Outdoors with Forda Birds—By John Andreoni
Most fishermen know that many of our sportfish can be found around structure. The smaller fish like places to hide, and the bigger fish show up looking for a smorgasbord. No matter what body of water you’re talking about, the locals know just about every natural sunken log, brush pile, and other objects that might hold fish. In some cases, this structure might even be manmade. There is a definite advantage for the fishermen who has exclusive knowledge of fish structure locations. Consequently, many hardcore fishermen have been known to sink their own private cover spots to increase their fishing success. This is especially effective for those who hit the tournament fishing trails. Unfortunately, for those who installed this secret structure, it soon becomes public knowledge. As they say, three people can keep a secret if two of them are dead.
Regardless, it’s immaterial why some fishermen plant secret brush piles and others yank them out because they don’t like getting hung up. This fall, fish attractors will be added to Lake St. Marys for everyone’s benefit. Their location will be common knowledge and the majority of these areas will be land accessible to the public. This project should enhance the quality of fishing for all concerned and will be partially funded through the U.S. Fish and Wildlife’s Sport Fish Restoration Program. Funds for this program come from excise taxes on fishing equipment, motorboat and small engine fuels, import duties, and interest accrued. It’s generally distributed through grants to state programs such as this. The GLSM Fish Attractor Project is being implemented by the ODNR, Ohio State Parks and Watercraft, the Division of Wildlife with assistance from the Ohio Chapter of Backcountry Hunters and Anglers. The Backcountry Hunters and Anglers is a relatively new non-profit sportsmen’s organization based in Montana with chapters in all but a few states.
The fish attractors will be in the form of stake beds and will be placed at ten different locations. Location 1 is at the old hot-water hole located on the northwest corner of the lake. A stake bed will be placed at either end. Location 2 is at the West Bank boat ramp. Three stake beds will be placed on a line just south of the pier located in front of the ramp. There will be a white PVC pipe in the center to mark the beds. Stake-bed 3 will be placed at the back of Montezuma Bay. This is probably a boat access site. Areas 4 and 5 are located at Windy point. One bed will be located at the south end of the west channel and the other at the north end of the east channel. Both of these sites are land accessible. Area 6 will have three stake-beds located along the road at Bass Landing. Area 7 will have a stake-bed along the channel at Little Chickasaw. This bed is only accessible by boat. Area 8 is located at Harmon’s Landing in the pothole just west of the road running to the main lake. Two of the three planned stake beds should be land accessible. Area 9 is in the State Campground on the north side of the lake. Two beds are to be installed there and both should be accessible to land traffic. Area 10 will be in the south channel at Andersons. This is probably one of the most popular crappie channels on the lake and three beds will be placed on the west bank. That makes a total of 20 stake-beds with all but three or four accessible by land.
Lake St. Marys isn’t generally considered a bank-fisherman friendly lake compared to others with much of the 70 plus miles of shoreline accessible only by boat or land access limited by private property or impassible terrain. The stake beds are designed to improve the fish habitat and at the same time enhance fishing opportunities for those who have limited access to some of the better fishing on the lake. From what I understand, this fish restoration program will not be limited to these 10 areas. Plans are being considered to expand the program in future years.
If you are interested in helping with this project, volunteers are invited to take part on October 5. The work is scheduled to be completed at 1:00 pm and will start at 8:30 am. Workers will meet at the new Little Chickasaw Boat Ramp located on the south side on Mercer-Auglaize County Line Road. Check with the local park office or area wildlife officers for additional information about watercraft needs and other requirements.