A Great Miami shark tale

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

Haley Weidner was walking along the Great Miami River in Piqua’s Groveside Park late last month when she detected a foul smell. Following her nose to the riverbank, she came upon the head of a shark that had washed up on the shoreline. 

After poking it with her foot to confirm it really was the head of a real (formerly) live shark, CNN Newsource reported that Weidner posted word of her unusual find on social media and contacted the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). According to reports, wildlife officials at first figured someone had caught the shark on a trip to the coast and brought the head back to Ohio. 

The wildlife agency said in a statement to WHIO-TV:

“[The shark’s head] looks as though someone discarded it there … We have seen situations like this before with people discarding shark parts of carcasses after fishing trips to the ocean.”

Not so. A couple days later, WHIO-TV reported that another Ohio woman said in emails and comments on social media that she had purchased the shark head at Jungle Jim’s International Market in Cincinnati to use as bait for fishing. Then, she gave it “to the fish to eat,” she said in an email, tossing it into the Great Miami River.

A screenshot of the email showed that the woman, who asked to remain anonymous, explained that “high waters must have washed it back up.” She said the shark’s head “was 11 pounds and shouldn’t have been able to resurface” and that she “did not mean to cause such a big scare.” 

And yes, Jungle Jim’s apparently does sell sharks, WHIO-TV confirmed. Meanwhile, the ODNR urges people “to never place anything in the waterway,” including fish, and the agency is investigating a potential “stream litter” case against the woman who tossed the shark head into the drink.

Lake Erie perch limit drops May 1; walleye, bass numbers strong

A declining population of Lake Erie yellow perch in the central basin has prompted a reduction in the daily limit to 10 from Huron to Fairport Harbor beginning May 1, according to the ODNR Division of Wildlife. Lake Erie walleye and yellow perch fisheries are managed through an interagency quota system. Each jurisdiction regulates its catches to comply with annually determined safe harvest levels that ensure sustainability. The most recent quotas were announced earlier this spring. 

Low abundance from Huron to Fairport Harbor led to a very conservative quota for yellow perch fishing from May 1, 2021, to Feb. 28, 2022. Central basin yellow perch hatches have been well below average and strong year classes are needed to rebuild the population to prior abundances. The daily limit there is 30 yellow perch until the end of the month, when it drops to 10 on May 1.   

Yellow perch abundance in the western basin provided limit opportunities seasonally in 2020 and remains strong in 2021, according to the ODNR. Ohio’s daily limits will remain at 30 in the western basin from Toledo to Huron and farther east from Fairport Harbor to Conneaut.   

On the other hand, walleye hatch success has been exceptional for five of the past seven years, where the daily limit on Lake Erie is 6 fish per angler with a 15-inch minimum length limit.  Walleye anglers will mostly catch abundant 2-, 3-, 6-, and 7-year-old fish that should range from 15 inches to as large as 28 inches. Abundant young fish from 2019 and 2020 hatches will show up in the catch and range from 9 to 14 inches, with an increasing number of 2-year-olds reaching 15 inches as the season progresses. 

Smallmouth bass and largemouth bass fishing in 2021 should provide good fishing and trophy catches. The daily limit is five bass per day with a 14-inch minimum size limit through April 30 and then again from June 26, 2021, to April 30, 2022. Anglers may harvest one bass per day, with a minimum size limit of 18 inches from May 1 to June 25, during the 

spawning season.   

Updated Lake Erie fishing reports are available by calling 888-HOOKFISH (466-5347). Information on Lake Erie research and management programs, fisheries resources, maps, and links to other Lake Erie web resources are available at wildohio.gov. 

Ohio artist wins wetland stamp competition

An Ohio artist has taken home first place in this year’s Ohio Wetlands Habitat Stamp Design Competition sponsored by the Ohio Division of Wildlife. Sean Johnson of Louisville, Ohio, will have his painting of canvasback ducks displayed on the Ohio wetlands habitat stamp issued in fall 2022. 

Judges selected Johnson’s painting from a field of 10 original pieces of artwork submitted by artists from eight states, including three entries from Ohio. James Pieper of Wisconsin was awarded second place for his painting of hooded mergansers, while third place went to Frank Dolphens of Nebraska for his painting of green-winged teal.

Proceeds from stamp sales help fund vital wetland habitat restoration projects in Ohio. These habitats are important to many resident wildlife species, including state-endangered trumpeter swans, wetland birds, amphibians, and migratory species.

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