Can you imagine camping along a beautiful lake or river bank, fishing the waters with your son or daughter, only to be told that fish you caught for dinner can't be cleaned or cooked until you get home? Fishing enthusiasts were feeling the heat of just such a scenario from new state regulations aimed at poachers but splashing over fishing fans across the board.
That is, until Akron attorney Adam VanHo (see, left, enjoying a catch; photo Facebook) stepped in and won an injunction last week putting a halt to new regulations that even state wildlife regulators and the Attorney General's office admit went a little too far.
VanHo filed the lawsuit, he said, because of one critical word: "permanent" when mandating fish couldn't be cleaned or consumed until the fisherman was in the permanent home county of residence. For Lake Erie sportfishing fans, that would have meant packing the whole fish on ice and then making the sometimes two-hour drive from the lake's central basin -- prime walleye and perch fishing grounds -- and then cleaning their catch when they got home.
While that picture might be a boon for the folks selling ice along the lakefront, the sportfishing industry was more than concerned it would cast a serious cloud over their business, which is catching dollars from tourists who don't live along the lakeshore.
VanHo, on WAKR's Ray Horner Morning Show, said the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) was well-intentioned when it first came up with the regulations, which upgraded prior standards of keeping at least some of the skin on the cleaned catch so wildlife division officers could, if needed, identify the species of fish. That effort is targeted at poachers, and VanHo readily admits poaching fish is a problem ODNR should rightly address.
He felt, however, the regulations went too far when mandating that prime catch remain in it's original condition until anglers made it back to their permanent county of residence. The one word -- "permanent" -- wound up being the snag in the line that was enough to win agreement from ODNR and the attorneys at the Ohio Attorney General's office to support a temporary restraining order that removed the word from the regulation while ODNR opens the regulations for more public comment and review.
That's the outcome fishing fans across Ohio can happily reel in.