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 contact 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, or email Drew at 

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,,  or email  Drew at 

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.

Out of State Hunting | Ohio Deer Hunts

Getting Started with Ohio Deer Hunts

Deer hunting is one really addicting obsession and lifestyle choice. Depending on how much effort you put into it, the end result can be dramatically different. For example, if you routinely hunt the same tree stand on the same property for decades, you’ll learn a lot about the local deer herd and their patterns over time. But to really grow and expand your whitetail knowledge, have you ever considered an out of state hunt? If that is an item on your wish list, you might want to consider Ohio deer hunts. Depending on where you come from, deer hunting in Ohio could be a major game changer for you because bucks can get so big and the hunting is great. Here are a few reasons you should consider an Ohio deer hunt.

Why Ohio Has Big Deer

Although it might not be familiar to you, there is no denying that Ohio has some of the best deer hunting in the country. Some truly giant bucks have been taken here over the years, and the secret seems to be getting out. But what makes Ohio so special for growing big deer?

Simply put, there is great deer habitat and food here. Ohio offers an ideal mix of the forest types and structures that whitetails love to hide in and browse. Oak and hickory forests provide a lot of hard mast each fall, which deer absolutely devour. Younger tree species, such as those growing back after a timber cut, are extremely attractive for deer fawning and browsing. Of course, the state also has abundant agricultural food resources to help deer pack on the pounds and grow some impressive headgear. Many farms grow row crops, such as soybeans or corn, which are two of the best food sources for summer nutrition and late season deer hunting. When you pair all of that along with good natural water sources and varied topography (e.g., hills and fields), you’ve got a recipe for big buck potential.

In addition, Ohio has an excellent deer management program. You can only take one antlered deer per year, rather than multiple bucks per year as in other states. Since many hunters here know of the true trophy potential, they are more willing to pass on younger bucks. That means that many bucks make it past the hunting season to grow into mature deer. To help matters even more, there are some incredible genetics of deer in the state. So if a buck can make it to 3.5 years or older, there is a great chance that with good genetics and lots of quality food that they will get your trigger finger itching when they step out in front of you.

Ohio Deer Hunting

So now you know why our state is so good at producing big deer – what about the hunting side of things? That’s ultimately what can make or break a hunting trip plan.

  • License Options and Costs – compared to many other states, especially those with known big buck successes, Ohio has very reasonable hunting license options. You can buy non-resident tags over the counter for Ohio deer hunts instead of applying and waiting to be drawn. And they are very affordable Ohio deer hunts for most people. For the 2018-2019 season, for example, the deer license was $141.50 and an either-sex deer permit was $41, bringing the total to $182.50.  
  • Ohio Deer Hunting Regulations – as mentioned above, you are allowed to take only one buck in the Buckeye state, so hunters need to choose wisely. Luckily, the Ohio deer season runs from late September through early February, which gives you a great chance of taking a buck with a bow or firearm. 

Best Regions for Ohio Deer Hunts

While much of the state has good habitat and food resources for whitetails, that doesn’t mean you are likely going to tag a giant buck anywhere you go. Some regions are better than others when it comes to the odds of encountering a trophy buck. The more pressure a given area gets and the lower the habitat quality, the lower the likelihood of seeing multiple big deer. Generally, your best chances would be in west-central, central, east-central, and southern Ohio. You have a couple options for your Ohio deer hunts in these regions. Briarwood is situated right in the midst of the best ranking big buck counties in the entire state of Ohio. Located in Logan County in the west-central region, this area is annually a producer of trophy whitetail deer.

If you’re really looking for a DIY hunting trip, you could choose to hunt Ohio public lands. Ohio has much more publicly available land to hunt than most people assume, and the often vast timbered areas are great spots for reclusive bucks to hide away. The trick is finding areas without a ton of existing hunting or human pressure. However, that’s tough to confirm without some in-season and in-person scouting, which might seriously stall you on an out of state hunt.


A better bet is to choose a hunting outfitter that specializes in Ohio deer hunts. A good outfitter will have extensive local knowledge of the area, manage their properties for maximum nutrition and security, and give you the best chance of shooting a Boone and Crockett or Pope and Young buck as possible. Depending on your specific goals, Ohio deer hunting outfitters could be a great option for you, which brings us to the last point…

Ohio Deer Hunting Outfitters 

If you live to deer hunt or just want to try it for the first time, it’s clear why Ohio is such a good choice. And if you want to tag a record-worthy buck, choosing an outfitter is probably the way to go. There are many to choose from in the state. But before you blindly pick a hunting outfitter, it’s important to know more about them. Fortunately, it’s never been easier to compare outfitters. Here are a few things to find out before you decide:

  • What kinds of properties are available and what is the habitat like on them?  
  • What is their success rate and the average deer size on their properties? 
  • Are accommodations included, and if so, what are they like? Is food included? 

If you are hoping to harvest a truly giant buck, you should look into Ohio deer hunting preserves, as they offer the most control over the deer herd. But as for open range Ohio deer hunts, Briarwood Sporting Club has access to several private properties in Logan County, Ohio that are great for big deer. You stay on our property with access to some amazing amenities, and we provide a semi-guided deer hunt by pre-scouting the area and helping you decide where to hunt for the best chance of success. But you still get to hunt on your own in these areas. If that sounds good to you, reach out to us to reserve your spot. 

4 Ice Fishing Tips Useful for Catching Panfish & Perch in Ohio

Ohio Ice Fishing Tips to Start the Season and Catch More Panfish & Perch

Ohio has an assortment of ice fishing opportunities. Many anglers only think about Lake Erie when ice fishing in Ohio comes up. The “Lake” is certainly a proven winter destination for fishing, but there are many inland lakes and ponds that provide some great ice fishing action as well. The best days on the hardwater in Ohio are those targeting panfish with these four ice fishing tips.

Ice Fishing in Ohio

Ice fishing in Ohio is very much dependent on the weather. It is a state, unlike more well-known ice fishing states such as Minnesota and Wisconsin, that can have variable ice conditions from year to year. Lakes and ponds north of Columbus usually have cold enough winters for solid ice production and an extended ice fishing season. There are, however, some good ice fishing spots in the southern part of the state but ice conditions are less consistent and the season is usually much shorter.

Species such as perch, bluegill, crappie, and walleye are several of the top fish species for anglers to target under the ice in Ohio. The best ice fishing in Ohio is arguably going after panfish and perch. Lakes and ponds in Ohio are set up well for good populations of perch and other panfish species. They thrive in Ohio waters and offer great angling opportunities in winter.

Finding a spot to fish is not as easy as you may think. Not all frozen ponds are open to ice fishing. Unlike other states, ice fishing regulations vary from lake to lake. For example, some municipalities own reservoirs and do not allow ice fishing. One option to avoid headaches of finding a decent spot to ice fish is to join a private club like Briarwood Sporting Club. A club like Briarwood has over 70 acres of lakes open to ice fishing with healthy populations of giant perch, bluegills, crappies, trout and other species waiting to be caught from under the ice.

Consider Ice Fishing Safety First

Before getting into the four ice fishing tips for panfish and perch, every ice fishing trip should start and end with a discussion about safety. First and foremost, safe ice starts at 4-inches thick. This is enough ice to support an angler and basic ice fishing gear. However, 4-inches is the bare minimum. Every additional inch of ice is only that much safer to fish on. Here are several other important ice fishing tips related to safety.

  • Use caution around structure and creeks – Frequently the best place to fish during ice fishing season is around bridge piers, creek channels, docks, and fish habitat structures. But, these are also places that have less safe ice than the main lake. Ice in these areas is usually thinner and more unstable and additional attention is required when ice fishing these spots. 
  • Ice fish with others – Ice fishing with other anglers is one of the best safety tips. If something should happen and you break through the ice, others nearby can offer help. If you are fishing alone, try to fish a lake that will have other anglers on it and also let someone know where you will be fishing and when you plan to return. 
  • Bring a small bag of sand – Believe it or not, a small amount of sand included in your ice fishing gear is a great safety tip. Sprinkle it around your augured holes to avoid slipping. Many anglers think the only danger while ice fishing is falling through the ice. However, many accidents occur from slipping on the ice, which can cause some pretty serious injuries.

4 Ice Fishing Tips for Catching Panfish & Perch in Ohio

Anglers focus a lot on whether they should be using ice fishing jigs or ice fishing with live bait. This debate between artificial and live bait is never-ending. Regardless of your preference, these four ice fishing tips for panfish and perch are more important to take advantage of than bait choice.

#1 – Ice Fishing Electronics Are Required

Portable sonar is invaluable when ice fishing for panfish and perch. Sonar provides key pieces of information such as the water depth, bottom type and whether fish are present. Many times perch can be found feeding above soft bottoms and without sonar or flasher device, you will be guessing at each hole. Additionally, a handheld GPS can be beneficial. You can use this to mark hotspots or underwater structure so that you can fish those areas precisely on your next trip or come back to them during next year’s ice fishing season. Without electronics, much of your day will be lost to drilling holes and blindly searching for fish.

#2 – Plan to Be Mobile and Be Willing to Move

The one thing you can count on while ice fishing is that they will be constantly moving. Rarely will a school feed in one area for an extended period of time. One of the best ice fishing tips is to be willing to move around. Don’t spend hours on a spot that is not producing. Use your electronics at each hole and spend no more than 20 minutes in a location that is not producing. Even the best fishing destinations in Ohio are going to have good and bad areas. Weed out the bad ones and then move between the good areas following the fish.

#3  Run a Complete Spread

By a complete spread, we mean utilizing both tip-ups and jigging rods. Once you find an area to fish, start by drilling 3-5 holes around a centrally located hole. Keep them within 15- to 20-yards of your primary hole. Set up your tip-ups on the outer holes and start jigging on the primary hole. What this does is allow you to fish efficiently over a fairly large location as schools of panfish and perch move in and out of your area. It also lets you vary depths and baits simultaneously to trigger more bites.

#4 – Go Exclusively to Jigging When the Bite Slows

Whether you prefer live bait or artificial, every angler should have at least a few jigs in their ice fishing gear. There will be days when even though you can find schools of fish, they simply will not bite. Days like this call for a jigging only approach. Focus on two holes and jig two rods. Small spoons work well, but more importantly, it is the technique that will trigger finicky fish to bite. Vary your method from trembling your lure if fish are suspended to slow lifts if fish are more towards the bottom. Once you find what is working, use that to your advantage and replicate that technique at each hole the rest of the day.

Putting these four ice fishing tips to work this winter will greatly improve your ability to pull fish up through the ice. If you are having trouble finding a consistent place to ice fish in Ohio, consider Briarwood Sporting Club. Their sustainable and properly managed lakes provide endless ice fishing opportunities for panfish, perch and other species without the challenges associated with many public ice fishing spots in Ohio.


Find the Best Late Season Deer Hunting in Ohio

Tips for Late Season Deer Hunting

Late season deer hunting is one of those things that can really separate people. After all, it can be a very challenging time to hunt whitetails. Freezing weather, hammering winds, and snow are all an increasing possibility the later in the season that you hunt, and nobody likes to hunt in those conditions, no matter what they tell their friends. At the same time, deer have likely been hunted and pressured for weeks or even months of the deer hunting season, which can put them on high alert – that is especially true with mature bucks. But there is an upside. In the right areas, on the right properties, and using the right hunting tactics, you can be successful hunting deer in the late season. Here’s why that’s especially true in Ohio, and here at Briarwood Sporting Club.

Why Ohio for Late Season Deer Hunting?

Honestly, it’s the same answer for hunting deer any other time of the year. Ohio has the perfect mix of habitat and food for whitetails to thrive and reach their full potential. Overall, there is a large amount of food in the form of row crops (primarily corn and soybeans), which fuel the body size and antler growth you’d expect from such an area. Mixed in with these agricultural fields are stretches of mixed hardwood forests (e.g., oaks, maples, hickory, etc.). These woods offer hard mast in the fall and good cover the rest of the year. In rolling terrain, the forested slopes also provide excellent bedding opportunities surrounding the flat ag fields.

One potential benefit to late season Ohio deer hunting is also a drawback. Most of Ohio consists of private land – that can be good in the fact that many adjoining landowners can join together in a cooperative to let the deer herd grow to a higher standard (i.e., bigger bucks), but the downside is that it can be tough to find a public hunting spot or get permission on private land. Fortunately, the Briarwood Sporting Club provides the best of both worlds.

Late Season Deer Hunting Tips

With all that said, here are several late deer season tips that you can utilize almost anywhere. But they’re especially helpful in Ohio and here on our own property, whether you choose open range or guided deer hunts.

  • Focus on evening food. It usually pays off to focus on food sources (e.g., picked ag fields, standing corn/beans, etc.) and the best time of day to hunt late season deer is definitely the evening. After the rut, bucks are weary and need food, and the colder weather tends to get them on their feet earlier in the afternoons. Positioning yourself on one of these field edges could be the ticket to encountering a giant buck in the late season. 
  • Hunt in covered/enclosed blinds if possible. Mature bucks have likely been harassed a bit throughout the fall, and may be a bit spooky. The more you can hide your silhouette, scent, and sounds, the better chance you have of actually pulling the trigger on a big deer. 
  • Head to the cover in heavily pressured areas. In some areas of Ohio where you see a lot of public or private hunting pressure, deer may avoid open fields in daylight and prefer to stick to the thick cover. Edging in closer to bedding areas and traditional sanctuary areas could be risky, but not for late season deer hunting when you don’t have much time left anyway. 
  • Give up the late season deer calling and scents. In most places, the bucks have seen and heard it all up to this point, and might get skittish about it. It’s better to rely on a good tree stand or blind position instead. 
  • Get mobile. If you’re doing some late season big woods deer hunting with a lot of room to roam, consider tracking and stalking a buck instead. You can sometimes sneak right up on them if the conditions are right. 

If done the right way using the tips above, late season deer hunting can be a great way to get a shot at a mature buck of a lifetime.


Why Briarwood?

That brings us to the next point. Why consider hunting at Briarwood Sporting Club? As we said, it can be hard to get access to hunting land in our state, but we have access to our own amazing property and several others nearby. We have two options for whitetail deer hunting. You can choose to hunt open range deer on one of the local properties in Logan County to which we have exclusive hunting rights. Or you can go on guided whitetail deer hunts right here on our estate. The open range properties offer a wonderful mix of habitat and food, and you have a great chance at harvesting a deer on one of them. Our own trophy whitetail estate offers you the rare chance to encounter 200+ inch whitetails, which is unheard of in most of the country, making us an amazing deer hunting outfitter choice.

Chris with a 160 4/8’s free range ohio late season buck from Briarwood.

How Did This Late Season Hunt Go Down?

  • Nov. 17- Chris found Briarwood by searching for “open range whitetail hunt in Ohio” and immediately requested the open range packet.
  • Nov. 19- The packet is sent and Chris is contacted shortly after. Chris wanted to hunt during Ohio’s firearms season on Nov. 26. We already sold out of Ohio open range gun season hunts so we booked him for a late season hunt during Dec. 12-16.
  • Dec 13th, the evening of the second day of his hunt, Chris scores this 160 inch buck!