Month: April 2011

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Ohio Free Fishing Days 2011 May 7 and 8

COLUMBUS, OH – Ohioans are encouraged to take advantage of “Free Fishing Days” on May 7 and 8 and experience the great fishing Ohio has to offer, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), Division of Wildlife. For these two days only, Ohio anglers may fish in any of the state’s public waters without having to buy a fishing license.

During the rest of the year, anglers 16 years of age and older are required to have a valid fishing license to take fish, frogs or turtles from Ohio waters. An Ohio fishing license is one of the best recreation bargains available, costing only $19 a year for residents.

Ohio residents born on or before December 31, 1937 can obtain a free fishing license at any license vendor. Residents age 66 and older who were born on or after January 1, 1938 are eligible to obtain a reduced cost ($10) senior fishing license. A one-day fishing license is also available for $11, an amount that later can be applied toward the cost of an annual fishing license. Fishing licenses are available at bait and tackle stores, outdoor outfitters, major department stores, as well as on the Internet at

Ohio’s Free Fishing Days were established in 1993 to promote fishing and allow Ohioans to experience fishing before buying a license. The offer is open to Ohio residents, and extends to all public waters including Lake Erie and the Ohio River. An estimated 1.3 million people fish each year in Ohio.

Great fishing exists around the state and throughout the year. In late winter and early spring, anglers reel in excellent catches of steelhead trout and walleye from northern Ohio streams. Spring also means great saugeye and crappie fishing. During the summer months, the fishing heats up on Lake Erie for yellow perch, walleye, and smallmouth bass, while anglers on the Ohio River enjoy excellent striped bass fishing.

The Free Fishing Free Days weekend offers Ohioans of all ages the chance to experience the fun of fishing. For anyone taking a young angler, there’s nothing more rewarding than teaching a kid to fish.  Here are some helpful tips:

  • Keep it simple. Consider the child’s age and skill level. If this is their first time, shore fishing is recommended.
  • Kids like to catch fish. The size of fish doesn’t matter to kids. But catching a fish—any fish—does. Choose a pond, lake or stream where they will easily be able to catch a few fish.
  • Use simple tackle. A good rod and reel for kids costs between $15 and $30.  A spin-cast reel is easy to use and, after a few practice casts, kids usually have mastered it.
  • Bring along a camera. Children love to show off pictures of their “big catch.” Share your fishing photos at
  • Keep the trip fun-and short. Let the child have a good time, even if it means taking a break. Take time out to explore and enjoy the time together.
  • Be patient. Plan on spending some time untangling lines, baiting hooks, landing fish, and taking pictures of big smiles and wiggling fish. By concentrating all your attention on your young angler, you’ll likely be developing a fishing buddy for a lifetime.

ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR Web site at

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Cabela’s “Wanna Go Fishing for Million$” Partner’s with PA Fish and Boat

Cabela's 50 Years 50 Trucks Sweepstakes

Harrisburg, PA – Get out your shiny lures and round up your fishing gear. Cabela’s and supporting sponsors announced today Wanna Go Fishing for Millions?, a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to win millions of dollars in cash and prizes by enjoying one of America’s favorite pastimes – fishing.

Cabela’s is tagging hundreds of fish in selected waters in states that have Cabela’s retail stores – including Pennsylvania – and every one of them is a winner. Among the winning fish, there are grand prize winners that may qualify for additional bonuses based on the winning angler using or wearing sponsors’ products when they catch a tagged fish.

The Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission (PFBC) is Cabela’s state partner and will tag fish in selected waters, which will be publicly announced on May 14, the official start of the contest. The contest runs through July 14.

PFBC Executive Director John Arway said the timing of the contest is perfect because it will coincide with the PFBC’s Fish-for-Free Day on Memorial Day, Monday, May 30, giving vacationing families more incentive to try fishing.

“The contest creates a fantastic opportunity to promote all the fishing opportunities we have in Pennsylvania to first-time anglers on our Fish-for-Free Day,” he said. “On this day, we will hold special events at many of the selected contest waters. We will have exhibits, fishing instruction and tips, free publications and more.”

“The contest – and in particular the Fish-for-Free Day – promises to be fun and exciting for all levels of anglers,” Arway added. “Now when someone is fishing and feels that tug on their line, they will be thinking ‘Am I reeling in a million dollar prize?’”

Fish-for-Free Days allow anyone (resident or non-resident) to legally fish. No fishing license is required to fish on these days. All other fishing regulations apply. The second Fish-for-Free Day is Labor Day, Sept. 5.

Winning is as easy as baiting a hook. Go to the PFBC’s website for contest and Fish-for-Free information at: Anglers need to pre-register and hit their local waters between May 14 and July 14 for their chance at winning a fish worth $2.2 million.

The mission of the Fish and Boat Commission is to protect, conserve, and enhance the Commonwealth’s aquatic resources and provide fishing and boating opportunities. For more information about fishing and boating in Pennsylvania, please visit our website at

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Enter the Annual Cranberry Bog Lottery

The Ohio and Erie Canal in 1902

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COLUMBUS, OH – Nature enthusiasts throughout Ohio are encouraged to enter a lottery to tour Ohio’s only floating island – Cranberry Bog State Nature Preserve in Buckeye Lake – during the bog’s annual open house from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, June 18.

Attendance at this popular open house is limited, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), Division of Natural Areas and Preserves.

Anyone interested in touring the bog on June 18 should send a postcard to the ODNR Division of Natural Areas & Preserves, 2045 Morse Road, Building C-3, Columbus, Ohio 43229.  Postcards must be postmarked by May 31 and contain the following information: contact name, address with zip code, daytime phone number and total number of people in the party (not to exceed four).  Only one postcard will be accepted per family.

The lottery drawing will be held in early June, and winners will be notified by mail.  Walk-in visitors are welcome to attend, however, they will not be guaranteed a time slot.  Boat transportation to and from the island will be provided by the Greater Buckeye Lake Historical Society for a donation of $5 per person.

Cranberry Bog is one of Ohio’s most unique natural areas.  The 11-acre island, located approximately 100 yards off the north shoreof Buckeye Lake in Fairfield County, was registered as a National Natural Landmark in 1968.  Its unique composition gives the island a spongy surface, therefore visitors are required to remain on the boardwalk.

The island dates from 1830 when Buckeye Lake was created as a feeder reservoir for the Ohio & Erie Canal.  A 50-acre portion of the lake’s bed, once a thriving sphagnum bog, rose with the waters.  Cranberry Bog is what remains of that portion after nearly two centuries.

Aside from the annual open house, visitation to Cranberry Bog State Nature Preserve is by written permit only.

ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all.  Visit the ODNR Web site at

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Portage Lake Dam Renovation : Water Level Will Not Be Lowered

A crane with a pile driver.

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COLUMBUS, OH – Work on rehabilitating the Portage Lakes State Park’s West Reservoir will not require the lake level to be lowered, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR).

The use of a hydraulic pile driver, a relatively new technology, will allow construction to proceed without lowering the lake level ahead of the previously scheduled draw down.  Initially it was thought the lake level would have to be dropped by three feet for the project a month ahead of time.

“Our priority throughout this project was to make sure it was being conducted in the safest manner possible and to protect the lives of people and property around the lake,” said David Payne, chief of Ohio State Parks.  “The use of this new technology will allow us to proceed in a safe manner without inconveniencing the many boaters who enjoy the use of the lake.”

Construction on the project is anticipated to begin in August.  The dam, built in the 1840s, will be reinforced with a sturdy concrete shell that will be covered with soil and replanted with grass to maintain its historic appearance.  The existing spillway will also be replaced with a new concrete spillway and the pedestrian bridge on the crest of the dam will be demolished and replaced with a new bridge.  The project is expected to be completed in August 2012.

This year’s normal fall drawdown will occur in mid-October through mid-November.  After this year, the traditional fall drawdown will occur every other year.

The West Reservoir Dam project is part of an ongoing capital construction improvement program for the Portage Lakes to ensure that the dams and associated structures are safe.  Area residents may notice increased truck traffic along with some noise and dust while construction is underway.  Residents are urged to keep children a safe distance from the construction site and the equipment.

ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all.  Visit the ODNR Web site at

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Ohio Spring Turkey Season Underway

Kalkoen Turkey

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COLUMBUS, OH – Ohio hunters harvested a preliminary total of 2,646 bearded wild turkeys on the first day of the spring turkey-hunting season, which is open statewide through May 15, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), Division of Wildlife.

Top counties for wild turkeys killed on Monday were: Guernsey – 94; Adams – 88; Tuscarawas – 85; Muskingum – 81; Coshocton and Knox – 79; Belmont – 73; Washington – 72; Brown – 71; and Ashtabula – 70.

The Division of Wildlife estimates that more than 70,000 people will hunt turkeys during the four-week season. Legal hunting hours are one-half hour before sunrise until noon from April 18 to May 1, 2011. Hunting hours May 2-15 will be a half hour before sunrise to sunset. Ohio’s wild turkey population was estimated at 200,000 prior to the start of the spring season.

A special youth-only hunt for hunters age 17 and younger was held statewide on Saturday and Sunday, April 16-17. Young hunters killed 1,455 birds statewide. Top reporting counties were: Ashtabula – 49; Brown and Tuscarawas – 47; Highland – 46; Licking – 45; Muskingum – 44; Carroll – 42; Jackson – 40; and Adams and Washington – 38.

Only bearded wild turkeys may be taken during the spring hunting season. A hunter is required to check in their turkey by 11 p.m. on the day of harvest. Hunters with the proper permits may take a limit of two bearded gobblers during the four-week season, but not more than one wild turkey per day.

Hunters must still report their turkey harvest, but they are no longer required to take their turkey to a check station for physical inspection. Instead, hunters have three options to complete the new automated game check:

On the Internet at or
By telephone at 1-877-TAG-ITOH (1-877-824-4864). This option is only available to those who are required to have a turkey permit to hunt turkeys.
At all license agents. A list of these agents can be found at
Game-check transactions will be available online and by telephone seven days a week and during holidays. License agents’ locations will be available for turkey check-in during normal business hours. Please call the license agent for specific hours of operation. All turkeys must be checked in by 11 p.m. the day of kill.

ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR Web site at

EDITORS NOTE – Below is a list of preliminary wild turkey harvest results for the 2011 spring season opening day:

Adams – 88; Allen – 7; Ashland – 24; Ashtabula – 70; Athens – 69; Auglaize – 4; Belmont – 73; Brown – 71; Butler – 30; Carroll – 41; Champaign – 14; Clark – 4; Clermont – 54; Clinton – 9; Columbiana – 56; Coshocton – 79; Crawford – 15; Cuyahoga – 1; Darke – 3; Defiance – 19; Delaware – 20; Erie – 8; Fairfield – 21; Fayette – 0; Franklin – 4; Fulton – 9; Gallia – 64; Geauga – 42; Greene – 6; Guernsey – 94; Hamilton – 30; Hancock – 5; Hardin – 8; Harrison – 67; Henry – 4; Highland – 59; Hocking – 44; Holmes – 30; Huron – 31; Jackson – 43; Jefferson – 62; Knox – 79; Lake – 11; Lawrence – 29; Licking – 67; Logan – 24; Lorain – 15; Lucas – 3; Madison – 0; Mahoning – 24; Marion – 4; Medina – 11; Meigs – 69; Mercer – 3; Miami – 5; Monroe – 55; Montgomery – 1; Morgan – 54; Morrow – 31; Muskingum – 81; Noble – 31; Ottawa – 0; Paulding – 7; Perry – 38; Pickaway – 4; Pike – 46; Portage – 29; Preble – 10; Putnam – 3; Richland – 53; Ross – 58; Sandusky – 3; Scioto – 36; Seneca – 22; Shelby – 6; Stark – 27; Summit – 4; Trumbull – 47; Tuscarawas – 85; Union – 7; Van Wert – 3; Vinton – 33; Warren – 17; Washington – 72; Wayne – 15; Williams – 24; Wood – 4; Wyandot – 14. Total – 2,646.

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Coldwater Boating Safety Tips: Be Prepared

Boat at the Canal

COLUMBUS, OH – The swamping and capsizing of a small boat resulting in occupants being unexpectedly immersed in frigid water poses a serious threat to boaters and anglers getting out on the water this time of year as water temperatures slowly begin to warm.  The best way to survive a cold water immersion and guard against hypothermia and drowning is to properly wear a life jacket and be dressed for cold water temperatures instead of warmer air temperatures, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), Division of Watercraft.

A few things anglers and boaters can do to be prepared for outings on the water is to wear an approved life jacket or inflatable vest.  This keeps a person afloat should they fall off a boat or a boat capsizes.  The second tip is to wear protective clothing, such as synthetics, wool or polypropylene that help reduce the loss of body heat when immersed in cold water.  A third safety tip is to ensure that boats are properly loaded with people and gear before launching on the water to reduce the chance of swamping and capsizing.

More cold water and other boating safety tips are available online at

The Division of Watercraft reports that among 15 fatal boating accidents last year, none of the victims were found to be wearing a life jacket or vest.  In seven of the accidents, life jackets and vest were not aboard the boats as required by state and federal laws.

The ODNR Division of Watercraft administers Ohio’s boating and scenic rivers programs.  The agency oversees watercraft registration and titling operations, provides funding to local communities for education, enforcement and boating access facilities, educates the public and enforces boating laws on Ohio’s waterways.

ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR Web site

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2011-2012 Ohio Hunting Seasons Approved

A white-tailed deer

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COLUMBUS, OH – Hunting and trapping regulations for 2011-12 seasons were passed by the Ohio Wildlife Council at the April 6 meeting, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife.

The proposed change to move Fayette County from Deer Zone B to Zone A was approved.  A rule to eliminate the requirement for all packages of deer meat produced during the butchering process to be marked with the tag, seal or certificate number was also passed.  The tag, seal or certificate must be maintained until the entire deer has been consumed, but the package no longer needs to be marked.

Hunters can again buy antlerless deer permits at reduced prices for hunting in an urban zone, participating in a Division of Wildlife-authorized controlled hunt or hunting during the September 24 to November 27 portion of the deer season.  The sale of reduced priced antlerless permits will cease after November 27, so hunters need to commit early to buying and using the extra reduced-cost permits to take full advantage of this opportunity. The deadline for using the antlerless permit will be extended to December 4 for those hunting in Deer Zone C.  Cost of the antlerless deer permit remains $15.

Deer Limits

The maximum number of deer that a hunter may take in Deer Zone A is two.  Prior to November 28, hunters may take up to two deer in Zone A, one of which may be on a $15 antlerless deer permit.  Beginning November 28, hunters may take only one deer in Zone A and antlerless permits may not be used.

The maximum number of deer that a hunter may take in Deer Zone B is four.  Prior to November 28, hunters may take up to four deer in Zone B, two of which may be on $15 antlerless deer permits.  Beginning November 28, hunters may take only two deer in Zone B and antlerless permits may not be used.

The maximum number of deer that a hunter may take in Deer Zone C is six.  Prior to December 5, hunters may take up to six deer in Zone C, three of which may be on $15 antlerless deer permits.  Beginning December 5, hunters may take only three deer in Zone C and antlerless permits may not be used.

Those hunting in urban zones and at Division of Wildlife-authorized controlled hunts will again have a six-deer bag limit, and those deer will not count against the hunter’s zone bag limit.

Either a $15 antlerless deer permit and a valid hunting license or $24 deer permit and a valid hunting license are required to hunt deer in Ohio.  A hunter may take only one antlered deer in Ohio, regardless of zone, hunting method or season.

2011-12 White-tailed Deer Seasons and Dates

  • Archery season  September 24 through February 5, 2012
  • Special area muzzleloader hunts October 17-22
  • Youth deer-gun season  November 19-20
  • Statewide deer-gun season  November 28 through December 4 and December 17-18
  • Statewide muzzleloader season  January 7-10, 2012

During the 2010-2011 season hunters killed a total of 239,260 deer.  Approximately 475,000 people hunt white-tailed deer in Ohio.

Hunting seasons for rabbit, pheasant, quail, squirrel, crow, and wild turkey were approved as proposed.  So were trapping seasons for beaver, mink, muskrat, and river otter, along with the hunting and trapping seasons for beaver, fox, raccoon, skunk, and weasel.

2011-12 Hunting and/or Trapping Seasons and Dates

  • Squirrel  September 1 through January 31, 2012
  • Ruffed grouse – October 8 through January 31, 2012
  • Fall Wild Turkey – October 8 – November 27, in specified counties
  • Youth upland season – October 22-23 and October 29-30
  • Cottontail rabbit  November 4 through February 29, 2012
  • Ring-necked Pheasant November 4 through January 8, 2012
  • Bobwhite Quail – November 4-27, in specified counties
  • Fox, raccoon, skunk, opossum, and weasel – November 10 through January 31, 2012
  • Mink and muskrat  November 10 through February 29, 2012
  • Mink, muskrat, raccoon, skunk, opossum, and weasel (Lake Erie Marsh area)  November 10 through March 15, 2012
  • Beaver – December 26 through February 29, 2012
  • River Otter – December 26 through February 29, 2012
  • Youth Spring Wild Turkey Season – April 21 and 22, 2012
  • Spring Wild Turkey – April 23, 2012 through May 20, 2012
  • Crow (Fri, Sat, Sun only) – June 3, 2011 through March 12, 2012 and June 2, 2012 through March 11, 2013
  • Coyote and woodchuck – No closed season

Rules and season dates for migratory birds including mourning dove, Canada goose, rail, moorhen, snipe, woodcock, and waterfowl hunting will be set in August, in compliance with the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service‘s 2011-12 framework.

All hunting and trapping season dates and rules can be found at

ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all.  Visit the ODNR Web site

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Stuck in Ohio: Is the Bridge Project the Key to a Skatepark in Youngstown:

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