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Published: Thursday, 12/6/2001

Ohio beavers increase range

Beavers, one of Ohio's large furbearers, have been making inroads into northwest Ohio and now have been seen in Oak Openings Preserve Metropark.

Scott Haas, a technologist at the Medical College of Ohio, said that he and his wife, Beverly, were crossing Swan Creek on the Wilkins Road bike-trail bridge Saturday morning when they spied two of the big flat-tailed mammals.

Haas said that they had a good look at the animals through binoculars. “I couldn't believe how big they are.” Beavers at maturity are about three feet long, including tail, and weigh about 45 pounds.

“They seem to be spreading,” noted Chris Dwyer, furbearer biologist with the Ohio Division of Wildlife. But he was mildly surprised at the western Lucas County sighting.

The biologist said that the state has about 28,000 beavers, with the heaviest concentrations in the northeast and the southeast regions. But he has seen some beaver sign in the Sandusky River drainage in northwest Ohio and he suspects that the furbearers are spreading down the river valleys into the region.

“They're really expanding in central and southwest Ohio,” Dwyer said, noting that Williams County in extreme northwest Ohio has a resident population. He added it is impossible to tell whether the pair of animals seen at Oak Openings have migrated from Williams County or moved down the rivers from central Ohio.

In the spring of 1998 a road-killed beaver was recorded in Sandusky County north of Fremont, and some beaver have become established in Erie and Huron counties. “But they're still pretty rare in northwest Ohio,” the biologist said.

Sub-adult beavers may travel long distances to establish their own territories. Beavers were thought to be gone from Ohio by 1830 but they reappeared along the Pennsylvania border in 1936. A total of 317 colonies were located in 1961, and the population has grown well since then.

Fishing report - The mild late-autumn weather has allowed some decent yellow perch fishing to continue in western Lake Erie in the Huron area, and steelhead trout action has taken off in lake tributaries from Vermilion to the Pennsylvania line.

Jerry Modic of Huron Bait and Supply said he is seeing 30 to 40 cars a day, with perch fishermen doing the best on the outer end of the long Huron city pier.

The night walleye activity, a feature in many recent autumns, has not yet developed, Modic said. Anglers generally cast crankbaits off piers and rocky shorelines after dark for walleye chasing gizzard shad inshore. The shopkeeper said that some boats still are taking walleye about two miles off the Huron River mouth.

On one weekend trip to Huron pier, Doak Wright of North Baltimore and a buddy took 55 perch in two days, up to 131/4 inches long, plus “tons” of small white bass.

On the steelhead front, last week's rains left many northeast Ohio streams too high and muddy to fish, but as the streams clear and settle steelhead action is expected to resume to earlier excellent levels.

Some steelhead have been taken as far west as the Huron River, but public access to the stream is limited. The next stream east, the Vermilion River, has been hot, said Melissa Hathaway, a spokesman for the Ohio Division of Wildlife. Steelhead are not stocked in the Vermilion, but enough strays have wandered there to create a small fishery.

About 400,000 steelhead are released annually among the Rocky, Chargrin and Grand rivers and Conneaut Creek. But the big lake-run trout find their way into virtually every Lake Erie tributary in some numbers. The fish are reared to six to nine inches long at the Castalia State Fish Hatchery, then released.

More information on steelheading is available at the web page of the state's Fairport Fish Research Station at www.dnr.state. oh.us/wildlife/fishing/fairport/steelhead.htm. Or call 1-800-WILDLIFE.

Al Duquette was the top angler last summer among competitors in Bass Unlimited, a Toledo-area fishing club. He set a club record with 33 fish weighing 52.82 pounds for 10 tournaments, all fished in inland lakes.

Second place went to Paul Grisez with 27 fish weighing 49.81 pounds, and third went to Ron Grisez for 20 fish at 42.64 pounds.

Overall the club reported catching and releasing 279 bass weighing almost 516 pounds. Big stringer of the year went to Ron Grisez at 16.12 pounds. He also caught the largest bass of the circuit at 4.73 pounds.

Top team weight of the circuit went to Ron Grisez and Gary Obryant at 22 pounds-plus. The club fishes only inland lakes, said Paul Grisez, BU president.

Steve Pollick is The Blade's outdoor writer. E-mail him at spollick@theblade.com.



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