Thursday, May 28, 2009

Best outdoor places to live (we're way down the list)

In Outdoor Life magazine's annual list of the Top 200 towns for the hunter/angler to live in, Ashtabula ranked 102nd.

The only other Ohio city to make the list was Portsmouth at 165.

Outdoor Life used the following indicators to do the ranking: fishable species (availability), huntable species (availability), public land access, trophy potential, and gun laws.

Number One in the ranking was Lewsiton, Idaho while second place went to Marquette, Michigan.

My personal favorite - Pierre, South Dakota - came in 8th.

To view the entire list of 200 best outdoor towns, visit Outdoor Life's web site at You'll note that the majority of them are found in the West or the Upper Midwest.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Outdoor tidbits (perch fishing to ammo shortage)

Wildwood Marina in Cleveland is again planning to hook perch jerkers with its annual Battle of Lake Erie Perch Tournament.

This is the eighth year for the event which will be held June 13 and 14.

It will feature an adult category and a junior division and is designed for the advanced perch angler as well as the novice. Fishing can be from shore or a boat.

The adult division winner will be determined by the five longest perch while the youth category will be determined by the three longest perch.

There also will be a largest yellow perch category and worth either a $50 gift certificate for the adult or a $25 gift certificate for the youth winner.

The contest features an 80-percent pay-out of total entry fee and awarded to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place finishers.

Entry fee is $20 for those age 16 and older and $10 for those age 15 and younger.
Dick's Sporting Goods is the contest's sponsor.

For further information, call the marina at 216-481-5771.

PERCH JERK - The perch bite is on not only off the Wildwood unit of Cleveland Lakefront State park but also the "Hump" area off the Grand River. One lucky angler even managed to catch a 28-inch walleye on a perch rig while fishing for perch found on the Hump.

EYES ON THE PRIZE - The Ohio Division of Wildlife is asking people who sees wild turkeys or ruffed grouse to enter the sighting on a special web page just for that purpose.

The sightings need to be made from June 1 through August 31 and can be reported at and then go to the site's hunting and trapping page.

IS SHORTAGE EASING? - The National Shooting and Sports Foundation may be seeing a glimmer at the end of the ammunition shortage tunnel. A FEW reports are trickling in that outdoors stores and gun shops are restocking the shelves with ammunition, especially handgun ammunition.

However, the critical shortage is not over yet and it is too early to say when that will be, too, cautions a NSSF spokesman.

SAY CHEESE - The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is looking to assemble a 10,000-photograph compilation that captures families discovering nature this summer.

This mosaic will be made into a commemorative poster. All digital photos submitted will be included and one that will - when viewed at a distance - be seen as a single image.

It is called the "Let's Go Outside" program is available at

DOLLARS FOR DUCKS AND EVERYTHING ELSE - While on the subject of the Fish and Wildlife Service, the agency has distributed more than $61 million for state wildlife grant programs that benefit wildlife and their habitats.

Money is collected from taxes paid on firearms and ammunition.

Ohio's share for Fiscal 2009 is $1,744,566.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Bass fishing not made so easy (for me anyway)

I don't want to give too much away but I had the opportunity on Saturday to again fish the Mentor Lagoons with a bass fishing pro. In this case it was Mike McCoy of Mentor, a former Marine Corps recruiter turned business head hunter and accomplished bass angler.

His intention was to demonstrate a unique twist on drop-shot fishing but also to help promote his professional standing as a tournament bass angler and the relationship he has with several product sponsors.

To say I had a good time was an understatement. We caught bass up to 4 1/2 pounds using his system.

I mention the Mentor Lagoons because nearly every local bass fisherman knows that the location harbors good angling for largemouth bass. It's really no secret.

What is something of a mystery is how one goes about consistently catching the lagoon's bass. As it fame spreads the bass are becoming more sullen and difficult to catch. And the fish are not always where you'd expect to find them.

They also are caught by different methods as the season progresses. These bass do move around the lagoons, too, specially as the water warms into the 80s during the summer, turning them off.

A key is properly working the structure and cover with pin-point casts, flips and pitches. Those are no easy tricks to master and require some degree of skill. Miss a prospective drop point by even several inches and it becomes a wasted cast. Pitch too much and you'll put the fish down.

You also have to be careful as the lagoons are filled with sunken tree branches, stone and broken concrete rubble that inhale lures, weights and line.

Yet for those fortunate enough to fish it regularly - and that is an important key - and be willing to adapt then the rewards can pay off. Just as they did for McCoy and me.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Friday, May 22, 2009

Friday's outdoor tidbits (fish to parks to gun club)

A fish species that is closely related to the ornamental carp and is a like member of the minnow family has been found in Ohio's waters of Lake Erie.

The invasive European rudd was caught by a commercial fisherman and is now alive in a fish tank at the Ohio Division of Wildlife's Sandusky Fisheries Research Station. In the words of a state fisheries biologist the specimen will be "sacrificed" for further research.

Rudds are an European and western Asia fish species and was introduced into the U.S. during the late 19th or early 20th century. It may be found in as many as 20 states.

The species has been living in Lake Erie since at least 1997 when it was first discovered over the line in Canada. It also thrives in the upper Niagara River and around Buffalo and has been caught over next door in Pennsylvania.

It looks like an over-sized golden shiner and can weigh up to four pounds and be as long as 20 inches. It lives up to 15 years.

The concern is that the rudd will compete with native fish species for living space and for invertebrates for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Noteworthy is that the rudd is considered a game fish fit for the skillet in Europe and Asia. Of course over there they eat carp, too.

At least the European rudd hasn't spread very quickly though it remains an exotic species, says Wildlife Division fisheries biologist Jeff Tyson.

PARKS - The Ohio Division of Parks and Recreation have given visitors one more good reason to take a stroll. At 19 state parks beginning May 23 the agency placed hidden caches for geocachers, a growing past-time for those who understand how to use a GPS device.

Among the local state parks with geocatch in the parks Division's Northeast Ohio Geochallenge are Headlands Beach, Geneva, Punderson, Pymatuning, Cleveland Lakefront, West Branch, and Mosquito.

Coordinates for the hidden caches can be found After logging onto the geocaching web site, treasure seekers can find the necessary information for the Geochallenge on the Ohio State Parks cache page.

After visiting the site, however, I discovered that you must register and log in as well as even getting cookies if you want a more direct route. Far better would it have been had the parks system also given the information on its own, non-commercial, web site. Pity, too.

NEW OFFICIALS - The Lake County Rod and Gun Club in Madison Township has elected its new slate of officers and trustees.

The officers are: president - Doug McLean; first vice-president - C.J. Land; second vice-president - Michael J. Haas; Secretary - Michael J. Evangelista; Treasurer - G. Lynn Harley Jr.

Trustees are: Mary Rekus, Pete Gosline, Lonnie Sparkman, Larry Davidson, Henry Demeza, Mike Timko Jr.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Thursday, May 21, 2009

No stopping gun sales (and ammo, too)

With firearms and ammunition sales continuing to streak toward space so too are the taxes that are collected on them.

In the forth calendar quarter of 2008 the excise taxes on firearms and ammunition rose to $98.1 million. That's a 31.3 percent increase over the same period in 2007, says the National Shooting Sports Foundation.

With handguns alone, collection of the excise tax was $27.6 million - up just over 70percent.

Ammunition excise tax collections jumped to $35.5 million, a 31.1 percent increase.

In all for 2008, a total of $345.2 million was collected in excise taxes. That's a nearly 14 percent rise over 2007 receipts of $303.2 million.

Nor will this money go into the federal government's general treasury to be squandered. Nope, the money is specifically ear-marked for federal and state wildlife management and hunter education purposes.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Fish fry (time for perch jerking)

Without giving too much away since I'll be writing a story about the start of Lake Erie's spring yellow perch fishing bite I still wanted to share a couple of things.

On Tuesday I fished with two outdoor writing friends - Paul Liikala of Cuyahoga Falls and Bill Kiel of Doylestown. Our destination was the Wildwood unit of Cleveland Lakefront State Park.

That's where the party head boat Linda Mae operates. And it's often one of the finest go-to yellow perch fishing spots in the Central Basin. It certainly was on Tuesday where Paul, Bill and I caught enough perch to keep us steadily busy.

We never had to move once, anchoring up in 33 feet of water and north of the marina harbor area. Nearby was the Linda Mae, who clients also got into fish.

The nice thing was the size of the perch. In all, we caught six Fish Ohio qualifiers, each measuring at least 13 inches. Nearly all of the other kept perch measured at least 10 inches.

Our only problem was that the bite was light. Make that very light. The perch just pecked away at the minnows and wanted the bait resting flat on the bottom. This light bite appears to be a common thread this spring with other anglers reporting the same condition.

We did use sensitive Berkley Cherrywood rods and braided line and even would hold the line in one hand while clutching the rod in the other.

Once we figured out what the perch wanted we managed to reel up a good catch. And we only caught one round goby and one white perch.

Darn, I guess I gave away much of what I wanted to write for a future story. I guess that means I'll just have to go perch jerking again in the next several days.

Oh, yes, one other thing. While waiting to launch the boat I was visited by a marina shore angler who showed me his night-before catch: A large stringer of some truly respectable bullheads. I hadn't seen a stringer of bullheads like that in years which shows that the Wildwood harbor is a great place to fish.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Monday, May 18, 2009

Cold turkey sandwiches (Foiled again)

Looks like there will be a Butterball turkey for the Thanksgiving Day dinner and subsequent cold turkey sandwiches.

Last Friday I had an hour or so to spare before heading south to Marietta to attend an annual conference of outdoors writers. That presented to me one last opportunity at bagging a gobbler this season. It also would be my 12th very early rise-and-shine awakening during the turkey hunting season.

The final day caught me near Jefferson in Ashtabula County. Almost immediately a gobbler responded to the notes from an owl locator call. The bird was close and required a quick set-up and wait.

Unfortunately the cover was dense and most of the trees were small, affording little in the way of back support and concealment.

But, boy, was that gobbler a conversationalist. The turkey would double gobble, triple gobble and go on and on. It responded favorably to every call scratched from the push-pin call or mouth call.

And I suspected that the turkey couldn't have been more than 75 yards away; likely even closer.

The woods were very active, too. I saw a total of five deer that wandered about, and because of the lack of a good sitting tree, the animals spotted me though they did approach to within 35 or 40 yards. A raccoon likewise made an appearance.

When two hens came marching up the hill and stop within 30 yards or so I was encouraged. I figured they'd have the gobbler in tow. Nope. The gobbler never showed and simply and slowly strolled away.

After about 45 minutes the woods fell silent and I knew then and there that my turkey hunting season was over and not for the better. So I shook the kinks from my legs and back and walked out of the woods.

It had been a frustrating and confusing year. In none of the 12 trips (racking up more than 900 miles on the car) I never saw a single turkey and believed I had a good opportunity only two or three times.

I had given it my best and I at least walked away knowing that I could not have done more or anything differently.

Not being omnipresent I could not be in two places at the same time so I had to make a choice as to which spot to hunt each morning. And not being omniscient there was no way to know which location held a willing tom turkey.

Oh, well, there's always the fall turkey season. And maybe I'll be able to collect a frozen Butterball at a Crooked Creek Conservation Club turkey shoot this November.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Thursday, May 14, 2009

Pennsylvania park closures (blame slashed funding)

Ohio's state parks aren't the only such recreational outlets subject to tough economic conditions.

Pennsylvania's state parks likewise are under legislative threat. That state's senate is proposing a budget that would take an additional $19 million from the Pennsylvania Department of Conservation and Natural Resources operating funds.

Like Ohio, entry into Pennsylvania's state parks and forests are free.

If enacted this budget would then force the agency to shutter at least 35 of its 117 state parks and also close 1,000 miles of state forest roads: Fully one-third of Pennsylvania's total forest road mileage.

These roads are heavily used by both anglers and hunters as well as hikers and ATV users. They provide access to stocked and wild trout fishing streams along with access to public hunting lands.

And the closure would turn away 3 million visitors to the state parks system and 'wipe out at least $57 million in visitor spending on products and services in nearby communities," said the DCNR's acting secretary, John Quigley.

A DCNR representative could not say which parks would close though they likely would be the state's smaller and less-visited units. Probably not likely to close would be either Pymatuning State Park or Presque Isle, both of which are popular with Northeast Ohio residents.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Amazing plant discovery (and in Ohio yet)

A first-of-kind native tree species has been discovered thriving in Ohio's Clermont County in the southeast part of the state.

Discovered by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Division of Forestry is the sugarberry tree, a large, broad, fast-growing deciduous tree with a rounded vase crown. The tree was identified by the agency's Brian Riley, private lands forester.

This marks the first time since 1941 when the Mexican plum was discovered that a native tree species has been recorded in Ohio.

Sugarberries grow well in the rich bottomland soils - but in the lower Ohio River Valley and extending into the Mississippi River Valley. This is about as far north as the species gets.

A mature sugarberry may produce tens of thousands of red berries, which are eaten by a wide range of birds, especially during the winter.

Ohio is home to 149 species of native hardwood trees and nine species of softwood trees.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Cold, cruel world (Of turkey hunting, that is)

This morning the temperature was bitterly cold with a heavy frost crackling the grass.

At least the sky was clear and the promise that the temperatures would soon warm was enough to keep me optimistic as to the chances of (finally) killing a gobbler. On a scale of 1 to 10, I was rating the day as a solid 8. Possibly even a 9.

Out in the distance in two polar directions were male wild turkeys. I could hear them bellowing from their perches. Each was fired up and hardly needed a hoot from the owl locator call.

Alas, neither bird showed. All that did was just one very large (and illegal) hen that came to the soft putts and purrs.

Today was my 10th try at calling in a turkey this season. And all I have to show for it is that one lonesome hen. Brother, can you spare a gobbler?

Tomorrow - which is Wednesday - will be my final attempt this year at calling in and bagging a turkey.

Problem is, over the past three years I've managed to call in just one legal bird. Don't ask me what's happened to my choice piece of real estate because I have no answers. What was at one time a slam-dunk at killing a turkey has mysteriously taken a turn south. There is no explanation. Not even from the landowner.

Ah, but things do look promising for next season. For the last two weeks of that season I'll be able to hunt all day. Afternoons and especially evenings can be good if you handle the game properly.

And the land-owner has been seeing birds on an almost daily basis feeding next to my ground blind that I put up at the edge of a picked soybean field. Those birds have been coming in late in the day, too.

But with only a couple of hours left to spend on turkey hunting this week and, thus, this season, I'm going to have to cling to the hope that next year will prove better.

Still, I'll give it a go again in the morning and I might even throw a bomb by moving closer toward any roosting turkey. That's a very risky gamble but I'm out of options for this season.

I'll let you know tomorrow how things went in the morning.

At least now I won't have to be rising at 3:45 a.m. in order to make it to the woods in time.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Monday, May 11, 2009

Clock is ticking away (and turkeys are winning)

Only one (or two, at best) outings remain for me to bag a wild turkey this season.

Today saw me in a new patch of woods that appeared promising. A gobbler sounded close to the position where the owl hotter was activated. And every time the mouth call or push-pin call was used the gobbler responded.

Problem was so did a frightfully large number of hens; maybe four of 'em.

To make a long story very short, the gobbler had four hens with him and which did their best to keep the old boy in tow. It's tough to almost impossible to draw a gobbler away from such attractions of the heart.

And when I broke out of the woods and gain a footing in the old soybean field there were two of the hens in the far corner, feeding. Rotten birds that they are.

I am going to put in the long hours Tuesday, first sitting in the woods and then sheltered in a tent-like camo blind that I've set up in another soybean field. The landowner has said a flock of turkeys have been using the field on a regular basis, coming within feet of the blind.

Unfortunately the turkeys aren't keeping regular hours. They might be there in the morning one day and not until mid-afternoon the next.

After a trio of all-morning sits I still have not lured in a turkey to the blind but you gotta' be an optimist in order to hunt turkeys.

The thing is, the season ends one way or the other on Sunday and I'm committed to attend a conference starting Friday so I have only a dwindling amount of opportunities left.

That, plus I lost virtually the first two weeks to poor weather and family obligations.

But I'll keep my hopes elevated without also running their rpms too high. Maybe Tuesday will prove more successful. Or maybe not, but I won't know unless I try.

I guess I can catch up on my sleep at the conference and its not-always exciting seminars.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Friday, May 8, 2009

No recession here (people love their firearms)

As many people know, the federal government taxes the sale of firearms and ammunition.

Money collected from the sale of these items goes to support various federal and state wildlife management programs and projects. Among them is support for the Ohio Division of Wildlife which receives no Ohio General Revenue dollars.

The most recent report from the U.S. Department of the Treasuring notes that the federal excise tax collected on firearms and ammo during forth quarter of 2008 was more than $98.1 million. That figure is up 31.3 percent over the same period in 2007.

This report also notes than $27.6 million was collected on handgun sales and $35 million for rifles and shotguns while $35.5 million was for ammunition.

In closing out the 2008 year, a total of $345.2 million in excise taxes were collected - up from the $303.2 million collected for all of 2007.

While on the subject of firearms, the Western Reserve Friends of the NRA will host a Chinese auction and banquet beginning at 5:30 p.m., May 29 at the EOUV Hall, 8636 Pekin Road, Bainbridge Township.

Among the items up for auction are a wide assortment of firearms and related accessories.

The banquet cost is $35 per person with the money going towards firearms education, safety, youth programs and wildlife conservation.

For further auction and banquet details, call 888-752-9119 or e-mail to WesternReserveFNRA@gmailcom.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Thursday, May 7, 2009

State moves to ban spawn sacks

A new expanded ruling by the Ohio Department of Agriculture has put the legal kibosh on the use of fresh trout and salmon eggs as bait anywhere south of Interstate 90.

That means it is illegal for anglers stripping trout eggs from steelhead caught from the Vermilion, Rocky, Grand and Chagrin rivers as well as Conneaut Creek to make up spawn sacks utilizing the roe.

Also applicable is a prohibition on the use of eggs obtained elsewhere, such as from brown trout and king salmon caught from the waters of the Niagara River or Lake Ontario.

The effort on the part of the state agricultural department is to contain Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia (VHS).

More details in the Tuesday, May 12 outdoors.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

New kid in town (just in time for perch fishing season)

Long-time area charter captain Dennis Zukowski - inventor of a unique perch-jerking rig - is back in business as the pilot of a head boat.

Zukowski has teamed with Wayne Bratton to run the latter's 65-foot MV Holiday party head boat.

It will operate out of Cleveland Lakefront State Park's East 55th Street Marina.

The MV Holiday can handle up to 77 anglers (though it will hold the line at 50 fishermen) and will head out for twice-daily perch fishing trips. These trips will begin at 8 a.m. and again at 2 p.m.

The boat has a full galley including a liquor permit and will sell hot food as well as beer.

Of course, the area off Cleveland has long held a reputation for excellent perch fishing, and the MV Holiday joins the Linda Mae out of the Wildwood unit of Cleveland Lakefront State Park as go-to vessels for those perch anglers without access to a personal small boat.

The businesses' 24-hour information telephone number is 216-991-FISH. Zukowski can be reached at 440-477-5889.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Pity the poor carp (as under-rated as they come)

Monday evening caught my elder brother, Rich, and me on the Chagrin River.

We weren't after steelhead on this trip. Nope.
Instead, it was one of our several annual spring trips in search of the (lowly) common carp - perhaps fresh-water fishing's most under-rated sport fish.

Yes, you read correctly. Under-rated and sport fish along with lowly.

Fact is, we've been on the hunt for the biggest and baddest carp for several years now. We've taken brutes up to 40 and more inches in length. This is one introduced species that is given nothing but bad press, if any press at all.

Our bait of choice is Post's spoon-sized shredded wheat in honey and oats flavoring. It seems the honey coating helps keep the biscuit on better. Rich prefers a sliding sinker of around 1/2 ounce and a single hook.

My rig is a double shot of snelled hooks with a sinker of 3/8 to 1/2 ounce. Rich's set-up is better. I'm just too lazy to change.

We both, though, swear by braided line with BOTH hands on the wheel. We've eached lost rods and reels to fish that jerk the outfits from off the bank.

Our take for the evening was just one 26-inch carp; a poor showing though we believe the action will pick up as the water temperatures warms and the fish really get into their spawning mode.

Carp fight doggedly, not flashy. They don't jump but pull - and pull hard. Like a king salmon. Only often better.

One of the best books on the subject is "Carp in North America" by the American Fisheries Society. This $22 book features 84 pages and includes everything from biology and carp ecology to commercial and sport fishing for carp along with eating carp (Yep, with several unique recipes) as well as promoting carp through tournaments and the like. Among the recipes are smoked carp sausage and jerky, pickled carp, carp quiche, and chowder and chili.

Log on to the AFS's Web site for ordering instructions. Then go have some really outstanding fun with very limited competition.

Once sampled you'll be hooked on carp just as Rich and I have become. And some day I'm just going to have to try and catch a carp by using a fly rod.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Monday, May 4, 2009

Best of times (what to do.. what to do)

Now that I've seen my daughter, son-in-law and four grandchildren off I am set to retake the hill.

Only thing is, I don't know whether I should be fishing or hunting.

Maybe there is time for each (or both) but rising super early and working an eight-hour work shift taxes the body and mind though not the spirit if I attempt to cram too much in one day.

I want very much to listen for gobblers in the morning but that job requires rises of 4 a.m. and a 45-minute drive to the turkey woods in Ashtabula County. There, I'll sit and call to try and get a response from a willing tom turkey.

And I might spend a few hours in a pop-up blind that I've set in a field over-looking a wood lot.

This will be the last opportunity for hunting until September 1 when I'll be after doves and Canada geese, though I might steal a day or so in June while in search of crows. I don't know.

What I do know is that I also have this serious itch to go carp fishing in the Chagrin River. Just yesterday my elder brother, Rich, caught a 30-inch carp while fishing the stream, using Spoon-sized Shredded Wheat for bait.

The fish was good for his third Fish Ohio qualifying species. I want one, too.

For that matter I have a hankering to row a boat around a farm pond of some acquaintance. There, I'll be casting to largemouth bass, crappie and big bluegill-sunfish.

Oh, yes, I was hoping for one more go at the Chagrin River's steelhead, if the fish are willing.

But if I want to go fish AND turkey hunt I'll either be tired for the former or else ill-prepared for the latter. It's almost impossible to do justice to both if done on the same day.

Still, I'll try and likely lose sleep or my hunting/fishing edge in the process. For that matter my wife, Bev, will probably stay clear of me, knowing that I'll get a little feisty while attempting to juggle both pursuits.

May is such a delightfully terrible month for those of us who like to both fish and hunt.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn