Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Ohio DNR flip-flops on demotion-promotion of key law supervisor

An Ohio Department of Natural Resources law enforcement administrator who was demoted December 13th, 2018 for serious failures as a supervisor by the-then Kasich Administration was promoted May 29th by the DeWine Administration.

Returning to Natural Resources Administrator 4 posting to head up the agency’s Lake Erie parks and watercraft law enforcement unit is Patrick R. Brown who is to collect $49.22 per hour. This is $2.46 per hour more than Brown earned during his five-month demotion to Administrator 3.

In a teleconference interview, Natural Resources Director Mary Mertz said she was not specifically involved in Brown’s subsequent promotion. However, Mertz says she has confidence in the people who were behind the shock probation, explaining the individuals she selected as first- and second-tier administrators when she became director “are excellent people.”

Glenn Cobb, chief of the Ohio Division of Parks and Watercraft, was directly involved in Brown’s reinstatement. Cobb said Brown “deserved a second chance.”

Mertz also blamed much of the associated issues that saw Brown get into hot water were the result of paperwork snafus that confused and distorted what field staff and supervisors were responsible for and how they were to report issues.

For his part, Brown declined to comment, noting that his superiors provided the applicable information.

Yet a detailed 10-page investigation conducted departmentally in-house by Peter Novotny, assistant chief of the Ohio Division of Wildlife, points toward supervisory shortcomings by Brown.

This report was filed internally October 19th, 2018, and was obtained via Ohio’s open record laws by John Davis, the now-retired Natural Resources law enforcement chief, and a former Wildlife Division wildlife officer assigned to Wildlife District Three (Northeast Ohio).

Novotny’s report details six egregious supervisory miscues, noting in the document that Brown’s “.. enforcement staff has had multiple issues of evidence mismanagement, failure to conduct proper criminal investigations, adhere to policy, and process reports in a timely manner.”

Among the report’s findings of supervisory deficiencies was a failure to ensure that “sensitive” law enforcement equipment be properly retrieved and inventoried from an officer placed on temporary medical disability. This equipment included a taser, body armor, uniform items, badges and a firearm, Novothy’s report found.

“The investigation shows that Lt. Colonel Pat Brown failed to provide supervision by not ensuring that law enforcement equipment that was issued to (name withheld by writer) was secured when she was separated from ODNR.”

A more serious matter occurred December 29th, 2017 when a search warrant was conducted on a camper located at 4,870-acre East Fork State Park in Clermont County. This “...camper was not properly seized or secured while in possession of ODNR” but “was simply left” at the campsite where it was broken into with items stolen, thus breaking the chain of evidence, Novotny’s investigation says.

Subsequently, the camper was “…eventually stolen from the State Park and later recovered at a private residence,” Novotny’s investigative report reads.

While the investigator of the case was demoted – and whom Cobb did not entirely rule out eventually being promoted - Brown was singled out in Novotny’s investigation for failing to “...provide adequate supervision and guidance once he recognized a major issue in timely reporting...” into the Natural Resources Department’s reporting/filing system.

By far the most flagrant lack of adequate supervision began June 30th, 2017. That instance involved “...an alleged rape of a juvenile was reported on Pymatuning Lake,” Novotny’s 10-page investigation findings reveal. Pymatuning Reservoir and the Ohio State Park are located in Ashtabula County.

Novotny’s work found that the investigator in the alleged rape case - as well as “all his supervisors” - how his work was not being completed within departmental paperwork guidelines and procedures.

The investigation says Brown was notified via four separate e-mails how the investigator – who was eventually reassigned, Cobb said - “was failing to complete this case starting on February 2018 to May 2018.”

“Brown stated that he never opened the sex offense case report to check the details or progress. Brown just assumed that all cases are being handled accordingly and this report is simply an administrative oversight.”

“This investigation shows that Lt. Colonel Pat Brown failed to supervise Investigator (name withheld by writer) handling of a major crime. Brown was aware that there were issues with (name withheld by writer) work and should have taken steps to ensure this case was properly investigated. The sexual assault case remained open and showed no work completed since December of 2017,” Novotny’s investigative report says.

Ultimately on December 12th, 2018, Brown was presented with a Natural Resources Department “Discipline Agreement” affidavit affirming his demotion to Natural Resources Administrator 3 with a reduction in pay. This document was signed by Brown and two other Natural Resources Department officials with the agency’s official Personnel Actions Report being filed the next day.

The agreement did allow Brown to retain his law enforcement commission, and also spelled out that his duties could include – but were not limited to - “...preparing grant applications, coast guard reporting, supervision of non-law-enforcement personnel, and at least 20% law enforcement duties.”

In looking at the 10-page investigation by Novotny and the subsequent demotion of Brown, both Mertz and Cobb concluded no serious breach of supervision by the officer ensued. Instead, Mertz stated as to how she is “confident he (Brown) can do the job” in his newly appointed law enforcement supervisory position, and that Brown will “attack the challenges with a lot of energy.”

Furthermore, Cobb said Brown deserved “a second chance” and that the issues outlined in Novotny’s investigation did not rise to a level which warranted keeping Brown at the Natural Resources Administrator 3 level.

“I felt Mr. Brown accepted some responsibility,” Cobb said.

If anything, Mertz said, the failure was really not the fault of beggared leadership style or impoverished supervisory skills. Rather, it was due to a systemic failure of a hold-over reporting and filing system of required paperwork.

To that end, Mertz says, her team is all ready tackling the problem. The Natural Resources Department, Mertz says, is the process of replacing the old reporting-filing paperwork system with an all-new and much improved model. And all department employees will undergo rigorous retooling as to how to properly and accurately dot the “Is” and cross the “Ts.”

“I am doing and putting together the best team for the best (product) for the taxpayers of Ohio,” Mertz said.

Skeptical is Davis whose career in later years was typically out of the public’s purview, often being involved in internal affairs. His work experience also included exposure as a wildlife officer assigned to Summit County.

Davis likewise emphasized in a telephone interview that he has no axe to grind with anyone, including Brown whom Davis says is an engaging person with a kindly persona.

Yet Davis says he came forward to Mertz with a personal appeal and the FOI documents because he believes her Natural Resources Department “is not on the right track” and remains as dysfunctional as ever.

“It all comes back to doing the same things that we saw were being done before,” Davis said. “It’s just like the hands on a clock that keep going round and round.”


- Jeffrey L. Frschkorn
JFrischk@Ameritech.net

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Serious plant disease found in rhododenron stock sold in Ohio

No point in trying to embellish or change anything here but report as is the information of a serious plant disease that has infected stock sold at some Walmart and Rural King stores in Ohio.
The information from the Ohio Department of Agriculture is as follows:
The Ohio Department of Agriculture (ODA), in coordination with USDA Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (USDA-APHIS), has detected sudden oak death caused by Phytophthora ramorum on rhododendron plants shipped to Walmart and Rural King stores throughout the state.
Both retailers have agreed to initiate a voluntary recall of plants from their stores.
It was recently confirmed that Ohio is one of several Midwest states that have received infected plant material. Approximately 1,600 rhododendron plants from the infected nursery were shipped to Ohio retailers. This shipment went to at least 17 other states.
Gardeners and homeowners who have recently purchased a rhododendron from Walmart or Rural King should monitor the plant for signs of disease, including leaf spots and shoot dieback. It is also advised that Ohioans who purchased rhododendrons or lilac plants from these stores between March and May of this year to dispose of them to prevent further spread of the disease.
Plants can be destroyed by burning, deep burial or double-bagging the plant, including the root ball, in heavy duty trash bags for disposal into a sanitary landfill (where allowable).
Consumers should not compost or dispose of the plant material in municipal yard waste. Garden tools used on any affected plants should be sanitized with bleach or 91% (or higher) alcohol before they are used again.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
JFrischk@Ameritech.net

Thursday, July 11, 2019

Ohio moving forward to allow anglers to use up to three fishing outfits

In what is be heralded by Lake Erie walleye and steelheader fishers as a long overdue move, the Ohio Division of Wildlife is moving toward allowing more than two fishing rods per angler.

Under rules proposed by the agency - and presented July 10th to the eight-member Ohio Wildlife Council - “the Division of Wildlife (has) proposed to increase the number of lines per angler to three while fishing in Ohio’s portion of Lake Erie, including areas immediately upstream in creeks, rivers and tributaries,” said the agency in a prepared statement.

The statement said also that under current regulations, an angler can fish with up to two lines simultaneously statewide.

If approved – and that prospect is likely – the new rules would take effect January 1st, 2020. Until then, however, the two-rod rule still applies.

The proposed change is a hit with some Lake Erie charter captains and anglers though doubts exist as to whether allowing a trio of fishing poles by one person who is angling on a public pier is a good thing.

It’s a wonderful thing,” said Marv DeGreen, of Geauga County’s Huntsburg Township and owner of Evil Eye Charters which operates out of the Grand River.

Asked if he’ll use three rods per each of his clients, DeGreen said an occasion or two are possible. These situations will likely arise when his charter has fewer than the maximum six person charter captain’s license allows or when experimenting with different lures is needed.

Thing is, the limit will still be six walleye whether a person is using three rods or two,” DeGreen said. “Really this change is long overdue, and a lot of other states have all ready made this switch.”

DeGreen, however, was less than enthusiastic about the rule change proposal allowing shore-bound anglers fishing from public piers, docks, breakwaters and the like to use more than two rods each.

The reason being, is because an angler can spread out his or her rigs so far and wide that it would take just a few fishers to legally limit access to others on public land-based fishing holes.

I don’t think that’s such a good idea,” DeGreen said.
Among other proposed Ohio fishing regulation changes are:

* On the Ohio River, reduce the combined daily bag limit of sauger, saugeye or walleye to six fish. An additional proposal would establish the sauger, saugeye and walleye length limit at 14 inches in the western fishing unit (South Point west to the Indiana state line). These proposals are designed to align Ohio River fishing regulations with bordering states.

*Move Ohio’s free fishing dates to Father’s Day weekend, annually. The current free fishing 
dates are the first Saturday and Sunday in May. Father’s Day is on the third Sunday in June.

* Existing fishing regulations at American Electric Power’s ReCreation Lands are proposed to remain at Jesse Owens State Park and Wildlife Area.

* Access to Eagle Creek Wildlife Area in Brown County would be by special permit only from September 1st through May 31st, annually. No access permit would be required from June 1st through August.31st, annually. It was proposed that Eagle Creek Wildlife Area will be reserved as a space where beginning hunters can participate in mentored hunts, and access will be granted through a drawing system.

* Remove Sloan’s crayfish from Ohio’s list of threatened species. A strong population of Sloan’s crayfish has been documented within its native Ohio range.

* Since Killdeer Plains Wildlife Area reservoir has been drained, it is being recommended be removed from site-specific regulations.

A complete list of proposals is available at wildohio.gov. A statewide public hearing on the proposed rules will be held at the ODNR Division of Wildlife’s District One office on Thursday, September 12th at 9 a.m.
The office is located at 1500 Dublin Road, Columbus 43215. For those unable to attend the hearing, comments will also be accepted online at wildohio.gov. The online form will be available in August.
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, October 9th.

- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
JFrischk@Ameritech.net 


Wednesday, July 10, 2019

Lake Erie's predator-prey fisheries relationship a duet of many mouths to feed

With Lake Erie’s top-end predator population having filled nearly all of its nooks and crannies the status of the supporting forage has never become more vital.

And the verdict from Ohio Division of Wildlife is “good.” Well, probably good, anyway, with some signs of stretch marks. These indicators appeared following the several recent arrivals of abundant hatches of walleye. So much so the lakewide population of walleye is pegged at 41 million fish, more than anywhere else on earth.

And in some places, particularly in the lake’s Western Basin, pretty respectable numbers of yellow perch exist as well.

Yet savvy anglers are beginning to notice some peculiarities, especially when it comes time to fillet the walleye they catch. Often the dissected walleye are being seen to have little in their stomachs though the pre-gutted fish do appear healthy overall.

Also, another key anecdotal point is while some walleye fishers report seeing images on their electronic fish finders of clouds of bait, these electronic snapshots suggest a greater than usual randomness to their frequency.

Among the puzzled anglers is Huntsburg Township (Geauga County) licensed charter captain Marv DeGreen. DeGreen operates his “Evil Eye” charters out of the Grand River.

On one recent outing DeGreen said he hadn’t viewed on his fish finder’s video screen much in the way of what one could call “clouds” of bait. However, the next day while trolling in 70 feet of water, DeGreen said his fish finder showed massively large images of rainbow smelt. His assurances that these underwater thunderheads were made up of smelt were bolstered by the walleye and steelhead his customers reeled in.

The fish were regurgitating smelt when we brought them in with the net, and the cooler had a lot of smelt the fish had tossed up,” DeGreen said. “No question, the walleye are hungry and are looking for forage to eat.”

Mentor angler Bob Ashley has visualized similar incidences of this here-and-there forage partially cloudy conditions while angling off the Mentor Lagoons.

When asked what he’s been finding in the stomachs of the walleye that he and his friends have taken and then cleaned, Ashley’s answer was blunt and to the point: “Nothing.”

Even so, a lot of agency optimism exists regarding the overall health of Lake Erie’s forage base along with its varied top-end predator populations, says Wildlife Division fisheries biologists Travis Hartman and Tim Bader.

Hartman is in charge of the Wildlife Division’s Lake Erie fisheries section and works out of the agency’s Sandusky office. Meanwhile, Bader is a fisheries scientist who toils over trawling, gill netting and other data collected on behalf of the agency’s Fairport Harbor Fisheries Research Station.

The really good news is that Lake Erie is by far the most productive of all the five Great Lakes,” Hartman said. “It has the most abundance and the most diversity when it comes to forage.”

Such diversity runs from native species to exotic interlopers – which increasingly have become vital in Lake Erie’s predator-prey relationship. Among the natives are emerald and spot-tail shiners, mayflies as well as so-called midges.

Among the exotics are such species as gizzard shad, rainbow smelt, spiny water “fleas,” white perch, and gobies. Several of these species have occupied Lake Erie’s floor space for so long that for all practical purposes they are now biologically stamped with the “Made In America” label. Yet they remain what they are: Invasives that have succeeded as immigrants.

Smelt populations are down overall but we are seeing good populations of gizzard shad, and we’re also seeing improvement in our emerald shiner populations,” Hartman said, continuing.

Down as well are round gobies with the 2019 international Lake Erie Forage Task Force report citing this species population – in the lake’s Western Basin at least - as being “… the lowest since the fish was first detected in the west basin (1997).”

And the joint U.S.-Canadian Forage Task Force report also says for Lake Erie’s Central Basin that “Forage abundance in Ohio waters has generally decreased since 2012. In 2018, most forage species continued to decline and are at the lowest densities since 1993.”

Even so, Hartman acknowledges how forage abundance and large doses of predators has coincided before. Such a coalescence came about during the 1980s; often referred to as the “good old days” of Lake Erie walleye angling. Or at least they were before this current hot streak of walleye fishing.

Hartman does say too that a walleye will not shy away from eating anything that comes across its path, among the menu items being small yellow perch, and even their own progeny.

We do see small yellow perch show up in the stomach contents of the walleye we sample but it’s less than 20 percent,” Hartman said.

Walleye that have – for whatever reason - gathered off the mouths of the six rivers the Ohio Division of Wildlife stocks annually with 450,000 steelhead are not above eating these soft-rayed smolts, either, added Hartman.

But we don’t have much actual data on that,” Hartman admitted.

Still, information collection of all kinds is vital. Such work includes checking the stomach contents of the fish the Wildlife Division encounters during its annual Central Basin summer-time trawls and seasonal gill net operations. All are important metrics in judging the health of both Lake Erie’s predator and prey populations, says Bader.

For that work the Fairport Fisheries Research Station continues to employ its 29-year-old fisheries research vessel, the “Grandon.”

In the summer we see a mixed bag of prey the walleye feed on: white perch, shiners and smelt,” Bader said. “In the fall we see a switch to predominately young gizzard shad, fish that are six to eight inches long: something that can easily fit inside a walleye’s mouth.”

In regards to the importance of invertebrates, both Hartman and Bader said these creatures are essential prey for both walleye and yellow perch.

In the lake’s Western Basin this invertebrate biomass largely consists of mayfly larvae that pupate and ascend through the water column toward the surface. There the mayflies emerge as mating adults. In the lake’s Central Basin, the chief invertebrate are the infamous – and native - “midges,” or “muffleheads.” Scientifically, these non-biting fellows are labeled Chironomous plumosus.

The midges are more important to a yellow perch’s diet than they are a walleye’s diet, though the mayfly in the Western Basin is important to that latter species.” Bader said.

So while Lake Erie has a current huge diversity and abundance of available prey, the notion the 9,910 square mile body of water has reached the predator-base saturation point is unlikely, though not entirely out of the equation.

That’s a good question,” Hartman said, mulling over the idea. “I don’t have a definitive answer since fish production is such a variable, but I will say Lake Erie has excellent productivity for both prey and predators.”

For now, at least, that observation will have to suffice.


- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
JFrischk@Ameritech.net

Saturday, July 6, 2019

Fish Ohio program's pins a bit late in arriving for anglers' fishing hats

With the state’s ever-popular Fish Ohio program now at middle-age, a few creaks and groans are only natural to the maturation process.

As a result, several thousand anglers are going to have to wait a while longer before receiving their Fish Ohio pins. The artist in charge of designing the pin’s motif and working with the approved manufacturing vendor has been swamped with other projects, says Vicki Farus, the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s Fish Ohio program’s administrator.

We are in the process of having the pins made and we hope to have them ready to send out by mid-August,” Farus told “Ohio Outdoor News” in a recent telephone interview.

Such a delay would mean that the pins are about two months behind from when they typically begin being sent out in batches.

But we usually don’t see a lot of Fish Ohio applications entered on line early in the year anyway,” Farus said.

To date, Farus notes, the Wildlife Division has recorded via electronic means the submission of 4,711 Fish Ohio applications. Last year at the same point the agency had recorded on-line some 5,144 Fish Ohio applications. The drop is being associated with the poor weather that struck the entire state throughout the spring and into the first weeks of summer, and consequently, reduced angling activity.

Regarding the program itself, this year’s Fish Ohio pin will depict a pumpkinseed sunfish. While the bluegill sunfish has appeared on a few previous Fish Ohio pin renditions – most recently in 2009 – its more colorful cousin, the pumpkinseed sunfish, has never appeared.

The Fish Ohio program does predate by a year or two the issuance of pins but that latter give-away has helped spark interest in the Wildlife Division’s agenda in promoting the state’s recreational fishing opportunities.

The first Fish Ohio pin was a small oval model made of pewter and featured a smallmouth bass. This pin was issued in 1980. Thus, 2020 will mark the 40th anniversary of the Fish Ohio program’s pin distribution.

Such an occasion may justify the Wildlife Division designing and issuing a commemorative pin marking the program’s unique anniversary mile post, just as the Wildlife Division did with its 20th anniversary pin in 2000, Farus says and who has been with the program for 18 years.

Oh, my gosh, eighteen years,” Farus said with a startled chuckle.

Farus said the pins have undergone various modifications over their 39 year span but the basics have largely remained the same: a soft, struck brass body, enamel paint, and a clear epoxy coat. And a design that represents one of the program’s various recognized species, which has ebbed and flowed in numbers and species over the ears.

While each pin costs 37 cents to produce they do cost about $3 each to send. This is necessitated by the requirement to use a blister-style envelope that protects the cargo. And which explains why applicants receive a pin for just their first entry only.

That is, unless they enter a fish from at least four qualifying species, in which case they become eligible to eventually receive a stepped-up Fish Ohio Master Angler pin plus a certificate.

In all, the Wildlife Division produces enough pins to ensure that one goes to each eligible entrant with enough lapel-hat medals left over for to present as give-away tokens at agency youth fishing events, Farus said.

The kids love them,” Farus said.

So do adults with all entrants submitting their applications via the Wildlife Division’s web site and its fishing section portal. From here the entries are recorded electronically. At the same time an entrant can print out on a home printer a colorful certificate of the trophy fish catch, including using either Wildlife Division supplied artwork of the submitted species or else the person attaching a photographic image of the actual fish being submitted.

I’m not aware of any other state that has a trophy fish awards program quite like our Fish Ohio program that includes a collectible pin that changes its design every year,” Farus said.


- Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
JFrischk@Ameritech.net

Wednesday, July 3, 2019

Time to dethrone Lake Erie's Western Basin as "The Walleye Capital Of The World"

I said I didn't have much use for one. Didn't say I didn't know how to use it.” Tom Selleck as Matthew Quigley, “Quigley Down Under”

PORT CLINTON – As 40th anniversary parties go the Lake Erie Shores and Islands and the Ohio Division of Wildlife really knew how to throw a good bash.

Party favors for the four-decades-old Governor’s Fish Ohio Day event included these really cool soup-size embossed mugs, the traditional assortment of (your choice) Fish Ohio Day hats or sun visors, and most useful of all, Fish Ohio Day towels that can be clipped on a belt. If I were to wear a belt but I don suspenders. Don’t ask; it’s a fat, crippled old man’s thing.

Anyway, the towel was not of much good, at least not on the Lake Erie Charter Boat Association volunteer vessel I was assigned to anyway. For the second consecutive outing I had been assigned to this same boat and for the second consecutive outing the results had the same dismally disappointing outcome; namely lots of fishing but little catching.

And no less in the fabled Lake Erie Western Basin where promotional fluff by the outdoors media, tourism folk and fisheries experts alike pretty much say you don’t even need a fishing pole with the walleye practically jumping into the boat all on their own.

Well, they didn’t on my Fish Ohio Day trip, a fact I had foreseen. I even cautioned a newbie Fish Ohio participant against going on any boat to which I was assigned. A smart warning given that our boat landed just eight walleye.

There is not much of a point to simmer the stew pot too much as to the whys I believe the four guests and the boat operator (I still hesitate to use the word “captain” or “guide” here) did so poorly. Suffice to say, many who know my angling preferences are aware of my general lack of enthusiasm for Lake Erie angling in general and fishing for its walleye in particular. I much prefer streams for hunting steelhead and trout or else farm ponds and lakes for searching out bass and panfish. Lake Erie is often enough a dull place to fish and the walleye is - also often enough - a dull fish to fish for.

The way I saw it, the boat operator simply didn’t adapt to the challenges, failing to adjust the kind of bait-tossing gear the guests were handed. Just as bad in my opinion was when we trolled, the boat speed was not dialed back from 2.4-2.5 miles per hour – which is great if you are after salmon but terribly quick by at least one-half mile per hour if it’s walleye you are seeking.

It’s sort of like that lead-in quote said by Tom Selleck in his best-ever role, Matthew Quigley. I don’t do much Lake Erie walleye fishing but when I do, it’s with an eye toward observation.

Of course, other volunteer charter captains did better. I heard several did much better, in fact. The boat that outdoors writer Steve Pollick was aboard managed to wade through 75 fish in order to secure its limit of fish, for example.

Anyway, those personal appraisals aside, the trip got me to thinking. Lake Erie is rightfully called “The Walleye Capital Of The World.” I harbor no ill thoughts against that title which was coined during the first-ever Fish Ohio Day by then-governor James A Rhodes. And six Ohio governors later the case for that claim remains solid and indisputable.

Nor can I fault the western end of Lake Erie for attempting to place on its head the title’s crown.

Only it’s not, and not by a long shot. Fact is, after observing for more than 40 years the fishing techniques of professional and non-professional anglers alike in both the lake’s Western Basin and Central Basin, I have come to believe that the latter are better at the game.

For starters, they are quicker to learn from others. When in the late 1980s an early 1990s the Central Basin played host to a series of professional walleye contests the anglers here more readily adopted and then amended their techniques.

The same goes for their equipment as well. Central Basin fishers soon learned that in-line planer boards are sometimes better than the outrigger styles, the former allowing a boat to swerve rapidly back into a small pod of fish. They also began tooling with Jet and directional divers earlier, experimenting with downriggers and heaven knows what else.

For any number of them – not all, of course, but for the smart ones in the Central Basin – fishing became as much (or more) of an educational challenge than one of simply catching walleye.

They also hooked on to night walleye fishing, starting at the western fringe of the Central Basin and working east. Admittedly, most late-season Central Basin walleye hunters have not gotten it into their heads yet that the night bite can be just as good off the Chagrin and Grand rivers as it is off Cleveland. I suspect it’s only a matter of time before they figure that one out on their own or via social media.

The Ohio Department of Natural Resources is equal in sharing blame for the disparity as to which side of the lake is best worthy of the title. Almost certainly this indifference is not intentional though it does exist. The Governor’s Fish Ohio Day’s location, for instance, has budged hardly a dozen or so miles in four decades. It’s stuck in a rut, as if participants would plummet off the earth if they were to travel east of Kelleys Island.

And not lost is the agency’s own words, or a lack of them, if you please. A look at this year’s four-page full-color Fish Ohio Day pass-out has the Wildlife Division’s expected blessing regarding the lake’s walleye and perch fisheries, including a mention of the Central Basin, thank you.

Yet near the last part of the document is the heading “Additional opportunities” and you’ll read points about the lake’s smallmouth bass and even largemouth bass.

However, no where in “Additional opportunities” does the Wildlife Division even bother to cite steelhead, a tremendously illustrative oversight, if truth be told. Look at just about any Central Basin charter captain’s business card and you’ll likely see the word “steelhead,” printed alongside “walleye,” “perch,” and “bass” as the boat’s targets. Many of these charters even proudly proclaim they go after trout by plastering the side of their vessels with that important detail – and one Western Basin charter captains cannot honestly use.

Come to think about, I cannot recall ever hearing any Natural Resources director, deputy director, assistant director, Wildlife Division chief ever even mentioning coming to fish down this way. If they do, I suspect it’s not on a regular basis or with the same promotional zeal they hold for the lake’s Western Basin.

Perhaps the highway watershed out of Columbus to the Western Basin runs more swiftly and with a wider estuary than it does toward the Central Basin.

I will give you this, though, the charter captains and the tourism folks of the Western Basin outshine their counterparts in the Central Basin when it comes to promotion They have been much, much better – and much, much more successful – at energizing their respective bases in competently convincing the country how the Western Basin is the Walleye Capital of the World.

But I’m here to tell you that while Lake Erie is unquestionably the Walleye Capital of the World, Port Clinton is not its White House. For my money I’d say that crown belongs to Geneva, which in many respects is like the Western Basin’s Put-in-Bay.

I am also firmly convinced that any Central Basin angler – be he a good private fisher or a licensed fishing guide – would more certainly fill the cooler with a boat limit of larger walleye. Or else die trying.

- By Jeffrey L. Frischkorn
JFrischk@Ameritech.net