Outdoors: Fishing bait rules try to stop invasive species


By Al Smith - Contributing Columnist



Ohio and Michigan are checking the movement of live bait, since each has a huge concern about aquatic invasive species and wants to minimize the spread of pathogens, such as viral hemorrhagic septicemia.

The major threat from AIS is the bighead and silver carp (Asian carp) getting into water systems. Wildlife agencies figure the primary prevention to such a possibility is via the bait trade, since there could be an inadvertent transfer of live fish through live bait fishing.

Regulations to regulate the bait trade recently were put into effect in both states.

According to the Ohio Division of Wildlife, the following actions have been instituted:

• Regulation: Institution of rules prohibiting people from releasing any fish or aquatic insect into waters from where it did not originate. This will help eliminate the movement of AIS into new bodies of water.

• Surveillance: Checking live bait for the presence of AIS and specifically Asian carp through the inspection of bait outlets in Ohio. This will help prevent the inadvertent transfer of AIS to anglers purchasing bait who could potentially transfer AIS to new waterways by dumping unused bait.

• Education: Providing bait outlets with educational materials geared at identifying AIS that could potentially be in the bait trade.

• Outreach: Distribution of educational materials that instruct anglers to not dump unused bait into public bodies of water.

In Michigan, fish disease regulations include:

• All personally collected bait is required to be used on the same water in which it was collected.

• The state’s VHS-positive, surveillance and free management zones have been removed.

• The list of susceptible fish species has been updated and expanded.

• The restriction on the use of roe (fish eggs) in the exclusion zones has been removed, as fish eggs have not been documented moving VHS.

• All commercially harvested bait in November and December is required to be tested and certified as disease-free, as this time period represents 80 percent of the total annual minnow harvest in Michigan.

• A spring disease test is required for bait harvested in five zones of the Huron-Erie Corridor by the commercial bait industry to continue to monitor VHS.

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As an Ohio fishing license holder, you may have received or will receive a survey via email from Ohio State University asking you to participate in a survey that covers fishing-related topics.

The Ohio Division of Wildlife and OSU often participate as partners in such endeavors.

According to the DOW, this survey is aimed at answering questions such as how many anglers fish Lake Erie as well as understanding how Ohio’s licensed anglers utilize other resources managed by the wildlife agency.

The DOW says anglers that have recently fished Lake Erie will be asked a series of questions about walleye, yellow perch or black bass fishing to help determine what characteristics of these fisheries determine successful fishing trips. Fisheries biologists will use this information to determine management strategies for these important fisheries.

• • •

Ohio’s free fishing weekend is May 7 and 8 and would be a perfect time to get back into fishing if you have dropped out for a season or more. It is also a free time to introduce the sport to a friend or family member who does not fish, since no license is required. This applies to only Ohio residents.

This is the only weekend all year that does not require anyone 16 years old or older to obtain a fishing license.

Ohio State Parks is also offering a camping discount during Ohio’s Free Fishing Days. Campers can receive a 20 percent off discount May 6-7 by using the promotion code 16ANGLER.

While Ohio only allows in-state residents to fish for free on its free fishing weekend, Michigan allows out-of-staters to fish free during its summer free fishing weekend, which is scheduled for June 11 and 12.

• • •

While you are fishing this spring, definitely make sure you do a tick check periodically and especially when you return home. From experience, there have been numerous ticks this season already. One evening, I had two on my legs in a matter of a couple of minutes while checking out one spot.

• • •

Cody Seeger, of Lewistown, wound up eighth with a five-fish limit that weighed 10 pounds, 3 ounces in the season’s first FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) Buckeye Division tournament last Saturday (April 22) Grand Lake St. Marys. Gary Ginter, of Maplewood, weighed a five-bass limit totaling 13 pounds, 1 ounce to win the event.

John Long, of New Bremen, caught four bass that weighed 8 pounds, 1 ounce, which was one ounce behind winner Brandon Knapmeyer, of Union, Ky., in the co-angler division.

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By Al Smith

Contributing Columnist

Al Smith is a freelance outdoor writer. He may be contacted at flyfishman7@hotmail.com or follow him on Twitter @alsmithFL

Al Smith is a freelance outdoor writer. He may be contacted at flyfishman7@hotmail.com or follow him on Twitter @alsmithFL

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