Opening doors to the outdoors

December 2, 2009

Northern Ohio anglers have one of the world’s finest steelhead trout fisheries in their back yard but sometimes struggle to find places along those streams where they can wet a line.

Jeff Liskay, one of Ohio’s premier steelhead fishing experts and a longtime advocate for greater river access, is applauding the Land Conservancy’s efforts to create more places to fish. Liskay, 49, of North Olmsted, said the fishing community supports the Land Conservancy’s efforts to preserve prime streamside acreage and open it to the public.

“Without Western Reserve Land Conservancy and the park systems, there would be very little land set aside for public fishing along these beautiful streams,” said Liskay, who has had a life-long love affair with the rivers, ponds and lakes of northern Ohio. Liskay applauded the Land Conservancy’s efforts to preserve land along streams that empty into Lake Erie. The projects include the acquisition of a 24-acre parcel in Conneaut, one that is adjacent to 79 acres already owned by the Ashtabula County MetroParks.

In addition, the Land Conservancy’s pending merger with Grand River Partners is expected to result in additional land-protection opportunities along that stream. In recent years, Liskay, who helped found the Ohio Central Basin Steelheaders organization and is a fly fishing ambassador for Patagonia, has focused on helping to create additional access to the region’s main steelhead fishing streams, including the Vermilion River, Rocky River, Cuyahoga River, Chagrin River, Grand River and Conneaut Creek.

Many steelhead anglers depend on public access, according to Liskay. “You can’t believe what it means to the ‘destination’ fisherman. Does he really have time to get permission slips (from private property owners)?” he asked.

Liskay was one of the volunteer guides who participated in April’s Steelhead Spectacular, a hands-on fishing event co-sponsored by the Land Conservancy and OCBS.

A key part of the Land Conservancy’s mission is preserving land for those who enjoy outdoor sports, including fishing, hunting, hiking, mountain biking and cross country skiing. The Land Conservancy believes outdoor recreation opportunities are important to our region’s future.