Agencies use trees, cribs to improve fish habitats

By Al Smith - Contributing Columnist

While some fisheries agencies continue “planting” trees, others are using cribs and still others are using both to improve fish habitat in impoundments they manage.

The Ohio Division of Wildlife (DOW) uses a combination. Some wildlife districts continue using a bunch of Christmas trees for habitat structure. Mike Wilkerson, fish management supervisor in Wildlife District Two out of Findlay likes what are called the Pennsylvania Porcupine Crib Jr. for habitat.

“I have been trying to move away from the Christmas trees and use something more permanent,” Wilkerson said of the crib boxes.

“They just provide cover for bait fish which then attracts predators to the area creating a concentration of fish for anglers to target. Other districts use some of these and some Christmas trees. It depends on a number of factors.” he explained.

The DOW put some of these cribs in Oxbow Lake on the Oxbow Wildlife Area just north of Defiance in 2013. The agency also has put some in the Defiance Reservoir and Findlay Reservoir No. 2.

The Pennsylvania Fish And Boat Commission uses two types of cribs. The porcupine and porcupine jr. The regular crib is for deeper impoundments while the junior is for shallower bodies of water.

As bodies of water age via erosion by wind, native stump fields may disappear and consequently cover for fish also disappears.

According to the Pennsylvania agency, “Porcupine Crib Jrs. can provide alternative cover for pre- and post-spawning adult panfish and black bass plus seasonal ambush and refuge cover for juveniles.”

These man-made structures mimic habitat provided by native stumps and may be the only true woody cover in some bodies of water, especially reservoirs.

According to the fish commission, the jr. crib consists of rough-cut true-dimensional green hemlock or yellow poplar, which translates into 38 pieces of 2 inches by 2 inches by 4 inches. Among other materials are eight two-core 8-inch concrete blocks.

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A pair of Findlay bass anglers did well last Saturday (July 11) in Walmart sponsored fishing action.

Brian Clark finished 10th among co-anglers in the Walmart Bass Fishing League (BFL) Michigan Division tournament on the Detroit River. He weighed in five bass that tipped the scales at 14 pounds, 7 ounces.

College student Sidney Hoover and his Ohio State teammate Tom Csepe of Copley, placed sixth in the FLW College Fishing Northern Conference event on Indian Lake. Their five bass total weighed 6 pounds, 10 ounces.

The Ohio Northern University team of Austin Hostetler of Dover and Cole Cochran of Troy, was eighth and their five bass weighed 5 pounds, 5 ounces.

The Miami University of Ohio team of Chris Bulaw of Wheaton, Ill., and Josh Prephan of Perrysburg won the event with five bass weighing 9 pounds, 12 ounces.

These three teams are among the top 15 teams that advanced to the Northern Conference Championship tournament in the Chesapeake Bay.

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For the second successive weekend, a Walmart BFL tournament on the Ohio River at Tanner’s Creek in Lawrenceburg, Indiana, has been postponed and rescheduled. The Buckeye Division event has been relocated to Mosquito Lake State Park in Cortland for July 25. It was supposed to have been held Saturday (July 18) on the Ohio River.

The Hoosier Division tourney slated for last Saturday (July 11) has been rescheduled for Aug. 29 at Tanner’s Creek.

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While up along Lake Erie during the July 4 weekend, it was obvious there was plenty of law enforcement available on the lake.

Saw a Port Clinton Police boat along with an Ottawa County Sheriff’s Office boat and an Ohio Division of Wildlife boat.

However, the real eye-opening vessel was the one operated by the U.S. Customs and Border Protection. It had four 300-hp engines. There is no question this is the fastest boat on Lake Erie Ohio waters.

There is a U.S. Customs office in Port Clinton. Remember, the Canadian border is not that many miles from the Ohio shoreline.

By Al Smith

Contributing Columnist

Al Smith is a freelance outdoor writer. He may be contacted at or and you can follow him on Twitter @alsmithFL

Al Smith is a freelance outdoor writer. He may be contacted at or and you can follow him on Twitter @alsmithFL

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