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It's never too early to scout for trout

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    A brown trout is scooped into a net

    PHOTO PROVIDED

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    Chronicle outdoors writer Brad Zahar fly fishes for brown trout on the Clear Fork of the Mohican River near Bellville in Richland County.

    PHOTO PROVIDED

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Melting ice, warming temperatures and longer days are signs of the changing outdoor scene in Northeast Ohio. Cabin fever lessens for some in mid-March and the urge to get outside increases.

And thoughts turn to fishing.

Trout fishing is a great spring activity many enjoy, especially since the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) stocks many local waters. Our area provides great river fishing for steelhead and smallmouth bass.

Trout are not native and don’t naturally reproduce in Ohio. Water temperatures are too warm in the summer for trout to hold over until fall and survive in the cooler waters.

This, coupled with the fact many take the fish home to eat, doesn’t hold well for seeing fish year after year without stocking efforts.

One area in Ohio that is conducive to trout fishing a good portion of the year is the Clear Fork of the Mohican River. Before the cold snap earlier this week, the upper section in Bellville in Richland County produced some small brown trout.

The upper section of the river has a lot of fly anglers with water conducive to the technique, so a few of us headed out there to try our luck.

It’s not easy finding open water at the end of February and early March, so a fish is a fish no matter how small it is.

The section we fished in Bellville has a lot of private property, but there are some public spots off of Route 97. The best access can be found in Mohican State Park in Loudonville below the Pleasant Hill dam, as stocking programs in spring and fall keep the river stuffed with trout during these seasons.

While Mohican may be the best spot if seeking to river fish for trout, the ODNR stocks trout in our backyard in local lakes and ponds.

Many of those stockings are happening in the next month or so.

In Lorain County, Walker Road Park will get a stocking on April 12. Located in Avon Lake on the border of Bay Village, it is nice and set back off the road.

This is a spot with good access around the pond and last year had plenty of trout. I and a few others fished this pond frequently.

Rowland Nature Preserve Lake, located off Murray Ridge Road in Elyria Township, is the only other spot to be stocked in Lorain County. ODNR has it scheduled for April 11.

This piece of water opened to anglers a few years ago and is one of the most accessible lakes around the area for people of all ages, skills and abilities.

Cleveland Metroparks also stocks in some of their lakes, as their stocking fund has been doing well over the last year. They update their Facebook page and post a fishing report each Thursday which includes which pieces of water were stocked.

Before going out, make sure you have a new Ohio fishing license for the year. The 2018 license expired Feb. 28. New for 2019, your license is good for one year from the day you bought it as now everyone’s license will expire at different times. There are also multiple-year and lifetime licenses available to purchase. It can be done online through ODNR.

Also, there are places that still sell licenses in person, believe it or not.

Fishing season will be here before we know it. Spring isn’t too far off, even though it feels like it is.

Contact Brad Zahar at bzaharoutdoors@gmail.com.
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