Early spring fishing in Ohio can be frustrating. It can be cold and there can be a lot of high and muddy water.
I’ve tried to avoid it a few times by heading south for a few days. It has usually worked fairly well. Of course, there was that time when the trailer hitch broke as we pulled into Columbus, Ga., and I think it was the same trip when the first couple days we were there (at Lake Eufaula, Ala.) it was about 30 degrees in the morning.
In 1976, a friend and I decided to head for Lake Barkley in Kentucky for a few days. Neither of us had been there before, but we had heard good things from friends.
We had three days to fish and, armed with information from a topo map loaned to me by a professor who had once worked in Kentucky, we launched, headed down river and simply pulled into the first bassy-looking spot we came to.
And we started catching bass. I think I caught a 4-pounder on a crankbait in that first spot.
I don’t think we ever made it out of the “creek” we launched in, but that creek was larger than most lakes in Ohio.
It was also full of boats anchored over what we figured was the creek channel (or maybe places where brush piles were anchored) all fishing for crappie. Barkley and Kentucky Lakes are famous for their crappie fishing and we got a taste of it on future trips. I don’t think I ever caught a 3-pound crappie, but I did catch a 2-pounder or two casting small white spinnerbaits.
Eventually, on several later visits, we learned several reliable patterns for fishing both lakes. We even spotted a dead paddlefish on that first visit.
I think what makes trips like that enjoyable is the chance to get away for a few days, enjoy a complete break from winter (which is sometimes slow to happen in Ohio), fish some different water, spend time with good friends and, of course, have a chance to catch bigger fish.
Somehow, though, I got away from taking spring fishing trips. I really don’t know why. I have fished Eufaula, Kentucky, Barkley and Lake Fork (in Texas) in the spring, as well as Kentucky, Barkley and Clark Hill (South Carolina) in the fall and Minnesota and Michigan lakes in the summer.
What I have read about the Asian carp infestation at Kentucky is depressing, so maybe I would go someplace else today. I have always wanted to fish Guntersville in Alabama, so maybe that could be a future target.