Taft praises Lake Erie on ‘Fish Ohio
By Steve Pollick
Published June 30, 2005
PORT CLINTON — Gov. Bob Taft took a day off from the political
battlegrounds yesterday and went walleye fishing to promote
western Lake Erie tourism. He came away with positive
thoughts about the fishery’s future.
“I met the entire class of 2003,” the governor quipped
to an assembled audience of invited guests. He was referring
to the scores of 2003 walleye caught by his fishing party
and other boats at the 27th annual Governor’s Fish Ohio
The 2003 fish currently are just slightly undersized,
most ranging just three-quarters of an inch or less below
the minimum keeper length of 15 inches. As a result, virtually
scores of eager walleye had to be returned.
Nonetheless the governor’s party, fishing aboard Keith
Unkefer’s 41-foot Pooh Bear, did manage to ice about six
legal fish up to 24 inches among about 70 walleye, plus
yellow perch, white bass, sheepshead, and a 12-inch steelhead
trout. The crew trolled with small, brightly painted,
hammered copper spoons called, of all twists for Buckeye
anglers, Michigan Stingers.
Fish Ohio Day, aimed at promoting the lakeshore region
and its famous sport fishery, brings together local and
state tourism and fisheries representatives, legislators,
outdoors media representatives, and members of the Ohio
Department of Natural Resources administration and staff.
The event is jointly sponsored by the Ottawa County Visitors
Bureau, the Lake Erie Charter Boat Association, and the
Ohio Division of Wildlife.
“Every time I come up here I’m just blown away by what
a unique-in-the-world fishery we have on our doorstep,”
the governor said. “The efforts to restore the lake and
to conserve and perpetuate the sport fishery makes Ohio
It is because Lake Erie is such a premium natural resource
that he and his director of natural resources, Sam Speck,
have labored so long on cooperative agreements supporting
Great Lakes water quality and water quantity, the governor
“It drives home the importance to protect [long-term]
the quality of the lake and the fishing experience,” Taft
Speck, in his turn to address the assemblage, reinforced
the state’s intent to strongly oppose any attempt by the
Oklahoma-based Ottawa tribe to claim a portion of North
Bass Island, with an eye to establishing a tribal commercial
The Ohio Department of Natural Resources recently purchased
589 acres, or 87 percent of the island, for use in part
as a low-impact state park.
“We have a controversy brewing over keeping our park
on North Bass Island,” Speck said, referring to the potential
tribal takeover of at least some of the island under a
19th-century treaty. “This administration is not going
to stand still for that.” Nor will it stand for netting
of walleye — by anyone.
Commercial fishing for walleye has been banned in Ohio
waters of the lake for more than 20 years, and a handful
of remaining trapnet fishers are under the gun in a scandal
over gross underreporting and subsequent commercial sales
of yellow perch catches.
A Cuyahoga County grand jury recently handed up 23 felony
indictments in connection with the perch takings, and
additional grand juries may be impaneled in other counties
in a continuing state investigation.
Relaxed restrictions on walleye, perch proposed
In other Fish Ohio Day news, the Ohio Division of Wildlife
proposed slight relaxation of three Lake Erie fishing
restrictions on walleye and perch.
The proposals would include returning the daily creel
limit for walleye to four, up from the current conservative
three, during March and April. The limit would remain
six the rest of the year, and a 15-inch keeper minimum
size also would remain as a way to conserve the huge 2003
The proposals would “get the most benefit from Lake Erie,”
said Steve Gray, state wildlife chief. “We’re convinced
the 15-inch limit is working.”
In addition, the use of treble hooks, now banned in March
and April in Sandusky Bay, would be allowed in lower Sandusky
Bay — in the vicinity of the city of Sandusky and Cedar
Point. The chief said the relaxed area restriction is
proposed in response to concerns that it has hurt bass
fishing and tournaments in the lower bay.
He noted, however, that the treble hook ban would remain
intact around the cross-bay bridge area and upper bay,
where walleye stage for spring spawning runs up the Sandusky
River. Springtime use of treble hooks is banned in the
Sandusky and Maumee rivers and Maumee Bay as well to curb
illegal snagging, or foul-hooking.
Lastly, the yellow perch daily creel limit would be increased
from the current 30 to 40 a day. The more conservative
limit was set about 10 years ago to help conserve then-faltering
perch stocks, which since have recovered well.
“Perch are doing great from Conneaut to Toledo,” the
chief said. “We want to make sure sport anglers get their
Contact Steve Pollick at:firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-724-6068.