Turkey harvest numbers up from last year
Despite horrid opening week weather, Ohio hunters harvested a preliminary total of 8,898 bearded wild turkeys during the first week of the spring turkey-hunting season, which is open statewide through May 20, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources’ Division of Wildlife. Last year hunters checked 7,744 wild turkeys during the first week of the season.
Top counties for wild turkeys killed last week were: Ashtabula-315, Guernsey-276, Tuscarawas-269, Coshocton-266, Muskingum-265, Belmont-262, Meigs-223, Knox-221, Harrison-220 and Adams-213. Locally, Morrow and Richland counties were up as well with Crawford County experiencing a slight decline from last year.
The Division of Wildlife estimates that more than 70,000 people will hunt turkeys during the four-week season. Legal hunting hours are one-half hour before sunrise until noon from April 23 to May 6. Hunting hours from May 7–20 will be a half hour before sunrise to sunset.
Ohio’s wild turkey population was estimated at 180,000 prior to the start of the spring season. A special youth-only hunt for hunters age 17 and younger was held statewide on April 21–22. Young hunters killed an additional 1,632 birds statewide.
Only bearded wild turkeys may be taken during the spring hunting season. A hunter is required to check in their turkey by 11:30 p.m. on the day of harvest. Hunters with the proper permits may take a limit of two bearded gobblers during the four-week season, but not more than one wild turkey per day.
• The ODNR Division of Wildlife has issued a statewide directive to its enforcement officers to clarify guidelines for enforcing a new rule that specifies the condition of fish fillets being kept or transported.
“Many Ohio anglers have expressed that they were confused about the fillet rule so I asked our Division of Wildlife to clarify the rule so no innocent angler stands a chance of getting in to trouble when they are trying to follow the law,” said ODNR Director James Zehringer,
The rule, Ohio Administrative Code 1501:31–13-08, states that it is unlawful to possess or transport a fish unless the fish is in the round or a complete fillet with skin attached until a person reaches their permanent residence. The confusion surrounding the question of whether the skin had to be kept on the entire fillet or whether a patch of skin to identify the fish species would suffice.
Many Lake Erie anglers come to the lake for a few days or a week to sample the world class fishery, and anglers may be bringing home several days’ limits of the various species.
After a thorough review, a directive sent today to wildlife officers from Scott Zody, chief of the Division of Wildlife, specified that the rule should be interpreted to mean that only a patch of skin, enough to identify the species of the fish is required to be left on the fillet.
Changes will be made this fall during the regular rule-making package to further clarify the requirement in code. The rule is designed as a tool to protect the valuable Lake Erie fishing resource and to allow wildlife officers to identify fillets in an angler’s possession.
“Our goal was to protect the state’s most valuable fishery,” said Zody. “It was not our intent to create a hardship for anglers, who bring a tremendous economic benefit to the state.”
• If you are planning a trip to Lake Erie soon, remember that the daily limit for walleye returned to six fish per angler and the minimum size limit remains at 15 inches. The best reports have come from trolling with crankbaits or worm harnesses around the outer buoys of the Camp Perry firing range and west of the Bass Islands. Fish are still being caught with jigs on the Camp Perry firing range reefs, but catch rates have slowed as the spawning season ends and walleye begin moving off the reefs.
The daily bag limit for yellow perch is 30 fish per angler on all Ohio waters of Lake Erie. The trout and salmon daily bag limit is two fish per angler through May 15. From May 16 through Aug. 31 the bag limit returns to five fish per angler.
The minimum size limit for trout and salmon is 12 inches. The daily bag limit for yellow perch is 30 fish per angler on all Ohio waters of Lake Erie. It is illegal to possess black bass (largemouth and smallmouth bass) in Ohio waters of Lake Erie from May 1 through June 29. The season re-opens on Saturday, June 30 with a daily bag limit of five fish and a 14 inch minimum size limit.
Until next time, Good Hunting and Good Fishing!