COLUMBUS -- The 2012 production season for the Division of Wildlife's six state fish hatcheries is off to a great start, according to the Ohio Department of Natural Resources' (ODNR) Division of Wildlife.
More than 23 million sport fish have been stocked statewide thus far with late summer and fall stockings yet to be completed. Unusually warm temperatures in early spring accelerated egg take and required fish management personnel to adapt quickly to the unexpected weather.
Hatchery crews began the stocking season in early March with catchable rainbow trout that kicked off the fishing season for many outdoor enthusiasts. These trout stockings continued through April with many of the stockings coinciding with youth or other special events, providing opportunities for beginning or novice anglers.
Walleye and saugeye were distributed statewide in April and May. Ohio's saugeye program is popular with inland anglers. This hybrid, a cross between female walleye and male sauger, has been stocked in many of Ohio's inland lakes since the late 1970s. Saugeye have created a fishery in lakes where walleye stockings proved unsuccessful. Both saugeye and walleye are excellent table fare.
Steelhead are stocked in select tributaries of Lake Erie in April and May, and they were raised at the newly renovated Castalia State Fish Hatchery. This facility is the only steelhead hatchery operated by the Division of Wildlife. Ohio's steelhead fishery is among the best in the Great Lakes region, attracting anglers from across the country.
Hybrid striped bass and yellow perch finished off this spring's stockings. Late summer and fall plans include muskellunge, channel catfish, blue catfish and brown trout, further adding to the diversity of opportunities available for anglers.
Sales of fishing licenses along with the Sport Fish Restoration (SFR) program continue to fund the operation of the Division of Wildlife's fish hatcheries. No state tax dollars are used for this activity. This is a user-pay, user-benefit program.
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 the state fish and wildlife agencies. These funds are used to acquire habitat, produce and stock fish, conduct research and surveys, provide aquatic education to youth and acquire and develop boat accesses.