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Published: Tuesday, 4/19/2011

Paddlepalooza place to be for lovers of outdoors

BY STEVE POLLICK
BLADE OUTDOORS EDITOR

If you prefer to power your outdoors pursuits by hand or foot — that is, without motors — then check out the second annual Paddlepalooza: Ohio’s Outdoors Expo, being planned for the Lausche Building at the Ohio Expo Center near downtown Columbus on Friday and Saturday.

“It’s a great opportunity for folks who pursue opportunities in what we call the silent sports,” stated John Wisse, a spokesman for the Ohio Division of Watercraft.

Kayaking, canoeing, camping, hiking, and biking enthusiasts from across the state are expected to converge at Paddlepalooza, which features outdoor destinations, informational how-to seminars and product displays that make outdoor activities fun, easy to learn, and affordable for the entire family. Among the participating exhibitors are the state divisions of watercraft, wildlife, and parks and recreation.

Wisse noted that registration of privately owned canoes and kayaks in Ohio has more than doubled since 2000, from 44,198 to 89,859 last year. “We can say pretty easily that one in five boats registered in Ohio is a canoe or kayak.” Commercial liveries account for another 6,416 hand or foot-powered watercraft, which include paddleboats.

Watercraft, wildlife, and parks staff will be on hand at Paddlepalooza to promote Ohio’s great trails, scenic rivers, state parks, as well as paddling and camping opportunities. As an added convenience to event patrons who purchase a canoe or kayak at the show, the division of watercraft is offering on-site sales of watercraft registrations and alternative registrations. Displays can be found in booths 407, 408, 507, and 508 near the demonstration pool at Paddlepalooza.

Show hours are 4 to 8 p.m. on Friday, and 9 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday. Admission for one or both days is $10 for adults; children ages 12 and under are admitted free. Visit online at www.paddlepalooza.net for more information.

Wild turkey and walleye weather woes

Nasty weather conditions have dampened prospects for the first week of Ohio and Michigan’s wild turkey hunting seasons and for the spring walleye runs in northwest Ohio.

Veteran turkey hunter Kevin Renner of Fayette had a typical experience on Monday, though some hunters somewhere no doubt connected with gobblers.

Renner was out in a blind Monday morning in the cold and wind and wet, sitting with his 11-year-old son, Christian, on a Williams County farm where he had birds well scouted in recent days.

“It’s hard,” he said amid the raindrops, sleet, ice pellets, and snow at mid-morning. “We heard one bird gobble, and he flew down [from a roost] and went the other way.” The birds he had staked out so painstakingly had flown the coop to other woodlots. But he reminded his son about the beauty of the woods, graced as they were at one point with two-inch snowflakes – “some of the biggest I have ever seen.”

In Seneca County, hunters Roger Murray and Chuck Wolf were all but run over come dawn by birds — perhaps 15 to 20 in small groups and singles, gobbling and clucking and noise and ruckus-making. But they all shut up and quieted down by 7:30 a.m., Murray said. The rain got heavy enough there to call it quits by 9:30 a.m. Well, the season runs for a month.

On the walleye front, strong winds keep western Lake Erie’s sport fishing fleet pinned in marinas and muddied up near-shore areas. It will take a few days of settled weather to improve the inshore picture for jig-and-minnow walleye action.

On the Maumee and Sandusky rivers, some anglers managed fish, but both Gary Lowry at Maumee Tackle and Bernie Whitt at Anglers Supply in Fremont think that the runs are behind schedule because of the cold spring weather, and more walleye action is possible with better conditions.

White bass have not shown up in either stream yet, again behind schedule.

On the tournament walleye front, Greg Bliznik and Keith Greear, both of Brownstown, Mich., landed 43.49 pounds of walleyes and first-place honors in the Cabela’s Masters Walleye Circuit’s Detroit River Eastern Division season-opener, a weather-shortened event over the weekend.

The team jigged ½-ounce chartreuse-and-orange leadheads armed with stinger hooks and tipped with smelt-pattern Berkley Gulp! softbaits and minnows. “Other teams were jigging aggressively, but we were almost deadsticking,” said Greear. “We’d find bottom, then slowly raise the jig a couple of inches.” Their top area was an eight to 10-foot-deep flat protruding into the main channel, Bliznik noted. Jigs were tied direct to 10/4 Berkley FireLine Crystal.

Bliznik and Greear collected the $16,350 first-place check for their efforts, plus a $1,000 Cabela’s gift card through the Cabela’s Angler Cash program, $500 Berkley Baits prize package, and a portable Oxygenator unit.

Jeff Vereeke of Grand Rapids, Mich., and Joe Lockman of Middleville, Mich., finished in second with 41.85 pounds, earning $6,820 plus the $1,000 Ranger Cup award, and $500 Lowrance HDS/Elite DSI contingency.

On Saturday, the 112 teams brought 485 walleyes weighing a total of 3,047.69 pounds to the MWC scale — of which 91 percent were released alive back into the river. But Sunday fishing was canceled because of strong west winds and resulting low water levels at the Elizabeth Park Marina, where ramps were unusable.

Big fish of the tournament was an 11-pounder brought in by Dave Schmidt and Mark Zillges, both of Oshkosh, Wis. The catch earned the team $2,560 for first place in the Big-Fish Pot.

The remaining Eastern schedule includes Lake Erie at Sandusky, Ohio, May 20 to 22, and the St. Mary’s River at Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan, August 26 to 28. For other details visit online at www.masterswalleyecircuit.com or call: (877) 893-7947.

● The Huron Valley Sportfishing Club is set to meet Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at American Legion Post 200, 11800 Michael St. Taylor, Mich. Mike Viene of Trophy Specialists Charters is set to speak about Saginaw Bay walleye fishing, and Jim Gorris, tournament winning fisherman, will address Detroit River walleye fishing, both hand lining and jigging. For details, e-mail rmontre@juno.com.

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



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