In brief, the Fish Ohio program recognizes anglers who catch a qualifying specimen from a list of 20 eligible species.
By comparison the 2013 Fish Ohio program recognized 12,760 entries and presented Master Angler pins and certificates to 532 fishers.
As for the best-ever year for the program, that tip of the hat goes to 1988. That year the Wildlife Division awarded 37,132 Fish Ohio pins and handed out 691 Master Angler honors.
Functioning as the centerpiece for the program since 1980 when it underwent a significant change is the presentation of a free, colorful hat-style pin. The motif of this pin changes each year and is based upon one of the recognized species with the 2014 honoree having been the yellow perch.
The bottom bunch was confined to fewer than 100 entries each. Among them in 2014 were northern pike (90 entries), sauger (85 entries), blue catfish (69 entries), and at the very cellar, the brown trout (17 entries).
Perhaps most intriguing from the compilation of the year-end statistics was there being only 264 entries for rainbow trout. This entry includes steelhead trout, and given the popularity of spring steelhead fishing one would naturally assume the species would prove more popular with anglers eager to show off their angling abilities with a Fish Ohio pin but it does not.
Other reasonably well-off totals from the list of officially recognized species are the muskie (264 entries), the smallmouth bass (248 entries), and the white bass (297 entries). Even so, the lowly common carp bested each of these three designated species with 428 entries.
Of importance for anglers is determining where best to wet a line for catching a trophy fish. Here the nod easily goes to Lake Erie with a total of 4,194 Fish Ohio award entries. That dwarfs the 2,353 entries for private ponds and the very paltry 404 entries for the Ohio River.
Qualifying largemouth bass also came largely from farm ponds at 446 entries from a 2014 program total of 720 entries, closely followed by crappie at 408 entries and from a 2014 program total of 1,319 entries.
And speaking about on-line, the program is now completely web-based. The details are accessed via the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s web site at www.wildohio.gov and then going to the “Fishing” link under the bar heading of “Recreation.”
By Jeffrey L. Frischkorn