Archive for April, 2011
Dealing with the Weather

We’ve all been doing it lately — dealing with the weather. It’ll be nice for a couple of days and then turn cold. At the same time it’ll rain like the devil for a day or so and then the wind picks up and everything dries out in a matter of hours.

There’s no reason to let that frustrate you. It’s spring in the Midwest. It’s been doing this for a thousand years past and will probably be doing it a thousand years into the future. We anglers have to learn to deal with it.

Spring cold fronts aren’t that big a deal if you stop and think about it for a minute. They tend to slow the bite down but only for a day or so. After that things will return to normal.

I’ll admit that the front that passed through this weekend was kind of disappointing. It happened on a Friday night and messed up a lot of weekend fishing trips for a lot of guys. Still, things will be back to normal by Tuesday or Wednesday. Unless something drastic happens next weekend should be prime for spring crappie and early bass.

Rain isn’t much different. True, it muddies the creeks and turns then into something that looks like chocolate milk. But they clear just as fast. No one seems to know where the crappies and the bass go when it gets ugly in the creeks but we all know that they return — with a ravenous appetite — as soon as the water clears.

And remember, rain doesn’t fall the same everywhere. In places it’ll come down really fast. Go a mile east or west, however, and it’s likely a different story. Just because it’s raining hard in your neighborhood doesn’t mean the creeks up the road are nasty. Check them out. They may be just fine.

Fish with the weather rather than spend your time cursing it. You’ll be a happier angler and catch a lot more fish.

5 Great, Fish-Catching Lures for River Bass

For those of you who want to do some bass fishing this year here’s a list of five baits that’ll get you through most of the year. As you can see it isn’t necessary to spend a fortune. You can fish and catch on a budget.

  1. A Trick Worm – River bass are notorious for holding shallow. At times they move up in the creeks into less than a foot of water, sometimes into as little as 4 or 5 inches. A wacky rigged — just run the hook through the egg sack — will catch them all day long. Circle hooks are the choice of top anglers. They make a secure hookset and rarely snag on slime and debris. Just remember, you don’t jerk on them to set the hook. A slow, steady pull with you rod tip works best.
  2. A Small (1/4-ounce) Popper – Work it along slow at first. Just make a few rings in the water every time you move it back towards the rod tip. If that doesn’t provoke a strike try speeding it up.
  3. A Buzzbait – Throw this lure as far back into the shallows as possible and then bring it back with a steady cadence. There are clackers and there are squeakers. Most guys have a preference but the truth is that both styles have caught a lot of bass. Carry a couple of each.
  4. A Square-Bill Crankbait – Toss these fish-catchers up against the bank and bring them straight out, towards the boat. You can also flip and pitch them. Bright colors seem to work best — maybe because they can see them better in the stained water. Tip: Some of the best are made by Ima. That should come as no surprise. They were designed by Bassmaster Elite Series angler, Bill Lowen, from North Bend, Ohio.
  5. A Big Creature Bait – Pick anything you like. Texas rig it with a big hook, a fairly heavy sinker so you can punch through the debris and toss it on a heavy rod and reel with stout braided line. Work every target from every angle.
Catfish Facts


Flatheads are by far the most exotic and perhaps the most popular species in the Ohio River. Flatheads can reach weights in excess of 100 pounds. Typical color ranges from brown to green with a white belly. They tend to develop lighter colors in clearer water and darker colors in darker waters.

For the most part they prefer stained to muddy water. They’re most active at 75 degrees although they will tolerate extremes at both ends of the temperature scale. Flatheads have been caught in water as cold as 32 degrees and as warm as 100 degrees.

Flatheads are predators — they are not scavengers — and as such are structure and current oriented. They follow the usual rules about water movement. They tend to move shallow in rising water, hold on structure in stable water and move out deeper with falling water. Preferred depth ranges are anywhere from 15 feet to 80 feet depending upon conditions.

Current will spread them out. A lack of current tightens them up into schools. Their favored forage is shad, shiners, bluegills, skipjacks and crayfish. They have been known to eat ducks, mice, frogs and snakes upon occasion.

Average size, in the middle sections of the Ohio River, is in the 20 pound range. Big fish hit the 35 pound mark with 50 pounders and above becoming more common over the past few years.


Channel cats are somewhat smaller than flatheads and are known to eat almost anything. They have more taste sensing organs than flatheads and blues, although blues aren’t very far behind. They feed almost entirely by smell and taste.

Stink baits are popular with channel cat anglers although they mostly account for smaller fish. Trophies are almost always caught with cut bait or live bait. Channel cats are less structure oriented than flatheads. They often roam to follow the forage.

Eight pounds is a good Ohio River fish. Anything over 10 or 12 pounds is something to write home about.


Blue cats are the monsters of the river. Who can forget the old-time pictures of 100 pound plus blues being held up by local fisherman when the dams were being built? (Some writers claim they reached 200 pounds plus just before and during the Great Depression. That seems unlikely, but who knows for sure?)

Blues favor much clearer water than the flatheads but feed generally on the same forage. They’re generally found on clean sandy bottoms, over rock and gravel areas or along hard substrate. They’re especially fond of areas with humps or underwater rises. Blues are native river fish. They prefer moving water.

Driven nearly to extinction in our recent past they are now on the rebound and are caught with regularity. In the Cincinnati area they average around 10-15 pounds but downstream they increase in size dramatically. Each year there’ll be several caught that weigh between 60 and 85 pounds. Several over 100 pounds have been caught and weighed on certified scales over the years.