Reel in a Big One: A Guide to Catching Smallmouth Bass in the Great Miami Riverway

Brad Whitaker, our 2023 Fishing Challenge Winner. Will you be our next champion?

Unveiling Ohio's Smallmouth Bass Paradise: The Great Miami Riverway

SAVE THE DATE for the 2024 GREAT Miami River Fishing Challenge -

Fishing isn't just a pastime; it's an integral part of the Ohio experience, and the Great Miami River emerges as a veritable haven for anglers seeking their next big catch—or simply reveling in the joy of the sport. Are you tired of casting your line into the same old fishing holes? If you're looking for a new adventure, head to the Great Miami Riverway for some of the best smallmouth bass fishing around. With over 157 miles of fishable river, the Great Miami Riverway is a hidden gem for anglers looking to snag a trophy fish. One of the best parts about fishing in the Great Miami Riverway is the variety of scenery you'll encounter. From urban areas to rural landscapes, the riverway offers a unique and beautiful backdrop for your fishing trip. And if you're lucky, you might even spot some of the river's resident wildlife, like bald eagles or beavers.

According to the comprehensive data compiled by the Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR), here's why the Great Miami River stands out:

1. A Tapestry of Fish Diversity: The Great Miami River and its tributaries host a stunning array of fish species, ranging from bass, saugeye, crappie, and northern pike to catfish and rock bass. Among these, smallmouth bass reign supreme, offering anglers a thrilling challenge and the chance to encounter unique species like hybrid striped bass and white bass.

2. Record-Breaking Potential: ODNR's esteemed Fish Ohio program celebrates anglers who reel in noteworthy catches across Ohio's waterways. Astonishingly, out of 30 different species documented, 22 have attained the prestigious recognition, eclipsing achievements on other large regional rivers.

3. Smallmouth Bass Bonanza: Renowned as Ohio's premier destination for catching large smallmouth bass, the Great Miami River boasts a prime season spanning from April through October each year. Whether you're a seasoned angler or a novice enthusiast, these waters offer an unparalleled opportunity to land the trophy-sized bass of your dreams.

4. Year-Round Delight: While peak seasons beckon from March to November, the Great Miami River promises excitement in every month of the year. Whether it's the thrill of a winter catch or the balmy days of summer fishing, there's never a wrong time to cast your line into these fertile waters.

Tips for catching smallmouth bass

Smallmouth bass are known for their fierce fight and acrobatic jumps, making them a favorite among anglers. In the Great Miami Riverway, smallmouth bass can be found in the riffles and pools throughout the river, especially in the stretch between Dayton and Hamilton. The best time to fish for smallmouth bass is in the early morning or late evening when the water is cooler and the fish are more active. You can check out our interactive map for public river access points.

Best lures for catching smallmouth bass

When fishing for smallmouth bass in the Great Miami Riverway, it's important to use the right gear. A medium-weight spinning rod with 6-8 pound test line is ideal for smallmouth bass. Use lures like jigs, crankbaits, or topwater lures to attract these fish. If you prefer live bait, try using worms, crayfish, or minnows.

Fishing license and regulations

But before you hit the water, make sure you have a valid Ohio fishing license. Licenses can be purchased online on ODNR's website, or at local sporting goods stores. And remember to follow all fishing regulations, including catch limits and size restrictions. Here is ODNR's 2024 fishing regulations guide (pdf).

So grab your gear, hit the river, and get ready to reel in a big one. The Great Miami Riverway is waiting for you! With plenty of fishable river to explore and stunning scenery to enjoy, it's the perfect place to spend a day on the water.

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