Temperatures – both air and water – are finally dropping and to thousands of Ohioans that means one thing: it’s time to go fishing.
“Let’s hope fishing in the fall is a whole lot better than fishing has been through the spring and summer this year,” said Doug Maloney, the Division of Wildlife’s fish management supervisor for District 5 (southwest Ohio).
As an example of what Maloney is talking about, his unit conducted a creel survey on weekend days during the spring at Acton Lake.
“We had to double check the figures and then check them again. We couldn’t believe the number of people surveyed was that low,” Maloney said.
So the fishing might have been good, but not very many people were fishing.
Most area bait dealers said their business was down this spring – with the exception of Cowan Lake – mainly due to rainy spring weekend days and then high temperatures that began in June and lasted into September.
The numbers tend to back that up: Fishing license sales in Ohio have dropped by about 7 percent. From Feb. 15 when license sales began, through Aug. 30 there were almost 62,000 fewer licenses sold than last year over the same period. That, incidentally, took away about $1 million in license revenue.
Maloney said if you are looking for a place to do some good fall fishing, you might want to go for the crappies at Paint Creek Lake.
“We had plenty of reports of people catching (and releasing) 8 ½-inch crappies at Paint Creek during the spring,” Maloney said. “If those fish went through normal growth over the summer, they should be legal (9 inches) this fall.”
Another spot for good fishing action should be Caesar Creek Lake, especially for saugeyes on the flats and around Walker Island.
Speaking of saugeyes, the “saugeye capital of Ohio,” Indian Lake, almost always has a strong fall bite. And in recent years, saugeye fishing has been very good at Rocky Fork Lake.
In addition of Paint Creek, the crappie fishing should be good at Cowan Lake, the only lake of size in the area that has no size or bag limit. It was the exception during the spring with plenty of anglers and plenty of fish caught.
For catfish and bluegills, Lake Loramie should be one of the top spots. Bluegills are always plentiful at Rocky Fork, Kiser Lake and Rush Run.
C.J. Brown Reservoir has been an improving crappie lake and you’ll run into a large population of white bass there. There are plenty of walleyes in C.J., but the mystery always seems to be catching them.
Although muskie fishing has been rather slow this year at Caesar Creek, look for it to pick up as the water cools.
Maloney also suggested fishing the rivers if they remain in their current low conditions.
“It’s easier to find smallmouth bass when the water is low. They don’t have as many places to go,” he said.
“If the weather holds, I look for good fishing this fall,” Maloney added. “We didn’t yank many in the spring, so there should be plenty.”
For more information about Ohio fishing, visit wildohio.com.