The several thousand Fish Ohio applicants waiting to collect their pins will need to be patient a little longer.
Officials with the Ohio Division of Wildlife say it will be mid-September before the first batch of pins - this year featuring a sunfish/bluegill - are sent out by snail mail. This likely ship date is several weeks later than usual, state officials say.
The reason? Blame the recent budget crisis and the politicians who nixed spending any money, even by agencies such as the Wildlife Division which have stand-alone and self-supporting financing.
“It is budget related and we are a little behind, but everyone will get their Fish Ohio pin,” said Wildlife Division spokeswoman Vicki Ervin.
Vicki Farus, the Fish Ohio program’s administrator, says the to-date number of Fish Ohio applications has grown from last year. So far this year the Wildlife Division has processed 8,800 Fish Ohio applications. That compares to the 7,393 applications received at this same point in time last year, Farus said.
“Maybe the cooler weather has prompted more people to go out and fish. Or maybe more people are staying home and fishing locally,” Farus said.
As for a break-down of Fish Ohio applications, some of the more popular species scored gains, though not walleye.
These are the to-date application numbers for several, select, species with the to-date 2008 figures in parentheses: Crappie- 1,267 (1,064); Sunfish/bluegill - 1,313 (1,062); Largemouth bass - 564 (415); Walleye - 1,427 (1,566); Yellow perch - 564 (472).
To be eligible for a Fish Ohio pin, an angler needs to catch a qualifying specimen from at least one of 19 eligible species. For anglers who catch at least one qualifying representative of four eligible species earns a Fish Ohio Master Angler award, presented in late winter.
Anglers interested in signing up for a Fish Ohio pin can do so online at the agency’s web site: www.wildohio.com. Instructions and a mail-in application likewise are available in the fishing law digest.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn