The Angler Magazine | March 2023 | Ohio Edition

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Major League Baseball’s JD Martinez has garnered a lot of accolades, including three Silver Sluggers, a Hank Aaron Award and MLB Player of the Year. e man is a vetime All-Star! What some folks might not know about the former Boston Red Sox turned Los Angeles Dodger is he’s also an avid sherman.

Growing up in Miami, he o en escaped to sh the Florida Keys. rough the years, that passion never faded. He now lives in Islamorada and spends the o season shing with Capt. Brandon “ e Bean” Storin.

Capt. Bean grew up in Baltimore, Maryland and has vacationed every year in the Keys since he was 5 years old. He shed with Capt. Jimmy Willcox, who inspired a dream to become a backcountry guide. In 2021, e Bean ful lled his dream.

Together, JD and Capt. Bean have made memories while landing some awesome sh. eir rst trip in the Islamorada backcountry produced JD’s personal-best tripletail. It was JD’s rst time tripletailing, and they were sight-casting buoys. Just like hitting a 95-mph fastball, timing and execution are everything, and JD made the perfect cast when they spotted a stud tripletail. Several runs and exhales later, Bean swooped deep and netted the 20-plus-pound

beast. It was JD’s rst, and it is a personal best that will take some work to beat.

Another epic adventure took place during a sunset black n tuna mission. Capt. Bean knew ns, and they used light spinning tackle to make it more fun. It didn’t take more than a couple minutes for JD to get tight on a monster n. All you could hear was the reel screaming, and the rod was doubled over the whole ght. It was JD’s personal-

full-grown one to boot.

On their most recent adventure, Capt. Bean and JD were bottom shing for mutton snapper when an unexpected bite inhaled a whole ballyhoo. It ended up being an almost record-breaking yellowtail snapper, which at 29 inches was the sh of a lifetime. Gray’s taxidermy commemorated the yellowtail to add to JD’s mount collection, along with the aforementioned tripletail.

JD is a good angler, and he is not the rst Red Sox slugger to nd a shing home on Islamorada. Ted Williams, considered by many to be the greatest hitter of all time, played for the Sox from 1939-1960. He was inducted into the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1966, and he is also a member of the Fly Fishing Hall of Fame. Williams resided and shed in Islamorada for bone sh and tarpon with legendary Capt. Jimmy Albright. It is said he became as good an angler as any of the guides.

MLB and the Islamorada backcountry have a shared history. Capt. Bean and JD continue adding to the legends to this day.

Follow JD Martinez (@jdmartinez28) and Capt. Bean (@bnmbean) on Instagram. Some of their adventures are featured on YouTube at Bean Sport shing TV.

Noodling for Cat sh...what have I gotten myself into?

is past summer, I wanted to do something exciting and di erent with my friends for my “bachelorette” getaway. I always thought noodling would be a cool experience.

If you’re not familiar with noodling, it’s a technique anglers use to catch cat sh with their hands. In the lead-up to the spawn, cat sh nd holes in the banks where they will eventually lay and guard their eggs. It’s up to the angler to locate either a natural hole or a strategically placed box that a cat sh has decided to call home. e angler then sticks their hand into the hole, triggering the cat sh to chomp down on their hand and forearm. en, it’s a wrestling match to the surface.

e athead cat sh we pursued don’t have teeth, but they do grow large, with some sh reaching well over 50 pounds. It takes all your strength to get them out of their happy place and up to the surface to become sh celebrities.

Because it takes place during the spawn, this style of shing has become almost 100-percent catch-and-release for many noodlers. A er a few photos, sh are released safely to return to their holes and continue spawning duties.

When my two best friends and I le the familiar clear Florida waters for the beautiful state of Alabama, we had the goal to get one of these monster cats to bite... our arms. I’m not going to lie; I was a bit nervous getting on the boat. It was beautiful and peaceful on the river,


but the water is murky like chocolate milk and the banks are muddy. Shoes are highly recommended.

When I entered the water at our rst spot, it kind of hit me: “What have I gotten myself into?” But there was no turning back. Our guide located the wooden box he had planted earlier in the season and instructed me to hold my breath and lie on the bottom while slowly sliding my hand into the hole.

At rst there was nothing. en… WHAM! It was like a toothless gator grabbed me. I had been instructed to grab that sucker by its lower jaw with both hands and not to let go. So that’s what I did. A er a brief struggle, I had a dandy on the surface staring right at me! rough the day, we tried many holes, some empty and some with sh. Each time we stopped, the anticipation and excitement were the same as at the rst hole. It was a great experience, and I plan to go again soon. If you’ve ever thought of going noodling, I highly recommend it, 10/10.

e noodling season runs from midspring through the summer, depending on the location. Get online and nd a local guide for the area you’re interested in. Feel free to contact me with questions on Instagram @ get_outside_with_deidra or my husband, Capt. Jamie rappas @yellow_dawg_ shing.

Deidra and her husband Capt. Jamie rappas are co-publishers of the Volusia County, Fla. edition of Coastal Angler Magazine.

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Today we are going to cruise past the shallow South Texas ats, through the pass, and nd some nearshore rocks loaded with huge legal Texas red snapper! What a di erence a few miles and 68 feet of water can make.

I typically make a handful of trips to the short rigs or rocks o the Texas coast each summer for a change of scenery. On the calm summer days, the mosquito eet (smaller bay boats) breaks the jetties and heads out for kings, cobia and red snapper. ese shallow-water snapper are typically in the 16- to 20-foot range. ey are tasty none the less, but nothing like what you nd close to shore in winter, as I recently observed during my rst winter o shore trip. Recently, we were in between cold fronts and had our rst sunny day in more than a week. Several days of windy, cloudy, cold, rainy days had me longing for some sunny rays. When my brother called and asked if I wanted to join him and his neighbor for some Texas red snapper, I didn’t hesitate to say yes! e photos he sent of the previous trip’s catch were the icing on the cake. e forecast called for 2- to 3-foot seas—which turned out to be less—70degree sunny temps, and wind at 6 knots from the east. is was a one-day window.

When we pulled up to a small set of rocks, there were two other boats there and four rods were doubled over! One of the boats was doing a bag check, and I watched him tossing and counting 15- to 20-pound snapper into the cooler. His count ended at 14, two shy of his limit… and they had two on the line. Keep in mind, at this time my personnel best snapper was about 8 pounds, and everything I was seeing was more than twice that size. e anticipation was high as I waited for the trolling motor to lock in.

Once the trolling motor settled into place, we pinned chunks of squid onto bottom rigs weighted with 8 to 12 ounces of lead and the fun began! It became a bit chaotic with doubles on while trying to coax a 20-pound snapper into an oversized net while still trying to catch one yourself.

It is hard to beat the drag zinging of a king mackerel or the Mack Truck power of a cobia during the calm days of late summer, but I might have to switch my snapper season from summer to winter! When the smallest winter ones are twice the size of your largest summer catch, it’s an easy switch.

Capt. Michael Okruhlik is the inventor of Knockin Tail Lures® and the owner of PHOTO COURTESY OF KNOCKIN TAIL LURES®

Crappie is King in the Spring! Grand Lake St. Mary’s

I hope everyone is enjoying the winter lull and getting all your gear back in order and ready for spring! Over in my neck of the woods at Grand Lake St. Mary’s we have had a really tough winter fishing season, with a lot of skim ice lasting weeks and only being thick enough to be a nuisance. I would usually be writing about the typical short window of ice fishing we get each year at this time, but instead let’s talk spring tactics on those fast and furious panfish!

For those of you not familiar with Grand Lake St. Mary’s, it’s a 13,500acre man-made lake situated in Auglaize and Mercer counties in Northwestern Ohio. It is known for its plentiful crappie fishing, abundant channel cat fishing, and making a comeback - those tasty yellow perch! The lakes average depth is 5 to 7 feet with most pan-fishing done in the 3 to 5 feet of water range. The lake suffered some negative media in past years, but with conservation and management, things seem to be heading in the right direction.

You can find the Crappie USA Classic Tournament coming to town once a year for a display of excellent crappie fishing skills and techniques. Crappie can be found all year round, but primarily the spring and fall are best times to catch the most numbers of fish, when the water temperatures are generally under 65 degrees.

All you need is a light action 5-to-7-foot rod with 4 to 6 lb. mono or a high vis line if you like, and your favorite jig or plastic, with or without a cork. If using a bobber, watch for a slight movement of the line, wait for the bump, and BOOM - FISH ON! Crappie, perch and bluegill fishing from a boat or shore, is a fun and steady way to keep anglers of all ages involved.

Article contributed by Jason Wicker. You can see his personal fishing tips at Jason Wicker Fishing on Facebook or on Tik Tok at jasonwickerfishing.

Columbus fishing Expo Fun!

We just finished the 2023 National Fishing Expo in Columbus. What a great turnout this year had! We spent the weekend handing out copies of The Angler Magazine and promoting the Junior Anglers program at Indian Lake. After three days of running around the Bricker building at the Expo Center, I am beyond exhausted! However, I did have one of the best weekends I’ve ever had off the water. Some of the best fishermen from all over America, under one roof. There was so much to learn from everyone. Everywhere you looked, someone was either the learner or the teacher.

The greatest highlight was having the opportunity to speak with Jimmy Houston. Jimmy Houston and those glasses! The entire time we spoke, I wondered how he was able to see while indoors; they were so dark! What a great, inspirational man. He was very personable. I walked up to greet him, and asked if he would allow a quick interview. He obliged and offered great words of advice to the youth anglers. His words were “to always be fishing; keep your line in the water; and to stay in school, to use that education to better and further advance their fishing careers.” Jimmy also recommends using social media to promote and encourage kids to get out there and fish.

Another great fisherman that we had the pleasure of speaking with was Troy Becker. Troy is one of the best saugeye fishermen in all of Ohio. He gave seminars that were very detailed and offered a great deal of knowledge. He talked about different ways of using swim baits and explained many types of tactics to be used on different bodies of water to catch saugeye.

Chris Saunders of the catfish world was there, offering his best advice to the Junior Anglers of Ohio as they walked around the expo center. He also hosted a very thorough, educational seminar offering the best tactics to use for catfishing. Tyra from Dirty South Dragging Weights was very helpful with all the youth anglers and getting everyone involved.

I also want to give a shoutout and a huge thank you to all the companies that donated to our #fishitforward. Companies like: Trophy Cat Tackle, Dirty South Dragging Weights, Big Joshy Swimbaits, Red Beard Seasonings, Blue River Carp, Tackle Bandit, Lawless Lures, Hang Outdoors, Bridgetown Fishing Lures, Pan Fish Mafia, Dockside Custom Baits, Bait Boys, Vic

Coomer Lures, Rowdy Buzz Lures, FinMan Fishing, and others. We ended up with 15 awesome prize packages that were given to youth that signed up for the youth-only drawing. I had a blast getting to attend this year’s expo and hope to see you all at next year’s.

Article contributed by Tosh Collins with Indian Lake Fishing Reports LLC. You can find him on all social media under Tosh Collins, Indian Lake Fishing Reports, and Rad Katz Tackle.

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Cold Water Tips

Spring is around the corner and many of us are starting to turn our attention more and more to getting out on the river for some fly fishing action for trout and steelhead. A small percentage of us have been continually out there over the winter months. Even though air temperatures may begin to moderate, water temperatures are still at or near their coldest levels of the year. Snow, snow melt and cold rains bring those cold waters levels up. Cold water and a lot of it should cause us to take every precaution to stay safe and dry. If we do so, we can have access to some great fishing when conditions keep a fair number of “more sane” anglers off the river. A few simple tips can go a long way towards keeping us safe and warm out there.

Secure footing:

Few things are more important than making sure your feet are securely planted in the riverbed. Good wader boots with cleats go a long way to ensuring that. Cleats are available from some of the wader boot manufacturers. A less expensive option is to get the studs they use on motorcycles that race on the ice! One such supplier is Kold Kutter. They offer various sizes. Use ones that anchor deeply into the sole of your boot without penetrating up into the inside of the boot. Another aide that can keep you upright in the water is a wading staff. That extra security of having an additional point of contact with the river bottom, lowering your center of gravity, can significantly lower the risk of taking a polar plunge.

Keeping dry:

The instant you have any water or moisture on the inside of your waders, you lose the normal insulating properties of the air trapped in your socks and pants. The water that is now in that material is an excellent conductor of the cold temperatures of the water in the river directly to your skin. There are very good waders out there that can keep you dry for many seasons. But ALL waders develop leaks eventually. It is best to protect against this eventuality when fishing in cold waters. Two highly cost effective investments that have paid dividends for me have been in 1) Waterproof socks and 2) Guide Pants. Waterproof socks are sold as, among other things, hiking socks. These neoprene based socks are completely waterproof and are best worn over a thin but insulated normal wool sock. In the event that water penetrates your wader footing, your feet are protected from the water and maintain their insulation against the cold. Guide pants provide the same protection for your legs. Again, wear these on top of your normal pants worn during cold weather wading. Get a pair that will fit over your normal clothing. The combination of waterproof socks and guide pants virtually ensure you remain dry from the waist down.

Keeping warm:

This one is obvious, but a few basics should be pointed out. Wear a wool hat instead of the normal ball cap. If you don’t trap that heat escaping from your head, it will be a short day. A heavier neck gaiter can help trap almost as much heat as a hat. Combine the two and you’re doing a lot to extend your time out on the river. Fingerless wool gloves are a must if you want to keep your hands warm. When they occasionally get wet, they’re easy to shake dry in order to keep their insulating properties. A handy cotton towel stashed somewhere dry in your waders or vest should be used to dry your hands anytime they get the least wet. Water left on your hands will make them extremely cold, not only because you have cold water on your skin with cold air temperatures, but also because that water on your skin will evaporate, even in cold temperatures. Evaporation is an endothermic process. That means, in order to turn from water to vapor (evaporation) heat must be absorbed from an external source. If that evaporation is happening on the skin on your hands, guess where that heat is being pulled from! One additional consideration when trying to stay warm is to have water resistant clothing everywhere you are exposed above the waders. Snow, rain, and water from the river can all land on your clothing. If you’re wearing something that repels that water you’ll be in much better shape than wearing a cotton hoodie that will soak up water like a sponge.

Move: Nothing keeps the body warm like heat from its own engine. Physical exertion will generate a good amount of heat. So much so that you’ll occasionally feel the need to take off a layer. Try not to stay in one area or position too long. That stagnation can make things feel awful chilly.

We’ve still got a month or more of potentially cold water conditions. With the proper precautions, we can get out there and enjoy the abundant trout fishing opportunities in Ohio to their fullest. That’s where you’ll find me………………

Article by: Dave Radomski - Mohican Fly Fishing Guide Services. email: Phone: (419) 544-0946

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Early Season for Western Lake Erie Big Walleye

Well, considering the forecasted big bad winter we were supposed to have, it sure didn’t produce. This mild winter is going to have the spring fishing ahead of schedule. If you read last months article about open water jigging “ice fishing style” and open water trolling, we will look forward to continuing that through March. As time goes on and we get closer to the spawn, the walleye on the west end of the lake will be near their peak activity this time of the year. If you’re looking for the trophy sized walleye, trolling is going to be a key technique. The H&G cans off Camp Perry and A-C cans this time of year will normally be holding the big fish and lots of them.

Water clarity might drive your decision on where to fish, but don’t shy away from dirty water even as low as a foot of visibility, if you have good marks on your fish finder. This warmer water will be holding the big females. Start your troll with the wind at your back for easier boat control and speed around .8-1.3mph. Setting out some bandits in bright and natural colors at a variety of leads from 40-80ft. back is normally a good start. Be ready with the net, you’re going to need it to haul in the Hawgeyes.

If you’re more interested in rod-in-hand fishing, this time of year has good opportunities. I like to get out on calm days and head out to the L can or north of the reefs and anchor up on some good marks that show up on my boat’s standard humminbird fish finder. One thing I’ve learned is literally trying to set yourself directly on top of the marks. Often you can be slightly off of a school and while being anchored it may take a while to have

some fish swim through. Once anchored I’ll throw in my vexilar fish finder and begin to fish vertical. A 5/8oz. jigging rap in chrome/blue or “parrot” color is my go-to lure. You want a little better water clarity for jigging and don’t waste a lot of time in one spot if you’re not catching. If walleye fishing on the big water doesn’t suit you or the weather doesn’t allow for it, don’t forget about a fun easy trip to the creeks and rivers for some bullhead and cat fishing when the water temps get close to 40.

Article by: Capt. Jonny Fickert. Ask for him at Sea Breeze Charters @ 877-616-7780.

Article by: Capt. Jonny Fickert. Ask for him at Sea Breeze

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Walleyes on the march this month

Depending on the severity of the winter, anglers in pursuit of walleyes have several options for pursuing these prized gamefish and delectable table fare. As spawning season approaches, they begin to accumulate around the Western Basin reefs that are used by the lion’s share of the population.

Sizable runs that annually occur in the Maumee and Sandusky Rivers attract thousands of anglers that may not have access to a boat to get to them during the summer. In fact, some states close their walleye season in the spring where their biologists or local traditions favor protecting egg-laden

Favorite lures include Reef Runners, Bandits, Perfect 10’s, Husky Jerks, Dead Eye, and other stick baits with subtle actions that run true at speeds around 1 mph, plus or minus. At the end of the month, hair jigs (tipped or not) with Emerald shiners and stinger hooks are used in shallow water.

In the rivers, the Sandusky River in downtown Fremont still draws hundreds of anglers who match their casting skills with lower numbers of fish making their spawning run there. The removal of the Ballville Dam in 2018 offers hope that the population will recover to levels formerly seen in the glory days of this popular fishery.

Fish numbers remain higher in the Maumee River, where access points are located throughout Perrysburg and Maumee. Both rivers offer anglers access to walleyes from the shoreline in multiple locations, but with more preferring to wade into the rivers to reach the best spots.

Favorite lures have evolved from lead head hair/rubber tail jigs to floating head Carolina rigs/rubber tails in bright colors.

deposited only results in more DEAD larvae, not better spawning success.

Article by: John Hageman. John now writes approximately 125 articles per year after retiring from the Ohio Sea Grant/Stone Laboratory - The Ohio State University’s Lake Erie biology station at Put-In-Bay.

Photo: Anglers fishing the Maumee River near Jerome Road rapids (Credit: John Hageman)


I’m often asked just why fishermen like me and you, appropriate so much tackle, especially when “one will do.” The first thing to be realized is that the person espousing such a viewpoint is either a novice fisherman or has confined and limited himself for some reason to only fishing for one particular specie - under one specific method. If you’re anything like me, you enjoy fishing for a variety of species under a variety of conditions, both seasonal and geographical. Imagine a golfer who carried with him only a putter. That’s a-ok with me, so long as all you ever wish to visit is one particular miniature golf or “putt-putt” course. I enjoy the totality of what has long been my favorite hobby a whole lot more than that.

Here then is the overview of my particular arsenal, and my utilizational goals for each outfit. Let me note up front that my one combo not pictured is out at our boats storage and is the ultimate Ohio specialty outfit -my steelhead combo. This is special gear both for the unique behaviors of pursuing this specie, and the somewhat unique seasonal aspect of the pursuit. The rod is a sentimental favorite gifted to me at our booth at the Cleveland Outdoors Show by a terminally ill fan of our TV program, when we were on PBS in the early years. He had heard me mention that my very first rod as a youngster was a Garcia Conolon, a premier tool in its day. This man presented me with a pristine 7’ 6’’ medium-light spinning version that I now cherish. I matched it with a quality medium sized reel loaded with 6lb. clear mono and the rods parabolic action makes it ideal for flinging those smallish trout bites and the reel is big enough to hold a sufficient amount of line for a specie that is renowned for making long runs.

The arsenal of outfits pictured are as follows:

Ultra-Light spinning reel, w/ 4lb. mono on a 4’ 6’’ one -piece graphite rod - my super-sensitive choice for vertical jigging deeper waters for panfish like crappie, perch, and bluegill.

M/Heavy casting reel on a 6’ graphite rod w/10 lb. clear mono -as above, only primarily for horizontal baits.

M/Heavy casting reel on a 6’ 6’’ graphite 1 pc. w/ fluorescent blue line – for soft plastics and jigs.

M/Heavy casting reel on a 6’ 6’’ graphite 1 pc. w/ fluorescent blue line – for soft plastics and jigs.

- ideal combo for horizontal presentations like spinnerbaits and crankbaits. Fiberglass is far superior for such applications than

M/Heavy casting reel w/ 10 lb. clear mono on a 7’ fiberglass rod - ideal combo for horizontal presentations like spinnerbaits and crankbaits. Fiberglass is far superior for such applications than graphite; the parabolic flexibility provides longer range casts and greater break strength and economy.

M/Heavy low- speed casting reel w/ 12 lb. clear mono, same rod as above. The low- speed reel helps inhibit reeling crankbaits too fast. A very bad habit for many, including yours truly.

M/Heavy low- speed casting reel w/ 12 lb. clear mono, same rod as above. The low- speed reel helps inhibit reeling crankbaits too fast. A very bad habit for many, including yours truly.

Casting reel loaded with 30 lb. braid on a 7’ heavy action glass rod – primarily a buzzbait and froggin’ rod. It has plenty of strength for whatever might occur. Also doubles as a primary pike and musky outfit.

(2) Large Levelwind reels, spooled with ultra-clear green mono of these.

(2) Large Levelwind reels, spooled with ultra-clear green mono on 7’ 6’’ -fiberglass trolling rods for big water trolling outfits, used mostly in holders, walleye are usually the primary targets of these.

Article by: Jack Kiser. Host of “Buckeye Angler”. He can be reached at the Buckeye Angler Facebook site, or the new

Article by: Jack Kiser. Host of “Buckeye Angler”. He can be reached at the Buckeye Angler Facebook site, or the new

Photo: Buckeye Angler Multimedia: The author’s angling weaponry, from, L to R, ultralight to heavy action.

Summit - Portage - Mogadore area

Ultra-Light reel w/ 4lb. mono on a 6’ 6’’ two-piece fiberglass rod - my live bait bobber throwing outfit, whether conventional or slip bobber.

UL reel on a 6’6’’ two-piece fiberglass rod - my go to system for mini lures like twister -tails, 1/32 oz. spinners and tiny crankbaits for panfish of all kinds.

On July 25, 2022, I had the privilege of guiding for a very special true friend, by the name of Dr. Eric Dennis. He is in a battle with Stage 4 cancer and wanted to get out on the water when the treatments weren’t slowing him down. This trip was like no other, when I got the call, I dropped everything and made plans for Monday morning to guide for him. He wanted to use his boat too, just to give it a good workout.

1000 series spinning reel, w/ 6lb. mono on a 5’ 6’’ 2-piece composite rod. My favorite rod for walking streams and ponds. Light enough for small fish, ideal for Ned rigs... stout enough for trout and most stream bass.

do it again someday. Stage 4 cancer is a terrible thing, my prayers are with them. P.S. I have never had such a touching guide trip as this one. Sometimes we need some sunshine and a great fishing trip to help us put life in perspective.

Ron Slater is a fishing guide on the Portage Lakes in Ohio, he can be reached at 330-780-3652 or email

Mr. Dennis is a well-known fly-tying champion and has given many demonstrations and talks about fly tying and fly fishing. One of his flies can be seen at the Fly-Fishing Museum in Vermont. He is planning on doing some fly fishing in Montana with his son and friends soon (who are all dentists), but for now, we were bass fishing, and it was a beautiful morning for it. When we pulled up on our first area, at Turkeyfoot lake, Mr. Dennis landed a huge bass that weighed in at a little over 6 pounds! As I was taking a few pics, we were all smiles and laughs. The fun and friendships we make on the water may be the best part of what fishing has to offer.

(2) Medium-Light spinning reels filled with 8 lb. mono on a 6’ 6’’ one-piece graphite rod. This much-used smallmouth rod doubles as the occasional walleye jigger. Note the graphite rods are almost all one-piece. Why by a more expensive graphite rod essentially for sensitivity and break them in half for misled portability?

3000 series spinning reel, spooled with 10lb. fluorescent mono on a 6’ 6’’ rod. This medium spinning reel is used primarily for casting bass lures, perhaps a little light to effectively cast with the Levelwind reel. The bright, visible line indicates how often it works for soft plastics.

Medium action 7’ carbon rod with a casting reel filled with 12 lb. mono - for spinnerbaits and buzzbaits.

After about 4 minutes we went across the lake and on his first cast there, he landed another huge bass, a 4 pounder this time. Our excitement was beyond words. It is not often you hook into back-to-back lunkers. This will always be a special day for Dr. Eric, his wife Mary and myself. We will never forget it and I hope that we can

M/Heavy casting reel on a 6’ graphite rod w/ 12 lb. fluorescent mono, ideal for pitching soft plastics under extended shoreline cover and docks for bass. The pistol-grip handle really helps.

to FOR

Ohio River / Southwestern Ohio Streams

Summit - Portage - Mogadore area

Pre-Spawn Success

With springtime on the horizon, many of us are chomping at the bit to get out and wet a line. Cabin fever and the colder temperatures of winter can drive us wild. March is a much-anticipated month for breaking that wintertime ice and getting into some great fishing.

On July 25, 2022, I had the privilege of guiding for a very special true friend, by the name of Dr. Eric Dennis. He is in a battle with Stage 4 cancer and wanted to get out on the water when the treatments weren’t slowing him down. This trip was like no other, when I got the call, I dropped everything and made plans for Monday morning to guide for him. He wanted to use his boat too, just to give it a good workout.

Some of my favorite springtime fishing is spent in creeks and small streams. Particularly those that feed into larger bodies of water such as reservoirs and bigger rivers. These locations can provide a wide range of fishing opportunities for anglers. Bank fishing is easy to do and even some wading if the conditions permit.

For smallmouth bass-

do it again someday. Stage 4 cancer is a terrible thing, my prayers are with them. P.S. I have never had such a touching guide trip as this one. Sometimes we need some sunshine and a great fishing trip to help us put life in perspective.

Small mouth can be targeted with a variety of baits and techniques. Finesse fishing for them in creeks and streams is a great way to land a few. The Ned rig has proven to work well. Using 1/4oz. Ned rig jigs and a small finesse worm and working it along the gravelly, sandy bottoms of deeper pockets is a good start. Small shallow diving cranks and suspending jerk-baits can be an effective way to angle for them as well.

Ron Slater is a fishing guide on the Portage Lakes in Ohio, he can be reached at 330-780-3652 or email

Mr. Dennis is a well-known fly-tying champion and has given many demonstrations and talks about fly tying and fly fishing. One of his flies can be seen at the Fly-Fishing Museum in Vermont. He is planning on doing some fly fishing in Montana with his son and friends soon (who are all dentists), but for now, we were bass fishing, and it was a beautiful morning for it. When we pulled up on our first area, at Turkeyfoot lake, Mr. Dennis landed a huge bass that weighed in at a little over 6 pounds! As I was taking a few pics, we were all smiles and laughs. The fun and friendships we make on the water may be the best part of what fishing has to offer.

The Ohio River offers many of these locations to anglers. There is numerous rivers and creeks that flow into the Ohio. Most all of them will have fish pushing up come pre-spawn. You will Find a list of these at the end of this article.

Several species of fish are starting to push into creeks to prepare for the spring spawning season. Some of the species include some angler favorites such as crappie, small mouth bass, white bass and their hybrids, an array of pan fish and others. This means in those skinny water bodies; the concentration of fish is more dense than open water. As such, it can make for a fun day fishing for anglers of all ages and skill levels.

Some favorite southwest Ohio rivers and streams: The Great Miami River, The Whitewater River, The Little Miami River, Big Indian Creek at Point Pleasant, Ohio and Meldahl Locks and Dam on the Ohio River. This one is a well-known angler favorite. It can be accessed via boat from Neville boat ramp or on the Kentucky side of the river near Foster, Kentucky. It is well known for its dense population of white bass, striped bass, hybrid striped bass, walleye and sauger. A valid Ohio fishing license is honored at this location. For more information pertaining to fishing the Ohio River from Kentucky, please see page 8 of the Ohio fishing regulations publication.

Always secure landowner permission before fishing from private land. Rember to always practice leaving a place cleaner than you found it and most importantly, TAKE A KID FISHING!

After about 4 minutes we went across the lake and on his first cast there, he landed another huge bass, a 4 pounder this time. Our excitement was beyond words. It is not often you hook into back-to-back lunkers. This will always be a special day for Dr. Eric, his wife Mary and myself. We will never forget it and I hope that we can

A few of my personal favorite techniques for pursuing these fish include the following:

For crappie and panfish- Small tube jigs on light jig heads (E.G., 1/32oz. 1/16oz) fished on light line in the 4-to-8-pound test range. These do well in deeper pools fished over submerged or partially submerged structure such as: fallen branches, log jams, slack water eddies with a sand bar or near exposed root balls protruding from the bank and overhanging the water. The jigs can be used with or without a float. You can also bait the tip of your hook with some crappie nibbles or live baits like mealworms or wax worms. Another favorite method is to use a simple slip float set up with a live minnow. A slip float allows for precise depth control and still allows you the ability to reel up enough line to make a lengthy cast. Using live bait can sometimes be more productive for those larger fish that are looking to bulk up before spawning. This can be fished in the same spots as you would the jigs. Standing upstream of the targeted area and casting just shy of it is ideal. You can get your bait in the water and allow the current to drift it through the target area. In doing this, you lower the chances of spooking the fish and increase your chances of hooking up. Small inline spinners such as rooster tails or panther martins are another tried and true method. These can be used in varying depths of water and current. You can expect to catch a variety of fish with these also and they are a good lure to use to find the fish.

‘Til next time, Thunder Hawk. hawk_88?igshid=ZDdkNTZiNTM=

BE SEEN HERE Steve Philpott Co-Publisher The Angler Magazine – Ohio Edition Office: (740) 899-0591 For advertising opportunites, please contact:

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2023 Academy Sports + Outdoors Bassmaster Classic Returns to the Tennessee River

The prestigious championship bass tournament—widely known as the “Super Bowl of Bass Fishing”—will be held March 24-26 in downtown Knoxville and on the University of Tennessee Campus.

e Bassmaster Classic pits 55 of the world’s best bass anglers against one another for the title of Bassmaster Classic Champion. e Classic is a catch-and-release event, with bass being returned to the shery under the supervision of the TWRA.

Daily takeo s will be from Volunteer Landing on the Tennessee River in downtown Knoxville each competition day, and weigh-ins will take place in the ompson-Boling Arena on the University of Tennessee campus. e fan-favorite Bassmaster Classic Outdoors Expo will be held Friday through Sunday, March 24-26 in the Knoxville Convention Center and the adjacent World’s Fair Exhibition Hall.

All activities and venues are free and open to the public. For more information, visit

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Twenty years ago, I wrote an article on the Golden Age of Panama shing. Long have anglers waited for access to the salt and freshwater environments of Colombia.

In 2016, a lengthy peace process was negotiated and a nal agreement for a cease re and cessation of hostilities between the government and militias. In truth, there are still areas of the country to be avoided and cocaine production remains high, but the political and drug-crime environment has improved enough to move Colombia nearer the top of the target list for angling. e country’s upward trajectory with new tourism outstrips its neighbors. e latest three trips we’ve taken to the country have been completely safe.

Fishing the Amazon and Orinoco River basins are “peacock bass trips.” It is a stunning shery, where you routinely encounter fellow anglers from the far side of the world. From there, these trips can be divided into peacocks and “what else.” In Guyana it was giant arapaima. For the last Brazil trip, it was big wolf sh. is venture was to the Guaviare River, massive itself, a tributary to the mighty Orinoco. It is hard to understand the size of these watersheds until you see them yourself. Our quarry here was payara, the vampire sh.

e dichotomy of life in the tropics is the wet and dry seasons. During the time of rain, the rivers swell from their banks into dense rainforest. Sitting in your boat, you listen to peacock bass bust prey far back in cover where no cast can go. e shing season is re ned to those months when the rivers shrink back into their skeletal forms and sh are targeted in remaining aneurysmal pools. But the payara have a need for speed. ey stack up in current and mouths of tributaries where more water ows. ere is something about going a er speed freaks… it presses my buttons.

Alberto “Beto” Mejia is the young progenitor of FISH COLUMBIA. He has developed lodges here, on the Orinoco and on the Paci c coast at Punta Ardita, just inside the Panamanian border. He is a stone-cold payara y sherman. is lodge is more rustic, and you really feel away from it all.

Peacocks and payara take ies very well, both poppers and streamers. For the conventional sherman, it’s a chance to use multiple baits and techniques. Very large topwater prop baits and poppers, big minnows at multiple depths. e Dramatis personae includes numerous others- pacu, sardinata, also the opportunity for multiple species of cat sh, some in the 400-pound range. Uraima falls in Venezuela was a specialized lodge for payara. is is o the list as a destination for various sordid reasons. I have bagged them across the frontiers of South America. Most run 6 to 7 pounds, and a very good one about 15 pounds. e sh on Columbia’s Orinoco run twice that size. I believe this is the best payara lodge on the planet.

For more information, go to www. For more from Riley Love, go to and nd him on social media @rileyloveauthor.


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The in atable shing kayak is super rugged and ready to take on hooks, ns, and rocks. Tough, fast, portable, and built especially for anglers. The patented NeedleKnife™ keel cuts through the water so you can paddle or motor your way to your favorite spot quickly and easily. The Angler 385fta is 12’6” x 36” fully in ated and holds up to 2 people or 635 lbs. of people and gear. Packs down to 36” x 15” x 20” to t in a car trunk, SUV, RV, any small place. Various seating and trolling motor options are available.

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console or tackle bag. You’ll nd other uses as necessity dictates.

Soft Baits: You’re throwing away money if you sh so plastics and don’t use super glue. Most so plastics are designed for action rather than durability. ey’re disposable, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t get the most you can out of them.

If you’re shing a paddletail, grub, eel, worm or any so plastic on a jighead, a small drop of super glue will extend the life of that bait inde nitely. Secured to the jig, it will never slide down to the bend of the hook like a loose sock. To a lesser extent, this trick works for bare hooks, as well. Forget multiple sh, a so bait can last multiple trips when it’s glued in place— barring, of course, interactions with toothy sh.

When it comes to sh with teeth, there’s no way to avoid rips and tears in your so plastics. Even toothless sh will beat up a bait with extended use. Super glue repairs slices and gouges in so plastics. e rigidity of the repaired area will a ect the action of the lure, but this can be a trip saver when you’re down to the last in a bag of that one color sh are biting.

Hard Baits: With hard baits, super glue is for on-the-water repairs. If the lip on your crankbait gets loose, a tiny dab of glue will hold it tight and keep your lure swimming true. If the screw eye comes out of your favorite topwater or swimbait, gluing it back will render it stronger than it was to begin with. Super glue extends the life of expensive lures that would otherwise be headed for the trash.


Just like pliers or a good knife, super glue is an essential item in your shing kit. ere are numerous practical uses for this stu in shing, and it’s also a catch-all tool. It’s like liquid duct tape. When you have it, there’s no end to the situations when it comes in handy. Here are a few good reasons you should keep a tube of super glue in your

Knots: e debate is ongoing on whether super gluing knots increases their strength. Most folks who do it are in the “it can’t hurt camp.” However, there are a couple situations when it just makes sense. Coating line-to-line connections that frequently run through the guides smooths the knot and protects it from wear. With braided line, good knots, and the right knots, are crucial. Even so, braided line can cut itself when knots shi and tighten under stress. A drop of super glue keeps knots snug and secure.

Miscellaneous: Super glue can save the day when an eyelet or rod tip comes loose. It’ll also keep you on the water when you cut yourself chunking bait. Glue the wound shut and keep shing. Save the emergency room for later.

For more tips, go to



Virginia angler Jacob Moore was quite surprised when he reeled in this largemouth bass from the James River. Moore was expecting to catch a largemouth—he was targeting them. But he de nitely wasn’t expecting to catch a golden largemouth!

“I was out there practicing for a tournament, catching a bunch of sh,” said Moore, who works as an arborist and participates in local tournaments. “I was on the lower James near Chippokes [State Park]. When I hooked into that one, I thought I had a saltwater sh on at rst, but lo and behold, it was a largemouth! A very di erent largemouth, though. I haven’t seen anything like that before. I’ve seen bass with black spots, but I’d never seen an albino one.”

“Golden largemouth bass are extremely rare and most anglers have never seen them, let alone heard of them before,” said Alex McCrickard, Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources (DWR) Aquatic Education Coordinator. “ e sh is a product of a genetic mutation that alters the skin pigments called xanthism. Yellow pigmentation dominates in xanthism, as you can see in Moore’s golden largemouth.”

Moore measured the sh at 16 ½ inches, took a few photos, then returned it to the water.

For more information, go to


This big Georgia sheepshead tied a two-decade-old state record for the species a er weighing in at 14 pounds, 14.37 ounces.

e angler, Ben Golden III, of Midway, Ga., caught his sh near the Sunbury community outside of Midway on Feb. 3. e catch quali es as a tie with the existing record of 14-pounds, 14-ounces set by Ralph White, of Rincon, Ga., in 2002.

“To be honest, I’ve been telling folks it’s been my goal to catch a state record for 10 or 12 years,” said Golden, who grew up in Midway and has been shing the Georgia coast most of his life. “I’m excited to say that I did it.”

Sheepshead are common around 7 pounds but can easily be found up to 10 pounds. ey reach maturity around 3 to 4 years of age and primarily live inshore, o en near rocky areas, docks, bridges or arti cial reefs, or other areas with barnacles.

Between 2017 and 2021, NOAA Fisheries estimates that Georgia recreational anglers caught an average of 490,197 sheepshead each year, with an average of 262,457 being harvested.

For more information on the Georgia Saltwater Game Fish Records program, visit

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