There's never been a better time for spring fishing in Ohio, so grab your favorite rod and reel and hit the water! Here are the places you won't want to miss.
Ohio River Bellville Pool
Sauger get active this month preparing for their late-winter spawn and one of the most popular places to fish for them during the winter months is in the Bellville Pool off Meigs, Athens and Washington counties. Popular destinations for anglers include the upper half of the pool in the tailwater, as well as at stream and river confluences such as the Hocking River and Willow Island. This time of year anglers use jig-and-grub combos, jig-and-minnow set-ups, and blade baits to catch their quarry.
Plenty of brown trout prowl the waters of Ohio's most popular trout stream and keep the feedbag on during the early spring. The Mad River flows for nearly 70 miles through west-central Ohio from West Liberty through Springfield to the Grand River, where the upper reaches above Springfield offer best angling opportunities for brown trout and the river's rainbow trout populations. Drift a fly, live minnow or red worm along cut banks or into pools.
The annual walleye spawning runs up this popular Western Basin Lake Erie tributary peak early in the month. The annual spawning run action normally starts in late March and continues through mid-April, but the migrating walleye may remain in the Lake Erie tributary through the end of the month. A popular access is at Maumee's Side Cut Metro Park (www.metroparkstoledo.com). Use floating jig-heads rigged Carolina-style and tipped with shiners, pieces of crawlers or twister-tails.
Steelhead fishing can be on fire when the weather warms and fish start moving up and down Northeastern Ohio's Lake Erie tributaries, including Conneaut Creek. Access the action at the Woodworth Road Launch Ramp south of Conneaut or upstream Lakeville Park. See the ODNR Conneaut Creek Steelhead Fishing Map at www.ohiodnr.com/Portals/9/pdf/conneaut.pdf
Several other Northeastern Ohio tributaries ofter similar action; visit the steelhead fishing link at wildohio.com for updated fishing reports and river conditions. Then use fly tackle, live bait or hardware to fool the lake-run rainbows.
Straddling Guernsey and Noble counties, Seneca Lake provides good catches of striped bass for anglers casting or trolling minnow-imitating stickbaits near the first small island outside of the lake's no wake zone. Expect by-catches of large crappie and saugeye along with the targeted striped bass.
The annual white bass spawning run up the Sandusky River typically peaks early this month when water temperatures top 50 degrees. Popular fishing areas for finding white bass are from the State Street bridge in Fremont, upstream to the old Ballville Dam area. Anglers either wade or use small boats while casting small spinners, crankbaits and jigs to catch stingers of hard-fighting white bass. Boat ramps are available just north of the State Street Bridge in Fremont.
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Suzuki's two new four-stroke, two-cylinder portable outboards have a compression reduction system for easier starting. The 20hp tiller model weighs 97 pounds the eletric-start model weighs 106 pounds. Single overhead cam, four-valve engine with Suzuki's Lean Burn Control and bat-tery-less electronic fuel injection. Built for running in skinny water, both motors come with five tilt pin positions and 15- or 20-inch shaft.
TACKLE TOTE VEST
If you wade when you fish, Fish-N-Hunt Pro Gear designed a Tackle Tote Vest that to keep gear accessible but dry when you're standing in deeper waters. It's adjustable, sturdy, has lots of pockets and a modest pricetag.
Honda Marine's BF250 outboard is a 24-valve 3.6-liter V6 that uses varia-ble valve timing and lift electronic control (VTEC). Programmed fuel injection delivers the precise amount of fuel and air to each cylinder for easy starts and instant throttle re-sponse. 20-, 25- and 30-inch shaft models.
FLEX 'N GO TACKLE SATCHEL
On-the-go anglers will find a lot to like in Plano's new Flex 'N Go Tack-le Satchel. It features adjustable built-in storage with a deep bin on one side and framework for the pair of swap-pable Plano 3600 StowAway boxes on the other, each Stowaway held with a flexible strap.
MSRP, Jacket $249.99-$269;
Cabela's Guidewear raingear now comes in four distinct series. Bass Angler (pictured) jackets and bibs are built with the tournament bass angler in mind. Xtreme parkas and bibs will help anglers fishing Northern lakes and rivers. Tidal jackets and pants offer lightweight, waterproof and breathable protection. River Runner jackets are perfect for wading anglers.
MSRP, $18.95 per pair.
The original Gear Grabbar is a unique way to hold lures and tools at the ready in boats. But the new Lure Hangar is a step beyond. This is a 12- by 16 1/2-inch plate,m ade to mount on your gunwhale, that holds 16 or more lures. There's enough room for a selection of jig, plugs, topwaters or whatever other baits you want to hang.
The new AV Micro is a complete underwater camera system that is the same size as a smart phone. On the boat or off the dock, use it to see where fish are hanging out. 3 1/2-inch diagonal display. Built-in rechargea-ble lithium ion batteries.
BERKLEY TRILENE XL
Berkley says they've improved a classic. New Trilene XL lines are now 10 percent stronger 20 percent more flexibility then they had been. Knot strength has also improved, said the company. Trilene XL has been around since 1972.
ABU GARCIA REVO SX
Abu Garcia's Revo SX baitcasting reel is now 25 percent lighter than before. The SX frame is crafted of a strong alloy while the handle sideplate are built with weight-reducing C6 carbon. Holds 145 yards of 12-pound mono.
SIMMS WEATHER GEAR
MSRP, jacket $349, bibs $299.
Simms designed its Contender Gore-Tex jacket and bibs for anglers who need reliability when they are motor-ing on the water at 70 mph in rain and wind. Waterproof and breathable. Cuffs are water tight and adjustable.
Anglers like their tools close by. And it's even better if it's connected to you so it doesn't go in the drink. T-Reign retractable gear tethers hold onto your pliers, hemostats or landing net. Several size options. Carabiner connects to D-ring, belt loop or strap, or use the stainless steel clip on belt or pack.