.
Michiganders can feel a measure of pride that Michigan in 1871 was the first to make “Decoration Day” an official state holiday. Read more about in Michigan’s First Memorial Day from Michigan History Magazine on Absolute Michigan.
The photo shows the parade held in Kingsley on Decoration Day in 1909. In foreground is a marching band. The largest building in the background is Brownson Sanitarium. It’s from the collections of the Kingsley Branch Library. Here’s another photo of the “Kingsley Cornet Band.”
Next Saturday you might want to join the library for the first annual Kingsley Adams Fly Festival with fly-tying lessons, music & food with special guest R. W. “Bob” Summers, someone who I once had the good fortune to interview.
May 26, 2012
The Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary is the only federally protected national marine sanctuary in the Great Lakes. It encompasses 448 square miles of Lake Huron’s bottomlands off Alpena. It was established in 2000 to protect a nationally significant collection of nearly 200 shipwrecks, spanning over a century of Great Lakes shipping history. It draws over 70,000 visitors every year and is a haven for protection, education and research for shipwrecks and our maritime heritage.
Now Thunder Bay is poised to grow almost tenfold to over 4,000 square miles including waters off Alcona and Presque Isle counties. The Great Lakes Echo notes that today is the last day for public comment for or against the expansion. You can email your comments to firstname.lastname@example.org. Carolyn Sundquist of the Echo explains that vessels can pass through it without restriction and that:
The proposed expansion includes an estimated 200 shipwrecks and would connect the underwater sanctuary from Michigan to the shores of Canada. No public funds are allotted as part of the approval.
“Very positive support has been received from the public comment sessions and many of the local governments have passed resolutions supporting the expansion,” said Jeff Gray, the sanctuary’s superintendent.
Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder, various state senators and officials of adjacent cities have written letters of support. So has the Alpena Area Chamber of Commerce.
The Sanctuary explains that the 126′ two masted schooner F.T. Barney was built in 1856 and wrecked on October 23, 1868 en route from Cleveland to Milwaukee. The F.T. Barney was run into by the schooner T.J. Bronson and sank in less than two minutes in very deep water with a cargo of coal. No lives were lost, and the wreck is one of the most complete of its kind with masts and deck equipment still in place.
See many more shots of divers and shipwrecks in their Fieldwork 2007 gallery - be sure to toggle the “View” link to slideshow in the top left for larger pics.
Many more Michigan shipwrecks on Michigan in Pictures!
May 24, 2012
The Michigan DNR’s page on Petoskey State Park explains that:
Petoskey State Park, located on the north end of Little Traverse Bay, is situated on 303 scenic acres and offers a beautiful sandy beach on the bay. The park has two separate modern campgrounds. Tannery Creek offers 98 campsites, and Dunes offers 70 campsites.
The park land was originally deeded to Pay-Me-Gwau under an Ottawa Indian treaty in July of 1855. Later, much of the land was the site of the W.W. Rice Company. In 1934, the City of Petoskey purchased the land and named it the Petoskey Bathing Beach. In April of 1968, the beach was sold to the State of Michigan. On May 21, 1969, the state was given the title to the land. The campground opened its sites to the first campers in July of 1970.
What do you think? What’s your favorite beach in Michigan?
May 23, 2012
The Elberta Alert tipped me off last year that in 1978, Michigan Governor William Milliken proclamed May 23 Gwen Frostic Day in Michigan, and in 1986 she was inducted into the Michigan Women’s Hall of Fame. Their page for Sara Gwendolyn Frostic (Gwen Frostic) who was born in 1906 and passed away in 2001 says:
Author, artist, lecturer, and founder and sole proprietor of Presscraft Papers in Benzonia, Michigan, Gwen Frostic is known throughout the nation for her images of nature and for illustrated books which reflect her indomitable philosophy.
Frostic was born in Sandusky, Michigan and lived in St. Charles before moving to Wyandotte for her high school years. Interested in art from an early age, she used a band saw to create life-size posters for school events, and later studied art education at Eastern Michigan and Western Michigan Universities. During World War II, she worked in a Ford Motor Company bomber plant where she learned production, a skill she put to good use running the 15 Heidelberg presses in her northern Michigan printing and sales establishment. These presses make impressions from her hand-carved linoleum blocks onto paper and the resulting prints found their way into distinctive books, pamphlets, stationery, and other products she designed.
After beginning her business in Wyandotte, Frostic moved to Benzie County in 1955, starting with 40 acres and gradually creating a 285-acre wildlife sanctuary 35 miles southwest of Traverse City. Her commitment to nature and design is reflected in her home, studio, and print shop which draw thousands of visitors each summer.
Check the photo out bigger and see more from the studio (including the massive Heidelberg presses used to print her iconic designs in Trish’s Gwen Frostic slideshow.
May 22, 2012
Adult Piping Plover caring for her chicks, photo courtesy National Park Service
The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore page on piping plovers begins:
The Piping Plover (Charadrius melodus) is an endangered shorebird. They are sand-colored on the back and white below. During the breeding season adults have a black forehead band between the eyes and a single black band around the neck. (Its larger relative the Killdeer is commonly seen at parks, playgrounds, and golf courses, and has two dark bands around the neck.) Piping Plovers nest only on beaches and prefer beaches with cobble. There are three small populations: one in the Great Plains, one on the Atlantic Coast, and the one here in the Great Lakes. They winter together on the Gulf Coast but travel to the separate areas during the breeding season. It is a special opportunity to be able observe Piping Plovers since there are only between 50 and 60 nesting pairs in the entire Great Lakes area and less than 5000 individuals worldwide.
You can read more about piping plovers at All About Birds where they also have some photos, a plover call and a video. You can also check out a video of a piping plover feeding from the other side of the state on Saginaw Bay.
The Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore reports that four pairs of this federally endangered shorebird have made the Glen Haven beach their home for the summer. It’s an easily accessible location that provides visitors an excellent opportunity to view a rare bird in its natural habitat. While the entire shoreline will be open for walking, certain areas of the beach will be temporarily closed to all entry.
More photos of piping plovers from Alice van Zoeren and the Sleeping Bear Dunes National Lakeshore.