June 18, 2008

Indian Lake, Once a Wetland, Now Great Recreation Site


RUSSELL'S POINT -- Never in their wildest dreams could early Ohioans have figured an old wetland could become one of the state's greatest areas for outdoor recreation.

But it happened at Indian Lake, a 5,800-acre body of water 12 miles northwest of Bellefontaine. More than a century ago Indian was a wetland.

The initial purpose of Indian was to supply water to the Miami and Erie canals, but the old canal system became obsolete when better sources of transportation were available.

Today, hundreds of thousands of people are finding this grand old reservoir is a choice place for boating, water skiing, swimming, fishing and hunting.

Thousands of people now use the swimming beaches; pleasure boaters ply the waters and many fish from shore or from boats.

And what's the best thing about Indian? It is size. Indian has an ample amount of water to accommodate a variety of outdoor interests.

When I launched my boat at the Black Hawk area on the northwest side of the lake a few days ago, it brought back good memories. Sam Logan, a Dayton duck hunter, and I used the same ramp to reach Sam's duck blind at Indian Lake.

Some days only a few ducks were seen, yet we always had a good time. This time of year the ramp is used by pleasure boaters and anglers, and it is one of many places to put a boat in the water.

Indian serves up an enticing array of fishing opportunities. Bass anglers head for the canals and potholes in the northeast sector of the lake, plus a number of other spots to fish.

Anglers who want to catch crappies and bluegills work along the channels and in the potholes surrounded by lily pads and other vegetation.

More recently, many anglers have set their sights on the saugeye. The saugeye is a hybrid fish produced in fish hatcheries by crossing a male saugar, which is abundant in the Ohio River, with the female walleye, the most popular fish at Lake Erie.

Saugeyes are stocked at many Ohio reservoirs and they have done well, especially at Indian Lake. Exactly why saugeye fishing has been exceptional at Indian is still a question.

One possible explanation is depth of water. Saugeyes usually hug the bottom of lakes, which makes them hard to find at deeper reservoirs.

Indian is a shallow lake. The mid-lake water depth is only seven to eight feet. That accounts for the popularity of trolling.

Anglers are able to move along slowly at idle speed in their boats while trolling artificial lures that run several feet deep.

This fishing strategy worked well for me at Indian Lake a few days ago and I have plans to try it again soon. Maybe I'll see you there.

The Great Outdoors Report with Jim Robey can be heard on Dayton ESPN radio, 1410 WING, Thursdays between 4:45 and 5 p.m. and Friday mornings between 7:45 and 8. Contact Robey at Dayton Daily News, 1611 S. Main St., Dayton, OH 45409.

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