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Free fishing awaits on Father’s Day weekend

Folks who wonder why so many people make a fuss about fishing and those who used to enjoy the sport but put it on the shelf to tend to more pressing matters have a great opportunity this weekend to connect with our lakes and rivers.

Today and tomorrow, Father’s Day, are free fishing days in Ohio. No fishing license is required for any Ohioan who wishes to go fishing this weekend.

So for those who have been thinking it is high time to check out the fishing scene, this weekend as the Ohio Department of Natural Resources has lifted the requirement for a fishing license.

Timing for the free fishing weekend is excellent.

All of the popular game and pan fish species in Ohio are biting.

I decided this week to check out the local action and I’m pleased to report the results were encouraging.

Lake Milton was my destination. It’s popular with people from Youngstown and Warren, and also attracts a lot of anglers who reside throughout Northeast Ohio.

I went to Milton intending to target bass. By the end of my second day on the lake, I’d boated six species, which I consider a good indicator that the fish were in the mood to cooperate.

The official count over the nine hours I invested Sunday and Tuesday included nine smallmouth bass, 10 largemouths, two crappies, and one rock bass, white bass and walleye.

All were hooked on either small crankbaits or soft plastic lures. Half the haul came from the main lake north of Interstate 76.

The other half was caught south of Ellsworth Road where Milton necks down into the Mahoning River channel.

Milton, of course, is not the only good fishing lake in our region.

Mosquito Lake is excellent for crappies, walleyes and largemouth bass. Access for shoreline anglers is available off the dam and Ohio 88 causeway, as well as the rock break walls at the state park marina.

Boats are available for rent at the state park marina operated by Joe Sofchek and Causeway Bait and Tackle in Mecca.

West Branch Reservoir is the place to go for anglers looking for big game action. The lake provides super muskie fishing, as well as excellent crappie and bass action. Boats are available on the state park marina.

Anglers can find convenient access for catfish, crappies and a variety of other species on the causeways of Berlin and Pymatuning reservoirs.

And for those looking to fill their freezers with tasty walleye fillets, they need look no further than one hour north for Lake Erie charter boats out of Conneaut, Ashtabula, Geneva and Fairport Harbor.

For one weekend each year, Ohio’s fish bosses look the other way so everybody can enjoy quality time on any of the public waters from Lake Erie to the Ohio River.

Perhaps the fishing bug will bite you after this weekend’s free fishing days. A fishing license is a solid investment for the future of the sport.

Ohio’s resident adult 12-month fishing license costs $25.

Proceeds from license sales are well used for ODNR programs in fish management, including the successful Lake Erie steelhead and inland reservoir walleye stockings.

Jack Wollitz’s new book, The Common Angler: A Celebration of Fishing, was released May 11.

Jack appreciates emails from readers. Send a note to him at jackbbaass@gmail.com.

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