As the walleye runs ramp up to some excellent action in the Maumee and Sandusky rivers, here's a reminder: Don't forget your fishing line.
I mean that stuff on the ground, on the banks, next to the trash barrel, wherever.
Spent monofilament line is the careless sport fisherman's gillnet, only it kills wildlife, not fish. It's a bad gift that keeps on killing - ducks, muskrats, geese, herons, almost any wildlife imaginable. The deadly coils and tangles of tossed mono are liable to fatally snare a critter weeks or months after the walleye and white bass runs are over.
As a veteran ditchpig who annually helps with the post-fishing cleanup on the Sandusky River at downtown Fremont, I can attest that this is not a little problem. A lot of line, untold hundreds of yards of it, is left streamside every year. We should not have to depend on the altruism of a few hardy outdoorsmen willing gather and housekeep the trash of the rest. (There is more to it that just spent line, but I'll stay on point here.)
Mark Plessner, a Metroparks naturalist who frequents Side Cut Metropark and the Maumee rapids, has a photo-gallery of fatally tangled wildlife that would make an embarrassing wall of shame. It's not pretty to look at a dead great blue heron or a Canada goose gosling killed by uncollected, spent fishing line.
If every angler watched for and collected a coil of spent line on every trip, discussion of this problem would not be taking up this space. Do it.
In other river reminder news, the Ohio Division of Watercraft urges boaters and anglers to keep basic safety tips in mind while wading and fishing from boats during early spring:
Dress for the water temperatures instead of the air temperatures to guard against hypothermia should you unexpectedly fall into the water. Keep available extra dry clothing on hand.
Wear an approved inflatable life vest, life jacket, or flotation coat while wading in a river or stream and while on a boat.
Do not fish alone: Fish with a wading or boating partner. Let friends or family members know of your fishing and boating plans.
Wear high-quality chest waders and tighten a cinch belt at the waistline outside the waders to help prevent them from filling with water should you fall over.
Consider using a walking stick or wading staff for balance while wading. Use a pair of metal crampons or cleats, which fit over the boot portion of waders, to significantly improve traction when wading.
Avoid alcohol consumption and be aware of local ordinances and state laws that prohibit open displays of alcoholic beverages and public consumption of alcohol.
Stay informed of current and forecast weather and water conditions.
That said, stream conditions should be excellent for the weekend.
The Maumee was only about a foot above normal before yesterday's rain and water clarity was slowly improving, standing at about six inches. Water temperature was about 50 - ideal, according to Gary Lowry at Maumee Tackle.
About half of anglers were taking limits, with fish being taken at all the popular sites. "Conditions couldn't be better," Lowry said. But the rain may boost water levels temporarily, pushing action to the usual high-water sites around the Maumee-Perrysburg Bridge.
In addition to Lowry's Web site, maumeetackle.net, Eric Kraus of The Natural Resource also offers a constantly updated site at thenaturalresource.com/walleyerun.
Open water jig-and-minnow action and trolling are getting under way in the western basin. "It's time to go," said Dan Baker at Butch and Denny's baitshop in Jerusalem Township.
He reports a family outing Wednesday afternoon, 12 feet of water off Little Cedar Point, limits in two hours averaging 2 1/2 pounds, on purple or chartreuse hair jigs and minnows, which are standard spring fare. Baker also said that skipper Randy Eyre took a party on Fowl Obsession to the humps off the east side of the radar buoy in the Toledo Ship Channel, and got the job done with blade baits.
Farther east the best areas have been between Catawba Island peninsula and Green Island and also west of Catawba, the Ohio Division of Wildlife said.
The Ohio Division of Wildlife is encourages the state's white-tailed deer hunters to participate in a survey at wildohio.com through mid-April.
The division is considering some changes to the deer firearms seasons and is seeking public comment via the survey. Responses to the survey are confidential. Wildlife biologists use survey data in combination with biological data from wildlife populations to identify ways of improving hunting in Ohio.
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