Outdoors news briefs


Staff Reports



Venison Donated to Local Food Pantries

COLUMBUS — Approximately 1,000 pounds of ground venison was recently distributed to food pantries in Logan and Union Counties, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).

This large donation to help feed those in need was a cooperative effort between Transportation Research Center (TRC) Incorporated, Ohio sportsmen and women, the ODNR Division of Wildlife, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

TRC Inc. has been working with wildlife management professionals to reduce deer densities that are causing significant property damage and pose a threat to human safety on TRC Inc.’s high-speed vehicle testing track facility. High deer densities in this area also impact motorists traveling on U.S. Route 33, a major travel corridor for commuters traveling to Columbus and Honda of America, in central Ohio.

Partners devised a management plan that allowed access to 60 deer hunters during the 2017-2018 statewide deer season. This unique program provided access and opportunity for recreational hunting and resulted in 75 deer being harvested, reducing the local herd size and benefiting businesses and improving safety for motorists.

Venison that is donated must be processed by a state, inspected and insured meat processor. For more information on donating your harvest visit wildohio.gov.

Ohioans Fish for Free the First Weekend in May

May 5-6 is Ohio’s free fishing weekend

Ohio is known for its world-class fishing, and on May 5-6, anglers are invited to take part in the annual free fishing weekend, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). Ohio’s Free Fishing Days are open to all Ohio residents and extend to all of Ohio’s public waters, including Lake Erie and the Ohio River. This is the only weekend all year that does not require anyone 16-years-old or older to obtain a fishing license.

The ODNR Division of Wildlife’s six fish hatcheries stocked more than 66 million sport fish in public waters in 2017, including walleye, saugeye, steelhead, rainbow trout, brown trout, muskellunge, channel catfish, blue catfish and hybrid striped bass, which will provide opportunities for more than 1.3 million Ohio anglers.

Ohio State Parks is also offering a camping discount during Ohio’s Free Fishing Days. Campers can receive a 20 percent off discount May 4-6 by using the promotion code 18ANGLER.

The Free Fishing Days weekend offers Ohioans of all ages the chance to experience the fun of catching a fish. Here are some helpful tips for taking a youngster out fishing.

Keep the trip simple by considering a child’s age and skill level.

Choose a pond, lake or stream where children will be able to easily catch a few fish.

A spin-cast reel is usually the easiest for kids to use.

Bring a camera and snacks.

Be patient – plan on spending time untangling lines, baiting hooks, landing fish and taking pictures.

Most of all, have fun.

Anglers 16 years and older are required to have a valid fishing license to take fish, frogs or turtles from Ohio waters when not fishing on Ohio’s free fishing weekend. An Ohio resident fishing license is only $19 a year for residents. Fishing licenses are available at participating agents and wildohio.gov.

The sales of fishing licenses, along with the Sport Fish Restoration (SFR) program, continue to fund ODNR Division of Wildlife’s fish management operations. No state tax dollars are used for these activities. These are user-pay, user-benefit programs.

The SFR is a partnership between federal and state governments, industry and anglers/boaters. When anglers purchase rods, reels, fishing tackle, fish finder and motor boat fuel, they pay an excise tax. The federal government collects these taxes, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service administers and disburses these funds to state fish and wildlife agencies. These funds are used to acquire habitat, produce and stock fish, conduct research and surveys, provide aquatic education, and acquire and develop boat accesses.

ODNR Announces Seasonal APV Areas Now Open

Outdoor enthusiasts can enjoy the spring weather at one of the state’s designated All-Purpose Vehicle (APV) areas, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). The APV areas are located on four state forest properties—Maumee in northwest Ohio, Pike and Richland Furnace in southern Ohio and Perry in east-central Ohio.

Pike, Richland Furnace and Perry state forests are now open for APV trail use, and they will close in the fall following the last day of regular deer-gun season. Riders should know that the Pike State Forest APV Area is open through April 8, then it will be closed from April 9 until noon on April 15 to allow for the Thunder in the Hills Turkey Hunt for disabled hunters.

The APV area at Maumee State Forest is open year-round, and snowmobile use is allowed when conditions permit. The APV areas are maintained by the ODNR Division of Forestry.

Funds from each APV registration are deposited into the State Recreational Vehicle Fund and are used by the ODNR Division of Forestry for projects that directly support the state’s APV areas.

Trail users must have a valid APV registration obtained through the Ohio Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV). Riders must wear the required safety gear, which includes helmets and eye protection. APVs, including utility vehicles (UTVs), may be up to 62 inches in width as long as valid title and registration have been acquired through the BMV. People should know there is a requirement for an out-of-state registration for visitors from states without similar registration laws. Additionally, there are requirements for a spark arrestor and a muffler to be compliant with industry-standard sound limitations.

The ODNR Division of Forestry works to promote the wise use and sustainable management of Ohio’s public and private woodlands. To learn more about Ohio’s woodlands, visit forestry.ohiodnr.gov.

2018 Lake Erie Sport Fishing Outlook Shares Great News for Anglers

Walleye and yellow perch bag limits announced

Lake Erie anglers should experience another year of diverse fishing opportunities in 2018, according to Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). Great walleye hatches from 2014 and 2015 are expected to contribute to exceptional fishing opportunities in Lake Erie this year. Anglers pursuing yellow perch in Lake Erie’s Western Basin will likely find excellent numbers and size.

Lake Erie walleye and yellow perch fisheries are managed through an interagency quota system that involves Ontario, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York and Ohio. Each jurisdiction regulates its catches to comply with annually determined safe harvest levels that minimize the risk of over-fishing these species. Quotas for the upcoming fishing season are determined through consensus agreement by these jurisdictions through the Lake Erie Committee of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, which were just recently announced for 2018.

Currently, the walleye daily bag limit is four, and the yellow perch daily bag limit is 30 per angler in Ohio waters of Lake Erie until April 30. As a result of the 2018 quota allocation, the daily bag limit will be six walleye from May 1 through Feb. 28, 2019. From March 1, 2019, through April 30, 2019, the daily walleye bag limit will be four. A 15-inch minimum size limit is in effect during the entire season for walleye. The yellow perch daily bag limit will be 30 from May 1 through April 30, 2019, with no minimum size limit. Lake Erie anglers can find walleye and yellow perch bag limit information at ODNR offices, in special publications at bait and tackle shops and at wildohio.gov.

Walleye

Ohio walleye anglers will catch fish mostly from the 2015 and 2014 hatches, with some fish from the 2010 through 2013 year classes. Additional trophy opportunities from 2007 and 2003 will also be encountered by anglers. Many of the previously undersized walleye from the 2015 hatch will range from 15 to 20 inches during the 2018 season. Walleye from the 2014 hatch will range from 16 to 24 inches and accounted for just over half of the 2017 harvest of 1.3 million fish. Fish from the 2003 and 2007 hatches will continue to provide “Fish Ohio” opportunities (greater than 28 inches) and may give Ohio a new state record walleye. The 2017 walleye hatch was near average, giving the population its third average or larger year class in the past four years. Anglers should expect to catch undersized walleye until these fish grow to legal size late in the 2019 season. Anglers are encouraged to release these fish with as little handling as possible so they can contribute to the fishery in the future.

Yellow Perch

Anglers can expect excellent perch fishing in the Western Basin in 2018. Perch anglers in the west will primarily catch fish from 2014 and 2015, providing a good range of sizes. Fall fishing in 2017 produced both excellent sizes and catch rates. The largest perch in the Western Basin will come from 2013 and older year classes. In the Central Basin, anglers should expect perch fishing to be similar to 2017. Central Basin yellow perch populations have declined from the record levels set 10 years ago, but remain near their long-term average despite lower than expected catch rates. Anglers fishing in the Central Basin will primarily catch fish from the 2014 year class, and older year classes will provide the potential for trophy yellow perch.

Black Bass

Smallmouth bass fishing in 2018 is expected to be consistent with recent years. In 2017, smallmouth bass catch rates remained strong for the sixth consecutive year, and in 2018, anglers should expect more of the same, including an excellent size range of 14 to 22 inches and fish weighing up to 6 pounds. The best fishing for smallmouth bass will continue to be in areas with good bottom structure, which is the available habitat across much of the entire Ohio nearshore and islands.

Continuing the trend from previous years, largemouth bass fishing should be excellent in 2018. This fishery continues to produce exceptional catch rates and some large fish in nearshore areas and harbors across Ohio’s Lake Erie. All black bass (smallmouth and largemouth) must be immediately released from May 1 through June 29. Beginning on Saturday, June 30, the daily bag limit for bass will be five, with a 14-inch minimum length limit.

Steelhead

Steelhead anglers should enjoy another year of great fishing in 2018 in Ohio’s Lake Erie open waters and in tributaries. Peak summer steelhead action on Lake Erie can be found offshore from June through August between Vermilion and Conneaut, with catches measuring 17 to 29 inches. Most Lake Erie anglers troll for steelhead in deep waters using spoons with divers or downriggers until fish move close to shore in the fall. The daily bag limit remains at five fish per angler from May 16 through Aug. 31, and two fish per angler between Sept. 1 and May 15, 2019. A 12-inch minimum size limit is in effect throughout the year.

White Bass

White bass continue to provide excellent seasonal fishing opportunities in the Maumee and Sandusky rivers and in the open lake. The 2018 catch will again be dominated by fish from the 2012 and 2010 year classes, along with younger fish from 2016. Fish from older year classes could be as large as 16 inches. Anglers should focus on major Western Basin tributaries during May and June and nearshore areas of the open lake during the summer. There is no white bass daily bag limit or size limit.

Other Species

Bays, harbors and main lake shorelines offer excellent fishing for panfish, as well as occasional northern pike and muskellunge in vegetated areas.

Anglers are reminded that fishing conditions on Lake Erie can change hourly, and adjustments are often necessary to improve success. Anglers should take into account factors, such as water temperature, cloud cover, water clarity, boat traffic, wave action, structure, currents and the amount of baitfish in the area. Anglers are also reminded to carefully monitor Lake Erie weather and to seek safe harbor before storms approach.

Updated Lake Erie fishing reports are available at wildohio.gov or by calling 888-HOOKFISH (888-466-5347). Information is available from ODNR Division of Wildlife staff from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays at the Fairport Harbor station (440-352-4199) for the Central Basin and at Sandusky Station (419-625-8062) for the Western Basin.

Information on the ODNR Division of Wildlife’s Lake Erie research and management programs, fisheries resources, fishing reports, maps and links to other Lake Erie web resources are available at wildohio.gov.

Hunters Prepare for Ohio’s 2018 Spring Wild Turkey Season

Youth-only hunt set for April 21-22

For many hunters, spring brings the unmistakable sound of gobbling wild turkeys as Ohio’s annual hunt of this popular game bird begins. The youth wild turkey season will occur on Saturday and Sunday, April 21-22, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). The state is divided into two zones for spring turkey hunting: a south zone, which opens to hunters on Monday, April 23, and a northeast zone, which opens to hunters on Monday, April 30. Hunters can view the 2018 spring turkey season zone map at wildohio.gov.

The ODNR Division of Wildlife anticipates approximately 65,000 licensed hunters, not counting exempt landowners hunting on their own property, will enjoy Ohio’s popular spring wild turkey season before it ends on Sunday, May 20, in the south zone, and Sunday, May 27, in the northeast zone. The spring and youth turkey seasons are open statewide with the exception of Lake La Su An Wildlife Area in Williams County, which requires a special hunting permit.

All hunters are required to have a hunting license and a spring turkey hunting permit. Non-residents should be aware that the non-resident hunting license and spring turkey permit prices have changed for 2018.

The spring season bag limit is two bearded turkeys. Hunters can harvest one bearded turkey per day, and a second spring turkey permit can be purchased at any time throughout the spring turkey season. Turkeys must be checked no later than 11:30 p.m. the day of harvest. All hunters must report their turkey harvest using the automated game-check system, which is available online, by phone or at a license agent. A complete list of participating license agents can be found at wildohio.gov. Visit the Turkey Hunting Resources page at wildohio.gov or call 800-WILDLIFE (945-3543) for more information about the game-check process.

The youth-only turkey season is April 21-22 for youth possessing a valid youth hunting license and a turkey permit. Youth hunters must be accompanied by a non-hunting adult, 18 years of age or older. Only two wild turkeys may be checked by a youth hunter during the two-day season. Additionally, if two turkeys are harvested in the youth season, no additional birds may be taken by the youth hunter for the duration of the spring turkey season.

Hunting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise until noon from April 23-May 6 in the south zone and April 30-May 13 in the northeast zone. Hunting hours are 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset from May 7-20 in the south zone and May 14-27 in the northeast zone. Hunting hours during the two-day youth season are 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset.

Hunters may use shotguns or archery equipment to hunt wild turkeys. It is unlawful to hunt turkeys using bait, live decoys or electronic calling devices or to shoot a wild turkey while it is in a tree. The ODNR Division of Wildlife advises turkey hunters wear hunter orange clothing when entering, leaving or moving through hunting areas in order to remain visible to others.

Wild turkeys were extirpated in Ohio by 1904 and were reintroduced in the 1950s by the ODNR Division of Wildlife. Ohio’s first modern-day wild turkey season opened in 1966 in nine counties, and hunters checked 12 birds. The wild turkey harvest topped 1,000 for the first time in 1984. Spring turkey hunting opened statewide in 2000, and Ohio hunters checked more than 20,000 wild turkeys for the first time that year.

New State Wildlife Officer Assigned to Tuscarawas County

AKRON – State Wildlife Officer Michael H. Budd has been assigned to Tuscarawas County, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).

Budd is a 2003 graduate of Northridge High School in Licking County. He received a Bachelor of Science degree in Environmental Science and Natural Resources from The Ohio State University.

Officer Budd had been assigned to Knox County since he began his career with the ODNR Division of Wildlife in 2014. Prior to joining ODNR, Budd held positions with the National Park Service as well as several police departments, holding both a state and Federal commission.

As a state wildlife officer, Budd will have statewide jurisdiction to enforce wildlife regulations, investigate allegations of waterway pollution, protect state property, and make arrests. He will also conduct educational programs, perform fish and wildlife management duties, and advise landowners on dealing with wildlife. State wildlife officers serve an important role as a point of contact with law enforcement and other agencies on topics of mutual interest, providing assistance and expertise.

To reach Officer Budd, call the Wildlife District Three Headquarters in Akron at 330-644-2293. To report suspicious activity involving wildlife, call 1-800-POACHER. Reports can remain anonymous.

Staff Reports

ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov.

ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov.