What do you think of when you think of Ohio? Corn? Houses? Cows? Major league sports? The Buckeyes? The Columbus Zoo?
I bet you don’t automatically think of water.
Ohio is a water-rich state with 60,000 miles of streams — one third of these drain to Lake Erie which has a water surface area of 9,910 square miles, and the rest drain to the Ohio River which measures 450 miles long. All of this water is essential to our everyday needs – drinking water, wildlife habitat, recreation, cooling water for the generation of electricity, agriculture, scenic beauty, and manufacturing – just to name a few.
I can think of no better way to honor our state’s aquatic diversity than by going fishing!
Fishing is an outdoor activity that can be done simply and inexpensively with a cane pole on the side of a pond or along a stream, or can be as elaborate as a day on Lake Erie on a charter boat. Fishing can be enjoyed as a solitary endeavor or as a family outing. It is also a year-round activity. Ice fishing is a unique way to battle cabin fever.
Fishing gives everyone an opportunity to disengage from their electronic devices and learn about not only fishing, but the plants and animals around them. Catching frogs, watching water striders scurrying across the surface, or observing a bald eagle soaring overhead – all contribute to the sense of well being that comes from a few hours spent on the water. Right now is a great time to fish for bass and bluegill since they will soon be finished spawning and are in relatively shallow waters. But Ohio has an array of species guaranteed to lure (another one of my world famous puns!) in anglers of any experience level any time of year.
Here are some tips for a pleasurable and entertaining family experience:
• Keep the trip simple. Close to home, equipment such as a cane pole or spin-cast reel, with snacks and water, will help increase the fun quotient.
• Choose a site where kids can easily catch a few fish. They are excited about any fish, even if it is only big enough to fit on a Triscuit.
• Be patient. As the adult, you will spend much of your time baiting hooks, untangling lines, landing fish, and providing lots of words of encouragement.
• Create fond memories by leaving when the kids ask to do so. That way they will remember fishing as exciting and want to repeat the trip.
• Sunscreen, hats, insect repellent, hand sanitizer and personal flotation devices all help make everyone safe and comfortable.
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Wildlife has extensive fishing information on its website at wildlife.ohiodnr.gov. Anglers 16 years and older are required to purchase a $19 fishing license to take fish, frogs or turtles from Ohio’s waters (except during free fishing days which are held annually in early May). The sales of fishing licenses, along with the Sport Fish Restoration program, fund the division’s fish management program. In addition, the federal government collects an excise tax on purchases of rods, reels, tackle, fish finders and motor boat fuel. Those dollars are administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service which disburses them to state fish and wildlife agencies to acquire habitat, produce and stock fish, conduct research and surveys, provide aquatic education, and develop boat access.
Detailed information on fishing regulations, fish species, public fishing areas and more can be found on the division’s website. Don’t call me because I am celebrating National Go Fishing Day by loading up and goin’ fishin’! I’ll tell you all about the whopper I plan to catch when I get back.
Visit the Delaware Soil & Water Conservation District at www.delawareswcd.org or at www.facebook.com/DelawareSWCD.
Brad Ross is communications specialist at the Delaware Soil and Water Conservation District. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.