Father’s Day weekend will also be a free fishing days weekend, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife.
Ohio residents will be permitted to fish for free, without the fear of being caught without a license by a natural resources officer, in any of Ohio’s public waters which includes state parks, Lake Erie and the Ohio River.
The agency said it is the only weekend all year when those 16 years of age and older are not required to obtain a license to fish in the state’s public waters.
Adam Somerville, a natural resources officer who patrols Rocky Fork Lake, Paint Creek Lake, Adams Lake, and part of the Ohio River, told The Times-Gazette fishing has been “hit or miss up here lately.”
“One day, the lake will be on fire, and the next week, nothing will be biting,” he said. “I’m seeing a lot of small crappies at about the eight-inch mark. The size limit is nine-inches, so it’s not good for this year, but should be pretty hot next year. Plus we’re not seeing the shad like normal, so the net fishermen trying to get bait for catfish are kind of discouraged.”
According to the Division of Wildlife, fish are plentiful in the Buckeye State, with its six fish hatcheries having stocked more than 69 million sport fish in public waters last year, including walleye, saugeye, yellow perch, steelhead, rainbow trout, brown trout, muskie, channel catfish, blue catfish and hybrid-striped bass.
At Rocky Fork’s Bayview Bait & Tackle, Lane Curtin said that bluegill and saugeye were biting, adding that crappie “were biting a little bit, but they’ve slowed down.”
The free fishing days weekend offers Ohioans of all ages the chance to experience the fun of catching a fish.
ODNR offered some tips for taking a young person out fishing, perhaps for the first time:
• Keep the trip simple by considering a child’s age and skill level.
• Choose a pond, lake or stream where children will be able to easily catch a few fish.
• Use live bait to increase the chance of catching a fish. Live bait may also be more interesting for children.
• Bring a camera and lots of snacks.
• Be patient and plan on spending time untangling lines, baiting hooks, landing fish and taking pictures.
• Above all things, have fun.
Anglers 16 years and older are required to have a valid fishing license to take fish, frogs or turtles from Ohio waters when not fishing on Ohio’s free fishing days weekend, and are available from participating agents and at wildohio.gov.
A valid fishing license is necessary for:
• Fishing in Ohio waters, which include waterways, state parks, Lake Erie and the Ohio River.
• Taking frogs or turtles on public and private property.
• Persons fishing in privately owned ponds, lakes, or reservoirs that are open to public fishing through an agreement or lease with the Ohio Division of Wildlife
• All persons must have their license in their possession while fishing and must show the license to anyone on request. Licenses may be displayed using a mobile device.
• Members of the U.S. Armed Forces on active duty stationed in Ohio, but not on leave or furlough, are required to purchase a resident license.
The website noted a fishing license isn not required of persons who are:
• Under the age of 16.
• Fishing in privately owned ponds, lakes, or reservoirs from which fish do not migrate.
• Assisting a fellow angler who has been issued the free mobility impaired or blind fishing license, provided they both are using only one line.
• Fishing, or taking frogs or turtles, on land and water which they or their parents own, except where the land is in or borders state parks or state-owned lakes.
• Fishing, or taking frogs or turtles, on land and water where they or their parents are tenants, and from which they derive the majority of their income from agricultural production on that land, except state-owned lakes.
• Members of the U.S. Armed Forces on active duty while on leave or furlough.
The ODNR pointed out that the sales of fishing licenses, along with the Sport Fish Restoration Program, continue to fund the Division of Wildlife’s fish management operations.
An Ohio resident fishing license is $25 for one year for a person aged 16-65. The senior resident license is $10 for one year for persons 66 and older born after Jan. 1, 1938; and the non-resident license for those 16 and older at the time of purchase is $50.96.
The Division of Wildlife estimated that 1.3 million Ohioans of all ages fish in the Buckeye State every year.
Reach Tim Colliver at 937-402-2571.