OHIO DEPARTMENT OF NATURAL RESOURCES

Division of Wildlife

The Fish Ohio Report

Lake Erie

Regulations to Remember: The daily bag limit for walleye in Ohio waters of Lake Erie is 6 fish per angler; minimum size limit is 15 inches. … The daily bag limit for yellow perch is 30 fish per angler in all Ohio waters of Lake Erie. … The trout and salmon daily bag limit is 2 fish per angler; minimum size limit is 12 inches. … Black bass (largemouth and smallmouth bass): May 1 through June 29 is closed to possession, (catch-and-release is legal).

Walleye: Locust and Niagara reefs continue to boast high catch rates. A lot of anglers are reporting limits in two hours or less. Anglers are also reporting success jigging near the mouth of the Vermillion River and near Ruggle’s Reef and trolling nearshore from Cleveland and farther east. Anglers have been jigging 5/8- to 1-oz. hair jigs in 8-20 feet of water, with purple and black reported as the best colors. In addition, anglers jigging blade baits have also been successful. Anglers trolling have been having success using deep-diving crankbaits and spoons at 35-55 feet back. Some anglers have started to switch to trolling harnesses with intermittent success.

Smallmouth Bass: Largemouth and smallmouth bass will be moving up shallower to spawn in the coming weeks. Anglers are beginning to target largemouth in some of the harbors and tributaries, while reports of smallmouth bass have been trickling in from the lake. Reports of incidental catches have been reported near the Islands, the mid-lake reef complex and near Vermillion. Texas-rigged soft plastics and wacky worms usually produce well for largemouth bass. For anglers targeting smallmouths, tubes often work well, though plenty of fish are being taken on hair jigs and blade baits, as well as trolling crankbaits.

Crappie: Look for fish starting to move into harbors and river mouths in the coming weeks as fish begin staging to spawn. Anglers have reported intermittent success, but the warmer weather should start to bring fish into shore. A 1/16- or 1/32-oz. jig and minnow fished under a slip bobber is the most common technique this time of year. Casting small crankbaits or jigs and plastics also work well.

Steelhead Trout: Rivers are in good condition with moderate flows and good clarity. Water temps are in the mid to upper 60s. Most steelhead are leaving the tribs for Lake Erie; there will be fish in the lower reaches down to harbor locations. Yearling steelhead have been stocked for the year; gently release these fish if you catch them. They are the future of the program. Anglers with spinning gear were using spawn bags, small marabou jigs tipped with maggots, small stick-bait lures, spinners, small spoons, or minnows. Fly fishing anglers were using egg patterns, sucker spawn, streamers and nymphs. The stream fishing season is coming to a close with the onset of warmer weather. This will be the last report for the season.

The Lake Erie water temperature is 55 off Toledo and 46 off Cleveland according to the nearshore marine forecast.

MAUMEE RIVER

The river slightly high but dropping. Wading to Bluegrass Island is possible at this time. Water visibility is low and water temperature is 62º F. … Fishing pressure is medium to high and the bite has been good. … Buttonwood and Jerome Road have been producing the most fish but all areas are fishable at this time. … The walleye run is starting to wind down but the white bass fishing is starting to pick up. The bite should be good for awhile as the river temps continue to climb and water levels remain steady but that means the number of walleye will continue to decline.

SANDUSKY RIVER

The river level is about normal. Water visibility is low and the water temperature is 68º F. … Fishing pressure is medium and the white bass bite is good. … State Street to Rodger Young Park. Also try the Darr Access or the Sand Docks on the north edge of town. … The walleye fish has slowed considerably but the white bass fishing has been very good. We have probably seen the end of the walleye run but a few fish will still be in the river for a short time more. The white bass bite should be good for awhile as the river temps climb and water levels remain steady.

Best Baits for both: Walleye: most commonly used bait is a Carolina-rigged floating jig tipped with a twister tail on an 18- to 36-inch leader with between 1/4- to 5/8-oz. of weight depending on water flow. Bright-colored twister tails usually work the best. … White Bass: anglers use a number of lures and live bait, including small jigs, spinner baits and jigs tipped with minnows. Brightly-colored lures and twister tails are the most productive. … The daily bag limit for walleye, saugeye and sauger is 6 per day. Minimum-size limit is 15 inches.

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… Black bass possession is prohibited in the Lake Erie zone.

Anglers are encouraged to always wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved personal flotation device while on the water.

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ODNR Holds New Hocking Hills Visitors Center Groundbreaking

On Thursday, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) held the groundbreaking ceremony for the new Hocking Hills Visitors Center, which is scheduled to be completed in December.

The first visitors center at Hocking Hills State Park was built in 1989.

“Out of our 74 Ohio State Parks, Hocking Hills has brought Ohio the most national and international recognition,” said ODNR Director James Zehringer. “With the increase in visitation and busier trails, now is the perfect time to reinvest in Hocking Hills to enhance the experiences of our visitors.”

The top priorities of the new Hocking Hills Visitors Center will be safety and education, with a focus on orienting people to the area before they head out on the trails. With an estimated 2 million visitors per year, and new visitors discovering the park every day, spreading the safety message of the importance of staying on trail and being prepared for the many hikes and terrains Hocking Hills has to offer is crucial. Another highlight of the visitors center will be education, focusing on the specific geology of the Hocking Hills, wildlife, plant life and the history of the area. The building will also have new restrooms, as well as a gift store with drinks, snacks, apparel and hiking sticks.

Below are the list of improvements that have been implemented at Hocking Hills State Park.

Opened Hemlock Bridge Trail and Whispering Cave

Renovated all 40 state park cabins

Built new flush restroom at Cedar Falls

Upgraded 47 campsites to full-service sites

Added new restroom at Cantwell Cliffs

Installed Green Flush restroom at Conkles Hollow

Expanded parking lot at Old Man’s Cave

Added new composting restroom at Ash Cave

Made electric upgrades to horse camp area

Upgraded water treatment plant

Renovated water tower in the campground

Replaced A-frame bridge by Old Man’s Cave and curved stairway to Lower Falls

Renovating two showerhouses in the campground

Establishing a new disc golf course near the cabin area and Hemlock Bridge Trail, which will open this summer.

Director Zehringer mentioned the anticipated replacement of the Hocking Hills Lodge and said this project remains a priority for the department and the community. Additionally, Hocking Hills State Park also celebrated the one-year anniversary of opening the Hemlock Bridge Trail, which features Whispering Cave, on May 8, 2017. Whispering Cave is the second-largest cave in the state park, and the Hemlock Bridge Trail was the first trail that had been opened up at Hocking Hills State Park in 50 years. The Hemlock Bridge Trail connects with the gorge trail to Old Man’s Cave and Cedar Falls.

Ohio has 74 state parks, 56 with campgrounds and nine with lodge and conference centers. The Buckeye State is one of only seven states in the nation where admission and parking at state parks are free. Many Ohio families and out-of-state residents visit Ohio State Parks for hiking, fishing, swimming, boating, camping, biking, disc golf, horseback riding and much more. In addition to daily visitors, there were a total of 2.8 million overnight stays last year in Ohio’s state park campgrounds, cabins and lodges.

The ODNR Division of Parks and Watercraft provides exceptional outdoor recreation and boating opportunities by balancing outstanding customer service, education, protection and conservation of Ohio’s state parks and waterways.

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“Ready, Set, Wear It!” Reminds Ohio Boaters to Wear Life Jackets

As the boating season begins, wearing a life jacket is key to boating safely in the Buckeye State, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). The sun may be shining outside, but the water temperatures are still cold. Ohio will kick off National Safe Boating Week, which is held May 19-25.

“While out on the water, people need to wear their life jackets instead of just having them close by on the boat,” said ODNR Director James Zehringer. “If an accident occurs and you suddenly end up overboard, a life jacket will keep your head above water and could save your life.”

ODNR is celebrating National Safe Boating Week by holding the following six “Ready, Set, Wear It!” life jacket safety awareness events across the state on Saturday, May 19.

Hosted by Kent Parks and Recreation in partnership with the ODNR Division of Parks and Watercraft

Fred Fuller Park

497 Middlebury Road, Kent 44240

Time: 9 a.m.–1 p.m.

Hosted by Lake Metroparks

Environmental Learning Center

7250 Alexander Road, Concord Township 44077

Time: Noon

This event will teach kids how to pick out and wear a life jacket of correct size, check its condition and put on to fit properly. A group photo will also be taken.

Hosted by ODNR Division of Parks and Watercraft

Buck Creek State Park

1976 Buck Creek Lane, Springfield 45377

Time: Noon–2 p.m.

“Ready, Set, Wear It!” event hosted by the ODNR Division of Parks and Watercraft

East Fork State Park

3294 Elklick Road, Bethel 45106

Time: 10 a.m.–2 p.m.

Ohio Boating Education Course hosted by the ODNR Division of Parks and Watercraft

Lake Milton State Park, Community Building

16240 Mahoning Ave., Lake Milton 44429

Time: 9 a.m.–5 p.m.

“Explore the Shore!” event hosted by the ODNR Division of Parks and Watercraft

Shawnee State Park, Turkey Creek Lake Boat Ramp

4404 State Route 125, West Portsmouth 45663

Time: 4 p.m.

At this event, participants will paddle around the lake edges with a naturalist in search of aquatic wildlife and shore vegetation. All equipment will be provided.

The eighth annual “Ready, Set, Wear It!” Life Jacket World Record Days will be held on Saturday, May 19; Saturday, June 9; Saturday, July 7; and Saturday, Aug. 11. The goal is to educate the public about the importance of wearing life jackets and safe boating for all ages throughout the summer. Each event will also showcase the comfortable and versatile options available in today’s modern life jackets.

The National Safe Boating Council, in partnership with the Canadian Safe Boating Council, invite the boating community, the general public and the media to participate in “Ready, Set, Wear It!” on May 19, June 9, July 7 and Aug. 11. Participating cities throughout Ohio, and around the globe, will gather to attempt to set a world record for the most life jackets worn and inflatable life jackets inflated.

Ohio boating groups will host events at various venues around the state where boating safety experts will register participants, conduct life jacket safety talks, fit participants for life jackets, stage a countdown and coordinate a group photo.

More Ohio events can be found at safeboatingcampaign.com/ready-set-wear-it/find-an-event. If people would like to host their own “Ready, Set, Wear It!” event, there is still time to register at safeboatingcampaign.com/ready-set-wear-it/register-an-event. Additional information on life jacket safety is available from the ODNR Division of Parks and Watercraft at watercraft.ohiodnr.gov/lifejackets.

“Ready, Set, Wear It!” is about raising awareness about the importance of wearing a life jacket. In 2015, history was made when 10,917 participants at 257 events around the world participated in this fun and educational world record event. Then in 2016 and 2017, the event was just shy of breaking this world record. More than 45,500 people around the world have participated in this fun and educational boating safety event since 2010. For more information about the National Safe Boating Council, visit safeboatingcouncil.org.