Sunday, May 15, 2016

REVISED: Throttle back on declaring new state record yellow perch caught off Fairport Harbor

Ladies and gentlemen, news of a new Ohio state record yellow perch being caught from off the pier at the HTP Marina in Fairport Harbor is a wee bit premature.

Unfortunately, a number of outdoors reporters have jumped the gun, indicating in one fashion or another that a new state record yellow perch exists. Yet as of now the referenced 2.9-pound yellow perch is a potential new state record, and nothing more.

Thus the current state record yellow perch - a fish weighing 2.75 pounds and caught from Lake Erie by Charles Thomas of Lorain in April 17th, 1984 - remains the best fish of that species ever entered in the state record fish program.

Ohio’s state record fish program is administered by the Outdoor Writers of Ohio, which began the state fish record-keeping project and has continuously maintained the list for more than 70 years. It works with such agencies as the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Wildlife and the Ohio Sea Grant Agency in verifying catches.

The verification and approval process is not some functional formality, either. Rather, it is the keystone that supports the entire record fish-keeping structure.

However, an issue has come to the fore that demands attention. The potential new state record yellow perch was initially weighed on a scale that was not legally certified by a county auditor, as the rules stipulate, says the committee’s chairman and OWO member, retired Ohio Sea Grant agent Fred Snyder.

Only afterwards - one day, - says Snyder - was the scale then certified.

Consequently, The Outdoor Writers of Ohio's Record Fish Committee members have instructed that the fish be reweighed, this time on a scale that also meets the lawful definition of certification. Whether the angler chooses to follow through on the instructions is his option, though his application is in the hands of the committee’s members, Snyder says.

What cannot be lost nor dismissed is the importance of adhering to the state record fish program's strict protocol, and which is essential for two very logical reasons. The first of these is that it protects a current record fish holder's catch, a catch that conformed to all of the program’s requirements without exception and without being fudged or broken.

Ohio’s list of state record fish contains 47 headings; 42 hook-and-line categories and five bow-fishing categories. Each of those record holders has a right of expectation that anyone and everyone who seeks to displace their title must successfully navigate the same rules they were required to follow. It’s called fairness.

The second reason is intertwined with the first: It protects the integrity of the state record fish program. If a stated and unambiguous rule is allowed to be broken even once than it can be broken twice, three times - or more times.

And remember this too: Rules are never bent; they can only be broken. Thus, any casual departure regarding the importance of closely tracing the program’s stated rules would be unfair to future potential record fish holders. And it would eventually put into play the question of whether a catch – any catch - is truly a new record.

As outdoors writers we love nothing more than to announce an impressive catch, especially when it’s a new state record fish. We want to be first to report this good news. However, as journalists we are required to be fair and accurate.

And as a former chairman of the OWO State Record Fish Committee I fully understand and appreciate the vital importance of properly dotting the program’s every “i” and crossing its every “t.” The program’s rules demand no less of its committee members.

There really is no other way to properly report on this potentially exciting new state record yellow perch; and one that Lake County may take particular pride in, especially since it was caught from shore.  


By Jeffrey L. Frischkorn


Jeff is the retired News-Herald reporter who covered the earth sciences, the area's three county park systems and the outdoors for the newspaper. Jeff is the recipient of more than 125 state, regional and national journalism awards. He also is a columnist and features writer for the Ohio Outdoor News, which is published every other week and details the outdoors happenings in the state.



No comments:

Post a Comment