By Dan Armitage, host of Buckeye Sportsman, Ohio’s longest-running outdoor radio show
With the pandemic putting more people on the water than ever before and the consequent increase in boating accidents and fatalities, there is better news in the recently released U.S. Coast Guard Recreational Boating Statistics 2021.
The Coast Guard’s latest report shows double-digit year-over-year declines in all areas of key boating safety indicators. Boating accidents fell by 15.7%, injuries by 17.2% and deaths by 14.2%. The fatality rate in 2021 fell to 5.5 fatalities per 100,000 registered pleasure craft, a reduction of 15.4% from 6.5 fatalities per 100,000 in 2020.
“The new report shows a dramatic decrease in injuries and fatalities, more than I can remember in recent memory,” said Chris Edmonston, president of the BoatUS Foundation for Boating Safety and Clean Water. “However, even with the lifting of COVID restrictions and boating no longer being one of the few means of family entertainment, operator inexperience remains one of the main risk factors contributing to accidents. .”
Operator inattention, improper supervision, machine breakdown and excessive speed complete the list.
“The need to focus on these five basic elements of boating safety and the ongoing need for boating safety education has not changed,” Edmonston said.
What influences these latest numbers on boating safety?
“We don’t know if this latest data is an anomaly or a trend, but we believe the growing number of states requiring mandatory boating safety training, as well as states requiring training for a greater portion of their nautical citizens, is having a positive effect,” Edmonston said.
He also notes, however, that paddle boat operators remain a concern, as they generally have no education requirements before getting in the water. Where data was known, 2021 statistics show 15% of deaths were attributed to kayaks – unchanged from the previous year.
OSFL Youth Outdoor Skills Day
The Ohio Sportsmen Farmers League is hosting its annual Youth Outdoor Skills Day on Sunday, August 7, to introduce youngsters to the great outdoors. Events will include demonstrations of archery, air rifle shooting, trap shooting, zip lining and trapping. Lunch and water will be provided. Door prizes will be awarded at the end of the day.
Participation is free, but limited to 60 young people, aged 8 to 16. Registration required is from 11 a.m. to 11:45 a.m. and the program runs from noon to 6 p.m. The event will take place at the OSFL club ground located at 1755 Jacoby Road, Copley. To register, visit ohiosportsmenfarmersleague.com under programs, Youth Day, is a waiver form or email: [email protected]
Portage Lakes Youth Fishing Program underway
The Portage Lakes Youth Fishing Area is now open to aspiring anglers and continues every weekend through Labor Day, Sept. 5, according to the Department of Natural Resources Wildlife Division. Ohio (ODOW). The Portage Lakes Youth Fishing Area creates an easy and accessible opportunity for youth 15 and under to learn to fish.
Equipment, bait, and assistance from Wildlife Division staff are provided free through purchases of Ohio fishing licenses and federal contributions from the Sport Fish Restoration Fund. Each young angler can keep only one fish per day in the young fishing ponds, although catch and release of fish for the duration of the tour is welcome.
All young anglers must be accompanied by a parent or guardian, but adults do not need a fishing license. Anglers 15 and under are not required to have a license to fish from Youth Pond or any other public waterway in Ohio. Adults are not allowed to fish in the youth zone, but they can help young anglers.
The Wildlife Division Youth Fishing Area is located at 912 Portage Lakes Drive in Akron. Hours of operation are 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. every Saturday and Sunday, as well as Labor Day. Picnic tables and restrooms are available. Species that can be caught in Portage lakes include bluegill, catfish, bass, crappie, trout, and carp, and many meet or exceed Fish Ohio’s minimum length requirements. Learn more about where to fish, how to target certain species, and the Fish Ohio program at wildohio.gov.
Organizations interested in visiting with a group can schedule tours during open fishing hours by calling the Wildlife Division’s Northeast Ohio office in Akron at 330-245-3016.
Xenia’s children’s fishing area is also open
Young anglers in Southwest Ohio can fish for free all summer through Xenia’s ODOW office. Former hatchery ponds have been transformed into a youth fishing area to help budding anglers make memories and get hooked on fishing.
Young people 15 and under can fish for free in the ponds. Equipment is available and Wildlife Division staff are on hand to teach participants fishing techniques. The Youth Fishing Zone is open every Tuesday, Thursday, Friday and Saturday this summer through Labor Day weekend, September 3, 2022. It is located at 1076 Old Springfield Pike in Xenia. Parking, toilets and seats are available for customers. Young anglers must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. Adults are not permitted to fish in the youth zone but may assist young anglers. Parents and guardians do not need a fishing license to help youngsters.
Fishing is by reservation only; walk-ins will not be admitted. Anglers and accompanying parents or guardians can book one of three 2-hour sessions per day: 8 a.m. to 10 a.m., 10 a.m. to noon, or 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. Limit of 10 reservations per session. Reservations can be made by calling 1-800-WILDLIFE (945-3543) to reach the District Five Wildlife Division headquarters.
Anglers may only keep one fish per day in the Youth Fishing Ponds, although catching and releasing fish for the duration of the tour is welcome. Equipment, bait, and assistance from Wildlife Division staff are provided free through the purchase of Ohio fishing licenses and federal contributions from the Sport Fish Restoration Fund. Visitors may bring their own tackle, but should note that barbless hooks are required to support catch and release opportunities.