Wildlife is Abundant at Piedmont Lake
Article from www.publiclandjournal.com
Photo Credit: Donna Watson, August 4, 2014
Piedmont Lake, Piedmont, OH
Piedmont Lake is a long sprawling impoundment on Stillwater Creek that invites boaters and anglers to enjoy its 2,270 acres of wide open water. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers constructed the dam in 1937 and impounded a lake that is now 10 miles long, has a maximum depth of 38 feet, and has nearly 40 miles of shoreline. Water levels are drawn down drastically in the winter months.
Recreational interest centers on fishing and quiet shoreline activities.
Piedmont is a bass lake and both largemouth and smallmouth bass are found to the delight of the bass fishing crowd. According to the latest Ohio Division of Wildlife fisheries survey nearly a fourth of the angling pressure on this popular lake is directed to putting bucketmouths and smallies in the boat. The survey indicated that largemouth bass are available up to 19 inches and smallmouth bass aren’t far behind at 18 inches. Most of the bass are smaller but the chance for a trophy fish exists. Few Ohioans ever experience the airborne antics of a hooked smallmouth bass and Piedmont is the place to make it happen. As a rule the largemouth bass prefer weedy water and the smallies hug hard bottom and drop-offs. Traditional in-line spinners, spinnerbaits, crankbaits, and jig-and-pigs work well.
Muskies are the next most sought-after species on the lake with 17 percent of the anglers trying their hand for the “fish of 10,000 casts”. It may not take this many casts to tangle with a big muskie but these creatures are notoriously picky and tough to catch. Big crankbaits, soft-plastic minnows, and other oversized baits tempt these massive predators. In 2009 alone 166 muskies were caught with the largest fish breaking the 53-inch mark. Fourteen of the caught fish measured at least 42 inches in length.
Channel and flathead catfish swim the depths. Most are in the 11- to 24-inch range and warm weather is the time to use chicken livers, shrimp, worms, and stinkbaits. The flatheads prefer live bait and can grow to huge sizes in the deeper sections of the lake. There is a designated trotline area in the northern end of the lake that produces a lot of catfish.
Stocked saugeyes draw in anglers who enjoy a great-tasting fish at the end of the day. Saugeyes run from 9 to 24 inches and are stocked regularly by the ODOW. This hybrid fish is the result of crossing a walleye and a sauger. Bass baits, especially Rat-L-Traps and blade baits, score big on the saugeyes.
Crappies and bluegills round out the offering. Crappie fishing is only fair and the catches aren’t outstanding. Bluegill fishing, on the other hand, is thumbs-up excellent. The bluegills aren’t particularly huge but there are a lot of them.
The ODOW encourages quality fishing by adding submerged structure such as Christmas trees and felled shoreline trees.
Bicyclists have free reign anywhere cars can go. The surrounding roadways are open to freewheeling bicycling and refreshments can be picked up at the marina. The area is very scenic and hilly.
There is a 10 horsepower boat motor limit in effect on the water. The horsepower limitations help to preserve the peace and tranquility visitors have come to expect in this area. The Muskingum Watershed Conservancy District is committed to providing quality recreational opportunities and recognizes that not everyone likes big boats and skiing. The two available boat ramps are off State Route 800 and Reynolds Road.
The MWCD provides several amenities for visitors at Piedmont Lake. The Piedmont Marina is privately operated and offers food, gasoline, launch facilities, and boat rentals on the northern end of the lake off State Route 800. Piedmont campers pick up their permits here and fishing and hunting maps are available upon request.
The campground is relatively small with electric and full hook-up sites. Rules are enforced by MWCD park rangers.
There’s a little bit of hunting around the lake but hunters should concentrate their efforts on the nearly 16,000-acre Egypt Wildlife Area located nearby. Hunting is good in season for whitetail deer and small game and upland birds.
Tours of the Piedmont Lake Flood Control Facilities are available by contacting the Piedmont Lake Project Supervisor at (740)968-4440. The rolled-earth and rock-filled embankment is impressive. The maximum height is 56 feet and it extends for 1,750 feet.
A public restroom is located a quarter mile west of the dam on State Route 22. Piedmont Marina provides restroom facilities from April through October.
Piedmont Lake is located on State Route 22 half way between Cadiz and Cambridge in Belmont and Harrison counties. The MWCD administers the lake and can be reached at (330)343-6647. Questions on fishing can be directed to the Ohio Division of Wildlife’s District Four in Athens at (740)589-9930. Contact the Piedmont Marina in season at (740)658-3735.