PERRY TWP. — Down a short path on the eastern shore of Sippo Lake existed a slice of tranquility.
That’s where a reporter and photographer found a 43-year-old fisherman hoping to catch a fish before a pending rain moved into the region Saturday.
“Catch anything?” he was asked.
Tyler Moncrief of Canton Township replied: “Yeah. I’ve been doing real good here lately. I caught one actually two weeks ago that is down at the taxidermist.”
Oh yeah. Tell us more.
Moncrief said he usually releases his catches, but the 10-pound striped bass (or striper) caught him by surprise and “that one was going home.”
His fish tale continued: “I was just going for whatever was biting that day.”
He put a tiny rooster tail lure on his line and cast it into the Sippo Lake waters after striking out with other lures. He didn’t have to wait long for results.
Almost immediately, Moncrief said the striper “grabbed hold of it and almost ripped my line two or three times. It took me about 15 minutes in total to bring him in.”
This weekend Ohioans have a chance to catch a fish or family memory, like Moncrief, with “Free Fishing Weekend” on Saturday and Sunday in all public waters.
Free fishing weekend arrives
It is the only weekend all year when those 16 and older are not required to buy a $25 permit to fish in the public waters in Ohio.
“Fishing is a great way to introduce someone to the outdoors and make some lasting memories,” said Kendra Wecker, chief of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife.
Sippo, Petros Lake Park, Walborn Reservoir and Deer Creek Reservoir are among the spots to fish in the Stark County area.
Moncrief, who prefers outdoor activities, said the free weekend is a good opportunity for people who are not avid anglers to come out and give fishing a chance.
The permit-free event has become a popular promotion.
“I think if you come out Saturday here, it’ll be packed,” said fisherman Dennis Murray of Navarre. “In fact, I might be back here tomorrow.”
Murray was sitting in a chair with two lines cast into Sippo Lake when the same reporter and photographer approached him on the extended fishing pier.
Murray, like Moncrief, has been fishing most of his life. They both said the activity relaxes them.
Fish story in real time
The interview with Moncrief took a thrilling turn when he caught a small bluegill. But it was how he caught the fish that opened eyes and surprised everyone.
His hook snagged an old hook still in the mouth of the fish. The fish was still alive. He took the hook out of the fish and put the fish back into the lake.
“That is the craziest thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” Moncrief said.
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