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Monday, December 31, 2012

just like montauk

Ok well maybe not exactly. But after a month of catching nothing but saugers they felt like it. On the way back from some deer scouting thought I'd try the Ohio. Till I saw it that is. The water level was Ok but the river looked like chocolate milk. So I tried about a hundred yards up a clear creek that ran into the river. (its a little spot so I forgot the name, its somewhere between Meldhal and Markland) The creek was clear as a bell and ran for quite a bit into the Ohio before thay mixed. I was hoping for some saugers stacked up in the clear water at the mouth instead I caught seven of these guys on a three inch grub fished slow and deep. Then thump just like a sauger but then it was on, fighting as hard as a sauger twice their size would. I wish I'd brought the thermometer to see if the creek was warmer than the river. It was steaming a bit and the river wasn't so I think it might have been. But anytime you find clear water running into muddy it's time to fish.

Saturday, December 29, 2012

Smallmouth Bass The most sought after fish in the Little Miami is the smallmouth bass. The smallmouth bass gets its name from the fact that the rear end of the lower jaw does not extend past the eye, while the jawof a largemouth does. . Their preferred water temperature is 68-70 degrees F, cooler than that of the largemouth bass. Spawning activity begins in the spring when water temperatures reach 60 degrees F or more. The male builds a nest in quiet water, usually near shore, or downstream from an obstruction that causes a break in the current. Since the male will guard the eggs and the newly hatched fry, the nest is never far from deep water, or cover, where he can retreat when frightened. Smallmouth are larger than those of the largemouth bass and hatch in roughly three days. Then the newly hatched fry hide in the gravel at the bottom of the nest nest for a few or more days. After that the fry hang around the nest for a few more days before they begin to begin to disperse. Till then they are guarded by the male who hangs around keeping a watchfull eye on things. At first they fry eat tiny crustaceans, but soon beging to add insects and fish to their diet as they grow in size.Smallmouth bass mature at age three and a very very old one might live to be 10 to 12 years old. The usual smallmouth seen by anglers is 10 to 14 inches long, and weighs less than three pounds. The world record smallmouth was caught in Dale Hollow Lake in in July of 1955 by David Hayes. It weighed 11 pound 15 ounces! He was trolling a model 300 Bomber in deep water. The Ohio state record smallmouth was caught in Lake Erie in 1993 by Randy Van Dam ( yeah he's Kevin Van Dam's brother) and weighed a staggering 9lb 8 ounces on ajigging spoon. The world record record largemouth bass is just a tad under twice as big as the world record smallmouth and that actually is a pretty good indication of the difference in average size of the two bass species. But the smallmouth has a well earned reputation as the hardest fighting fish there is and surprise everyone that catches one for the first time. Smallmouth also have a reputation for being moody cantakerous bastards who won't hit anything one minute then smash the heck out of plug the next. I like them alot. Smallmouth bass thrive in streams with gravel or rock bottoms with a visible current such as the Little Miami River. Smallmouth bass out number largemouth bass in most streams and rivers in Ohio. In southern Ohio smallmouth are out numbered by spotted bass in some of the largest rivers such as the Muskingum, Scioto, and Ohio Rivers. Smallmouth bass are common in Lake Erie, which might just be the best smallmouth fishery in the world. They can also be found in some of Ohio's reservoirs, especially those that are deeper and clearer with steep drop offs and rocky shorelines. But smallmouth are almost never as numerous as largemouth in Ohio's lakes. In the LMR any smallmouth over 3 lbs is certainly worth snapping a photo of before releasing. Any smallie over 4 lbs is probably the catch of a lifetime. In thirty years of fishing the LMR more than anyone I know I've only managed to land one smallmouth over 5lbs from the Little Miami. Although the Little Miami is prime smallmouth habitat and small and medium sized fish abound, the very nature of it being a river habitat with the occasional terrible spawns caused by flooding means that every ethical fisherman should practice catch and release on smallmouth bass especially those rare giants. I'm not against fish fries, just smallmouth bass fish fries.

Fishng in a winter wonderland

Friday, December 28, 2012

Running out of time

With snow in the forcast for the weekend and time running out to sneak in one last trip this year, I headed out right after work to the Great Miami. Bundled up in insulated coveralls with a heavy jacket on top it wasn't bad at all.
I fished the last bit of daylight which was cool because all the ducks and geese were coming back to the river for the night and were pretty noisy in the still evening air. Plus a couple ring billed gulls were cruising up and down the river. Caught two sauger, both on a hot pink and metalflake three inch grub on a 1/4 ounce jighead. Both strikes came on casts straight out as I let the jig sweep downstream on a tight line. River was in good shape. Didn't see anyone else fishing and had the river to myself, nice little trip. __________________

Monday, December 24, 2012

Knee Deep, a year along the river

If your on here any at all you know I probably fish more than the average 5 or 6 "avid" fisherman put togethor. I caught some pretty cool fish this year but then again you would have to be simply awful to go that much and not catch a few fish. I wanted to talk a minute about some other things I "caught" while on the river this year besides fish. The earliest memory of late last winter is being on the river one foggy day when the far bank drifted in and out view and the bare skeletons of the trees were black and wet against the mist. A scene right out of one of those old black and white film noir movies. The silence on the woods along the river in winter seems deepened somehow by the sound of the river. On windy days the sound of the wind thru the bare treetops makes a music all its own. It's possible to walk a length of river this time of year and not see another living thing. That being said it's also the time of year when some of the most memorable wildlife sightings happen. I remember a river otter (my first one seen around here) running across an ice covered bank to then slide silently into the water without making a ripple. Late winter is also prime time to see an eagle sitting stoically in a tree, still as a statue overlooking the clear winter water. In spring I most remember the river bottom at Halls Creek filled with marsh marigolds, acres and acres of them turning the whole river bottom into a warm yellow carpet. Not every trip was magic though, I took a guy here who barely noticed the marigolds when I pointed them out, waded right thru the best riffle and then proceded to throw a model A bomber into the next one, hanging up the medium running crankbait in two feet of water and wading in that riffle too to get it back. But the river always makes up for it, I drifted downstream out of sight and was rewarded by the cries of an osprey as it flew upriver just above the treetops. A few days later at the same riffle my "fishing buddy" waded thru I looked up to see two does crossing the river in the same spot. A bit more gracefully I might add. Spring on the river is simply awesome. Even the smell of the warm mud is awesome after the long winter. This spring I took a day and just seined the river. Not for bait but just to see what I could find. It's amazing how much more complicated it really is than we realise. Every stone from a riffle covered in the cases of caddisfly larvae, or snails, or one of the over 1,100 species of algae and invertebrates have been identified in the Little Miami River and its tributaries. Big crayfish and colorful darters seemingly painted by children, they are so bright and colorful. Catch a few darters and the gaudy colors of some lures don't seem so crazy. I also had a fishing trip cut short this spring by the discovery in another river bottom of morel mushrooms hiding in the leaves after a warm rain. If you have never had mushrooms rolled in egg and flour and deep fried you've missed really something. Summer is my favorite time on the river though. When the river is warm enough to wade wet and life is everywhere. Schools of minnows and small crayfish fill the shallows, evenings where swallows gracefully swoop over the long holes. Several times this year I camped on the river, building a fire and listening to the owls, waiting for the sound of the reels clicker signaling another catfish or at least a drum. I even kept a couple small channels this year cooking them over the campfire at night. Summers the time I range the furthest on the river, I might be wading the upper reaches by John Bryan State park throwing a rebel minnow for smallies or down at Armleder trying to catch a gar on cut bait. One of my most memorable experiences this year was when fishing at Fishpot Ford below Caesars Creek. I was intently fishing a good run and concentrating when I glanced up and twenty feet away was a lady barely fitting into her bikini in a kayak. How she got there I have no idea, as I stared dumbfounded she said " theres a beaver right behind you" and sure enough twenty feet away on the other side of me a beaver was swimming along. I guess I was fishing pretty hard that day for both of them to sneak up on me unnoticed. In fall I have to remind myself to slow down, I sense the year coming to an end and want to fish every minute of it. This year was worse than ever, I think I went 9 times in 11 days during one stretch. A couple things I remember most about fall are walking right up on two big bucks downstream of Jacoby Road. Both splashed across the Lmr and were up and over a steep bank I could never climb in seconds. A week or two later I walked up on another big buck down by Morrow with antlers way out past his ears and ten big points. He was going to let me walk right by at twenty feet till I stopped for a second and he exploded out of the brush. This year like most years I almost completely quit fishing for anything but smallmouth come October. This October produced the two most memorable fish of the year, a fish ohio smallie I caught and the bigger one I lost. That fish will haunt me forever. October was the month for me to get caught out in the weather too, twice I was caught in downpours miles from the truck. Now its just mostly a waiting game. Going out every week or so and catching (or not catching) a few saugers and waiting till spring. Btw if you want to see the Little Miami from a different perspective check out the blog "Red and the Peanut" by Kelly who walks the river all year recording the wildlife on camera or in shetches, It's simply amazing. Some more winter reading I'd recommend is "The Little Miami" by Stanley Hedeen. If you google his name and Little Miami you can find it online. Everything you ever wanted to know and then some about the ecology and history of the Little Miami.

Sunday, December 23, 2012

Down Time

With the onset of cold weather and the river up and muddy, I've been tinkering around making some topwater plugs for them spring smallies. I've made about ten that look like these two. I like em hopefully the smallies will too...

Friday, December 14, 2012

A bit of wintertime fishin

Went this morning to the GMR between Franklin and Miamisburg. The river is still a bit off color but very fishable. When I got there a guy had caught three really nice fish on a minnow plug. Oh no...I was mostly out scouting and only had a pocket full of jig heads and grubs. I fish an hour and a half without a bite. Another guy was there throwing a variety of stuff and he was having no luck either. I decided to run into town for lunch. Swung back by the river on the way back. Right away it was a different story than a few hours earlier. Thump and game on. I caught six or seven pretty good fish in about an hour. On a combination ugly even by saugfish standards. Purple metalflake on a screaming yellow jig head. I threw the standard chartruese/pink/white type colors but all but one fish came on purple. I even rigged up a tandem rig with the purple on bottom and chartruese on top but all the hits were on purple on a yellow jighead. I had all my hits way out right where a strong current ran up against a big eddy so I was throwing a half ounce jighead.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Them Saugfishes

I'm no expert on saugfish but I do fish for them alot this time of year and people ask about it more than anything else so here's how I do it. First off the last thing I wanna do in winter is worry if there arent even any fish where I'm fishing to see my bait. In summer there are fish spread thru the whole river, in winter that isnt the case. Find a complicated stretch, even if you have to drive ten minutes further its worth it. I want an island with water pouring around both sides or at least a big s curve, a deep run, a riffle and DEEP WATER all in close proximity. Yeah thats alot to ask for but if I fish thru all that I know I will have shown my lure to at least a few fish. I've read where sauger may migrate a hundred miles in big rivers in winter it stands to reason to me that they will migrate 5 or 6 in a small river like the LMR to a great stretch of river. If I'm fishing the Great Miami for winter saugs I'm fishing below one of the dams.Its simply better below the dams, no reason to go anywhere else. 90 percent of the time I'm throwing a three inch grub. Not just any grub but a gawdawfull butt ugly one. Try pink or orange or neon green, the brighter and gaudier the better most days. Try to get a "glow" going around your bait. Now for something wierd, some days they like a neon pink one over a red with gold metalflake one. Color matters some days even if your fishing some horrid color no live fish has ever seen before. Bring a file the rocks will do a number on your hook. Expect to lose alot, I lose HUNDREDS in the course of a year. (a do-it mold will save you a fortune) The other lure I fish is a sinking or suspending minnow plug. Once in a while it will outproduce the grub. Everyone I ever talk to says minnows on a jighead will outproduce both but I hate to fool with live bait in the cold. Concentrate on slack water right up against current most of the time, but expect to try everywhere, Ive caught them anywhere as long as a deep hole was close by. Especially if there has been a week long warm spell, they might just be right in the current below a riffle or the dam. And some days you just feel a mushy weight instead of a strike, set the hook on weight in the winter. I also find that sauger sometimes have the odd habit of only wanting the bait presented one way. Just because you didn't get a strike fishing upstream doesn't mean the same lure wont get a strike fished downstream. Another trick that I see almost no one doing in winter is fishing after dark. Saugeyes, walleyes, saugers all are strongly nocturnal fish, this doesn't end in winter. If your dressed for it and fishing where no one will see you and call the cops on the crazy man you can often do very well at night in the winter. And thats it, i'm sure theres other ways to catch em but thats how I go about it. ... fish ugly lures for an ugly fish that doesn't fight all that well while freezing your a$% off possibly even in the middle of the night. it spring yet?

Friday, November 23, 2012

Black Friday/ Big Smallmouth

I'm not sure if it was eating too much all day or what but I found myself wide awake at midnight. A quick check of the weather showed it was still 58 degrees. And from the sound of things still the warmest its going to be for quite some time. So off I went to one of my favorite holes on the river. I threw a three inch grub on a 1/4 ounce jighead and right away was into sauger in a big way. They were surprisingly shallow right off the end of the rock bar right where the current sweeps by. Id throw the grub out and let it hit bottom then lift and reel it back steadily right off the bottom and thump they were nailing it pretty hard. Completely different than how they were hitting during the day. Then I felt a big thump and set the hook into something huge. It had to have been something like a paddlefish or a huge buffalo foul hooked because I couldn't turn it in the least. It bore upstream for a while then turned and decided to leave. It left the hole I was fishing and was going out the riffle in the next as I struggled to follow. It kept going as I kept tightening the drag to the point where my 20lb braid was threatening to break my rod. As my spool began to show I heard it splashing in the shallow riffle below. Then just slack, it was off. Maybe if I could have followed it, who knows. Then it was back to sauger in just about as steady a bite as I've ever seen them. I must have caught a dozen really nice ones in a couple hours. The rock bar stuck out far enough that there was an eddy above and below it though in normal flows theres only one below. I threw into the upstream eddy and after three or four casts felt a soft thump and set the hook. The rod bent double and then the fish jumped completely out of the water! A very big smallie. After what seemed like forever I lipped it on about the third try. Saugers I expect but I couldn't believe catching a big smallie in the middle of the night this time of year. Kind of an exclaimation point to a pretty good years fishing I guess, thank you fish gods....

Thursday, November 22, 2012

trail camera photos

thanksgiving day

With the house cleaned up and the folding chairs and card table set up it seemed that the best way to stay out of trouble till meal time was to go fishing. I've been bowhunting pretty hard and went two weeks four days without going fishing! That hadn't happened since february so I was itching to go pretty bad. I grabbed a rod and a handfull of jigheads and three inch grubs and snuck out the door and headed for the LMR. I fished a nice deep run close to a big hole and fished slow. After about ten minutes I set the hook on a mushy feeling and was fast to a dandy smallmouth. He even came up and shook his head a bit. A bit later another smallmouth was on the end of another mushy strike. Then a few minutes after that I caught a beautiful redhorse sucker. By then I was running low on grubs and it was getting close to turkey time. The river is as low and clear as it ever gets. Happy Thanksgiving day everyone.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Fishing the plastic grub..

I river fish sixty or seventy days a year most years (sometimes twice that) and you won't ever catch me on the water without a three inch plastic grub. If I'm wading and not carrying alot of tackle I might only have a couple colors but one will be smoke metalflake. It just looks so much like a generic minnow in the water with just the right amount of flash and I have caught so many fish with it over the years that I just have alot of confidence in throwing it. I'm also pretty big on the various orangish brown combinations out there because I feel like they look alot like many of the darters and sculpins in the river and bounced along the bottom make an okay crawfish imitation. You can find a plastic grub in almost every color you might imagine and then some. It seems I have owned most of them at one time or another and you wanna know a secret? Most of them catch fish. I guess I'm a presentation first, color second, kind of a guy. However, I'm also certain some colors more than others will improve your chances of catching catching a fish while fishing grubs. Smoke metalflake, motor oil, and clear metalflake are good colors in clear water and on sunny days, especially in the later part of spring and most of fall. These guys closely resemble those of baitfish. Try some grubs grubs in translucent (somewhat clear allowing light to pass through) colors that also include some gold or silver flakes in them. This will add a little flash to their action when the sun is bright. On overcast days metal flakes will lose alot of their flash. I was given some gawd awful pearl gold grubs with gold flakes in them. So ugly they made your eyes hurt, but they catch fish and I use the things all the time. I also find I throw these alot more when I'm fishing by myself and no one is looking but that probably says more about me than the grub. Pumpkin Seed, red or any combination of green, orange, brown and yellow will work to imitate the colors of crawfish. Try and determine the color of the craws in the water you're fishing and go with the closest color to that. I like the grubs that are two toned with one side being orange and the other brown too for the same reason. Chartreuse is an awesome color when you're trying to catch smallmouth bass. Why? I haven't a clue. Chartreuse metalflake is probably the first color I'd buy after smoke metalflake when starting to fish with these things. I realise that flies in the face of the time honored tradition of trying to find out what the fish are feeding on and imitating it. Just remember bass fishing also has an equally time honored tradition of the googly eyed red and white striped creature lure from outer space catching fish. Look at how flyfisherman go about it. Trout fishing they count every leg and appendage on whatever they are imitating. Put the same guy on a smallmouth river and he will be catching fishing on a pink and orange deer hair bug with a yellow tail. I like to think rather than bass being dumber than trout it means they are smart enough to look at that pink and orange monster and reason that "hey I've never seen one but its alive". And being the mean cantakerous bastards they are, then try and eat it. A chartreuse grub is just the essence of that boiled down and wedded to the deadliest river fishing lure there is. And plastic grubs are also dirt cheap, something to consider in todays world of ten dollar crankbaits. Live a little and experiment you just might find a color that produces for you and which can be your own little secret. Just make sure you have some smoke metalflake grubs in your river box too okay? Trust me on that. Most of the time I fish a grub on a plain roundball jighead either a 1/8th ounce or 1/4 depending on the depth and current speed. If I find fish feeding in a run but not on the bottom (white bass alot, sometimes smallies) I'll go to a lighter weight to let the grub swim down the run on a tightline rather than hug the bottom.
I also think sauger, in contrast to most other fish, actually like a bit of resistance when they hit and If I'm catching more sauger than bass I'll fish a quarter ounce jighead. Ill also go heavier in swifter deep water like say below a lowhead dam. I think you almost have to work at fishing a grub wrong, just chucking it out and reeling it in will produce some fish tho most time I try to swim it slowly just off the bottom or let it sweep thru a run on a tightline, again just off the bottom. In slower water like a hole or around a bridge abutment I'll sometimes tightline the grub to the bottom and bring it back in a series of lifts or slow sweeps. This is also a good way to pick up a nice channelcat or two also. Some of the nicest channels I've caught have been on grubs. It certainly wakes you up to be smallmouth fishing and tighten up on a ten pound catfish! That is one of the grubs main strengths, in a river like the Little Miami you might catch any of seven or eight different species of fish on one on any given trip.

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Indian Summer

Did quite a bit of fishing this last week before the cold arrived... 10/23
Was out for just over an hour before work. Water temp at noon was 64/65! Thats way up from last weeks 57/58 at the same spot. Fish were aggresive and nailing a topwater plug. Made me want to call in sick today. No big fish today but 7 nice 10 to 14 inch fish on pop-r and a minnow plug fished as a topwater. Highlight was cutting back thru the riverbottom to the truck and jumping a big ten point buck that was bedded in a patch of weeds and brush. He was going to let me walk right by and then jumped up when I was like ten yards away. Gave me a heart attack!
My God the river was beautiful today. Some days this time of year I spend half my time just standing around soaking in the beauty. But then I spend the other half heartbroken that soon it will all be over. The gorgeous colors all gone to brown, the fall asters dead, the smallies lethargic and sulking in some deep hole. But not today, the weather perfect, the river low and clear and 65 degrees, may glorious fall never end. I started fishing right where I'd left off the day before. I'd caught smallies pretty good off this riffle and I had high hopes. I first threw an inline spinner and caught a white bass on the second cast. Then nothing. Nothing for a long time. Where are my smallies? I tried a grub, a pop-r, a rebel minnow all with the same result. 0+0+0=0. I put on a grey marabou jig and caught two small bass. Oh well at least I wasn't getting skunked. I moved slightly downstream where the water pouring into the hole from the riffle above really slowed down. Then a shad began skipping, frenzied as if it was running for its life. It was also bigger than the things I was throwing. In my box I had a couple of Bass Pro's awesome XPS Floating Minnows and I tied one on.
While only a bit longer than the rebel minnow the xps was broader and deeper and "fished" much bigger. It reminds me of nothing more than a miniature smallmouth buffalo and comes in a beautiful foil finish reminiscent of those japanese plugs that cost so much. I threw it out and let it sit a couple seconds then twitched it and began fishing it as a topwater, pulling it under then letting it float back up, reeling a foot then stopping, twitching it on top. About every five minutes a nice smallie would slash at the plug. From where I was standing the light was just right and I could see about half the fish come and bash the minnow plug. Usually when this happens I'll miss the fish, striking too soon and it will take a fish or two to settle down. But today was perfect, my timing good, i think I landed every one. For one golden hour life was perfect today.
With a mild case of insomnia and it being 65+ at midnight I decided to do a bit of night fishing. In three hours I caught about 8 or ten sauger/saugeyes and one small smallmouth. All on a crankbait. I hadn't caught any decent saugs at all while smallmouth fishing lately just small ones. But night seems to be the trick for the better ones, five or six were better than any I've managed to hook during the day. And then this guy hit, I actually thought I had hooked a four or five pound shovelhead till I landed it. A few more like that and I may have to quit badmouthing the way they fight...