Fish Ohio program recognizes the big ones


Ohio’s sport fishing records are made to be broken; some sooner, some later, but eventually there’s always a bigger fish waiting to be caught. But bigger fish are just bigger fish unless the angler who catches it knows what he’s got.

That’s exactly what happened June 9, when Toledo bow fisher Patrick Johnson arrowed a huge carp in shallow Ohio waters of Lake Erie. Johnson’s carp tipped certified scales at 53.65 pounds, measured 45 inches long and 32 and a quarter inches around the girth.

The new record carp replaces a 47.65 pound Sandusky Bay carp caught and recorded in 2008. That fish, a remarkable trophy but obviously not the biggest fish in the pond, was also caught by an archery angler while bow fishing on Ohio’s northern shore in Sandusky Bay.

It seems that no Ohio record fish is safe forever, but a few records have certainly stood the test of time. Ohio top rock bass, hardly a handful at a measly 1.97 pounds, has held the crown since 1932 and a 55.13 pound mucky has topped the list since 1972.


But thanks to the popular Fish Ohio program, sizable catches can be recognized without being a record setter.

Last year, anglers form 36 states and one Canadian province received 2012 Fish Ohio awards for fish caught in Ohio waters, according to a news release from Ohio’s Department of Natural Resources.

The Fish Ohio program, created in 1976, recognizes catches of 20 common species based on the size of the fish. Anglers catching a qualifying fish need only submit the entry online to receive a pin and certificate.

In 2012 Lake Erie walleyes received the most entries from one body of water with 1599. Lake Erie also had the most entries for nine other species. Ohio River waters produced the most Fish Ohio flathead catfish, hybrid striped bass, blue catfish and sauger.


Other top waters for Fish Ohio catches included Mosquito Creek (232 entries), Maumee River (203) and Alum Creek (175). Also West Branch (muskies), Rocky River (trout) and Portage Lakes (sunfish).

The species claiming the most entries were crappies with 1,771, walleye with 1771, sunfish with 1,673 and yellow perch with 972.

More than 450,000 Fish Ohio pins have been presented since the inception of the program. Each year the Fish Ohio pin features a different fish. The 2012 pin was appropriately a crappie and this year the pin is a brown trout. Fish Ohio pins are valued collector trophies for many anglers.

Gold pin

In addition, anglers who enter four qualifying species is awarded the distinction of Master Angler and receives a gold pin instead of the standard Fish Ohio silver pin.

In 2012 fishers claimed 12,642 Fish Ohio pins and 512 Master Angler pins. Earn how to submit a Fish Ohio catch at


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Mike Tontimonia has been writing weekly columns and magazine features about the outdoors for over 25 years, a career that continues to hold the same excitement for him as it did at the beginning. Mike is a retired educator, a licensed auctioneer and marketing consultant. He lives in Ravenna, Ohio and enjoys spending time at his Carroll County cabin. Mike has hunted and fished in several states and Canada from the Carolinas to Alaska and from Idaho to Delaware. His readers have often commented that the stories about his adventures are about as close to being there as possible. He is past president of the Outdoor Writers of Ohio and a member of the Outdoor Writers Association of America. Mike is also very involved in his community as a school board member and a Rotarian.


  1. Where can I get a LIST of each of the fish on all of the fish ohio pins 1979 – 2014? Thanks very much for your help. All I can find is pictures of fish on the pins. David J Stroup. Professor of Biology.

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