Friday, July 30, 2010

Wildlife officials' court case continues

The five Ohio Division of Wildlife officials charged with committing felonies while performing their duties will have another court hearing August 4 as their attorneys work to clear their names.

Jessica A. Little - prosecutor for Brown County - said the officials will likely have to appear in court regarding a defense motion that centers around documentation generated by the Ohio Inspector General.

Defense attorneys charge the Inspector General still needs to release additional information, Little says.

"But the Inspector General says it's given everything it had. That's what the hearing is about," Little said.

As for the special prosecutor's work regarding Alan Wright - the state Wildlife officer assigned to Brown County - Little said she is unaware of any action or movement.

"I honestly do not know. David Kelly is handling that and I'm staying out of it. We'll just have wait and see what happens," Little said.

Little said also that if the entire matter involving the Wildlife Division officials appears convoluted that is because it is complex, involving any number of legal questions.

"Oh, my gosh, yes," she said.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Two-fer: Walleye concerns and a minnow bust

An annual gathering of outdoors writers to the banks of the Grand River on Tuesday was highlighted by several points, most of which came and went without a great deal of discussion.

One subject that did prick the attention of the journalists as well as charter captain Ron Johnson involved Lake Erie's shrinking stock of walleye. Fish are increasingly being difficult to find in the large numbers needed to please paying customers.

The fact that Ohio and other Lake Erie fisheries partners are so dependent on the dwindling population from hatches that occurred earlier this decade paints a grim picture for next year, too, Johnson believes.

His fear is that 2011 quotas will require the Ohio Division of Wildlife to slash the daily summer bag limit from six fish to only four fish. That drop very easily could drive many for-hire charter captains out of business, Johnson says.

Johnson further illustrated the sad state of Lake Erie's crop of walleye by contrasting it with the seemingly increasing population of yellow perch. Here, the 72-year-old Johnson says, whenever walleye populations fall the lake's yellow perch population rises.

This reversal of fortunes is because walleye like to feed on small perch. Take away the walleye and many more yellow perch will survive to grow large and fat, Johnson believes.

On another Lake Erie yellow perch-related matter, it seems that emerald shiners have vacated the near-shore areas. So bad is the lack of shiners that very few bait stores have them in stock, compounded by some difficulty in even getting fathead minnows.

Bait collectors are blaming the current full moon phase. Much of the shiner collection is done at night near piers that have artificial lighting. The shiners are attracted to the light because that is where their forage is attracted.

With a full moon the emerald shiners are much more widely dispersed and thus are largely unavailable to bait collectors.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Friday, July 23, 2010

The only good goose is a dead goose (New York style)

Suffering from an over-abundant population of 250,000 resident Canada geese, New York will attempt to reduce that figure to 85,000 birds.

The action plan - and as reported by The New York Times - was five months in the making. It comes on the heals of the 2009 crash of U.S. Airways' Flight 1549 into the Hudson River.

Geese were held responsible, the birds being sucked into the jet's engines.

All captured geese will be euthanized.

Boy, would my two Labrador retrievers like to go on that mission.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Obama giveth and taketh away from Great Lakes

Promising one thing to help protect the Great Lakes, President Obama and the Democratic-controlled House have delivered something altogether different.

The Healing Our Waters-Great Lakes Coalition says that the House voted Thursday to fund Great Lakes restoration programs at $300 million. That is the same figure that Obama requested even though when he took office the president actually pledged $475 million.

Concerned, the Coalition is urging the Senate to restore the missing $175 million.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Old and new as seen by F&S and OL (anglers and hunters know what I mean)

The current online versions of Outdoor Life Field & Steam magazines each have an interesting story.

In the current online edition of Outdoor Life is a list of the "50 Best Guns of All Time." Yeah, it's a subjective subject but it is fun to scroll through the photos and see what did (and did not) make the list.

Rightfully on the list are Remington's 870 pump and 1100 semi-auto shotguns along with the company's Remington Model 700 rifle. Worthy, too, is Browning's venerable A5 Auto and the 03 Springfield.

Alas, however, not posted is the still-fabulously made Ithaca Model 37 shotgun. For that matter no way would I list the Walther P38 over the Luger pistol.

And I'm not so sure listing so many new (often foreign-made) shotguns is such a hot idea. To qualify as "Best of All Time" a firearm ought to have a history of use.

See the entire group at

As for Field & Steam, it is listing some of the most note-worthy innovations announced at the recently held fishing industry iCast Show in Las Vegas.

Frankly, after looking at some of the postings I cannot but help say that for some of these items what was displayed in Vegas should stay in Vegas. It wouldn't surprise me if any number of these products make their way to the Cabela's Bargain Cave next fishing season.

Some of the oddities posted on the F&S web page include a snap-together fishing lure system so an angler can adapt it for surface fishing or deep-water cranking. Then there is the lure with (yep, really) SOLAR PANELS that are supposed to help give the hard bait extra action.

And someone else came out with a 16-inch plastic worm, designed for really, really large bass.

No thank you, though the F&S page does have more than a few products I found interesting along with one I've actually used.

It was good to see the posting's author had focused not only on the most expensive products but also for those with a limited budget. That would include a new anti-backlash bait-casting reel from Shakespeare.

And high praise was given to Pure Fishing for its new line of Gulp! products including its panfish-sized Gulp! crickets. I've been using this product for the past three months or so and can heartily recommend it to any bluegill-sunfish-crappie anglers.


- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Monday, July 19, 2010

lake Michigan brown trout may be a new record

Competing in a local Lake Michigan trout-fishing tournament Roger Hellen of Racine, Wisconsin was hoping for a brown trout weighing around 22 1/2 pounds.

What he caught instead was a brown trout nearly twice that weight, thus just possibly being a new world record for the species.

Hellen's brown trout weighed 41-pounds, 8-ounces. The fish also measured 40.6 inches and had a 27-inch girth.

The existing world record brown trout was caught last year from Michigan's Little Manistee River. It weighed 41-pounds, 7 1/2-ounces.

No doubt Hellen will win the Salmon-A-Rama's $10,000 first-place prize since the next closest fish weighed "only" 22.4 pounds.

For further details, visit online The Outdoors Wire.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Friday, July 16, 2010

Cranes to boats (Busy day)

Thursday started out more than early enough.

I was up at 4 a.m. and was in Burton Township by 5:30 a.m. to link up with several Ohio Division of Wildlife biologists. Their goal was to capture as many sandhill cranes as possible through the setting off of a cannon net. The effort didn't go as planned as one adult came to the feed station but stood on the wrong side of the net.

Even more embarrassing, four cranes fed through a soybean field across the street and where we had parked our vehicles. Adding insult to injury, the birds actually walked to within yards of the remaining car when the biologists had gone to fetch the equipment.

We'll try again in a couple of days and (hopefully) representatives of the exceedingly rare species to Ohio will come to call and be caught for banding and fitting of satellite radio transmitters.

From this episode I had to go into work and follow that up at 5 p.m. with a News-Herald Flipcam video of Mentor's Mark Hatt. Matt has been spending the past three years rebuilding from the hull up a 27-foot Baha Cruiser that he bought from a liquidator. It's a cool story and is set for Monday with the video now available for viewing on The News-Herald's video page/news.

Today it is off to Camp Perry to work on a story about the National Rifle and Pistol Matches.

My back with its recent major surgery isn't too happy with all of this running around but I can't sit still and the work keeps coming.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Monday, July 12, 2010

Strickland outfished by wife

In the annual Governor's Fish Ohio Day today Gov. Ted Strickland and company were outfished by an-all women team that included his wife, Frances.

Even though Strickland reeled in a walleye on his first cast his boat managed to land only 10 walleye.

But Frances Strickland's boat reeled in 21 walleye.

In all, the field - which included politicians, Ohio Division of Wildlife and Ohio Department of Natural Resources officials and members of the media - caught 165 walleye in a shortened version of the annual event. All of the fish were cleaned, filleted and given to a food bank.

This event first began under the tenure of the late Ohio Gov. Jim Rhodes and has been continued with the help of the Lake Erie Charter Boat Association. Every governor since has participated.

Many of the vessels today had to travel 8 to 9 miles to the prime fishing grounds and saw seas of around two feet with a light drizzle early on as well as cloudy conditions that improved as the day progressed, reports Vicki Ervin, a Wildlife Division spokeswoman.

I had an invitation to fish but declined on Friday. Figured the bouncing of the boat and the standing while casting could hurt my recent major back surgery. Darn it, too, because I really wanted to fish.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Asian carp get center stage with governor, attorney general

Gov. Ted Strickland is off and gone fishing today in the state's annual Fish Ohio Day, being held in Port Clinton. He's suppose to be joined by Ohio Attorney General Richard Cordray.

I'm disappointed that I could not go since I'm afraid a bumpy boat ride to the prime walleye fishing grounds are some 15 miles north of Port Clinton would serious damage my recent back surgery work.

In any event, when Strickland returns to the dock in a couple of hours he'll probably be addressing the assembled state wildlife officials and outdoors communicators.

Likely on the agenda would be comments by both elected officials regarding the invasive Asian carp. No doubt if they talk at all they'll refer to their joint call for a White House Asian Carp Emergency Summit for July 19.

Strickland and Cordray released a joint statement July 8 calling for just such a conference in order to "make plans to move forward with construction of a permanent physical barrier, with the expectation that construction will begin within 30 days of the Emergency Summit."

Both officials say that the current program of relying on an electrical barrier in a Chicago shipping channel is insufficient to contain the Asian carp from spreading into the Great Lakes. Such an infiltration would serious damage Ohio's Lake Erie tourism component, said to be worth $10 billion annually, the joint statement says.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Go fish (learn how to fly fish for warm water species)

This came too late for a big spread but the topic is well worth communicating.

This Saturday from 9 a.m. until 4 p.m. the Ohio Council of the Federation of Fly Fishers will host its Warm Water Conclave. It will be held at Lake Metroparks' Penitentiary Glen Reservation in Kirtland. Cost is $6 per person or $12 per family.

The program will include vendors, seminars and featured fly tiers tying their favorite warm water flies for such species as bass, panfish and carp.

The Ohio Council is made up of fly-fishing clubs from around the state and exists to help promote fly fishing, clean water and provide common companionship for like-minded anglers.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Friday, July 9, 2010

Which is it? "Smokey Bear" or "Smokey THE Bear?"

A nearly 60-year-old argument gets some play in Friday's News-Herald with a short piece on Sunday's Lake Metroparks' celebration of the fire-fighting bruin. We used the phrase that included the word "The," much to the chagrin of purists.

However, ask many folk and you're likely to hear that "the" is added, too. I remember growing up in the late 1950s and the early 1960s singing Smokey's tribute song with the lyrics containing "the" and it stuck in my mind.

For my take on this subject, read the "Behind The News-Herald" blog.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Good news on the water (Sailors acting responsibly)

Typically a three-day July 4th holiday sees the boating season's biggest crush of participants.

And while that was likely true for this year's hot holiday weekend that saw generally favorable boating conditions the Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Division of Watercraft reports there were no boating-related fatalities.

Toss in only a few boating-related accidents and the news is all good for Ohio boating.

The weekend did come on the heels of an intense crackdown on boaters operating under the influence. During the state's June 25 to 27 "Operation Dry Water," the Watercraft Division arrested 11 boat operators for being above the legal alcohol impairment of .08.

Another 17 impaired boaters were arrested during the three-day holiday weekend along with nine people for various drug-related violations as well.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Sporting dog owners cut a break

Ohio's governor Ted Strickland is reassuring owners of sporting dogs and those who raise a litter or two of puppies that they won't become ensnared in bureaucracy.

This, as a result of a three-way compromise that involves the state, the Ohio Farm Bureau and the rabidly anti-hunting Humane Society of the United States.

In order to avoid a lengthy and costly initiative petition drive the Farm Bureau and the HSUS have reached an agreement. In exchange for dropping the HSUS-led efforts to bring before Ohio voters an initiative regarding animal husbandry issues, the Farm Bureau has agreed to enfolding modifications to certain farming practices, including a phase-out of constricting livestock pens.

For its part the Strickland Administration has accepted the responsibility to undertake legislation dealing with cock fights and dog breeding as well as issuing an executive order pertaining to exotic animals.

All of which has made the Columbus-based U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance a tad nervous. It is this organization that has been in the forefront of the restrictive dog-breeding movement.

Its arguments include that HSUS-backed legislation in Ohio and elsewhere would greatly damage efforts by sporting dog owners to breed pure-bred animals and also hamstring those dog owners who see only one or two litters a year.

But Strickland has pledged that any legislation requiring his signature will protect sportsmen's interests and still satisfy the HSUS.

Those assurances pleases the Alliance which has seen eight amendments added to pending dog-breeding legislation that tackles the issue of sporting dogs and part-time breeders.

"I know that Ohio sportsmen have worked hard to ensure that legislation includes provisions that ensure they are not treated as commercial operators. Consistent with our agreement, my support for the current version of the legislation (will) include those important protections for sportsmen and women," Strickland said.

"In other words. this legislation will in no way interfere with the rights of Ohio sportsmen and women."

The Alliance accepts Strickland's strategy and in the past has noted how in many previous times the governor has stood shoulder-to-shoulder with Ohio's outdoors community.

"We really appreciate the Governor making it clear that he will not allow any bill to become law unless it maintains critical protections for the sporting dog community," said Rob Sexton, the organization's vice president for government affairs.

Even so, a potential speed bump still exists. That pebble could become a rock, too. The Alliance has noted that the compromise calls for an executive order regarding the keeping of exotic animals but fails to define that term.

If it implies such animals as bears, lions and pythons then the Alliance has no problems. But if it includes such non-native species as the ring-necked pheasant - and which are a source of recreational hunting - then there could be another skirmish, Alliance officials have said previously.

Of equal concern as well is that few in the outdoors community believe they've seen the last of the HSUS. This group has long supported an end to recreational hunting and fishing as well as trapping.

Thus, many sportsmen believe, it is only a matter of time before another showdown arrives. And that duel could lead to a serious political challenge that will cost both sides dearly.

(Also filed as a local politics blog).

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Friday, July 2, 2010

Caving in to the anti's

A year ago the Ohio Farm Bureau was prepared to take on the Humane Society of the United States - the most determined anti-hunting (and everything else) organization in the country.

And the state's farmers had the backing of the state's sportsmen. The latter know all too well that the HSUS has an agenda and is prepared to get its way, piece by piece if necessary.

And then this week the Farm Bureau announced a "compromise" along the Strickland Administration with the HSUS. All of which stunned the Columbus-based U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance.

Among the points conceded to the HSUS were a number of farm animal provisions, some of which will take years to fully implement. The organization also got Strickland to back a legislative proposal dealing with the so-called "puppy mills" as well as possession of "exotic" animals.

It is these two provisions that most concerns the Alliance, says one of its spokesmen, Rob Sexton.

Sexton said the Alliance had eight favorable amendments inserted into the bill's language that would help protect breeders of hunting-style canines as well as hobbiest breeders (those who may see one or two litters of hunting dog puppies each year).

What the Alliance is seeking are assurances from Strickland that these protections remain in the proposal's final form.

"I think he'll do it. We'd like him to say that he'll support sportsmen's interests. He's never disappointed us yet (but) we're waiting for the Governor's response before issuing a statement," Sexton said.

Another point of possible contention is the definition of exotic animal, Sexton says.

If it encompasses only such critters as bears, pythons and alligators, that's fine.

The threat will come if the bill's language includes species like the ring-necked pheasant, which is not native to Ohio, Sexton says.

And as Sexton has said this is only one step in the Society's agenda to eliminate as much as possible animal husbandry as well as recreational hunting, trapping and fishing, noting that the organization was a huge backer in the failed initiative to ban dove hunting in Ohio.

(A version of this will appear as a News-Herald Politics Blog.)

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn