7 Things You Didn’t Know About the Blue Water Area

Are you looking for a new area to explore in Pure Michigan? The Blue Water Area is a getaway to be discovered along the eastern shores of the Great Lakes state. Guest blogger, Danielle Kreger from the Blue Water Convention & Visitors Bureau shares seven things you didn’t know about the Blue and its 140 miles of shoreline.

1) The Blue has six lighthouses to visit; some locations offer a guided tour and tower climb while others simply pose for great photo opportunities.  The nautical stories and current duties of each light station are different, however they have all stood their ground, placed for the purpose of guiding ships and their crew through rough waters.

Harbor Beach Lighthouse Tour, Blue Water Area CVB

Photo Courtesy of Danielle Kreger

2) The Blue has a nationally recognized water trail. The Island Loop Route National Water Trail, is a 10.2-mile looping water trail and is well suited to recreational paddlers, kayaks, canoes and paddle boards. It is the first nationally recognized water trail in Michigan and one of only 14 in the nation. The trail navigates through rivers, canals and lake and passes the Fort Gratiot Lighthouse amongst other favored locales.

3) The Blue has a dark sky preserve.  Port Crescent State Park, in Port Austin, has a designated area where no electric light exists for miles, giving star-gazers an unobstructed view of the night sky.  The dark sky preserve is located in the day-use area where there’s a charge for parking, but no overnight reservations are needed.  Sit back and enjoy the wonders of the universe right in the Blue.

4) The Blue hosts an incredible amount of festivals, free waterfront concerts and summertime events to enjoy like when 300 or more sailboats gather in the marinas of Port Huron to compete in the Port Huron to Mackinac Race.  On race day, it is a continuous flow of sailboats as they pilot into Lake Huron in a race to Mackinac Island.

Photo Courtesy of Danielle Kreger

Photo Courtesy of Danielle Kreger

5) The Blue has a 54-mile paved pedestrian/bike path that runs along the water’s edge as well as a bit inland, winding around parks and neighborhoods.  The Bridge to Bay Trail begins north of the Blue Water Bridge and extends to Anchor Bay in Algonac.  Where some of the trail links are still being developed, helpful signage will lead you to the next path.

6) The Blue has seven ADA accessible kayak launches.  These launches provide an easier and safer way for people with physical disabilities to launch a kayak.  They are located along waterways throughout the Blue.

St. Clair River, Blue Water Area CVB, credit Harry  Burkholder, Liaa

Photo Courtesy of Danielle Kreger

7) The Blue is the terminus of U.S. Bicycle Route 20, which is a cross-country bike trail that runs along M-29 into downtown Marine City. From there, riders have the ability to take the car/pedestrian ferry to Canada for a cross-continental journey.

Discover these things about the Blue Water Area and let them lead you on an experience you’ll treasure for a lifetime.  For more details and info about the Blue, visit the website and Facebook page.

Danielle Kreger lives and works in the Blue Water Area.  Though it is her home, she still sees the Blue as her getaway spot, loving the true-blue water and quaint hometown ambiance of each shoreline community.  She gets her kicks photographing her family as they make their own ventures every day.

Have you ever visited the Blue Water area? Comment with your experience below!

Bundle Up and Fish For Free This Weekend in Pure Michigan

Michigan offers wonderful outdoor opportunities throughout the year, including world-class fishing. While some anglers head for the indoors when the temperatures dip, others look forward to winter’s most popular angling activity – ice fishing.

 Need an incentive to head outdoors? How about fishing for free? February 13 and 14 is the 2016 Winter Free Fishing Weekend in Michigan, which means residents and visitors alike can fish without a license (all other fishing regulations still apply). Experience the state’s fisheries in winter, we promise you won’t be disappointed.

Photo Courtesy of the Michigan DNR

Photo Courtesy of the Michigan DNR

If you’ve never been ice fishing there are a few things to think about so you’re prepared to have a fun and safe experience. The Michigan Department of Natural Resources often recommends anglers follow these six simple rules:

  1. Never fish alone.
  2. Tell someone where you’re going and when you expect to return.
  3. Always test the ice with a spud (a long shank with a chisel-like end).
  4. Take the appropriate emergency items, such as ice picks and a life jacket.
  5. Take a cell phone (enclosed in a plastic bag) in case you need to call for help.
  6. Lakes tend to be a safer choice during the early winter as streams or rivers have flow which makes them less safe at times.
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Photo Courtesy of the Michigan DNR

After you round up your gear you’ll want to think about which species to fish for and which areas you might find them in. Check out these location suggestions!

Southwest Lower Peninsula

Coldwater-Marble Chain of Lakes (Branch County): This is one of the most popular ice fishing destinations in southwest Michigan. The chain consists of several interconnected lakes with a combined area of around 2,700 acres. These lakes produce a variety of game species; including bluegill, pumpkinseed, yellow perch, black crappie and redear sunfish.

Northeast Lower Peninsula

Fletcher Floodwaters (Alpena/Montmorency counties): This 8,000 plus acre shallow impoundment often freezes fairly early in the winter and is an extremely popular winter fishing location. Anglers can target northern pike, yellow perch, bluegill, pumpkinseed and black crappie.

Southeast Lower Peninsula

Saginaw Bay: Anglers should fish early and late ice near shore for yellow perch and deeper areas for walleye at this popular destination. The best walleye fishing is miles offshore.

Lake St. Clair: This lake provides ample access with opportunities to catch many different species, including yellow perch, walleye, northern pike, bluegill and pumpkinseed.

Photo Courtesy of Instagrammer @xmissqueenx.

Photo Courtesy of Instagrammer @xmissqueenx.

Northwest Lower Peninsula

Higgins Lake (Roscommon County): This is a 9,900 acres ice fishing bonanza and offers excellent fishing opportunities for yellow perch, northern pike, lake trout, herring, whitefish, rainbow trout and smelt.

Eastern Upper Peninsula

Munising Bay (Alger County): When ice is established in Munising Bay, the fishery is comprised of splake, coho salmon, lake whitefish and cisco. Also available are smelt, yellow perch, lake trout and burbot.

Southern Upper Peninsula

Big Manistique Lake (Luce/Mackinac counties): This 10,000 acre lake has a maximum depth of about 20 feet. The primary winter sport fisheries revolve around walleye, yellow perch and northern pike.

Western Upper Peninsula

Lake Gogebic (Gogebic County): This 13,000 acre inland lake offers anglers good opportunities for walleye, northern pike, black crappie and yellow perch.

Don’t miss your chance to experience Michigan’s outstanding winter fishing opportunities and to get your family outdoors. Start planning your next fishing trip at michigan.gov/fishing

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Elyse Walter is a communication specialist for the Michigan Department of Natural Resources. Elyse works specifically with the DNR’s Fisheries Division to help educate and promote the state’s fishing opportunities and aquatic resources.

5 Misconceptions about Winter Travel to the U.P.

It’s no secret that with the beauty of Michigan in winter, some stereotypes come along with it. This certainly rings true in the Upper Peninsula, which some people think is nearly inhabitable during the cold weather months. But as U.P. residents and enthusiasts will tell you, there’s so much to enjoy during a Pure Michigan Snow Day in the U.P. Read below as two U.P. guest bloggers share five misconceptions about traveling to Michigan’s Upper Peninsula in the wintertime. 1.       Winter travel limits the fun Those who live in and oft-visit the U.P. never let a little snow get in the way of a good time! Enjoying an evening on the town while avoiding slippery roads is easy in a place like downtown Sault Ste. Marie, where dozens of taverns, restaurants, and shops are found within a short three-block area. Plowed sidewalks are pedestrian friendly and snowmobiles are allowed on Downtown streets for those who arrive via trail. Who needs a car?

Tahquamenon Falls State Park in the winter

Photo Courtesy of Wolverine Photography

2.       Everything is closed in the winter Many attractions remain open all year long in the Upper Peninsula but take on a delightful new appeal when covered in snow. Visit Tahquamenon Falls State Park this winter to see incredible ice displays sculpted by Mother Nature herself. Anglers see their lakes transformed for a new catch and hikers get a new perspective when exploring snow-covered forests by snowshoe. At the day’s end, bundle up with hot cocoa or an Irish coffee at one of the Eastern Upper Peninsula’s four casinos.

sault

Photo Courtesy of Michigan Nut Photography

3.       It’s too cold to do anything outside Some people think that because the Upper Peninsula is so far north, it’s nearly impossible to do anything outside. Guess again! Between guided snowshoe hikes, dog sled races, antique snowmobile runs and restaurants ready to serve up a nice hot plate with a beer brewed locally, you’re sure to enjoy the outdoors.  Some residents say it’s just as busy in the winter as it is in the summer! One thing that folks in the Keweenaw Peninsula know is that Lake Superior actually moderates temperature enough to keep it cold, but comfortable, in the winter.

View from the top of the Mackinac Bridge.

Photo Courtesy of Tim Burke

4.       There’s nothing to see in the U.P., especially in the winter Let’s kick this misconception to the curb right away – you get to cross the western hemispheres’ LARGEST suspension bridge when traveling to the U.P.! Ask any Michigander who has crossed the bridge, it is a rite of passage. Besides the obvious, there are the beautiful campuses of Lake Superior State University, Michigan Tech and Northern Michigan University, and the breathtaking porcupine mountains. 5.       There’s nothing in the Upper Peninsula that you can’t find in the Lower Peninsula Not true! Michigan’s Upper Peninsula is famous for the amount of snow it gets, sometimes even up to 200 inches a year! While the L.P. has countless Pure Michigan Snow Day activities, the U.P.’s top-rated snowmobiling trails, ski resorts and winter festivals make it a blast for any visitor. What do you love most about the Upper Peninsula? Share with us below! Hoath-print   Linda Hoath is the Executive Director of the Sault Area Convention & Visitors Bureau, a post she has held for 13 years. Linda is an outspoken advocate for the Eastern Upper Peninsula and also plays an active role with several state and regional organizations.     amanda_oppe-300x300Amanda Oppe is the Social Media & Marketing Manager for the Keweenaw convention and visitors bureau. Originally from Illinois, Amanda and her family were drawn to the Keweenaw and have been living and working in the Copper Country for almost 4 years. Since coming to the KCVB, Amanda has established our presence along with advertising on social networks such as Facebook and Twitter. Since the forward movement with technology Amanda has grown our audience by thousands. This past year Amanda completed a full upgrade to the KCVB website to make it mobile and user friendly, and designed and implemented a new mobile app that is an in-depth vacation guide making a visitor’s trip just a little easier. Amanda truly loves the Keweenaw and loves helping visitors enjoy the Keweenaw Peninsula and all it has to offer.