The Ohio Division of Wildlife offers a great program to recognize anglers for great catches in Ohio waters including private ponds; the only catches that don’t qualify are fish caught in pay lakes. The Fish Ohio program provides a hat pin and certificate for your first qualifying catch each season. The hat pin is a different fish every year regardless of the species you catch your pin will be whatever fish was chosen by the Ohio Division of Wildlife that year.
The qualifying lengths of all the different fish species vary from 9 inches all the way up 36 inches. Here is a list of all the qualifying lengths for Fish Ohio.
Blue Catfish – 35 inches Crappie – 13 inches
Brown Trout – 25 inches Carp – 26 inches
Flathead Catfish – 35 inches Channel Catfish – 26 inches
Freshwater Drum – 22 inches Hybrid Striped Bass – 21 inches
Largemouth Bass – 21 inches Muskie – 36 inches
Northern Pike – 32 inches Rainbow Trout – 28 inches
Rock Bass – 10 inches Sauger – 16 inches
Saugeye – 21 inches Smallmouth Bass – 20 inches
Sunfish – 9 inches Walleye – 28 inches
White Bass – 16 inches Yellow Perch – 13 inches
I always take my son out right at the start of every season to find a Fish Ohio Bluegill that has to measure nine inches or longer. By far the easiest Fish Ohio to catch and a great way to get the kids excited! I have found that the certificate that can be printed right after you register the fish and the excitement of the pin coming in the mail always makes for exciting start to his fishing season! As exciting as it is for my son I also still get very excited at the opportunity to add another pin to my hat as well! After your first Fish Ohio catch every year the march is on to obtain the Master Angler pin for that lucky fishing hat.
The Master Angler pin is obtained by catching four different species of qualifying length, and registering them as Fish Ohio. The Master Angler pin looks just like the standard Fish Ohio pin except it is gold in color and has master angler across the top of the pin. If you fish a lot like I do you would think obtaining this pin would be easy. However that is not always the case many people only target one or two species of fish most of the time they fish. It took me years before I successfully got my first Master Angler pin. I always caught three, and just could never find the fourth, but the last two years the fish have been very kind to me!
The Fish Ohio program is completely integrity based, you do not have to keep the fish, or have pictures. All you have to do is
be honest and register the fish on the Ohio Wildlife website. When you register the fish all you need is the length of the fish, date caught, where it was caught, and of course the name of the angler you ca
n add a description of where the fish was caught if you choose to.
The hat pins do take a while to come in the mail because they only mail in bulk every once and while. If you achieve Master Angler they are not sent out till the end of year so they know how many pins need to be made. So while you are out hunting for that monster fish make sure have a measuring tape handy so you will know when you land a Fish Ohio, and don’t miss an opportunity to another pin on your lucky fishing hat! Keep those lines tight, and after you catch that Fish Ohio go to the link below and register your catch only takes a couple minutes have fun and be safe!
Here is the link to the Fish Ohio Program!