The recent bitter cold weather has been a real downer for area outdoorsmen desperate to get out and do something.
Some have braved cold river water hoping for a walleye, or sat shivering on a pier wishing for a perch. What most of us would like to do is head south. But a long trip can be expensive with fast rising gas prices, so would a short one do? Could be, and some interesting action is waiting just five hours or so south and not far below the Ohio River in Kentucky.
I was there just before the cold snap, basing at Jesse Stuart Lodge in Greenbo Lake State Resort Park not too far from Greenup. Just getting there was nice with smooth four lanes to the Kentucky side, then a pleasant little drive on winding two lanes through rugged hill country with coal outcrops, thick timber, tinkling little valley streams and cattle grazing on steep hillsides.
You might visit this 36-room resort with its restaurant, the 63 site campground or the small marina with rental boats and pontoons just to relax but I went there to fish. The 200 acre lake holds plenty of rainbow trout, a fair smattering of crappie and channel cats, and bass a few of them VERY large. A state record largemouth came from this lake (11 pounds) caught by a local angler on a plastic worm, then a few years later the same fishermen took a 13 pounder.
Each year a very few whoppers come from this steep sided, greenish colored lake, and while a visiting basser probably won't catch one, he should still take some smaller bass. And it's a pretty lake to fish, as well as fun to explore if you avoid weekends when pressure can be heavy.
There are other things to do at Greenbo, all of them low key and relaxing. The Park has 26 miles of hiking trails that can also be used for mountain biking and horseback riding. Hikes here can turn up wild turkeys and cute little whitetail deer that weigh 60 pounds or less. Wild flowers should be in full fig along the wooded pathways, and you're sure to see grey squirrels, and perhaps hear a ruffed grouse drumming. You can also get a distant look at the home of famous Kentucky writer, Jesse Stuart, in nearby W-Hollow.
If a couple of days turns out to be enough hiking and fishing, drive just 30 miles or so to Carter Caves State Resort Park, stay in the lodge, a nice cabin, or the campground, and spend some more time fishing. Smokey Valley Lake lies right behind the lodge with 40 acres of fishing water that holds channel cats, big bluegill and a few crappie and bass. It can be fished from shore or via your own boat. And Cave Run Lake is just a short drive away, a hotspot well known for big muskies and bass.
There are four caves open to the public for tours, and two more that can be visited by permit only. I walked through the biggest, Cascade Cave, with other folk and a tour guide and saw again the traditional stalagmites and stalagtites, along with waterfalls and an underground river. I could have gone horseback riding too, maybe canoed down the smallmouth filled Tygart's Gorge, but there wasn't time.
I did find time to fish 1500 Grayson Lake with local angler Tom Clay. Again, it was tough fishing, but a trip up the Little Sandy River, which flows into Grayson, was like boating through New Mexico canyons, steep cliffs, huge fallen rocks and cedars growing seemingly out of solid stone. I liked that outing.
If you're tired of winter and looking for someplace close to go, these two parks are worth a look. Call Carter Caves at (606) 286-4411 or Greenbo at (606) 325-0083 and see what's going on before you plan a trip. At worst, you'll see some new country and have a new experience. At best, you might catch a huge bass. Reason enough to head south.
Dick Martin is a free-lance writer from Shelby. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org n Ohio archery hunters will have expanded deer hunting opportunities this fall, under new regulations approved by the Ohio Wildlife Council. Archery hunters can take additional antlerless deer September 29 to November 25 by purchasing additional antlerless deer permits. Under the new regulations, hunters can take one additional deer in Zone A, up to two additional in Zone B and up to three additional in Zone C. Archery hunters still will be required to buy a regular deer permit before purchasing any antlerless deer permits, and the additional permits also will be valid for controlled deer hunts and for hunting deer in an urban unit.
For those who like to plan ahead, deer gun season will open Monday, Nov. 26 and run through Sunday, Dec. 2. For the second year, hunters will have an additional weekend to hunt whitetails with a gun, Dec. 15-16. Statewide muzzleloader season will open on Thursday, Dec. 27 and run through Sunday, Dec. 30. A hunter may take only one buck in Ohio, regardless of zone, hunting method or season.
They're coming back! Evidence of bobcats living in Ohio's eastern and southeastern counties continues with the confirmation of 37 sightings by state wildlife officials during 2006. This represents a marked increase from the 20 verified sightings in 2005. The Division of Wildlife also received 134 unverified sightings of bobcats last year.