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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. Sigh...is it spring yet?