Deer hunters may be the most opinionated people I run into while in the outdoors.
They have an opportunity to express their opinion next Saturday when the Ohio Division of Wildlife hosts deer summits in each of its five wildlife districts. The summits are held from 9 a.m. until 1 p.m.
These summits are not to be confused with the annual open houses the DOW hosts in March when people can comment on proposed rules changes.. Those open houses will be held in the beginning of March as usual. These seminars are deer-related only. Participants must pre-register by Friday to attend since space is limited. A deer summit was held as a trial in Columbus last year in which a limited number of people were invited. Based on that, the DOW decided to hold such summits in each wildlife district this year.
Depending on where you live in Limaland, one of three district locations might be best for you.
One will be held at the Wildlife District Two headquarters at 952 Lima Ave. in Findlay. Call 419-424-5000 to pre-register. Another will be held at Wildlife District One headquarters at 1500 Dublin Road in Columbus. Call 614-644-3925 to pre-register. Another will be held at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Caesar Creek Lake Learning Center at 4020 N. Clarksville Road in Waynesville. Call 937-372-9261 to pre-register.
According to a DOW news release, the first part of each summit will offer updates from DOW staff, including chronic wasting disease (CWD) surveillance efforts and results, long-term trends in deer herd condition and the transition from counties to deer management units (DMUs). The second portion of each summit will give attendees the opportunity to provide comment regarding deer hunting in Ohio.
John Windau, information specialist in Wildlife District Two said he thinks the summits, “are a good opportunity for people who would like a better understanding on how Ohio’s deer herds are managed. There are a lot of people who have strong opinions on what should be done, but lack all the information.”
He added, “For example, people who feel there aren’t enough deer. When we make regulation changes, like reducing bag limits and antlerless permits which are done to reduce pressure on does (lower harvest), and the deer harvest does goes down, those same people are upset because we didn’t kill enough deer.”
Windau also noted that the DOW has always managed deer on a county basis, but that aspect wasn’t obvious to the public. That’s because the DOW grouped regulations via zones. He mentioned this because the DOW is going to new deer management units, which will not be by county anymore. This is one of the topics that will be covered during Saturday’s summits.
“Although county based management has worked well, we can do a better job, and do it more efficiently with the new management units,” he said.
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The recent arctic spell has brought fishable ice, but if you venture out, remain safe. Always check the ice as you proceed. Check with local anglers and bait stores about where there is good ice.
One popular ice fishing spot over the years is the 83-acre Lake La Su An on the Lake La Su An Wildlife Area near Pioneer. After being closed to ice fishing the past five years, the lake is open to ice anglers this winter. Lake La Su An is the only lake in the area open to ice fishing.
The lake will be open for ice fishing through Feb. 16. It is open for ice fishing, according to the DOW, because the bluegill population on the lake has expanded to the point where bluegill growth will begin slowing down.
Anglers do not need a reservation. All vehicles must park in a designated parking space near the old fish check station off of Williams County Road R. Fishing will be permitted Monday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday from sunrise to sunset. The sunfish daily bag limit is 25. No more than five fish may be 8 inches or larger. There is an 18 inch minimum length limit on largemouth bass with a five fish daily bag. Channel catfish have a two fish daily bag limit.
According to the DOW, it manages the area intensively to maintain the harvest of large bluegills. In order to accomplish this goal, the wildlife agency limits the harvest of bluegill sunfish on a yearly basis. This is done by limiting the number of days the lakes are open to fishing, limiting the number of bluegill that anglers can take home daily and limiting the number of anglers who fish the area at one time (i.e., limited number of parking spaces).
Fishing on the western basin of Lake Erie is quite different than fishing on inland lakes.
The frigid winter of 2013-14 afforded more ice angling opportunities than in recent years. Catches of walleye from 10-14 pounds were not uncommon a year ago. Anglers could venture out 10 miles if they had a snowmobile or ATV. One can walk, but that’s a long distance.
In most years, ice angling is relegated to the bays around the bass islands. When that is the case, anglers need to use an airboat or fly to the islands.
According to fisheries biologist Jim McFee, several large access sites are popular with ice fishermen, including Catawba Island State Park, Camp Perry, Magee Marsh State Wildlife Area (used to be Crane Creek) and Metzger Marsh State Wildlife Area. These are located near known walleye winter hot spots. These areas have plenty of parking for vehicles for trailers.
One last item on ice fishing.
Michigan will host its annual free winter fishing weekend Feb. 14-15. That weekend, everyone — residents and non-residents alike — can fish Michigan waters without a license, though all other fishing regulations still apply.
Michigan has celebrated the Winter Free Fishing Weekend every year since 1994 as a way to promote awareness of its vast aquatic resources. The state has more than 3,000 miles of Great Lakes shoreline, tens of thousands of miles of rivers and streams and 11,000 inland lakes.