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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Ohio House GOP Leaders Fish or Cut Bait: Casting to Name Smallmouth Bass 'Official ' State Fish

CINCINNATI (TDB) -- This news may be hard for some to swallow on the shores of Lake Erie, where a billion dollar tourist industry flourishes as the walleye capital of the world. But some of the Republican lawmakers who joined forces last month in a plan to repeal Ohio's state income tax have now launched an effort to declare the smallmouth bass the official state fish. The bill was filed in the House by Minority Whip John Adams a former Navy Seal who ranks third in the GOP's leadership. Adams is from Sidney in western Ohio and owns furniture stores. A co-sponsor is Cheryl Grossman, No. 4 in the GOP House leadership. She was once the mayor of Grove City, a suburb of Columbus.

Ohio does not have an official state fish. It has a bird, the cardinal, and a rock song, Hang On Sloopy, and a fossil, the Trilobite. It has a tree, the Buckeye. Tennessee declared the smallmouth bass a state fish in 2005. Texas declared a cousin, the Guadalupe bass, its state fish in 1989. Oklahoma has the sand bass. The list of official state fish is available here. Most Ohioans would probably consider walleye as the most likely candidate to snare any movement to become Ohio's fish. It's already recognized widely as the most important gamefish in state waterways. Lake Erie fishermen have been known to catch them at the rate of eight per hour. The Ohio Historical Society notes:

"Without a doubt, walleye are one of the most prized game fish in Ohio. Ohio’s 2003 sport harvest of walleye totaled 2,771,697 pounds. They are the most important game fish in Lake Erie. The lake is often called the "Walleye Capital of the World." Walleye are no longer harvested commercially but there are a number of charter boats that will take walleye fishermen out on the lake for a day or more fishing. During the 1980s and 90s, over three million walleyes are harvested each year throughout Ohio."

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