Evart native eager for busy schedule of fishing, hunting
EVART — Shaun Biggs has had a lifelong love for hunting and fishing. With that in mind, he figures he’s living in the perfect area.
Biggs was raised in Osceola County and later moved to Traverse City, and graduated from Evart High School. He’s lived in Big Rapids since 1993 and works at Yoplait.
His fishing has been limited this year because of other commitments, but he usually applies himself to a once-a-week routine.
“I was fishing every chance I could get,” he said. “I’ve been working too many hours now and doing some projects around the house.”
During his active fishing days, Biggs likes going to the Haymarsh or Chippewa Lake for bluegills, crappies, bass and pike.
“I can’t find that walleye out by Chippewa (Lake),” he smiled. “I haven’t gotten that secret yet.”
Cool weather seems to have slowed things down, somewhat.
“I hear that fishing has been great,” Biggs said. “It started out slow but the bite has picked up. I’ve got friends going to Saginaw fishing for walleye and have limited out. My buddies are fishing out in Manistee (in Lake Michigan). They’re getting a few. They haven’t quite figured out yet the depth of the water they have to run.”
Salmon runs are coming as far as the Luther area in Lake County, Biggs noted.
“They went up the little Manistee (river) and started their early run because of the cold weather,” he added. “(His friend) said they haven’t hooked any but they’re seeing them in there. The Pine (river) has been producing a lot of brown trout. I love the steelhead fishing on the Manistee. I missed it this last winter because of the cold weather. But I fished before in February when it’s 10 below. Tell you what, it’s cold standing down there in the river.”
Salmon fishing in the river is usually another love for Biggs.
“I try to get over to the Pere Marquette and do some fly fishing,” he said. “I play with the salmon and check out my technique. I fish down by Udell Rollways at the Big Manistee on the other side of Wellston. That’s a lot of fun down there.”
When it comes to ice fishing, Biggs likes to spend time at the Haymarsh. Last winter was obviously tough.
“Last year, before Christmas, I went three days straight and limited out on bluegills,” he said. “It was light ice but a good time to go. I caught some decent crappies. Haymarsh is a big lake.”
Biggs started enjoying fishing when he was five, thanks especially to his dad and grandfather.
“I remember one of the first times I fish by Bear Creek, on the other side, down below Tippy Dam,” he said. “I found a chunk of fishing line and the hook, tied a sparkplug to the line and used it to catch suckers while my dad and grandpa were fishing steelhead and brown trout. I put a tin can on the top with rocks in it so when it started shaking, I knew I had a bite.
“We had Easter there when I was seven or eight. I woke up the next morning with a couple of inches of snow on the ground. When you’re in a camper, that’s not a good idea.”
Hunting is also a passion for Biggs. He has bow hunted and now relies on the crossbow.
“I’ve gone to the Haymarsh once in awhile,” he said. “I’ve hunted the Sheep Ranch out there in state land. I hope they change the law to three points or better for Mecosta County and push it across the board. I favor the three-pointer or better rule. That way. we get better bucks. A friend of mine, he saw seven bucks last year. They were all three points or smaller. He said the one was outside the ears 16 to 18-inch spread but he couldn’t shoot it because he was in Osecola County. But someone else shot it, then they turned it in to the DNR because it was too small.
“Make sure what you’re shooting before you shoot it.”
Biggs has thought about muzzleloading but hasn’t done it yet.
At one time, he rabbit hunted at the Haymarsh.
“But it seems like the coyotes have taken care of most of it,” he said.
Biggs likes the 2014 deer hunting prospects.
“The way this weather has been, the farmers are going to hurt on getting their corn off in time before season,” Biggs said. “If you’re sitting next to corn crop, you’re probably going to do pretty good. I think the deer hunt will be good. I’ve heard of those cats, cougars, being out there. There’s a couple running around in Mecosta County.”
Biggs said he’s been impressed with how healthy the deer herd looks despite the harsh winter. But if deer management prevails amongst most hunters, he predicts the quality of the herd will improve.
“If they stop shooting the does, we should have more deer anyway,” he said.
In the future, when time allows, Biggs wouldn’t mind taking a trip out west for an elk hunt.
“I’ve got a lot of friends that go out,” he said. “They tell me about it and it sounds incredible.”
But being in Michigan suits an outdoorsman like Biggs just fine.
“There’s a lot of lakes that are close, a lot of state land available to hunt,” he said. “The first time out on my boat I had purchased, my buddy brought his son along and he was five years old. He reeled a salmon in on my boat. It was 3 1/2 to four pounds. Seeing his reaction to the fish when we took his picture that was among my best moments.
“The thrill on the other person’s face. It doesn’t matter what size fish I catch. I get excited because I caught something. Even if I don’t catch something, I’m excited because I’m out enjoying Michigan’s beautiful outdoors.”