While Lima area anglers have been able to fish throughout the COVID-19 limitations, bass anglers have been chomping at the bit to get back into tournament competition. They won’t have long to wait.
Area bassers who fish the FLW Bass Fishing League (BFL) circuit, saw the tourney opener on Grand Lake St. Marys postponed in the Buckeye Division. However, the schedule for the summer has been reset with the tourney opener slated for June 1 on Indian Lake.
The remainder of the Buckeye schedule includes a stop July 11 on the Ohio River at Tanners Creek followed by another Ohio River event out of Maysville. On Aug. 15. A two-day event Aug. 29-30 will be held on Lake Erie with the final event set for Sept. 26 on Grand Lake St. Marys.
Some Lima area bassers also compete in the Michigan Division. The opener in that division is set for July 18 on Lake St. Clair. Anglers are back on the same lake for another tourney Aug. 1. They go to the Detroit River on Aug. 15 and 16 and again Sept. 26 and 27.
Kyle Weisenburger of Columbus Grove has not competed on the FLW Warehouse Tackle circuit since late March. That circuit has not had a tourney since the Lake Martin event in Alexander City, Alabama. Despite having his worst outing of the season there, the Lima area pro says he “is so ready to be back to competition.”
The tourney schedule has been revamped with the next event slated for June 23 on Lake Chickamauga in Tennessee. Following that event, the tour moves to the Mississippi River out of La Crosse, Wisconsin, on July 29 and winds up with a tourney on the Detroit River on Aug. 11.
During his time away from the circuit Weisenburger has been doing some bass fishing and had some good success catching. He has been fishing local lakes, reservoirs and rivers.
“I feel my skills are very sharp right now,” he said.
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Lima area wild turkey hunters continue to fare much better than their counterparts in other areas of the state following three weeks of the annual spring season. The season comes to a close Sunday.
Locally, hunters checked in 430 wild turkeys through May 10 compared to 410 checked during the same period in the 2019 season. Statewide hunters checked in 13,564 wild turkeys through May 10 while hunters harvested 15,565 wild turkeys during the same time frame in 2019.
Six of the nine local counties continue to show an increase over a year ago.
Auglaize County continues to show the largest increase with 45 checked this year compared to 31 checked during the same period last year. The other five counties showing an increase with numbers from this year compared to numbers in 2019 in parenthesis were: Allen with 65 (59). Hancock 34 (29), Hardin 78 (77), Mercer 21 (16) and Shelby 34 (31).
On the down side, 94 turkeys were checked in Logan County compared to 99 a year ago while 45 were checked in Putnam County compared to 50 a year ago and a total of 12 were checked in Van Wert compared to 17 in 2019.
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Last week in this space, it was mentioned about being prepared to boat or paddle on cold water. With COVID-19 forcing everyone to change their habits in some way, boaters are being encouraged to follow safety and social distancing guidelines for safe outdoor recreation.
Wearing a life jacket is of utmost importance in safety while boating and is emphasized during National Safe Boating Week, which begins Saturday (May 16) and runs through next Friday.
There were 13 boating fatalities in Ohio during 2019. Of those deaths, five were reported as not wearing their life jackets. Ohio statistics show that drowning was the reported cause of the death in nine of all boating fatalities last year.
“Year after year, state and national statistics show that life jackets save lives,” ODNR Director Mary Mertz said. “We’re making great strides in educating visitors to follow social distancing guidelines outdoors, but it’s equally important to help protect our friends and family by reminding them to wear their life jackets while boating.”
ODNR and the National Safe Boating Council offer these safety tips for boating and social distancing:
• Follow state and local guidance for outdoor recreation.
• Share a float plan with a family member or friend with the details of your trip in the event of an emergency.
• Carry all required boating safety equipment such as flares, navigation lights, a horn or whistle, and a first aid kit.
• Limit the people aboard your boat to people in your immediate household.
• Stay at least six feet away from other people who do not live in your house.
• Maintain safe distance at the fuel dock or loading up at the marina.
• Wash hands frequently or use a hand sanitizer, such as after touching a marina gate or fuel pump.
• Don’t raft up to other boaters or pull up onto a beach next to someone else as it could put you in close proximity to others.
• Go right from your house to the boat and back so that you don’t have unnecessary contact with anyone.
• Pack food, water, and other things you may need as restaurants and marina stores may not be open.
• Never boat under the influence.
• No distracted boating and travel at safe speeds.
• Have more than one communication device that works when wet.
Al Smith is a freelance outdoor writer. You may contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org and follow him on Twitter @alsmithFL.