Mad River Winter Fishing: Don’t Let the Winter Blues Curb Your Casting

Written by Pete Ziehler. Posted in Fishing

Published on January 20, 2015 with 1 Comment

Mad River Winter Fishing For Trout and Bass Ohio Outdoor Journal

Pete Ziehler, NAPRA Elite Pro Angler, fishing the Mad river for winter bass and trout


Mad River Winter Fishing: Don’t Let the Winter Blues Curb Your Casting

By: Pete Ziehler, Ohio Outdoor Journal Staff Writer and NAPRA Elite Pro Angler



You know that feeling. That feeling is of disgust. You walk out to your garage, and your rods and lures are crying for some action. You open your garage door and that Arctic blast that greets you tells you that it may not be a good time to hit your local fishing hole. So what do you do? Retreat back to your Lazy Boy recliner and watch another hour of Storage Wars, or say, “Last time I fished in this weather I got that one big lunker.” Ponder, ponder as you sit and watch Major League Fishing. Three minutes into the show, Shaw Grigsby talks about a crankbait you also own (in that cold garage of yours) that is perfect for all weather conditions.  “That’s it!” you yell, as your cat scurries away. If Shaw says my Crankbait can catch lunkers in cold weather, then I’m heading out.

Five minutes later, you are in your car and wondering where in Ohio you could possibly go to catch fish this time of year. Well, despite the cold, there are some spots where the fishing is heating up despite the unpleasant temperatures.

Hello, my name is Pete Ziehler, I am an Elite Pro with NAPRA, the National Association of Professional River Anglers, and I am going to warm you heart with a local river that runs year round and big fish are always ready to play!

The Mad River, just west of Urbana, is a place of lore. Fly anglers and the occasional spin caster converge on the waters of the Mad year round. Heat, sleet, rain, or snow the trout of the Mad are big, feisty, and always aiming to please. I want to tell you about fishing the Mad from a river angler’s experience.

 First and foremost, you need to choose the right spots. One of the best locations is just west of the city limits off State Route 36. Once you cross over the Mad, you will park directly south of the road in gravel infused parking area with tire tracks of past conquests. Your tour of the river starts off with two excellent locations just steps from your vehicle. The bridge in which you just ran over holds deep depressions that trout, shad, and rock bass love to call home. Cast your favorite Panther Martin (1/6 oz. Rainbow or FireTiger) just past the depression and quickly move it back into the hole, and trout are sure to strike!  Plastics more your thing? Snack Daddy Lures has been the secret weapon of NAPRA anglers on the Mad. Pink pintails or 2” white grubs from Case Plastics create a feeding frenzy and a constant bite. 

Just below the bridge, the low dam (3’ high at most) houses a feeding ground and resting spot for some big trout!  Hit the dam a few times and then venture down ¼ mile to the vacated rail road trestles for multiple honey holes sure to leave you smiling and trout to brag about. 

Mad River Winter Fishing For Trout and Bass Ohio Outdoor Journal

Karl Halley showing fellow anglers what works best in late winter

The DFL Fall League, a division of NAPRA, concluded their 2013 fall season and circuit champ Karl Halley demonstrated why he was king of the river in 2013 to a T!  He hit a large set of brush and lumber resting quietly in the water and proceeded to score 25 trout and bass in roughly a half an hour time span. This included some “biggens” including some 14 and 15 inch browns!  The smile on Karl’s face reminded us why we got out our favorite recliners and hit the water in those frigid conditions.

Ohio has a treasure trove of rivers that run year round.  In future editions of Ohio Outdoor Journal column, we will discuss early spring fishing escapes that you might not know about!

NAPRA:  National Association of Professional River Anglers

About Pete Ziehler

Pete Ziehler is the CEO of NAPRA, the National Association of Professional River Anglers. He fishes in the DFL, NAPRA Elite South and NAPRA Pro Michigan East trails in addition to being a member of Ohio Great Corridor, the Little Miami River Kleeners, and is a frequent guest on WONE-980's outdoor programs. He lives in Bellbrook with his wife Amy and three children.

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1 Comment

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  1. Avatar of Cavan

    This is just the post I’ve been looking for ! I am fairly new to the area from western NY and have been dying to find a decent fishing hole for the winter time. I recently purchased my first fly set up along with some flies that were recommended, I am very excited to try it out! I’ve been practicing here and there in my yard and at a local pond with a fountain that is not completely frozen over, and am starting to feel somewhat confident. Sadly I’m beginning to realize that when it comes to the fly side of things trying to get someone to talk to you and give you pointers is like pulling teeth …. Most people I’ve approached have given me the “your wasting my time, why are you talking to me” responses. Oh well, guess I’ll have to learn by getting out there and trying. I’ll be heading out this weekend! (I’ll bring a spin setup along with me in case the fly casting fails this time around) Thanks for the info !

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