It is more than special regulations that make the La Su An Wildlife Area a special place to fish. As one of the state’s most delicately managed fisheries, it continues to serve up some of the best largemouth bass and bluegill fishing in Ohio.
The lakes at La Su An open for the 2013 season on Friday, and if your daydreams are at least partially occupied by visions of big bluegills and near nonstop bass action, the end of your angling rainbow points to this mini paradise.
“I don’t think you can beat it,” was the modest assessment of Mike Wilkerson, fish management supervisor for the Division of Wildlife’s northwest Ohio district.
“The La Su An area and the way it has been managed — it is definitely unique in Ohio, and my guess is that it’s unique for several states around us. It is an approach that is unusual, but one that really works.”
What has gone on at La Su An since the state started acquiring the property more than 30 years ago has been a strict and regimented science-based control of the fishing pressure and the harvest rate, and that formula has produced consistently outstanding fishing.
La Su An, essentially, plays by its own set of rules.
For a long period of time, the state maintained a check station at the wildlife area and in order to fish at any of the 13 small lakes and ponds tucked in the extreme northwest corner of Ohio, you needed to register your catch so that meticulous harvest records could be kept.
The fishing season was tied to the harvest quota, and closed when that figure was met. Fishing on the larger lakes required a reservation, and these were doled out in a controlled number to limit the pressure on the fishery.
While reservations are no longer required, parking at the wildlife area lakes is on a first-come, first-served basis. Parking is permitted in designated areas only, and once the spaces fill up, the lakes are closed until a parking spot becomes available. Last year was the first for this new, no-reservation system, and state wildlife officials were pleased with its implementation and the public’s use of the different format.
The sunfish or bluegill limits at La Su An are 15 total fish per day, with no more than five of those fish being 8 inches or larger. Largemouth bass must be 18 inches long, with a limit of five per day. There is a two-fish limit for channel catfish. The limits are in effect at all lakes and ponds at La Su An.
The 2,430-acre wildlife area, which lies in Williams County, has a unique roster of waters. Lake La Su An is the largest body on the property at about 82 acres. There are also Lake Ann, Lake Sue, Lake Lavere, Hogback Pond, Lou’s Pond, Clem’s Pond, Ed’s Pond, Lake Wood Duck, Lake Teal, Lake Mel, and Lake Us.
The West Branch of the St. Joseph River threads through the area after sneaking its way across the border with Michigan just a short distance north, while Nettle Lake lies just west of the La Su An complex.
Lake La Su An allows unlimited horsepower motors to be used with no wake, and outboards up to 10 horsepower may be used at Lavere, Sue, Ann, and Mel. From Friday through July 29, the lakes and ponds at La Su An will be open to fishing from sunrise to sunset just four days a week — on Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and Monday. The La Su An Wildlife Area is closed to fishing at all other times.
“The key has always been regulating the pressure,” Wilkerson said. “With careful management, we’ve been able to maintain the large bluegill populations up there.”
Before the state purchased the property, the previous owner had maintained a rich fishery by allowing only very limited access to the lakes and ponds. The state’s intensive management approach has been in place since Ohio acquired the tract. The area’s unusual name was derived from the first letters of the first names of the original owner’s wife and daughters.
JUDGES NEEDED: The public is invited to serve as the judges in the “People’s Choice Photo Contest” that runs Thursday through Saturday as part of the annual conference of the Outdoor Writers of Ohio on South Bass Island. Many of the finest photos from Ohio’s top outdoors photographers will be on display in the lobby of the Niagara Event Center on Concord Avenue in Put-in-Bay. Members of the public may vote for their favorite works, with the winner being announced on Saturday evening. Kasper Toyota in Sandusky and Toyota Motor Sales are sponsoring the event.
BOATING COURSE: Ottawa Hills Elementary School will host a boating education course from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday in the community room of the school on Indian Road. Toledo-area boater/educator Mike Schabeck will teach the course, which covers many aspects of boating, including navigation, rules of the road, signaling, personal watercraft, anchoring, docking, use of VHF radio, and trailering boats. Ohio course certifications will be issued after participants pass a short test on the material. Preregistration is available by contacting the Ottawa Hills Office of Village Life at 419-537-9852 or by leaving a message for Schabeck at 419-460-4829.
Contact Blade outdoors editor Matt Markey at: email@example.com or 419-724-6068.