Survey shows healthy crappie in Grand Lake

Al Smith - Guest Columnist

There are a couple of things you can count on with crappies - fast action and they will bite early.

This tasty panfish has begun biting at one of the best place to catch them in Limaland, according to local reports. Ice was off much of Grand Lake St. Marys by midweek last week with ice only on the Eastern part of the lake.

Those who seek this fish on St. Marys received some good news from the Ohio Division of Wildlife (DOW) after fisheries biologists found some impressive results following a survey of the lake last fall. That was not the only good news Numbers and size were highly positive.

Biologists found that more than half the fish captured were over the 9-inch length limit. Good recruitment was also found for every year class, according to the DOW. The average length at age for crappie in the lake was well above the average in southwest Ohio. The DOW said the survey results indicate that great crappie fishing should continue into the future at Grand Lake St. Marys.

The bite can be good to excellent in March and April. You don’t need live bait, but many anglers use minnows and larval baits when tipping artificial flies and jigs with plastic trailers.

Crappie anglers use baitfish-imitating tackle such as small crankbaits, plastics and marabou jigs. Minnows suspended by bobbers. Woody cover almost always is a place that holds crappies. The move from deep water to spawning areas using creek beds and deep channels to get there. As spawning nears, fish suspend over deep water

Remember structure including points, drop offs, creek beds and cover such as brush piles, fallen trees and stumps.

When seeking early crappies remember to dress for the weather.

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Another fish that bites early is the steelhead. The will bite from November through April.

Stream and pier anglers have an excellent opportunity to catch quality-sized steelhead trout. Ohio’s primary steelhead streams are Vermilion, Rocky, Chagrin and Grand rivers, and Conneaut Creek. Several other rivers including the Huron, Cuyahoga and Ashtabula rivers, and French, Euclid, Arcola, and Cowles creeks get runs of stray steelhead. Fantastic fishing has been maintained by annual stocking and by the practice of most anglers to catch and release.

Learn more about Lake Erie Steelhead Fishing:

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Don’t forget the DOW’s open house Saturday (March 3). Area outdoor enthusiasts likely will attend the open house at District Two at 952 Lima Ave., Findlay or at the Greene County Fish and Game Association clubhouse in Xenia.

Open houses give the public an opportunity to view and discuss proposed fishing, hunting and trapping regulations with DOW officials. For Ohioans who are unable to attend an open house, comments will be accepted online at beginning Feb. 12. Directions to the open houses can be found at or by calling 800-945-3543.Matt Ross and Dr, Mike Tonkovich will be featured during a free deer management workshop scheduled to run from 9 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at the Miami Valley Career Center, Adult Education Building located at 6801 Hoke Rd., Clayton.

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Ross is the assistant director of the Quality Deer Management Association (QDMA) while Tonkovich is the DOW’s deer program manager. Ross will present the keynote on deer movement and home range use while Tonkovich, will share information on Ohio’s statewide deer management plan.

Also on the agenda are open-land habitat management, forest management for deer, aging deer, managing hunting pressure and more.

Seating is limited, and pre-registration is required. To register call the Wildlife District Five office, Monday-Friday 8 a.m.-5 p.m. at 937-372-9261 by March 22. Lunch will be provided.

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Indian Lake State Park in Logan County is one of four state parks holding events on male syrup in March. On March 17, from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. and on March 18, from 8 a.m.-1 p.m. Free wagon rides will be available to visit the Sugar Shack for demonstrations on turning sap into maple syrup. Wagon rides will be from 9 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturday and 9 a.m.-1 p.m. on Sunday.

For a small fee ($5 for adults and $3 for kids), visitors can enjoy a pancake breakfast with sausage and beverages from 8 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturday and 8 a.m.-1 p.m. on Sunday. There will be pints, quarts and gallons of syrup for sale. For more information, call 937-843-2717.

Al Smith

Guest Columnist

Al Smith is a freelance outdoor writer. You may contact him at and follow him on Twitter @alsmithFL

Al Smith is a freelance outdoor writer. You may contact him at and follow him on Twitter @alsmithFL

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