If you like to fish, are new to the area or just want to visit a place you’ve never tried, there are many options for anglers in southwest Ohio.
A few days ago I sat down with Debbie Walters, now the senior member of the staff in the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s District 5 office in Xenia, to talk about fall fishing. After all, as district fish management supervisor, she probably knows each fish in southwest Ohio by name.
So where is the best fishing in the area?
The answer to that question is a little complicated. For example, if you want to know where the best crappie fishing is, the obvious answer is Grand Lake St. Marys. There you will find a large number of black crappies with good size. But……….
Before fishing at Grand Lake St. Marys, you have to consider the toxic algae problems. So far, tests have shown the fish populations are clean. But do you want to fish in water the EPA says you shouldn’t touch? It hurts me to say this, because I love that lake and have always enjoyed fishing there. Unfortunately, Ohio’s lawmakers have been too timid to take the bold steps necessary to clean it up.
* So, right now I’d say the best places to crappie fish are Paint Creek, Indian Lake and Cowan Lake.
* Top catfish spots are Grand Lake St. Marys, Lake Loramie and Indian Lake.
* The best saugeye/walleye lakes are: Indian, Caesar Creek, Rocky Fork and C. J. Brown.
* The best bass lakes are: Rocky Fork, Indian, Acton and Paint Creek.
* The top bluegill lakes are: Loramie, Rocky Fork, Kiser and Grand Lake St. Marys.
If you want to chase after some of the biggest game fish in the district, you will spend a day on Caesar Creek Lake, trolling or casting for muskellunge. You can also try East Fork, near Cincinnati, but your chances are better at Caesar Creek.
Those are the only lakes in the district currently being stocked with muskies. No doubt there are still a few in Cowan Lake, where they were stocked until a few years ago.
The thing about Caesar Creek is you can be dragging around a small spinnerbait or crankbait and it might be attractive to a musky, saugeye, bass or even a large crappie. A catfish will also hit a spinnerbait.
If you do catch a musky, the coolest thing to do is hold the fish horizontally, measure it, weigh it if you want and snap a few photos – then gently return the giant to the water. Hold it by its tail until it swims away on its own. Oh, and Walters reminds musky anglers to enter the fish on the anglers’ log. That helps the fish management process. The log can be found at ohiodnr.gov/MuskieLog. Caesar Creek is now ranked as the state’s fourth best musky lake. West Branch, Leesville and Clearfork are the top three.
Caesar Creek also has that brand new marina, which should make fishing there a bit easier.
One thing that might happen this fall is the resurgence of yellow perch fishing at Grand Lake St. Marys. If you can look past the lake’s pea green water, the perch might be back this year. To help the population along, the state has stocked millions of tiny yellow perch (fry and fingerlings) in Grand Lake over the past couple of years.
“I doubt any of those stocked perch make it to 8 inches this year, but maybe by next fall there might be some,” Walters said.
Perch fans will also want to note the state stocked 101,300 yellow perch fingerlings in Eastwood Lake (Hydrobowl) this year, but don’t bother fishing for them for about three years.
It’s fall turkey time
Ohio’s seven-week fall turkey hunting season opens Saturday and runs through Nov. 27.
Gobblers and hens are legal game during the fall wild turkey season. Fifty-six Ohio counties are open for fall turkey hunting. Only one turkey of either sex may be harvested during the entire fall season. A hunting license and fall turkey permit are required. Hours are 30 minutes before sunrise to sunset. Shotguns using shot, as well as crossbows and longbows, are permitted. Hunting turkeys using bait is prohibited, and turkeys must be checked by 11:30 p.m. on the day the bird is harvested.
For more information, visit wildohio.gov or ohiogamecheck.com or call (800) WILDLIFE (945-3543).
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