DNR’s Hard Water School ice-fishing classes make a great gift

Looking for the perfect last-minute present for the outdoor enthusiast on your list this season – or maybe even for yourself? The Michigan Department of Natural Resources may have the answer.

The Carl T. Johnson Hunt and Fish Center in Cadillac will offer the DNR Outdoor Skills Academy’s Hard Water School ice-fishing event two times this season: Saturday, Jan. 27, and Saturday, Feb. 24. The class will cover:

How to set up equipment.
How and where to fish.
When to be out on the ice.
How to fish with electronics.
How to stay safe on the ice and follow rules and regulations.

The class will focus on techniques for walleye, taught by pro fisherman Steve Berry from Clam Outdoors and Vexilar, along with Matt Peterson from Fish Bones Custom Lures; techniques for pan fish, taught by pro fisherman Norm Smith, the DNR’s Dennis Hewitt and Dave Young from HT Enterprise; and setting polar tip-ups to target monster northern pike, taught by the DNR’s Ed Shaw.

In addition, DNR Outdoor Skills Academy pro-staff will be on hand to teach a variety of tactics on the ice.

“We will spend the first part of the day gearing up and teaching seminars, and then after lunch we will hit the ice and spend the rest of the day fishing,” said Shaw. “After dark, we’ll meet back up at the Carl T. Johnson Center to go over the day’s catch and to review what everyone learned, and then head to dinner.”

Shaw said that a warming hut, augers and some shanties will be available on a first-come, first-served basis, but participants are encouraged to bring their own equipment, if possible.

Participants of all ages are welcome, but the Hard Water School is best suited for those at least 8 years of age and older.

Each academy will start at 9 a.m. Saturday. Sunday is available as an optional fishing day; those interested in fishing Sunday are asked to let coordinators know at time of registration.

Registration and lodging
The Hard Water School class costs $30 per person and includes lunch. (Participants are responsible for their own dinner costs.) Clam Outdoors, Vexilar, HT Enterprises and Salmo USA have generously donated door prizes for each class. Register at www.michigan.gov/outdoorskills. No refunds will be given within two weeks of the class. This allows time to back-fill seats and put together class materials. Register for the Jan. 27 class or the Feb. 24 class via the Michigan eStore at www.michigan.gov/estore.

Nearby lodging is available at Evergreen Resort, Days Inn, Holiday Inn, or Pilgrims Village, just to name a few.

A Recreation Passport is required for vehicle entry into Mitchell State Park, where the Carl T. Johnson Hunt and Fish Center is located.

For more information, contact Ed Shaw at 231-779-1321 or shawe@michigan.gov.