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How to safely consume fish you catch

By Tom Jackson • May 22, 2019 at 4:00 PM

Eating fish is good for you, but watch what you eat and how much, state officials said.

Three state agencies have just issued the latest “Ohio Sport Fishing Consumption Advisory,” giving do’s and dont’s for eating the fish you pull out of Ohio waters.

The good news: Yellow perch are among the safest fish you can eat. None of the state’s “don’t eat anything you catch here” warnings apply to bodies of water in the Sandusky area.

The not-so-good news: You have to be careful to avoid eating fish that may have mercury or PCBs.

You can find the full report online by using a search engine. To request a printed copy, call 614-728-9452.         

The report was issued by the state health department, Ohio EPA and the Ohio Department of Natural Resources.

Some general advice:

• You can eat two meals a week of yellow perch. Eat only one meal a month of flathead catfish or northern pike that are 23 inches or longer or of steelhead trout caught in Lake Erie or one of the lake’s tributaries. Any other fish, eat once a week.

• If you are looking for safe wild-caught Ohio fish, eat yellow perch, crappie, bluegill or sunfish.

• If your “fishing” consists of buying fish at the supermarket, your safest bets are shrimp, canned light tuna, salmon or tilapia. Shun shark, swordfish, tilefish, orange roughy, bigeye tuna, marlin and king mackerel.

• Don’t eat anything caught from portions of Dicks Creek, the Great Miami River, the Little Scioto River, the Ohio River and the Tuscarawas River. Refer to the report for details.

• Trim the skin and fat and eat the fillet. Baking, broiling or grilling is better than pan frying.

Here’s advice specific to this area:

• Certain fish from the Huron River should only be eaten once a month because of possible PCB or mercury contamination: common carp, smallmouth buffalo, channel catfish, flathead catfish, freshwater drum.

• These fish from Lake Erie should only be eaten once a month: channel catfish, common carp 27 inches and under, freshwater drum, lake trout, steelhead trout, white bass, whitefish 21 inches and over, white perch, brown bullhead. Common carp bigger than 27 inches should only be eaten once every two months.

• Steelhead trout from Lake Erie tributaries should only be eaten once a month.

• These fish from the Portage River should only be eaten once every two months: channel catfish, common carp.

• Eat these fish from the Sandusky River only once a month: channel catfish, rock bass, smallmouth bass, common carp, smallmouth buffalo.

• Smallmouth bass from the Vermilion River should only be eaten once a month.

• Common carp from the West Branch Huron River should only be eaten once a month.

For other areas of Ohio, obtain a copy of the report, as discussed above.

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