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Story and Photos By Jeremy Kurtz


Ohio is blessed with some amazing fishing opportunities. Most fishermen however fish ponds, lakes, reservoirs, rivers, and large creeks. Many of the very small warm water streams in Ohio are ignored. That is unfortunate, since some very good fishing, and solitude can be had on these small waters.

Smallmouth, largemouth, rock bass, long-ears, bluegills, pumpkinseeds, chubs, suckers, and carp inhabit many of our tiny streams. While the fish generally are not large, they still have something to offer the dedicated fly fisherman.
Peace and quiet, and little to no fishing pressure is the name of the game here.
While not all of Ohio's blue line streams have gamefish, it is always worth a look, you never know what you might find.

Finding Small Water

The best ways to find small streams is by looking at maps, or just driving around and looking. Also look for small feeder creeks that empty into reservoirs. Both of the small streams that I fish here at home are feeders. You should always be able to find game fish in these types of streams since some fish will always tend to move up into them.

When exploring these waters always make sure that the stream has enough water flow. Your looking for streams that will be able to hold fish. Small holes, and runs that offer enough cover for the fish is what your looking for.

Think small

When fishing these small waters, it is usually best to down size your gear. Shorter rods from 6 feet to 7 feet long for line weights from one weight up to four weight are ideal. You most likely will not run into lunker bass, so throwing 1/0 bass bugs is not needed.

I like to use smaller flies in the 10-16 range. I always carry a small selection of nymphs, wets, and streamers.
I use the Gold ribbed hare's ear, pheasant tail, caddis pupa, and a simple damsel pattern for nymphs.

For wet flies, I always like to have some soft hackles with me. The Partridge and yellow, Partridge and orange, and Starling and purple have worked well for me. I also like to carry a winged wet called the Picket Pin. This fly is very versatile. Swing it like a wet, strip it like a streamer, or dead drift it like a nymph. This pattern is a fish killer. I tie all my wet flies in sizes 10-14.

For streams that have bass in them, it is always good to carry a few streamer and crayfish patterns as well. I tie these small, in 10's and 12's. Mini buggers in black, brown, and olive are always a good bet. I also like some of the more traditional streamers like the Black Ghost and Mickey Finn. Small Clouser minnows work very well too.

For crayfish patterns, it is hard to beat the McCabe's Crayfish in olive or brown. There is a host of other crayfish patterns out there as well. Always try to match your patterns to the local crayfish population.

Something different

Fly fishing Ohio's small streams can be a nice change of pace. I think it is fun to try and find small water that no one else bothers to fish. Many of these streams are just as beautiful as trout streams, and offer up some relaxed slow pace fishing. Give it a try, you will not be disappointed.

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