So close to home? The fish are biting at Resthaven

Michael Simonton
May 10, 2014

I wasn't like most boys growing up in the sense that I didn't dream of becoming the next NBA or NFL superstar.

Sports were a major part of my childhood but not something I wanted to pursue after high school.

Spending time outdoors has always been a major aspect of my life. My parents always found time to take me to one of the nearby creeks that led into the Sandusky River to catch crayfish or go on a week long camping and canoeing trip in northern Michigan.

This is Simonton's inaugural blog, he is a professional fisherman from Fremont

The older I get the more I find myself outdoors.  At some point during elementary school I became interested in fishing. I'd go every chance I could, whether it was fishing on Lake Erie, local ponds and streams, or the Sandusky River. I'd bother and I sincerely mean bother anybody to take me.  Tackle stores for me were like walking into Toys "R" Us. I'd walk up and down the aisles of these small stores that were stretched up and down Lake Erie's south shore for what felt like hundreds of times looking at the same lures over and over. Storm and Rapala lures were heavily stocked in every store I went into. Almost all of these stores sold bulk soft plastic twister grubs and worms for five cents apiece.  I'd pick them up and smell them and still do today.  Most of these lures were being used by walleye fisherman.  

During this time in my life I vividly remember watching a show on the now- defunct The Nashville Network. The Bassmasters television show changed my life forever. This is how I and many kids my age first became aware of a "professional bass fisherman". The host of The Bassmasters made these anglers seem like bonafide big-time athletes who were casting for big-time cash. For sure, that was appealing but what I enjoyed most about these shows were the locations that the tournament circuits went to. Lake Seminole, the St. John's River, and Lake of The Ozarks were exotic for someone from Ohio or at least for anybody who grew up fishing around Lake Erie. I loved listening to the host describing the fishing locations and the lures that these professional anglers were using. It was so different than Lake Erie's "Erie Dearie".

I'm not exactly sure how old I was, probably in 6th or 7th grade, but I had become completely obsessed with bass fishing, which is odd since I lived less than 30 miles from the greatest walleye fishing in the world. I had heard from some older fisherman about a place within a half hour drive of my house that had some decent bass fishing. I talked my dad into taking me and my best friend Matt to this place I had just heard about. First though, my dad took me to K-Mart to get my first legit bait casting rod and reel. My dad even got one and he didn't fish.

From Fremont, it only took us about a half hour to get there. When we did, I started seeing signs quite frequently that read "Resthaven Wildlife Area". We parked my dads truck along the side of the road and walked to one of the ponds that are stretched through this wildlife area.

To this day, I don't have a clue which pond it was but I do remember walking through a bunch of tall grass to a clearing where we could fish. I was so pumped up. Resthaven looked just like the places the bass anglers on The Bassmasters television show fished. Then my day was over!

My first cast left the biggest birds nest in my new bait casting reel my dad bought me the night before. I couldn't believe what was happening. At this point in my life, I'm pretty sure I only swore in front of my friends, but now I was doing it in front of my dad. I was beside myself. So then, my dad let me use the one he bought for himself. I pushed the reel's button down, rod over my head, attempt to cast. Same thing again. Both reels were so screwed up we couldn't even hand pull the line out to untangle the mess. My friend Matt did catch a crappie, so I guess the trip wasn't a total wash.

 
Recently, I spent three days at Resthaven fun fishing with a friend and testing out some different lures I thought I might use on my upcoming trip to Louisiana and Arkansas. Resthaven, truly is a unique place for Ohio anglers. It gives you that feeling that you're fishing a bass fishing mecca down south that most of us have only seen on television.
 
For years, I neglected fishing at Resthaven for basically one reason, I couldn't use my outboard.  Resthaven is electric motor only.  I wish I would have never neglected Resthaven to the extent that I did for two reasons.  One, the money I would have saved on gas fishing other local spots and two, my bass fishing knowledge would have increased much more quickly.  Most of my time was spent fishing for largemouths in the marinas and small rivers that could be found from Sandusky to Monroe Michigan. 
  
Resthaven is loaded with standing timber, stumps, logs, reeds (actually I think most of it is phragmites), and grass.  Depending on which pond you fish, you can choose either clear water with more than 5-6 foot visibility or dirty water with only a few inches.  

Pond eight, which has a nice concrete boat ramp and at least two fishing peers is the clearest and deepest pond.   The three days I spent there, the weather conditions changed daily.  It went from being sunny with mild temperatures to cold and windy to sunny and warm.  Each day, I'd choose which pond I was going to fish based on the weather conditions I was faced with that day.  Those three days I caught them using a jerkbait, spinnerbait, crankbait, jigs and soft plastic baits.  

There are so many different tactics that can be used to catch bass at Resthaven it makes it such a great place to improve any anglers skills, no matter their ability.  Most importantly though, I had the most fun fishing around home that I had in a long time.  Resthaven is really a unique fishery so close to home with a wide variety of species of fish to pursue.  


I'm definitely planning on spending more time there in the future.