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Get on a bike, fish from a boat and beat the winter blues

Fat tire biking and winter fishing are two of the many ways to enjoy the cold and snow this year
Posted at 7:17 AM, Feb 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-03 07:17:55-05

MICHIGAN — With the sun shining bright Tuesday morning, the famous groundhog Punxsutawney Phil saw his shadow, which means there’ll be six more weeks of winter. However, that’s no reason to remain stuck indoors, especially when you can go fat tire biking.

“These fat tires, they go through just about anything. You run the tire pressure very low so you’re just kind of floating over the snow,” said Craig Gietzen of the Rockford Bike Club, pointing to his tires. “It allows you to get out in the woods, some of the cross-country type, groomed-type trails, which are already available around Grand Rapids, and it’s just feels like you’re floating and it’s very peaceful.”

Gietzen said it’s a great way to get away from the city. Monday morning he and some friends went for a ride around Cedar Springs on a designated fat tire biking trail.

He told FOX 17 there were several trails, and races, around the state. Snowmobiles ride on them first to flatten the snow. Then, the bikers go for a ride.

“I’ve had four knee surgeries and a hip replacement. So, this is non-impact. It’s low-impact. You can go out and still do it and break sweat,” said avid rider David Ringler, owner of Cedar Springs Brewing Company. “And if you stay off of obstacles, you can avoid hurting yourself really. You can still get some good exercise.”

Recently fat tire biking has been in high-demand, Ringler said. So, renting a bike may be hard. However, he recommends people purchase one secondhand for a few hundred dollars online at sites like Facebook Marketplace or Craigslist.

He said they last for years.

There’s also other fun things to do in the winter that are equally as active as fat tire biking, like tobogganing at Echo Valley in Kalamazoo, snowshoeing and luging at Muskegon Luge, and winter disc golfing at various locations throughout the state.

However, if you’re looking for something low key, like taking a stroll through the Dow Gardens in Midland or grabbing hot cocoa at Valade Park along Detroit's riverfront, there’s always winter fishing in Muskegon.

“There’s nothing that beats just being out here where it's quiet, and all you hear is the river flowing and birds. It takes away a lot of stress from being cooped up in the house,” said Mackire Gould during an interview with FOX 17 on Monday afternoon. “It’s something that you can come outside and do by yourself.”

Gould took FOX 17 out on his boat, several yards into the Muskegon River. Gould owns Coast to Coast Outfitters, where he teaches people how to fish from his boat.

“I’ve taken out a lot of people this year that actually say this pandemic got them into fishing,” Gould said while casting his bobber and mending his line. “I mean, there was nothing else to do. There was no restrictions on going fishing. So, a lot of people that I take out are coming out to learn how to do it.”

Gould said typically there’s a lot of salmon swimming around. However, during the winter, steelhead fish are in abundance. Sometimes it can take hours to catch one. However, time doesn’t bother him. He simply gets lost in the scenery.

“When all the trees and stuff are covered with snow and then when you tangle into a steelhead, even though you’re cold that adrenaline that you get from hooking a steelhead there’s nothing even a comparable to it,” Gould said.

Monday afternoon, he didn’t catch one but said fishing is one of the most peaceful things anyone can do. All you need is a license and some waders. Boats are optional.

So if you’re stuck inside this winter, don’t be. There’s enough to do outdoors to beat the winter blues.

“It’s therapeutic, you can go out there and it’s quiet and peaceful,” Ringler said. “And, really on these trails, even though you might be right in the middle of the city you can feel like you’re almost anywhere.”