Friday, Apr 20, 2018
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Giving back to warriors who sacrificed for America


That's Kevin Samuels of Cleveland at the Castalia State Fish Hatchery doing his best Cheshire Cat imitation. He landed the biggest fish of the day — a 21-inch rainbow trout.


CASTALIA —The river just knows. That is the motto of Project Healing Waters, and its sentiment was expressed in earnest at Castalia State Fish Hatchery here last Saturday.

It was Sept. 11, the ninth anniversary of the day that America lost its innocence, and a group of volunteers stepped forward to help 11 disabled military veterans to learn about how a river knows.

Translation: They went fly-fishing for trout in a section of Cold Creek that belongs to the hatchery and which is used periodically for fly fishing education programs.

“They were just giddy,” summed Kevin Ramsey, the day's coordinator, about the vets' reaction to fly casting instructionat the famed “Blue Hole” stream, and that indescribable feel of a tugging trout on a flyrod. All hands landed their daily limits of five trout.

In all 10 men and a woman, all veterans of various conflicts, joined in the inaugural event. Ramsey is the retired supervisor of Lake Erie law enforcement for the Ohio Division of Wildlife and an avid fly fisherman who enjoys sharing his pastime with others.

Reflecting on last Saturday on Cold Creek, Ramsey said: “One guy told me, ‘this is the best fishing I've experienced in 10 years.' ” Another told him, “this is the best day I've had [period] in a long time.” And so it went. Perhaps the happiest was Kevin Samuels. He took a 21-inch rainbow trout, the biggest fish of the day.

Ramsey, who helped organize the event, said he had plenty of volunteers to help out: The Mohican Fly Fishers, Cleveland and Clear Fork chapters of Trout Unlimited, Lake Erie's Central Basin Steelheaders, and the Ohio Division of Wildlife — his old outfit.

The umbrella sponsor for the day was Project Healing Waters, which is based in La Plata, Md. The organization is dedicated to the physical and emotional rehabilitation of disabled active military service personnel and veterans through fly fishing and fly tying education and outings.

After an hour's instruction in flycasting on mowed grass, Ramsey turned his charges loose, each with two guides, on productive pools on Cold Creek. Along the way he upped the ante with a little light, friendly big-fish competition. Each participating vet received a framed streamside action-photo, and the top six anglers in terms of trout size found a Patriot dry fly attached to the upper corner of their framed photo.

Linda Ringer, a wildlife division educator from Wildlife District 2 and a well-known hand at the barbecue, prepared ribs, chicken, and pulled pork and fixings for a meal.

All of which leads Ramsey to vow that the veterans trout event at the hatchery will become an annual deal, on or close to That Day on the calendar.

Disabled vets interested in the program should contact their representatives with the federal Veterans Administration, or visit online at

• Beaver and river otter trapping on public land will still require a special permit this fall, but the method of acquiring the permit and permission to trap a particular public area for beaver and river otters has changed, according to the Ohio Division of Wildlife said.

Controlled beaver and/or river otter trapping opportunities on 73 wildlife areas, state parks, and other publicly managed lands statewide will be awarded through a new system of computer-generated random drawings, similar to the system used for controlled waterfowl and deer hunts in Ohio.

The application period will run through Oct. 15. Applications will be accepted online only; there is a $3 charge associated with applying for each public area or group of areas as will be noted on the application form.

Drawing results will be available in late October at, with permits and instructions being mailed in November to successful applicants. All controlled trapping permits will be transferable; they will be issued to an adult trapper with instructions for use of the permit on a particular public land area.

This revised system for awarding controlled beaver and/or river otter trapping opportunities on select public lands in Ohio will allow area managers to set specific limits and restrictions based on the trapping opportunities and needs for their areas.

For the wildlife refuge portions of Killbuck Marsh and Mosquito Creek wildlife areas, the current system will not change: They are not part of the online lottery system. Instead, sealed bids will be accepted in September for all furbearer trapping opportunities at these areas.

For bid forms and other information, contact Wildlife District 3 Office at 330-644-2293. Also, beaver trapping within American Electric Power's recreation area, known as ReCreation Land, Avondale Wildlife Area, and Conesville Coal Lands will continue to require a special beaver trapping permit which is in addition to the normal user's permit. This special beaver trapping permit is issued from the AEP Land Management office in McConnelsville, Ohio.

For additional information, visit or call Wildlife District 2 at 419-424-5000.

Contact Steve Pollick at:spollick@theblade.comor 419-724-6068.

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