Fishing season is finally heating up. With the waters warming up and Mother Nature cooperating a little bit better than a few weeks ago, the bite has turned on both locally and at the big lake up north.
The walleye spawning season is wrapping up on Lake Erie and the fish are now on their migration to their deeper summer hangouts. Right now, keeper walleye are being caught almost every direction around Kelleys Island. The jig bite has dropped off quite a bit as the water approaches sixty degrees. However, anglers are having a lot of success with worm harnesses and bottom bouncers but the quick limits are coming with trolling deep diving crankbaits.
I’ve had success with both methods in the last few weeks but the bigger fish seem to becoming with the crankbaits. When the water was more turbid from the high winds, the chartreuse colors were hot but now that the water appears to be clearing up, the chrome bite has turned on.
Regardless of your preferred method of catching walleyes, now is the time to get up there and take advantage of trip or a charter as the bite has really turned on and the population of the 16 to 20 inches has been tremendous. I’ve even had a few bonus perch get caught on the bottom bouncers and you can’t beat a meal of fried walleye and perch.
Locally, the crappie bite has been hot and as the spawning season arrives for the bass, they too are starting to turn on. Late May and early June can be the best time to fish in Ohio, so be sure to take advantage of it before the summer heat arrives.
• Although it seems fishing season just arrived, it’s almost time to start thinking about hunting season for next year especially if you want to take advantage of the numerous controlled hunts offered throughout Ohio. Applications will soon be accepted for controlled deer and waterfowl hunts for the 2019-2020 season, according to the ODNR Division of Wildlife. The application period opens Saturday, June 1, and runs through Wednesday, July 31.
These special hunts are held on selected areas to provide additional opportunities for Ohio’s hunting enthusiasts. All applicants, youth and adult, must possess a 2019-2020 Ohio hunting license and meet the age requirements in order to apply for a controlled hunt.
Hunters may apply for the controlled hunts by completing the application process online using Ohio’s Wildlife Licensing System at wildohio.gov. There is a non-refundable application fee of $3 per hunt.
Hunters will be randomly drawn from submitted applications. Successful applicants will be notified and provided additional hunt information by mail and email. Applicants are encouraged to visit Ohio’s Wildlife Licensing System online to view the status of their application and, if selected, print their controlled hunt permit.
More specific information about hunt dates and locations, including opportunities dedicated to youth, women and mobility-impaired hunters can be found at wildohio.gov on the Controlled Hunts page.
• I mention this topic just about every spring but I’ll do it again because it is an important one. The spring season has arrived, offering many opportunities for Ohioans to help protect young wildlife. Each year, The Division of Wildlife offers this simple advice: enjoy wildlife from a distance and leave young animals alone. Wild animals are born to live their lives in the wild, and sometimes good intentions can hurt their chances of survival.
A young wild animal’s best chance for survival is with its mother. Most wildlife taken in by people do not survive, except when handled by specially-trained personnel. In many cases, a young animal collected by a person was not lost or abandoned, but was simply waiting for a parent to return.
Many adult wild animals will leave their young alone while they forage for food or to divert the attention of predators away from their vulnerable young, especially during daylight hours. In the case of white-tailed deer, a doe will hide her young from predators by leaving it alone in a secluded spot, such as a grassy meadow or a flower bed. A hidden fawn has virtually no scent, and when the fawn is left alone, it is difficult for predators to find. The doe is usually nearby and will tend to the fawn at night.
Baby birds that have fallen from their nests are one of the most common wildlife species that are removed from the wild by humans. Contrary to popular belief, human scent will not prevent the parents from returning to care for their young. Individuals should return baby birds back to their nests and walk away so the parents can continue to feed the birds without fear of humans.
If individuals find a young animal that is visibly injured or clearly in severe distress and may need assistance, visit wildohio.gov/staywild before taking any action. Specific information for commonly encountered wildlife species is available to help guide people on how to best help the animal.
State and federal laws protect and regulate wildlife in Ohio, and only specially trained and licensed wildlife rehabilitators, with special permits issued by the Division of Wildlife, may possess and care for native wild animals. These laws are in place for the benefit of humans as well as wild animals.
Be on the lookout for turtles on the roadway, especially during the months of May and June when turtles are looking for nesting sites. If it is safe, individuals can help a turtle cross the road. Move it in the direction in which it is traveling. However, do not make a wild turtle your pet! Removing turtles from their home can cause stress and make them sick. Understand that wild animals are born to live their lives in the wild – not in a house or cage.
Contact a local wildlife official before taking action. Call 800-WILDLIFE (800-945-3543) or visit wildohio.gov/staywild to connect with the proper individuals and to read about species-specific guidance. Human intervention is always a wild animal’s last hope for survival, never its best hope.
Until next time, Good Hunting and Good Fishing!
Ken Parrott is an Agricultural Science teacher with Northmor High School.