Two young anglers unofficially have opened the "season" on walleye in the Maumee River, as each of them caught a large female fish over the weekend.
Thirteen-year-old John Spurlock of Maumee landed a 9-pound, 11-ounce, 27-inch walleye on Sunday, fishing near Jerome Road.
He was using a Carolina-rigged floating jighead with a crystal/sparkle plastic tail, said Gary Lowry, who measured the fish in his shop, Maumee Tackle.
On Saturday, 12-year-old Seth Hymore of Oregon landed a 26 3/4-inch walleye weighing 7 pounds, 15 ounces, while fishing at the state's Buttonwood Public Access on the Wood County side opposite Side Cut Metropark.
Lowry said Hymore used a white floater with a pink tail.
"Everyone thinks the jacks [younger males] run first," said Lowry. "But they come up together."
A few walleye remain in the Maumee and Sandusky rivers year-round, usually seeking deeper holes and pools during the summer.
But Lowry said the fish the young anglers caught decidedly looked like lake-run fish that have come up.
Some years anglers take walleyes in the Maumee rapids as early as mid February, so the catches by the young anglers over the weekend are not far off that mark.
On the other hand, do not expect big runs or peak numbers until the end of March.
Spawning can take place any time from mid March through mid April with the runs tailing off in early May.
Lowry said the water temperature yesterday was almost 37 degrees, and that still is on the cool side for much fish activity. Peak spawning temperatures are 42 to 52 degrees.
The water level was running at 580 feet at the elevation-above-sea-level gauge on the I-475 bridge. That is about the normal summer level, and wading to the popular Blue Grass Island at Side Cut Metropark is regarded as doable - with caution, as usual.
The tackle man said that he plans to regularly update his shop Web site, now that the first of the anglers are taking the first of the fish for the seasonal spawning run. Visit the site at www.maumeetackle.net.
On the Sandusky River at Fremont, the other popular regional river site, little activity was noted over the weekend by Bernie Whitt at Angler Supply in Fremont.
Whitt added, however, that predicted rain and air temperatures in the 40s at mid-week could turn up some action by week's end.
Anglers are reminded to have a new fishing license by Wednesday.
The daily walleye limit is four fish in March and April, and during the period fishing is allowed only sunrise to sunset. No foul-hooked fish may be kept, and treble hooks are banned during the period.
State fisheries biologists estimate that 27,000 walleye were taken from the Maumee and 4,000 from the Sandusky last spring.
Jeff Tyson, supervisor of the state's Lake Erie Fisheries Research Station at Sandusky, said the catch is a fraction of what are "pretty significant" numbers of fish in the runs, possibly numbering in the hundreds of thousands.
Biologists will be conducting electroshocking surveys during the river runs as part of continuing research to improve assessments of the river stocks.
The Lake Erie system this year is estimated to have a catchable walleye stock of around 40 million fish.
Ohio deer hunters have bagged nearly a million deer in the last five years, according to figures compiled by the Ohio Division of Wildlife.
The division recently released the all-seasons bag for 2005-2006, listing a total of 209,513 deer taken in archery, shotgun, muzzleloading and special seasons combined. The total was just 3 percent under the all-seasons record of 216,443 set in 2004-2005 and was consistent with biologists' predictions.
In 2003-2004, the bag was set at 197,798, with 204,652 deer taken in 2002-2003, according to Mike Reynolds, a biologist with the state's Waterloo Forest Game Research Station at Athens.
Just 165,124 deer were taken in 2001-2002, creating a five-year total of 993,530.
Another 200,000-deer year is expected for 2006-2007 as deer managers continue to try to keep the state herd under control and within target-levels deemed acceptable by public surveys and habitat assessments.
Proposed 2006-2007 deer regulations will be available for public review, along with other hunting, fishing and trapping proposals, on Sunday, noon to 3 p.m., at statewide district open houses.
Northwest Ohio's session will be at District 2 headquarters, 952 Lima Ave., Findlay. The telephone is 419-424-5000.
The 2005-2006 statewide deer tally included 116,517 deer from shotgun season, 60,090 from archers, 23,289 from muzzleloaders, 8,641 from the youth gun-season, 216 from early special muzzleloader season and 760 from Ravenna and NASA special hunts.
Top counties statewide included Coshocton, 7,746 deer; Muskingum, 6,793; Tuscarawas, 6,525; Guernsey, 6,424, and Knox, 6,238.
Following are the all-seasons tallies by county in the 20-county Wildlife District 2 of northwest and a portion of north-central Ohio. The 2004-2005 figures are listed in parentheses:
Allen 695 (906), Crawford 1,093 (1,078), Defiance 1,062 (1,591), Erie 894 (1,256), Fulton 630 (538), Hancock 1,379 (1,209), Hardin 1,133 (1,174), Henry 509 (755), Huron 2,193 (2,1620), Lucas 625 (760), Ottawa 288 (317), Paulding 626 (572), Putnam 561 (605), Richland 3,659 (3,394), Sandusky 629 (676), Seneca 1,895 (1,852), Van Wert 447 (297), Williams 1,428 (2,083), Wood 684 (678) and Wyandot, 1,504 (1,562).
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