While the rains are seriously dampening Ohio’s spring wild turkey hunting they're literally drowning the fishing.
And while Northeast Ohio steelheaders have felt the thunder of passing rain showers, so too have their inland counterparts.
Not surprisingly either is that all of the precipitation has water-logged fish spawning conditions throughout the state’s system of flood-control and water-supply reservoirs, says Scott Hill, the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s inland waters fish management administrators.
Then again, April’s all-time record rainfall totals - coupled with the year’s prior poor and wet weather - has likewise put a serious hurt on the sale of fishing licenses.
“The bad weather does play havoc on anglers’ abilities to catch fish. We’re even seeing an issue of being unable to get to boat ramps,” Hill said. “The wind hasn’t helped any, either.”
The U.S. Army Corps has to direct its focus first and foremost on pool levels as they relate to water management for human needs, Hill says.
“They have to look at the bigger picture in terms of preventing flooding downstream,” Hill said.
Similarly, Hill says, in many reservoirs such desirable species as muskies and saugeyes are being flushed out of the lakes and into the rivers below their respective dams.
While this situation can produce on a temporary basis good tailwater fishing, in the long run it doesn’t help a reservoir’s angling status. Or the Wildlife Division’s bottom line in paying for raising and stocking of fish, Hill says.
As for spawning activity, the timing of the high water is a clock-stopper for that activity, says Hill also.
“The issue here is both the turbidity of the water and well as water level fluctuations since we depend on consistent pool levels for good spawning,” Hill said.
“So these conditions not only impact species that naturally reproduce but also the ones we stock. I always look at around Mother’s Day as the peak time for largemouth spawning so we’re right there.”
The continual poor weather also appears to have spooked potential anglers from buying licenses.
From Feb. 15 to April 27 the Wildlife Division sold 189,870 resident annual fishing licenses. For the same period last year that figure was 277,955 documents. The net loss in income amounted to $1.6 million: down from the $5.3 million in 2010 to $3.6 million this year.
Sliding as well are sales of non-resident licenses of all kinds along with sales of 1-day permits and sales of resident senior fishing licenses.
The do-date fishing-license-sale total difference between Feb. 15 to April 27 of this year and the same administrative counting period last year is a decline of 106,977 documents sold.
The bottom line: The Wildlife Division has seen a drop in total to-date income of $1.8 million, or a fall of 29.65 percent.
"We're just hoping for some nice weekends so we can rebound with our sales; the weather has to turn at some point," said Vicki Ervin, Wildlife Division spokeswoman.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn