The warming weather, it is hoped, will turn up the heat on Ohio s wild turkey hunting action in the final two weeks of the spring gobbler season.
The first week of the season, which opened April 26, saw a bag of 8,998 bearded wild turkeys, a tally that was down 24 percent from the first week in 2003.
“The cold weather seems to be departing, and the next few weeks will hopefully bring more favorable conditions for gobbler hunters,” said Dave Swanson, forest game biologist for the Ohio Division of Wildlife.
Because of poor reproduction in recent springs - linked to cool, wet weather at the wrong time - the statewide population of turkeys has fallen from an estimated 260,000 in 2002 to just 200,000.
The latter figure shows there still are plenty of birds around, but not as many of them are the less wary juvenile males or “jakes.”
Hunting, in short, is tougher regardless of the weather, for the birds available are somewhat fewer in number and more elusive.
Swanson said that birds this spring are gobbling much less frequently, a sign that the population has more older, mature “longbeards” in the ranks.
In addition to the opening-week bag, Swanson noted that young hunters took 1,519 birds statewide in a special statewide youth hunt for hunters aged 17 and under.
The hunt was held the weekend before the general opener.
The general season continues through May 23 with a bag limit of two birds, with proper permits, in all 88 counties, except for Lake La Su An State Wildlife Area in Williams County. Hunting hours are a half-hour before sunrise to noon daily.
Fishing report - White bass in the region s rivers have led the angling action in recent days, as a weather parade on western Lake Erie has left the inshore waters murky and walleye action spotty.
The fish still are hanging in Maumee Bay and near-shore lake areas, and jigs and minnows or jigs and worms should work well as conditions settle, said Rick Ferguson at Al Szuch Live Bait in Jerusalem Township.
White bass action is very good on the Sandusky River at downtown Fremont, using jigs and minnows, minnow on tight-lines, or minnows drifted under bobbers. Some anglers also are using jigs and plastic tails, including Carolina-rigged floating jigheads.
John Waltos, state wildlife officer in Ottawa County, said the Portage River is producing white bass, but fishing pressure is below normal.
Speaking of the Portage, an item in this space Sunday mentioned white bass well above Elmore Dam. Phil Randolph, of Lindsey, canoes the stream regularly and notes that the dam has wide slots at the top that water regularly flows through.
Apparently those slots once were boarded up, according to an unidentified messenger who called attention to the dam, and fish readily can pass up through the slots.
In any case, Randolph says he regularly and safely runs a canoe through the slots in the top of the dam this time of year. “If a canoe can get through, I think fish can get through.” Indeed.
On the Maumee River, water was high Sunday but has dropped and white bass action has picked up. The walleye run is tailing off.
In upcoming fishing activity, the Gander Mountain National Walleye Cup event for Lake Erie has been rescheduled to Saturday at Cranberry Creek Marina at Huron, with Sunday as an alternative day in case of bad weather. Call Bernie Barringer for entry details, 1-800-890-FISH.
Last but not least, king salmon fishing off the Niagara River bar at the west end of Lake Ontario has been hot, according to Bob Schira, of Sylvania, who recently fished the Ontario side of the lake with a buddy, Bob Pinkelman, of Toledo.
They fished a spring derby with charter skipper Mike Lis, of Wilson, N.Y., and each man kept a two-fish limit of king, or chinook, salmon in the 12 to 18-pound range. They fished 50 to 60 feet of water, picking up fish 25 to 30 feet down on a variety of spoons off Dipsy Divers and wire line, or standard boat-roads and downriggers.
The overall derby winner was a 29-pound, 11-ounce lake trout. Top king weighed 23 pounds, 8 ounces.
“We saw a lot of kings” said Schira, who said they had about 50 releases between just 7 and 11 a.m. He said that Pinkelman, a heating-ventilation-air conditioning contractor, at one point exclaimed, “Gee, this is faster than perch fishing on our lake [Erie].” Adds Schira about the action, “It was nutty but it was great.”
For the record, Schira is the art teacher who instructs Lauren Haas, the 17-year-old Toledo Christian School student who took second place in the federal junior duck stamp contest for 2004-2005. Her achievement was noted in this space Sunday.
Schira notes, however, that he is not associated with the school but instead is a private art instructor. “Lauren has been attending our classes since her fifth or sixth-grade year.”
Today through Thursday - Public trap, skeet, 5-Stand Sporting Clays, and indoor pistol shooting, 2 to 9 p.m., Toledo Trap & Skeet Club, 3150 State Rt. 295, Berkey; Saturday and Sunday, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.; summer trap and skeet leagues begin May 18; quail walk tonight and tomorrow night; call the club, 419-829-5101.
Tonight - Public trapshoot, 6 to 10 p.m., Dundee Sportsmen s Club, 2300 Plank Rd., Dundee, Mich., repeats Thursday 9 a.m. to noon and Sunday noon to 6 p.m.; also, Saturday, Scholastic Clay target Program shoot, 9 a.m.; call the club 734-529-3581.
Tomorrow - Sunset stroll, 8:15 p.m., Slippery Elm Trail, Rudolph; also, Friday, junior naturalist/nighttime nature, 8:45 p.m., William Henry Harrison Park, Pemberville; also, Saturday, volunteers to fight invasive plants, 10 a.m., Baldwin Woods Preserve; for other details, call Scott Grenerth, Wood County Park District, 419-353-1897.
Thursday - Lake Erie birding cruise to Point Pelee, Ontario, leaves Jet Express dock, Port Clinton, 7 a.m., returns 5 p.m., sponsored by Lake Erie Coastal, Inc.; call Melinda Huntley to register, 419-609-0399.
Saturday - Paddling the Maumee River, Cecil Bridge area, Northwest Ohio Canoe and Kayak Club, call Joe, 419-899-3660; also, Monday, Maumee River paddle and monthly meeting, Independence Dam, Defiance, call Herb Delventhal, 419-784-3953.
Saturday - Bird migration, short lecture followed by nature hike, 1 p.m., Ottawa National Wildlife Refuge headquarters, 14000 West State Rt. 2, Oak Harbor; call the refuge, 419-898-0014.
Saturday - Spring birds, 9 to 11 a.m., Hidden Lake Gardens, M-50 west of Tecumseh, Mich.; call the Gardens to register, 517-431-2060; also, spring hike, 10 a.m. to noon, call to register..
Saturday - Big game awards dinner, Mudjaw Bowmen, 6240 Benore Rd., call Rocky Warner, 419-474-9492.
Saturday and Sunday - Traditional shoot campers weekend, Tomahawk Archery, register 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. daily, 2085 Erie Rd., Temperance, Mich., traditional only, call Jay Kimura, 419-292-1530.
Sunday - Bowshoot, Lenawee County Conservation League, 30 3-D targets, register 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., 1404 Sutton Rd., Adrian, Mich.; call Dave Abner, 517-264-0753.