Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Sportsmen are worried about Kasich Administration's plans

Some sportsmen are wondering if the Kasich Administration is prepared to touch the third rail of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources: It’s fiscally solvent and constituency-strong Ohio Division of Wildlife.

These sportsmen’s fear is that Kasich and his hand-picked Natural Resources Department team wants to pull the Wildlife Division’s canines and replace them with politically kinder and gentler false teeth. The kind that doesn’t bite back.

A portion of this fear rests on the fact that the Kasich Administration reposted the Wildlife Division chief’s job. This sent - to believe these sportsmen - the status of acting agency chief Vicki Mountz into a state of limbo.

Of concern is that the Kasich Administration through the workings of its newly installed director David Mustine wants to hire instead a “company” outsider, one who wouldn’t rock the Natural Resources boat, support the reduction of Central Support for the Wildlife Division and generally turn a deaf ear to the state’s anglers, hunters and trappers.

It is said by some who know the Natural Resources Department’s inner workings that morale within the agency as a whole is abysmal with that in the Wildlife Division being likewise in the tank.

Thus the rumor mill is in overdrive with the expectation that Mountz has been eliminated from permanent possession of the chief’s job. Sort of like what happens in one of those reality television shows when someone is sent packing or off to an exile island to ponder their future.

Of equal concern are the persistent rumblings that the Kasich Administration plans to eventually consolidate the underlings within the Natural Resources Department.

Such a move might include separating the Wildlife Division’s current system of a combined fish/wildlife management system fused with law enforcement to one with separate, parallax entities, these concerned sportsmen fear.

What could come as result of such a divisional disembowelment would be a stand-alone fish and wildlife management corps and an uber one-size-fits-all law enforcement group that would enforce not only wildlife laws but also incorporate the duties presently performed by state park rangers, some foresters and Watercraft Division patrol personnel.

A paralogism of this sort is anathema to many sportsmen who believe that such an erosion would not only subtract from the Wildlife Division’s abilities but shrink their carefully guarded and nurtured relationship with both the Natural Resources Department and the Wildlife Division.

Just how all of this plays out over the next several months will become not only the fodder for reporters and columnists but more importantly, the concern of people who pay the bills: Ohio’s sportsmen and their benefactors.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Monday, March 28, 2011

Fly fishing continues to grow

It's been nearly two decades since "A River Runs Through It" raised a huge awareness in fly fishing.

This interest does not appear to have waned much either. Sales of fly fishing gear continued to show impressive gains with 59.3 percent of anglers reporting they bought fly fishing tackle in 2010, reports Southwick Associates.

This figure also represents an increase of 4.1 percent over 2009.

These findings, along with detailed information on the most purchased fly fishing brands, type of specific fly fishing gear bought, types of fish sought and fly angler demographics, are all reported on in Southwick Associates first-ever comprehensive Fly Fishing Market Survey.

Additional key findings of the 2010 Fly Fishing Market Survey: flies were the most purchased type of fly fishing gear accounting for 60.9 percent of fly tackle transactions, Temple Fork Outfitters was the most purchased fly rod (15.4 percent of purchases), Orvis was the most purchased reel (23.5 percent) and trout remains king, sought by 66.3 percent of dedicated fly fisherman.

“The data we are able to collect specific to fly fishing each year continues to grow as part of our overall efforts to measure angler habits and purchases,” says Rob Southwick, president of Southwick Associates, which designs and conducts the surveys at HunterSurvey.com and AnglerSurvey.com.

“Given the increased interest in fly fishing and the types of information we have collected, it was time to release a more comprehensive report dedicated to the sport."

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Stream flows falling, clearing: hopefully good for steelheading

For the steelhead fishing souls willing to brave the unseasonably cold temperatures at least the streams are getting into good shape.

The flow rates for the Chagrin and Grand rivers as well as Conneaut Creek all have fallen beneath their long-term median average.

Even so, reports are that these Lake Erie tributaries continue to show stained water with visibilities of about one foot on the Chagrin and only inches on the Grand. Conneaut's clarity is not known but should be better than either of the two other streams.

A look at the near real-time flow of the Chagrin River shows that this stream is holding steady and 288 cubic feet per second with the day's median set at 426 cfs. Here, clarity is no more than one foot and hasn't changed much over the past few days.

On the Grand River the flow is 430 cfs with a median of 1,070. Again, clarity is poor to only fair but is likely to improve by Thursday, give or take one day.

Over on Conneaut Creek the stream has fallen to 194 cfs with a median of 298 cfs. Here, the stream is LIKELY the most clear and may fall below good fishing conditions toward the week's end as little precipitation is being forecasted for this week.

As far as weather is concerned, temperatures will remain well below the seasonable average. Typically this time of year the day's high temperature is around 50 degree though the forecast calls for the highs over the next few days only in the mid-30s with maybe a day or two in the upper 30s.

Lows will actually fall into the mid- to -upper teens. These temperatures will delay the daily run of steelhead up the creeks until the afternoon when water temperatures make a brief spike.

Air temperatures will begin to approach normalcy beginning Sunday though the chance for precipitation will increase as well.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Friday, March 25, 2011

Decision time: Lake Erie walleye/perch limits to stay the same

The Great Lakes Fisheries Commission did what few anglers thought would happen: Maintain the status quo on Lake Erie-caught walleye and yellow perch.

Meeting Thursday and today, the Commission recommended that there be no changes in daily bag limits for Lake Erie-caught walleye and yellow perch for Ohio this coming year.

“It makes me happy because I didn’t want to be the guy who told anglers, charter captains and bait dealers that there would be cuts in the daily bag limits,” said Ray Petering, the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s fisheries administrator. “As far as the population thresholds, we’re above that mark that would have triggered a bag limit change; maybe not above as much as we’d like but still above them.”

Petering said also that as his staff began crunching numbers he could get a sense of what things were shaping up to be but that “until everyone comes together you really can’t say.”

“The we got to the meeting the more we thought we could stay with we’ve got,” Petering said.

Thus, the daily bag limit for Lake Erie-caught walleye will remain at four and six with the switch to the larger bag coming occurring May 1. And perch anglers will be able to keep 30 fish per through all of Ohio’s waters, Petering said as well.

“Of course we’ll be keeping our fingers crossed that as the fish enter the spawning season we’ll see a good hatch and if we can get another one that would be three of the past five years of at least meeting the long-term average. That would be good news for the future of Lake Erie walleye fishing,” Petering said.

In terms of specifics, the total Lake Erie-wide total allowable catch (TAC) for walleye was set today at 2.919 million fish and for yellow perch, 12.651 million pounds.

These TACs are similar to last year’s levels and are based on extensive biological assessments and analysis by Canadian and American fishery agencies, the Commission says.

“For both yellow perch and walleye, the committee is moving forward on a revision of fisheries policies and guidelines for the future. The intent is to fully engage all stakeholders throughout that process,” the Commission reported in a just-released press statement.

“The relative constancy of both the walleye and yellow perch TACs reflects the committee’s interest in providing stability to fisheries as we develop revised walleye and yellow perch harvest policies, with input from stakeholders,” also said Lake Erie Committee chair Don Einhouse of the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation.

“We understand that in certain areas, the biological risk at these levels of harvest may increase, but will not threaten the sustainability of the resource as we transition to new policies.”

For Lake Erie charter captain Jim Schonauer of Mentor, the economics of maintaining the status quo will help greatly especially with the expected rise in fuel costs.

“That is good news and I heard previously that might be the case,” Schonauer said. “We could have lived with five (walleye) but this will help. They are the experts and hopefully we’ll have another good hatch this year.”

As for yellow perch, Schonauer noted that the past few years have provided exceptional angling.

“I’ve never had a bad year though last season the weather and wind conditions didn’t help but when we could get out the perch fishing was excellent,” he said.

Similarly, Lake Erie-based visitor and tourism bureaus are equally elated that the bag limits.

“That is very encouraging, great news. With the challenges that our charter captains are facing the retaining of current bag limits should help them retain their regular customers and even see more business,” said Bob Ulas, executive director of the Lake County Visitors Bureau. “It also will help the entire tourism industry. You just never know what the breaking point is on bag limits that will see a group decide either to fish on a charter or stay home."

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Work to begin Monday on Conneaut Creek access site

Steelheaders on Conneaut Creek will soon enjoy an improved pull-off/parking lot near downtown Conneaut.

The Ohio Division of Watercraft is working with the Friends of Conneaut Creek and the Central Basin steelheaders in an effort to improve access to the popular trout-fishing stream.

Beginning Monday, March 2, a construction crew will begin leveling off and improving a parking area on Center Street where it crosses Conneaut Creek.

While the property is owned by the Watercraft Division’s Scenic Rivers program the work is being paid for by the Friends’ group.

Weather determining the project is expected to take three days to complete, perhaps a couple more if needed, says Matthew Smith, Northeast Region Scenic River manager for the Watercraft Division.

“I’m hoping on seeing 8 to 10 spaces but we actually didn’t lay it out with an engineering drawing,” Smith said. “It’s on an old parking area so we aren’t creating anything new. It’s been sort of a pull-off for paddlers or fishermen.”

It likely be used by more anglers than paddle sports users, however, Smith said also.

“I do expect that some use by paddlers, though,” Smith said. “The Scenic Rivers Program bought the land a few years ago and we want to keep as much of its wild as possible.”

With more favorable weather in the forecast for the rest of this week and at least the first part of next week, the lot very well could see usage by steelhead anglers even before construction work begins.

“We might have to shoo them out so the work can be done,” Smith said.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Disabled vets seeing long delay in getting free hunting/fishing licenses

In the Department of Unattended Consequences, Ohio's disabled veterans who qualify for free hunting and fishing licenses are seeing long delays in being issued the documents.

These licenses are be addressed by the state's new license-issuing system; a system that has created long lines at some issuing agent establishments while other agents are unable to sell any documents until April 1.

Now the state's disabled vets have likewise been trapped by the problem-prone program.

Here is the official note as provided by the administrator in charge of the Ohio Division of Wildlife's program, Korey Brown:

"Many of you are receiving inquiries from Disabled Veterans who submitted applications for free licenses but have not yet received anything. Please be advised that each application must first be approved by the Veterans Administration before the Division of Wildlife can process it"

"The V.A. is processing hundreds of applications per day and forwarding them to the Division of Wildlife. Within the last 10-14 days, the Division of Wildlife has received more than 1,000 applications from the V.A. – applications that customers submitted to the V.A. back in December and January. As logic would follow, the Division of Wildlife is now backlogged, and the Division of Wildlife is receiving a large volume of calls from concerned customers."

"We’re doing the best we can approve applications as quickly as possible."

In short, the Wildlife Division's good is not good enough. The agency has had several years and has spent $16 million to work out these kinds of bugs beforehand.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn


Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Ohio's top waterways official to retire in 2011

After 30 years of service to Ohio boaters, Pam Dillon is prepared to say she's headed out to sea, ready to announce her retirement.

Dillon is currently the chief of the Ohio Division of Watercraft, having served in that capacity since the fall of 2007.

Immediately prior to her job as Watercraft Division chief Dillon was head of the American Canoe Association. This association is a national paddle-sports advocacy group. And prior to that stint, Dillon was deputy chief of the Watercraft Division.

Also, Dillon is the Watercraft Division's first-ever chief and as such has helped lay the foundation for women to take over the top spot in other Ohio Department of Natural Resources' high-profile divisional chief jobs.

“The boaters of Ohio are exceptional, and I believe we’ve worked hard to serve them,” Dillon said. "I should be announcing something within the next couple of weeks."

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Anglers, too, are finding more "Posted. No Trespassing" signage

The nation’s anglers are beginning to experience the same access difficulties that have long perplexed their hunting counterparts.

A recent AnglerSurvey.com study shows that almost 16 percent of surveyed anglers reported at least one of their fishing holes was posted against trespassing last year.

About one third of the respondents said that they were cut off from accessing private property while the second highest number said the end came on public land and waterways. Development was ranked third followed by pollution.

In Northeast Ohio, access to steelhead fishing has increasingly become a driving force of concern for anglers and state fisheries managers. Not only are landowners becoming frustrated with a growing number of anglers some of these property owners are leasing fishing rights to their stream banks.

“These findings should sound an alarm that lost access to the waters they fish is a very real problem for a number of the nation’s anglers,” said Rob Southwick, president of Southwick Associates.

Southwick Associates conducts the AnglerSurvey.com along with HunterSurvey.com., and ShooterSurvey.com. and is widely regarded as having the most reliable pulse of the nation's anglers, hunters and shooters.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Slim pickings for area hunting/fishing license outlets

A disappointed potential angler strolled out of D&W Bait and Tackle in Painesville an hour or so ago.

It wasn't that the new owner of the bait and tackle establishment wanted to displease the potential fishing license buyer. The owner was just unable to fulfill the request to sell an annual fishing license to the gentlemen.

It seems the Ohio Division of Wildlife has instructed new license issuing agents that they cannot begin selling documents until April 1 - several weeks after the established run of steelhead trout in area creeks and after the walleye bite typically begins at Pymatuning and the crappie start biting in the Mentor Lagoons.

What's more the owner has the equipment just not the Wildlife Division's A-OK, much to the annoyance of the businessman who said he's had to turn away at leats 100 potential license buyers.

And on Monday when I visited Gander Mountain's Mentor store, once again a hold-up ensued as a clerk went through the lengthy process of issuing a license while other customers were left shifting their weight from one foot to the next, holding their prospective purchases as the document's information was taken and then the whole spat out.

The Wildlife Division's new issuing system may have advantages but good, fast, customer-friendly service is not one of them.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Monday, March 21, 2011

UPDATED Poor weather dumps bad fishing conditions on area steelheaders

What’s been good for maple syrup producers has been bad for steelheaders.
Blame - and/or credit - the weather, too.

“We’ve had a lot of moisture, which has accounted for good sap with good sugar content,” said Les Ober, officials with the Geauga County Extension Office in Burton Township.

Ober also happens to be a dedicated steelheader but who is now focusing on making maple syrup instead of roll casting a woolly bugger.

“But I haven’t done any steelheading and I think it’s going to be a short year; a short season. It’s the same weather pattern that we saw in 2008,” Ober said.

Ober said also that when conditions do improve it will be sight fishing over redds.

“There will be a lot of that; despite the poor weather I still think there’s a fair bit of spawning being done on the really small tributaries but where we can’t get to them,” Ober said. “The thing is, these Manistee fish are really strong and we’re going to have to look for them in the margins like small feeder streams and even slack flow.”

Similarly, Ohio Division of Wildlife fisheries biologists Phil Hillman and Kevin Kayle both have struck out this spring in finding fisahable waters. And that hasn’t gone over well with either biologist/angler.

“We had a dry fall and a wet winter. I didn’t even catch a fish in the most recent tournament,” Hillman said.

For area bass-fishing tournament pro Richie Glavic the chase for steelhead trout runs between storm events. When the water clears enough to give it a go, Glavic goes and catches fish.

“The one Monday that Mill Creek was fishable my partner and I caught 25 steelhead, but it has been a difficult year,” Glavic said.

That can also be said for former Perry Township resident Paul Liikala who has spent the past few months trying to squeeze some fishing into between thunderstorms and near blizzards.

His best luck has been on Euclid Creek with a couple of so-so ventures to Cowles Creek within Geneva State Park.

Liikala said he either used freshly tied spawn sacks or else strips of colored yard snugged in loops of leader material. The line is tied just beneath the hook’s eye with a chunk of colored yarn placed in the loop. Snug the line and the yard appears as something worthy of being bitten, Liikala says.

However, on Monday Liikala found conditions from the Ashtabula River west to Euclid Creek went from bad to worse, respectively. All caused by Sunday night’s thunderstorms that raised the rivers and streams with murky, silt-stained water.

“I don’t know what’s going to happen with the rest of this week,” said a glum Liikala.

Jerry Darkes, noted area steelhead fishing expert, said that if an extended stretch of warm weather does occur “things can happen pretty quick.”

“But if it gets cold again we’ll see the fish back off their redds, which we’re going to see later this week,” Darkes said. “It is difficult to say because certain waters are barely fishable though I suspect that a lot of fish are way, way up the rivers.”

Darkes agrees with Kayle that the 2011 winter-spring fisheries have proven one of the “toughest it’s been for a long, long time.”

“We need those water changes but it’s actually nice if we can have fishable periods in between and we haven’t had too many of those this year,” Darkes said.

Options are available, though. Bob Ashley of Mentor spent last weekend fishing New York's Gennesee River below Rochester. There he caught steelhead up to 15 pounds and brown trout up to 12 pounds.

Ashley used clown-colored Rapala Husky Jerk crankbaits.

"That gave my steelhead fix for about a week," Ashley said of his New York trout-fishing adventure.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Friday, March 18, 2011

Fighting the invasive pest the best way possible

Twenty-nine communities impacted by the emerald ash borer received federal funding assistance through the Ash Removal and Canopy Restoration Grant program.

Grants, which require a 50 percent local match, will help EAB-affected communities remove hazardous ash trees, as well as help assist in the restoration of lost canopy cover.

The funds are provided by the U.S. Forest Service.

The local communities receiving grants were: Brecksville - $18,750; Fairview Park - $11,700; Seven Hills - $18,618; Shaker Heights - $18,750; South Euclid - $13,050; Strongsville - $26,250.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

ODNR officials work the budget teleconference phone

In a wide-ranging teleconference Wednesday with members of the media, officials with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources presented their case for the proposed 2012 and 2013 state General Revenue Fund operating budgets.

While answers were provided the discussion also left a series of unanswered - and still unanswerable - questions.

Agency officials did say, however, that its budget reflects an opportunity to still provide the needs of the public while fulfilling the Kasich Administration’s stated goal of fiscal responsibility.

Those needs may be met - in part - by such activities as plumbing for fossil fuels through the environmentally controversial practice of hydro-fracturing, or “fracking” for short, on state park property.

Likewise, agency officials said the department wants to “partner” with like-affiliated local entities such as county metro parks. When asked specifically if that includes deeding Cleveland Lakefront State Park to Cleveland Metroparks, ODNR deputy director Scott Zody said “everything is on the table.”

Zody and Natural Resources director David Mustine said that any royalties gleaned from mineral/fossil fuel activities on state park property would go into a trust fund. From this fund the Ohio Division of Parks and Recreation could tap, using the profits to help arrest on-going maintenance shortcomings, Zody and Mustine said.

However, the Natural Resources Department officials were unable to answer which state park lands might be subjected to mineral exploitation, how much fossil fuel reserves are available or how much in royalty payments might become available for the trust fund.

Thus, the public and state legislators remain in the dark as to the consequences, costs and true benefits of such activity. That is a point Zody and Mustine noted, saying that the initiate remains a work in progress.

Also, the Division of Parks and Recreation is assuming management of the state nature preserves system.

“ODNR will be proposing Income Tax Checkoff language, consistent with previous language, that will allow the fund to benefit both preserves and parks,” an official e-mailed The News-Herald just prior to the teleconference.

“We hope this will attract more donations for both programs — funding will benefit the same types of activities (ecomanagement, habitat management, facilities improvement, research, education and land acquisition) as has been historically funded by these donations.”

One specific subject the officials did address was the Natural Resources Department’s plans to “zero out” state money previously given to Ohio’s 88 county soil and water conservation districts, among them being those in Lake, Geauga, Cuyahoga, Lorain and Ashtabula counties.

Not discussed during the teleconference, however, was that the spending authority of both the divisions of Wildlife and Watercraft will decline under Kasich’s budget plans even though these entities have the cash on hand.

On the matter of timbering in the state forest system, the Natural Resources Department officials pointed out that some of that work goes on now.

Presently, 7 million to 8 million board feet of lumber is being taken off state forests and may go up another 1 million to 1.5 million board feet. Under the sustainable certification, up to 50 percent of the potentially harvestable lumber can be removed, Zody said.

“But we’re only at 15 to 20 percent,” he said. “We could ramp that up without harming any sustainable harvesting and we might consider it.”

Asked as well how the Natural Resources Department fared when compared to other cabinet departments, Mustine said he was focused solely on his area.

When pressed, however, Mustine noted that the Natural Resource Department collects less than one-percent of the state’s General Revenue Fund. That means that other departments - on a total dollar basis - fared worse than did the ODNR, Mustine said.

And asked too how the Natural Resources Department’s constituencies - particularly those who use state parks - might view these proposals, Mustine said; “This is something that our divisions are focused on, to absorb the cuts and still (provide) a quality experience."

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Sandhill cranes are returning to Geauga County

They’re back. At least one of the sandhill cranes that was living in Geauga County has return, flying there March 5.

This crane was fitted with a satellite transmitter. Another similarly outfitted crane had seen its transmitter fail, likely due to predation, a state wildlife biologist says.

Yet to be determined is if any of the other known cranes have returned to the Burton Township location. That job will be performed next week via a fly over by an Ohio Division of Wildlife aircraft.

“We’ll see if the juvenile that was fitted with a transmitter has returned as well. This particular transmitter is a VHF-only unit and we have to be within one mile to have it register,” said Dave Sherman, Ohio Division of Wildlife biologist.

Sherman said the state will again attempt to live trap cranes though none are scheduled for Northeast Ohio.

“We have radios on three of them over there so we want to expand the project to other locations in Ohio,” Sherman said.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Kasich Administration uproots the Peoples' Garden

Retired Division of Natural Areas and Preserve chief Guy Denny is disappointed that Gov. John Kasich and his wife, Karen, have little interest in the well-maintained, largely privately funding of the governor's residence in Columbus.

That is unlike the previous two first ladies who took - and still take - an active roll in developing the one-of-a-kind native- and formal-gardens at the residence.

Beefed up as well is the security at the residence though no one is actually living there.

At issue is that former first Lady Hope Taft raised outside funding to assist in developing a herb garden at what has become a showpiece attraction duplicated at no other governors' residence.

Also active is Fran Strickland, the immediate past first lady. Both former first ladies are heavily involved in the project.

Taft was told that the funds could not be spent, the fear being that people would believe that tax dollars were being utilized for the garden's construction and maintenance, Denny said.

Denny works an ad-hoc committee on the garden project which includes all kinds of Ohio native flowering and other plants, some of which are endangered or threatened.

Also, each county is represented by a locally supplied stone or rock engraved with its name.

Worst of all, Denny says, is that neither Kaern Kasich has even attended any of the governor's residence garden meetings designed to foster public appreciation of the work as well as its upkeep and expansion.

"It's so, so sad," Denny said.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Ships ahoy! Transient boat docking for Cleveland's North Coast Harbor

Downtown Cleveland will become a port for those recreational boaters looking to tie up and take in a ball game, visit the Great Lakes Science Center or tour the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has awarded through its Service’s Boating Infrastructure Grant money to build a transient marina at the existing North Coast Harbor in downtown Cleveland.

Ohio's Department of Natural Resources, in cooperation with the City of Cleveland and partners, will receive $1,450,400 and match that with $509,600 to build new floating docks for 53 transient boat slips including 3 handicapped-accessible slips
and ramp, a new shower, restrooms, laundry building, and amenities.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service awards BIG Program grants to support recreational boating and associated tourism activities, which is estimated to generate more than $1.1 million for the Cleveland area.

“Downtown Cleveland is home to many attractions and the transient marina and amenities will attract boaters to the Cleveland area, and thus provide an economic boost for the local community,” said Julie Morin, the Service’s grant coordinator.

Funding for the BIG Program comes from the Sport Fishing and Boating Trust Fund, formerly known as the Aquatic Resources Trust Fund. This fund is supported by boaters and manufacturers through excise and other taxes on certain fishing and boating equipment and boat fuels.

Grantees use Boating Infrastructure Grant funds to construct, renovate, and maintain facilities with features for transient boats (those staying 10 days or less) that are 26 feet or more in length and used for recreation. Grantees may also use funds to produce and distribute information and educational materials about the program and recreational boating.

“As noted in our comprehensive Boating on Ohio Waterways Plan; in Ohio, Lake Erie is the ideal place for transient marina development and Cleveland was identified in our plan as a primary target area. This facility will be a welcome addition to the Cleveland waterfront,” said Phil Miller, the Watercraft Division’s resource planning administrator.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

UPDATED, 9:30 a.m., Thursday - Kasich Budget: Watercraft

While the Ohio Division of Watercraft spending authority is proposed to decline by 9.1 percent for Fiscal 2012 and another 2.5 percent in Fiscal 2013, the agency still is financially healthy, said an agency spokesman.

It just cannot spend all that it collects in the form of boat registration fees, titling fees, and that portion of the state motor fuel tax as it applies to recreational boating.

No General Revenue Funds are used to support this agency that maintains its operations.

Left unaffected are boating safety education grants and marine patrol assistance grants and aid-to-navigation grants.

Reduced is the agency's Waterways Safety Grant, a poorly worded and little-used line item that impacts just one entity; the Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District.

The District will continue to get as reimbursement money for any unsold boat registrations prior to 1960. This was a grandfathered clause in Ohio law and is being reduced in future budget proposals.

Division officials continue to explore the budget's fine print to see if there are any other impacts.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

ODNR takes unnatural hit from Kasich's propsedGRF budget

The Kasich Administration has taken a nuclear bomb rather than a scalpel to the proposed 2012-2013 fiscal General Revenue Fund Operating Budget for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Overall, the department’s General Revenue budget was slashed 30.1 percent from Fiscal 2011 to Fiscal 2012 though the proposal does indicate increased spending by 26.6 percent in Fiscal 2013.

Dollar wise, this means a decrease from $102.1 million actual in Fiscal 2011 to (proposed) $71.4 million in Fiscal 2012 and (proposed) $90.4 million in Fiscal 2013.

As for specifics, The Division of Parks and Recreation will see its General Revenue Fund allocation decline 8-percent to $30.3 million and a virtual total elimination of all funding for Natural Areas and Preserves from $215,000 in actual Fiscal 2011.

State park operations will grow by 1.3 percent in Fiscal 2012, based on the Kasich Administration’s book-keeping.

All Natural Resources publications have been line-itemed out of existence also.

Wildlife, too, takes a hit. Proposed is a 10-percent decline in the General Revenue Fund’s Central Support to the agency, down to $1.8 million and a 100-percent loss of so-called “Department Projects” from $81,311 in actual Fiscal 2011 to nothing proposed in either Fiscal 2012 or Fiscal 2013.

There is likewise an 100-percent shut-off of wildlife habitat funding from $1.42 million to nothing.

The bottom line for Wildlife with all funds is a proposed decline of 13.5 percent for Fiscal 2012 and another 1.6 percent decline in (proposed) Fiscal 2013.

Eliminated as well are Urban Forestry grants within the Forestry Division.
Waterways Safety grants are administered by the Ohio Division of Watercraft. Under Kasich’s proposal these grants would shrink by 13 percent.

Overall, the Watercraft Division’s GRF budget would fall from $21.18 million to $19.26 million in (proposed) Fiscal 2012 and drop again to $18.77 million in (proposed) Fiscal 2013.

Untouched within the Watercraft Division would be the proposed $576,153 in Marine Patrol grants for Fiscal 2012 and also for Fiscal 2013.

“I look forward to working with the governor to protect our sportsmen and our state parks,” said state Sen. Tim Grendell, R-Chester Township. “Taxpayers have invested a lot of dollars in their parks and wildlife areas and we want to ensure that these facilities are there to enjoy.”

This story will be edited and updated as further information becomes available.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Kasich giving few details of Natural Resources' 2011-2012 budget

If you are wondering what Ohio Gov. John Kasich budget plans are for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, stand in line.

The state's elected legislators are equally wondering where the agency stands.

"The ODNR is not even mentioned in the Executive Budget Summary, though there is a (general) decrease in spending by $3 billion the first year and $2 billion by the second year with declines elsewhere," said state Sen. Tim Grendell, R-Chester Township.

"The problem is we don’t have any details, and we’re waiting on them."

Natural Resources Director David Mustine will conduct a teleconference Wednesday regarding the budget's impact on the agency.

However, he has not yet released or announced the proposed nuts and bolts, complicating as to what questions to ask in regards to how the budget fits with the Natural Resources' mission.

As details become available they will be published here.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

And on a lighter note (Buzzard Day)

Cleveland Metroparks' naturalist Bob Hinkle reports the first "official" turkey vulture (a.k.a., "buzzard")was seen at 8:28 a.m. at the agency's Hinkley Reservation in Medina County.

The park is the site of the internationally known Buzzard Roost where turkey vultures have for generations flocked to the site. The birds have been returning ever since, highlighted annually by the Cleveland Metroparks March 15 Buzzard Watch.

Hinkle said this morning's watch attracted about 100 spectators who came and went with about 50 folks being there when the single bird was sighted.

Several minutes later another vulture was seen, Hinkle said.

"We also saw a coyote hunting in the field so it's been a great nature watch today," Hinkle said.

Of course, many people have seen vultures for the past few weeks but Cleveland Metroparks humorously note that those are "unofficial" sightings. Only when Hinkle puts his stamp of approval does it become official.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Monday, March 14, 2011

Close to Kasich's vest - maybe too close

Trying to get anything out of the Kasich team regarding the governor's proposed 2011 budget is all but impossible.

That even means trying to obtain comment AFTER he releases the budget on Tuesday.

Requesting details prior to a planned Wednesday late morning tele-conference with the director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources has not been easy, either.

Just how reporters are going to be able to ask thoughtful questions of the director without first having the vitals remains a mystery.

Here's hoping that Kasich and Co. understands the best government is open government.

Unfortunately, leaders such as Richard Nixon never quite learned about transparency in government. Hopefully, Kasich and his appointees will.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

On new state record fish, agency merger, horrific pronghorn deaths

Ohio has a new state record white perch, a species inadvertently introduced into Lake Erie through the establishment of the various Great Lakes canal systems.

As for the future of the Ohio Division of Wildlife, that could be answered Tuesday when Gov. John Kacish introduces his proposed budget. Maybe he’ll take the lead of his Colorado counterpart who is proposing merging his state’s wildlife department with its parks department; not an unusual pairing, either.

First things first. Ohio’s newest state record is a 1.72 pound, 14 1/8-inch white perch that has a measured 12 1/4-inch girth.

It was caught Jan. 29 by Terry R. Patton of Galion from Lake Erie. Patton’s white perch supplants the 1.42 pound specimen that was caught by John Nause in May, 1988.
Ohio Division of Wildlife biologists confirmed the catch and it was verified by the Outdoor Writers of Ohio, which maintains Ohio’s state record fish list.

As for the proposed parks/wildlife merger in Colorado, that state’s governor is John Hickenlooper and he is asking that the two come together in something of a political shotgun wedding.

This new super agency would carry the name “Division of Parks, Wildlife and Outdoor Recreation,” in a story provided by an outdoors news web site maintained by J.R. Absher, foremrly with the Columbus-based U.S. Sportsmen's Alliance.

Consolidation would result in the elimination of 25 positions; all through attrition. Other savings would come from a smaller fleet of rolling stock, or vehicles.

Also eliminated would be the two agency’s separate oversight bodies, replaced by a single entity.

Whether Kasich will proposed such a merger Tuesday is anyone’s speculation as the governor and his staff have kept details of the budget under tight lock and key.

In other outdoor news, Outdoor Life magazine’s online edition is reporting a horrific story out of Montana, which has been severely hard-hit this winter with heavy snow storms.

It appears that the snows have become so deep and lasting so long that wildlife is looking for anyplace where the snow is lessened - including along railroad right-of-ways.

That’s where the danger for a large herd of pronghorn antelope came into play. In northeast Montana that state’s Fish, Wildlife and Parks discovered more than 270 dead antelope that either were struck by a train or else literally suffocated when the animals jumped clear, only to be entrapped by the deep snow drifts.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Friday, March 11, 2011

Cleveland Metroparks to change weapons rules to reflect state law

To dovetail with state law accommodating licensed concealed carry permit holders and weapons possession, the Cleveland Metroparks' three-person park board is expected to revise its rules and regulations.

The change will help the parks system conform with state law that permits licensed permit holders to carry weapons - chiefly handguns - in the agency's parks. Exempted, however, are buildings, as is the case with almost all government installations.

Cleveland Metroparks' spokeswoman Jane Christyson said that park rules and regulations currently prohibit the carrying of weapons, including concealed handguns.

These rules must be altered in order to mesh with the state's more liberal laws that permit those persons with the legal paperwork to carry weapons, Christyson acknowledged.

However, state law still applies and which restricts possessing a weapon - including firearms under a disability, such as being under the influence of alcohol or recreational drugs.

Cleveland Metroparks' three park board members are expected to vote on the changes at their 9 a.m., Thursday, March 17 meeting.

Last year statewide, 47,337 new concealed carry permits were issued along with 13,544 renewals. The number of new licenses is the second highest number since the program began several years ago, reports the Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine.

Among the new licenses issued in 2010 were 1,196 in Cuyahoga County along with 549 renewals. However, persons are allowed to obtain a permit from an adjacent county's sheriff office, a process found typical among prospective permit holders surrounding Lake County which ranked second in the state in the number of such documentation provided.

This item also will appear on The News-Herald/Morning Journal's Outdoors with Frischkorn Blog

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Hard times for steelheaders, better days ahead though

The wind bent the water’s surface, curling the top into ruffles that rocked the foam plastic float.

Darn, once again I was foiled by the Winter-That-Won’t-Die.

Only the day before the sun had shone, the small Grand River tributary had retreated to well within its banks and the air held a decidedly “springish” hint to it.

Best of all the water’s color was a liquid green to which all steelhead anglers swoon over. This is the best sign that the waters have ripened to the point where an angler can pluck a trout or two.

And I did, too, by tossing an orange-colored spawn sack into the current just off the edge of the seam. Sure enough, a steelhead took the offering; a hen (female) that decided the best approach to escape was to run up, down and even out of the creek.

“Not to worry,” I said to the fish, “I’ll only let you go anyway.”

Though the trout was still three inches shy of being a Fish Ohio qualifying candidate she did represent my first stream steelhead of the year.

The scouting mission wasn’t so much to wallop the trout but to determine if a trip with some more elbow room time-wise was appropriate.

My sense was that the stream would be ideal the next day. By then, however, instead of a shrinking creek I came up to a stream swelling again with the seasonally allergy of snow melt coupled with another round of showers.

I could not even cross the creek to fish my favorite pool so I left that to my good steelhead fishing friend, Bob Ashley of Mentor.

Bob worked the hole for about 10 minutes and while that might not seem like much to a non-angler the reality is something different. Ten minutes is ample enough duration to see if the fish are biting on this small Grand River tributary. Any more time and you are, well, just wasting time.

The problem was the creek was on the rise. A stream on the rise usually includes discoloration, changes in temperature and increased stream flow.

All of these things are stressors that trout - or most any other fish species for that matter - seek to avoid by hunkering down and avoiding extracurricular activity.

I much rather fish the drop when the water begins to clear and the fish are moving into their more reliable spawning/holding patterns.

Of course the day is coming when the bugs will start buzzing and the birds will begin their home-range testimonials. That is when the winds also will tame and the sun starts to shine with enthusiasm; so much so that one again hears off in the distance the sounds of lawn mowers mowing and children gleefully giggling in fine puppy-fashion.

I’ll know then that the steelhead will be about their genetic business, nasty enough to hate a fly rolling past their spawning nests, or “redds.”

Then you’ll find me on the stream, forgetful of the hard weather times behind me and mindful of the blessings that lie at my wader tips.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

UPDATED Grendell expect ODNR will avoid merging with Agriculture

At least one member of the Ohio General Assembly’s majority party hopes the state’s natural resources department won’t take a severe body blow when the budget is announced Tuesday.

That is to say, a merger of the Ohio departments of Agriculture and Natural Resources is not anticipated, says state Sen. Tim Grendell, R-Chester Township.

If anything, Grendell says, the Natural Resources Department may pick up some additional duties now being handled by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

Do expect, however, that the Kasich Administration will seek at some opportunity to drill for fossil fuels on such state-owned lands as parks and wildlife areas.

With all this being said, Grendell quickly notes, the Kasich Administration is keeping its budget and agency realignment plans very, very close to its political chest.

“I’ve met with the ODNR director (David Mustine) and I don’t expect that the department will be merged with Agriculture,” Grendell said. “But I do expect some duties from the OEPA going into the ODNR.”

Grendell did says as well that he isn’t so sure the Kasich team will take a machete to the Natural Resources budget though cuts are entirely likely.

“Natural Resources and Agriculture both have taken a lot of hits already that I can’t see how they can be cut much more,” Grendell said.

The thing is, Grendell says, the state’s parks, wildlife areas and watercraft operations are positives that add to the economy, not detract from it.

“There’s investing money and there is spending money, and things like parks and wildlife are investments,” he said.

As for drilling in state parks, wildlife areas and nature preserves, that idea likely will find flotation in the proposed budget, Grendell says.

Yet Grendell says it is his hope and expectation that any revenues thus raised within the purview of the Natural Resources Department.

In the end, however, its is Kasich’s job to propose and the legislature’s job to dispose, Grendell says.

“We’ll find out Tuesday when the governor announces the budget, but he is keeping it very close to his vest,” Grendell said.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Giving back to who's given so much

State Sen. Tim Grendell, R-Chester Township, is chipping in to help ailing Reno "Jay" Reda, retired state wildlife officer assigned to Geauga County.

Reda has been diagnosed with a rare form of terminal stomach cancer. However, it is possible that Reda may be a candidate for experimental treatment. Hence the plan to conduct a special fund-raising event for him.

To that end, a $10,000 donation has been promised but it must be matched with a similar amount. Solicitations are being made with Grendell coming up with $500 to go toward the fund.

Others contributing included Chris Fassnacht, president of Expositions, Inc. which operates the Great Lakes Expo Center in Euclid. Fassnacht contributed $1,000 with other contributions from the Bachtel family, the Faddoul family, Mt. Pleasant Rod and Gun Club, Bob & Judy Meyer and Joe & Dorrie Keough.

Reda's fund-raiser is set for 2 to 8 p.m., April 30 at tghe Croatian Lodge party Center in Eastlake. Cost is $45 per person or $70 per couple.

Donations of raffle and auction items as well as cash are being accepted. Call 216-346-9615, 440-915-1295, 440-346-5830, or 440-570-0361 for details and ticket information and sales.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Monday, March 7, 2011

Spending time on the range: Practice Makes Perfect

Nothing in target shooting is quite as satisfying as punching on the center ring of a paper target.

And now is actually one of the best times to hit the range. The range traffic is less crowded so there's more opportunity to shoot, the temperatures are cooler so the gun barrel heats up less and it's just plain fun since the hunting season is either long since past or way to the future.

Nice, too, is that the availability of ammunition is back at high levels with some very sensible bargains being available.

The important thing to remember is that shooting more makes one more confident and familiar with the firearm - traits that make one a much better marksman.

Visit The News-Herald's web site for a video on the subject as I talk about the value of shooting more, more often. Go to www.news-herald.com, see the Video bar and search for the Practice makes Perfect slip.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Thursday, March 3, 2011

UPDATED Nearly one-quarter million Ohioans legally licensed to carry concealed

More Ohioans than ever are legally packing heat for self protection.

A 32-page report by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine indicates than a new crop of 47,337 persons were issued concealed carry permits in 2010. Another 13,544 persons had their permits renewed.

The greatest number of new permits issued during 2010 was in Franklin County (Columbus) with 3,134 followed by Lake County with 2,590.

The annual report is a requirement of the state’s Attorney General and must be presented to both chambers of the Ohio General Assembly.

“Since 2004, nearly one-quarter million Ohioans have received a concealed carry license,” DeWine said. “My office remains committed to working with county sheriffs in helping eligible Ohioans exercise their rights under Ohio’s concealed carry law.”

Lake County Sheriff Daniel A. Dunlap said he knows why so many concealed carry applicants use his office’s services.

“We’re not permissive in the way we issue these permits but what’s happened over the years we have found that it is better to do this by reservation instead of waiting in a long line,” Dunlap said. “We have treat our applicants well and efficiently and turn the paperwork around in a fair time frame."
In turn, Dunlap says, that has led concealed carry class teachers to recommend Lake County because of its efficiency and fair treatment of applicants.

“I’d say that about 50 percent of our applicants come from out of Lake County since a person can go to either his or her home county or an adjacent county,” Dunlap said. “This also is one of the few programs the state mandates that actually pays for itself.”

The 47,337 figure was also the second highest number of permits issued since the program began in 2004. In 2009, 56,691 new permits were issued (the highest number ever), DeWine’s report also notes.

In the first year, 45,497 permits were issued.

Last year, too, 720 permits were suspended; a rise from the 596 suspensions seen in 2009 and a large jump from the 352 suspensions reported in 2006, the report likewise notes.

Revocations were down, though: 378 in 2009 to 206 last year. Revocations are made when a permit holder moves, dies, decides to no longer possess a permit, committed a disqualifying crime for which the person was convicted, and became a subject of the law’s restrictions on mentally ill people or those considered drug or alcohol dependant.

And renewals are down considerably as well. In 2008, 31,319 permits were renewed verses last year’s 13,544. Currently a licensed permit holder must renew his documentation every five years.

Prospective permit holders also must successfully pass a 12-hour course that include range time as well as a county sheriff-conducted background check that includes issuing a drivers-license-style permit with the person’s photographic profile.

A course typically costs between $75 and $150 with issuance costing $67 for an Ohio resident living in the state for at least five years and $92 for less than five years. Renewal cost is the same as the initial expense.

Ohio’s concealed carry permit likewise is honored in 20 other states. Among them are neighboring Michigan, West Virginia and Kentucky as well as such far-flung states as Wyoming, Washington and Alaska.

Neither Indiana nor Pennsylvania have a reciprocity agreement with Ohio though a bill in the U.S. Congress would mandate universal recognition of a particular state’s permit.

In terms of numbers of new and renewed licenses, respectively, issued by county, here is a local sampling as found in the 32-page report: Ashtabula - 353 and 82; Cuyahoga - 1,196 and 549; Erie - 663 and 176; Geauga - 1,091 and 250; Huron - 206 and 49; Lake - 2,590 and 558; Lorain - 852 and 303; Medina - 1,593 and 612; Sandusky - 410 and 27.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Final figures show Ohio's deer gave hunters the slip

Though the figures are a tad different from what was reported late last month, the net result is the same.

More Ohio deer managed to give hunters the slip last year than during the 2009-2010 various deer-hunting seasons.

And the difference between previous figures and the these final, official figures is one of statistics gathering. Last year saw the final time that the Ohio Division of Wildlife would first issue preliminary deer kill results.

Beginning with this up-coming season the agency will have the ability to issue near real-time figures due to the establishment of the new $16 million on-line license-issuing and animal check-in process.

Last month the state could only give preliminary results, based on where the deer were checked in and not necessarily where they were actually taken. That latter detail required hand checking and sorting, which took some additional time.

Regardless the number of deer killed by Ohio’s approximately 400,000 white-tail hunters stood at 239,260 deer; down from the official 2009-2010 all-seasons total of 261,260 animals.

Counties reporting the highest number of deer checked during the season were: Coshocton-8,837, Tuscarawas-8,164, Licking-7,819, Muskingum-7,130, Guernsey-6,990, Harrison-6,965, Knox-6,335, Carroll-5,721, Holmes-5,635, and Ashtabula-5,333.

Ohio’s first modern day deer-gun season opened in 1943 in three counties; hunters harvested 168 deer. In 1956, deer hunting was allowed in all 88 counties and hunters killed 3,911 deer during a one-week season.

This year hunters were encouraged to kill more does and donate extra venison to organizations assisting Ohioans in need.

A statewide hearing on all the proposed 2011-2012 rules will be held on March 10 at 9 a.m.at the Division of Wildlife’s District One office, which is located at 1500 Dublin Road in Columbus.

After considering public input, the eight-member Ohio Wildlife Council will vote on the proposed rules and season dates during its April 6 meeting.

However, there is virtually no change in the regulations -which are complicated in their own right - between the 2009-2010 and 2010-2012 deer-hunting rules.

The best that hunters can do is lobby for changes to the 2012-2013 deer-hunting regulations; often a lengthy process with the very conservative Wildlife Division and its Wildlife Council.

The following is a list of deer checked by hunters during the four-month deer hunting season. Numbers for the 2009-2010 all-seasons are listed in parentheses: Adams – 3,914 (4,489); Allen – 1,292 (1,002); Ashland – 3,336 (3,424); Ashtabula – 5,333 (5,298); Athens – 4,256 (5,577); Auglaize – 737 (813); Belmont – 5,247 (6,160); Brown – 3,379 (3,334); Butler – 1,652 (1,757); Carroll – 5,721 (5,809); Champaign – 1,704 (1,837); Clark – 967 (975); Clermont – 3,723 (3,651); Clinton – 1,103 (1,114); Columbiana – 4,627 (4,764); Coshocton – 8,837 (9,633); Crawford – 1,237 (1,360); Cuyahoga – 629 (639); Darke – 844 (861); Defiance – 2,042 (1,593); Delaware – 2,123 (2,296); Erie – 917 (1,035); Fairfield – 3,022 (3,324); Fayette (This county is moving into a more restrictive deer zone)– 333 (447); Franklin – 826 (1,065); Fulton – 1,029 (785); Gallia – 3,555 (3,998); Geauga – 2,463 (2,551); Greene – 1,075 (1,155); Guernsey – 6,990 (8,289); Hamilton – 2,142 (2,051); Hancock – 1,465 (1,916); Hardin – 1,374 (1,646); Harrison – 6,965 (8,043); Henry – 940 (733); Highland – 3,435 (3,554); Hocking – 4,215 (5,430); Holmes – 5,635 (6,209); Huron – 2,316 (2,561); Jackson – 3,491 (4,385); Jefferson – 4,880 (5,887); Knox – 6,335 (7,173); Lake – 783 (852); Lawrence – 2,843 (2,961); Licking –7,819 (8,590); Logan –2,315 (2,514); Lorain – 2,744 (2,603); Lucas – 679 (829); Madison – 592 (659); Mahoning – 1,930 (1,900); Marion – 964 (925); Medina – 2,122 (2,143); Meigs - 3,975 (4,821); Mercer – 652 (683); Miami – 865 (812); Monroe – 3,991 (5,106); Montgomery – 663 (640); Morgan – 3,742 (4,130); Morrow – 2,143 (2,345); Muskingum –7,130 (7,865); Noble – 4,223 (4,980); Ottawa – 404 (411); Paulding – 1,441 (1,023); Perry – 3,874 (4,556); Pickaway – 1,199 (1,370); Pike – 2,304 (2,606); Portage – 2,726 (2,862); Preble – 940 (1,001); Putnam - 917 (786); Richland – 4,695 (4,754); Ross –3,864 (4,358); Sandusky – 799 (850); Scioto – 2,809 (3,030); Seneca – 1,988 (2,254); Shelby – 1,111 (1,051); Stark – 2,346 (2,565); Summit – 1,344 (1,455); Trumbull – 3,496 (3,712); Tuscarawas – 8,164 (9,010); Union – 967 (983); Van Wert – 835 (662); Vinton – 3,049 (3,942); Warren –1,693 (1,674); Washington –4,594 (5,203); Wayne – 2,353 (2,274); Williams – 2,316 (1,985); Wood – 918 (961); and Wyandot – 1,833 (1,945) Total – 239,260 (261,260).

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

What's in YOUR tackle box?

In a previous post about data collected by Southwick the scorecard was given as to the favorite kinds of equipment used by sportsmen. Now it's the anglers' turn at the popularity poll. Bet 'ya that yiou've got at least one of these items in your tackle bow, your fishing machine or on your rod rack.

Actually, I may be something of an odd duck when it comes to equipment. While I possess a lot of the mentioned items the buck of my equipment doesn't necessarily jive with these popular items.

That's true for my fly rod and reels (various sources), spinnerbaits (generic "cheap"), hook (Mustad),Flyline (Scientific Angler), takle box (soft-sided generic). Top reel is spot on, though, as are fishing line producer, hard bait, soft bait (tied with Berkley Gulp and maker's other products), and top fillet knife.

In 2010, the top brands:

Top rod brand: Shakespeare (12% of all purchases)
Top reel brand: Shimano (19.4% of all purchases)
Top rod and reel combo brand: Shakespeare (23.6% of all purchases)
Top fishing line producer: Berkley (12.8% of all purchases)
Top hard bait brand: Rapala (25.7% of all purchases)
Top soft bait brand: Zoom (13.3% of all purchases)
Top spinner bait brand: Strike King (16.7% of all purchases)
Top hook brand: Eagle Claw/Lazer Sharp (28% of all purchases)
Top sinker brand: generic (29.7%), Water Gremlin (12% of all purchases)
Top fly rod brand: LL Bean (25.6% of all purchases)
Top fly reels brand: Orvis (17.5% of all purchases)
Top fly combo brand: Pfleuger (6.5% of all purchases)
Top fly line brand: Rio (32.1% of all purchases)
Top fly leader brand: Rio (31.2% of all purchases)
Top fly tying material brand: Wapsi (14% of all purchases)
Top fish finder or sonar brand: Humminbird (34.7% of all purchases)
Top tackle box brand: Plano (45.5% of all purchases)
Top landing net brand: Frabill (33.4% of all purchases)
Top fishing knife brand: Rapala (22.4% of all purchases)

Largemouth bass remain the number one targeted species of freshwater fish, with 48% of fishing activity targeting largemouth bass.

Saltwater anglers were more varied, with 24% of trips targeting any fish that bites, followed by striped bass (23%), redfish/red drum/channel bass (23%), spotted seatrout or weakfish (20%) and flounder (19%). Please note these refer to species targeted on trips and not the number of fish actually caught.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn