Delaware, Ohio — The year of 2022 was chock full of fine news stories that made the pages of Ohio Outdoor News.
From lead weights in the bellies of tournament walleyes (allegedly) to a behemoth smallmouth bass caught on Lake Erie, Ohio Outdoor News reported it all in 2022 from one end of the state to the other.
So, without further ado, we present the 2022 Year in Review, a tradition that dates back to the original year of publication of Ohio Outdoor News in 2006.
The following is a month by month breakdown and short synopsis of the top news stories that appeared in these pages.
Though she’s reluctant to be put in the spotlight, Emelie Pride deserves recognition for the buck she shot during deer gun season. Pride is 80 years old, and six months prior to the hunt broke a hip. Yet the gun season in early December 2021 found her once again afield in search of a deer. This year’s buck was a nice 8-pointer that Pride had processed and took to a taxidermist.
The 2021-2022 Ohio deer-hunting season produced a kill that exceeded the
three-year average and also finished as the second best since the
2013-2014 season. Data from the Ohio Division of Wildlife said that for
the combined deer-hunting season 196,988 animals were taken for a 6.6%
increase over the three-year average of 184,746 deer.
A trophy blue catfish fishery may be coming to a lake near you. The ODNR
Division of Wildlife announced that it’s expanding its list of lakes
that are stocked with blue catfish. In 2022, that translated to East
Fork Lake in southwest Ohio and Burr Oak Lake in southeast Ohio as
getting their first stockings of blue catfish. In 2023, Alum Creek
Reservoir in central Ohio, Atwood Lake and West Branch Reservoir in
northeast Ohio are on the planned stocking list.
The ODNR Division of Wildlife shifted some money around in 2022 to expedite
the restoration of Shreve Lake. Shreve, a 58-acre lake in northeast
Wayne County, was drained in 2014 due to a problem at the dam that put
it at risk for failure. By doing this, the Division of Wildlife freed up
$500,000 to start the redesign portion of Shreve Lake.
A section of State Route 73 that runs east-west throughout Caesar Creek
State Park could soon be designated as the Natural Resources Officer
Jason Lagore Memorial Highway, according to the Ohio DNR (ODNR).
Officer Lagore died in the line of duty assisting in the rescue of two children
who had fallen through the ice at Rocky Fork Lake in Highland County in
February of 2021. He was a 15-year veteran with ODNR’s Division of Parks
and Watercraft. In addition to coordinating the division’s K-9 program,
Lagore was responsible for establishing the first ODNR K-9 Academy.
Boaters and anglers have been complaining for the past couple of years about
the proliferation of weeds on Indian Lake in north-central Ohio. Their
collective cries were heard in 2022 by the ODNR, which is working hard
on a solution. Over the years, the ODNR and the lake association at
Indian have utilized a weed harvester to clear out those channels and
coves of vegetation. Weed harvesters were put into use seven days a week
through the summer, and central Ohio fisheries biologists say the weed
situation is much improved at Indian Lake.
Jonathan Hay’s buddies often poke fun at him for fishing for suckers in the
nearby Huron River. But Hay, 37, has the last laugh as it turns out.
Ohio’s state record fish program has seen a 45-year record finally
broken and Hay is the new record holder. An Ohio record sucker (other
than buffalo) has been certified by the Outdoor Writers of Ohio State Record Fish Committee.
The new state record sucker, weighing 12.16 pounds, was caught by Hay,
of Bellevue, Ohio. Hay caught his greater redhorse April 29 in the Huron
River at the Milan Wildlife Area on a red worm with spinning tackle.
Hay’s greater redhorse was 30.75 inches long and 18.25 inches in girth.
Following the first successful prosecution of its kind in the United States, a
Mount Vernon woman was sentenced in federal court in May to 80 hours of
community service and two years of probation for owning and selling
invasive marbled crayfish. She was also ordered to pay $5,000 in federal
restitution. Allison Spaulding, 47, ignored previous warnings from
state wildlife officers to cease selling the colorful, but invasive
crayfish, according to the ODNR Division of Wildlife (DOW). She
continued to market hundreds of them from her basement in violation of
the Lacey Act.
When the ice crystals settle after the first couple of frosts, possibly up
to 40% of Ohio’s counties will have experienced an outbreak of epizootic
hemorrhagic disease (EHD) in their respective deer herd. And much of
the reasons why such an extension of the viral disease has spread across
the state so quickly has Ohio Division of Wildlife biologists more than
a little puzzled. Almost certainly, however, these wildlife scientists
are saying, the lengthening seasonal period of warm weather contributed
to the expansion of the midge, which is the vector for the disease.
Two men were disqualified from the Lake Erie Walleye Trail (LEWT) 2022
Championship held in Cleveland on Friday, Sept. 30 when tournament
organizers exposed an alleged cheating scheme. Chase Cominsky and Jake
Runyan, who were leading both the tournament and the LEWT Team of the
Year competition, were disqualified when Tournament Director Jason
Fischer cut open the five fish they had entered to find that they were
allegedly stuffed with eight pounds of lead weights and fillets from
smaller walleyes. Cominsky, of Hermitage, Pa., and Runyan, of Cleveland,
have both been criminally charged over the alleged incident. Both have
pleaded not guilty.
A several-year investigation into a poaching ring that included the theft
and illegal selling of venison intended for customers led to the arrest
and subsequent convictions of 14 people. Much of the incident revolves
around A&E Processing of Gallia County. The shop is owned and
operated by five of the convicted individuals, according to the ODNR
Division of Wildlife (DOW).
A 10-plus-pound smallmouth bass caught in early November on Lake Erie set
a new record for a Great Lakes smallmouth. Gregg Gallagher, 56, of
Fremont, and his son, Grant, were fishing Lake Erie near Pelee Island in
Ontario when the big fish hit. The official weight was 10.15 pounds,
and the fish measured 23 3⁄4 inches.