Gnat Outdoors has Moved

Gnatoutdoors has moved to a new website:

Click HERE to visit.

All the current blog is on this new website along with many other features.

I look forward to seeing you there.


Judge upholds constitutionality of Michigan law that enables commission to allow wolf hunting

From the Associated Press

MARQUETTE, Michigan — The Michigan Court of Claims has upheld a law empowering an appointed panel to allow hunting of wolves.

The state Legislature approved the Scientific Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act last August. It gave the Michigan Natural Resources Commission the authority to classify animals as game species. The commission already had given wolves that designation, which led to the state’s first authorized wolf hunt in 2013.

The law nullified two citizen votes last fall that would have prevented wolf hunts. A group called Keep Michigan Wolves Protected filed suit, saying the law violated the Michigan Constitution.

In a ruling issued Friday, Court of Claims Judge Mark T. Boonstra disagreed, writing that the group’s suit “fails to state a claim upon which relief may be granted.” He said the court was not taking a position on whether wolves should be hunted or not.

“That policy judgment is properly left to the Legislature and the people of the state of Michigan,” Boonstra said. “Rather, the sole question before this court is whether the legislative enactment in question violates the Michigan Constitution as alleged.”

A state spokesman praised the ruling.


MI Wolves (1)

“The citizen-initiated law gives authority to the Natural Resources Commission to regulate sport fishing in Michigan, aligning with the NRC’s authority to regulate the taking of game,” John Pepin, a Department of Natural Resources spokesman in Marquette, told The Mining Journal ( ). “The act gives the NRC the authority to name game species. All of this supports sound scientific management of natural resources in Michigan.”

The Michigan United Conversation Clubs, a leading hunting and fishing group, also praised the decision.

“The court recognized that the Scientific Fish and Wildlife Conservation Act was about just what its title says, managing fish, wildlife and their habitats with sound science,” spokesman Drew YoungeDyke said in a statement.

The wolf protection group said it will appeal.

“The judge was clearly hostile to our case, and did not seriously address the key issues of the complaint,” said Keep Michigan Wolves Protected Director Jill Fritz. “We have good legal arguments and our next step will be to the Court of Appeals.”

Invasive Crayfish Found in Michigan’s Ottawa County Lake


The Michigan Department of Natural Resources recently discovered that anglers are purchasing red swamp crayfish (a prohibited species) from food Red swamp crayfishmarkets and using them as live bait. As part of a DNR crayfish monitoring study, a discovery of several dead red swamp crayfish recently was made in the vicinity of a popular fishing area at Lake Macatawa in Ottawa County.

It is illegal to import any live species of crayfish into Michigan for commercial bait purposes. As of this year, red swamp crayfish (Procambarus clarkii) are a prohibited species in this state, meaning it is illegal to possess this invasive species alive. Red swamp crayfish are native to the southeastern United States and are considered an invasive species in Michigan.

In response to the recent discovery, DNR crews this week will set crayfish traps and use seines at Lake Macatawa. The DNR is working with local groups to incorporate crayfish sampling into the lake’s ongoing monitoring program.

“This crayfish was found in southeastern Wisconsin ponds in 2009, proving its ability to live in northern states such as Michigan,” said Nick Popoff, supervisor of the DNR’s Aquatic Species and Regulatory Affairs Program. “The DNR’s Fisheries and Law Enforcement divisions are collaborating with stakeholder groups to increase public awareness and compliance on new crayfish regulations to prevent any introductions of red swamp crayfish into our waters.”

The DNR reminds anglers to be cautious when considering bait options because it is illegal to use live red swamp crayfish as bait. The public is advised to contact the Report-All-Poaching hotline at 1-800-292-7800 if anyone is observed in possession of live red swamp crayfish, so officers can investigate.

Red swamp crayfish are dark red in color with raised, bright red spots covering the body and claws. They also have a black, wedge-shaped stripe on the top of the abdomen. They may vary in length between 2 to 5 inches. This species of crayfish is highly invasive, eats a range of food items and survives in many habitat types. Red swamp crayfish burrow into shorelines causing significant structural damage. They have the ability to survive drought conditions and are known to migrate up to 3 kilometers in search of habitat. They are very fertile, with females laying up to 600 eggs at a time and reproducing up two times in a year.

The state of Michigan continues to develop new actions to maintain and enhance existing efforts to prevent the introduction and spread of aquatic invasive species. The use and trade of live organisms, such as the selling of red swamp crayfish for bait, is one pathway that must be monitored and at times regulated for a comprehensive approach toward preventing new harmful invaders.

For more information on red swamp crayfish, visit and click on the “Aquatic Invasive Species” button.

– See more at: file:///Users/mikegnatkowski/Desktop/Invasive%20Crayfish%20Found%20in%20Michigan%27s%20Ottawa%20County%20Lake%20_%20The%20Fishing%20Wire.html#sthash.QydD1SW2.dpuf

Old Town® introduces the new, advanced and comfortable Loon Angler™ kayak

OLD TOWN, MAINE (July 10, 2015) — Old Town has expanded their lineup with the new Loon Angler kayak. This one-of-a-kind fishing craft is an evolution of Old Town’s original and extremely popular Loon that made its debut 20 years ago. Old Town will unveil their new Loon Angler at ICAST 2015, the world’s largest sportfishing trade show.

An exciting feature that’s exclusive to the Loon Angler is the innovative, removable workdeck that’s positioned at arm’s reach in front of the paddler. In addition to tackle trays and bottle holder it has a built-in storage compartment with a latched lid to keep gear secure and organized. The incorporated Slide Track mount makes it easy to quickly attach accessories.  The workdeck also includes a USB port to keep phones, action cameras, hand-held GPS units and other electronics fully charged.

The Loon Angler is a sit-inside kayak for anglers who want the comfort and shelter from the elements that an enclosed design provides. Both the 10’6” and 12’6” models are engineered with extra width and volume in the 3-layer hull for optimum stability, roominess and comfort.

Adding to that comfort is the kayak’s Active Comfort System 2.0 (ACS2) seat that combines aesthetics, ergonomic comfort and performance. ACS2 features easy and intuitive adjustments, under-leg support, premium padding and flow-through ventilation, making it the most advanced kayak seating system on the market.

For convenience and fishing efficiency, the Loon Angler has two integrated, flush-mount rod holders located just behind the cockpit. They’re perfectly positioned for trolling applications or to quickly grab a rod and cast. For storage of tackle and other gear, the kayak features bow and stern deck bungees and a rear click seal hatch with bulkhead.

According to Old Town’s Marketing Communications Manager Luke LaBree, “The Loon Angler is easily the most comfortable sit-inside fishing kayak on the market. It’s easy to paddle, designed for performance and has all the fishing features our customers have asked for.”

JOHNSON OUTDOORS is a leading global outdoor recreation company that turns ideas into adventure with innovative, top-quality products. The company designs, manufactures and markets a portfolio of award-winning, consumer-preferred brands across four categories: Watercraft, Marine Electronics, Diving and Outdoor Gear. Johnson Outdoors’ familiar brands include, among others: Old Town® Canoes and Kayaks; Ocean Kayak™ and Necky® Kayaks; Carlisle® Paddles; Extrasport® Personal Flotation Devices; Minn Kota® Motors; Cannon® Downriggers; Humminbird® Marine Electronics; LakeMaster® Electronic Charts; SCUBAPRO® and SUBGEAR® Dive Equipment; Silva® Compasses; Jetboil® Outdoor Cooking Systems; and Eureka!® Camping and Hiking Equipment. Visit Johnson Outdoors at

Plano A-Series QuickTop Tackle Bags


Ingenious Plano A-Series Quicktop Tackle Bags Dominate The Tackle Storage Hierarchy

Plano, IL – Plano revolutionized the tackle storage business over 60 years ago with the creation of the first molded plastic tackle box. Since then, the pioneers of practicality at Plano have innovated one new tackle storage solution after another – most incorporating their industry-standard, interchangeable 3600 and 3700 size StowAway tackle trays – giving anglers an unprecedented array of clever and componentized tackle storage and transportation options based on their specific fishing objectives and needs.

“Almost every angler uses a smartphone while fishing for photographing their catch, viewing maps, surfing the web for angling intel, and social media,” says Plano Brand Manager, Ryan Olander. “The new QuickTop solves the problem of safe and accessible storage for mobile devices while also providing fast access to the preferred lures of the day… all built around a premium and full-featured soft tackle bag.”

Sandwiched between its ABS “thinking cap” and ruggedized, waterproof base lies an equally smart and excessively handsome soft tackle bag, crafted from an all-new, proprietary fabric that combines extreme yet lightweight durability with an adventurous aesthetic. A reinforced carry handle and padded shoulder strap with heavy-duty ABS hardware ensures failsafe transportation, while the use of MOLLE (Modular Lightweight Load-carrying Equipment) webbing borrowed from the tactical industry provides additional functionality.

The QuickTop’s main interior compartment zips open from the top to house four included Plano StowAway utility boxes. Extra storage for gear and accessories exists in a series of additional zippered external pockets – a total of four on the 3700-size model and three on the 3600-size – along with a large mesh back pocket secured by a Velcro closure. Sheaths suitable for pliers or multi-tools are integrated on the outside of each side pocket. Additional Velcro straps hold tools tight. The innovative QuickTop is wrapped in a classic and subtle shade of deep green, accented by its desert tan lid.

Plano Model No. 473600 and 473700 A-Series QuickTop Tackle Bags

  • Choice of two sizes: 3600 or 3700
  • Includes four StowAways in either 3600 or 3700 sizes
  • Viewable, fast-access storage in hard top lid
  • Proprietary polyester soft bag construction with water-resistant lining
  • Molded, impact-resistant, waterproof base
  • Exterior zippered pockets (4 in 3700 size, 3 in 3600 size) plus two tool holders
  • MOLLE tactical webbing
  • Reinforced carry handle and padded shoulder strap
  • MSRP: Model 473600, $69.99 / Model 473700, $79.99
  • External dimensions: Model 473600 / 16.5″x9.5″x9.75″, Model 473700 / 22″x11″x11″

A is for alpha. Plano’s revolutionary new A-Series QuickTop Tackle Bags sit firmly atop today’s tackle storage hierarchy and anchor the company’s all-new A-Series tackle storage products family – a premium and distinctive line of innovative designs, each combining high-quality materials with clean and rugged aesthetics. In addition to the QuickTop Tackle Bags, Plano’s new A-Series includes a Tackle Bag, Tackle Backpack, and a Tackle Duffel, providing the discriminating angler with a comprehensive system for tackle storage and transportation. Learn more at

Lesser Prairie-chicken Population Increased 25% From 2014 to 2015, Aerial Survey Shows

An abundance of spring rainfall, along with ongoing efforts associated with the Lesser Prairie-chicken Range-wide Conservation Plan, has helped increase the lesser prairie-chicken’s population approximately 25 percent from 2014 to 2015, according to results from a recent range-wide aerial survey.

Increases were observed in three of four of the bird’s ecoregions across five states: Colorado, Kansas, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas. The Sand Sage Prairie Region of southeast Colorado showed the biggest gain: approximately 75 percent from a year ago. The Mixed Grass Prairie Region of the northeast Panhandle of Texas, northwest Oklahoma and south central Kansas saw an approximately 30 percent increase. The Shortgrass Prairie Region of northwest Kansas population grew by about 27 percent. Recent aerial surveys conducted in Oklahoma and four other states indicate the number of lesser prairie-chickens has increased an average of 25 percent from last year.
Lesser Prairie Chicken:Sharptail- 1Image by

“An overall 25 percent increase in the lesser prairie-chicken population across its five-state range is welcome news,” said Ross Melinchuk, chairman of WAFWA’s Lesser Prairie-Chicken Initiative Council. “This year’s increase, on the heels of last year’s 20 percent increase, is evidence of the species’ ability to rapidly recover from downturns as a result of drought and poor range condition. With continued improvement in nesting and brood-rearing habitat associated with more abundant rainfall and private landowner actions to conserve and restore their habitat, we are optimistic the species will recover to historic population levels.”

The only ecoregion with a continued downward population trend is the shinnery oak ecoregion of eastern New Mexico and western Texas. This ecoregion is recovering from a prolonged period of drought. Recent roadside surveys indicate lesser prairie-chickens in this area are starting to respond to late 2014 and early 2015 rainfall.

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“We’re confident that with continued moisture and drought relief, next year’s shinnery oak populations should continue to recover,” said Bill Van Pelt, grassland coordinator for the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA). The nonprofit group is coordinating efforts established under the Lesser Prairie-Chicken Range-wide Conservation Plan, an initiative to engage private landowners and industry to conserve the birds’ habitat and minimize impacts to the species. To date, industry partners have committed $46 million in enrollment and mitigation fees to pay for mitigation actions, and landowners across the range have agreed to conserve nearly 100,000 acres of habitat through 10-year and permanent conservation agreements.

Companies, landowners, farmers and ranchers may still enroll in the range-wide plan and receive regulatory assurances that their operations can continue under an accompanying Certificate of Participation. Participating companies pay enrollment fees, allowing them to continue operations under certain restrictions while providing funds to conserve prairie-chicken habitat. To date, about 180 oil, gas, wind, electric and pipeline companies have enrolled about 11 million acres across the five states, and have committed more than $46 million for habitat conservation. Enrollment fees are deposited with WAFWA and administered to fund conservation efforts by private landowners to benefit the lesser prairie-chicken in the five-state region.

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The lesser prairie-chicken was listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act in May 2014. The final listing rule allowed private industry to develop and impact habitat if enrolled and participating in WAFWA’s range-wide plan, and it also provided various options that landowners can use to receive similar coverage. The range-wide plan provides incentives for landowners and industry to protect and restore habitat, which is important because they control much of the bird’s range.

Organized in 1922, the Western Association of Fish and Wildlife Agencies (WAFWA) represents 23 states and Canadian provinces, from Alaska to Texas and Saskatchewan to Hawaii — an area covering nearly 3.7 million square miles of some of North America’s most wild and scenic country, inhabited by more than 1,500 wildlife species. More information, including the range-wide plan, is available on the WAFWA website at

WAFWA Contact: Bill Van Pelt, WAFWA Grassland Coordinator
Telephone: (602) 717-5066

The mission of the Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation is the management of Oklahoma’s wildlife resources and habitat to provide scientific, educational, aesthetic, economic and recreational benefits for present and future generations of hunters, anglers and others who appreciate wildlife.

News Contacts: Don P. Brown,
Micah Holmes,
Telephone: (405) 521-4632

Record Breeding Duck Count, Average Water Pave the Way for Good Fall Flight

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2015 Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey Annual breeding population survey estimates 49.5 million ducks

BISMARCK, N.D. — North America’s spring duck population is at a record high, but returning birds initially found a lower pond count in key areas of the breeding grounds, according to the 2015 Waterfowl Breeding Population and Habitat Survey released today.

The annual survey, which has been conducted jointly by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Canadian Wildlife Service since 1955, puts the breeding duck population at a 49.52 million, slightly higher than last year’s population of 49.15 million and 43 percent above the long-term average.

The survey marks the highest estimates ever recorded for mallards and green-winged teal. Mallards increased 7 percent to 11.64 million, 51 percent above the long-term average. Green-winged teal populations grew by 19 percent to 4.08 million, 98 percent above the long-term average.

“This year’s population estimates are not due to great conditions this year, but high because of several consecutive years of great production,” said Dr. Frank Rohwer, president of Delta Waterfowl. “All the stars aligned in 2014: There was water in all the right places and at all the right times. Despite the declining pond conditions, the data indicates great population carryover from the last few highly successful breeding seasons.”

The May pond count registered 6.31 million — 12 percent lower than last year’s soaking wet conditions, but still 21 percent above the long-term average. In the U.S. portion of the prairie pothole region, which consists of eastern Montana and the Dakotas, conditions were drier than previous years until significant rains fell in May and June. The Canadian portion of PPR, which encompasses much of Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba, also saw reduced pond estimates. But unlike in the United States, a lack of rains later in spring led to deteriorating conditions for breeding ducks.

Drier wetland conditions can impact duck distribution and production. Several species — notably pintails — will overfly the prairie if their preferred small wetlands are dry when they are settling in spring.

“When birds pass over the prairie pothole region and settle farther north, they typically do not have as high of reproductive success,” Rohwer said. “Pintails and mallards tend to continue north when they don’t find sufficient seasonal and temporary wetlands on the prairies.”

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However, ducks that did settle in the Dakotas were likely able to capitalize as wetland conditions improved later in spring. Rains in May and June improved wetland conditions, which should aid duck production in many areas of the U.S. prairies.

“The rains we got in May and June across the eastern Dakotas will probably benefit late nesters like blue-winged teal, gadwalls and scaup,” Rohwer said. “It’s also likely to spur renesting attempts and aid in duckling survival.”

By contrast, most areas of prairie Canada have not received the timely spring rains that occurred in the U.S. prairies. As a result, pond conditions have declined.

“The widespread drier conditions in prairie Canada later in spring will negatively affect duck production,” Rohwer said.

In addition to record highs among the breeding populations of mallards and green-winged teal, the gadwall estimate (3.83 million) is the second highest in survey history, and the blue-winged teal estimate (8.55 million) is the species’ third highest ever. Population estimates for wigeon (3.04 million), canvasbacks (757,000), redheads (1.2 million), and scaup (4.4 million) are similar to 2014.

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Northern shovelers showed the greatest decline, falling 17 percent to 4.39 million but remaining 75 percent above the long-term average. Pintails continue to be a source of concern, declining for the fourth straight year to 3.04 million birds, 24 percent below the long-term average.

The survey data is a reminder that this is a fine era to be a duck hunter.

“While we anticipate decreased production and fewer young ducks in the fall flight, hunters should look forward to a strong fall flight,” Rohwer said.

For more information, contact John Devney, vice president of U.S. policy (701) 471-4235,, or Dr. Frank Rohwer, president (888) 987-3695 ext. 217,

Delta Waterfowl Foundation is The Duck Hunters Organization, a leading conservation group working to produce ducks and ensure the tradition of duck hunting in North America. Visit