Central Ohio officers crack down on cast netters
State wildlife officers in central Ohio are cracking down on the illegal use of cast nets, following complaints last spring from concerned citizens.
Since May, officers have issued at least 20 citations at Griggs, Hoover, and O’Shaughnessy reservoirs near Columbus, and at Indian Lake in Logan County, according to Leighland Arehart, wildlife law enforcement supervisor for the Ohio DNR’s central district.
A cast or "throw" net is connected to the user by a lead line. It's tossed onto the water surface in a circular motion. Weights along the edge sink the net to the bottom, gathering fish in the process. A user then draws the lead line tight, closing the net and trapping the fish.
Cast nets are available is a variety of sizes at most sporting goods stores.
Anglers may use cast nets of a certain size and mesh to take only forage fish and minnows in Ohio. Specific rules are on Page 4 of the 2013-14 Ohio Fishing Regulations.
However, it’s illegal in the state to net any game fish with the devices. It’s also illegal to use a cast net within 1,000 feet downstream of a dam where netting is prohibited by the Ohio DNR, Arehart said.
Most of the recent citations went to people netting fish from dam spillways, he added.
The illegal practice can be profitable. Violators often sell their illegal catch to local “pay lakes.”
But those caught netting outside the law face up to $250 in fines and 30 days in jail.
Arehart credited alert citizens for notifying his office of the illegal practice.
“Concerned sportsmen and women act as the eyes and ears of the division (of wildlife),” Arehart said. “With only one state wildlife officer assigned per county, we rely on the hunting and fishing community to extend our presence by sharing information. We cannot be effective without engaging our constituents.”
The Ohio DNR is expected to release details of the recent cast-netting investigation in coming weeks.