By Dan Armitage, host of Buckeye Sportsman, Ohio’s longest running outdoor radio show
Angler surveys are underway at many of Ohio’s popular public inland waterways and Lake Erie, information from which is crucial to maintaining and improving the quality of Ohio’s public fisheries and angling opportunities.
Eighteen creel clerks are gathering information this summer; six are based on the shore of Lake Erie, two on the Maumee and Sandusky rivers, five on the Ohio River, and five at inland reservoirs. Lake Erie surveys are ongoing until October; surveys at inland reservoirs run until November, and along the Ohio River until the end of the year. Historical surveys reveal that Ohio’s most popular species to target include walleye, yellow perch, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, trout, saugeye, sunfish, crappie, and catfish.
Division of Wildlife creel clerks collect information directly from anglers to generate estimates of fishing effort, catch rates, and harvest rates. Clerks also compile boat counts, boat trailer counts at launches, and angler counts at designated shore fishing locations. Information gathered about angler satisfaction, opinions, and demographics are used to provide an understanding of fishing preferences.
Surveys also play an important role in the future of Lake Erie fisheries management. Yellow perch and walleye information gathered from Lake Erie anglers is used by the Great Lakes Fishery Commission’s Lake Erie Committee, an international collaboration of natural resource agencies, to generate population estimates and establish total allowable catch rates. The committee relies on survey information to subsequently set recreational fishing regulations for the following year.
In addition to estimating populations and setting fishing regulations, information gleaned from inland waterways is critical to understanding the success of stocking programs. Angler satisfaction and preferences information help fishery managers effectively allocate where, when, and with what size and species of fish to stock.
Most creel clerks are current college students or recent graduates with a background in fish management or related fields. Several former creel clerks have advanced their careers within the Division of Wildlife. If you are interested in working as a clerk in the future, check out seasonal job opportunities at wildohio.gov.
Turkey harvest down
Ohio wild turkey hunters harvested 11,872 birds during the statewide spring season that concluded on May 29, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife. The total statewide harvest represents 30 days of hunting in two zones between April 23 and May 29, and includes the 1,103 wild turkeys taken during the youth season April 9-10.
The three-year harvest average (2019, 2020, and 2021) for the spring season is 17,173 wild turkeys. During the 2021 season, the number checked was 14,546. New in the spring 2022 season, hunters could only harvest one bearded turkey. In previous seasons, dating back to 1992, the season limit was two bearded turkeys. In 2021, there were 1,824 hunters who harvested a second turkey.
All hunters were required to check in their harvest using the game-check system. The top 10 counties for wild turkey harvest during the 2022 season: Ashtabula (348), Tuscarawas (338), Belmont (314), Guernsey (312), Columbiana (309), Harrison (299), Muskingum (298), Trumbull (295), Jefferson (292), and Gallia (280).
Ohio has two zones for spring wild turkey hunting: the south zone and the northeast zone. The northeast zone includes Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, and Trumbull counties, while the south zone covers the rest of the state. In the south zone, 11,030 turkeys were harvested, with 840 turkeys checked in the northeast zone.
Save the turtles!
The Ohio Division of Wildlife is asking for the public’s help in keeping the state’s spotted turtle safe and free from illegal pet trade. Because spotted turtles are threatened by illegal pet trade, wildlife officials are asking the public to report poachers in order to keep turtles in the wild this spring.
So what do spotted turtles look like? They are small, semi-aquatic turtles that have yellow polka pots all over their carapace. The polka dots can vary in number and distribution. Wildlife officials say their carapace is smooth and relatively flat.
You can find a spotted turtle most likely in early spring along streams or wetland banks. They can also be on objects protruding from the water. When the turtles are disturbed, they may dive into the water for safety or walk into the water and swim to the bottom.
The spotted turtles show preferences for the shallow and sluggish waters of wet prairies and meadows as well as fens, bogs, marshes and small streams. According to wildlife officials, they can occasionally wander away from the water and into wet woods as well. Visit wildohio.com for more info or to report poachers.
Fishermen find relic
Two anglers looking for one of their old fishing spots on the Cuyahoga River came across a gravestone from the 1700s along the riverbank. Inscribed “Thadius Peck” with the dates 1711 to 1781, the gravestone weighs an estimated 200 pounds.
“We know that the Peck surname is an early surname associated with the Western Reserve in the Cuyahoga Falls area with Sherman Peck as the city’s first Marshall and Julius S. Peck, who owned a large parcel of land downriver near the Gorge,” said Shawn Andrews, of the Cuyahoga Falls Historical Society. “The Cuyahoga Falls Historical Society is excited to continue researching the provenance of Thadius Peck’s stone.”
Richard and John Ryan stumbled across what they described as an “odd-shaped” stone in a clearing near the city’s Front Street boat launch. City officials were called to the scene, noticed the etching and with some clearing of moss revealed Peck’s gravestone.
The city of Cuyahoga Falls was founded in 1812, meaning Peck would have settled there before that time. His gravestone will be housed at the Cuyahoga Falls Historical Society.