The Star Beacon; Ashtabula, Ohio

April 1, 2013

Outdoors Insider, with Dale Sunderlin: Walleye migration under way

By DALE SUNDERLIN
For the Star Beacon

— The annual appearance of migrating walleye in the Maumee and Sandusky rivers brings fantastic spring fishing opportunities, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).

An annual phenomenon in northwest Ohio occurs each spring when a portion of Lake Erie’s walleye population moves up the Maumee and Sandusky rivers to spawn.

Although the fish caught represent a small portion of all Lake Erie walleye, the run brings hundreds of thousands of fish within casting distance of eager shore anglers.

Walleye spawning normally occurs in these rivers anytime from mid-March through mid-April, but the peak activity usually occurs the first week of April when the water temperatures range from 40 to 50 degrees. Moderately high water also increases the number of walleye in the rivers, especially if river temperatures are warmer than lake temperatures.

The best fishing areas in the Maumee River are from Orleans Park in Perrysburg upstream to the end of Jerome Road in Lucas County. Sandusky River anglers will find better success from Brady’s Island to Rodger Young Park in the city of Fremont. Fishing is prohibited upstream from Rodger Young Park to the Ballville Dam.

Anglers are reminded the bag limit for Lake Erie and its tributaries is four walleye until April 30. Anglers are also reminded that there is a year-round 15-inch length limit for walleye on Lake Erie and its tributaries to the first dam or designated landmark.

Anglers can see the latest on the walleye bite or review the 2013-14 Ohio Fishing Regulations at www.wildohio.com.

Fishermen who are wading also need to ensure they are prepared to experience an unexpected cold-water immersion and should consider wearing a flotation device as well as fish with a partner. Though most anglers wade in the rivers while walleye fishing, some choose to fish from boats. ODNR advises boat anglers to always properly wear life jackets, take precautions against overloading their boats and capsizing, be well dressed to avoid the onset of hypothermia and be prepared to handle any emergency. Boats should never be anchored off the stern.

Special regulations are in effect for Maumee and Sandusky river walleye fisheries during March and April. Fishing is only allowed between sunrise and sunset in specified areas, and treble hooks are prohibited.

Anglers may only use a single hook that is no larger than 1 inch from shank to point. Only fish that are hooked inside the mouth may legally be taken, and any snagged fish must be immediately released.

The sales of fishing licenses, along with the Sport Fish Restoration (SFR) program, continue to fund ODNR Division of Wildlife fish management operations. No state tax dollars are used for these activities. These are user-pay, user-benefit programs.

The SFR is a partnership between federal and state government, industry and anglers/boaters. When anglers purchase rods, reels, fishing tackle, fish finders and motorboat fuel, they pay an excise tax.

The federal government collects these taxes, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service administers and disburses these funds to state fish and wildlife agencies. These funds are used to acquire habitat, produce and stock fish, conduct research and surveys, provide aquatic education and acquire and develop boat accesses.



Free camping

Pull out the camping gear, grab the makings for s’mores and leave the wallet at home for a night of free camping with the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). The night of free camping will be available at 54 campgrounds within Ohio State Parks on Thursday, April 18.

“I want to encourage Ohioans to start their weekend early by camping at one of our Ohio State Parks campgrounds for free,” ODNR Director James Zehringer said. “This is an excellent opportunity for families to explore new parts of Ohio and find out what is available within our state parks system.”

For this promotion, campers can make a free reservation for a stay that includes the Free Camping Day. To make the reservation, people must call the Ohio State Parks Reservation Call Center at (866) 644-6727. Customers can also reserve online but will pay the standard reservation fee. Walkins are also welcome on April 18, but space is limited.

For more information about Ohio State Parks campground availability, reservations and amenities, go to: http://bit.ly/freecamping.

This promotion will not be available at Jackson Lake State Park or Strouds Run State Park, as these are concession-operated campgrounds.



Money matters

Outdoor Industry Association (OIA) has released figures quantifying the economic impact of outdoor recreation in all 50 states, with a separate report for each state that tallies direct spending, jobs, salaries and tax revenue. This data demonstrates that outdoor recreation is an important driver of state economies, supporting jobs, businesses and communities.

In Ohio, Americans spend $17.4 billion on outdoor recreation, supporting 196,100 Ohio jobs, generating $5.1 billion in wages, and producing $1.3 billion in state and local tax revenue. Ohio offers spectacular outdoor recreation opportunities at treasured destinations, including Cuyahoga Valley National Park, Salt Fork State Park and many others, providing the types of outdoor experiences that produce these economic benefits.

The state-by-state figures expand upon a national report OIA published in June 2012, which found that nationally Americans spend $646 billion each year on outdoor recreation, directly supporting 6.1 million jobs and generating nearly $80 billion in tax revenue.

“Outdoor recreation is a growing American industry that produces significant economic benefits,” Will Manzer, chair of the OIA Board of Directors and former CEO of Eastern Mountain Sports, said. “For example, Americans spend almost twice as much on outdoor recreation as they spend on pharmaceuticals each year. And outdoor recreation supports more than twice as many jobs as the oil and gas industry.”

Outdoor recreation creates diverse jobs in product development, manufacturing, marketing, logistics, sales, retail, public land management, guiding services and more. It also supports service sector and other jobs when people spend money on trips and travel-related expenses associated with outdoor pursuits.

With nearly 140 million Americans participating in outdoor activities each year, outdoor recreation is a larger and more critical sector of the American economy than most people realize. The outdoor industry can continue to generate jobs and be an economic driver in the United States if parks, waters and trails are managed as a system designed to sustain these economic dividends for America.

“Outdoor recreation is good for the American economy and our future,” Frank Hugelmeyer, president and CEO of OIA, said. “When we invest in the nation’s network of public lands and waters, we are protecting and enhancing outdoor experiences for the benefit of the thousands of businesses, communities and families whose livelihoods depends on the outdoor recreation economy.”

The new data is an expansion to OIA’s 2006 study and tracks direct jobs as well as direct consumer spending on gear, vehicles, trips and travel in 10 activity categories. OIA commissioned Southwick Associates, a research firm that specializes in shooting sports, hunting, angling, natural resource and environmental economics, to perform the research. Motorcycle Industry Council and National Marine Manufacturers Association contributed funding and data to support this study.

The national report as well as a one page fact sheet for each U.S. state is available on the OIA website at www.outdoorindustry.org/recreationeconomy.



Turkey talk!

It seems like every year something happens and there I am the night before opening day scrambling around collecting all my calls, looking for my vest, wondering what I did with my shells, where’s my boots, etc., etc., etc. With turkey season fast approaching, maybe you, and I, ought to start getting ready now instead of waiting until the last moment. Here’s a few must-haves for trailing toms on opening day and throughout the season for that matter.  



Camo

Not just any camo, either. You need to remember you’re down on ground level and that boss gobbler might be looking you straight in the eye.

You sure don’t want to look like a big gob of leftover forest matter from the dinosaur age hunkered up next to a tree. Find a pattern that matches the terrain or time of season you’ll be hunting. Browns and grays for early season, greens for late spring. Don’t forget the required accessories:

n A hat to keep the sun out of your eyes and cover light-colored hair or in my case that big shinny spot.  

n A facemask, preferably a mesh 3/4 mask that can be pulled down around your neck. I myself like the type of hats that have a full facemask attached to the inside of the brim or the headband and it drops down as soon as you take it off and give it a shake.

n Lightweight gloves and green or camo socks to keep your lower legs or long underwear concealed when you sit.



Shotgun

Today’s “A” typical turkey gun is a semi auto (now just because it’s a semi auto doesn’t mean it’s an assault “weapon”) or pump, usually a 12-gauge, camo-coated and for some reason a short barreled with an extra-full screw-in choke tube and fiber optic or red dot sights.

Now, my firearm of choice is a little different. It is a semi auto, 12 gauge, 3” mags, camo coated. But sight wise I use a H.S. Strut open sigh gadget which when the turkey fill the sighting area it is within 35 yards and boom you hammer him. It hasn’t failed me yet.

As for a barrel, mine is long, in fact it’s 30 inches long. I’m from the old school where the belief is that the longer the barrel the tighter the pattern. Now, when it comes to chokes mine is a Remington Super Full Turkey choke right from the factory. Why? Because over the years, I researched it to the max and no one and I do mean no one makes a tighter choke for my gun than the manufacturer.

Shotgun differences as to semi autos and pumps are that of a semi-auto offers less kick, while pumps are less likely to hang up. Also a semi auto offers you a second shot more quickly that a pump.

Depending on you age, stature and physical health though it may limit your maximum range you might want to consider going to a 20-gauge. They are effective up to 30 yards, offer less recoil and are lighter to tote. Pack the chamber with magnum turkey loads in No. 4, 5 or 6 shot and you’re good to go.



Turkey vest

A turkey vest is a must-have item for many hunters. Key features include that should be considered when you purchase one are:  

n Multiple pockets tailored to hold every type of call and other items needed in the woods

n A large game pouch for toting decoys or your turkey at the end of the hunt

n A foldout seat for dry, comfortable sitting



Turkey calls

A box call and slate call are a must have and are effective and easy to use. A box call offers bigger volume on windy days. A slate call is great for cutting and purring. Slate calls don’t work well in the rain, though, unless they are made of a water-resistant material. Other call choices include mouth calls, tube calls, push pulls, scratch boxes and peg boxes.



Locator calls

Not all calls are for talking turkey. Some are merely used to pull a shock gobble from a tom. In the early morning or late evening, go for an owl hooter or coyote howler. Later in the day, use a crow call. Goose and peacock calls are useful, too. It’s also well known that turkeys will gobble at the sound of a train whistle, thunder or even the slamming of a car door. Do and carry whatever you need to pull a gobble out of a distant bird no matter how goofy it may sound.  



Boots

You’ll want boots that are waterproof, camoflauged, lightly insulated and ones that offer substantial ankle support. The taller snake boots protect against not only snakes but also briars and sticks. Lower cut, lighter boots provide the comfort of running shoes without sacrificing water repellency or ankle support. Make sure your boots will accommodate the terrain you’re going to be hunting in.



Miscellaneous

To add to your comfort and success, make sure you include these other items among your turkey gear. There’s nothing worse than forgetting you seat cushion and plunkin’ down in a low spot next to a big oak and getting’ a wet bottom.  

n Lo-Boy Lite Seat: This short, sturdy stool keeps you off the ground and is as comfortable as lounging at a cookout.

n Ratchet Cutters: Use these to quickly and quietly cut small limbs and clear shooting lanes around your setup.

n Rain Gear: A lightweight, packable rain suit can be put on quickly for total protection if you’re caught in a sudden downpour.

n Compact Binoculars: These are great for scanning fields, distant wood edges and even the woods around you before you make a move.

n Gun Rest: The small V-shaped cushion that straps to your leg is ideal when you’re waiting on a slow-to-approach gobbler.

n Decoys: Collapsible or inflatable are the most commonly used. Lightweight, easy to pack and quick to set up, decoys add a dose of realism to your setup. For optimal results, mix a Jake with a pair of hens. Be sure to check state laws concerning decoy use.

n Blind: A short, fence-style, foldout camo blind is ideal. It can be set up quickly and provides about two feet of added concealment, which makes it easy to work calls or shift your legs.

Now that you’ve got the essentials all you have to do is find some turkey’s, yeah right, not as easy as it sounds. But that’s another subject that we may just discuss next week. In the meantime remember, pass it on or it will surely pass on.

Sunderlin is a freelance writer from Geneva. Reach him at djss@roadrunner.com.