Jim Morris
Jim Morris

Jim Morris has worked for newspapers, radio, television and various Websites for more than 47 years. He has been a writer, an editor, an editorial writer and a columnist. For 23 years, Morris worked for the Troy Daily News as sports editor, managing editor and executive editor. In 1994 he began working at the Dayton Daily News as an outdoor sports columnist and night sports desk editor. He retired from the DDN in January of 2010 and is now a freelance writer with his own Website for outdoors stories.


Time to break away, cure the cabin fever and get out to a good fishing hole. Here’s where you can usually find them … the key word there is “usually” because with fishing, you never know …

I had a college professor who, each year, exclaimed to his class: “I know it is spring, because I saw my first crocus of the year flying over my house this morning.”

Well, I saw my first kid fishing in the Great Miami River the other day. I think that qualifies.

So here is the annual southwest Ohio fishing forecast, as compiled by Deb Walters of the District 5 office of the Division of Wildlife and by Marty Lundquist of the District 1 office (Indian and Kiser lakes and the Mad River.)

Acton Lake: Although one of the smallest lakes in the district, 642 acres, it is rated excellent for largemouth bass and bluegills and good for saugeyes, crappies and channel cats.

Caesar Creek Lake: One of the district’s largest at 2,723 acres, the top species here are muskellunge and white bass, both considered very good. The outlooks for saugeyes, bluegills, crappies and catfish are good.

C.J. Brown Reservoir: The only excellent rating goes to channel catfish, but walleye population is very good and bass, bluegills and crappies are considered good.

Clark Lake: The best fishing at this small lake is for the stocked rainbow trout. Fishing for bluegills and catfish should be good.

Cowan Lake: While catfishing is the only excellent rating here, the lake is known for its crappies. In fact, with no limits on crappies at this lake, it ranked 11th in Ohio in numbers of crappie over 9 inches. Bluegills are very good, while saugeyes and largemouth bass joined crappies as good.

East Fork Lake: The hot ticket here is crappie fishing, rated excellent. But there are very good numbers of hybrid striped bass. It’s one of just two lakes in the region stocked with that species.

Grand Lake St. Marys: The two excellent ratings here go to bluegills and bullheads. There are good numbers of channel catfish and a fair number of flatheads. Crappies and bass bring in the tournament anglers.

Grant Lake: This Brown County lake is also rated excellent for bullheads and bluegills, very good for channel cats.

Great Miami River: Some of the best inland smallmouth bass fishing in Ohio, from Sidney to Dayton, then from Miamisburg to Hamilton. Fish rocky, sandy areas below dams. Lots of catfish, rock bass, bluegills, carp, and suckers along the whole length of the river.

Indian Lake: They don’t call it the “saugeye capitol of Ohio” for nothing. Saugeye fishing is excellent in the spring and fall. Crappie, bass, catfish and sunfish fishing should be good.

Kiser Lake: This lake is known for its quiet (no motors of any kind allowed). But it’s also excellent for bluegills and largemouth bass. This is the other lake in the area with hybrid striped bass.

Lake Loramie: The catfish outlook is excellent and all other species are rated as good. Plenty of good bank fishing.

Mad River: Approximately 10,000 brown trout were stocked last October. Enough said.

Paint Creek Lake: Always an excellent lake for crappies, it’s also very good for largemouth bass and catfish, including flatheads. There is very good saugeye fishing in the spillway.

Rocky Fork Lake: One of the few lakes rated excellent for largemouth bass. It attracts many tournaments. It’s also excellent for bluegills and crappies and very good for catfish and saugeyes and white bass.

Rush Run Lake: The stocked rainbows offer excellent fishing. Bluegills are very good and bass fishing is good.

Stonelick Lake: Stocked rainbows are the main attraction. Good for bluegills and crappies.

Sycamore State Park ponds and Tawawa Lake in Sidney: both excellent for stocked rainbows.

Stillwater River: More good smallmouth fishing, especially from Covington downstream to West Milton.
(Ohio River and Lake Erie fishing will be covered at a later date).

Best Bets for Southwest Ohio Fishing
Here’s where the competition begins. Deb Walters and the Xenia office crew picked their best bets for the district and I picked mine. Here they are:

Bass: Walters: Rocky Fork, Acton Lake and Cowan Lake. Me: Rocky Fork, Great Miami and Lake Loramie;

Crappies: Walters: St. Marys, Rocky Fork Lake, East Fork Lake. Me: Paint Creek Lake, Grand Lake St. Marys and East Fork.

Channel Cats: Walters: Rocky Fork, St. Marys and Grant Lake. Me: St. Marys, Indian Lake and C.J. Brown.

Saugeyes/walleyes: Walters: C.J. Brown, Rocky Fork, Caesar Creek. Me: Indian Lake, Caesar Creek and Rocky Fork.

Bluegill: Walters: St. Marys, Rocky Fork, Rush Run. Me: Lake Loramie, Rocky Fork, St. Marys.

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