Friday, March 29, 2013

The Big Chill: On-going cold weather hits fishing license sales/revenues

The on-going and unseasonably cold weather has put a chill on more than just the angling.

It’s also frozen in place the sales of both fishing and hunting licenses. Distribution of these documents have taken a hit and along with them, income earned for the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s Wildlife Fund.

Not to worry, however, agency officials say.

The reason is because the Wildlife Division has contingency plans in place to weather this current fiscal mini-Ice Age or any other that might arrive.

Still, the fall-off with to-date license sales when compared with those for the same period in 2012 are noticeable.

The current to-date sale of Ohio resident fishing licenses – the tail that wags the Wildlife Fund’s angling dog – stood at 67,382 documents issued compared to the to-date March 25, 2012 comparable figure of 163,931 documents.

Virtually all other types of fishing licenses also saw precipitous declines.

The bottom line on the bottom line shows this year’s revenue stream is now a trickle when compared with the same period last year.

Respectively, these to-date figures are $1.52 million so far this year and compared to the $3.61 million collected through March 25, 2012, the Wildlife Division’s figures show.

Yet the prowl is on for hunting license sales as well.

Bundle all of the various hunting/trapping  licenses and like documents  together – and there is a slew of them – and the 2013 to-date issuance totals 139,422 documents.

Impressive maybe but the comparable 2012 to-date document issuance was 287,679.

Understandably then the income generated by sales of the various hunting/trapping licenses is down also.

The to-date collection of hunting/trapping-related documents stands at $2.08 million. Last year for the same period the figure was $4.29 million.

Thus is there reason to run in circles, scream and shout because the Wildlife Division is on the verge of bankruptcy?

Nope, not by a long-shot says Tom Rowan, the Wildlife Division’s assistant chief.

“We’re always mindful of such spikes in license sales. This is why we have a carry-over of funds from one year to the next,” Rowan says. “And once the weather improves we’ll see an improvement in fishing license sales, too.”

As a result, says Rowan, the agency has never, and will never, default on paying its bills and on time.

“We have money put aside,” he said.

Asked about a possible request delivered to the Ohio General Assembly for increases to fishing and hunting license fees, Rowan also nixes that idea.

At least as it applies to resident anglers and hunters, anyway, says Rowan.

Non-residents may be a different matter, however.

“We saw a lot of requests for increasing non-resident license fees at our recent open houses,” Rowan said. “And we are at the low-end of charging non-residents to hunt and fish when compared to other states.”

That claim may especially apply to the 40,000 or so non-resident deer hunters who find Ohio is an inviting and relatively inexpensive place to search out a trophy buck, says Rowan.

Rowan then was asked just how high the Wildlife Division believes a non-resident deer hunter – or angler – would be willing to shell out cold cash for a license.

“I’ve heard officials in other states respond this way: ‘You know it’s too much when they stop coming,’” Rowan said.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Grand gets its steelhead; other streams to follow

(Personal note: While I am officially retired from The News-Herald, my objective is to keep this blog active. Note the new email contact address at the end. This is my personal contact information. Like I keep telling folks, I'm retired, not dead. - JLF.)
The Grand River got its annual booster shot of steelhead trout March 26; 90,000 fish strong, in fact.
As for the Vermilion, Rocky and Chagrin rivers, each of these streams will see their slug of 90,000 trout released on toward the middle of April.
Or shortly thereafter, says the Ohio Division of Wildlife.
At about the same time Conneaut Creek is targeted for a release of 75,000 fish by the Wildlife Division and another 75,000 from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission.
If all of the planned stockings materialize as planned for then the agency will meet its steelhead-stocking objectives.
And these stockings will also exceed the numbers that were released in 2011. That year the Wildlife Division encountered fish-rearing difficulties beyond its control and experienced greatly diminished releases, the echoes of which are still haunting steelhead anglers.
Speaking as to the why the Wildlife Division jumped the gun on the Grand River, Phil Hillman said his agency’s 90-acre Castalia cold-water trout hatchery was running out of space.
Which is a good thing, really, says Hillman, the fisheries management administrator for the Wildlife Division’s District Three (Northeast Ohio) Office in Akron .
“Castalia needed to reduce the stock,” Hillman said. “The fish stocked in the Grand River averaged 7.9 inches each and the hatchery was concerned about maintaining optimum conditions.”
Thus it appears the steelhead are thriving so well at the spring-fed Castalia hatchery that the fish are packing on the weight and growing faster than dandelions in your front yard..
As a result, says Hillman, once the fish are released into the four other Lake Erie tributaries the remaining
fishes likely will exceed eight inches. This length should help the fish survive as well, says Hillman.
Critical to the other streams’ stocking, however, Hillman also says, is the impending preventative treatment for sea lamprey larvae.
What the Wildlife Division is seeking to avoid is stocking the fish when the lampricide TFM is also in the water.
The biologists’ concerns, says Hillman, is that the stockers’ ultra-sensitive olfactory system could become jammed or distorted by the alien odor.
Consequently, the fish might become confused when they attempt to locate their natal stream and migrate into another river system as spawning adults.
Never-the-less, the Wildlife Division maintains how now that Castalia is in full control of the state’s entire steelhead-rearing chores the program is on the correct path.
As for when this year’s class of stocked steelhead will reach a size that will bring a wide smile to the face of anglers, after one year of feasting on Lake Erie forage the trout will average 17 inches.
Two years in the lake and the trout will average 23 inches and by year three, 26 inches.
At year four any trout that has managed to avoid sea lampreys, Canadian commercial fishing nets, Lake Erie sport-fishing charters, and stream anglers will have grown to trophy size, or 28 inches,  Wildlife Division statistics say.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Lack of steelhead no reason to dispair for this retiree

With large, wet snowflakes slapping cold skin and an uncomfortable chill to the wind it was hardly the best of fishing days.

Still, it was a day for fishing; one of (hopefully) many more to come.

And why not, a person may ask? As a newly coined retiree I have the opportunity now to pick and choose when I can fish as well as how long I can fish and even where I can fish.

All in all a pretty good deal, if you ask me; not that anyone was on this day and along this stream.

Thing was while I may now have an abundance of time to hand sort angling opportunities I remain bound by the dictates of the fishes themselves. And this spring the fishes have not proven particularly cooperative.

At least not for the steelhead, which are my favored targets during this spot on the calendar.

Handcuffed by a series of medical conditions that included a total knee replacement back in January I was
unable to fish much beyond living vicariously through the lives of angling friends.

A favorable go-ahead from the doctors and a decision to jump ship and take early retirement combined to become an ideal merger.

Even so the fishing lives of my angling friends were far from blissful. Neither was my day on the stream.

Few fish to no fish is the by-word that is chiseling the epitaph on this season’s steelhead-fishing program. A shrunken bounty of trout has turned off the usual spring flow of anglers with only a trickle now dripping from a rusted spigot.

Ask the Ohio Division of Wildlife why a dearth of steelhead exists and one gets the impression the agency is a member of the Excuse of the Month Club.

At the beginning of the expected run the state said the stream flow was being choked off by the lingering drought. In turn the fishes had neither mindset nor the ability to begin their seasonal spawning run up the streams.

Next on the excuse menu followed on the heels of Hurricane Sandy, a storm system that disgorged enough rainfall to swell the rivers, creeks and streams to overflowing.

When that piece of lore became frazzled the agency’s guess focused on a belief that many of the would-be returning trout were actually long-since dead, falling victims to the foul-play of the invasive sea lamprey.

In effect the steelhead were doomed to a watery grave in Lake Erie, scuttled there by the always-unfilled appetite of the sea lamprey eel.

Lastly, the Wildlife Division said the lack of trout was due in no small measure to a much-reduced, single-year stocking of fish.

A rather convenient excuse, given that the very same fisheries biologists are more than happy to tell anglers that one bad year of Lake Erie walleye recruitment is manageable if it is book-ended by good years of successful spawning.

Whatever the excuse or whatever the true reason is the cause, the fact remains steelhead anglers just aren’t seeing the numbers of fish they once did, let alone catching them.

So my hike along a favored stretch of beloved stream as a retiree was met with limited success.

Of the 10 steelhead I had seen during my three-hour tour only two were actually in the mood to make whoopee, as it were., though I did manage to snipe one of them from off its spawning redd.

Was I discouraged then, you might ask. No, not really, I’ll reply. More surprised than disappointed, if you don’t mind me saying.

And why is that, may be your follow-up question.

To which I’ll respond: Because once this letter is finished I’m headed back to the same creek, not because I believe the steelhead have miraculously appeared overnight but because now I have all the time in the world.

Yep, I think I’m going to like this retirement gig.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

My last (regular News-Herald) blog

This is my last blog as a full-time staff member of The News-Herald. After nearly 30 years I figured it was the right time to retire. That being said, I keep telling everyone that I am retiring, not dying.
As a result, I'll still be writing the outdoors blog, just not in the capacity of a News-Herald staff reporter. In effect, my blog will be the same, only different. Kind of like when one political party takes over for another. Please just take note of my new email address.

I’ve seen the white bear and touched the ocean of the far north.

I’ve watched whales off Hawaii, British Columbia, the Arctic and Virginia.

I’ve eaten shrimp caught fresh from the cold North Pacific, clams taken right from a New Jersey fishers’ boat and Maine lobsters still kicking off the waters of the ice-cold Atlantic.

I’ve smelled campfire smoke swirling in the morning mist in Yellowstone National Park, and one built along a tree-sheltered Virginia stream where 100 years earlier men in blue and men in gray bloodied her waters.

I’ve heard the wolf and the coyote, listened to the song of the northern lights play their symphony across the sky. If you don’t think the northern lights can sing, well then, you’ve never sat in the cold North Woods in the dead of winter, waiting for the performance to begin.

I’ve interviewed the famous: Charlton Heston, Chuck Yeager, Wally Schirra.

I’ve interviewed the not so famous, too — folks like Richie Glavic and Mike McCoy.

I’ve enjoyed a front-row seat to the reintroduction of wild turkeys into Geauga County, snowshoe hares into Ashtabula County (alas, it didn’t work), along with trumpeter swans and otters into the Grand River Valley.

I’ve seen Ohio’s population of bald eagles go from naught to 60 in the blink of an eye, and I’ve witnessed the tagging of Ohio homegrown peregrine falcons, ospreys and sandhill cranes.

I’ve added the whooping crane to my birding life list (twice), had a snowy owl eyeball me once from a Lake Erie breakwater, marveled at the thousands upon thousands of migrating wild fowl swarming upon the Platt River, and watched a vortex of 20 million Mexican free-tailed bats emerge from Braken Cave in the Texas Hill Country, the largest concentration of mammals on earth.

I’ve jumped when an Eastern Massauga rattlesnake squirmed out from underneath a piece of farming equipment, went bug-eyed when a scorpion crawled out of a Texas kitchen sink drain, and was told by a professional bass angler to keep any and all Arkansas cottonmouths from climbing aboard the boat, a job I studiously performed.

I’ve been chewed on by innumerable ticks, felt the acid sting of fire ants, been chased by an angry cow moose, been a hunting accident victim, and been kicked in a rather delicate anatomical part by a Montana pack horse.

I’ve survived three prairie blizzards, one prairie wild fire, two Rocky Mountain lightning storms, felt the tremor of a bonafide Ohio earthquake and missed a tornado by a few minutes.

I’ve stood in the spot that jump-started the Klondike Gold Rush, and also the Cape Canaveral launch pad where three American astronauts died during a fiery explosion, a testament to how nothing good ever comes without cost.

I’ve been to Scotland to attend a media circus hunt for the Loch Ness Monster.

I’ve strolled the dikes of New Orleans, noting at the time how the city is just one good hurricane away from disaster.

I’ve set foot in every state save for two: Delaware and Mississippi. Every Canadian province save for three: Labrador, Prince Edward Island and the Nunavut Territory.

I’ve canoed, boated or rafted some famous (and not so famous) rivers: the Yukon, Yellowstone, Missouri, Columbia, New, Ohio, Appomattox, Upper Cuyahoga.

I’ve paddled a kayak on the North Atlantic and also through the maze of mangrove islands of Florida’s brackish Indian River. Oh, and the small but immensely beautiful little lake tucked within Ashtabula County’s Dorset Wildlife Area.

I’ve caught fish from streams that pour into the Bering Sea to the sultry warm waters of the Florida Keys, and (of course) from my Ohio home waters, north to south, east to west.

I’ve served as a volunteer fishing guide for a couple of governors, a U.S. Senator, several professional baseball players and even the chief justice of the Ohio Supreme Court.

I’ve likewise guided my grandchildren and a pair of grand-nephews to their first fish. Watching each of them give an ear-to-ear grin as they hoisted a 9-inch bluegill beats all the others by a long country mile.

I’ve introduced my wife to handgun competition, a decision I will always regret since she repeatedly outshoots me. But that’s OK, for there’s really no one else I’d rather be afield or afloat with than Bev, my bestest of best friends.

I’ve killed a moose, several bears, wild boars both big and small, pronghorn antelope, a bobcat, a couple of caribou, an axis deer from atop an ancient Hawaiian volcano, a blackbuck antelope, an aoudad sheep, two wild turkey Grand slams, and more geese, ducks, pheasants, squirrels, rabbits and deer than I can count, let alone remember.

I’ve fished and hunted with folks no longer with us, Ron Johnson, Jay Reda, Jim Oehlenschlager and Dean Palmer to name but four.

I’ve watched the installation of fuel rods inside the Perry Nuclear Power Plant’s reactor, and I’ve been aboard a Coast Guard ice-breaker as it chewed a furrow in the frozen Grand River.

I’ve walked the streets of Yellowknife, Winslow (yeah, the one in Arizona), London, New York, Vancouver, Buffalo (both the one in New York and the one in Wyoming), and once some Salvation Army doctors and I needed an armed government escort in a small Latin American country.

I’ve covered stories in the aftermath of Hurricane Mitch, the Mount St. Helens eruption, droughts, floods and severe weather of all kinds in Ohio.

I’ve caught the sun rising over Mount Rushmore, which is the way its sculptor intended.

I’ve seen the sun set in the middle of the Pacific.

I’ve used hand gestures to communicate with non-English-speaking folks, learning a smile goes a long way in any language.

I’ve also had my eyes swollen red from the wash of salty tears as I visited an Honduran orphanage filled with doomed AIDS-infected babies and children.

I’ve worked with and for some of the finest, kindest, least-appreciated people in the industry.

I’ve been there, seen that, done that.

I’ve been blessed by God beyond any measuring yardstick, and if I had the opportunity to do it all over again I would in a New York minute. But I don’t.

And so now, my friends, my wish for you is for fair skies and following seas until you safely reach home.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn (Please note the new email address).

Monday, March 11, 2013

Ohio recreational boating fleet just keeps getting bigger and better

For the fourth consecutive year the number of Ohio boat registrations reached a record high, totaling 435,310 vessels of all kinds. 

That figure sails around the previous record of 426,674 vessels registered with the Ohio Division of Watercraft in 2011, officials with the agency say.

Also such registrations include all classes of recreational boats, including powerboats, jet-propelled personal watercraft, sailboats and manually-propelled boats that include canoes, kayaks and rowboats.

Among the numbers is another record. Included in the total are 107,671 canoes and kayaks. That figure represents an increase of 9,978 from the previous record of 97,693 reported in 2011.

And last year’s hand-powered class is more than double the 50,804 non-motorized canoes and kayaks that were registered in Ohio in 2002, said Watercraft Division spokesman John Wisse.

“Much of this continued increase in boat registrations, we believe, is due in large part to a growing popularity of canoeing and kayaking,” Wisse said.

Wisse said also the number of jet-propelled personal watercraft (PWCs) increased from 43,108 in 2011 to 43,162 in 2012.

Thus, says Wisse, 10 percent of all registered pleasure boats in Ohio in 2012 were personal watercraft, typically lumped together by the commercially trademarked names Jet Skies and Waverunners.

When the watercraft registration totals are divided by county, the top five counties for 2011 were - once again - the top counties for 2012 (with 2011 figures in parentheses) were: Franklin - 27,873 (27,214); Cuyahoga - 24,800 (24,394); Summit - 19,970 (19,488); Hamilton - 18,724 (18,352); and Montgomery - 15,297 (15,188).

In Northeast Ohio, the 2012 boat registration figures (with their respective 2011 figures also in parentheses) were: Lake - 9,846 (9,550; Geauga - 6,417 (6,162); Ashtabula - 5,451 (5,195); Lorain - 11,535 (11,134); Erie - 6,414 (6,343); Media - 6,985 (6,718).

Of Ohio’s 88 counties, nine showed declines. They were Auglaize (down only one vessel), Crawford, Madison, Marion, Mercer, Miami, Paulding, Pickaway, and Putnum.

And two counties - Meigs and Vinton - saw identical boat registrations for 2011 and 2012.

The Watercraft Division likewise reports that an additional 6,872 boats - which include manually-propelled canoes, kayaks and rowboats - were registered last year by the 58 boat liveries operating in the state, Wisse said as well.

Ken Alvey, president of the Cleveland-based Lake Erie Marine Trades Association, said he was not surprised to see steady gains in boat registrations.

“Even with the recession that we’ve gone through people have grown tired of holding back, and now they know they have to move on,” Alvey said. “We’re also seeing a lot grandparents getting into boating and families returning to it as well. It’s encouraging to see people have that passion for sharing their boating experiences with family and friends.”

Alvey said also the used boat market is especially buoyed, to the point where “there’s a scarcity of good quality, late-model pre-owned boats.”

“During the recession there just weren’t as many boats manufactured and now there’s a shortage of them,” Alvey said. “So there are newer boats but there’s also a higher price tag, in part because of the new technologies being applied to them.”

One of the hot boat market items now are the pontoon-style and even tri-pontoon boats, Alvey said.
“Some of them can handle 300-horsepower outboard engines, and don’t be surprised if you see these big boats on Lake Erie, too,” Alvey said.

For a complete county-by-county boat registration breakdown for the past three years, visit

-- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twitter: @Fieldkorn

Friday, March 8, 2013

Season's first and last ice fishing trip likely also only one

Putty-gray was not just the color of the winter sky above but also the color of the farm pond’s ice below.

Dedicated ice-fishing anglers often refer to such material as “punk ice,” a term that generally applies to maybe-safe, maybe-not-so-safe, conditions.

“Good ice,” yelled Paul Liikala, thrusting his left hand up and spreading his fingers apart as a way of making a safe-ice explanation point.

Liikala had worked his way from the farm pond’s shore, drilling first a hole in the ice only several feet from the bank. He then inched further out, drilling test bore holes along the way.

Wearing a super-bright Mustang survival suit, Liikala was less concerned about falling through the ice more than he was regarding whether we’d have the opportunity to fish.

“There’s six inches of ice,” Liikala said after returning to land. “We’re good to go.”

The ghostly scab of gray ice was little more than a shim overlaying several inches of solid clear stuff underneath, Liikala said.

Such conditions would not forestall an effort for us to try and catch some of the farm pond’s fishes.

“You have to consider it a bonus when you get good ice this far into March,” Liikala said.

Actually, March’s good ice not only provided our last opportunity to ice-fish the farm pond this season it also was the first opportunity. Thus, it likewise was the only opportunity.

Considering as well how the 2011’s unseasonably mild/global-warming/climate change/whatever-weather tossed out any chance for ice-fishing the farm pond, we were thoroughly pleased.

Using his ice augur to drill a matched set of holes for each of us, Liikala decided that four weren’t enough. Nor eight nor even 10.

Liikala took off on the ice, drilling a running series of prospective holes that would please an entire colony of gophers or prairie dogs.

On our first attempt at fishing after Liikala had worn himself out by drilling holes (“I’m pretty hot from all that work”) we sent our lines down through the farm pond’s slightly stained waters.

Having determined the water’s depth by temporarily attaching a weighted alligator clip to an ice-fishing jig, we settled on having the lures and their accompanying wax worms suspend 12 to 18 inches above the farm pond’s muddy floor.

That should get the fish’s attention, we figured.

It did, though not as fast nor with as many fish as we would have liked. Call it timing. Late ice, Liikala opined, usually means the better fishing comes to play toward early evening.

For now we were content with catching a few respectable bluegills. The numbers were enough to keep us paying attention to our lines but not enough to stave off worry how this could be our worst-ever ice-fishing day.

No need to panic, of course. Certainly not with this farm pond anyway.

A swap of pre-drilled holes proved less than satisfying in the volume of bluegills being hoodwinked by the stationary jig-wax worm combination.

Size was a different story, and here size did matter. The average length of the fish was on the rise, another hint that the later we angled the better the odds were of catching both more and larger fish.

Just about the time I was thinking we had enough, Liikala yelled from his perch up toward the face of the pond’s dam. And while we were separated by maybe 150 yards I could see the fish Liikala was holding up had some substance to it.

Sure enough the last series of holes to be drilled by Liikala was over a hollowed-out cavity - or bowl - in the pond’s substrate. And down maybe 15 to 18 feet Liikala tapped into the hunger of a nearly 14-inch-long white crappie.

That would be our forth and last move. There really was no point in trying to augur any more bore holes into the ice.

Better still the clock was now entering the cusp between late afternoon and early evening. On cue the fish started to bite; nice-size fish, better-size fish, and finally Liikala’s “that would be a ‘wow’ fish for a public lake.”

Trying to keep an eye on more than one pole became a chore, the fishing having turned itself on with gusto. Usually it meant that while you were keeping a close look on the tantalizing pull-down of a foam plastic float in one hole the another float in the hole three feet to the right dipped quickly.

Which led to neither fish being caught.

It was a stretch of good-natured banter as either Liikala or I would withdraw a bluegill, admire the fish and then send it back down the hole from which it was extracted.

Before we even realized it we each had become chilled as the evening took hold.

It had been a good day of ice fishing; the likely first, last, and thus, only, such trip of the kind to the pond this year.

Yep, the long wait was worth it, too.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twitter @Fieldkorn

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Today's ODW game law open house pits agency against archerers

While the Ohio Division of Wildlife appears bound to establish an early antlerless-only, muzzleloading-only deer-hunting season, at least some archery hunters are determined that it not be so.

Thus is what jumped out during today’s open house forum regarding various proposals to Ohio’s hunting and fishing laws. The open house was conducted at the Wildlife Division’s Fairport Harbor Fisheries Research Station.

The open house did include a couple of obscure commercial fishing law proposed changes along with recommendations for other game species hunting seasons.

None of these proposals, however, drew so much as a yawn. That is, not when stacked up against the Wildlife Division’s near virtual overhaul of the state’s deer-hunting regulations.

Ground Zero for this set of proposals, too, is the one dealing with the establishment of an antlerless-only, muzzleloading-only season for Oct. 12 and 13. Even archery hunters would have to take a “bye” on any antlered deer.

The idea of being required to shoot only does coupled with the concern the ka-boom of muzzleloaders going off in the typically tranquil October woods ruffled the feathers of forum attendees such as Mike Betts of Geneva.

“It’d be okay for the kids, women and maybe seniors but I didn’t know until I got here that we bow hunters couldn’t shoot a buck,” Betts said.

No less opposed to the proposed change was Mike McGlynn of Wickliffe, even with the proposed elimination of the current two-day mid-December firearms deer-hunting season.

“I archery hunt in October and I don’t know of any bow hunter who would trade a quiet weekend in the woods then for a quiet entire December,” McGlynn said. “Our (five-person) group has already agreed not to participate if the October muzzleloading season is approved.”

Yet the Wildlife Division is heavily leaning toward the adoption of what Betts and McGlynn so strongly want to see rejected.

“We know that a lot of hard-core archery guys have concerns; that it would disrupt deer movement patterns but we have studies that show that an early season doesn’t do that,” said Jason Keller, the state wildlife officer assigned to Lake County.

“I believe that if we go with it we’ll have a pretty successful season.”

That’s true, says Tom Rowan, the Wildlife Division’s assistant chief and also a former state wildlife officer assigned to Lake County.

“I believe there’s been more support for the (proposed) early muzzleloading season than those against it,” Rowan said.

Far less controversial and far more acceptable is the agency’s suggestion to allow gun deer hunters to continue being afield until one-half hour after sunset rather than ending at sunset as is now the case.
“I’d say a lot of guys are doing that anyway,” McGlynn said. “Now they’d at least be legal.”

Of interest to the Wildlife Division is an additional study of its proposal to restrict the use of the less-expensive antlerless-only deer tags. Being proposed is to void the use of these documents the day before the start of the general firearms deer-hunting season.

The reason the Wildlife Division is having limited second thoughts is because of cities like Mentor.

Mentor’s highly successful - but equally highly restrictive - archery-only law saw participants make heavy use of the antlerless-only deer permits clear through to the end of this past archery season.

“We’re looking into the extended use of these permits in high-density, archery-only communities like Mentor and some others in the state,” Rowan said.

Untouched in the way of discussion - at least at today’s open house at the fisheries research station - were the proposals to do away with the special early muzzleloading hunts at three designated areas. This elimination would come about should the two-day October season be approved.

Additionally, the Wildlife Division solicited a short questionnaire on the subject of whether to allow future gun deer hunters to use certain straight-walled cartridges in rifles.

A hanging point to this idea, however, is the believed $50,000 cost of conducting a scientific comprehensive survey of all types of hunters, farmers and others on such an allowance.

As it now stands, the most vocal supporters belong to one particular statewide group of firearms enthusiasts.

“We’re open to looking at it but we have to take everyone into account and not just one small group of very interested people,” Rowan said. Pretty much ignored were the two proposals impacting commercial fishing.

The first of these would allow commercial fishermen to catch as a by-product any grass carp. Such a lifting would help enable Wildlife Division fisheries biologists document the abundance and distribution of the species, says Kevin Kayle, the fisheries research station’s manager.

said such captures would aid in determining whether any of the grass carp are of viable breeding stock or are the required sterile “triploid” variety. Ohio law stipulates people are permitted to release only triploid grass carp into their farm ponds and small lakes.

On the proposal docket also was what has to be the last remaining Sunday Blue Law left in the state.

Under current Ohio law, licensed commercial seine fishermen operating in Sandusky Bay are prohibited from engaging in the business on Sunday. This, in spite of the fact that no such prohibition exists for licensed seine commercial fishermen from earning a living on Sunday.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twitter: @Fieldkorn

Friday, March 1, 2013

We are what we eat: State issues 2013 fish consumption advisories

With the clean-up of the Ashtabula River has come the cleansing of the fish that reside there.

So much so that Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has scaled back the advisory on eating either carp or freshwater drum (sheepshead) reeled in from the stream’s waters.

Not that many people would eat a drum, let alone a carp.

What it does indicate, however, is the improvements made the Ashtabula River’s water quality.

In releasing its annual Fish Consumption Advisory, the Ohio EPA notes that Fish Consumption Advisories have been updated for 2013.

It is vital to remember these are advisories - or recommendations - but they are not prohibitions where people would be arrested or fined for keeping fish, let alone eating them.

This year’s Ohio fish consumption advisory includes updates for several locations based on samples that were taken from five lakes and 12 streams in 2011, says Ohio EPA spokeswoman, Linda Oros.

“Fish consumption evaluations help Ohio anglers make informed decisions about consuming their catch,” Oros says.

Not all is perfect, though, Oros notes.

A statewide advisory of one fish meal per week due to mercury remains for all fish not otherwise mentioned in the official agency document, Oros says.

“Mercury poses a greater health risk to women of child-bearing age, pregnant and nursing mothers and children under 15,” Oros says. “Fish contaminated with high levels of mercury have been shown to cause neurological damage and impaired development in young children.”

Additionally, the advisory on Lake Erie-caught rock bass has become more restrictive. It is now one meal per month for all people; this, the result of PCB contamination.

Also remaining are the 10 “do not eat” advisories for a host of fish species. Among the recommended prohibitions are all species taken from the Maumee River at the point of Auburn Ave. to the stream’s mouth; channel catfish caught from the Ohio River at a point of the Pennsylvania border to the Belleville Lock, and for smallmouth bass over 15 inches when caught from the Mahoning River at Alliance to the Pennsylvania border.

On the list too is eating more than one meal per month of steelhead trout caught from Lake Erie or any of its tributaries as well as for white bass, channel catfish, smallmouth bass, sheepshead, white perch, lake trout, rock bass, brown bullhead, and whitefish over 19 inches.

More liberal is the advisory for Lake Erie-caught yellow perch, which is two meals per week.
Other fish consumption advisories are in place for a host of other Northeast Ohio locations as well.

And while these advisories vary as to species of concern and the number of recommended meals, they are postings that anglers should not ignore.

Among the area’s lake and streams with their own specific fish consumption advisories are the Chagrin, Cuyahoga and Grand rivers, Conneaut Creek, LaDue Reservoir, Pymatuning Reservoir, and New Lyme Lake.

Even advisories on eating snapping turtles is found within the Ohio EPA’s extensive and easy-to-navigate and understand web site and advisory booklet.

And there are four advisories against swimming, too. Locations include portions of Dicks Creek, the Little Scioto River, the Mahoning River, and the Ottawa River at Toledo.

A complete roster of Ohio fish advisories can be found on Ohio EPA’s website,

Or call 614-644-2160 and request a copy.

Also, fish consumption advisory contact information is being provided to anglers and found within the fishing license law digest.

More information about fish consumption also can be found at Women, Infant and Children (WIC) Centers, local health departments, Ohio EPA and Ohio Department of Natural Resources district offices.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
Twitter: @Fieldkorn