The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

August 5, 2013

Outdoors Insider, with Dale Sunderlin: Castalia Fish Hatchery holding a lottery

For the Star Beacon

— Anglers interested in learning the art of fly fishing and practicing their skills on a half-mile section of Cold Creek at the Castalia State Fish Hatchery in Erie County are encouraged to enter a lottery for beginning fly-fishing clinics, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife.

One hundred and twenty slots are available for the popular program. Sessions will be held on Fridays from Sept. 6 through Oct. 11, with the exception of Sept. 27. Deadline for submitting a lottery entry is Aug. 20.

 In addition to fly-fishing instruction by Division of Wildlife staff and volunteers, attendees will be able to test their newly acquired skills by fishing for the abundant rainbow trout found in Cold Creek. Anglers may also encounter an occasional brown trout.  

Instruction will be from 8 a.m. until noon or 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Sept. 6, Sept. 13, Sept. 20, Oct. 4 and Oct. 11.

To apply, applicants must submit a postcard listing their: name, address, and phone number. The applicant may bring one guest, but the guest’s name must be listed on the postcard at the time of submission. Only one postcard per applicant and guest is allowed and no duplicates may be submitted. Postcards should be sent to: ODNR Division of Wildlife District Two, 952 Lima Avenue, Findlay, Ohio 45840 Attention: Linda Ringer.

Successful applicants will receive an assigned session date and time. Permits are non-transferable. All anglers age 16 and older are required to have a valid Ohio fishing license. Funds generated from the sale of fishing licenses go toward conserving and restoring habitat, enforcement of fishing regulations, hatchery operations, fish stocking in public fishing areas, and enhancement of research and educational outreach.

For more information on Ohio’s fishery resources, call 1-800-WILDLIFE or visit on the web. The Castalia State Fish Hatchery is located in Erie County off State Route 269, near Castalia.

Bowhunting advice

If you haven’t done it already you should be starting to practice shooting your bow. As a tried and true archery hunter many experts say you should shoot all year long but how many of us practice what we preach, not I that’s for sure. Life is hectic and way too fast paced and unfortunately after archery season many of us hang our bows up and get on with whatever we’ve let slide during the season.

Thus. we don’t start practicing until a month or two before season starts. Then what happens is we somewhat have to start all over again remembering all the techniques we use to properly and accurately shoot our bows.

I can attest that I myself am guilty of this infraction. Over the years I have received plenty of good advice on how to shoot a bow and as a result I’m not bad at it. But instead of doling out advice from a virtual unknown I’ve researched some of the bow hunting, archery, experts and here’s what they have to say.

Let the pin float

The best shooters don’t try to hold their pin steady on the spot. Instead, they let it float a bit, usually in tight circles or even in figure-eight patterns around the spot. While the pin was floating, they squeezed the trigger and let the bow fire without a conscious command.

It took me years to appreciate the value of that advice. I was young, and target panic wasn’t really part of my vocabulary. I could hold the pin steady on the spot, so I never understood what Spencer was promoting. But as the years went by, I started to get a feel for target panic. The inability to hold the pin steady on the spot started to cause mental trauma for me at full draw. Remembering Spencer’s words, and those of others who reinforced this great advice over the years, I started shooting their way and immediately the panic dissolved and archery became fun again.

Breath control

No one can tell you exactly what your breathing pattern needs to be, but every proficient shooter will say it is important and that each person needs to derive some of breath control pattern. In relating what breath control is it has to do with exhaling and inhaling in rhythm with the shot.

From this advice, I have adopted my own system for archery. I take a big breath as I am drawing the bow and then let it out slowly as I start to settle the pin. Once I get the pin close to the spot I want to hit, I hold my breath until the shot goes off. Again you may arrive at a slightly different way to do this, but having some kind of breathing pattern is an important part of shooting a bow accurately.

Follow through  

This piece of advice has been around for as long as I can remember, many of you initially heard about it when learning to shoot a firearm. Well the same holds true for archery. Every year, I have to remind myself to hold fast to this step in the shooting process.  However, when I finally listen to myself, it has a big impact on my shooting, especially at game.

The ability to focus on a small point and try to keep the pin floating near that small point until the arrow hits it is a natural way to improve both your aiming and your follow-through. We tend to get anxious when shooting at game, and that can often cause us to skip the important step of picking a spot. It also encourages us to drop our bow arm during the shot, to quit aiming and look around the bow to see where we hit.

I have helped dozens of people over the years when they were having trouble with their shooting. In nearly all cases, at least part of the problem was their tendency to drop the bow arm during the release. What follow through equates to is doing the same thing after the shot as you were doing during the shot.

If you are dropping your bow arm after the shot, then you likely started to do that while the arrow was still on the string speeding forward. Getting people to hold their aiming position for a few seconds after the shot usually fixes most problems or at the very least, it improved their shooting enough that they were once again effective in the field.

The simplest way to get people to understand this is to tell them to keep aiming until the arrow hits. This isn’t possible in the strictest sense; the bow moves too much as the pressure comes off the bow arm and the arrow leaps forward, but trying to hold the pin on the spot and trying to stay focused on the spot is enough to keep the follow-through a lot steadier.

This is literally the perfect quick fix if your shooting (or your friend’s shooting) is going south and you need to get back on target during the middle of the season.

Body positioning

Your bow arm should be a lifeless extension protruding from your upper body. In order to change your aiming point, you have to turn your upper body or pivot your hips.

Small muscle groups (such as hands and arms) are typically fast twitch, while larger muscle groups, like your core and hips, tend be slow twitch. I want slow-twitch muscles controlling my aim as much as possible. It is easier to relax and let the pin settle when the slow-twitch muscles are positioning it.

Trigger squeeze

All of these tips sound great on the range, but when we take them to the field and mix in the adrenaline that comes from shots at live animals, we tend to forget fast. Of course, the more we practice a certain shooting style, the more ingrained it becomes and the more likely we are to use it instinctively, even in the clutch.

You have to squeeze off while hunting, just like you do on the range during practice. No matter the circumstances it doesn’t matter. You have to squeeze the trigger on every shot. Pulling the trigger or punched it on game doesn’t make it. Accuracy is much more important than timing

Never take a sloppy shot, no matter what the circumstances. If your shooting style is effective on the range, it should also be effective in the field. Accuracy is accuracy. You need to achieve a surprise release on every single shot by squeezing the trigger while aiming.

If you practice this don’t be surprised if you shoot better. This slow-paced, concentrated style of shooting might even reduced the panic that comes at the moment of release on game. It may even make you more confident and that’s something we all can use.


Orwell Gun Club will be sponsoring a Women’s Beginning Firearms Clinic.

The date is Saturday, Aug. 24, 2013 from 9:30 a.m. till 2 p.m. The club is located at 8089 Higley Road in Orwell.

Preregistration is required, ages 14 to 18 must be accompanied by an adult. Beginning instruction for handgun, rifle and shotgun will be the agenda. Call 272-5583 or email Please leave your name; phone number and number of attendees and someone will get back to, you.

Remember, pass it on or it will surely pass on.

Sunderlin is a freelance writer from Geneva. Reach him at