“Fish on” was the battle cry heard in Ohio last year from Lake Erie to the Ohio River, and Pymatuning Reservoir to Grand Lake St. Marys.
And for a long list of successful anglers the effort paid off with a Master Angler award presented by the Ohio Division of Wildlife.
It may be difficult to believe but this is the 37th year for the agency’s Ohio Fish Ohio program, of which the Master Angler award is but a branch.
To receive a general Fish Ohio award an angler must catch one qualifying specimen from a list containing 20 species.
A Master Angler award is presented when an angler catches a qualifying specimen from at least four different eligible fish species.
Each person who qualifies for a general Fish Ohio award receives a handsomely decorated hat/fishing vest pin that includes a depiction of a different eligible fish species.
Master Angler award winners are each sent a similar pin but which also is festooned with the “Master Angler” name.
All of these pins have become highly collectable piece with some hard-to-find versions fetching more than $100.
That is an interesting statistic when one also considers how each pin costs only about 52 cents with the entire program costing less than $18,000.
As for specific numbers, last year the Wildlife Division presented 12,642 Fish Ohio awards and 521 Master Angler awards.
By comparison, in 2011 those figures were 11,278 and 490, respectively. In 2010, the Ohio Division of Wildlife presented 10,807 Fish Ohio pins and 480 Master Angler awards.
“Yes, the increase in 2012 was a nice amount, and I was thrilled,” said Vicki Farus, the Wildlife Division’s Fish Ohio program administrator.
Even so, the seemingly growth rate in the numbers of both general Fish Ohio awards and Master Angler awards is still much less than what was seen in the program’s high-water-mark year of 1988.
That year the Wildlife Division presented 37,132 general Fish Ohio honors and 691 Master Angler awards.
Still around, too, is the agency’s so-called Grand Slam program. With this one, a participating angler has three choices: Lake Erie, Inland Lakes, and the Ohio River.
The very decorative pin for these designations is the same and also is shaped like Ohio but does not contain a date.
To be eligible for any one of these distinctions an angler must catch a representative from three recognized species.
For Lake Erie the qualifying species are the walleye, the smallmouth bass, and the rainbow trout/steelhead.
For an Inland Lake designation the recognized species are the largemouth bass, saugeye, and the muskie.
And for the Ohio River the recognized species are the sauger, the hybrid striped bass (wiper), and the flathead catfish.
“We only saw five Grand Slam entries last year, including one Ohio River, two inland and two Lake Erie,” Farus said.
Also, says Farus, this year’s pin logo will be a brown trout, the first-ever for this species. Last year the species was a crappie.
The most frequently reoccurring species on the pins have been the largemouth bass and the walleye, Farus said as well.
As for 2012’s total Fish Ohio entries the figures were: Blue catfish (105); brown trout (11); carp (545); channel catfish (1,195); crappie (1,771); flathead catfish (275); freshwater drum/sheepshead (937); hybrid striped bass/wiper (301); largemouth bass (879); muskie (320); northern pike (104); ranbow trout, including steelhead (359); rock bass (263); sauger (162); saugeye 368); smallmouth bass (280); sunfish, including bluegill (1,673); walleye (1,727); white bass (395); yellow perch (972).
In terms of where what was caught, Lake Erie led the pack with 4,090 entries, including 1,599 walleye; 889 yellow perch, 792 drum/sheepshead, 200 channel catfish, and 134 white bass.
Private ponds scored well, too. Here, 1,211 sunfish/bluegills citations were issued along with 553 for largemouth bass, 504 for crappie, 259 for channel catfish, and - something of a surprise for me - 98 carp.
Not to be left out, the Ohio River didn’t come up empty-handed, not by a long shot. Here, hybrid striped bass led with 217 entries. This was followed by channel catfish with 145, sauger with 125, blue catfish with 79, and flathead catfish with 69.
The Top 10 inland lakes and rivers were: Mosquito Creek Reservoir (232 entries of which 27 were northern pike and a like number for channel catfish, as well as 12 flathead catfish), the Maumee River (203 entries of which 52 were walleye, 47 were white bass, and 12 were flathead catfish); Alum Creek Reservoir (175 entries of which 47 were muskies and 45 were crappies); Buckeye Lake (166 entries of which 51 were saugeye); Indian Lake (163 entries of which 57 were saugeye and 42 were crappie); Hoover Reservoir (142 entries of which 60 were crappies); West Branch Reservoir (136 entries of which 65 were muskies but only 6 were largemouth bass); Pymatuning Reservoir (130 entries of which 81 were crappies but only 9 were walleye and no muskies); Portage Lakes (111 entries of which 51 were sunfish/bluegills); and the Rocky River (109 entries of which 96 were rainbow trout/steelhead).
And for Northeast Ohio steelhead fanatics the remaining Top Gun streams were: Grand River with 44 rainbow trout/steelhead entries, the Chagrin River with 38 entries, and Conneaut Creek with 17 entries.
Here is the list of the area’s 2012 Master Angler winners: Dave E. Adamczewski, Eastlake; David R. Adams, Mentor; Barry Butera, Euclid; Mike D. Christopherson, Thompson Township; Deana M. Davis, Willoughby; Henry J. Demeza, Willoughby; Joe DiDino, Middlefield; Joe Durk, Eastlake; Michael Fedele, Madison; John R. Forro, Mentor; Richard A. Frischkorn, Mentor; Jeffrey L. Frischkorn, Mentor-on-the-Lake; Phillip J. Gregory, Fairport Harbor; Michael L. Harth, Euclid; George A. Hoberney, Willoughby; Joseph L. Hrovat, Thompson Township; Miles C. Iverson; Madison; Jack D. Jackson, Fairport Harbor; Ron Kohut, Willoughby; John E. McMahan, Mentor; Kurt H. Nebe, Madison; Toby W. Nice, Gates Mills Village; John M. Piller, Willowick; Wayne Richie, Eastlake; Alan Roush, Painesville; Rich D. Shimek, Painesville; Dana E. Snyder, Perry; Cal M. Snyder, Perry; Michael T. Spice, Burton; Matthew Tabor, Euclid; Raymond A. Wargo, Willowick; Wayne G. Yoak, Chardon; Dan F. Zall Jr., Wickliffe; Michael A. Zampini, Painesville.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn