Free Fishing Days on May 4-5 offers Ohio residents the opportunity to fish in any of the state’s public waters without buying a fishing license, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR). Additionally, family-friendly fishing events for young anglers will be offered on Saturday, May 4, at five state properties around Ohio.
“It is important to introduce kids to fishing at a young age, and these free educational opportunities are a great way to get kids acquainted with fishing,” said ODNR Director James Zehringer. “We want to ensure that this pastime continues as an important family tradition for our children and grandchildren.”
At the five designated youth fishing ponds on May 4, ODNR will provide bait and instruction for the young anglers, but participants are encouraged to bring their own fishing rods and tackle. A limited number of loaner fishing rods will be available at each site.
The following family-friendly fishing ponds will be stocked throughout the summer to ensure there are always plenty of fish to catch:
• Caesar Creek State Park Pond – 40 miles from Cincinnati;
• Delaware State Park Pond – 30 miles from Columbus;
• Maumee Bay State Park Pond – 10 miles from Toledo; and
• Sycamore State Park Pond – 15 miles from Dayton.
Family-friendly fishing ponds are open to youths 15 and under. Those 16 and older must fish with a youth age 15 and under. See www2.ohiodnr.gov/youthfishing for more information.
The ODNR Division of Wildlife District Three office in Akron also offers fishing to youths age 15 and under. Go to wildohio.com for more information on the youth-only fishing area.
Ohio’s Free Fishing Days are open to all Ohio residents and extends to all of Ohio’s public waters, including Lake Erie and the Ohio River. An estimated 1.3 million people fish each year in Ohio, and the ODNR Division of Wildlife stocked 24 million fish in 2012 alone. Some different species of fish Ohioans might hook include steelhead trout, walleye, saugeye, crappie, yellow perch, bass, bluegill and catfish. The Free Fishing Days weekend offers Ohioans of all ages the chance to experience the fun of fishing. Here are some helpful tips for taking a youngster out for Free Fishing Days.
• Keep the trip simple by considering a child’s age and skill level. Choose a pond, lake or stream where children will be able to easily catch a few fish. A spin-cast reel is usually easy for kids to use. Bring a camera, and keep the trip fun and short. Be patient—plan on spending time untangling lines, baiting hooks, landing fish and taking pictures.
Anglers 16 years and older are required to have a valid fishing license to take fish, frogs or turtles from Ohio waters during the rest of the year. An Ohio resident fishing license costs only $19 per year.
Ohio residents born on or before Dec. 31, 1937, can obtain a free fishing license at any license vendor or online at wildohio.com. Residents age 66 and older who were born on or after Jan. 1, 1938, are eligible for a $10 senior fishing license. A one-day fishing license is available for $11, an amount that can later be applied toward the cost of an annual fishing license. Fishing licenses are available at participating agents and wildohio.com.
The sales of fishing licenses, along with the Sport Fish Restoration (SFR) program, continue to fund ODNR Division of Wildlife fish management operations. No state tax dollars are used for these activities. These are user-pay, user-benefit programs.
The SFR is a partnership between federal and state government, industry and anglers/boaters. When anglers purchase rods, reels, fishing tackle, fish finders and motor boat fuel, they pay an excise tax. The federal government collects these taxes, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service administers and disburses these funds to state fish and wildlife agencies. These funds are used to acquire habitat, produce and stock fish, conduct research and surveys, provide aquatic education and acquire and develop boat accesses.
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.