COLUMBUS, OH - Ohioans are encouraged to take advantage of “Free Fishing Days” on May 3-4 and experience the great fishing Ohio has to offer. For these two days only, Ohio anglers may fish in any of the state’s public waters without having to buy a fishing license.
During the rest of the year, anglers 16 years and older are required to have a valid fishing license to take fish, frogs or turtles from Ohio waters. An Ohio fishing license is one of the best recreation bargains available, costing only $19 a year for residents.
Ohio residents born on or before Dec. 31, 1937, can obtain a free fishing license at any license vendor. Residents age 66 and older who were born on or after Jan. 1, 1938, are eligible to obtain a reduced cost senior fishing license for $10. A one-day fishing license is also available for $11, an amount that later can be applied toward the cost of an annual fishing license. Fishing licenses are available at bait and tackle stores, outdoor outfitters, major department stores, as well as wildohio.com.
Ohio’s Free Fishing Days were established in 1993 to promote fishing and allow Ohioans to experience fishing before buying a license. The offer is open to all Ohio residents and extends to all of Ohio’s public waters including Lake Erie and the Ohio River.
Great fishing exists around the state and throughout the year. An estimated 1.3 million people fish each year in Ohio. In late winter and early spring, anglers reel in excellent catches of steelhead trout and walleye from northern Ohio streams. Spring also means great saugeye and crappie fishing. During the summer months, the fishing heats up on Lake Erie for yellow perch, walleye and smallmouth bass, while anglers on the Ohio River enjoy excellent striped bass fishing.
In southeast Ohio, the AEP ReCreation Area offers some great opportunities for anglers. With over 300 lakes and ponds stocked for fishing, there is something for the beginning angler, the advanced angler, and everyone in between. Spring is a great time to target largemouth bass using spinner baits and jig-and-pig combinations. For bluegill, use live bait such, as redworms or mealworms, fished under a bobber. Keep in mind those ponds that are “off the beaten path” do not receive as much pressure as those close to campsites. A free permit is required to fish the AEP ReCreation Area, and can be obtained from the AEP office in McConnelsville, The AEP corporate office, regional offices of the Ohio Division of Wildlife, or at any of the regional sporting goods or bait stores surrounding the ReCreation Area.
The “Free Fishing Days” weekend offers Ohioans of all ages the chance to experience the fun of fishing. For anyone taking a young angler, there’s nothing more rewarding than teaching a kid to fish. Here are some helpful tips:
· Keep it simple. Consider the child’s age and skill level. If this is their first time, shore fishing is recommended.
· Kids like to catch fish. The size of fish doesn’t matter to kids. But catching a fish—any fish—does. Choose a pond, lake or stream where they will easily be able to catch a few fish.
· Use simple tackle. A good rod and reel for kids costs between $15 and $30. A spin-cast reel is easy to use and, after a few practice casts, kids usually have mastered it.
· Bring along a camera. Children love to show off pictures of their “big catch.”
· Keep the trip fun and short. Let the child have a good time, even if it means taking a break. Take time out to enjoy the time together.
· Be patient. Plan on spending some time untangling lines, baiting hooks, landing fish and taking pictures of big smiles and wiggling fish. When people concentrate all of their attention on their young angler, they will likely be developing a fishing buddy for a lifetime.
ODNR ensures a balance between wise use and protection of our natural resources for the benefit of all. Visit the ODNR website at ohiodnr.gov.