Fish, ride and visit the parks for free during Summer Kickoff

Summer seems to have finally descended upon the Copper Country, just in the nick of time for Michigan’s Summer Kickoff weekend this Saturday and Sunday.

Summer Kickoff 2014 will feature the state’s first Free ORV Weekend, which allows both residents and non-residents to ride off-road vehicles for free, no ORV license or state trails permit required.

Additionally, Summer Kickoff includes the state’s long-standing Free Fishing Weekend, while Michigan’s State Park system will offer free entry to all 102 state parks on Sunday. And if that isn’t enough, Saturday is also National Trails Day and marks the start of Michigan Boating Week.

With so many opportunities to take advantage of in so little time, it may be difficult to decide where to start. Free Fishing Weekend events, ORV trail maps, boating, hiking and state park information can all be found on the DNR’s website, but here are a few highlights specific to the Copper Country:

ORV Trail Ride

MI-TRALE will host its third annual Sport ORV Ride on Saturday. The ride begins at Twin Lakes State Park at 10 a.m., with coffee and donuts available starting at 9 a.m. Riders will travel the Bill Nichols Trail and the new Ottawa Connector Route to Lower Dam near Kenton, with a round-trip of approximately 100 miles. Riders should bring a bag lunch, required safety gear and weather-appropriate clothing. After the ride, participants are invited to the Mosquito Inn for a pig roast and live music. For more information, contact MI-TRALE president Don Helsel at “mailto:dhelsel1@charter.net”>dhelsel1@charter.net.

Free Fishing Events

Baraga County Lake Trout Festival, L’Anse Waterfront Park

Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Features a free kids’ fishing pond, courtesy of Baraga State Park, along with the Keweenaw Bay Classic Fishing Tournament, kids carnival, food, music and more. More info: 906-353-6558.

Rice Lake Fishing Derby, Lake Linden

Sunday, 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. Family fishing event sponsored by the Lake Linden-Hubbell Sportsmen’s Association. Prizes for walleye and northern pike, raffles and refreshments. $5 for adults, $3 for juniors, $1 for children. More info: 906-296-0365 or kamachie@mtu.edu.

Kids Fishing Derby, Ontonagon Harbor Marina

Saturday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Join the Ottawa National Forest staff for their 24th annual event, with prizes for every youth angler, a casting contest, minnow races, fish ID contest and more. More info: 906-852-3500, ext. 19.

National Trails Day Hikes

Cloud Peak Hike, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park

Saturday, 3 p.m., meet 1/4 mile west of the mine site picnic area. Park staff will lead this two-hour hike to the Lake of the Clouds viewing area for one of the most iconic views in Michigan. More info: 906-885-5275.

Michigan Gray Wolf Hike, Porcupine Mountains Wilderness State Park

Saturday, 6 p.m., meet at the Government Peak Trailhead. Join park staff on this guided one-mile nature hike into wolf habitat and learn more about one of Michigan’s most controversial animals. More info: 906-885-5275.

Reader Question of the Month:

Q: My jeep and motorcycle are both licensed through the Secretary of State. Do I also need an ORV license and/or trails permit to ride these street-legal vehicles on the state’s ORV trail system?

A: There are two answers to your question: No and yes. To explain: If you are driving the jeep or motorcycle on a designated ORV route, you would not need an ORV license or trails permit. However, if you were to ride the motorcycle on a state designated ORV trail or motorcycle trail, the ORV license and trails permit would both be required. (ORV trails are limited to vehicles with a bumper-to-bumper width of 50 inches or less.) More information about the ORV license and trails permit can be found at www.michigan.gov/dnr under the “In the Know” section. Maps of the state ORV routes and trails can be found at www.michigan.gov/orvtrails. Thanks for submitting your question!

Mixed Bag:

Lake Superior salmon anglers are asked to keep an eye out for fin-clipped Chinook. In 2012, the DNR’s Fisheries Division began removing the adipose fin from hatchery-raised Chinook fingerlings before stocking the fish in Lake Superior as a means of tracking the proportion of fish caught by anglers that originated in a hatchery versus reproduction in the wild. DNR creel clerks will be visiting boat launches, fishing piers and other popular fishing locations to gather data from successful anglers. For more information about marked and tagged fish, visit michigan.gov/taggedfish.

DNR licensing staff have identified an error on the 2014 muskellunge harvest tag, which is legally required for anglers to possess a muskie harvested in Michigan waters. When a muskie is tagged, the angler must mark the day and month when it was caught, but the 2014 tags do not include the months of April, May and June. If an angler catches and chooses to keep a muskie before the end of June, they should simply write the correct month on the tag. To learn more about fishing regulations for muskie, including the tagging and possession rules, visit michigan.gov/ muskie.

Debbie Munson Badini is the DNR’s Deputy Public Information Officer. Have suggestions for future column topics or questions about natural resource management in the UP? Contact her by phone at 906-226-1352, via email at badinid@michigan.gov, or on Twitter @MichiganDNR_UP.