Thursday may be the most important day of the year for Ohio and Michigan fishermen, for it is new-license day, and you won't want to be caught on lake or stream without one.
Ohio anglers can purchase their 2007-2008 fishing - and for that matter, hunting - licenses now at vendor outlets across the state or online at www.ohiodnr.com/wildlife.
New licenses are valid March 1 through Feb. 29, 2008. Resident adult licenses are $19, with deer and turkey permits $24 each. Current licenses expire at midnight tomorrow, a point that ice fishermen would do well to heed.
Buckeye hunters ages 17 and under and some Ohio senior citizens ages 66 and older and born after Jan 1, 1938, are eligible for discounted licenses at $10. Youths under age 16 do not need a fishing license.
A one-day angling license for resident or nonresident is $11, and it later may be applied toward the cost of an annual license. A complete fee schedule and set of regulations is available online at www.ohiodnr.com/wildlife.
In Michigan the licensing situation is slightly different. Anglers and hunters there should not buy new licenses until Thursday, as licenses purchased prior to that are not valid for the 2007-2008 season, the Michigan Department of Natural Resources said.
License fees will be the same as those in 2006, the MDNR said, while the Michigan Natural Resources Commission continues to work with the state legislature on a new license-fee package.
Some hunters and anglers mistakenly believe that a license-purchase before March 1 would help them avoid paying for a higher-priced license later, if a new fee-package is approved. Individuals who accidentally purchased a license after Jan. 1, thinking it was a 2007 license, should call for a refund at MDNR customer services at 517-373-1204.
The 2007 hunting and fishing licenses will be printed on yellow stock, while 2006 licenses are on purple stock. Hunters and anglers are reminded that they can get a discount for buying four or more licenses at the same time.
Michigan licenses also can be purchased online beginning Thursday at www.michigan.gov/dnr.
Michigan anglers are asked to keep their 2006 fishing guides, which were printed to be good for two years to help save costs to the Game and Fish protection Fund. Issuing a two-year guide saved the MDNR $150,000.
A printer-friendly version of the guide can be found by visiting the state Web site at www.michigan.gov/dnr/fishing.
Ice fishing report - Despite the topsy-turvy weather of late, ice on Lake Erie has held up pretty well, and anglers continue to make good catches of walleye from several popular locations, including off South Bass Island.
Dave Stenberg of Point Place said he found "very good" walleye action three miles off Crane Creek yesterday morning. Stenberg's preferred lure was a No. 6 Swedish Pimple in green with three minnows on the treble hook but none on a stinger hook.
Fishing with Doug and Scott Adams of Pemberville, they were taking mostly 18-inch fish, with one 22-incher on the ice at the time. Last week Stenberg took a 31-inch, 14-pounder off Crane Creek.
Other anglers were fishing anywhere from two to five miles off Crane Creek and off Camp Perry as well, according to Rick Ferguson at Al Szuch Live Bait on Corduroy Road.
Rickard's Bait at Catawba Island said anglers continued to take fish just a mile off Catawba Island State Park as well.
At South Bass, ice guide John Hageman said the ice there remains sound, 10 to 12 inches thick, and he gives it another week or more, barring severe changes in the weather or winds.
Hageman said his anglers reported slower action yesterday, however, after a super Saturday and a slow, posticestorm Sunday.
Inland prospects should be decent for a while as well, given that the state's Lake La Su An check-station in Williams County was taking reservations for Thursday and Sunday ahead.
Reservations also can be made Thursday. In any case it is advised to check the station number for a voice-mail message on conditions before setting out, even if you hold a reservation, because of the possibility of weather changes as season's end comes near. The number is 419-636-6189.
The inaugural Arnold Archery Competition, a state tournament for schools participating in the National Archery in Schools Program, is set for Friday, 9 a.m. to 10 p.m., at Veterans Memorial, North Hall, 300 West Broad St., Columbus.
Individuals and teams will compete in elementary, middle, and high school divisions. For other details and spectator ticket information, visit online at www.ohionasp.com.
The competition is part of a three-day Arnold Sports Festival and is sponsored by the Ohio Division of Wildlife and Ohio NASP State Tournament organization.
A regional workshop to discuss the Ohio Breeding Bird Atlas II is set for Saturday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., at the Toledo Zoo indoor theater.
The day will feature presentations on how bird enthusiasts can accurately survey birds and contribute to the atlas. The atlas will help document the distribution and prevalence of breeding birds across Ohio.
The program is held in conjunction with the School of Environment and Natural Resources at Ohio State University, Toledo Metroparks, and the Toledo Naturalists' Association.
To register call 614-247-6458 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Other details can be found by visiting online at www.ohiobirds.org/obba2.
Bull's-eye on bear rifle - A tip of the hat to the sharpshooters out there who correctly have pointed out that the rifle pictured in Sunday's column here, and which is said to have figured in the taking of the last bear in Wood County 149 years ago, was a half-stock caplock or percussion rifle, a typical "Ohio" rifle of the era, and not a full-stocked flintlock.