Below the Ballville Dam in Fremont, Ohio, the Sandusky River provides excellent fly fishing action for fly anglers of all experience levels.

When it comes to fishing, the Sandusky River and fly fishing aren’t two things you would generally associate together. In this article, we will be discussing fly fishing around the Ballville Dam area on the Sandusky River in Fremont, Ohio.

Origins of the Sandusky River

Sandusky River

The Sandusky River begins in Wyandot County, Ohio, and flows west through the town of Bucyrus, Ohio. Once past Bucyrus, the river turns north and heads towards its final destination, Sandusky Bay.

The Little Sandusky River is a minor tributary that joins the Sandusky River in Wyandot County.

Sandusky River species

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The Sandusky holds a massive variety of fish. Especially near Fremont, Ohio, due to the Ballville Dam being the last dam between the river and Lake Erie. Here’s a quick list of some species of fish you may encounter:

  • Largemouth and Smallmouth Bass
  • Bluegill and other assorted sunfish
  • Crappie
  • White Bass
  • Common Carp
  • Longnose Gar
  • Channel Catfish
  • Freshwater Drum
  • Walleye
  • Flathead Catfish
  • Various species of sucker fish
  • Rock Bass

The Sandusky River, like the Maumee River, is one of those rivers that you really never know what may be on the end of your line.

Fly Fishing Equipment

  • Rod: Nine-foot, 6 to the 7-weight fly rod
  • Reel: Standard reel matched to rod and line weight. Disc-drag system preferred.
  • Line: Weight forward floating line matched to rod weight. Heavier taper is recommended when casting larger flies.
  • Leader: Seven to a nine-foot leader with a breaking strength of eight to twelve-pound test.

Fly selection

When fly fishing the Sandusky River, there are several great patterns to use. Try using Clouser deep minnows, woolly buggers, panfish Charlies, nymphs, and other various streamers.

For closures, try using either hot pink over chartreuse or chartreuse over white. Olive over white is also a great combination because it imitates emerald shiners. Emerald shiners are one of the main species of forage in the Sandusky River.

The most popular colors for woolly buggers are: black, olive, rust brown, and white with flash. These can either be bought, or you can choose to tie them yourself. You can either use bead-chain or lead dumbbell weights for the eyes.

A brass bead head version is a good choice as well, although many prefer dumbbell or bead-chain as the weight because it causes the fly to ride hook point up. Therefore leading to fewer snags on the bottom. They also give the fly a nice darting action in the water.

This is particularly useful when using a rust brown woolly bugger because it emulates a crayfish. Smallmouth bass and rock bass seem particularly fond of these flies.

Where to focus

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Focus your efforts on the slack water that runs below the dam itself. Many different species of fish reside in this area. Don’t forget to give some attention to the areas downstream from the dam either.

There’s a lot of great riffle-hole-run water that’s highly productive. Slack waters can also be found, and a lot of times, carp can easily be seen feeding in the shallows. Target these fish for some sight-casting fun.

If you ever have some time, stop by Fremont, Ohio, and enjoy the Sandusky River. There are a lot of friendly folks and great fishing to be had.