Thursday, February 26, 2009

Changes for Mosquito dove, goose hunts

Dove hunters who utilize the special fields at Mosquito Creek Wildlife Area in Trumbull County have often expressed frustration of being hemmed in by too much competition from other gunners.

Meanwhile, those lucky enough to be drawn for one of the area's controlled goose-hunting blinds have seen their luck take a nosedive. This, largely due to over-use of the fields which contain the blinds.

Now the Ohio Division of Wildlife is on the brink of making several changes for hunting at the reserve.

Among them would be a special one- or-two day controlled dove hunt adjacent to the North Park Ave. dove field but within the confines of the waterfowl refuge. This area would be just to the south of the current dove field.

The dove field on the former Horvath property would remain as is, state wildlife officials say.

To get to hunt this new controlled area will likely entail a postcard drawing, thus limiting the number of hunters at the new location.

The Wildlife Division also would work it out so as to spread the lucky few over more of this new area instead of having them all bunched up.

And for the remainder of the season, persons could hunt this special unit through the drawing of a daily permit.

The North Park Ave. dove field has just become dangerously over-crowded and safety is a rising concern, says Jeff Herrick, supervisor for the Wildlife Division's Northeast Ohio office.

Also, says Herrick, the agency will likely call for fewer controlled goose hunts through the process of one of more self-imposed seasonal splits. As it stands, Ohio has a 70-day season with just one short split.

What this has done is near continuous blind usage which has resulted in a sharp decline in hunter success. On some days the 17 or so blinds have seen as few as two geese shot for an entire day, Herrick says.

By self-imposing fewer days of hunting through the use of more and longer splits, fewer hunters will be able to hunt at the refuge but the quality of the experience - and the expected increase in the goose harvest - will make up for the lost days, Herrick says.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Wildlife's budget

It won't be getting any federal stimulus help but the Ohio Division of Wildlife is fiscally healthy anyway.

In fact, the agency's budget is going to include spending $16.3 million over the next 8 1/2 years to install a new way to issue hunting and fishing licenses as well as permits.

Through this process the agency's proposed 2010 fiscal budget calls for spending $65 million while its fiscal 2011 budget is pegged at $60 million.

The agency will be nipping and tucking its assests, however.

Instead of trading in county wildlife officer vehicles at 90,000 miles these patrol cars will be run until the odometer reads 125,000.

That action will help the Wildlife Division though it will hurt the Division of Parks and Recreation. Wildlife turns over its vehicles after use to the Parks Division for its rangers' use.

Other recreational interest groups will benefit by the federal stimulus, though. And thank the juicing of politicians.

Prospective buyers of motorcycles will be able to deduct the sales tax this year, credit being given to Wisconsin's Congressional delegation.

Not surprisingly, Wisconsin is where the crop of Harley Davidson motorbikes are made, and the company had threatened to lay off more than 1,000 employees.

Pity that Mercury Marine didn't seek the same help, or if it did it came too late. Mercury has a HUGE manufacturing plant in Wisconsin.

Not lost either is that buyers of RVs also will be able to deduct their sales tax on their 2009 income tax forms. That's because Indiana's smart RV industry lobbied its Congressional delegation.

So where does this leave us? We have an economic highway rife with potholes and an uneven filler patch effort to heal these wounds.

It's not going to be an easy job of recovering from this near depression but at least the Wildlife Division is in better shape than its sibling agencies.

Still, even the Wildlife Division must watch its spending carefully. If nothing else then not to draw too much unwanted attention to itself.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Friday, February 20, 2009

Science stuff (star gazing)

Sky watchers have a rare treat in store for the night of February 25.

In one case, they'll have to wait 1,000 years to view this event again. And in another case it's a one-time-only show.

The as-large-as-Texas asteroid Ceres 1 makes its closet approach to Earth, about 147 million miles from our home port. The last time it was this close was in 1857 and the next time it will make a close approach will be in another 1,000 years.

However, the official dwarf planet - with Pluto being one of two others - will glow at 7th magnitude: bright enough to be seen easily with binoculars.

The place to look is in the constellation Leo, and also opposite the Sun. This means it will rise at sunset and remain visible until dawn.

Ceres measures 590 miles in diameter and holds one-quarter of the mass of every object in the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter, reports Astronomy magazine.

It is the only asteroid large where gravity has squashed it into a spherical shape.

Also on the Leo agenda is the coming and going of the comet Lulin which should glow around 5th magnitude. The comet will be seen with the use of a good set of binoculars in suburban settings and with the naked eye in dark sky settings.

On February 23rd the comet will sit alongside Saturn, also in Leo and brighter than any of its stars.

-Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Path of the paddle

AS a kayak owner myself I take pleasure in hearing that the number of paddle boat registrations in Ohio are up.

Make that WAY up.

Since 2003, registrations for both kayaks and canoes in Ohio have risen 34 percent: from 60,065 vessels to 80,640 vessels last year.

Pamela Dillion, the Water Division's chief, says that folks are looking to family oriented activities and also looking for an "environmentally low impact" pursuit as well paddle sports being a healthy lifestyle thing.

I say it's because canoes and kayaks are fun to drive, cost no more to use than the initial purchase price and can be used on streams both great and small as well as lakes, reservoirs and the Big Daddy (Lake Erie).

One thing that I cannot stomach, however, is the lobbying by the Ohio Division of Watercraft in a recent press release to move the state's Scenic Rivers program from the Natural Areas and Preserves Division to the Watercraft Division.

This release was the announcement of increased canoe/kayak registrations.

The proposed move is a bad idea all around, the program being one that would be better served in the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency or the Division of Wildlife since it really deals with stream quality and not recreational boating.

Dillon's use of the increased canoe-kayak registration release to advance the agenda of her superiors is nothing short of bad and out-of-place politics.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

It's what hunters & anglers want

The survey group of Southwick Associates gleaned a mess of results from contacting 24,206 hunters and shooters as well as 22,486 anglers.
From these surveys Southwick found what was the most popular hunting and shooting brands for 2008 as well as the same for fishing tackle.

Among the top shooting/ hunting brands were: top rifle brand was Remington (18.1% of all purchases), the top shotgun brand was Mossberg (29.9%), top muzzle-loading brand was CVA (18.4%), top handgun brand was Smith & Wesson (18.4%), top rifle ammunition brand was Remington (29.9%), top shotgun ammunition brand was Winchester (35.7%), top handgun ammunition brand was Winchester (26.1%), top scope brand for rifles was BSA (16.1%), top arrow brand was Easton (40.5%), top bow brand was BowTech (22%), top game call brand was Primos (35.9%), top reloading bullet brand was Hornady (23%), top binocular brand was Bushnell (29.4%), top knife brand was Buck (19.8%).

Among the top angling brands are: top rod brand was Shakespheare Ugly Stik (14.3% of all purchases), top reel brand was Shimano (21.9%), top rod & reel brand was Shakespeare (24.9%), Top fly rod brand was Sage (10.8%), Top fishing line brand was Berkley (35.8%), top hardbait brand was Rapala (21.7%), top soft bait brand was Zoom (17.9%), top spinnerbait brand was Strike King (22.4%), top fly line brand was Scientific Angler (23.4%), top fly brand was Orvis (9.8%), top tackle box brand was Plano (44.9%), top fishing knife brand was rapala (33.3%), top GPS oe radio brand was Lowrance (40.9%).

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Gone fishing in the mighty Niagara River

I won't spoil the story by giving it all away so early so please read my up-coming February 27 piece on fishing the lower Niagara River.

It is sufficient to say that fellow talented outdoors writer and fishing buddy Paul Liikala and I did well.

We fished with long-time Niagara River fishing guide, Frank Campbell.

Things started out slowly in Devil's Hole but picked up - just as Campbell said it would around 10 a.m.

After fishing Devil's Hole we went downstream to drift fish with minnows or else flashy Kwikfish baits - a modified and better-action model then are Flatfish crankbaits.

The weather was nearly ideal yesterday (Tuesday, Feb. 10) with temperatures nearing 50degrees and a good southerly breeze.

I've fished with Campbell several times before and have always enjoyed great success and even more so the experience.

Frank said the best angling this winter has been between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m., though we caught fish all the way up to 4 p.m. before calling it quits while fishing the fabled "Bar" at the mouth of the Niagara River.

Campbell did say too that business has been good and expects a great March. The former is a bit surprising since the economy's been in the tank but Campbell perhaps correctly notes that fishermen are going to fish no matter what their wallet may hold.

He said many of the guides are doing well - a point noted at the Lewiston, NY boat launch where we saw a dozen trailers with their cargo on the river and many of the folks catching lake trout, brown trout and steelhead trout.

I managed to catch at least one of each species, eight fish total including two lakers that would go 12 to 14 pounds each.

Paul caught some fish, too, as did Campbell.

Any steelhead angler who hasn't gone the route of fishing the lower Niagara River during the winter up through April really ought to give it a go. It's a fantastic world-class fisheries and a hoot to do.

Campbell doesn't discourage keeping fish but does say most of his clients practice catch-and-release.

Watch the February 24 outdoors for more details and fun.

Oh, yes, if you want to fish with Campbell, call him at 716-284-8546.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Monday, February 9, 2009

Go fish (almost)

Well, the ice fishing rods and Pinmin ice jigs are put away and I am ready to head up to the lower Niagara River for a crack at its steelhead trout on Tuesday. I'll post something when I get back Wednesday.

As for around here, with the ice melting and being pushed out, the trout fishing isn't far behind.

I'm going to look at the small creeks first: Kellogg and Arcola. The latter should produce trout at its mouth with minnows the top pick while spawn sacks also might work.

I'm really eager to get started with the fly rod and a bunch of flies I tied up over the past few weeks though I'll probably start with a steelhead rod and spawn sacks.

What I'll miss is the ice fishing, which picked up only at the last minute. On Friday I fished with my older brother, Rich, and fishing friend Paul Liikala of Cuyahoga Falls.

It took us an hour and about a dozen drilled holes before we located a school of hungry bluegills but find them we did. By days' end we caught between 30 and 40 sunfish measuring up to 9 1/2 inches.

Now I can't wait for the streams to settle back.

And maybe I'll be able to get in a rabbit hunt or a preserve bird hunt before all is said and done, too.

Can't forget to fire up our backyard sugar bush and make some more syrup, either.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Thursday, February 5, 2009

Trees and stuff for wildlife

If you want to help wildlife and dress up your property, then look no further than the Lake County Soil and Water Conservation District.

The agency once again is sponsoring its annual tree seedling sale.

Various packages of seedlings are available. Among them are white pine, blue spruce and redbuds.

Packets also include a backyard wildlife packet which will provide food and shelter for small critters and birds as well as a stream and pond packet with plant species that love a yard's wet spot or else along a stream bank.

Returning for sale is the American chestnut hybrid, which is blight resistant and whose fruit can be eaten by both humans and wildlife. This special package quickly sold out last year.

New to the program is a backyard dessert starter kit that consists of blueberries, blackberries and Nanking cherries. All produce eatable fruit.

Also new is a program to buy grape vines for home use or else to donate them to one of the area's vineyards. Two varieties of wine grapes are available.

Orders will be receieved through Feb. 23rd.

To order, call the district at (440) 350-2730 or visit the agency's web site at and then click on to tree sale link.

Delivery will be April 17 and 18.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

No economic downturn for gun sales

Gun buyers are shooting holes in the sorry state of the national economy.

For January the FBI's National Instant Criminal Background Check System showed that firearms transactions jumped nearly 29 percent over those in January 2008.

This increase follows a 24 percent rise in December's gun sales and 42 percent increase in November's gun sales.

In November the NICS conducted a record 1,529,635 background checks, says the National Shooting and Sports Foundation.

Increasingly, Americans are concerned that the Barrack Obama Administration's anti-Second Amendment appointments and comments will translate into more restrictive gun laws. This is being reflected in increased firearms sales of all kinds.

NSSF president Steve Sanetti says that sales in particular of handguns and semi-automatic hunting and target rifles "are fast outpacing inventory."

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

Lots of ice for fishing

I prefer that my ice be several inches thick and neither shaken or stirred.

Monday I headed to my favorite Ashtabula County farm pond for a few hours of ice fishing. One doesn't actually fish for ice, of course. Rather, one fishes through the ice by drilling a 6-inch-diameter hole and then lowering a baited ice fishing jig to within a foot of the bottom.

But no matter. It's still an enjoyable venture. Particularly if the day is sunny and the temperature is above the freezing mark: Both of which were the case Monday.

Joining me was my older brother, Rich, who has fished this particular farm pond before but never when it's been covered with 12 inches of ice.

It also was the first time Rich had been ice fishing in about 50 years.

Alas, our outing was terrible. That is, if you judge the day by how many fish we caught. Three, if you must know and none of them were particularly large bluegills. It was the worst-ever outing (spring, summer or winter) that I've ever experienced fishing the farm pond.

The concern is that the pond has had so much ice and so covered for so long that the water's dissolved oxygen content is low. That would make the fish sluggish to respond to the wax worm bait we were using.

Such a condition might lead to an ultimate fish kill, which is something that could hit many (most) of Northeast Ohio's other farm ponds, too.

It was still a good outing. The weather was pleasant, the conditions were comfortable. The wait was made nice by the fact that I could sip home-made tomato soup and munch on some smokies picked up at Trumbull Locker Plant in Hartsgrove Township.

In any event, I'll be back on the pond at least one more time. Perhaps Friday or maybe early next week.

Ice fishing is really a neat way to fish and a great excuse to be outdoors.

Almost certainly the pond has a hungry horde of bluegills and I aim to find them.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Sunday, February 1, 2009

What gun show loophole?

Yesterday - Saturday - was a traffic nightmare.

No, not with busy mall shoppers. Rather, from anxious and troubled gun owners who fear the Barrack Obama administration.

My two older brothers (Terry and Rich) and I traveled the 50 miles to the Summit County Fairgrounds. And shared the space with thousands of other firearms enthusiasts.

It took us 15 minutes just for my SUV to creep up the fairground driveway to the snow-covered parking lot. It was that busy.

We each paid our $6 admission fee. Once inside, we cruised the many aisles that were lined with scores of gun sellers; some licensed dealers and others being individuals looking to add or subtract from their personnel collections.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

I carried a no-longer-needed Remington Model 760 pump-action deer hunting rifle. I wanted some cash with the money earmarked for another shooting piece that I hoped would see more service.

The gun was sold after some bartering and dickering with one of the exhibitors. No record keeping was done.

Just as it is with any other private person transaction. Much to the concern of anti-Second Amendment advocates who hate all things "guns."

They want to see that all firearms transactions between any gun show visitor/exhibitor include the paper trail and background check demanded of licensed dealers.

Yet federal statistics (compiled within the U.S. Department of Justice) shows that fewer than 1 percent of all firearms used in crimes are bought at such gun shows.

Interesting, too, 57 percent of all crime guns are sold by just 1 percent of licensed dealerships.

Hardly the stuff from anti-gun advocates who grind their teeth over gun show operations.

That gun shows with their often large displays of firearms of all kinds - including a neat little .380-caliber concealed carry semi-auto I admired - are cesspools of illegal firearms transactions simply is not true.

It ain't happening. But those whose view firearms as evil simply cannot see the truth even when statistics show otherwise.

They hate all guns and gun shows are massive displays of the instruments they hate the most.

But it is this fear that is seeing a monstrous response to firearms sales in general and those at gun shows in particular. Buyers are swooping up guns of all kinds, especially handguns and semi-automatic rifles of the kind that the Barrack Obama administration wants to see outlawed.

It is definitely a seller's market with prices for both firearms and ammunition going up, up and sometimes, away. This panic buying shouldn't be, though the fear is there that before long gun shows will be a history lesson.

Truth is, gun shows assist those of us who believe in self-help and the Second Amendment by providing a one-stop-shopping venue where we can look and select from thousands of firearms.

All without Big Brother breathing unnecessarily down our necks.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn