Published March 2005

It’s been a long and unusually hard winter, but spring is coming and soon crocus will be in full bloom, the trees greening up, and waters in area lakes warming steadily.  Fishing will pick up too, as various species begin to feed up for spring spawning, so it’s time to check the crystal ball and find out if action on local lakes will be good this year, or mediocre or poor.  Take Charles Mill Lake, for example.

 This 1,350 acre lake with its 10 hp limit just might be the best hotspot for long miles around, and according to the Division of Wildlife its largemouth bass population is excellent.  Fish caught will routinely range from 12 to 19 inches with a few going a good deal larger, and come spring one of the best spots to take some will be around the marina peninsula and along riprap near the dam.

The saugeye population here is only average, though there are fish to 24 inches, and most are caught below the dam, though some hit between the marina and the narrows into the main lake.  Channel cats?  Charles Mill has always been a top rated channel cat lake with fish to 25 inches plus ready to hit shrimp and cutbait, and they’re found all over the lake.  There are whopper flathead catfish here too, that reach four feet long, especially in the western basin.  Large live minnows are the best bait for these behemoths.

Then there are hybrid striped bass (wipers) that have been heavily stocked.  They’re vicious fighters that reach 22 inches, even more, and are caught yearly by trolling, jigging weighted minnows, or bottom fishing with chicken livers and nightcrawlers.  Finally, come crappie, a favorite fish here, with good populations of both black and white crappie.  They’ll soon be waiting around shoreline brush and downed trees in the marina basin.

Clear Fork Reservoir with its 1,012 acres and 10 mph speed limit is best known as a muskie lake, and it should be since Clear Fork is rated one of the best lakes in the state for these big fish with lunkers reaching 45 inches, even more.  But this spring it will have, as always, a good population of black and white crappie, many of which will be caught near the road bridge on the west end.  There are fair numbers of channel cats too, that are often picked up off the picnic areas.

The lake isn’t fished too hard for largemouth bass, but it should be since the shoreline brush, quick dropoffs, and weed beds here hold fish that reach to 21 inches or more.  The fifth largest bass ever caught in a fishing tournament (5 lbs, 14 oz) was caught at Clear Fork.  And don’t forget white bass, which provide a lot of fun for anglers who find a school swimming in east end waters.

Pleasant Hill Lake has a wide variety of fish, but saugeye rank high in this clear, cool water hotspot. There’s an excellent population of these tasty critters that average about 14 inches, routinely reach 25 inches, and sometimes tip the scales at eight to ten pounds.  Anglers here like to night fish for saugeye, or troll and drift for them off the swimming beach and near the lodge using Lindy rigs and nightcrawlers or bottom bumping crankbaits.

The lake is nearly unique in our area in that it holds a good population of smallmouth bass as well as largemouths.  The smallmouths like rocky shores in the lower end of the lake near the dam, and favor rock bumping jigs with bait, small plastic worms, and fast diving crankbaits.  Largemouths are found in the more shallow and weedy upper end and as always, favor spinnerbaits, pig and jig combinations, and plastic worms.  Anglers find some good channel cats too, many off the launch ramp, and occasional schools of white bass.  These run up the Clear Fork tributary each spring.

Little Knox Lake is a diamond among pearls with a VERY strong population of largemouth bass.  It has an 18 inch length limit, so most of the fish caught will be members of the “munch bunch”, smaller individuals that are still lots of fun to catch, but some dandies turn up, too.  Knox is considered one of the top five bass tournament lakes in the state.  And should be.  Otherwise, visiting anglers will find a fine population of channel cats that reach 10 pounds, and a small population of  black crappies.

Finally, comes almost unknown Kokosing Lake, a 149 acre lake in the Kokosing Wildlife Area not far from Knox that has a fair population of bass and crappie, and good numbers of channel cats.  Five bodies of water, all different, with plenty of waiting fish.  And spring is coming.

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