MESSAGE FROM THE CHIEF (Ohio Div. of Wildlife):

Article Posted: January 23, 2000

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MESSAGE FROM THE CHIEF (Ohio Div. of Wildlife)

Dear Sportfishing Friends:
I am sure most of you have heard by now the Wildlife Council in October approved regulation changes offered by the Division of Wildlife that will affect smallmouth bass fishing beginning March 1, 2000. After a closer look at the state's bass fisheries, we determined a real need to preserve the quality of bass fishing in Lake Erie as well as across the state. Many Lake Erie anglers and sport fishing groups have voiced their concerns as well in recent years.
Of interest to Lake Erie anglers, are regulations that will reduce the statewide largemouth, smallmouth, and spotted bass daily bag limit from eight to five fish. In addition, the minimum size limit reuired for keeping bass taken in Lake Erie increases from 12 to 14 inches.
We have seen a significant increase in smallmouth bass fishing pressure on Lake Erie during the past 10 years. The increased number of bass tournaments now held on Lake Erie accounts for some of the increased pressure. Although catch-and-release fishing by many bass anglers has helped sustain Lake Erie's smallmouth population, increased fishing, pressure means increased harvest. In addition, other factors are affecting the distribution and reproductive success of the Lake Erie bass population. We want to protect the future of this sport fishery and maintain first-rate fishing opporutnities. By implementing these new regulations for the 2000 fishing season, we project a 50 percent reduction in bass taken in Ohio's portion of the lake.
Meanwhile, Lake Erie fisheries biologists are continuing a smallmouth study to determine the fraction of the population removed by fishing each year and the exten that smallmouth move about the lake. Last year bass were collected in areas off South Bass, Middle Bass, and North Bass islands, as well as the artificial reefs off Cleveland, all popular smallmouth haunts. Information anglers can supply from tagged smallmouth will help in collecting information for the study.
Besides the tagging studies, the Division is sponsoring research conducted by Ohio State University to document spawning habits and interactions between smallmouth bass and exotic species, particularly round gobies.
Speaking of Lake Erie research, the fisheries research staff in Sandusky recently obtained a new research vessel. You'll be seeing the new 53-foot Explorer on the lake beginning next spring.
The Lake Erie biologists will have final harvest and stock assessment information as well as fishing projections for 2000 in the next issue. Until then, let's keep our fingers crossed for an ice fishing
Season this winter. - Michael Budzik

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