The Ohio Fly Angler’s Guide: Preparation for Spring Trout Fishing

The spring fly fishing season in Ohio is something every angler anticipates like that first spring cast over a rising brookie. Yet, as the cold days fade away and the first buds of spring appear, it’s essential to not just dream about the ideal fishing spot but to get prepared for what lies ahead. This guide will walk you through everything you need to do right now to ensure your fly fishing gear, tackle, and casting techniques are primed and ready for fly fishing in Ohio.

Start With Your Gear

It’s time to break the hibernation of your fly fishing equipment. Unearth your rod(s) and reel(s) (I know you have several…) from their winter resting places and conduct a comprehensive review. Examine the rod segments, ensuring they interlock smoothly without any gaps. Give your reel a whirl – does it spin without a hitch? Unspool the line and set it aside, disassemble the reel halves and clean it regardless with mild soap and water and allow it to dry before oiling it with a small bit of reel oil from your local fly shop like Mad River Outfitters in Columbus, or Orvis in Worthington. (TIP: don’t use the aerosol kind, they can degrade line and plastic parts.)

This also provides an opportune moment to evaluate the condition of your fishing line AND clean and lubricate it. A neglected line could result in lost fish or, worse, damaged gear. Ensure it’s free from any frays, splits, or kinks, which could affect your casting distance, precision, and presentation. Clean it with a mild soap and warm water and allow it to dry. Lastly, condition and lubricate it with Flip Pallot’s Special Delivery Fly Line Dressing, available from Mad River Outfitters.

Pay attention to the essential tools too like your nippers, pliers or forceps, fly floatant, and line straightener. If your gear appears fatigued, consider the prospect of acquiring top-tier replacements now. Let’s put it this way, allocating resources to exceptional gear isn’t an unnecessary expenditure; it’s a calculated move that lays the groundwork for your ultimate triumph in fly fishing. A small expense can make a huge difference.

While gearing up might seem like a mundane task, remember, it is the tiny details that often distinguish a successful angler from a disappointed one. Like a well-tuned instrument, your gear needs to perform flawlessly when it’s time for the concert – or in this case, when you’re fly fishing in Ohio’s scenic waters like you’ll find at a private fishing club like our scenic and accessible Briarwood Sporting Club in Bellefontaine, Ohio or the beautiful Mad River, Clear Fork River, or Chagrin River. We’ll address the all-important flies next.

Stock Up on Flies, Tippet, and Leaders

Just as a chef needs the right ingredients, a fly angler needs an assortment of flies, tippet, and leaders at their disposal. Think of this as curating your culinary collection, each fly promising a delectable treat to your aquatic targets. Delve into your fly assortment. How diverse is your collection? Does it cater to the varied dietary preferences of Ohio’s trout for spring, summer, and fall seasons? What worked well last season that you need to restock? But remember, don’t get overwhelmed – in Ohio trout fishing you can get by with no more than 2 dozen of the most widely used flies. Ensuring you have an array of flies can give you an edge when it comes to attracting your finned foes. And remember, for Ohio trout don’t give in to a whim to try something flashy unless you know first-hand, or from an expert source, it is worth it!

Also, take a close look at your tippet and leader supplies. Are they worn out, and old, or do they still hold their integrity? Remember, tippets and leaders are the silent heroes of your fly fishing setup, providing the critical connection between your line and the fly. Each type serves a specific function and having a variety on hand can make a difference depending on the conditions of your chosen fishing spot. Even tippet on an unused spool from years ago can wear out simply from age and sun exposure.

For instance, a heavier leader is ideal when you’re casting larger, air-resistant flies, while a lighter leader is the way to go when you need a delicate presentation with smaller flies. As for tippets, remember that different sizes are suited for different species of fish, so ensure you have an array to cater to Ohio’s freshwater inhabitants. Still confused, visit the great folks at Orvis-Worthington and Mad River Outfitters who are experts with flies and line and they know what works best in Ohio.

On a practical note, be cognizant of the cost implications of stocking up on these items. Yes, it’s an investment, but an investment that’s pivotal to your fly-fishing success. After all, what’s the cost of a few flies compared to the thrill of hooking a prize catch? Consider it an investment in your future fishing adventures.

Stocking up on these essentials is akin to laying a strong foundation for a building. With a robust inventory of flies, tippet, and leaders, you’re setting yourself up for a successful spring fly fishing season in Ohio’s diverse waterways. You’re not just preparing to fish; you’re preparing to excel at it.

Tackle Organization Tips

Before embarking on your Ohio fly fishing journey, a well-organized fishing vest or sling pack can serve as your dependable ally. A systematic approach to storing your gear can save you precious time when you’re immersed in the pursuit of a coveted trout. It’s not just about storing your gear; it’s about having a precise idea of where everything is located when you’ve spotted a lunker and you need to quickly change flies or add floatant.

Begin by categorizing your flies. Arrange them into dry flies, nymphs, and streamers. This way, you can easily identify and pick the right bait based on the fish you are targeting. Separate fly boxes for each are ideal. Consider the Orvis clear, two-sided waterproof boxes. They are as easy to use as they are durable.

Next up, your tippets and leaders deserve a section of their own. Arrange them by size or strength. When in the throes of battle with a tenacious trout, you won’t be fumbling around for the right leader or tippet, thus keeping your cool and maintaining control over the situation. Consider a tippet reel organizer to attach to your vest or pack. Some packs and vests, like the Orvis Guide Sling Pack, have the tippet organizer built-in! Do you often find yourself forgetting where you stored your fishing line or your extra reel spool? A clear and logical storage system in your vest or pack can turn these instances into a thing of the past. Dedicating specific compartments for these items not only ensures their safekeeping but also facilitates their quick retrieval during critical moments.

Let’s not overlook the need for a section for small accessories like fishing line nippers, forceps/pliers, floatants, or spare reel parts. If you don’t own them now, I highly recommend a zinger for your nipper and a second for your forceps – (a zinger is the small retractable device and cord that attaches to your tools and the other end to your pack or vest. Having these tools handy can make a world of difference when you’re in the middle of the water or the fishing action is peaking! The zinger will also prevent that terrible moment of dropping a tool in the stream.

To sum it up, it’s not just about filling your fishing vest; it’s about transforming it into a dynamic control panel, ready to assist you in your Ohio fly fishing exploits. Remember, the organized angler isn’t merely the one who keeps his/her tackle tidy. It’s the angler who, amidst the rush of journey to the stream and the thrill of the chase, knows exactly where every piece of gear is and how to deploy it for efficiency and getting that next cast off into the water.

Getting Geared Up with Clothing

Spring fly fishing in Ohio can be an incredible experience, but it also requires suitable attire to face unpredictable and changing weather conditions. The transition period from the chill of winter to the warmth of spring can bring fluctuating temperatures, wind, and rain. Thus, it’s critical to ensure that your clothing is up to the task to keep you comfortable, warm, and dry as you embark on your angling adventure.

Start by investing in a quality fishing jacket. Opt for a waterproof, windproof, and breathable jacket that can withstand Ohio’s spring showers and gusty breezes without making you feel like you’re inside a sauna. Remember, while angling is a battle of wits against the fish, it’s also a battle against the elements.

Next up, consider your layering strategy. Layering allows you to regulate your body temperature efficiently. A base layer that wicks away moisture, coupled with a warm mid-layer, will keep you snug without limiting your movement.

Let’s not forget the importance of fishing pants or waders. Although, fortunately at Ohio’s premier fishing destination, Briarwood Sporting Club, waders aren’t needed. Both water and wind-resistant fishing pants and waders are essential in protecting your lower body from water, wind, and chill.

Protective headgear is another crucial element. A hat, balaclava, or cap can shield your face from sun glare, rain, and even errant hooks during those enthusiastic backcasts. Consider a hat with a wide bring for dual rain and sun protection! Sunglasses, besides looking cool, protect your eyes from harmful UV rays and the glint of the sun off the water. Models with polarized lenses are strongly recommended to reduce glare further and help you see into the water.

Finally, give your feet the attention they deserve. A sturdy pair of waterproof boots provides the necessary grip when you’re navigating slippery streamside turf and rocks. And of course, the right socks can make the difference between a delightful day of angling or a miserable one with cold, damp feet. Wool and poly blends are best. Bear in mind, the idea is to balance protection, comfort, and mobility. Each article of clothing is a gear in itself, contributing to your overall fishing experience. Also, remember that wearing natural or earth-tone colors can make you less noticeable to the fish, giving you an added advantage in the Ohio waters.

While preparing for your fishing trip, consider that clothing isn’t just about fashion or comfort – it’s an essential part of your gear. Dressing appropriately increases your chances of staying out longer, remaining focused, and ultimately, catching more fish. With the right clothing, you can confidently face the Ohio spring, knowing you’re as prepared as you can be, from head to toe.

Casting Practice Makes Perfect (or nearly…)

Even during the colder Ohio months, take the opportunity to polish your casting skills. Even though you’re not knee-deep in an Ohio stream, the power of practice cannot be underestimated. Your backyard, a nearby park, or even your living room can serve as the perfect stage for honing your technique.

Casting in fly fishing is akin to playing an instrument. It’s an art that requires precision, rhythm, and timing. Just as a pianist practices scales to perfect his performance, a fly angler practices casting to ensure flawless execution when the time comes.

Keep in mind, when it comes to casting, it’s not always about how far you can cast your line. The real game-changer is accuracy. Being able to place your fly precisely where you want it, and in a manner that mimics natural insect movement, is often what distinguishes an adept angler from the rest.

Practice different casting techniques. Work on your roll cast, for times when there’s limited space behind you. Try the double haul for those moments when you need to cover more distance. Experiment with the reach cast, a handy trick when dealing with complex currents.

While practicing, focus on getting your line to land straight. A straight line not only enhances your accuracy but also helps in achieving a drag-free drift, which can significantly improve your chances of a strike.

Consider investing time in understanding the mechanics of casting. Learn about the vital role your wrist and arm play, the importance of timing in achieving the optimal loop, and the correlation between line speed and distance.

Embrace your mistakes during practice. Is your cast often landing in a heap? Is your line not extending fully before you make the forward cast? Each error provides valuable insight into areas of improvement. Use this time to troubleshoot and iron out these kinks.

Remember, in fly fishing, every cast is a conversation with the water and its inhabitants. With practice, you can ensure that your message – the fly – is delivered with grace, precision, and effectiveness. Consider fly and casting lessons with a pro guide like we offer at Briarwood.

So, while the rivers and streams of Ohio await the onset of spring, let your practice sessions be the prelude to the symphony of successful angling. As the adage goes, the more you sweat in practice, the less you bleed in battle. The fish might not be biting yet, but your preparation today can pave the way for your success this spring!

Explore New Fishing Locations

While the anticipation of spring fly fishing in Ohio brews, now is the ideal time to start planning your fishing adventures in unexplored territories. Devote some time to researching potential fishing locations online. You can learn a lot from fellow anglers and other local angling communities – and Ohio fly shops are the best place to find this guidance. Their advice, experiences, and suggestions can guide you to new, abundant fishing spots that you may have overlooked.

Beyond public waters, consider elevating your angling experience by becoming a part of a private fishing oasis. Places such as Briarwood Sporting Club offer a distinctive, high-quality fishing experience where tranquility and bounty go hand in hand. These clubs can provide a haven away from crowded public fishing areas, allowing you to fully immerse yourself in the thrill of the chase. And fishing at Briarwood provides a superior and accessible fishing environment less than an hour from the greater Columbus and Dayton areas, and about 2 hours from Cincinnati.

Embarking on an expedition to unfamiliar waters not only invigorates your angling journey but also broadens your skill set. Each new location presents its unique challenges and learning opportunities, helping you evolve as an angler. Whether it’s adapting to different water conditions, learning to read new rivers, or figuring out the feeding patterns of unknown fish species, every new fishing spot enriches your overall fly angling prowess.

As the winter fades into spring, start envisioning your fishing exploits in Ohio’s uncharted waters. Map out your itinerary, secure your permissions or memberships, and prepare yourself for an exciting angling season ahead. Exploring new waters isn’t just about catching more fish; it’s about embracing the unknown, testing your abilities, and most importantly, enhancing your love for the art of fly fishing. So, buckle up and let your angling curiosity guide you toward new horizons this spring!

For over 4 decades Briarwood Sporting Club, a private members-only fishing club located in Bellefontaine, Ohio, has been a “slice of wilderness” in northwest central Ohio, delivering a relaxed atmosphere of soothing freshwater amid breathtaking rolling hills, meadows, and timber. Four streams are home to some very impressive “wall ready” trout – including rainbows, brown, brook, golden, and blue. While Briarwood offers superb fly fishing for trout, fourteen lakes and ponds offer lunker Largemouth, slab panfish, and other finned favorites like Tiger Muskie and Hybrid Striped Bass.

As a majestic and vast landscape, Briarwood is also one of America’s finest whitetail hunting destinations offering mature deer on expertly managed lands. Gorgeous hardwoods, pines, and meadows present a habitat that has plentiful food plots and wildlife openings.

First-class lodging, 5-star service, a welcoming Loafing Lodge, and incredible and diverse wildlife viewing complete the perfect outdoor escape to create an unforgettable experience. Visit www.briarwoodclub.com for more information.

Drew McCartt, Briarwood’s Director of Sporting Services has been an avid freshwater fisherman for over 50 years, including 30 years of fly fishing and guiding. He has an MS in Freshwater Fisheries Research from Ohio State University and a BS in Fisheries & Wildlife Management from the University of Tennessee. He can be reached at drew@briarwoodclub.com

Deer in Soy field

Crossbow Hunting for Whitetail Deer: Should you consider it?

Crossbow Deer Hunting

The crossbow… this powerful, seemingly simple, and silent weapon has such a long history and an incredible story of evolution. Today, they are so perfectly designed using the latest technology in light and strong materials, as well as the very intentional consideration for both effective and safe hunting. They are ideal for whitetail deer archery hunting here in Ohio, or where ever you choose to hunt deer. 

Early Crossbow

The origin of the crossbow dates back to the 5th century BC for warfare in Europe and China. However, some loose archaeological evidence suggests the existence of rudimentary crossbow parts as early as the year 650 BC. Regardless, the concept has always been the same, simple concept – a gun-like device with a cocking and trigger mechanism combined with a cord drawn to tension to project an arrow.  With the advent of lightweight but strong materials like fiberglass, carbon fiber, and strong metal compounds, the crossbow became more powerful and accurate. Add in modern advances like very accurate scopes and surgical-sharp broadhead points; the crossbow has now evolved into the fastest-growing segment of hunting weapons.  Make no mistake, today’s popular crossbows look and function nothing like those original weapons, but like everything, we had to start somewhere… 

Let’s start with the basics… and we’ll focus on Ohio since our preserve is located here, Logan County, Ohio to be specific – home to some massive mature whitetail. Archery season – both longbow and crossbow – is September 25, 2021, to February 6, 2022. This long season will provide you ample hunting time.  

A nice early fall buck, taken with a powerful crossbow at Briarwood Sporting Club

As defined by Ohio’s Division of Wildlife, a hunting crossbow must have a draw weight of at least 75 pounds. The bolt (arrow) tip needs a minimum of two cutting edges, which may be exposed or unexposed and a minimum 3/4-inch width. Expandable and mechanical broadheads are legal in Ohio. A crossbow with a draw weight between 75 and 125 pounds is quite adequate for whitetail hunting. The higher that number, the greater distance, and accuracy. Further, you will want to get that bolt traveling at a minimum speed of 250 feet per second for both accuracy and distance. Other crucial factors to consider are ease in cocking, scope quality, and of course the bolts – usually made of aluminum or carbon fiber. The bolt tips, or broadheads, are crucial as well and come in various tip patterns and blade configurations. 

Since there are so many factors to consider, we won’t go into all of those details here. Rather, we strongly recommend you contact a respected hunting weapon retailer who can enlighten you about the key components and bow choices. Their staff are often seasoned hunters who will steer you in the right direction. Do some online research for crossbow basics and features. Further, there are some great blogs and resources out there online that provide some real unbiased information. 

Let’s ask some experts their thoughts about crossbow hunting… Here at Briarwood Sporting Club, we are fortunate to work alongside some experienced and dedicated whitetail hunters and professional hunting guides who specialize in archery hunting; Josh Iman, and Brennon Lump, as well as a college buddy of mine and lifetime whitetail archery hunter, Denny Thomas. Recently they shared their wisdom with me through an interview of each… 

What is the most exciting aspect of hunting deer with a crossbow? 

Iman: The accuracy at a distance is amazing. This comes from years of technology advancements, including very high-quality scopes and the use of tripods or hunting sticks to improve steadiness. The modern crossbow stock is super helpful since it offers support, grip, and steadiness like a rifle.  

Lump: For me, it is simple. Knowing you can accurately shoot about 60 yards further with a crossbow than a normal bow is amazing. It is a great feeling and confidence booster for sure. The speed of the bolt is incredible. 

Thomas: For me, I have to narrow it down to two things, plain and simple. The accuracy of my Ravin crossbow at distances far superior to compound bows, and the thrill of hunting archery style, especially with the advancements over the past 40 years I have hunted whitetail. 

What are the best advantages of using a crossbow for deer vs a compound bow? 

Iman: Well, bottom line, a gun is best – but you have the recoil. But comparing the crossbow to a compound bow means a world of difference. The accuracy and compact size combined with the ability to cock and ready your crossbow before you get in the stand or blind are huge advantages. Consistency of the crossbow’s strength and accuracy is a major factor. 

Lump: Josh nailed it – the process of having your bolt preloaded and cocked/ready when you get into your tree stand is just a massive advantage. So this means your movement in the stand is minimized.  And the technology of the crossbows being made more and more accurate and stronger gives you that confidence to get off a great shot. 

Thomas: That’s a simple question. First, the sighting systems now available are awesome. So accurate and easy to keep sighted in. Second, there is a big advantage of cocking your bow in advance and having it ready to go when that magic moment happens. And lastly, and probably most importantly, the speed of the bolt travel can be as high as 425 FPS (feet per second). A high-end compound bow shoots at about 250 FPS. 

How about disadvantages? 

Iman: If you need to reload to get in a quick second shot, that will take some time and likely create noise and movement enough to startle the deer. Like a loaded gun, you have to be careful of course with a cocked crossbow. 

Lump: Agreed – if you need to get off a second shot, that will be tough. Today’s powerful crossbows usually require a crank-based cam cocking. The time, noise, and movement are tough to overcome in that shot moment. 

Thomas: They can be a bit clunky and not reliable unless you spend the money to get a top-notch model. There still tends to be some negative stigma around the crossbow, like you are cheating when hunting with one. I don’t pay attention to that any longer. I have proven my skills with the bucks I have taken and the single and deadly kill shots. Just have to mention that. Lastly, there are more things to go wrong with today’s modern crossbows – especially when they are under such high tension. But again, spend more the first time after you do your research.  

What are the top features in a crossbow that are most important?

Iman: In priority order – foot-pound per second (FPS) shooting speed, brand name (can’t go wrong with Ravin), weight, size, and the price for the recommended bolts. The bolts can be as much as $60 each. Do your research – talk to other crossbow hunters and hunting gear retailers who sell crossbows in your area. They will know. Tell them your plans and budget – they will direct you. 

Lump: Look for a high FPS rating and look at the weight. It could shoot great but if it weighs a lot, you will be at a big disadvantage. Also, look at the cocking mechanism and scope options. Both are critical as well. You cannot go wrong with a Ravin brand crossbow or even a TenPoint brand.

Modern Crossbow

Thomas: I had to think about this but I can pinpoint it with three things although there are about 5-7 other important features. Powerful and high-resolution sights, the cocking system (and to me the hand crank/ratchet system is the only way to go), and lastly the draw weight – that figure in foot-pounds to flex the bow limbs and create that accurate and strong ready-to-fire power. 

Before and during the hunt, what are your best tips for crossbow hunting? 

Iman: Practice and practice some more. Make sure you practice at different distances and know exactly where that scope is calibrated. Sighting in that crossbow is as critical as any sighting in you will do in hunting. Also, be sure not to jerk the trigger rather slowly squeeze it – it can throw off the aim of the bolt significantly.  

Lump: Be well prepared and practice shooting at distances further than your normal comfort level. Today’s crossbows can shoot up to 130 yards accurately and you may have to take that long shot. Also, when in your blind or stand, have your shooting sticks set up and the crossbow set in place. This minimizes shot moment movement. And before any of this, make a checklist of everything you need to take with you and double-check when you arrive – especially bolts and the cocking crank. 

Thomas: Sight it in and test it before each hunt. You don’t want to miss that desirable buck just because you skipped this easy step, even just a few inches. I made that mistake more than once as a younger hunter. And you most likely can’t get off a second shot due to the time it takes to reload, not to mention the noise. Also, be aware of where those limbs of the crossbow will be at their widest once fired. That can be a costly and potentially dangerous mistake if they hit something like a blind wall, or a tree stand support. Be aware of your surroundings. Pair your rangefinder and scope. Be sure they are calibrated to share the same measurements, or if not, know how they measure to one another in advance of your hunt. And one other thing, crossbows can be front heavy, be sure you have a steady rest like shooting sticks or a solid tree limb or other rest to steady your shot. This is not a must-do, but very, very helpful for sure. 

And finally, we must remember safety – can you share your guidance? 

Iman: Like a gun, always know the status of that safety switch – keep it on until that shot moment or just before when you see your target. Otherwise, keep the tip pointed away from you, including your feet when you are in a hunting position. Keep your hands away from the bow’s action areas. Know the bows travel and backstop area as those can strike anything around you like branches, the tree stand, or the wall/window of a blind. Take great care in removing a cocked bolt and disengaging your crossbow.  

Lump: Never place any part of your hand above the rail – that is where the tension of the cocked crossbow creates a dangerous situation based on the powerful release. And personally, I think it is foolish to climb a tree into a stand with a loaded crossbow, but people do it for some reason.  

Thomas: Treat this like a gun. Like a gun, when your crossbow is cocked and ready to fire, be sure of your safety switch setting and be sure to keep all body parts away from the moving parts, especially the limbs and bolt (arrow) rail. Most people also forget just how sharp the modern hunting broadheads are. They are literal razor blades. Keep them from your hands and legs, and watch your aim when in a stand or blind – people carelessly point them down at their feet, and I have even seen people rest them on their boots, loaded and cocked. 

This Ohio hunter is naturally proud of his crossbow harvest at Briarwood Sporting Club

A big thanks to Josh, Brennon, and Denny for sharing their insights and experiences. Here’s to successful and safe crossbow hunting! 

Briarwood Sporting Club, located in Bellefontaine, Ohio is home to a pristine Whitetail preserve that hosts the perfect natural habitat of food plots, thickets and natural hardwoods. Several years have been invested compiling the industry’s best genetics to provide our clients with the largest whitetails in North America. On our guided whitetail deer hunts, one can expect to see several whitetails in excess of 200″ and have the opportunity to harvest the “Buck of a Lifetime.” Briarwood also offers open range Whitetail and turkey hunts throughout Logan County, Ohio. Our open range properties are meticulously scouted and prepared to allow the hunter the best opportunity to harvest a mature Ohio whitetail. 

For over 40 years, Briarwood has also been a private fishing club boasting 19 species of fish, including trout, in 126 acres of streams and lakes. Rustic but modernized lodges provide comfortable accommodations for anglers and hunters alike. 

Spring Fly Fishing for Largemouth Bass

by Drew McCartt with experienced bass anglers Max Reiner and Steve Moore

Fly Fishing for Largemouth Bass | An Interview with Two Seasoned Fly Anglers

Ahh, the celebrated largemouth bass. This highly sought, aggressive sportfish is surely the most widely recognized fish for anglers of all abilities, especially for the eastern half of the U.S. The species is truly a legendary fishing target – in fact, ask the more seasoned circles of bass fanatics who for years have referred to the big ones as hawgs, pigs, toads, lunkers, studs, bruisers, and of course, wallhangers! Few other species have that killer instinct reputation with bragging rights status for the angler.

At Briarwood Sporting Club, a 440 acre private fishing club and hunting preserve located in Logan County, Ohio, you can find these impressive fish in all of our ponds and lakes, from North Lake to Perch Pond. With the water temperatures rising above 55 degrees right now, largemouth are ready to eat (actually, devour) as we roll into late April! 

Fly Fishing for Largemouth Bass?

For me and many other anglers, there is no more exciting way to land a hawg than with a fly rod. Sure, most people can catch a bass with spinning or casting gear, and certainly live bait. But with a little expert guidance, you can gain the bragging rights of getting that lunker while fly fishing for largemouth bass here at your club – and the excitement only fly gear provides!

For that expert guidance, I turned to two proficient anglers (who also happen to be Briarwood members) who have a wealth of largemouth bass fly fishing experience. They each have more than 35 years of angling for bass and many other species under their belt. Max Reiner and Steve Moore were happy to share their experience, wisdom, and gear tips. 

Max Reiner started fishing at the age of 3 and caught his first fish, a hybrid bluegill, in a small pond. He was hooked immediately. He has fished around the country and beyond for many, many species with equipment he designs and builds. He has also served as a professional fishing guide. His favorite species to pursue by fly are carp and musky.

Steve Moore started fishing when he was 5 and his first fish was a bluegill as well. Since then, he has seized every opportunity to fish with a passion, using his hand-tied flies – many of his own design. He has closely studied the nuances of fish behavior and how seasons, weather, and water quality are so closely connected to fishing success. His favorite species to pursue by fly is the steelhead. 

Interviewing the Fishing Experts

“What is the most unusual place you’ve fished?”

Max: That is an easy answer for me – several unnamed atolls in the Pacific for dogtooth tuna and giant trevally.

Steve: I would love to say something neat and obscure such as fishing native brook trout in Labrador Canada, but I’m actually kind of lame – it is my backyard. There is a pond in my neighborhood that when flooded will frequently back up into my yard.  This creates a perfect situation for largemouth bass to swim up the fake channel looking for all kinds of new food sources, as well as my flies, apparently. 

“I know you guys have some intriguing experience like guiding and making your own fly gear – please share more.”

Max: I started guiding when I was 20 in Alabama, when I should have been in my college accounting classes in Ohio. I did two several-month stints guiding for red fish and speckled trout in the Gulf region of Alabama and Louisiana. Mostly sight fishing and skinny water.

My experience building lures, flies, and rods came out of necessity because at the time a lot of the species I was chasing did not have properly designed tackle available from mainstream manufacturers. It has morphed into building beautiful tools for anglers that take a lot of pride in their gear and are pursuing a specific and hard-to-catch species. I really enjoy making flies and lures, as well as rods. I have been able to share this passion with members I have met at Briarwood. 

Muddler Minnow

Steve: Tying flies is one of my favorite things to do; almost equally as much as the fishing itself. I’m always looking to both innovate with new patterns, as well as improve on old favorites. I particularly enjoy tying up a small box of flies the night before a trip to the water, which will be specific to the conditions and fish I will be targeting. Few things are as satisfying and enjoyable to me as catching a fish on a fly that I tied myself – especially some new and creative ones I designed like my latest I call the “flypala.”

“What is it about the largemouth bass that’s so appealing to you as an angler?”

Max: I would say accessibility, its range in Ohio and the Midwest, combined with the ability of the species to live in lakes, streams, and rivers of varying water quality and temperature. Their range of forage and how they can be caught is equally appealing. And on a personal note, I can’t understand any angler not thoroughly enjoying a largemouth blowing up on a top water fly! On a calm morning at Briarwood, there is nothing more awesome than that water breaking open and a hawg taking your topwater fly.

Steve: The appeal of catching largemouth bass to me is quite extensive. They are an aggressive species that is widely available geographically. You can fish for largemouth bass in nearly any pond, lake, or ditch as well as in the rivers.  And this certainly is true at the Briarwood Sporting Club. This makes it a familiar fish that you can become quite adept and skilled at catching.  There is also a very versatile set of tactics to use, particularly topwater, which can keep the fishing always fresh and fun. The visual display of a popper getting taken down by a bass is something to be seen.  

Double Barreled Bass Popper

Largemouth bass are also appealing in that they are a great combination of hard enough fight, while still being low maintenance. By this, I mean that you don’t need to bring special tools for the trip such as a big net, long pliers, or a hook cutter like you might need with say pike or muskie. They are also not as delicate as trout in that they are not as sensitive to playing hard on the line for too long, requiring more highly oxygenated water, or being better off caught in a specific set of water temperatures. This does not mean to handle bass carelessly or with less respect, however, they are hardy enough to both survive about anywhere and be fished for with ease.  

“Why is it special for you to catch largemouth on a fly rod? What’s different about it? 

Max: A fly rod is an extremely effective tool for pursuing largemouth bass. Even anglers who mostly fish conventional tackle are realizing the effectiveness of a fly rod, which is drawing people into the sport of fly fishing who otherwise would have no interest in it. A fly’s ability to suspend, breathe, and pulsate in a natural manner is extremely lifelike and enticing to any predators including bass. And there are times when fish are in a negative mood and not truly feeding where a fly works better in getting fish to strike versus conventional methods.

My best memory of fly fishing is not actually a fly fishing memory, but a memory of a very well-respected long time bass angler taking me when I was in 6th grade to fish for bass on Lake Okeechobee. The fishing was good, but the experience left an indelible mark on the techniques and the drive to catch true trophy sized fish. It drove me from a young angler pursuing any fish to an angler who wanted to catch trophy class fish.   

Steve: The whole experience of fly fishing for largemouth bass is just more fun in general than fishing with conventional gear. I enjoy the selection of the fly, deciding how I want to present it, and what actions I can manifest to entice a strike. One of the things that I hear is that conventional lures will out-fish flies. However, I would have to disagree. With the right fly, the movement and undulation of the materials in the water in many ways can be as appealing or more so than anything that can be presented with conventional gear, if it is fished properly. Many of the conventional lures that work can translate to the fly rod. You can tie and fish flies that mimic things like wacky rigged worms. 

Also, you can certainly jig for bass, and modern streamers provide a more realistic baitfish swim action than anything I have seen in a store or online. I’ve even begun tying fly versions of conventional lures such as the “flypala” which has worked just as well as any Rapala that I used to throw. The gap between the two styles is razor thin with modern materials, so to me what it comes down to is the enjoyment of the fly casting stroke along with the introduction of countless options of how to control the fly in the water. Mixing up full sink lines, sink tips, or floating lines along with the presentation allows limitless choices of how I want to fly fish for bass on any particular day.

For me the most memorable experience was just a particular day last spring when all possible factors seemed to work in my favor. The temperature was nice, it was a slightly overcast day, and the fish were in pre-spawn mode and almost overly aggressive. I apparently had just the fly they were looking for (a chartreuse feather game changer). Within just a 90-minute window of fishing a local lake near my home, I caught 23 bass, some of which were quite sizeable. Seemingly every single cast produced another take. It reinforced in me why this species can be so fun – and certainly on a fly rod. I hardly moved, and yet they just kept eating my fly over and over again. Trout would have spooked and likely moved on after the first fish or two. I would not have had access to that kind of fishing with other species in most cases. I am sure the experience would have been the same at Briarwood that day…perhaps better! 

Springtime Fly Fishing for Largemouth Bass

“When will the bass start hitting – conditions, water temp, etc.?”

Max: We regularly catch bass through the ice in water as cool as 38 degrees using active methods like jigging. But for spring fishing, they will start hitting with the water temperature at 50 degrees like it is in most places here in and around Ohio. Catching bass is all about finding where the fish will be in the current conditions. For spring, find places where water is flowing into a larger body – the bass like the warmer water entering the system. At Briarwood specifically, the water inlets at the North Lake and Pine Lake will hold many fish looking for forage coming into the lakes. With the water hitting 55 degrees now, they are starting their pre-spawn movement to shallower spawning grounds.

Steve: Bass are starting to hit more frequently now in most places in Ohio and surrounding states. They are actually fishable year round; however, the bite picks up in March–May as the spawn season commences each spring. We are entering one of the most productive time periods for catching this species in the entire year.  

When the water temperature hits the 50 to 55 degree range, as they are now, the bass bite will pick up as they enter pre-spawn mode. The fish begin to actively forage to get ready for the spawn period. Fishing won’t be lights out at these temps just yet, but it’s a lot better than it was the last few months.  

Once the water hits the 55 to 68 degree range, the spawn will kick off and the bite is about as good as it gets all year. The bass will be aggressive – females eat for spawning purposes and the males eat to defend the nests. This temperature zone will produce some of the most aggressive hard takes that you can get, even while fly fishing for largemouth bass. We’ll likely see this phase kick off here by mid-April in Ohio.

“What rod weight, lines, and leader size should anglers use while fly fishing for largemouth bass?” 

Max: Anything from a 6- to an 8-weight. The biggest leap of technology in this field in my opinion is the array of fly lines that can help you cast long distances accurately, and help you turn over even the most wind resistant flies with ease. Lines such as the Rio Bass Line, Rio Big Nasty Fly Line, Scientific Anglers Bass Bug, and Jungle Titan offer a varied amount of floating, intermediate, and sinking lines to cover all fishing conditions. As for leaders, the biggest mistake I see trout anglers fishing for bass make is leader length. A 9-foot trout tapered leader is inefficient at turning over a large, wind-resistant or heavy bass fly. A simple 6-foot leader with a 60-lb butt section going down to a 15 to 20-lb fluorocarbon tippet will do the job.

Steve: Rod weight is by preference; however, I would not go less than a 5-weight. For largemouth bass, I generally use a 7-weight myself as it presents the most utility. It really comes down to the flies you plan to present. If you’re throwing nymphs or small jigs, the 5-weight will be just fine. For long streamers or heavier flies with weighted dumbbell eyes, you are going to likely want to increase the rod weight. I use the 7-weight because it allows me to do just about anything, and I never feel limited in my fly box.

With regard to leader size, the bass are fortunately not “leader shy” like many other species including trout. I generally use a 5- to 7-foot leader and have adequate test rating to deal with pulling strong fish out of heavy structure if necessary. I use 15 to 20-lb mono, but will go stronger when conditions necessitate it. When fishing streamers, in particular, I’m less focused on things such as the taper of the leader, and often just tie on a single 5-foot piece of 20-lb mono.  

“What about your preferred bass flies…”

Max: As for surface flies while fly fishing for largemouth bass, I choose double barrel poppers, Sneaky Petes, and Dahlburg Divers –good for the “witching hour”.

My choices for sub-surface bass flies include Clouser minnows and Chockletts game changer – these are efficient bait fish patterns for fishing in open water over suspended structure.

Patterns such as Ehlers grim reaper, foam super worm, and Gulley worm are virtually weightless and can be fished on the bottom and through heavy structure with little or no chance of snagging.

Chockletts Game Changer

I prefer darker colors in murky water or colors with lots of flash. In clear water, I use more natural colors and subdued patterns. At night or dusk, you can never go wrong with black.

Steve: For pre-spawn bass, I like to use flies that are going to be able to stay closer to, if not on, the bottom. My favorites are Clousers, crayfish imitations, wooly buggers, leach patterns (or other flies that use rabbit hair), and jig versions of squirmy wormies. Bass aren’t too color picky but black, brown, orange, and chartreuse have always worked well for me. I tie most of these flies in the size 2 to size 8 hook range, so pretty large. There is no need to go any smaller in my opinion.

Once the water transitions into spawning temps, I will continue to throw the previously mentioned patterns, but also throw larger streamers with more swim action. Examples include EP baitfish, Game Changers, muddler minnows, as well as some topwater flies like gurglers, double barrelled poppers, and frog imitations. I like to use bright colors on bright days, and darker colors on darker days or at night. Black, specifically, is my go-to when fly fishing for largemouth bass at night as it presents the best silhouette for the fish to see.  Streamer sizes vary, but predator hooks ranging from 3/0 to size 4 are pretty standard in my box.  

“How do you fish those flies?”

Max: When the water is colder, as in the spring, fish the heavy hook-up style flies on the bottom with short slow hops as the fish are rather lethargic and might follow the fly for some time before eating. Strip line with your hand at varying speeds trying to mimic an irregular or injured bait. As the water warms, speed of presentations need to increase so the fish has less time to commit to eating. Since the fish are more active in warmer water, this technique is more successful. When the water temperature goes above 70 degrees, it could be effective to slow the presentation back down.

Steve: I will use a floating line for most of the bottom bouncing flies, so I create a twitchy jig or lift action that seems to get their attention and produce reactionary strikes. If I’m going to be fishing any type of larger streamer, I will likely use a sink tip line to keep the fly down in the water column.  

Clouser Minnow

In the colder temperatures, slow retrieves work best. I’ll give the fly a few seconds to fall before beginning the retrieve, and actually get a good amount of action just on the initial fall if I’m working the right area. Once the fly is in place, a figure eight style retrieve while imparting some action in the fly with the rod tip seems to work well.  

In warmer water temperatures, I can get away with more active stripping. Quicker stripping has the tendency to elicit aggressive, defensive strikes, particularly in shallow water as the male bass interpret the fly as a threat to the nest.  

As we enter the pre-spawn/spawn period, bass will start coming into the shallower parts of the water. The males will generally be in quite shallow, generally right near the bank. The females will hang back slightly, usually just off of any drop off. The perfect recipe to me is casting into relatively shallow water along a drop off near some type of structure or cover (e.g., cattails, lily pads, submerged branches). These areas congregate bass because it provides all of their basic needs – a virtual food conveyor belt of baitfish and insects that hang out there, shelter from predators and the sun, warmer water, and a place to spawn.  

“Anything else you think fly anglers should know to be most successful when fly fishing for largemouth bass?”

Max: One of the most common mistakes I see with anglers converting from trout fishing to fishing for other predator species is the way the angler strikes the fish. The strike needs to come from the stripping hand with the rod held low and to the side and not straight up.  A trout style set will pull the fly out a fish’s mouth the majority of the time. Also, when fishing a popper or jigging style presentation, it is important for the angler to give the fish ample time before striking. Count one thousand one, one thousand two after feeling the fish’s initial take. This gives the fish a chance to get a better grip on the prey item, increasing the angler’s hooking percentage.

Steve: This time of year and through the summer, the best bass fishing times are 6:00 to 9:00 AM and 6:00 to 9:00 PM. Bass can be a little sun shy and don’t like to be particularly active in the heat of the day. Fishing dawn and dusk is productive as this is when they are most actively foraging for food in my experience. Fly fishing for largemouth bass in the dark after sunset can also be fun. Top water flies like mice patterns, frogs, and poppers, can produce some really, really fun takes that may be hard to see but sound awfully cool when everything else is quiet. 

A big thanks to Max and Steve once again for sharing their insight and experience with us all. 

For over 40 years Briarwood Sporting Club, located in Bellefontaine, Ohio, has been a “slice of wilderness” in west central Ohio, delivering a relaxed atmosphere of soothing freshwater amid breathtaking rolling hills, meadows, and timber. Four streams are home to some very impressive “wall ready” trout – including rainbows, brown, brook, golden, blue and calico. While Briarwood offers superb fly fishing for trout, twelve lakes and ponds offer lunker bass, slab panfish, and other finned favorites like musky, hybrid striped bass, northern pike, walleye, and perch.

As a majestic and vast landscape, Briarwood is also one of America’s finest whitetail hunting destinations offering mature deer on expertly managed lands. Gorgeous hardwoods, pines, and meadows present a habitat that has plentiful food plots and wildlife openings.  

First-class lodging, 5-star service, a welcoming loafing lodge, and incredible and diverse wildlife viewing complete the perfect outdoor escape to create an unforgettable experience. 

Stringing Up: Top Tips for Early Season Bow Hunting

Top 5 Early Season Bow Hunting Tips

Get a jump on the whitetail season and plan to hunt during the opener – no need to wait for the rut when some simple planning can get you that Ohio trophy whitetail in the early season. Don’t simply count on things to fall into place – mother nature can be a fierce foe, and combined with lack of preparation, losing sight of the details, and faulty gear, the odds are stacked against you.

Our team here at Briarwood Sporting Club, a premiere Ohio deer outfitter, has compiled these 5 top tips for early season bow hunting that are critical to maximizing success.

Carefully choose and map your hunting site.

Without a doubt, where you plan to hunt is the most important factor assuming you have done your preparation otherwise. Look for well-used deer trails and mineral sites, food and water sources, and note the bedding to feeding routes. Look for travel patterns and plan for both a site entrance and exit strategy to minimize spooking deer. And you must remember prevailing wind patterns as well as tree cover around your stand to minimize your presence. Lastly, know your orientation of north, south, east and west so you can check wind direction prior to entering the field.

Plan your stand location with all factors carefully considered – especially sight lines, wind and cover.

Use a game cam, or multiple cams.

Pictures don’t lie. Game cams will not only tell you where your trophy animals are, but can tell you time, direction and movement patterns. Minimize site disturbances by only checking cams and changing SD cards when necessary. When possible, use cameras which send images to your phone or computer.

A perfectly positioned game cam can make the difference between hunting and harvesting  

Don’t assume your equipment is hunt ready and safe.

Nothing could be worse than getting to your hunting site and learning something is wrong, unsafe, or missing relative to your gear. Hopefully by now you have checked your bow, broadheads, quiver and sight for optimal function. Check your tree stand, harness and ratchet straps for function, safety, and stability. Camo gear still fit? Scent masker plentiful and fresh? Field dressing kit ready? And don’t count on your memory – make a list and check it three times before each hunt.

Shoot, practice, shoot and practice some more.

Nothing can replace shooting time with your bow. Nothing. Make a habit out of practice and try to master the long shots of 10-20 yards further than what you think you may have to make for that trophy shot. Also, practice for that ‘quick aim and shoot’ since the chance for the perfectly still and positioned deer are not likely, or not likely for more than a couple seconds. Practice shooting situations, angles and stances now and it can pay off later.

Use a rangefinder and map your shot distances.

A rangefinder replaces speculation and even the best estimating skill. After all, the cost is well justified when you consider your investment of time and money to this point. Use it at your site pre-hunt and map out landscape markers for various distances. Make a written note of what those markers and distances are rather than counting on memory at the critical shot moment.

Come hunt with us at Briarwood for Ohio trophy whitetails. We will make your bow or gun hunting experience one of a lifetime and reduce a great deal of the planning, safety concerns, and guesswork!  Unique experiences coupled with the perfect natural habitat create the ideal setting for whitetail deer hunting. Many years have been invested in compiling the best whitetail genetics to provide our clients with the largest whitetail in North America. On our guided hunts, one can expect to see several bucks in excess of 200” and have the opportunity to harvest the “Buck of a Lifetime”. Visit https://www.briarwoodclub.com/or contact drew@briarwoodclub.com for complete details and a special offer.

Think Like A Bass

Early Season Bass Fishing 

April 2020 

Just the facts please: Days are longer. Trees are budding and blooming. Birds are singing. Bass are on the move. Those are facts. Your mission? To find bass and catch them. 

Yes, spring has arrived and water temperatures, welcomed sunshine, and spring rains are causing the fish to move from their winter deep-water homes to secondary points, and ultimately spawning grounds. So, let’s help you read that favorite lake of yours so you can target the hot spots for casting your favorite baits and lures.  

In this post I am going to focus solely on finding the bass and helping us all understand why we will find them in certain locations during this time of the yearLet’s hit the water and think like a bass… 

Shore channel

Dropoffs forming a nice channel

From the depths 

Largemouth, Smallmouth and Stripers have been laying low in the depths during the winter. Not really feeding but storing reserves and waiting for spring like us. You can find them on the drop offs and deep banks – you know, the transition zones. But with the water temperatures now around 50 degrees and rising, they are on the move. You can certainly fish these spots for bass which are starting to feed and have some success, but the big catch is yet to come. Fish those points where the shoreline descends sharply right into the waterline. Read the topography of the surrounding area and look for color changes in the water to help indicate depth in the lake. But as days warm, focus on the hot spots. 


10.75 lb Largemouth from last week

Moving on  

Warm days, punctuated by the power from sun filled skies and warm breezes, are causing the water to reach critical spawning range of 55-65 degrees. Lunkers are leaving those deep winter homes and starting to look for forage; bait fish, crayfish, and frogs. They are on the moveforaging and slowly traveling from point to point, seeking critical structure. They have two priorities now – look for food and begin their move to the foliage shallows, coves, and flats for spawning.  

Stopping for a bite 

As bass are moving toward spawning grounds, they are beginning to actively feed – bulking up for the spawn. And like most predators, they like both protection and ambush cover afforded them by structure – both artificial, like docks and additive features including brushpallet piles, and stake beds, and natural lake features – which we will cover next. Bass instinctively, and through learned behavior, know that most of these structures are holding the prey they are seeking, especially areas that lie between the surface and up to about six feet deep. These key features will be your casting target zones.

Inlet flow

Fast-moving inlet flow

Now your job is to read the lake; recognize and understand its features. And, you have to think like a predator who is driven to survive and reproduce. What does the lake have to offer a bass in this eat and reproduce mentality? The easy structures to find are the docks and if you know them, the locations of submerged structure or visible rock piles. But moving water coming from streams, inlet pipes and through channels can be excellent bass habitat. Flowing water attracts bass for two reasons – more oxygen and stirred up prey for bass (and equally important, more food for the bass prey!) At Briarwood, our lakes are fed by natural springs connected to each other via spillways and drain pipe. Areas close to these inlets create great fishing opportunities when the flow rate is high. But beyond this, look for the obvious and not so obvious points. These are known as secondary structures which are attractive to bass. Look for natural shoreline points, subtle coves, deeper cattail beds, shoreline dropoffs and submerged vegetation beds, and, even smaller rock structures. Read the shore and surrounding land for geologic and topographic changes that might be impacting the adjacent lake areas. Further, look for changes in water color, and even wave patterns or naturally, the evidence of bait fish. Any changes to the lakebed and shoreline can be excellent stopping and holding points for bass as they are on the move. This is especially true if they are located near shallow areas (2-3 feet deep) where spawning beds have been seen in prior years. Also note that heavy rains or storms may keep bass on these holding spots for even longer periods as water quality can confuse their natural movement patterns. 

Ask us! 

From mid-April to mid-May, bass fishing at Briarwood is excellentWhen fishing one of our many lakes, ponds and streams, don’t hesitate to ask a Briarwood team member for our insight about structure and attractive lake features on any of our lakes or streams. We don’t keep that information secret!  


Tight lines my friends ~ Drew 

For over 40 years Briarwood Sporting Club has been a “slice of wilderness” in central Ohio, delivering a relaxed atmosphere of soothing freshwater amid breathtaking rolling hills, meadows, and timber. Four streams are home to some very impressive “wall ready” trout – including rainbows, brown, brook, golden, blue and calico. 
As a majestic and vast landscape, Briarwood abounds with plentiful Ohio trophy whitetails, lunker bass, slab panfish, and other finned favorites. Gorgeous hardwoods, pines, and meadows present a habitat that has plentiful food plots and wildlife openings.  
First-class lodging, 5-star service, a welcoming loafing lodge, and incredible and diverse wildlife viewing complete the perfect outdoor escape to create an unforgettable experience. 

To discover more visit www.briarwoodclub.com, or email Drew at drew@briarwoodclub.com 

Drew McCartt is an avid freshwater fisherman for over 50 years and a member at Briarwood for more than five. Here he serves as Director of Sporting Services.  Briarwood Sporting Club is a private fishing club located in Bellefontaine, Ohio. 

trout-fishing-fly-lures-briarwood feature

Chompin’ at the Bit

Early Spring Trout Fly Fishing

Spring is in the air… longer and warmer days are here. And that means only one thing – the trout are getting more active and we have all been chomping at the bit to get out. Especially with this pandemic keeping us inside. And without a doubt, fly fishing for trout can be the perfect way to get away from it all – especially since you are outdoors and generally away from others – naturally social distancing. And please do be safe and follow the appropriate distancing and hygiene guidelines we all know about. Here in Ohio, water temps are creeping up, and aside from heavy spring downpours, water is clearing up. So, let’s get after those finned favorites. Join us at Briarwood Sporting Club, an Ohio trout fishing club, to discover our little slice of fishing heaven at this wonderful time of year. And to start you out, here are my favorite early Spring tips for trout… 

The fish are chillin

The water temperatures vary right now with some cooler nights and warmer days – and even different parts of the streams vary. As the water begins to consistently and slowly rise above 50F, we know the trout will be feeding. Regardless, for now try fishing deeper, and a bit more slowly until those temps reach above 50 consistently when we know we will see fish feeding closer to the surface. Try a strike indicator if you want to keep it off the bottom. At Briarwood Sporting Club right now, we are seeing water temps in the upper 40s to mid 50s in streams, lakes and ponds.

trout-fishing-fly-lures-briarwood clouser-minnow

Clouser Minnow

Go big with flash

With slower moving fish and a murky, colder home, throw something bigger and flashier. Give it a try! Start using different streamers, like bright clouser minnows, larger chartreuse buggers with some tinsel, and simply favorite flies outside your normal color range are worth a cast. If you usually throw something with a size 12 or 14 hook, go for size 10. Bottomline, get their attention. Last April, a buddy and I tried size 8 articulated streamers at Briarwood Sporting Club and we both caught very large Rainbows with just a few casts, and then a few Goldens. And I don’t know if it was the streamer, but boy did they fight!

trout-fishing-fly-lures-briarwood chartreuse-bugger

Wooly Bugger

Make it a double

If you don’t normally use a dropper, now is the perfect time. Two is better than one, especially if you want to get their attention. As a refresher, a dropper is a 18-24” piece of tippet tied off the shank of your first fly hook – in this case, try a wooly bugger, streamer, zonker, or a large leech beadhead. On the end of the tippet you tie a smaller fly – I like to try a WD-40, or of course a perfect fly for now, a black zebra midge. (The latter is a fly box must have – sizes 14-20.) Fish this combo slow and deep at first. With double the trouble, you can get their attention.

trout-fishing-fly-lures-briarwood black-zebra-midge

Black Zebra Midge

Fish outside the box

This is the hardest concept for me, and I would imagine you as well. Simply trying something different. Does it seem like you are always using the same flies and fishing in the same spots? Don’t get me wrong, you have your favorites for a reason. But trying new flies and new parts of the favorite stream has rewarded me, especially at slower times.

trout-fishing-fly-lures-briarwood WD-40


And now some of those flies, like the WD-40, have become a favorite spring fly. Dig through your flybox and tie on something you bought for a reason some point in the past, you know, the one with cobwebs dangling?! Now is a great time to try something different and new for you. Also, try those areas which appear deeperthose out of the way and tougher to reach, or perhaps an area where our finned friends can lie in ambush.  


Don’t fish often bite when you are looking elsewhere, chatting with a buddy, texting a friend a pic of the last whopper, simply daydreaming, or sometimes when you are just slowly retrieving that fly from the water? Sometimes it pays to simply wait a bit especially with these conditions. Let the fish find your offering this time! 



Tight lines my friends ~ Drew 


Drew McCartt, a fly angler for nearly 30 years and a member at Briarwood for more than five serves as Director of Sporting Services at the private fishing club located in Bellefontaine, Ohio. 

To discover more about Briarwood Sporting Club visit our website, www.briarwoodclub.com,  or email  Drew at drew@briarwoodclub.com 

For over 40 years Briarwood Sporting Club has been a “slice of wilderness” in central Ohio, delivering a relaxed atmosphere of soothing freshwater amid breathtaking rolling hills, meadows, and timber. Four streams are home to some very impressive “wall ready” trout – including rainbows, brown, brook, golden, blue and calico. 
As a majestic and vast landscape, Briarwood abounds with plentiful Ohio trophy whitetails, lunker bass, slab panfish, and other finned favorites. Gorgeous hardwoods, pines, and meadows present a habitat that has plentiful food plots and wildlife openings.  
First-class lodging, 5-star service and food, a welcoming loafing lodge, and incredible and diverse wildlife viewing complete the perfect outdoor escape to create an unforgettable experience. 

EHD Outbreak Forcing Midwest Outfitters to Cancel Hunts this Season

2019 Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease (EHD) Outbreak: Where to Hunt to Avoid EHD Impacts this Fall


If you would have talked to most deer hunters in the Midwest 15 years ago, they would have looked at you cross-eyed if you asked if they had heard of Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease – or more commonly called EHD. In the 2000s, the disease seemed to be a rare occurrence in the region. Though more common in the southern US, the term EHD was not something that many deer hunters would have been familiar with. Fast forward to the last 10 years and watch a Midwest deer hunter’s face when you mention the disease. Since a major outbreak in 2012, it seems that the Midwest deer hunting meccas have been hammered by the high-frequency fatal disease. Though not “always” fatal like some other diseases, EHD tends to hit fast and hard. Often leaving specific farms in areas devasted and others untouched.

Deer found on Indiana Farm from suspected 2019 EHD Outbreak.

Seemingly a more occurring event than not, 2019 is shaping up to be no different. With deer herds being hammered by the disease from Missouri to Ohio staring in late June, some of the country’s prime deer herds are left in shambles. The Mississippi River Valley for Iowa, Missouri, and Illinois has been blasted after a severe flood event left behind standing water drying to mud flats – the prime breeding ground for the Culicoides midge, a known carrier of Epizootic Hemorrhagic Disease.

From the fertile river valleys to the heart of Indiana and Kentucky, hunters are finding their targets on the ground long before the season has even opened – and we aren’t out of the woods quite yet. Though we have definitely reached the peak, unseasonably dry and warm conditions will drive whitetails to congregate at waterholes and flats where the midges feast, infecting more and more whitetails each day.

For many hunters, the once “Christmas Eve” like feeling has turned to complete sickness. A trip that they may look forward to each year to hunt Midwest giants is now in jeopardy of even happening, as many outfitters may be forced to cancel hunts this year in order to preserve the remaining herd.

Reports from across the Midwest that some outfitters in Missouri, Iowa, Illinois, western Kentucky and Indiana may be forced to cancel their bookings for the 2019 season with the impacts of EHD preventing the harvest of more deer without destroying their local herd – and ultimately their business.

Fortunately, one of the Midwest powerhouse whitetail states, Ohio, seems to be spared or at least reporting significantly less EHD cases. This is great news for the state’s whitetail hunters for 2019 as great ag growing conditions has produced some absolute monsters.

Healthy buck on Briarwood Sporting Club’s Property shedding velvet.

On the Briarwood Sporting Club properties totaling more than 3,000 acres, the bucks have been plentiful and big this year. Briarwood Sporting Club owner and operator Chris Daniels states, “We have seen tremendous antler growth this summer, with several properties holding mature bucks, I can only see it getting better the closer we get to the season.”

To date, Briarwood Sporting Club is happy to report that the deer herd is in great health with not a single EHD deer discovered on any of the properties. “We have cellular trail cameras running on all of the properties, and the overall condition of the herd appears to be in excellent condition.” Daniels adds. “Hopefully this is a sign that our intense habitat, food plot, and feeding regime have been successful in order to ensure our hunters are chasing the best bucks this area of Ohio can produce.”

In an area known for producing multiple Boone and Crockett caliber whitetails, Briarwood Sporting Club is looking forward to an amazing 2019 season for its hunters.

Reach out today for any available spots for 2019 and ask about the “EHD Cancellation” promotion for those who had to cancel a booked hunt where EHD has hit hard, Briarwood Sporting Club will look to accommodate those hunters to ensure the season is still one to remember.

Joining a Private Fishing Club

Why Join a Private Fishing Club?

Without a doubt, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to find productive fishing waters. Overcrowded, frustrating waters that result in a poor fishing experience. Many of the most dedicated anglers and fly fishermen are turning to private fishing clubs to find their peace of mind on the water or sense of community and it is easy to see why.

Catching Bigger & Better Fish

It is common knowledge that the best fishing in the state of Ohio and even in the United States comes from private fishing clubs. The membership at private fishing clubs such as Briarwood Sporting Club is not only dedicated to providing an amazing fishing experience but also is dedicated to raising and producing the best fish possible.

Often times public water is riddled with small stunted trout, bass, panfish— you name it. Other times the waters the hold trophy fish are a grind where finding just one fish feels like a vague possibility. Private fishing clubs focus on what is at the heart of every angler—casting into beautiful waters that hold both quantity and quality. Where the very next cast could be a fish of a lifetime, but where it doesn’t take a lifetime to get there.

Joining a private fishing club allows an angler to take a step back to the days where untapped resources and proper management combined to make a world-class fishing experience. Briarwood Sporting Club also gives anglers an incredible experience to catch fish that they otherwise would have never caught. Rare and elusive species of trout or unique warm water species like tiger muskie roam pristine private waters only available to members.

Connect With the Love of the Sport

The very thing that sparked a love for the sport of fishing or fly-fishing for most anglers is a special place with that special water. Fishing is not just about catching but the experience and environment that allows one to connect.

Joining a private fishing club, such as the Briarwood Fishing Club, gives access to calm and serene waters with rising fish that are eager to feed but also provide a challenge. Connecting with that initial love of the sport in a peaceful and exciting place is one of the best benefits of gaining access to private waters by being a member of a fishing club.

Joining a Community

When an angler joins a private fishing club they are not only gaining access to incredible waters and better fishing but they are also gaining a community. In the digital age that appears to be so connected, anglers have never been so disconnected.

By being a member of a private fishing club you are put into a community with others that share the same passion for fishing and are serious about their love for the sport. This connection and sense of community is something that goes hand and hand with a membership to a private fishing club like Briarwood.

Anglers of all experience are welcomed and feel at home with the community of a private fishing club from the brand new angler to the most experienced of anglers. Perhaps it is a casual chat over what flies the trout are biting on or meeting a fellow angler in the club that turns into a lifelong friendship, the bond that is created by being a member of the same fishing club is just something that cant be replaced.

The chance to learn a new fly fishing technique, or share your own knowledge with an angler on the water is the essence of what makes a community that members are proud to be a part of.

A Tailored Fishing Experience

As it was mentioned, there exists a spectrum of anglers of all experience out there. From a kid casting for the very first time to the most dedicated fly fisherman with a lifetime of experience, there are different experience levels with different fishing needs.

Being a member of a private fishing club allows access to different waters is tailored to each kind of angler. Briarwood Sporting Club has waters that are specifically designed for introducing children to the sport of fishing. What better way to give a lifelong passion to the next generation than to have them fish fun, exciting and productive waters for their first fish.

Private fishing clubs like Briarwood also have hundreds of acres of lakes and streams for more experienced anglers to explore and catch a trophy trout or a challenging tiger muskie. The variety, quality, and quantity of fish is not something that can be rivaled elsewhere and especially not on public lands. New species to chase and bigger fish to catch is always just around the corner with the opportunity to develop new fishing passions to chase.

Private fishing clubs manage their own waters and can designate special waters for a specific type of fishing. Briarwood Sporting Club, for example, has fly fishing only streams as well as catch and release.

For other fishermen, bringing home a fresh fish dinner for the family is what is most important, and private fishing clubs can manage waters better than most public waters to catch and keep. Private fishing clubs also have amenities like clubhouses and fish cleaning services to allow the angler more time to focus on what’s important—fishing and the experience.

Anglers can choose to meet up with other like-minded members for a fun day fishing with friends or choose to explore and roam more secluded waters within the private fishing club to find solitude and peace of mind. The ability to choose and tailor your fishing experience is part of what makes private fishing clubs like Briarwood so desirable.

The benefits of joining a private fishing club such as Briarwood Sporting Club, are quite literally as vast as the waters and the fishing experience. From the fishing to the community or solitude, tailored experience and incredible memories are why private fishing clubs are unmatched.

Ohio’s World-Class Trout & Fly Fishing Club

Ohio’s Best Fly Fishing and Trout Club

Fly fishing for trout and their beautiful colors is a life-long passion that hooks more than just a few anglers. Ohio may not be the first state that comes to mind for trout fishing. However, unbeknownst to many, the trout fishing it harbors is world-class and the opportunity for the best fly fishing and trout fishing experience is right here in the Buckeye State.

Ohio’s Premier Trout Club

It is a known secret in the area that the best fly fishing and trout fishing in Ohio is located at Briarwood Sporting Club in Bellefontaine, Ohio just outside of Columbus.

It is also no secret, that to a trout angler, there is just not a replacement for the days spent casting a fly to an unsuspecting trout at an incredible location. The kind of days where everything is as it should be with beautiful waters and even more beautiful fish.

Briarwood Sporting Club has long since provided these kinds of days on the water to fly fishermen and trout fishermen alike with the location and trophy trout to be Ohio’s top fly fishing club.

The Diversity of Fish & Rare Trout

The diversity of public water trout in Ohio is often limited by the resources available. However, private fly fishing and fishing clubs, such as Briarwood, are not constrained by these limitations and species diversity is one of the many great assets of belonging to a private fishing club.

Briarwood Sporting Club is the home to many species of trout which includes the popular Rainbow, Brown, and Brook Trout. Briarwood Sporting Club also features unique and exotic variations of Rainbow Trout: the Golden Rainbow Trout, Calico Trout, and the Blue Rainbow Trout. These trout are seldom found elsewhere and their rarity makes them a prized catch that Briarwood Sporting Club offers.

Quality of Fish & Trophy Trout Potential

An incredible day of trout fishing means different things to different fly fishermen and trout fishermen alike. Whether that perfect day trout fishing includes seclusion, fishing alongside family, beautiful weather, or just wetting a line, there is one thing universal: catching not only a trout but a big trout.

Briarwood Sporting Club offers not only a beautiful place to catch and fish for trout but also one of the best opportunities in Ohio to catch a trophy trout. Often time’s public waters cannot keep up with angling demand and many trout that are stocked lack the potential to grow to large sizes.

At Briarwood Sporting Club, we stock our waters with trout ranging from 1lb to 12lb’s plus.  With a forage base that we’ve established and also the one in which nature provides, we are able to create a habitat that nourishes and sustains our fishery. Thus providing an environment that enables our guests to consistently catch large, healthy trout.

Also, while not required, many fly anglers at Briarwood choose to practice catch & release fishing. Catching and releasing a fish provides that much more opportunity for growth and for the next angler fly fishing to catch the fish of a lifetime.

Peaceful Streams, Spacious Water & Family Fishing Areas

The best fly fishing and trout fishing in Ohio starts not just at the fish, but at the location and with the angler. Briarwood Sporting Club has not only the picturesque trout fishing waters but also an environment that elicits a peaceful yet exciting fishing experience for anglers.

The excitement comes from knowing the very next cast could be an exceptionally beautiful or trophy-sized trout and the peacefulness comes from the spacious location to focus on just that. Briarwood Sporting Club features 4 different trout streams that are spring fed and not lacking in space or beauty.

For the fly fishermen, there are specially designated trout streams dedicated to fly fishing only. The art of fly casting paired with streams that team with fly hatches leads to the best dry fly fishing in Ohio.

The exceptional opportunity for world-class trout fishing also exists for families and children, at Briarwood Sporting Club. Special areas were made specifically to help introduce the next generation to the sport of fishing. In these special areas both fly fishing and traditional spin fishing is allowed to ensure children are started off with an exceptional day fishing to lead into a lifelong passion of trout fishing.

Other Unique Fishing Opportunities

While Briarwood Sporting Club is known for the best trout fishing and fly fishing in Ohio, it is important to not overlook the fact that there also exist some other unique fishing opportunities at Briarwood.

As with the diversity in trout species, there too is a great diversity of other fish species. Both smallmouth and largemouth bass, stripers, multiple panfish species, and even tiger muskie are in Briarwood Sporting Club’s 16 lakes and 4 streams.

Even the most passionate trout fisherman may find the opportunity to catch a diversity of species too much to resist. Or the fly fisherman may want to try their luck casting a streamer to the elusive tiger muskie. A species that is rare and sought after in Ohio.

The Experience

It is easy to focus on the world-class trout fishing and the beautiful waters, but it is the cumulation of the experience as a whole that makes Briarwood Sporting Club the top trout fishing club.

Just off the water is a comfortable place to relax after fly fishing at Loafing Lodge. With a kitchenette, bathroom and lounge area, as well as a porch that overlooks the stream, the Loafing Lodge does more than just recharge the trout fisherman. It gives that frame of mind to reflect on the day’s fishing or provide a place to rest before heading back out to catch more beautiful trout.

The Best Trout & Fly Fishing Club in Ohio

Briarwood Sporting Club is more than just the top fly fishing club in Ohio. It is a place where an angler can immerse themselves in the art and sport of fly fishing in a location that focuses on the experience of what it means to be a fly fisherman.

The beauty and peacefulness of the waters, the diversity of species, and of course, the trophy trout are all a part of what makes Briarwood Sporting Club the best fishing in the state of Ohio. The days spent on the water here are not easily forgotten.

Late Winter Fishing Opportunites in Ohio

Ohio’s Best Late Winter Fishing Opportunities

Mention winter fishing in Ohio and the first thought that pops into most angler’s head is ice fishing. Ohio, as a Midwest state, boasts some of the most brutal and long winters in the region. Couple that with many small ponds, lakes and a border on Lake Erie and it makes for some phenomenal ice fishing action. What many anglers discount, however, is that some of the best winter fishing opportunities in Ohio don’t necessarily involve ice fishing.

As winter slowing morphs into spring, fish become increasingly primed for feeding. Countless schools of perch and bluegills as well as largemouth bass, trout, and muskies start to seek out forage. This puts you as the angler at an advantage. It also means late winter fishing in Ohio can be some of the best of the year.

Before we get into the best winter fishing opportunities in the state, it is worth mentioning that one of the most important winter fishing tips is to review the regulations. Waterways during the winter months can have different regulations during this timeframe. Regulations such as creel limits and limits on fishing methods may change this time of year, and it is important to know what changes may affect where and how you are fishing. Be sure to refer to the current Ohio fishing regulations so you are prepared to take advantage of these opportunities.

5 Species That Offer the Best Winter Fishing Opportunities

There are a number of species worth pursuing in Ohio during the late winter months. Each requires different winter fishing tactics, but all provide some epic late winter fishing opportunities in the state.

  1. Yellow Perch – Anglers can find yellow perch in lakes across Ohio. Probably the most famous and one of the best winter fishing trips for perch is to Lake Erie. Many anglers load up on ice fishing tips and target perch under the ice once lakes safely freeze over. However, as ice retreats, perch can be caught in transition zones like soft to hard bottoms or near drop-offs as they begin to move from deep to more shallow habitats.
  2. Trout – Trout fishing opportunities are not as numerous as other species, but the excitement of landing a few giants is why it makes it on the list. Ohio has some of the top streams in the country for trout, which many anglers do not realize. There are winter fishing opportunities to catch steelhead, rainbow trout, and brown trout on either spin or fly fishing gear across the state.
  3. Walleye – Walleye are one of the more common species in the state. In late winter, walleye are preparing for their annual spring spawning migration runs upstream. Anglers fishing for walleye in winter can target the mouths of rivers and have incredible days catching one after another when you hit it right.
  4. Largemouth Bass – Similar to walleye, largemouth bass are just starting to think about their annual spawning cycle. Fishing for spawning bass is much different than the tactics for winter fishing for bass. It will be several weeks until bass make a more concerted effort into pre-spawn mode, however, late winter bass fishing has its advantages. Bass are feeding more and moving from winter habitats, all equating to get more bites.
  5. Muskie – Muskie are a unique species. Not a whole lot of anglers just target muskie in Ohio, but their popularity is growing. Late winter and early spring is the best time to fish for muskie. They will move into shallow flats near deeper water to feed on transition baitfish and panfish. Minnow and perch imitations work well in these areas especially right after the ice is gone and the water temperature is still below 40-degrees.

Top Places to Fish in Winter in the Buckeye State

Lake Erie may be the most well-known fishing destination in Ohio, yet there are plenty of other awesome places to fish in winter. Here are three places that offer great winter fishing opportunities in Ohio.

East Harbor State Park

East Harbor is a harbor off of Lake Erie between Port Clinton and Sandusky. Even though winds from Lake Erie can be cold and brutal, East Harbor is mostly protected. It offers excellent panfish opportunities such as yellow perch, bluegill, and crappie. The main draw to East Harbor State Park in the winter is for walleye. The harbor will be crowded when there is good ice with anglers fishing for walleye. In late winter, however, when the ice starts to melt off crowds diminish and tons of fish can be caught all around the harbor.

Seneca Lake

Seneca Lake is located east of Columbus and is one of the largest lakes in Ohio. This is the place to fish if you are looking for late winter bass fishing opportunities. It is not uncommon to catch 3, 4, and even 5-pound plus largemouth bass in Seneca Lake. The lake also has good numbers of panfish, catfish, and walleye.

Indian Lake

Indian Lake sits near the western edge of Ohio. The reservoir began originally as a water supply impoundment and has grown over the years as an exceptional fishery. It is near the top for winter bass fishing in Ohio and perhaps the best saugeye fishery in the state. Indian Lake consistently produces monster saugeye and better than average largemouth bass each year. The lake also holds good numbers of yellow perch and other panfish making it one of the best winter fishing trips you can take in Ohio.


A Premier Winter Fishing in Ohio Destination

If you are looking for more of an all in one and exclusive place to fish in winter, then Briarwood Sporting Club is your place. You can fish for different species in both lakes and streams all within a premier facility. Membership not only gets you all access to the club but it gives you the opportunity to fish one of the top places to fish in winter in Ohio.

There are some great late winter fishing opportunities in Ohio. From yellow perch under the remaining ice to big largemouth bass and muskies, anglers have plenty of choices when it comes to winter fishing in Ohio. Expand your tactics and plan some trips to these top places to fish in the state to take advantage of the late winter bite.