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Friday, August 28, 2015

Building block bass

With three grandkids we have an extra room that's for now the toy room. In there they have a set of wooden blocks. There are four blocks that have no numbers just colors. Black on one end, white on the other and two reds and two blues on each block. Don't ask me, a dollar store set I guess. Anyways the kids, as kids will do, have invented a game with these blocks. They toss them on the floor and one kid is red and one blue. If your red and a red color with either black or white gets you a point. Like wise blue with either black or white gets the blue player a point. Basically they are looking for patterns in the random outcome of the toss. Which is the way we are taught to bass fish. Maybe rocks of a certain size are a variable, current is another, a riffle another, a pool another, etc. Find a fish and then find a spot with the same set of variables and your likely to find another fish. After all things like riffles, pools, current, rock, woody debris, they repeat themselves over and over hundreds if not thousands of times over the course of a hundred mile long river.
So out of the blue, red, black and white set of variables which am I searching for? The green one! The one that's completely unlike anything else on the entire length of the stream. A pipe pouring water into the stream, a broken dam, a concrete wing dam, something, anything that's completely totally unique. After all I'm a big believer in the idea that the biggest fish takes the best spot. Smallmouth bass aren't sociable in an ice cream social sort of way. Instead it's an organized crime sort of society. Where the little guys have to make do with the leftovers and crumbs the big guys don't want. So if I can find that one of a kind great spot I feel I have the best chance at catching the best fish. I'm the anti-pattern fisherman, just interested in that one unique fish.
So how do we find that one of a kind spot? The process usually starts in midwinter around Christmas.
Sometime after glorious fall smallmouth fishing and bow hunting for deer when not much is going on. I might drag myself out and try for saugeyes. Or I might just look outside and wander over to the computer and plop down. Here I'll log on to Bing or maybe and find whatever stretch of stream I'm looking trying to learn. I'll zoom in as much as I can and still get a clear image and just crawl up the river. Looking at everything trying to find something, anything that doesn't fit. Maybe a huge pile of rubble dumped in to control erosion, a short channel cut up to a factory, who knows, it might be something that I can't even tell what it is at the time. After I've crawled over the whole stream I'll have a short list of stream stretches I want to investigate further. Maybe by playing on Google I can put in the name of a factory and the river and keywords like outflow or pipe and figure out what something is. This is the fun part where you do the detective work you just wont do in spring when the fishing is good. You might find online a history of the stream with the location of old water mills a hundred years ago that send you back to the maps all over again. Eventually a short list emerges of places you have to investigate on foot.
Before I do that though the list goes back to the computer. I try to find maps that list access points, canoe launches, parks, anything close to my chosen spot that let's people get to it without much trouble. Which is bad. This might not knock the spot off the list if it's unique enough but it sure won't help. Smallmouth bass in rivers are homebodies and just don't move up and down the stream except to overwinter. If the spots too easy to get to and fish a bass might not get the precious time needed to become a trophy.
Next I'll find the EPA study on my river. Every river has EPA studies done on it. If you can't find them that doesn't mean they don't exist, they do somewhere. Call or email your states EPA and ask.
The study on each stream has appendices which include the electroshocking data buried in them somewhere. These studies break the river down into three or four mile sections. Which is important because each piece of stream is different with a slightly different mix of prey fish. Maybe something like spotfin shiners instead of emerald shiners or big numbers of darters and no central stonerollers. While these studies are never the last word on lure selection they give me a place to start.
From there Ill log on to ODNR's species guide index. The Ohio site covers all the normal species you will find anywhere in the Midwest and my go to site even in neighboring states. The ODNR site shows you a good photo of each species you have found in the EPA studies. And possibly even more importantly it will give you habitat and behavior information. It's no use trying to imitate a darter if your fishing a big pool like eddy.
If I've made it sound like all the spots I'm looking for are manmade that's not the case. Often it will be an extreme right angle turn in miles of straight water. A point that looks like it has been blown out by a flood. These kinds of points often scatter a line of rubble downstream that hold nice fish. The key is to find a spot unlike any other no matter how it got there. My philosophy is more of the homerun hitter swinging for the fences. If I check out ten spots five may be duds, three okay and two might be great. But I might just catch a trophy. The pattern fisherman will probably catch many more fish. Just many more smaller fish most of the time...

My list of favorite fishing sites online  Biological and water quality reports on every stream in Ohio. Electroshocking data is in the appendices to each study. The site of Little Miami Conservancy which also has the best maps of the Little Miami by far.
 Has nice maps of the Great Miami, Stillwater, and Mad Rivers will access points, low head dams, amenities at each of the public access points etc.  The best of the online map sites because it has a topographic feature along with regular map and satellite features. Plus satellite map has regular map superimposed on it. a lot like google earth, gives you another look. species guide to Ohio wildlife, great photos plus range, behavior, and habitat
Home page of the Fish Ohio Award Program.
PDF's of the river and stream maps available thru ODNR
PDF's of the lake and reservoir maps available thru ODNR, pretty extensive maps of all the public wildlife areas in Ohio homepage of the Hamilton County Park district Homepage of Butler County Parks Homepage of the Warren County Park District Five Rivers Metropark Site (Dayton area)  My blog, mostly fishing on the LMR, GMR, & WWR with a bit of bowhunting, ginseng digging and general outdoors mixed in.  Forum and fishing reports from all over Ohio.  Amazing fishing blog on the Ohio River. archives are treasure trove of info  homesite of all the river and stream gauges.
Daily streamflow conditions for Ohio from USGS
Page of all publications available thru Kentucky Dept of Fish and Wildlife. all are downloadable  Striper fishing forum Just about the best info on smallmouth bass available online. A must read site lots of online articles and a forum huge fly tying forum site dedicated to tying jigs. huge site filled with content I already listed this page but click on The Little Miami River Wild and Scenic River Ecology and History by Stanley Hedeen on left side of page. Online book on the LMR that's amazing. Home page of BUFF. Lots of great info.
Mile by mile description of canoeing the entire LMR amazing site on the natural world along the LMR Great site on local birdwatching

facebook; put Ohio Fishing Reports in search. Huge group with lots of daily reports Larry Dahlberg's site there must be fifty videos on making lures just what the title says a great striper blog great all around fly fishing site Tim Holschlag's site lots of online articles
Smb tracking study
Smb tracking study
Tackle making website
Catfishing sire with lots of articles
West Virginia DNR Ohio River Catfish Assessment
Pre Spawn Smallmouth article
Cold water smallies
Lure Making Forum
Gizzard Shad predation by hybrids in Ohio

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Frederick the Fish

After a hard night spent camping in the wilderness our hero was ready for battle. After bravely baiting his hook (with a wormy he named Jimmy) he gave a mighty heave and cast out. After an epic wait no mere mortal could take (or at least his little brother Donovan) the battle was finally joined. What ensued was classic battle in which the outcome was always in doubt. But thru sheer determination, brute strength and an iron will our hero prevailed. After much deliberation it was finally determined (and after everyone got to touch it) that his cousin Kally could release the newly named Frederick the Fish.  Here it is in all it's glory,,,

 Gavin's First Fish

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

River Fishing Event

Sat August 29th    A Day on the River

At the Little Miami Conservancy's River and Trail Center located on the bike trail in Loveland.

A river fishing day highlighted by a seminar by Mark Blauvelt (Salmonid of OGF fame)
at 11am.

Free hot dogs for lunch afterward

I'll be speaking on river fishing at 1pm

Then at 2pm we will have a fishing roundtable where anyone can ask a question, answer a question, talk fishing or just listen in.

Also we are expecting to add a few things between now and then as well as giving away coupons for Queen City Outdoors in Goshen and promotions on Vic Coomer Lures. The Trail center has a big screen version of Google maps, exhibits on the river and a large deck perfect for talking fishing.

Saturday, August 15, 2015

This week in fish...

This week was mostly just a bunch of short trips. Most of the smallies I caught this week were in pretty fast water. The stripey fish were mostly in deep fast runs and catfish seemed everywhere. No big cats but it seemed I caught at least one on a grub every time I went. The striper was pretty cool. It was right at daylight and suddenly it looked like someone was throwing big rocks in the water. I cast a topwater but no luck. It seemed every time I would cast one would blow up on bait somewhere else. I finally gave up and tied on a clear with mylar curly shad. I cast out quartering into the main current. Then zing the drag started singing. At first I thought I had the drag too loose but it was just a nice fish in heavy current. It headed to the other bank and then downriver. Oh no, no way I can follow the bank is just steep and a jungle. But it turned and came back towards my bank. Which happened to have a big limb hanging down with grapevines trailing into the water. I held the rod horizontal then the tip underwater as the fish swam under the grapevines. After that it was just dogging it out in open water for which I was very grateful.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Stream Hybrid

A nice hybrid on Vic's clear with glitter grub.

The last few days in fish....