Trip for trout leads to a run in with a tick

Closeup of a tick
Closeup of a an adult female deer tick.

Spring in Ohio has a bad reputation. Random warm days are glimpses of summer weather that is still weeks away. Then, within the same week, an 80-degree day is followed up by sleet and snow showers.

We did discover one good thing about overcast and rainy weather: Trout fishing is great!

Most fishing trips, we end up catching a few keepers. Some trips we end up with critters we don’t want to keep.

Glacier Lake in Mill Creek Park was one of many lakes in Ohio stocked by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources. We were there the first weekend hoping our kids could experience catching a trout.

No luck

Nothing was biting. More specifically, nothing was biting our bait. Our kids were using marshmallows with minnows. They had heard that marshmallows would help float the bait. Trout could be seen flopping in the water, but other than kids eating them by handfuls, nothing was tempted by the marshmallows.

The next attempt was a week later. The sky was overcast, and it was late in the evening. Raindrops were dancing on the water. Instead of mini marshmallows, the boys tried PowerBait trout nuggets and a worm.

It had to be the exact combination of PowerBait nugget and worm. The trout did not bite just a worm or just a PowerBait nugget. It was a fun evening to be fishing.

After the first few bites, they learned that trout have a soft mouth. They did not have to pull hard to set the hook. They were very pleased with the trout they reeled into shore.

Unwanted tagalong

Unfortunately, we returned home with one extra critter. It didn’t have fins or gills. It was as tiny as a freckle and stuck to my son’s arm. It was a very small deer tick. I was relieved that we had found it before it burrowed into his skin.

What I refer to as a deer tick is actually known as a blacklegged tick, Ixodes scapularis. In the eastern and Midwestern United States, blacklegged ticks are the only living organism that can transmit Lyme disease.

As a child, I don’t remember being fearful of ticks. I can only recall seeing them on a couple occasions. I spent most of my childhood outside without encountering the pests.

Ticks did not become a serious pest in Ohio until recently. A female blacklegged tick can lay 2,000 eggs in one location. As the number of ticks have increased, the number of people infected with Lyme disease has grown. In the state of Ohio, the number of cases of Lyme disease grew from 44 in 2010 to 468 in 2019.

Knowledge is power

I’m determined that the fear of ticks will not stop our family from enjoying outdoor activities like fishing and hiking. We take several proactive steps recommended by the Ohio Department of Health to decrease our chances of being exposed to Lyme disease.

We apply insect repellent before participating in outside activities. Our boots are sprayed with a product containing 0.5 percent permethrin. We wear long socks; pants and shirts are tucked in when possible.

When hiking or walking to fishing spots, we always try to stay on the path. Weeds and heavily wooded areas are prime locations for ticks to hitch a ride.

After being outside, we pester our kids to check for ticks and to shower. I can’t figure out why showering requires so much convincing when it comes to children when later in life it becomes a luxury. It is important because showering within two hours of being outside will help to remove any unattached ticks.

According to the CDC, immature blacklegged ticks called nymphs most often spread the bacterium, Borrelia burgdorferi, that causes Lyme disease. Mature blacklegged ticks can spread the disease as well, but they are larger and easier to locate for early removal.

Ticks most likely have to be attached for 36-48 hours before transmission of disease causing bacteria can occur. On multiple occasions, I have used a tick key to remove a tick. It’s a removal device that uses forward leverage to pull the entire tick out.

It is also possible to use fine-tipped tweezers close to the skin’s surface. I have found that a combination of using both a tick key and tweezers works well.

Fear is a liar and knowledge is power. Hopefully, we will have many fishing and hiking trips this summer. Today has enough worries of its own; by taking protective steps, we do not have to worry about the “what ifs” of ticks.


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