June 20, 2008

Viral Hemorrhagic Septicemia Discovered in Reservoir’s Muskies


That dreaded fish disease VHS (viral hemorrhagic septicemia) has been found again, this time at Clearfork Reservoir, near Mansfield, detected while doing routine tests on muskellunge.

This doesn't mean you will start seeing dead muskies floating all over the lake. In fact, they say if it weren't for the tests of ovarian fluid in the sampling of fish, it's not likely the disease would be detected.

At one time, all muskie eggs put into Ohio hatcheries came from Clearfork. This year, they went to London Hatchery, and fingerlings from that hatch are being tested. In recent years, musky eggs have also been taken from Salt Fork Lake to the Kinkaid Hatchery. Salt Fork muskies did not test positive for VHS.

Ray Petering, who heads fish management for the Ohio Division of Wildlife, said the state should have enough muskies raised at Kinkaid to take care of the stocking of all musky lakes this year.

The disease does not pose a threat to humans, because the fish are safe to eat.

Still, Ohio boaters should take a few precautions that might help stop the spread of VHS:

- Do not move live fish from Clearfork Reservoir (or Lake Erie) to other waters;

- Drain water from live wells, bait buckets, coolers and bilges before leaving Clearfork or Lake Erie.

Petering said the state always takes precautions to keep its hatcheries free from disease. "Because if there is a fast way to spread any disease, it would be so much faster if it came from the hatcheries."

VHS was first detected in the Great Lakes in 2003 and was responsible for a freshwater drum (sheephead) die-off in Lake Erie during 2006. The virus has not been detected in other lakes or the Ohio River during testing routinely conducted since 2006.

Safety first

With the Fourth of July weekend approaching, this is the prime season for boating on Ohio lakes. Unfortunately, that means it's also a peak time for boating accidents.

The Ohio Division of Watercraft would like to avoid tragedies such as the one that killed a boater on Sandusky Bay over the weekend. Two boats (a 21-footer and a 41-footer) collided shortly before midnight as they were headed to different marinas.

The deceased boater, whose body was recovered Monday, June 16, was identified as Ben Miller, 21, of Berlin Heights. A female passenger on his boat was critically injured.

While the accident still is under investigation, watercraft officers said none of the six people on the two boats was wearing a life jacket.

While nobody has determined whether Miller would have lived had he been wearing a life vest, officials stress the use of personal flotation devices for everyone who rides in any boat.

Trail opening

Five Rivers MetroParks will open the new 22-mile Twin Valley Backpacking Trail on Saturday with a celebration from noon to 4 p.m. at the Germantown MetroPark dam, 7481 Creek Road.

Festivities will include live bluegrass music, a ribbon cutting at 12:30 and local exhibitors. Shuttles will run continuously to allow hikers to explore different parts of the trail.

There will be free 20-minute clinics throughout the day on topics such as footwear tips and techniques, fly fishing along the trail, choosing the right pack, preparing for a trip, and camp setup.

Multiple trail heads allow hikers to use the trail for hikes of as little as 2 miles to 22 miles. By adding loops in both parks, the available trail system is longer than 43 miles.

For more information about the trail, or to obtain a camping permit, contact Five Rivers Outdoors at (937) 277-4374 or visit metroparks.org.

Contact this reporter at (937) 225-2409 or [email protected]

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