On Sept. 19, 1984, a much younger outdoors editor than the one penning these words was trolling off Stoney Point on the Ontario side of Lake St. Clair with the late, well-known Canadian charter guide, John Miner.
An 181/2–inch, 33/4-pound smallmouth bass slammed a No.7 Model A Bomber crankbait off the transom, and presently the editor landed it. The fish, it turns out, had been netted by a Michigan Department of Natural Resources crew on June 15 that year, off Selfridge Air Force Base.
That fact was determined because the hefty smallmouth was wearing a metal jaw-tag, stamped with an MDNR address. The tag number and place and time of the catch was duly reported. Later, the DNR crew mailed along a thank-you patch and the tagging information, which had helped them put another piece into the ever-changing, fish-management puzzle.
Now, nearly 20 years later, the tag and the patch, lying in a desk drawer, bring back the memory of a great day on the water. Other jaw-tags over the years have come from any number of Lake Erie walleye. All are important.
Which is why the Ohio Division of Wildlife and related agencies encourage anglers to report tags. Flatten the tags and return them to Ohio Division of Wildlife, Lake Erie Fisheries Unit, 305 East Shoreline Dr., Sandusky, OH 44870. The unit will forward the tag to the appropriate agency.
Or, call in tag information to the fisheries unit - 419-625-8062. Be sure to include species, the five-digit tag number, date of catch, location, fish length, whether it was kept or released, and angler name, address and telephone number. If you are releasing a tagged fish, do not remove the tag, but simply record the information for reporting.
Anglers reporting tags will receive a return letter stating when and where the fish was tagged. Tag information on walleyes helps determine movement patterns and distribution, seasonal harvests, survival rates and exploitation rates.
Smallmouth tags help biologists determine how many smallmouths are taken from the lake annually, and how they move.
Endangered lake sturgeon, which may be taken incidentally, also may be tagged. Though these fish must be released immediately, anglers are encouraged to record any tag information and report it as well. Leave the tags, located on the gill-plate, in place.
Fishing report - Good to excellent walleye action continues in the extreme west end of Lake Erie, according to area bait shops.
Walleye apparently have driven huge schools of baitfish into the Michigan shallows from Luna Pier to Toledo Beach, according to Bruce Smith at Matthews Bait in Monroe, Mich. Anglers using weight-forward spinners, mayfly rigs and bottom-bouncers with worm harnesses are taking 'eyes in six to eight feet of water in the “swamps” around Turtle Island, in 10 to 15 feet of water off Luna Pier, Mich., and Toledo beach, 18 to 21 feet off Stony Point, and 25 to 28 feet along the Toledo Ship Channel and the E-Buoy off Bolles Harbor, Smith said.
In addition, yellow perch are hitting in 10 feet of water off Toledo Beach in the area of the old dumping grounds, and around the electronic platform-buoy of “Sputnik” on the Ship Channel.
Ohio-side anglers still are heading for the West Sister Island-Ship-Channel area and the Channel's Turn-Around Buoy, said Rick Ferguson at Al Szuch Live Bait. Mayfly hatches so far have not affected action, Ferguson added.
On a recent trip between West Sister and Middle Sister, Ron Smith's boat trolled up a three-pound coho salmon, along with a limit of walleyes. Along for the day were his brothers Tom and Jerry Smith of Evansville, Ind., Jerry Blake of Evansville, his brother Cliff of St. Louis, and Bill Corl of Toledo. Black and silver Hot 'N Tots were the answer, Smith said.
A quick way to identify salmonids is this: Coho salmon have gray mouths, chinook or king salmon have black mouths, and steelhead trout have white mouths. Smith's coho likely was a stray from one of the upper Great Lakes, according to Kevin Kayle, supervisor of the state's Fairport Fisheries Unit at Fairport Harbor, Ohio.
Kayle said a few stray brown trout also might be seen this summer. They have a “square” tail with no spots on it, but they have large round spots with white halos behind the head.
Youth hunting symposium - Young people ages 10 to 17 who are interested in hunting should set aside July 19 and invite an interested adult to Wolf Creek Sportsmen's Association in Jerusalem Township.
Wolf Creek and the Lake Erie Water Fowlers are teaming up to present the Northwest Ohio Youth Hunting Symposium. The event will be held at Wolf Creek, 349 Teachout Rd., north of State Rt. 2.
The event is free and includes .22 rifle shooting, archery and deer-hunting programs by Cabela's, a wild turkey hunting exhibit, a gun-safety lecture by Billy Jones, duck calling by Chuck Crump, and a retriever demonstration.
Lunch also is provided free for all hands in attendance. To register, call Bob Trapp, 419-292-1806, or Tom Kubicz, 419-246-5317.
Tomorrow - Plant pest identification clinic, 6 to 8 p.m., Hidden Lake Gardens, M-50 west of Tecumseh, Mich.; to register, call the Gardens, 517-431-2060.
Thursday - Trapshoot, 6 p.m., Sandusky County Sportsmen's Club, State Rt. 600 east of Gibsonburg; also, Saturday, 22 silhouette shoot, 9 a.m.; call Dick Kohler, 419-637-2030.
Friday through Sunday - Fourth of July Trapshoot, starting times daily 9 a.m., 1,000 targets, 10 events, Jaqua's Trap Club, 900 East Bigelow Ave., Findlay; call the club, 419-422-0912.
Saturday - Hike the dikes for bald eagles, 9 to 11 a.m., meet at Sportmen's Migratory Bird Center, Magee Marsh State Wildlife Area, 13229 West State Rt. 2, Oak Harbor, Ohio; with Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge; call 419-898-0960 extension 31, or Ottawa, 419-898-0014.
Saturday and Sunday - Butterfly weekend, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., Kitty Todd Preserve, 10420 Old State Line Rd., naturalist-led hikes 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Saturday, call The Nature Conservancy, 419-867-1521.
Sunday - Toledo Muzzleloaders, Cleland Shoot, 11 a.m., Clinton Boothby Memorial Range, 875 Schwamberger Rd., call Al Zielinski, 419-476-5978.
Sunday - Bowshoots: Four-County Conservation League, Bellevue, Ohio, register 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., call the club, 419-483-8113; also, Tomahawk Archery, 2085 Erie Rd., Temperance, Mich., register 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., 30 deer targets, call Gil Kollarik, 419-691-5130.