PARKERSBURG – The Ohio River is a big part of life in the Mid-Ohio Valley and no one appreciates it more than fishermen.
“I get calls all the time from people wanting to know about fishing in the river,” state Division of Natural Resources District 6 Fisheries Biologist Scott Morrison said.
Everyday at almost any hour an angler is on the shore, on a pier or in a boat, fishing rod in hand and with a look of intense concentration on their face, optimistically expecting a catch at any time.
Depending on the time of year, fishermen can find, among other species, sauger, a cousin of the walleye, largemouth and smallmouth bass, white bass, striped and hybrid striped bass, channel and flathead catfish.
The most popular fish is bass, with several organizations holding tournaments every year on the Ohio River.
“You really need a boat to fish for bass,” Morrison said. “Most largemouth bass fishing is in the tributaries and the embayments along the river.”
Not having a bass boat may limit fishing, but there are still fish to catch, especially at Point Park or the Belleville dam, both of which have fishermen access points, he said.
As the water begins to warm, in the summer, the species change. Many fishermen target hybrid striped bass in the water below the dam, while catfish can be caught at almost any spot along the bank, Morrison said.
And it is possible to catch big catfish in the river, he said.
“We have people catching catfish, especially flatheads, up to 50 pounds every year,” he said.
Morrison, however, cautions fishermen to know the law.
Ohio and West Virginia have a reciprocity agreement allowing residents of those states with a valid fishing license to fish in the other state up to a certain point.
In Ohio, fishermen with a West Virginia license can fish up to the Devola Dam on the Muskingum River. Ohio fishermen can fish in West Virginia up to where Slate Creek empties into the Little Kanawha River.
That reciprocity agreement does not include non-residents of Ohio or West Virginia.
“That’s where it gets tricky,” Morrison said.
Fishing doesn’t stop with the summer months, Morrison said. Fishermen are at the dams’ access points nearly every day in the winter.
“Some of the best fishing is in January, February and March,” he said. “In fact, if you don’t have a clue, that might be the best option. You don’t know what you’ll catch there.”