Under a proposal announced July 11th an angler catching a new Ohio state record smallmouth bass won’t have to worry about either breaking the law or returning the fish to water.
The eight-member Ohio Wildlife Council heard for the first time several new fishing – and a few hunting and trapping - rule changes.
Among the proposals is one that if approved would remove the current May 1st to the last Saturday closure on the taking of smallmouth bass and largemouth bass from the waters of Lake Erie. With the provision, however, that from May 1st through the forth Saturday in June an angler could keep only one bass.
Outside of this period, says the Ohio Division of Wildlife, and which presented the proposals to the Council, the existing five-bass daily limit and 14-inch minimum size limit would still apply.
“The reason for the proposal would help answer the question of what an angler would have to do if he or she caught a new state record smallmouth bass from Lake Erie and would then be forced to release it or else be caught breaking the law,” said John Windau, the Wildlife Division spokesman.
Under rules established by the Outdoor Writers of Ohio’s State Record Fish Committee which maintains Ohio’s list of record fish, an applicant must obey all state fishing regulations but also is required to present the specimen to a Wildlife Division fisheries biologist for species verification.
This stipulation would thus prevent keeping and killing a potential new state record bass since doing so would violate the Record Fish Committee rule of obeying all fishing regulations. Yet by releasing the fish the angler would void the rule of requiring that the fish be presented for weighing on a certified scale and for verification by a fisheries scientist. In other words: Catch-22.
“The rule proposal change also will also a person catching a bass of a lifetime to keep it for mounting,” Windau said.
Windau noted that the Wildlife Division did not present any rule change proposals impacting potential alterations to the daily bag limit on either Lake Erie-caught walleye or yellow perch. That is because the various Great Lakes states and the province of Ontario meets each late winter to discuss the coming year’s quotas and establish seasons and d bag limits. Those proposals are typically presented in March, said Windau.
However, other proposals and other rules items presented by the Wildlife Division to the Council July 11th did include:
Changes were proposed to crappie size and bag limits at certain waters. It was proposed that the 30-fish daily bag limit and the 9-inch minimum size limit for crappie be removed at the following lakes and reservoirs: Acton, Cledening, Hargus, Highlandtown, Knox, Madison, Nimisila, Rush Creek and Springfield lakes; C.J. Brown, Clear Fork, Griggs and West Branch reservoirs. Removal of these regulations is expected to improve the crappie fisheries at these locations as well as provide anglers more opportunities to harvest fish from these areas.