Sauger fishing Ohio River
Little Miami River (Photo: )
The Little Miami River, a meandering tributary of the Ohio River in southwest Ohio, is known both for its fishing and for its popularity among canoeists and kayakers. Though perhaps not the most common fish in the Little Miami River, sauger are among the most sought after. Considerably less widespread than walleye, a close relative, sauger are seldom caught in Ohio outside the Lake Erie and Ohio River drainage areas.
Little Miami River
Stretching for 105 miles, the Little Miami is the Buckeye State's only designated State and National Scenic River. The river is widely accessible through Little Miami State Park (ohiodnr.com), which is somewhat unusual in that it is about 50 miles in length, but averages just 66 feet in width, encompassing a 50-mile stretch of the Little Miami River. In addition, a hiking and cycling trail follows the flow of the river through four counties. The park includes several canoe launch points and fishing access sites, a map of which is available on the Ohio Department of Natural Resources website (ohiodnr.com).
Spring and fall offer the best sauger fishing in the Little Miami River. These fish readily strike bucktail jigs and shad-imitating baits, as well as live minnows and nightcrawlers; however, soft plastic curlytail grubs are often the most productive lure. Use high-visibility colors like white, hot pink and chartreuse when waters are high and muddy and more natural shades of green, brown and black when the water is clear. Sauger population is based in the Ohio River, so sections of the Little Miami closest to the confluence of the two waters tend to offer the best sauger fishing. Look for these fish near rocky and woody cover. During spring and fall, they can often be caught near shore in shallow water, but the summer months often find sauger retreating to deeper, cooler water.
Many fish in the Little Miami River are known to contain high levels of mercury, and sauger are no exception. The EPA recommends eating no more than one meal per month of sauger caught from the section of the Little Miami River between the city of Bellbrook and its confluence with the Ohio River, which includes, unfortunately, the parts of the river in which sauger are most common. The one meal per month advisory also applies to smallmouth bass, carp, freshwater drum and redhorse sucker caught in the same areas.
Licenses and Regulations
You must have a current Ohio fishing license to fish the Little Miami River and all other waters in the state. Licenses are available through the Ohio Department of Natural Resources website (ohiodnr.com), as well as at many Ohio bait and tackle shops and most town clerks' offices. The daily limit for sauger in the Ohio River and its tributaries is 10, and no size restrictions are in place.