Open water fishing season approaching

By Al Smith - Guest Columnist

When the Ohio Division of Wildlife (DOW) begins talking about annual rainbow trout release dates and fishing opportunities at the Castalia Fish Hatchery, you know open water fishing season is a matter of weeks away.

The trout releases (which will be announced early next week) in 66 public lakes and ponds in the state are popular with angler for a variety of reasons. These releases of more than 100,000 catchable trout are on a put-and-take basis since water will warm too much later in the summer for the fish to survive.

The releases are popular with anglers. They can catch fish they normally would not seek since there are so few trout waters in Ohio. They are a quality fish to catch since many are in the 10-inch range and longer. At some locations, there is a youth-only fishing on the day of the trout release. This is a user-pay, user-benefit program.

A computer-generated random drawing will be held in early April to determine youth and adult to have the opportunity to fish Cold Creek at the Castalia Fish Hatchery. Approximately 100 adult and 90 youth permits will be issued. The adult season is May 3-Nov. 29 while the youth season is June 10-Aug. 9.

To be eligible for the random drawing, interested anglers must submit an application online at or obtain a paper form by calling 800-945-3543. That form must be returned by mail. The results of the adult drawing will be posted online at Successful youth applicants will be notified by mail. This year, all permits will be mailed. Applicants not chosen will not be notified.

Applicants of the youth lottery must be between the ages of 4 and 15 when they apply. Individuals selected to participate will be allowed to bring two adults and three youths under the age of 16 (no more than six people total).

Special rules are in effect. They include keeping all fish caught, not matter what size. There is no catch-and release, There is a five-fish trout limit per angler. Anglers must check in at the hatchery and check out at the close of their fishing session. All anglers 16 and older are required to have an Ohio fishing license.

Fishing sessions will be open from 7-11 a.m. for adult events, except for Friday sessions in May and June, which will conform to the morning and afternoon time blocks. For the youth events, anglers will be assigned to one of the two sessions per day (7-11 a.m. or 11 a.m.-3 p.m.).

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While talking about fishing, it’s time to renew your annual fishing license. Or you make use the option of purchasing a 3-year, 5-year, 10-year or lifetime license. Anglers as well as hunters can now purchase new licenses and permits at participating agents and also online at

While the annual hunting license is valid through Feb. 28, 2020, the fishing license is valid for 365 days from the date of purchase. For example, this new feature allows an angler who waits to purchase a license say on May 1 to have it valid through April 30, 2020. Ohio annual resident fishing and hunting licenses cost $19 each.

If a person has an Ohio driver’s license or state identification associated with the customer’s account, that person may purchase 3-year, 5-year and 10-year fishing and hunting licenses at license agents or online at

An individual wanting a lifetime license may apply online or at any of the five wildlife district office as well as the DOW headquarters in Columbus. Lifetime licenses cannot be purchased at license agent locations at this time.

Prices for multiyear and lifetime licenses are as follows:

Youth 3-year hunting - $28.60

Youth 5-year hunting - $47.58

Youth 10-year hunting - $95.16

Youth lifetime hunting or fishing - $430.56

Adult 3-year hunting or fishing - $54.08

Adult 5-year hunting or fishing - $90.22

Adult 10-year hunting or fishing - $180.44

Adult lifetime hunting or fishing - $468

Senior 3-year hunting or fishing - $28.60

Senior 5-year hunting or fishing - $47.58

Senior lifetime hunting or fishing - $84.24

Youth multiyear and lifetime licenses are available to any Ohio resident 17 years old and younger at the time of purchase. Senior multiyear and lifetime licenses are available for Ohio residents age 66 and older born on or after Jan. 1, 1938.

A Lake Erie permit ($11) is required for all nonresidents to fish Ohio waters of Lake Erie from Jan. 1-April 30 each year.

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Limaland professional bass angler Kyle Weisenburger boarded a plane in Akron Friday afternoon and flew to Orlando, Florida, to pick up his boat and then was headed to Lake Seminole in Bainbridge, Georgia, on Saturday for the third Fishing League Worldwide (FLW) tourney of the season.

He was getting ready for Sunday’s first day of practice for the tourney which runs Thursday through Sunday . He sits in 141st place in the points standings with 150 points.

“I feel like Seminole sets up to my strengths. There are a lot of different conditions that Seminole offers and I am excited to see what I can I figure out in my practice,” the Ottawa basser said. “It is an important event for me to get the season turned around and find my groove with my goal still to make the championship.”

By Al Smith

Guest Columnist

Al Smith is a freelance outdoor writer. You may contact him at and follow him on Twitter @alsmithFL

Al Smith is a freelance outdoor writer. You may contact him at and follow him on Twitter @alsmithFL

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