Speakers at the 36th Annual Ohio Charter Captains Conference on March 4, urged the 178 charter captains and others in attendance to introduce the next generation to Lake Erie fishing.
The conference, which was held at the Cedar Point Conference Center at the Bowling Green State University Firelands Campus in Huron, Ohio, is co-sponsored by Ohio Sea Grant, Ohio State University Extension, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Division of Wildlife and the Lake Erie Charter Boat Association.
“Judging from what we heard from the captains, this was one of the best Charter Captains Conferences we’ve ever had. The speakers were all fantastic and there’s no doubt the information they shared will help the captains with their businesses this summer,” said Ohio Sea Grant Fisheries Outreach Coordinator and Program Leader Tory Gabriel, who organizes the conference.
Travis Hartman, Lake Erie program administrator for the ODNR Division of Wildlife, opened the event by presenting a positive outlook for walleye fishing in the next few years due to a series of good hatches. He noted there should be a good mix of year classes, including a number of trophy fish.
Other highlights included Bryan Edwards from Lake Erie Shores & Islands, who urged charter captains to increase their web and social media presence in order to reach younger anglers, and Ray Petering, chief of ODNR Division of Wildlife, who told captains that getting children interested in the outdoors – specifically in hunting and fishing – is vital for the future of conservation. Mark Romanack, founder of Precision Trolling Data and host of Fishing 411 TV, presented techniques for catching Lake Erie walleye.
“If there’s one big takeaway I have from Saturday, it’s that the fishing in Lake Erie will be world class this year, and we should all enjoy it,” Gabriel said. “That world class fishery will also be a great opportunity to get kids excited about the outdoors, so everyone who reads this should make it a goal to take a kid fishing this year.”
Approximately 96 percent of attendees said they learned about Lake Erie and natural resource issues, recreation or tourism opportunities at the conference, and 95 percent said they find Ohio Sea Grant resources trustworthy and will use them to answer questions regarding Lake Erie and Lake Erie issues.
Among returning attendees, 93 percent said they used information they learned at the conference to improve their operation, and 55 percent said their profitability increased.
Ohio State University’s Ohio Sea Grant College Program is part of NOAA Sea Grant, a network of 33 Sea Grant programs dedicated to the protection and sustainable use of marine and Great Lakes resources. For more information on Ohio Sea Grant, visit ohioseagrant.osu.edu.