Wednesday, October 30, 2013

More odd than ends: Personal Horton crossbow woes and iritating state waterfowl regs

Call it odds and ends if you like but trying to keep this blog fresh while also tending to my bride of 41 years' post-op surgical demands hasn't left a wheel-barrel full of free time.

That being said, we'll go over some territory all ready covered but with a few fresh-ups.

Nothing appearing in this blog over the past several years has sparked more attention and more comments than the demise of Horton Crossbows and its patent remnants gobbled up by competitor TenPoint.

On a personal note regarding this matter I own a couple of crossbows made by the now-defunct Horton company.
One is a many-year-old conventional Hunter model and another is a much-younger Vision; the one with reverse limbs that excels in speeding a bolt to its target with less noise and less vibration in the process.

The Hunter is a model that just keeps going and going while the much-more high-tech and fancy Vision is an accident-prone technical marvel.

Just over one year ago I had to have Great Lakes Outdoors' Madison, Ohio store replace the Vision's bowstring which self-destructed into a fit of many loose threads.

Okay, so all crossbows need a new string every once in a while.

Problem is the replacement Vision string lasted a shade longer than just one year when it similarly unraveled unexpectedly a couple of weeks ago. That occurrence was a bit disconcerting and disheartening to say the least.

In short order I had Great Lakes Outdoors replace that shredded string with a new $18 one.

When I went to launch a few test crossbow arrows late last week to check for zero with this bowstring I was more than a little surprised when it also failed in an identical manner as the first two.

Fortunately I had the foresight to order a backup string when Horton's untimely (though not unexpected) death notice appeared in various outdoors publications.

Word from the outdoors supply store was that Horton was forced to upgrade the original Vision model's cams because their small size whipped around so quickly and sharply that they ate bowstrings for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Of course I just had to have a Vision when the model was introduced, neglecting the first rule of car-buying: Never buy a model when it is launched and before the bugs can be corrected.

Now I am left with the decision as to whether I'll use the Vision as my primary crossbow and the Hunter my back-up or do it the other way around.

Decisions, decisions, decisions.

On another previously noted blog item. I've all ready ranted on the incredible nonsense adopted by the Ohio Division of Wildlife as it relates to this year's duck and goose hunting seasons.

Here in the Lake Erie Canada Goose-hunting Zone the season's first segment went out this past Sunday and won't reappear until Nov. 9.

Meanwhile the first segment of the state's North Duck-hunting Zone's season continues through this Sunday, Nov. 3 after which it will go on hiatus until the end of November.

So today when I took my two Labrador retrievers to my waterfowl hunting blind on a very accommodating fair-sized Northeast Ohio farm pond.

Here – and according to the Wildlife Division's bizarre set of waterfowl-hunting regulations - the ducks (which are legal game) were in very short supply while the Canada geese (which are not legal game) were swarming all over the water.

In fact, when the younger of my two black Labrador retrievers sat on the bank of the pond and watched a flock of perhaps 50 geese, the birds actually beginning to swim toward her.

Of course, it's been that kind of week. Done in first by an extinct crossbow maker which had some serious engineering problems and then scuttled by a state agency with equally inept foresight.

There has to be a better way.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Monday, October 28, 2013

Naturally reproducing grass carp found in Sandusky River; will Asian carp be next?

This is neither a trick by state officials trying to get a scare out of Ohio's anglers as well as environmentalists.

And it's most certainly not a treat for either party, either.

Both the Ohio Department of Natural Resources' Division of Wildlife and the private Ohio Environmental Council are announcing the capture of several invasive and reproductive-capable grass carp in the Sandusky River.

The public should understand that the grass carp sold and released into private ponds and some state-controlled impoundments are what's called "triploid" fish. That means they've been genetically altered to be sterile.

Owning and releasing grass carp capable of breeding is against the law.

Here is the release on the subject from the Ohio Environmental Council:

Columbus, OH – State wildlife officials have confirmed the find of four grass carp that were a result of natural reproduction in the Sandusky River.

In 2012, commercial anglers reported collecting 10 grass carp from Lake Erie and the Sandusky River

 Of eight fish that could be tested, five were confirmed as diploid grass carp - carp capable of reproducing and four of which where a result of natural reproduction. 

In 2012, the United States Geological Survey confirmed everyone's worst fears that Asian carp, like bighead and silver carp, could establish themselves in the Maumee, Sandusky, and Grand Rivers.

This recent finding of one-year-old grass carp supports that recent research, suggesting that other, more destructive, species of Asian carp could also establish themselves in these river systems.

In an effort to try and stay ahead of an invasion, earlier this year the Ohio Department of Natural Resources collected additional samples from the Ohio Lake Erie watershed and key areas in the Ohio River watershed.

Of the eight grass carp collected across the state, only one fish came back as a diploid. This fish was caught in the Maumee River.
"This goes to show that the outreach and education that the Ohio Division of Wildlife has been doing is paying off," said Kristy Meyer, managing director of agricultural, health & clean water programs at the Ohio Environmental Council.
"Anglers could have been catching grass carp for years and throwing them back, not knowing whether or not they were diploid carp and not fully understanding the potential devastating impacts they can cause to native habitat and therefore wildlife. But now, more anglers are turning suspect fish over to state game officials."
Since 1988, Ohio has been stocking and allowing others to stock triploid - "sterile"- fish in ponds and lakes throughout Ohio to control aquatic vegetation.

Grass carp were first imported into the United States in 1963 for vegetation control in Stuttgart, Arkansas. Many of these early stockings were in lakes or reservoirs open to stream systems.

Shortly after their importation to Arkansas, the fish escaped the Fish Farming Experimental Station in Stuttgart, Arkansas.

Within ten years of their introduction, feral populations of grass carp became established in the White and Mississippi Rivers, prompting interest in the use of triploid fish.

Grass carp feed on aquatic vegetation. They favor densely vegetated inshore areas of backwaters within large rivers, ponds, and lakes three to ten feet deep, but prefer large, slow-flowing or standing water bodies.

Old Woman Creek in the western Lake Erie basin is rich with macrophytes like coontail and sago pondweed, upon which grass carp feast.

If enough grass carp got established in such a waterway, they could significantly alter the ecosystem, potentially wiping out important native plants that serve as food and shelter for other aquatic life.

That is a huge risk to prized sport fish and rare and endangered fish species.

"Grass carp breed like mosquitoes and eat like hogs," said Meyer. "It does not take many of these fish to reproduce, nor does it take many to completely change the make-up of the plant community, potentially altering the food web.

"The OEC thanks the Ohio Division of Wildlife for quickly assessing the situation and putting together a tactical plan that not only addresses stopping the spread of these fish, but also working to keep the more destructive bighead and silver carp out of the Great Lakes," said Meyer. "We look forward to working with Wildlife officials and other partners to protect our waterways from Asian carp."

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Best weekly fishing report anywhere, by anybody, bar none

Northwest Pennsylvania's Darl Black easily maintains the finest weekly fishing report I've ever read. Thorough almost to a fault, the report is comprehensive and is an invaluable tool for any angler wishing to fish a northwest Pennsylvania stream, impoundment, Lake Erie or whatever.
Here's a look-see at Darl's latest fishing report:


Fishing ReportFishing Report
Reporting Date:

October 21, 2013

The NW PA Fishing Report is brought to you by...

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The NW PA Fishing Report provides timely angling information for Crawford, Erie, Mercer and Venango Counties – covering all species and all waters open to the public. The fishing comments and photos are offered by regional tackle shops and area anglers, complied and published twice a month. The NW PA Fishing Report is based on experiences, obser-vations and opinions of individual contributors; information sources are considered relia-ble but comments are not independently verified. If you would like to share your fishing experiences or photos from any waterway in the four counties, please email to Darl Black at In providing information or pictures, you are agreeing to your comments being edited, and posted to websites and distributed electronically.

The Landing Net by Darl Black

Some people like to call good catches a matter of luck, but it’s actually a matter of timing. An individual may have mastered fishing skills but there are going to be many times when that individual and everyone else struggles to catch fish. You may spend hours only to get a couple bites. We don’t like to think about those days. But when the water temperature, wind direction, ba-rometer, sun angle, prey availability and several other natural ingredients come together, fish are going to feed. It’s not a matter of luck, but a matter of timing. For several weeks I’ve been anticipating the fall bite but the natural order wasn’t falling in place as quickly as I had hoped. But with the last big rain and the pending cold snap this week, fall water temperatures are finally arriv-ing…and so is some great fishing. Get out there now and enjoy, ‘cause the weather bureaucrats are calling for an early winter.

Northwest PA Fishing Report October 21, 2013

Brought to you by PA Great Lakes Region tourism

What’s biting the counties of Crawford, Erie, Mercer and Venango?

French Creek – Flowing through all four counties

Dustin Shay (Meadville) filed 10/18: "No bite really focused, but I’ve been catching a variety of fish from the creek over the last two weeks, including a few walleyes, some largemouth bass in flooded backwaters, several big crappies and of course smallmouth bass. Walleye bite has not been strong, with more ‘eye coming on jigs than riffle minnows right now. Live bait wise, walleyes are in transition from summer riffle minnows to late fall creek bait."

Lou Letterle (Franklin) filed 10/17: "I was fishing French Creek for muskies on two occasions in the past week. We had some top-water action which was pretty exciting. My fishing partner Ken Dudash (Pittsburgh) and I each caught two muskies. The fish ranged between 35 and 40 inches. Photos attached." (See Livewell for additional photos)

Editor’s note: Way to go Lou!

Angler Al Bell (Franklin) French Creek Diary:

- Sat, 10/12: "Warm conditions made wading in jeans more comfortable than one would have thought. It didn’t make any difference for my catching a fish however. With no live bait, I tried topwater and crankbait lures. Weeds and moss again made things miserable. Not a strike in an hour, so I went home skunked. A rarity for me on French Creek!"

- Sun, 10/13: With some live bait this time I went back down to French Creek for the end of daylight casts. On the second float using a suspended set-up with bait, I caught a 14-inch smallmouth. Thereafter, I reeled in a small walleye. This method of fishing lessened weed and leaf debris fouling the hook."


Pymatuning Lake

Dave Richter (Richter’s Tackle Shop) filed 10/21: "Very few anglers on Pymatuning, but the handful that are going out in boats are targeting walleye…and catching them on blade baits from 10 to 20 feet. Shore-line fishermen are not doing so well on walleyes yet. Perch fishing is picking up, and as well as crappies. Crappies are being caught both shallow (certain marina docks, weeds and wood cover) and in deep water."

Norman "Hooker" Brakeman (Hill’s Country Store) filed 10/21: "Pymatuning is waking up from its long summer nap. Gamefish are ganging up on schools of baitfish. We were out last Wednesday shooting video of upcoming winter sport shows. As usual, the wind was blowing and rain was

Lou Letterle photo

Pymatuning shore (DB photo)

threatening but crappies were biting Bobby Garland Slab Dockt’r. I have some customers who have started wading again at night, and they are amazed at their success. They are catching limits of 20" walleyes on perch-colored Rapala Minnows in less than two hours."

Chris Hall (Espyville Outdoors) filed 10/21: "I can’t understand where all the fishermen are!! After a bit of a quiet period, the fishing is unreal right now! The perch are on fire! Crawlers and minnows fished on the bottom. We have had the most luck with the AFF Lucky Seven Hooks – the small propeller blade and metallic beads are driving fish nuts! There have been some bluegills mixed in with the perch as well. Walleyes are starting to pick up! I talked with couple guys reporting limit catches this past week-end, with Lindy Shadlings and Berkley Flicker Shads out fishing Storm Hot N’Tots! They are being caught anywhere from 10 to 16 feet of water. Some on worm harnesses, too. Crappies appear sus-pended and have not heard much about success on them yet. Catfish are still eating anything you throw at them."

Darl Black (Cochranton) filed 10/11: "With assistance from Hooker, I took a run at smallmouth bass on Pymatuning earlier in the week but all we could catch were a couple legal walleyes, some small largemouth bass, bluegills, perch and a rock bass – but no smallmouth bass!" (See Livewell photos)

Conneaut Lake

Bob Mohra (Fergie’s Bait) filed 10/21: "I fished Conneaut again this week for blue-gills. I caught them in 9 feet of water along the weedline with a white split-tail tipped with maggot. Ab-solutely great ‘gill fishing."

Dan Wielobob (Conneaut Lake) filed 10/18: "Went to Conneaut looking for white bass to be schooling deep, but could not find them. However, I did find bluegills in about 25 feet of water. These were some of the biggest bluegills I’ve ever caught from Conneaut Lake – covered my hand."

Darl Black (Cochranton) filed 10/18: "I fished Conneaut Lake on the 14th and 18th for big smallmouth bass, but struck out both days. Water temp was still in the low 60s (needs to be into the mid 50s) and we had a strong east wind both days (Wind from the East, fish bite least)…that’s my excuse and I’m sticking with it!"


Presque Isle Bay and Lake Erie

Jim (B.A.C. Baits) filed 10/21: "There is some steelhead action in the Bay this week. In addition, customers are catching some nice perch off the North Pier as the schools are transitioning from the Lake. And I’m hearing about crappie in Marina Lake. That’s about all for right now in the Bay; focus is on the tributaries for steel-head."

Marilyn Black (Cochranton) filed 10/12: "Darl and I fished PIB today with the expec-tation of catching largemouth bass for needed photos. The big green ones didn’t bite for us, although I caught an 8-pound drum, crappie, bluegill, perch, white bass

DB photo

PIB crappie

and a legal walleye. Yes, a legal size walleye in the Bay – I haven’t caught a walleye in PIB for two dec-ades. Most of my fish came on a Binsky Blade Bait."

Rex Heimberger (Venom Lures Pro-Staff Director) filed 10/14: "A week ago I was up your way chasing those brown fish – fishing from PIB to the W’s. It was probably the toughest time I ever had on the main lake. Baitfish schools were still out in 50 to 65 feet of water – and so were the smallmouth bass. I ended up fishing in PIB for green fish and caught some real beauties – but that’s not what I was looking for. We caught some incidental steelies, too. When the weather changes and cools down a bit, I’ll be back for those brown bass!"

Editor’s note filed 10/12: Fishermen will travel l-o-n-g distances just to fish Presque Isle Bay. Entered in two-person team Great Lakes largemouth-only championship out of Sandusky, Ohio well-known profes-sional bass angler Dave Lefebre of Erie on the first day of competition drove his boat from Sandusky Bay to Presque Isle Bay (roughly 150 miles one way) just to fish a couple hours in PIB. Dave and partner Barry caught several 3.5- to 4-pound largemouth bass in PIB (bigger than what they would have caught in Sandusky Bay) before setting out for weigh-in back at Sandusky. But they encountered wind shift and had to battle their way back in big waves. The second day of the tournament, they stayed put in Sandusky Bay but could not muster enough weight for a win. They had qualified for the championship by winning a PIB tournament earlier this year.

Erie Tributaries

Gary Heuble, Jr. (Poor Richards) filed 10/21: "After the tributaries were blown out on Sunday the 20th, today we have some good color returning to the water – at least to Walnut. Steelhead moved up most of the streams with the high water. I have reports of fish upstream in Walnut, Elk, Raccoon, Crooked and 20 Mile. Depending on the amount of rain this week, fishing may be very good in the near future – un-less we get too much rain. Side note – when tributaries are blown out due to heavy rain, it generally takes 24 hours for streams like 20 Mile and Walnut to clear up, but it may take 48 hours for Elk Creek to clear."

Mike Tome (Trout Run Bait) filed 10/21: "Wow we are busy today! Tributar-ies are clearing and anglers are flocking to the streams. Until more fisher-men get out, it’s hard to say how far the steelhead have moved – but they have definitely moved upstream. One angler reports 16 Mile Creek on fire with active fish. The best baits right now with good flow and slight color in the water will be skein and egg sacks."

Dan Seaman (Elk Creek Sports) filed 10/21: "As you might expect, the creeks were all blown out Sunday following the big rain. They are on their way down today. Fish have moved as far as McKean on Elk Creek. We needed this rain to get the flow moving and the water temp to drop in order to activate the steelhead, which have been sitting in holes near the mouth of the tributaries. We need some rain to keep the water flowing, but not too much to blow them out again. With the high winds projected this week, no one will be fishing the lakeshore. The steelhead focus will be in the streams."

Thomas Watral (Erie) filed 10/20:

- 10/20 – "With the rain and colder temps, the tributaries are running fast, and steelheads are on the move. Steelheads are hitting spinners and live bait. Colder water temps are bringing the big-

Trib color—Marilyn Black photo

ger perch into the Bay. I talked with a few diehards who limited out on nice perch off the South Pier – fish were 12 to 14 inches. Also saw they had a few nice crappies. Perch and crappies are being taken on small minnows fished close to the bottom.

- 10/17 –"I went to Walnut today and slammed the steelhead…hooked 30 in all. Released all of them. Caught fish on a Joe Fly in yellow. Lots of steelhead this year."

- 10/16 – "I went to Four Mile Creek to see how fishing has been – creek was rising and fish are moving in from the lake. I saw six hooked while there; later saw 10 hooked on the Wall at Wal-nut. Sucker Spawn and minnows are top baits."

- 10/15 – "I went down to Bay and Lake today. Bay was on fire with lots of perch being caught in sizes to 13 inches. Hotspots are the Docks, South Pier and North Pier for perch and Border Patrol Dock for crappies. Best time is right before dark.

Ric Gauriloff (Trout Run Bait) filed 10/15; this report came in earlier in the week before the big rain event: "As of the 15th, streams are low and clear. Fish are being caught at mouths of creeks when lake is calm. Small dark Beadhead flies as well as smaller Sucker Spawn and Crystal Meth doing the trick for fly fishermen. Single eggs, skein and smaller minnows for bait fishermen. Perch and walleye still hitting in deeper water, but look for perch to move shallower as water temp cools; twenty five feet is a good place to start looking for them. One customer brought in a 12-pound lake trout today; caught it off the beach at Trout Run. A few coho have also been spotted in Trout Run and Elk. There are plenty of fish around but tough conditions. We need a couple days of nice steady rain."

Ed Phillips ( ) filed 10/15: "My wife and I went to 20 Mile Creek Thursday afternoon on the 10th, and fished from the 5 Road Mile Bridge to the mouth. As you might expect the water was low and hardly any current. I did see a few fish in the hole just north of the bridge but you can’t fish there because the property is posted. Going down stream, we saw a few fish and wound up close to the mouth, but with the slow, low water, we did not have any luck. I did see a couple fish on stringers, so at least someone was having better luck. The next morning we went upstream to the Tomato Patch and found a few active fish in a long run with faster current. I hooked six fish and landed three, and my wife hooked two and landed one. We kept one for the grill and a couple for the smoker. All fish came on nymphs in hook size #14 or #16 with 4-pound leader at least 9-foot long to get a good drift. Photo attached."

Edinboro Lake

Marilyn Black (Cochranton) filed 10/12: "On our way home from PIB on Saturday the 12th we stopped to fish Edinboro Lake. Bite was as tough as PIB. With our Gar-min sonar unit, we found a string of brushpiles in 9 feet of water, but could only catch little largemouth and smallmouth bass from them. Off another point, our so-nar showed a massive school of bluegills in 12 to 15-foot breakline. After catching a mess of gills, we called it day."

Ed Phillips photo

Bluegills on Edinboro

Edinboro ‘gill


Shenango River Lake

Ken Smith (Sharon) filed 10/8: The government shut down of She-nango Lake last week didn’t keep good anglers down. Ken Smith knew the crappies should be turning on at Shenango Lake, so he paid the launch fee at RC Marina at Clark (private marina unaffected by shut down) and went fishing. "I got a boat load of nice crappies. Cost me $5.00 but I got my money’s worth" (See additional photo in Livewell)

Lake Wilhelm

Bob Mohra (Fergie’s Bait) filed 10/21: "Not many anglers fishing down here right now. I had reports of bluegills being taken from the Sheakleyville Causeway this week. Best time is just before dark."

Neshannock Creek

Bob Shuey (Neshannock Creek Fly Shop) filed 10/12: "Our fall stocking happened October 1. Between that stocking and a good carryover from previous stockings, there are plenty of fish in the stream. Check our website for stream conditions ( As of this date there are a few seats remaining for our 2014 Fly Tying Class that starts January 7, 2014. Christmas is coming fast, so make shopping easy by picking up Gift Certificates from Neshannock Creek Fly Shop."


Oil Creek

Mike Laskowski (Oil Creek Outfitters) filed 10/21: "Well the rain brought Oil Creek up to normal low! A few guys are fishing for trout, catching some on streamers and nymphs – but most fly fishermen are looking to the Erie tributary streams. Fly fishing for smallmouth on Oil Creek was great all summer long, but I don’t seem able to get fly-fishermen excited about ‘em old brown fish!"

Allegheny River

Editor’s Note: The Allegheny River smallmouth fishing was simply amazing all spring and summer long. Recent rains sent the level up and stained the water, resulting in big bass moving to the banks. Check out the reports…

Marilyn Black (Cochranton) filed 10/21: "Darl and I fished the River yesterday out of Franklin for a few hours. It was on the rise and dingy colored. Big bass had moved into pocket eddies along the steeper shoreline. We had our best day since early spring. We had several four-pounders and some three-pounders and few less than three pounds; only 2 bass were less than 15 inches. I caught my fish on a Chartreuse Blade Terminator T-1 Spinnerbait. Darl caught most of his fish on a Get Bit Baits Crawling Tube. Hope the river stays up and dingy." (See Livewell photos)

Ken Smith photo

Marilyn Black photo

Marilyn Black photo

Duff Kerle (Clarion) filed 10/21: "I fished the last BMCC tournament of the year on the Allegheny yesterday, launching out of Oil City. I drew Jerry Smith Sr. as my rider. Water was murky and high. Day started slow south of Franklin, but I headed back to the Oil City pool and caught round 50 smallmouths on a homemade chatterbait. I won the tournament with 4 bass weighing 14.07 pounds. Jerry took 3rd with just under 13 pounds. Stan Teitelbaum took lunker with a four pounder. Ben Lipiec won Angler of the year for Bassmasters of Craw-ford County." (See Livewell photos)

Frank Malek (Oil City) filed 10/21: "On Sunday, I had a nice bag of bass for the final tournament, with four fish weighing around 13 pounds. All my bass came on Cruncher Bait Tubes and crankbaits. Back on Friday the 18th, I fished for less than two hours and caught 7 bass before the rains started. The largest was a little over 4 pounds. All were caught on Cruncher Bait Tubes." (See Livewell photo)

Steve Udick (Oil City) filed 10/20: "I have spent the last couple weeks throwing frog lures to pockets and shorelines. There was quite a learning curve as I thought these lures were topwater baits. That worked only if bass were aggres-sive. I had the best hookups using a combination retrieve…swimming it then stopping it – sometimes up to 10 seconds. My best fish was right in front of Black Bear Lodge in the lower part of Rockmere – see picture. Another beauty came above Wye Bridge in Siverly. My best day was 11 bass coming on the Bass Pro Humpin’ Toad in Watermelon. Water is up and flushing the grass…tests one’s patience."

Pete Cartwright (Pittsburgh) filed 10/20: "I fished the Allegheny for two days on the 12th and 13th. The bite was slow on Saturday, but the ones we caught were worth it. We landed five bass in the 18 to 20-inch class. On Sunday the 13th, the bite picked up and we landed 28 smallmouths with the biggest going 19 inches. Leaves and weeds were still a problem but river was fishable. On Sunday the 20th, we fished the Allegheny near Franklin. The water was up and stained a bit. The first hole we came to was loaded with fish so we stayed there for three hours, catching fish the entire time. Moved to a couple other spots and caught a few more fish. By end of day we landed 32 smallies. Most of the fish had fat bellies. Fall ac-tion at its best. Bass were mainly in 15 to 17 inch range with a few 18 inchers in the mix. All caught on tubes and jigs. I also caught 27" healthy pike."

R.J. Graham (Tionesta) filed 10/15: "I went to the Allegheny twice this week. On Sunday, the 13th, I fished Oil City pool. I managed a couple nice bass but the bite was tough. All my fish came on a drop shot with Crosstail Shad and a Rapala Scatter Rap crankbait in the fast water. The big fish are not active yet, cur-rent is too slow and the water is warm. The bass should turn on in the next couple weeks. On the 15th, I

Winning bait/Duff photo

Winning catch/Duff photo

Steve Udick photo

fished in the evening on the river and picked up about 15 smallies; once again only a couple big ones – two over 3 pounds. The cool weather is going to put river smallmouth on fire!" (See Livewell photos)

Gene Winger (Oil City) filed 10/21: "Sorry I missed sending my report last time; got busy at work and for-got. Here are my recent outings…

- For the Week of October 7th – During evening outings early in the week I was averaging 10 to 12 good-sized smallies on Winco Solid Body River Darters and Tastee Tube Supreme tubes. But mid-week the temp took a plunge and the bite slowed down. With the FOP tournament on the 13th, I decided to take a break from fishing and spend time with my granddaughter.

Northwest Pennsylvania's Darl Black easily maintains the finest weekly fishing report I've ever read. Thorough almost to a fault, the report is comprehensive and is an invaluable tool for any angler wishing to fish a northwest Pennsylvania stream, impoundment, Lake Erie or whatever.
Here's a look-see at Darl's latest fishing report:

- For the Week of October 14th

– I had a great week on river with Thursday being one of my best days of season – landing 40 quality smallies using Winco River Darter Swim Bait and Tastee Tube Supreme tubes. With a storm predicted for late afternoon on Thursday, I was on the river by 10 AM and fished until heavy rains started around 4 PM. By midday the smallies were stacked up and on fire, with most fish weighing over 2.5 pounds and several in the 3.5 to 4 pound range. However, my best was a 21.5 incher weighing in
at 4.5 pounds. Truly an amazing day on the riv-er."


Monday, October 21, 2013

How Ohio "fowled out" a 60-day duck-hunting season and a 78-day goose-hunting season

Got to hand it to the Ohio Division of Wildlife. When this agency's leaders mess up they do it in style while during the whole time they behave with that deer-in-the-headlights look.
Not since the long-ago time when Ohio decided to start the waterfowl hunting season at noon on a weekday has the Wildlife Division so thoroughly tripped in its management waders and fell face-first into the mud of uncommon sense as it has with this year's waterfowl hunting seasons.

Back in August when the agency's honchos were mulling how they could mess up a 60-day duck-hunting season framework and a 78-day goose-hunting framework, someone certainly had to capture the First Place prize in making nonsense out of a commonsense bracket of possible seasons.
And there's plenty of blame to go around, too. Take your pick: Wildlife Division's waterfowl management administrators, agency executives and even the eight-member Ohio Wildlife Council, which is suppose to go about its work to prevent dumb things from happening, all suffered from a lack of logic.

How else can one explain the cutoff of all but four days in November for duck hunting in just about the entire state north of Interstate 70, which the exception of a sliver of Lake Erie marshland in northwest Ohio?

Yet unspeakably that is precisely what the Wildlife Division mucked up when it will close the first portion of the state's North Duck-hunting Zone on Nov. 3 after beginning just 15 days earlier.

Even more baffling was the decision to restart the North Zone's duck-hunting engine on Nov. 30 (yep, two days BEFORE the beginning of Ohio's firearms deer-hunting season) and keep it sputtering clear through to Jan. 12.

I don't know about you but after living in Lake County for nearly 64 years I can say without reservations that late December and early January gets a tad chilly. Enough so that Northeast Ohio marches, beaver ponds and farm ponds are typically locked in ice.
Even Al Gore would have to admit that early winter in Northeast Ohio is not the same as early winter in Cancun.
If none of this ducking management mishmash makes any sense than neither does the Wildlife Division's madness in establishing the state's Lake Erie Goose-hunting Zone's season.

Here the Wildlife Division's decision makers quickly lost their grip on the judicious use of their facilities.

In the Lake Erie Canada Goose-hunting Zone, the starting gun went off a full week before that of its generally respective duck-hunting zone opener. And which, by the way, also coincided with Ohio's first-ever antlerless-only/muzzle-loader deer hunt.

“Excuse me? Did I read you correctly, sir, that the duck and goose openers were a full week apart?”

Oh, yes, you most certainly did, son.

So instead of waterfowlers partaking of a customary concurrent duck-goose season opener they were left with a disjointed, far-from-traditional, one opener here and another opener there format.

The ends are not tied any better, either.

For instance – and we'll stick with the northern part of the state for argument sake – waterfowlers can shoot ducks through Nov. 3 for the first part of the season but not Canada geese in the state's Lake Erie Goose-hunting Zone.

Yet these same eager waterfowlers will see their Canada goose season reboot on Nov. 9 although all ducks will be off limits. That is until (gulp) Nov. 30.

The reasonable and most user-friendly format would have both the goose and duck seasons begin on the same Saturday, run concurrently through to the day before the statewide firearms deer-hunting season. And then begin the day following the gun season's end until all of the allocated days for each season reaches its trail head.

Instead, what the Wildlife Division's waterfowl biologists, their Columbus bosses - and ultimately the agency's Wildlife Council's eight handlers - have done is so badly gerrymandered the state's duck- and goose-hunting seasons that confusion and disappointment has ultimately tainted whatever respect the state's waterfowlers had in the agency's ability to keep things simple and practical.

Oh, for the uncomplicated days of noon waterfowl openers, duck point systems and 30-day seasons. And managers who knew what the heck they were doing, too.

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Hiccups delay release of Ohio's first-ever doe-only blackpowder season harvest

A computer glitch and a nearly forgotten federal holiday tripped up releasing the harvest figures for Ohio's first-ever antlerless-only/muzzle-loading-only deer-hunting season.

This season ran this past weekend, October 12 and 13, and was implemented amongst much pro and con fanfare.

When the pall of black-powder (or its substitute) smoke cleared, the two-day season’s hunters killed 5,608 antlerless deer; button bucks plus adult does and fawn does.

On top of the heap with a reported harvest of 200 deer was Ashtabula County, followed by Licking County with 163 harvested deer, then Guernsey County with a reported kill of 144 antlerless animals, and just ahead of Muskingum County with 143 reported harvested deer.

Every one of Ohio's 88 counties saw a recording of deer killed during the two-day season, too.

Among the counties with the fewest number of deer reported harvested were Cuyahoga County (5), Fayette County (7), and Franklin and Summit counties (9 each).

Also, 16 counties saw harvest figures in triple digits.

In the end the actual total harvest fell within the crystal ball prognostications of the state's leading deer-management supervisor.

“I anticipated we'd see a harvest of between 5,000 and 8,000 deer,” said Mike Tonkovich, the Ohio Division of Wildlife's deer management administrator.

Even so, Tonkovich admitted there were some issues. Not with the season, per say, but with the system designed to provide timely statistical results.

Among them was some sort of computer software hiccup exchange between the state's computer and the Missouri-based server the agency relies on to manage, record and tabulate.

“Initially, according to our records we didn't kill any deer,” Tonkovich said with a chuckle. “But our Office of Information and Technology got it all sorted out.”

An issue that wasn't factored into the equation when the Wildlife Division's leaders and eight-member Ohio Wildlife Council approved the new hunt was that the Monday following the two-day season also happened to be Columbus Day.

And Columbus Day is a federally declared holiday whereby most state and federal employees enjoy a paid day off from work.

That perk applies to those folks who work for the Wildlife Division.

Consequently, said Tonkovich, no one was in the office on Monday (October 14) either to straighten out the computer glitch or to provide the media and others with the season's harvest figures until today, Tuesday, October 15.

And hunters can anticipate that in the future this same back-to-back antlerless-only/muzzle-loading-only-season/Columbus Day scenario will become the norm and not the exception.

That is, so long as the Wildlife Division believes such a season is useful in promoting a reduction in the state's deer herd, Tonkovich says as well.

Yet it's going to take time before this newly established strategy will play itself out, says Tonkovich.

“There are no guarantees that this antlerless-only, muzzle-loading-only season will become part of our long-term deer management program,” Tonkovich says. “We'll have to look at the overall antlerless harvest in February to see how things stack up and how it may or may not have changed the dynamics of our management plan.”

At the core too will be how many of the season's successful hunters will continue to go afield in an effort to legally shoot their second, third – or more – deer, says Tonkovich.

Which is asking a lot from hunters.

A cold, hard look at deer harvest statistics and hunter participation shows that last year 73 percent of successful Ohio deer hunters killed only one animal while 20 percent harvested two deer.

After that, the figures of hunter harvest plummet. Only five percent of Ohio's successful deer hunters shot three animals last year while only two percent harvested four or more deer, says Tonkovich.

“We want hunters to stay out there in the field,” Tonkovich said.
The county-by-county breakdown is:
County YR 2013 YR 2012 % Change
Adams 135 0 /0
Allen 46 0 /0
Ashland 111 0 /0
Ashtabula 200 0 /0
Athens 117 0 /0
Auglaize 39 0 /0
Belmont 99 0 /0
Brown 94 0 /0
Butler 57 0 /0
Carroll 120 0 /0
Champagin 36 0 /0
Clark 28 0 /0
Clermont 91 0 /0
Clinton 34 0 /0
Columbiana 128 0 /0
Coshocton 138 0 /0
Crawford 32 0 /0
Cuyahoga 5 0 /0
Darke 26 0 /0
Defiance 48 0 /0
Delaware 38 0 /0
Erie 25 0 /0
Fairfield 51 0 /0
Fayette 7 0 /0
Franklin 9 0 /0
Fulton 29 0 /0
Gallia 60 0 /0
Geauga 63 0 /0
Greene 26 0 /0
Guernsey 144 0 /0
Hamilton 18 0 /0
Hancock 31 0 /0
Hardin 43 0 /0
Harrison 115 0 /0
Henry 14 0 /0
Highland 79 0 /0
Hocking 103 0 /0
Holmes 89 0 /0
Huron 80 0 /0
Jackson 62 0 /0
Jefferson 82 0 /0
Knox 141 0 /0
Lake 18 0 /0
Lawrence 54 0 /0
Licking 164 0 /0
Logan 77 0 /0
Lorain 83 0 /0
Lucas 28 0 /0
Madison 19 0 /0
Mahon1ng 75 0 /0
Marion 27 0 /0
Medina 68 0 /0
Meigs 88 0 /0
Mercer 26 0 /0
Miami 20 0 /0
Monroe 68 0 /0
Montgomery 18 0 /0
Morgan 65 0 /0
Morrow 53 0 /0
Muskingum 143 0 /0
Noble 83 0 /0
Ottawa 10 0 /0
Paulding 56 0 /0
Perry 54 0 /0
Pickaway 18 0 /0
Pike 51 0 /0
Portage 64 0 /0
Preble 41 0 /0
Putnam 33 0 /0
Richland 105 0 /0
Ross 85 0 /0
Sandusky 27 0 /0
Scioto 64 0 /0
Seneca 69 0 /0
Shelby 63 0 /0
Stark 66 0 /0
Summit 9 0 /0
Trumbull 117 0 /0
Tuscarawas 115 0 /0
Union 32 0 /0
Van Wert 19 0 /0
Vinton 79 0 /0
Warren 39 0 /0
Washington 72 0 /0
Wayne 83 0 /0
Williams 93 0 /0
Wood 16 0 /0
Wyandot 58 0 /0
Statewide Totals
5,608 0 /0

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

UPDATED: Government shutdown scrubs Ottawa Refuge youth-only duck hunt

The shutdown of the federal government has all ready impacted at least one segment of Ohio's outdoors community.

When Congress and the Obama Administration failed to reach an accord regarding funding the federal government nearly all of its organs were either forced into operational hibernation or else saw greatly reduced activities.

Among the places and agencies that found themselves shuttered for the duration of the shutdown/slowdown were all of the nation's 561 wildlife refuges.

Which put a serious hurt on the scheduled youth-only waterfowl hunt set for Saturday (Oct. 5) at the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge, located east of Toledo.

“We had to call the 20 young hunters who were selected in the lottery drawing that unless the situation changes the hunt will be canceled,” said Vicki Ervin, spokeswoman for the Ohio Division of Wildlife.

Unknown at this point is how the shutdown/slowdown will impact the controlled archery deer hunts at the Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge.

In regards to the similar hunts at NASA's Plumbrook Research Station, located near Sandusky, one element may have all ready doomed the lottery-selected archery hunters.

Every adult selected for either Plumbrook's controlled archery or firearms hunts first had to undergo an extensive federal background check.

However, since this background check is performed by the FBI - which has reduced its operations - the official look-see into the selected hunters' pasts is a low priority item with the agency.

“We're not sure what the impact may be,” Ervin said. “We'll just have to wait and see.”

Nationally the situation is even more dire for hunters as well as anglers.

In several Upper Midwest states their respective waterfowl hunting seasons have begun but since the nation's refuge system is essentially bolted, waterfowlers, upland bird and big-game hunters will need to go elsewhere.

The same prohibition applies to anglers, too.

And sports looking to access federal lands owned or administered by the Bureau of Lands Management and the U.S. Forest Service still can utilize such federal holdings, however.

This usage includes the 833,990-acre Wayne National Forest, located in 12 Ohio counties.

That being said, expect minimal support and services, including shuttered federally run campgrounds and possibly some forest service road closures.

Not much help will come about, either, should a person decide to stop at a Forest Service visitor center since those operations are now moth-balled until the shutdown/slowdown ends.

Ervin said as well as that the Ohio Department of Natural Resources has no reason to believe that the U.S. Corps of Army Engineer-owned public boat ramps along the Ohio River have been closed to angler access.

However, not impacted is the federal government's background check on prospective firearms buyers. This federally mandated check is performed by licensed gun dealers with at least one such local business owner saying “not at all” when asked if he was encountering any delays in the process.

This blog posting will be updated as additional information becomes available.
- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Ohio's deer-motor vehicle accidents on the fall (Nationally, too)

As Ohio drives toward stabilizing its white-tail herd one benefit is that the state's highways are being splattered with fewer road kills.

The Ohio Insurance Institute's annual autumn assessment of deer-motor vehicle accidents showed a decline of 7.5 percent in 2012 when compared to 2011, which also was better off than its comparable 2010 number. The total figures were 20,996, 22,696, and 23,201, respectively.

However, this being said, last year the Insurance Institute, the Ohio Highway Patrol, and the Ohio Division of Wildlife reports that 1,013 motorists were still injured while six people were killed during such collisions.

At least both of these gruesome figures fell slightly from those tallied in 2011.

Nationally, approximately 200 people are killed annually in deer-motor vehicle accidents.

When looking at Ohio's 88 individual county-by-county statistics for 2012 the counties with the highest number of deer-motor vehicle accidents were: Stark (559), Richland (535), Hamilton (522), Clermont (472), and Lorain (470). And of these five counties only Clermont County's numbers were up, says the Insurance Institute.

Conversely, the five counties with fewest number of deer-motor vehicle accidents in 2012 were: Monroe (15), Morgan (27), Carroll (26), Harrison (37), and Perry (43). Only Perry County showed an increase as well.

Importantly also, says both the Insurance Institute and the Ohio Highway Patrol is that most deer-motor vehicle accidents happen between 5 p.m. And 1 a.m., followed by 5 a.m. To 8 a.m. Together these two periods accounted for fully 78 percent of all deer-motor vehicle accidents in Ohio.

To no deer hunter's surprise the number of deer-motor vehicle accidents are centered around October through November. This is the time frame generally regarded as the rut, or the species' primary breeding period.

So just what are the odds of an Ohio driver experiencing a deer-motor vehicle accident?

Here the Insurance Institute places those odds at 1 in 135. That places Ohio 22nd nationally which has odds of 1 in 174.

As for the states where a driver was most likely to become involved in a deer-motor vehicle accident in 2012 the Top Five in descending order were: West Virginia (odds of 1 in 41), Montana (1 in 65 odds), Iowa (1 in 73 odds), South Dakota (1 in 75 odds), and Pennsylvania (1 in 77 odds).

At least, says State Farm Insurance which compiled these statistics, these five states did see reduced odds last year when compared to 2011.

Oh, one more thing about these odds, says State Farm.

Hawaiian car drivers have the best chances of experiencing a deer-motor vehicle accident. The odds for such an encounter in the Aloha State are 1 in 6,787, but, yes, Hawaii is home to a deer species; Axis deer, to be exact.

In terms of repair cost, the national average is $3,414, though injuries will increase that figure substantially, the Insurance Institute says.

Bundle all the stats together and in Ohio alone the total expense is more than $72 million, with the bulk of the reimbursement coming out of the insured's comprehensive portion of his or her's auto insurance policy.

Importantly, too, says the Insurance Institute, such collisions alone are not likely to impact one's auto insurance premiums.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn