Ohio River is only one of more than 250,000 rivers within the United States, but being the ninth longest of them all definitely gives it some weight. From Ohio River fishing to kayaking, camping, and the ultimate exploration via the Ohio River Byway, this river offers a whole lot more than one might expect. The Ohio River is a tributary of the great Mississippi River, and the largest one by volume. It’s perhaps unexpected that the Ohio River is actually larger than the Mississippi, but only at the confluence. Spanning almost 1,000 full miles, the river, combined with the entire Ohio River Valley, is a popular spot for outdoor adventure and sightseeing.
The confluence of the Monongahela and Allegheny Rivers create the Ohio River directly at Pittsburgh’s Point State Park in Pennsylvania. It flows in a northwesterly direction through Allegheny, where slightly afterwards it makes an unanticipated southwesterly turn by the triple state line (Pennsylvania/Ohio/West Virginia). Beyond this point, the river creates a border between Ohio and West Virginia. Following a southwest route and then coursing west and northwest all the way to Cincinnati, the river’s path then turns again, west and southwest, for the remainder of its length. At the end, it merges with the Mississippi River close to the city of Cairo in Illinois.
The Ohio River Valley is filled with anglers seeking out the best fishing spots on the river. Ohio River fishing forecasts reveal a multitude of species to catch, especially in the spring but fishing is good all year long. The fish reports vary for each of the different areas within the Ohio River Valley and what you’ll catch greatly depends on where you’re fishing. Gravel and sand bars near the shore can yield plenty of channel catfish. Stream confluences and warmer waters bring out the white bass. Spotted bass enjoy deeper water and tend to be closer to wood-covered areas. From sauger to smallmouth bass to walleye, crappie, and sunfish, the Ohio River offers a bounty of possibilities.
Dams and bridges on the Ohio River can be excellent places to fish, too. Many anglers swear by fishing tailraces, which are areas surrounding river dams and often begin early-season fishing. Tailraces are the pools or sections dams divide the water into. They are often fully loaded with multiple fish species, and plenty of trophy fish because of the oxygen-rich water and continuous food supply. Some of the best dams for fishing the Ohio River include New Cumberland Dam, Belleville Dam, Pike Island Dam, and Hannibal Dam.
If Ohio River fishing isn’t an attractive endeavor, there are several excellent camping spots within the Ohio River Valley. These include Indiana’s O'Bannon Woods State Park, Illinois’s Cave-in-Rock State Park, and Ohio’s Shawnee State Park and Forked Run State Park. Well-equipped camp and RV sites, scenic river trips, water recreation, and fishing ofcourse are all possible. Driving along the Ohio Scenic Byway is a favorite way to see specific parts, or all of the Ohio River. Rich in both history and scenery, a drive along the river affords one of the best ways to thoroughly explore it and the popular attractions along the way like The Harrison Tomb, Ulysses S. Grant's Birthplace, the Wellsville River Museum, and beautiful, historic Georgetown.