Big as all outdoors

By Dan Armitage, host of Buckeye Sportsman, Ohio’s longest running outdoor radio show

As I write this in mid-April I see a glimmer of light way down the gun barrel after noting that Governor DeWine this week did not extend our stay-at-home orders past the first of this month. We’ll all know more by the time you read this, but hopes are for a gradual return to a new norm in life at home, work and in the outdoors. Hopes also hang on the possibility that some of the lessons learned and practices engaged in will carry over and allow us to derive something positive from these weeks of isolation. Time will tell.

Meanwhile, I hope you all are weathering these times well and enjoying what finally feels like spring. When I am done here I head to our turkey hunting grounds, where wife Maria and I planted our pop-up hunting blind back on Easter Sunday in anticipation of the opener of the gobbler season now underway. The tent-like fabric “hide” is pegged down at the edge of a hilltop wood lot, facing due west across a broad field of corn stubble.

Perhaps I should; say “was” pegged down, for the day after we set up the blind we received 50 mile per hour wind gusts out of — you guessed it — the west. At this point in time I have no idea where the sail-like structure might have blown, but I have hopes that the stakes held and by the time this issue hits your mailbox one of us will have bagged a tom for the backyard smoker. Or at last had some fun together trying.

That’s the best part of being an outdoors-person, especially in these days of distancing. My sports stadium is the big outdoors and last time I checked the gates were wide open, there was plenty of room for all, and admission was free.

 

 

Lake Erie flush with walleye

The Lake Erie Commission has increased the total allowable catch of walleye this year thanks to a record number of fish swimming in Ohio’s Great Lake. Under a binational agreement reached last month, Ohio, Michigan and Ontario are entitled to catch and harvest 10.2 million walleye — an increase of 20% over last year’s 8.5 million fish.

Ohio is entitled to 5.2 million of those fish, which means we get the same six-walleye daily limit in the summer and in the spring, during spawning season, anglers can also catch six fish, an increase from the four fish limit in recent years.

“Each of the past two fishing seasons (2018 and 2019) we set new records for our walleye harvest rate (the number of walleye harvested per hour of fishing effort), and I expect this year to be just as good,” said Travis Hartman, Lake Erie program administrator for the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Wildlife (ODOW).

What’s more, the walleye hatch in the western basin of Lake Erie last year was the second best on record, which bodes well for walleye anglers for years to come.

 

Szuch bad behavior

Speaking of Lake Erie fishing, ODOW has charged Szuch Fishery, Inc. of Curtice, Ohio, with wildlife violations after investigators observed abuse and wanton waste of highly-prized gamefish back in late March.

Division of Wildlife investigators observed and recorded Szuch employees intentionally injure a trophy-sized muskellunge after it was removed from a commercial fishing net in western Lake Erie. Employees were also observed removing numerous gar, a native fish important to the ecosystem, from commercial fishing nets and then breaking their spines and tossing the carcasses into the lake.

If convicted, Szuch Fishery faces maximum penalties of $55,000 and a 30-day suspension of its ability to fish with commercial gear and to handle commercial fish or other fish at wholesale. The individuals face a maximum penalty of $750 and 90 days of incarceration.

Remember that anyone can report a wildlife violation through the Turn-In-A-Poacher (TIP) Program. Wildlife violations can be reported anonymously via phone call or text at 800-POACHER (762-2437).

 

Bear season begins

This is the time of year when Ohioans may start to see wild bears on the hoof…er… paw. Officials said dispersing young black bears will often travel great distances in the spring and summer in search of new habitat and are most likely to be seen by humans during this time.

“Bears are omnivores, meaning they will eat a wide variety of foods. Depending on the season, their diet may include grasses, forbs, berries, mast from oak, hickory, and beech trees, carrion, and insect larvae,” officials said in a Facebook post.

ODOW reps advise residents to move bird feeders higher, removing uneaten pet food, keeping trash inside until pick up day, and cleaning up after grilling all help to deter bears from frequenting an area and becoming nuisances.

If you see a bear, you can contact your local ODOW District Office or report the sighting online at wildohio.gov/reportwildlife or call 1-800-WILDLIFE. But whatever you do, leave it alone!

Check Also

Miller elected to National Corn Growers Association

Ohio Corn & Wheat (OCW) is celebrating the election of Jon Miller to the National …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *