Saturday, January 28th, 2023
Saturday, January 28th, 2023

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Sportsmen Since 1967

Muskie bag might see reduction to one fish

Columbus – In the near future, muskie anglers in the Buckeye
State might be able to keep just one fish per day.

And that would be more than most serious muskie anglers keep in
a year, says an Ohio angler who fits the description.

DNR Division of Wildlife Fisheries Administrator Ray Petering
said a proposal is on the table that would reduce the statewide
daily muskie bag from two fish to one.

The idea has the support of the Ohio Huskie Muskie Club and the
state’s chapters of Muskies Inc., Petering said.

“Looking around at other states in what we call ‘muskie
country,’ Ohio and West Virginia are the only ones that still allow
(a daily bag of two),” he said.

A high percentage of muskie anglers are pure catch and release
fishermen anyway and would likely be fine with an all catch and
release fishery, Petering said. Maintaining the bag limit at one
would still allow that lucky angler to keep a fish for the
wall.

“We wanted to still allow the opportunity for someone to take a
trophy home,” Petering said. “At the same time, I think it shows
our commitment to the guys who live to pursue these things.”

Tom Dietz, a longtime muskie angler and guide from southwest
Ohio, said he guesses that 95 percent of muskies caught in Ohio
waters are released.

But, Dietz said he and other anglers like him support the
restricted bag limit for another reason.

“It’s the incidental harvest that this (proposal) would help
with,” he said. “It’s the folks who catch (a muskie) while crappie
fishing and they tend to take them home to show them off. They
don’t have the same appreciation for the fish, and it’s usually the
biggest fish they’ve ever caught.”

The idea is to protect the stock of juvenile muskies that will
provide angling opportunities for years to come.

Dietz said he would like to see fisheries managers take muskie
regulations a step further and institute a minimum keeper size, say
around 40 inches. Currently, there is no minimum.

“Pennsylvania adopted the same measure a few years ago and it
was met with thumbs-up over there,” Dietz said. “Again, I think it
just lessens the chance that those juvenile muskies will be
incidental harvests.”

Among muskie states in the Great Lakes region, Minnesota has a
statewide one-fish daily bag with a 40-inch minimum keeper size,
and keeper minimums are even more restrictive on some individual
waters. Michigan anglers also have a one-fish daily bag with a
minimum keeper requirement of 42 inches. The daily bag is also one
in Wisconsin, where the state’s general minimum keeper limit is 36
inches, although sizes vary widely on individual lakes from 28
inches all the way up to 50.

Clients who book Dietz through his Ohio guide service are
encouraged to catch and release, he said. If a customer catches a
trophy size muskie, Dietz said his first suggestion is to take a
nice photograph of the fish so the client can later obtain a
graphite replica mount.

“The expectations of my guide clients for the past couple of
years has been ‘I’m going to release what I catch,’” he said.
“There haven’t been many people saying ‘I want to keep that
39-incher.’ It’s been a release mentality right from the
start.”

Another proposal that is on the table for a vote in March would
change boat motor horsepower regulations on some inland lakes.

Under the proposal, a 10-horsepower maximum limit on Lake La Su
An (Williams County), Oxbow Lake (Defiance County), Knox Lake (Knox
County), and Lake Rupert (Vinton County) would be lifted. In place
would be a no-wake regulation with an idle speed only
designation.

Also, Greenfield Lake and Rockmill Lake, two Fairfield County
lakes each of less than 20 acres, would change from electric motor
only to 10-horsepower lakes.

“What we’re trying to do is allow (bass anglers) to get on some
of our better and smaller (bass) systems without completely losing
that family friendly atmosphere of these lakes,” Petering said. “A
quiet, peaceful setting is a pretty valuable experience.”

Petering sees the proposed changes as a compromise. The
federations representing Ohio bass tournaments have been the big
proponent for change, Petering said. The aforementioned lakes are
among some of the better bass fisheries in the state. The relaxed
regulations would ostensibly allow larger bass boats on those
bodies of water.

“What we’re doing is kind of dipping our toe in the water (with
the proposed changes),” Petering said. “What we’ve told (bass
tournament organizers) is that they’re going to have to vigilantly
police themselves if these proposals are passed.”

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