Trophy-size bluegills and other plus-size panfish are the draw to Northwest Ohio’s Lake La Su An Wildlife Area, which opens for fishing this month.

Special hunts for special folks

By Dan Armitage, outdoor writer

Pike State Forest and Blue Rock State Forest were the settings for two recent special hunts organized for hunters with disabilities to enjoy the outdoors while hunting for wild turkey, as guests of the annual Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Forestry in Pike and Muskingum counties.

“Year after year, we are honored to host these hunts and gather with a wonderful group of hunters and volunteers amidst the beauty of our sustainably managed forests, which stand as a testament to our commitment to conservation and habitat diversity,” said Dan Balser, ODNR Division of Forestry Chief. “The hunters who join us in this endeavor are an inspiration for us all.”

Pike State Forest and Blue Rock State Forest were the April 2024 settings for two special hunts organized for hunters with disabilities to enjoy the outdoors while hunting for wild turkey. The Thunder in the Hills wild turkey hunt was held for the seventh year at Pike State Forest. Fifteen hunters participated, and four turkeys were taken during the event. The Division of Forestry hosted the event with cooperation from the Clinton County Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation (NWTF) and the ODNR Divisions of Wildlife, and Parks and Watercraft. Some 50 organizations assisted with donations and volunteers.

The 17th annual Wheelin’ Sportsmen hunt for wild turkey at Blue Rock State Forest was sponsored by the NWTF Wheelin’ Sportsmen program. The ODNR Divisions of Forestry and Wildlife worked with the Y-Bridge Longbeards and other chapters of the NWTF to coordinate the event with donations and volunteer efforts from many local individuals and businesses. Twenty-three hunters participated, and two turkeys were taken during the event. More than 60 guides helped with the hunt.

Hunters at both events provided their own shotguns and ammunition, as well as the necessary licenses and permits and guides were provided for each hunter.  To learn more about these and related opportunities, as well as Ohio’s woodlands, visit forestry.ohiodnr.gov, on Facebook and on Instagram @odnrforestry.

Turkey take is up so far

Speaking of turkeys, gobbler hunters across Ohio harvested 10,574 birds during the first month of the season, according to the Ohio Division of Wildlife (ODOW), which compares to an average of 9,214 turkeys checked during the same period in the previous three seasons (2021 to 2023). Hunters harvested 10,351 birds through the same time in the spring of 2023. This year’s total includes results from the two-day youth season April 13-14, nine days of hunting in 83 counties following the season opener on April 20, and the first two days of hunting in the northeast zone (Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, and Trumbull counties), which opened April 27.

The 10 counties with the most wild turkeys checked so far in 2024 are Belmont (342), Monroe (330), Tuscarawas (322), Muskingum (295), Washington (296) Gallia (291), Meigs (285), Jefferson (282), Guernsey (279), and Noble (267).

 The Division of Wildlife has issued 47,293 spring turkey permits that are valid throughout the 2024 season. Hunting is open in 83 counties comprising the south zone until Sunday, May 19. The northeast zone (Ashtabula, Cuyahoga, Geauga, Lake, and Trumbull counties) remains open until Sunday, May 26. Find more information about Ohio’s wild turkey hunting at wildohio.gov.

Lake La Su An WLA open for fishing

Fisheries biologists with the ODOW have set the special fishing regulations for this year at La Su An Wildlife Area in Williams County, which is open to fishing from May 3 until Monday, Sept. 2, 2024.

Fishing is permitted on Mondays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays from sunrise to sunset during the open season. Lake La Su An Wildlife Area is closed to fishing at all other times. Reservations are not needed to fish the lakes on Lake La Su An Wildlife Area. All vehicles are required to park in a designated parking space.

The sunfish daily limit is 15, with no more than five fish of 8 inches or longer. Largemouth bass have an 18-inch minimum length requirement and a five fish daily limit. Channel catfish have a two fish daily bag limit. Daily limits are posted on site and are in effect area wide. Anglers may only catch up to one daily limit for a species regardless of how many lakes are fished. All other statewide fishing regulations apply to the area’s lakes. Anglers are also reminded that no fish may be used as bait on the area.

The regulations have been designed by Division of Wildlife fisheries biologists to continue the tradition of quality bluegill fishing on the Lake La Su An Wildlife Area lakes. The Division of Wildlife accomplishes this by limiting the number of days the lakes are open to fishing and the number of sunfish that anglers take home each day.

For more information and a map of fishing access locations, visit the Lake La Su An Wildlife Area page at wildohio.gov.

HOF nominees sought

The ODNR is calling on nominations for the 2024 Ohio Natural Resources Hall of Fame which honors people in Ohio who have made significant contributions to preserving and protecting the state’s water, soil, woodlands, wildlife, and mineral resources.

“It’s ODNR’s mission to protect Ohio’s great outdoors and it wouldn’t be possible without dedicated conservationist from all around the state,” said Mary Mertz, ODNR Director. “The Ohio Natural Resources Hall of Fame is a great way to honor those who have dedicated their life to preserve the state’s natural areas and wildlife.”

The Ohio Natural Resources Hall of Fame, which was established in 1966, is the state’s top honor to recognize an individual’s work in outdoor conservation. Previous recipients include John Chapman (Johnny Appleseed); explorer John Wesley Powell; conservationist and Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Louis Bromfield; pioneering botanist Lucy Braun; and farming conservation advocate Bob Evans.

Last year’s Hall of Fame inductees included Denis Case, former ODNR division chief who helped start Ohio’s first bald eagle recovery program, Dr. Larry B. Mixon, Sr. who served on the Ohio Wildlife Council, and Carolyn Watkins, former Ohio EPA chief of environmental education who contributed to outdoor learning education programs.

Nominees must have been born in Ohio or made a significant contribution to the conservation of natural resources in the state. To submit a nomination, fill out the Ohio Natural Resources Hall of Fame nomination form online at ohiodnr.gov.com.

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