The National Wild Turkey Federation’s (NWTF) collaboration with the #ResponsibleRecreation campaign comes at a great time during the COVID-19 crisis. The campaign was formed to encourage outdoor participation while following proper COVID-19 safety protocol.
Safety is of special concern during any hunting season, but especially during the spring wild turkey season since hunters blend in with their surroundings while dressed in camo.
Youth will encounter some cool morning temperatures during their hunt this weekend while hunters in the South Zone will see warmer morning temperatures during the opening week.
Remember wild turkey hunting hours during the first week are 30 minutes before sunrise to noon. Hunting hours from April 27-May 17 are 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset.
During the pandemic, the NWTF is encouraging hunters to practice #ResponsibleRecreation by using the following guidelines:
• Purchase licenses and tags online and in advance of going hunting or fishing.
Adhere to best practices to avoid COVID-19 (even while in the woods).
Know all COVID-19 regulations.
• Share the hunt in a light that respects the wildlife resources and social distancing restrictions.
“These are trying times for everyone throughout our country,” NWTF CEO Becky Humphries said. “However, we want people to know that they can still safely enjoy the outdoors and hopefully harvest a spring gobbler, while being mindful of federal and state guidelines and practicing #ResponsibleRecreation.”
* * *
The Crappie USA tourney scheduled May 15-16 on Grand Lake St. Marys has been canceled. It will not be made up since there are no rescheduling dates that will work.
According to a Crappie USA press release, anglers who would like to qualify for the organization’s classic Oct. 22-24 at Green River Lake, in Columbia, Kentucky, can participate in an event promoted by NK TELCO and Brushpile Fishing TV to be held in mid October on Delaware Lake. The top five teams will qualify for the classic. The event is a nonprofit benefit event for veterans.
For details, visit crappieusa.com
* * *
Lima’s Zach Maisch, a successful bass angler in the FLW T-H Marine Bass Fishing League (BFL) Michigan Division, has taken a different approach to fishing this spring since there are no bass tournaments going on.
He has been targeting walleye in the western basin of Lake Erie.
“I would say it has been pretty incredible. The health of Lake Erie’s walleye population is off the chart. Most people have been catching limits in quick order this time of year with hair jigs on the reef complexes,” Maisch said.
* * *
While some anglers have been out enjoying their favorite hobby, personnel in the Ohio Division of Wildlife (DOW) have continued with their regular jobs during the COVID-19 crisis.
More than 450,000 steelhead trout are expected to be raised in the Castalia State Fish Hatchery and will be stocked in six rivers that are tributaries of Lake Erie.
More than 40 truckloads of those 450,000 steelhead yearlings (6-8 inches) will be stocked into Ohio’s primary steelhead streams including the Vermilion, Rocky, Chagrin, Grand and Ashtabula rivers and Conneaut Creek.
According to the DOW, eggs are procured each spring from egg-taking operations in Michigan by the Michigan DNR (Little Manistee strain) and in Wisconsin by the Wisconsin DNR (Chambers Creek and Ganaraska strains). The steelhead strains used are proven in Lake Erie and provide steelhead runs in tributaries from fall through spring. Eggs are raised at the Castalia State Fish Hatchery for around 11-12 months to the yearling stage.
The yearlings, called smolts, migrate into Lake Erie and spend the summer in the cooler part of the lake before returning to streams during the fall through the spring. Steelhead trout caught by anglers in the streams typically average 25 inches long and weigh 5-6 pounds. These fish usually have spent 2-3 summers in Lake Erie. There also are a good number of fish that are over 30 inches and weigh more than 10 pounds and have spent up to five summers in the lake.
While DOW personnel are stocking the fish, the agency asks people to give hatchery trucks and personnel a wide berth, and practice extra social distancing. The public is asked not offer to help or walk up to the trucks or stocking tubes to talk with DOW employees.
Al Smith is a freelance outdoor writer. Contact him at email@example.com and follow him on Twitter @alsmithFL