How to Catch Skipjack Herring in Ohio


The Ohio River is one of Ohio’s most scenic rivers, offering incredible beauty anda configuration that favors hiking as well as fishing. The Ohio River has a substantial amount of skipjack herring in many of the deep holes and fast moving currents that make up the river. Ohio River skipjack offer a worthwhile challenge to any fly-fisherman or casual weekend angler.

Things You'll Need

  • Ohio fishing license
  • Fly rod,7 to10 feet
  • Long stream flies
  • 10-inch light metal or thick plastic leader
  • Nylon string
  • Hip waders
  • Thermometer
  • 4-foot pole net (at least 2 feet wide)
  • Visit any Ohio bait and tackle store, and select the best tackle. Look for a flexible fly rod, at least 7 to 10 feet long. Purchase a rod that comes with a stout reel, spooled with at least 6-pound test line. Select long streamer flies for fly-fishing, as these resemble minnows or brightly colored baitfish. For bait casting, use live bait, such as worms or flathead minnows.

  • Build a live bait harness rig, when using a bait-casting rod. This rig consists of a single hook and two split-shots. Use either a worm or minnow as bait for this rig. When fly-fishing, anglers need to attach a 10-inch plastic leader to the end of their fishing line, which will ensure that the fly stays near the bottom. Additionally, a bright color leader can make following your line easier.

  • Obtain a set of hip waders and walk out into the Ohio River. Move up river to within 5 to 10 feet from shore. The Ohio River is a low incline river with large holes, but many areas are shallow. The bottom consists of fast currents and gravel rocks that run to erratic riffles and circling eddies. If the current is strong, anglers need to cast upstream at a 45-degree angle, approximately 6 to 12 feet out. Allow the bait to sink and follow the river's current. Let the current pull the bait downstream until it comes to a rest. Reel the line in and start the process gain.

  • Monitor the temperature of the river. In spring and fall, skipjack are likely to be nearer shore. Carry a thermometer and check the temperature of the water. Skipjack herring prefer a water temperature of 70 degrees F. When the water temperature is below 50 degrees, fish for skipjack in deep water.

  • Select black, white, silver colors to use as artificial baits, as these are natural colors of baitfish, within the Ohio River. Fish worms or a minnow in the stream’s deep holes and fast moving eddies.

  • Pull hard to set the hook on a herring strike. Skipjack herring will immediately use their bodies to create resistance. Play the fish until your reel drags and tires the fish out. Once a skipjack tires, reel the fish toward you.

  • Guide the hooked skipjack to a large net. The net should be at least 2 feet wide, with either a handle or a long pole. A 4-foot pole net gives you enough room to lift a skipjack herring to shore or into a boat.

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  • Photo Credit Stephen Schauer/Digital Vision/Getty Images
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