Ohio Governor John Kasich, left, and Jim Zehringer, Director of the Ohio Department of Natural Resources, return to Port Clinton after a fishing trip on Lake Erie on Wednesday.
THE BLADE/ANDY MORRISON
PORT CLINTON — Gov. John Kasich celebrated the news that Cleveland will host the 2016 Republican National Convention with a Lake Erie fishing trip Wednesday, and encouraged the region’s fishermen to introduce GOP visitors to the lake during the event.
Kasich addressed about 150 people who came to the Lake Erie Shores & Islands — West during the 35th annual Governor’s Fish Ohio Day. Mr. Kasich said the convention offers an enormous opportunity for Lake Erie, not just Republicans.
He implored fishermen in the crowd to take delegates out on the lake when they’re here in June of 2016, to help raise the lake’s profile and put it into the national spotlight in a more positive way.
“We want to target all 50 states,” Mr. Kasich said. “Most people don’t know enough about Lake Erie.”
The crowd gave Mr. Kasich a rousing applause for the suggestion.
After the event concluded, Paul Pacholski, Lake Erie Charter Boat Association president, said he’s thrilled with the idea and said planning for it will begin at the association’s next meeting.
“It’s not partisan. We’d do the same thing for Democrats. It’s all about raising the profile of Lake Erie,” Mr. Pacholski told The Blade. “We’re going to be WAY on board with that.”
Lake Erie is visually at its peak in June. Most, but not all, algae blooms in mid- to late-August.
The governor got in about 90 minutes of fishing before the formal program, departing and returning to a Port Clinton dock.
He didn’t catch any of the lake’s prized walleye — he didn’t make it up from Columbus to the boat dock until noon — but caught two sheepshead, also known as freshwater drum. Both were released back into the water, Jeff Reutter, Ohio Sea Grant and Ohio State University Stone Laboratory director, said.
The only official action during the program was Mr. Kasich’s signing of a memorandum with Canada and other Great Lakes states to have Ohio work more with the region’s states and provinces to prevent more unwanted, destructive exotic species, such as Asian carp, zebra mussels, and sea lamprey.
The nonbinding agreement was made in principle in recent months, culminating in a summit in Chicago in late April.
The signing on Wednesday was largely ceremonial.
The focus Wednesday shifted away from invasive species to a toxic form of algae Lake Erie has endured since 1995.
The public health, recreation, and economic problem has thrust the lake into the national spotlight for the wrong reasons since the record outbreak of 2011.
Rick Stumpf, a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration oceanographer from Silver Spring, Md., will issue the third seasonal algae forecast the federal government has developed for Lake Erie, using the agency’s most sophisticated modeling system.
The new forecasting system was developed in response to the 2011 outbreak, and has proven to be accurate, though last year’s algae turned out being slightly worse than expected.
On Tuesday, U.S. Sen. Rob Portman (R., Ohio) told The Blade he expects a law he co-sponsored will play an important role in combating the toxic green scum that imperils drinking water, beaches, fishing, tourism, and property values.
The Harmful Algal Blooms and Hypoxia Research and Control Amendments Act of 2013 reauthorizes Congress to fund algae research and control efforts through at least 2018, possibly by as much as $20.5 million a year.
Contact Tom Henry at: email@example.com or 419-724-6079.