Fishing The Ohio River

Discussion in 'Outdoor Articles' started by vlparrish, Aug 21, 2006.

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  1. vlparrish

    vlparrish New Member

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    Fishing The Ohio River



    The mighty Ohio River is probably one of the top five fisheries in the world, it is certainly one of the top five in the US. It is known mostly for it’s catfishing but also offers great fishing for countless other species. Targeting fish below dams and in the tailwaters can be very productive. Fish the current breaks and scour holes with live baitfish for large catfish and striper. Jigs can produce white bass, walleye and sauger in the eddys below dams. Fishing with crank baits and live minnows suspended below a cork along the face of the dam can be effective for striper and hybrid striped bass. The calm water in the locks are a good place for crappie and largemouth bass to congregate. Paddlefish and other rough fish species are often snagged below these dams when the season is open. Snagging can be tiresome, but very enjoyable when fighting large fish hooked in the middle or tail sections in heavy current.

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    Markland Dam on the Ohio River​


    Most people know about fishing at the dams and tailwaters, but great fishing can also be found in the long stretches between the dams as well. Just upriver of the dams you can find shallow backwater sloughs. These sloughs provide great places for baitfish such as shad to get out of the current and rest a while. Shad can be caught here in large numbers by using a cast net. They also offer crappie and other bream excellent habitat and plenty of forage to grow large in size and quantity. These backwater sloughs also offer a great place for channel catfish to feed when the creeks are rising and offer a place where the flathead catfish can spawn and feed on the many baitfish and bream. Float fishing can be good for targeting catfish and other species in these areas. Black bass are often abundant in these sloughs as well. Cast spinner baits and soft plastics along the bank to catch lunker bass.

    In the bends along the Ohio, you can find some of the best cat fishing in the US. Look in the outside bends for the huge Ohio River blues. The blue catfish are found in the outside bends in the heavier current and deeper holes. Most outside bends will have a creek mouth feeding into the river. There is usually a gravel bar point running into the river at these bends. The gravel bars offer plenty of locations for catfish to forage. The blue catfish will usually be in the current breaks and scour holes formed by these points. The flathead can often times be found on the down current side of the gravel bar, where they will use the bar to break the current and ambush baitfish washed over the riffles. On the bank side of the river below these gravel bars you can find eddys. Look for water flowing upstream and fine round gravels along the bank to locate eddy holes. These eddys will hold any number of catfish. The catfish will lay at rest in the eddys, but will often take any bait that is offered up to them there. The eddy hole is where many a trophy blue catfish can be caught during the winter months, especially the bank side of the eddy. These eddy holes are often accessible to bank fishermen. In other outside bends, you might find rock ledges. Many species of fish can be caught along the shallower parts of the ledges. Fishing for big blues in the deeper areas of the ledges will often pay off. A boat and a depth finder can be extremely helpful for this.

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    Gravel Bar at the mouth of a creek on the Ohio River

    Other species also use these gravel bars as home. Smallmouth bass can be found here year round. During the late fall winter and early spring is a great time to target Ohio River walleye. The walleye and sauger can be found in the riffles feeding on minnows and will readily take an artificial bait. One of the best ways to catch the walleye is to stand on the upriver side of the riffle and cast directly across the river with one of the softer plastic baits, such as a sassy shad or twister tail grub. Hold the tip of your rod high and let the current take the bait over the riffle. Lift the bait with a soft jerking motion if it lays on the bottom, this will prevent a hang as the bait passes by the larger rocks. These methods are sometimes effective on the white bass, hybrid striped bass and stripers as well.

    The inside of the bends are also good catfishing spots. The inside bends will often have drift caught in them where they were deposited by the slower current. These drifts and jams offer excellent current breaks for flathead catfish throughout the entire fishing season. Anchor just upstream and lob a live baitfish or bream around the drift for a chance at a trophy flathead. Channel cats also frequent these areas as well. Prespawn is a good time to target these places for channels. Use any number of baitfish and cut them fresh for the quick strike. Don’t be afraid to put a bait or two right up next to the drift. Chicken livers and dip baits can also produce numbers of channel cats. During the spring months the channel catfish can be found feeding in the shallows where the sun has warmed the water some. The catch can be multiplied ten fold if the area has a ditch, culvert or other fresh water inlet feeding the area. Fish right in or near the freshwater.

    There are also other good areas to look for great fishing on the Ohio River. One such place is the warm water discharges of power plants. The water can be very hot here during the summer months, but offers a warm haven for fish during the winter. These are great spots for baitfish to congregate year round thus offering an attraction to the many species that feed on them. The discharges are good places to find trophy catfish during the fall winter and spring. They also offer some excellent white bass, hybrid striper and striper fishing during these months as well. Use soft plastic jigs and crank baits in white or silver with a black back for some bait pounding action. Other species of bass can also be found in these discharges. These discharges are also a great place to catch skipjack herring, which are a great and often hard to come by baitfish. Look for skipjacks in the current breaks of the discharge. A tandem of small crappie jigs or sabiki rigs can be helpful in boating some fresh skipjack.

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    Grainery on the Ohio River​


    Due to the shear size of the Ohio River, it is used as means for commercial travel. The remnants of many a barge can be found along the Ohio River. Some of these abandoned barges can be spotted above the surface, others cannot. The flathead catfish often calls these barges home. Using a live bait cast all along these fish paradises to catch a trophy flathead. Other barges can also offer good structure for fishing. Often times grain barges can be located along the river. Many pounds of grain are accidentally spilled as these barges are filled for shipping. Carp, suckers and baitfish are often found feeding on the spilled grain. Armed with a rod and reel and a can of whole kernel corn, one can have countless hours of fun fighting the huge carp that frequent these areas.

    If you live on or near the Ohio River I suggest you get out and give some of these tactics a try. If you don’t live in the area, but plan to visit it, I suggest bring a pole. If none of these options are open to you, give some of the tactics listed a try in your local water. You won’t be disappointed.

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    VLParrish
     
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