Tuesday, January 31st, 2023
Tuesday, January 31st, 2023

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Griggs Reservoir, Franklin County

Central Ohio’s Griggs offers hybrid striped bass, big crappies

By Mike Moore

Columbus — Griggs Reservoir in central Ohio is a long ribbon of water that offers plenty in the way of recreation, and even some good fishing, too.

The 387-acre lake was formed in 1908 by damming a portion of the Scioto River. It primarily serves as a city of Columbus water supply.

“The reservoir itself is like a slightly enlarged version of the river,” said Nick Radabaugh, a fisheries biologist with the ODNR Division of Wildlife in Columbus. “It’s skinny and there’s not much in the way of coves or tributary arms. It’s one long shot from top to bottom.”

The Division of Wildlife stocks saugeyes, channel catfish, and hybrid striped bass at Griggs. The hybrid striper program at Griggs began in 2009.

Anglers do a fair bit of night fishing for catfish and hybrid striped bass. Points along the eastern shoreline are the most popular spots.

One would think that saugeye receive a fair bit of fishing pressure, but that’s not necessarily the case, according to Radabaugh.

“It actually gets really low pressure as far as saugeye angling goes,” he said. “I think it’s just because (the reservoir) is hard to fish. It’s steep-sided … and it doesn’t have big flats or points like you would find at Alum Creek. Most of the pressure on Griggs comes from crappie fishermen and catfishing.”

The most pressured fish probably, though, is largemouth and smallmouth bass, said Radabaugh. There are a decent number of bass tournaments held on Griggs each year, and bass fishing in general is popular, he said.

“There’s some really decent smallmouth in there, being that it’s on the Scioto River,” Radabaugh said.

“It seems like there’s a dedicated group of bass fishermen who target the reservoir,” said Ethan Simmons, another fisheries biologist for the Division of Wildlife in Columbus. “Because it’s kind of like a river system, the bass relate to structure all year around. They don’t move off (structure) as much like they do at an Alum Creek, for example. The guys who like to flip and pitch can do it all season long.”

The north end of Griggs would be a good place to begin targeting smallmouth and largemouth bass, Simmons said.

Hybrid striped bass is an overlooked option.

“There’s really one of two ways to fish for them,” Radabaugh said. “A lot of guys fish for them like they would for catfish. Chicken liver fished on the bottom. So, you can catch hybrids and catfish the same way.

“The other way is trolling crankbaits,” he said. “I just got an e-mail from a guy who had pictures of a bunch of big stripers that he caught last summer. He was trolling walleye or saugeye style crankbaits.”

In the summer months, hybrids behave somewhat differently.

“Once we get into summer, these hybrids will school up and start pushing baitfish around,” Radabaugh said. “You’ll see them pushing baitfish up to the surface. When that happens, you can cast baits into those areas.

“They are very nomadic fish,” Radabaugh said of the hybrids. “They really don’t concentrate in any one place.”

Being on the Scioto River, there’s a decent spillway fishery below the dam that will offer any/all species.

“Anything that’s running upstream is going to stop there,” Radabaugh said.

Crappies range in size from 6 to 13 inches, and they grow fairly well here.

“I wouldn’t say it’s known for big crappies, but they’re certainly in there,” Radabaugh said.

The population of black crappies does fairly well at Griggs, said Simmons.

“I wouldn’t say it’s a destination crappie fishery, but there are some really nice sized black crappies in there,” he said. “A few years ago, we were setting nets for saugeyes and came up with a bunch of nice black crappies. We’re talking Delaware (Lake) quality crappies.”

One way to catch crappies here is by trolling small crappie crankbaits.

“I think there’s some small Bombers that guys use for trolling,” Radabaugh said.

There’s also a decent fishery for flathead catfish, being that it is on the Scioto River.

White bass and rock bass are also present, which can keep kids busy for an afternoon.

There is a no-wake zone on the northern end of the lake where anglers might slip off to in order to fish without recreational pressure.

There is one main launch with two separate ramps, just south of Fishinger Road.

The reservoir at its widest point makes it about 500 feet across, so it’s narrow along its entire length.

There’s a decent amount of shore accessibility, about 15 miles of shorelength. For boats, unlimited horsepower motors are allowed but the city of Columbus maintains a speed limit, said Radabaugh.

“That’s one of the reasons it’s tough to fish,” he said. “Once it starts to get warm out, you’ve got skiers and wake boarders that go up and down the lake and there’s really nowhere (for an angler) to hide.”

So, if you find yourself with nothing to do in central Ohio on a weekday or during other non-peak recreational times, give Griggs Reservoir a shot.

Griggs Reservoir

Nearest town: Columbus

Surface area: 387 acres

Maximum depth: 25 feet

Shore length: 15 miles

Fish species present:

Hybrid striped bass, saugeye, channel catfish, flathead catfish, largemouth bass, smallmouth bass, crappie, bluegill, carp, white bass, rock bass.

For information:

Division of Wildlife District 1: 614-644-3925.

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