Just because so many of we anglers own a boat, we all too often feel compelled to confine our angling outings to pretty much rationalizing the purchase of that watercraft. This is too much like tying one arm behind one's back in terms of enjoying and experiencing all aspects of a great outdoors sport. As much as I have always enjoyed angling from my various " boats" , whether they have been the earliest of childhood craft like Styrofoam chunks, my inflatable Sea Eagle raft, a Coleman " Crawdad ", my Pelican, Bass Buddy,Sun Dolphin and Solo one and two-man configurations to my 17-foot Deep-V Tracker, they all provided and readily evoke great memories and albums of pictures and film that facilitated and enhanced years of newspaper and magazine articles,TV shows and instructional videos.
Still, some of my most productive and memorable adventures involved no boat of any kind at all. I retain and still will cultivate for as long as possible steelhead fishing the Lake Erie tributaries and most especially the great enjoyment of the numerous species to be had in the various stretches of the Cuyahoga River in particular. Few outdoor activities provide the fun, adventure, and exercise of walking the banks of a creek or wading a river with a friend or two. Inexpensive, too.
Summer is generally the onset of the stream and creek walking season, as the rains and snow melt of spring begin to ebb and water levels subside and the waters also begin to clear. Fall is in fact regularly the most aesthetically pleasing and most productive time of the year for these excursions.
If you are not a regular stream walker or wader, you are well advised to take the time to organize a game plan and properly prepare overall. Check out some maps and gauge how much time need be allotted to travail a chosen stretch of water. Nothing takes the abject pleasure out of any fishing trip than preoccupation with the clock. Plan on the possible need of parking one vehicle downstream at the designated entry spot to be fished up from, then driving another vehicle back upstream to be available and waiting upon departure. Always walk upstream as you fish, so as not to disturb or muddy the water and spook the fish as you inevitably would fishing downstream. I much encourage taking along a partner or two for pictures and some video, as well as sheer safety.
When it comes to equipment for your trip, always consider your feet first. You waders will by definition be ready in this area, but the rest of us need to consider the wet, muddy, and often quite slippery terrain to be traversed. A sole that offers a good grip will therefore be all but essential .The rest of your clothing should accent the concept of minimalism, with a hat always a good idea. Recall those old angling pictures of yore and you can picture in your mind the image of the lures-bearing hats. There is and was a good reason for this, as you want to minimize the carrying of any extra gear at all. A small pocket box of a few key lures and a few items of extra terminal tackle should do. A cell phone, some insect repellant, and bottled water and a small snack item pretty much round out the essentials.
For more specific fishing gear, you needn't bring along your very best combo.Accidents happen, and an environment such as what you'll often be encountering is not conducive to your primo outfit's total safety. For most Ohio streams, I recommend only a decent light action spinning outfit loaded with 6lb. line. Most river and stream fish will be generally smaller than their stagnant water brethren. For the aforementioned lures, I would suggest a couple of Rebel Crawdads, a couple of in-line spinners like Panther Martins or Roostertails in the 1/16 or 1/8 oz. sizes, and perhaps a deeper-diving Rapala Shad Rap in case of encountering a deeper hole or two. You might also consider a couple of 3'' tube jigs as well.
Among the creek stretches in the Buckeye State I would recommend would be the Hiram Rapids and Breakneck Creek segments of the Cuyahoga, and, particularly in the fall, the stretch from Liberty Commons upriver to the legendary Gorge Dam . Tributaries of the Ohio River in the Cumberland Pool feature a wide variety of species, with Sunfish and Beaver Creeks personal favorites. The Olentangy outside Columbus and the Tuscawaras near Bolivar , as well as the trout-oriented Mad River north of Dayton all offer great opportunities and few competitors.
Get out there this year and get some needed exercise while pursuing your favorite pastime at its most rustic and enjoyable.