ODNR’s Natural Resources Park a Family Favorite for Visitors at Ohio State Fair

ODNR’s Natural Resources Park a Family Favorite for Visitors at Ohio State Fair


Ohio State Fair will be July 26-Aug. 6     

COLUMBUS, OH – The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) will once again welcome visitors to the Natural Resources Park at the Ohio State Fair with free interactive exhibits and displays, allowing visitors to experience and see some of Ohio’s outdoor opportunities. Located in the southeast corner of the state fairgrounds, the park will be open to all fairgoers throughout the Ohio State Fair, which runs July 26-Aug 6. Free activities are available for people to enjoy from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. daily.
“The Ohio State Fair gives us an ideal opportunity to showcase to fairgoers some of the recreational opportunities available in every corner of the Buckeye State,” ODNR Director James Zehringer said. “Our Natural Resources Park is a favorite tradition for many visitors to the Ohio State Fair, and we are pleased to continue to offer this free park to share hands-on and interactive exhibits promoting Ohio’s great outdoors.”

Two brand-new wildlife buildings will make their debut at the 2017 Ohio State Fair this year. The first building is the Wild Ohio Shooting Range, which houses newly constructed archery and air gun ranges. This new building can accommodate up to 10 shooters at the air gun range and five shooters at the archery range. The ranges are open to all ages and skill levels from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.

The second new wildlife building is called the Fish Ohio Building, which is a redesigned fish house where staff will be giving fish filleting and cooking demonstrations. The demonstration area includes a TV to allow more people to watch the process. The building also houses refrigerated storage to temporarily hold fish caught in the youth fishing area until kids are ready to pick them up and take them home. The new fish house will be open 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.
Another new attraction is the Scenic Rivers touch pool. The shallow pool will be 8 feet by 3 feet and will contain many of Ohio’s native macroinvertebrate species, plus a few crayfish and small stream fish. The touch pool allows visitors to experience the magic of dipping a hand into a stream to find live creatures, and it shows how the Scenic Rivers program monitors these creatures to help gauge stream health. The touch pool will be staffed by volunteers from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. daily.

Returning exhibits include the popular kayak pond, which is a 7,000-square-foot pond, which gives guests an opportunity to safely learn how to kayak. ODNR has also partnered with L.L. Bean to help fit kayakers into the right size life jacket. Sign up for this experience at the pavilion in the ODNR Natural Resources Park. Additionally, located near the kayak pond, the personal watercraft simulator will be available, allowing visitors to experience “riding” a jet ski.

A new animatronic Smokey Bear was installed in 2015, replacing the original 55-year-old Smokey. The new display has moving arms, head and mouth, which allows him to continue sharing his mission by teaching fairgoers how they can prevent wildfires. Smokey Bear will greet each child who comes to visit by name from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily. A 71-foot-tall fire tower, originally built by the Civilian Conservation Corps in 1934 in Pike County, is also located directly behind Smokey to reinforce the icon’s fire prevention message.

The youth fishing pond is also back by popular demand. Children under the age of 14 can learn how to catch and cook one of the 2,000 hybrid bluegill that have been stocked for the fair. A family-friendly opportunity, kids are sure to catch the fishing bug once they experience this fun and educational
recreational opportunity.

The ODNR Natural Resources Park will continue providing free outdoor entertainment in the ODNR Amphitheater, which has been expanded to seat more than 600 people during multiple daily performances throughout the fair. Acts will range from lumberjack competitions, animal demonstrations with animals from the Columbus Zoo and Aquarium, as well as the ever popular retriever dog show, in addition to music and clogging performances.
Other educational opportunities are available, including the Butterfly House, where guests can view a dazzling array of colors while gazing at butterflies up close and learning about their lifecycle. Visitors are also encouraged to check out Ruthven’s Aviary, which will feature some of Ohio’s native bird species, as well as how to create wildlife-friendly backyards. Fairgoers will also enjoy walking through a tall grass prairie exhibit, representing Ohio’s native plant life.

Families will enjoy the shade of the trees in the arboretum at the Natural Resources Park at the Ohio State Fair, which is a perfect retreat from the hustle and bustle of the midway. ODNR has received accreditation by the ArbNet Arboretum Accreditation Program for the Natural Resources Park, which features the Governors Grove, with trees planted by Ohio Governor John Kasich and many of his predecessors. Many other trees in the park are labeled, including an American sweetgum tree grown from seed that traveled more than 2 million miles on the first flight of the Space Shuttle Discovery in 1984.

The ODNR information booth will offer natural resources literature, and the gift shop will showcase a wide array of souvenirs, clothing and toys available for purchase.

For more information about the ODNR Natural Resources Park or to check out the daily amphitheater schedule, visit ohiodnr.gov/statefair. For more information about the Ohio State Fair, go to ohiostatefair.com.
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


2017 Lake Erie Sport Fishing Outlook Once Again Great News for Anglers

2017 Lake Erie Sport Fishing Outlook Once Again Great News for Anglers

4/4/2017 Division of Wildlife 

2017 Lake Erie Sport Fishing Outlook Once Again Great News for Anglers

Walleye and yellow perch bag limits announced

COLUMBUS, OH – Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Director James Zehringer and Rich Carter, executive administrator of fish management and research for the ODNR Division of Wildlife, announced yesterday that Lake Erie anglers should anticipate experiencing another year of diverse fishing opportunities in 2017. Zehringer and Carter were joined by Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Director Craig Butler and Larry Fletcher, president of Lake Erie Shores and Islands. Great walleye hatches from 2014 and 2015 are expected to contribute to exceptional fishing opportunities in Lake Erie this year. Anglers pursuing yellow perch in the Western Basin will likely find excellent numbers of yellow perch.

Lake Erie walleye and yellow perch fisheries are managed through an interagency quota system that involves Ontario, Michigan, Pennsylvania, New York and Ohio. Each jurisdiction regulates its catches to comply with quotas and minimize the risk of over-fishing these species. Quotas for the upcoming fishing season are determined through consensus agreement by these jurisdictions through the Lake Erie Committee of the Great Lakes Fishery Commission, which were just recently announced for 2017.

Currently, the walleye daily bag limit is four, and the yellow perch daily bag limit is 30 per angler in Ohio waters of Lake Erie until April 30. As a result of the 2017 quota allocation, the daily bag limit will be six walleye from May 1 through Feb. 28, 2018. From March 1, 2018, through April 30, 2018, the daily walleye bag limit will be four. A 15-inch minimum size limit is in effect during the entire season for walleye. The yellow perch daily bag limit will be 30 from May 1 through April 30, 2018, with no minimum size limit. Lake Erie anglers can find walleye and yellow perch bag limit information at ODNR offices, in special publications at bait and tackle shops and at wildohio.gov.


Ohio walleye anglers will catch fish mostly from the 2015, 2014 and 2013 hatches, with some fish from the 2012, 2011, 2010 and 2009 year classes. Additional fish from 2007 and 2003 will also be harvested by anglers. Walleye from the 2014 hatch will range from 16-19 inches, while walleye from the 2013 hatch will be between 17-22 inches. Fish from the 2003 and 2007 hatches are likely to carry most of the Central Basin fisheries, and a good number of these walleye will be over the 26-inch range. Large walleye from strong hatch in 2003 will continue to provide “Fish Ohio” opportunities (greater than 28 inches), with this year class nearing the size that may give Ohio a new state record walleye. Additionally, in 2017, anglers should see a number of smaller (less than 15 inches) fish from the excellent 2015 hatch. Anglers are reminded of the 15-inch minimum size limit and encouraged to release these fish with as little handling as possible so they can contribute to the fisheries in future years. As the 2017 season progresses, more of the 2-year-old fish will surpass the 15-inch minimum size limit.

Yellow Perch

Expect excellent perch fishing in 2017, with improving numbers of fish in the Western Basin. Perch anglers in the west will primarily catch perch from 2013, 2014 and 2015, providing a good range of sizes. The largest perch in the Western Basin will come from 2012 and older year classes. Central Basin anglers should expect to find average numbers of yellow perch, with most fish coming from the 2012 year class and to a lesser extent, the 2014 year class. Older fish from years prior to 2012 will provide the potential for trophy yellow perch.

Black Bass

Smallmouth bass fishing in 2017 is expected to be consistent with recent years. In 2016, smallmouth bass catch rates were well above average for the fifth consecutive year, and in 2017, anglers should expect more of the same, including an excellent size range (14 to 22 inches and weighing up to 6 pounds). The best fishing for smallmouth bass will continue to be in areas with good bottom structure, which is the available habitat across much of the entire Ohio nearshore and islands.

Continuing the trend from previous years, largemouth bass fishing should be excellent in 2017. This fishery continues to produce exceptional catch rates and some large fish in nearshore areas and harbors across Ohio’s Lake Erie. All black bass (smallmouth and largemouth) must be immediately released from May 1 through June 23. Beginning June 24, the daily bag limit for bass will be five, with a 14-inch minimum length limit.


Steelhead anglers should enjoy another year of great fishing in 2017 in Ohio’s Lake Erie open waters and in tributaries. Peak summer steelhead action on Lake Erie can be found offshore from June through August between Vermilion and Conneaut, with catches measuring 17 to 29 inches. Most Lake Erie anglers troll for steelhead in deep waters using spoons with divers or downriggers until fish move close to shore in the fall. The daily bag limit remains at five fish per angler from May 16 through Aug. 31, and two fish per angler between Sept. 1 and May 15, 2018. A 12-inch minimum size limit is in effect throughout the year.

White Bass

White bass continue to provide excellent seasonal fishing opportunities in the Maumee and Sandusky rivers and in the open lake. The 2017 catch will continue to be dominated by fish from the 2012 and 2010 year classes. Fish from older year classes could be as large as 16 inches. Anglers should focus on major Western Basin tributaries during May and June and nearshore areas of the open lake during the summer. There is no white bass daily bag limit or size limit.

Other Species

Bays, harbors and main lake shorelines offer excellent fishing for panfish, as well as occasional northern pike and muskellunge in vegetated areas.

Anglers are reminded that fishing conditions on Lake Erie can change hourly, and adjustments are often necessary to improve success. Anglers should take into account factors such as water temperature, cloud cover, water clarity, boat traffic, wave action, structure, currents and the amount of baitfish in the area. Anglers are also reminded to carefully monitor Lake Erie weather and to seek safe harbor before storms approach.

Updated Lake Erie fishing reports are available at wildohio.gov or by calling 888-HOOKFISH (888-466-5347). Information is available from ODNR Division of Wildlife staff from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays at the Fairport Harbor station (440-352-4199) for the Central Basin and at Sandusky station (419-625-8062) for the Western Basin.

Information on the ODNR Division of Wildlife’s Lake Erie research and management programs, fisheries resources, fishing reports, maps and links to other Lake Erie web resources are available at wildohio.gov.

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.