Thursday, July 12, 2018

Proposed rule change would protect potential new Ohio record smallmouth bass applicant

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:

Crappie Fishing:
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.

Licensing of Charter Captains:

It is proposed that rules be amended to reflect the modernization of the fishing guide application and issuance program. Applicants will no longer be required to submit a notarized copy of their U.S. Coast Guard license with their fishing guide license application. Applicants can submit a digital copy of the US Coast Guard license as part of the on-line licensing system. This will reduce a burden on the regulated businesses.

Camping at the K H Butler Wildlife Area:

It is proposed that this rule be amended to allow camping at the K H Butler Wildlife Area located in Gallia County which is in Wildlife District four. Camping will be permitted at ten (10) designated camping sites during the time of March 1 to November 30, however camping will be restricted to self-contained camping vehicles only. The K H Butler wildlife area is primarily utilized as a public boat ramp with access on the Ohio River. Providing this opportunity for additional public use will encourage more utilization of this area and encourage travel and fishing in this region.

Dock Fees:

Increase the annual fee for watercraft docking permits at ODNR-Division of Wildlife owned docks.


Changes to ginseng harvest requirements.

Pymatuning Fishing:

It is proposed to amend a rule in order to clarify that the bag limits for walleyes, muskellunge, crappie, or black bass at Pymatuning lake are daily bag limits. This change will provide for consistent regulations with Pennsylvania.

Spotted Bass Name Change And Also Ice Fishing Rule Change:

It is proposed to amend the rule to allow removing the word “Kentucky” when referencing spotted bass. “Kentucky is not part of the common name for this fish.
It is further proposed to clarify the rule which requires fish to be whole or complete while fishing, to include when fishing on or through the ice. This rule applies to all waters where a fishing license is required.

River Otter Trapping Approved Changes:

New counties were approved to open for river otter trapping, as the species is now prevalent in many areas. All counties formerly in Zone “A” have been moved to Zone “B.” In addition, several counties were moved from Zone “C” to Zone “B.”

These counties are: Athens, Gallia, Hocking, Jackson, Lawrence, Meigs, Perry, Scioto and Vinton. All three river otter trapping zones season bag limits have not changed. Total river otter trapping season bag limits are zero otters for Zone A, one otter for Zone B and three otters for Zone C.

Other Proposals:

Additional approved rule changes include increasing quail hunting opportunities at Tri-Valley and Crown City wildlife areas, and allowing the use of attached non-visible light-emitting range finders and other devices when hunting with a longbow or crossbow.

A statewide public hearing on the proposed rules will be held at the ODNR Division of Wildlife’s District One office on Thursday, Sept. 13, at 9 a.m. The office is located at 1500 Dublin Road, Columbus 43215.

The Ohio Wildlife Council is an eight-member board that approves all ODNR Division of Wildlife proposed rules and regulations. The council will vote on the proposed rules and season dates after considering public input at their meeting on Wednesday, Oct. 10.

Council meetings are open to the public. Individuals who want to provide comments on a topic that is currently being considered by council are asked to register at least two days before the meeting by calling 614-265-6304. For those unable to attend the hearing, comments will also be accepted online at The online form will be available in August.

By Jeffrey L. Frischkorn

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