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Discussion Starter · #1 · (Edited)
I used to read in the older fishing papers about the pay lakes in central/southern Ohio. Full of big cats,partying and camping. What are they like? What's your experience there? Are they fun places to have a few (many) drinks and catch some super big cats and pass out in the tent?

I have zero experience with these pay lakes except for some trout at a farm and Lake Hodgeson if that even counts as a real pay lake.

Just trying to hear a few stories and what the vibes are like at these places.

(Side note, I recall something about operation Mudcat or of the like,busting the pay lakes many of years ago and people selling big blues and flats to these lakes)
 

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Participation trophies >pay pay lakes. It took 7 years for me to establish a single big cat spot (Let alone figuring out many other factors and techniques after that)and see little challenge in going to an undersized pond to catch mostly poached fish over and over. I can’t imagine what kind of crowd shows up there.
 

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Discussion Starter · #3 · (Edited)
Participation trophies >pay pay lakes. It took 7 years for me to establish a single big cat spot (Let alone figuring out many other factors and techniques after that)and see little challenge in going to an undersized pond to catch mostly poached fish over and over. I can’t imagine what kind of crowd shows up there.
Thanks for the feedback but I dont think you understand this post or what it was about. I want to point out that it's not about speculation of the character of whom goes there,participation trophies or finding "wild spots",although I would imagine people who want to catch big catfish,families, kids and other would attend,truly I dont know the vibes and that's why I'm asking.
I do appreciate the knowledge you dropped about them though.
 

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I have never fished them, but have friends who have and enjoy the experience. It is kind of a canned hunt thing, but they do provide access to some big fish. Most have contest which are fun. I know they vary a lot and some are just trashy mud holes while others put a lot of effort into providing good fish and sites. I used to know some of the commercial netters that sold them fish, but I have lost contact with them or they retired. I disagree on the poached fish, all the ones I know bought from netters on the Ohio River and out of Ky. I'm sure there are some who bought illegal fish, but most don't. There was a sting about 15 years ago but it was a group of guys peddling to the pay lakes. I think it was maybe a pay lake owner that turned them in. They were netting closed waters,I think.
 

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We had 4 or 5 pay lakes around the Youngstown area several years ago and i really liked them.
Now there was no camping or partying at these lakes, just fishing, and the fishing was very good. I also have no idea where the fish came from.
These lake were owned by The Ohio Water Service back then which is now Aqua Ohio.
They stopped the fishing for all who did not own property on the lake.
There is still a charity Tournament at Evans lake to this day.
If i remember correctly, Evans is over 500 acres.
 

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If the DNR would truly manage the fishery you wouldn’t need to patronize pay lakes. A pay lake would starve in New York, as with most states with good wildlife management. One more point I will spend $5.00 on a fish sandwich, some people want to subsidize their income on our wild habitat.
 

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If the DNR would truly manage the fishery you wouldn’t need to patronize pay lakes. A pay lake would starve in New York, as with most states with good wildlife management. One more point I will spend $5.00 on a fish sandwich, some people want to subsidize their income on our wild habitat.
So we're only supposed to buy the fish we eat? How virtuous! Where do they make the fish at the grocery store?
 

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Thanks for the feedback but I dont think you understand this post or what it was about. I want to point out that it's not about speculation of the character of whom goes there,participation trophies or finding "wild spots",although I would imagine people who want to catch big catfish,families, kids and other would attend,truly I dont know the vibes and that's why I'm asking.
I do appreciate the knowledge you dropped about them though.
Fair question I hear it’s people who gamble on big fish and some people bringing kids out. I’m flawed and have a real hard time shutting up.
 

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So we're only supposed to buy the fish we eat? How virtuous! Where do they make the fish at the grocery store?
No that’s was not my point, catch and release was the message. Not catch All you can eat and freeze the rest. Also most game fish are not actually for sale on a open market.
 

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I used to read in the older fishing papers about the pay lakes in central/southern Ohio. Full of big cats,partying and camping. What are they like? What's your experience there? Are they fun places to have a few (many) drinks and catch some super big cats and pass out in the tent?

I have zero experience with these pay lakes except for some trout at a farm and Lake Hodgeson if that even counts as a real pay lake.

Just trying to hear a few stories and what the vibes are like at these places.

(Side note, I recall something about operation Mudcat or of the like,busting the pay lakes many of years ago and people selling big blues and flats to these lakes)
I would deter folks from attending most pay lakes as those big cats are coming from the Ohio River. When I fish for blues it's painful to see the big hoop nets out there knowing they are taking some very old, trophy blues to sit in a pond and get caught repeatedly until they die. I see the argument for older folks who can't get around well anymore but just feel it's a misuse of resources and wrong the way they are stocked with big flatheads and blues. In the absence of those I would not have any issue with them.
 

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I'd rather have fish from my freezer than frozen fish from the store. Seriously, what is the difference?
The difference is Consevation and that’s why without the proper management by DNR Ohio is filled with refrigerated fish with about 200 pounds of game fish. So pay lakes become the norm to enjoy the sport.
 

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The difference is Consevation and that’s why without the proper management by DNR Ohio is filled with refrigerated fish with about 200 pounds of game fish. So pay lakes become the norm to enjoy the sport.
Lots there in regards to the conservation and management piece. When you think about inland lakes and how many are just man made reservoirs built and damned for flood control, then stocked by the state, our lakes are just large ponds to some degree. Which does make management important.
I do think many have the mentality that just because you can keep and freeze a limit everyday doesnt mean you have to. If it's within the regs then that's their choice but that's where sportsmanship starts to come into play. I think it's mentality thing, I can remember when I would go to mogadore with my dad as a kid and catch tons of monster redears and bluegills off beds. Fill our basket everytime just to fillet and put in the freezer. Looking back how many guys did that and it clearly wasn't good for the fishery.
 

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Lots there in regards to the conservation and management piece. When you think about inland lakes and how many are just man made reservoirs built and damned for flood control, then stocked by the state, our lakes are just large ponds to some degree. Which does make management important.
I do think many have the mentality that just because you can keep and freeze a limit everyday doesnt mean you have to. If it's within the regs then that's their choice but that's where sportsmanship starts to come into play. I think it's mentality thing, I can remember when I would go to mogadore with my dad as a kid and catch tons of monster redears and bluegills off beds. Fill our basket everytime just to fillet and put in the freezer. Looking back how many guys did that and it clearly wasn't good for the fishery.
Great point and Really eloquently said, that’s why our DNR needs to step up. I travel at least 200 miles minimum to fish, in other great managed states.. Maybe that’s why I catch and release on average for last 20 years a hundred fish a day. I have not killed a bass in over 30 years, because I love to actually catch them, not fish all day to catch 5. To each his own but I can tell you that a fishery can be devastated by people’s freezers. Ohio is living proof!!
 

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I went t a couple times years years and years ago because a guy I knew like to go and invited me I did not enjoy it most of the people that was there was interested in partying they said the lakes were stocked each week with trout but never seen anyone catch anything except a buzz
 

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If you take your family out for a walleye or perch dinner it doesn't matter if it came from the end of your line or out of a big net.
I agree that smaller lakes, ponds and reservoirs can be quickly impacted by overfishing but there are environmental factors that can come into play as well.
A fellow that I used to work with told me about a large family working in shifts catching crappie at Findlay #2 res. I doubt that he had proof but he suggested they were supplying a local restaurant.
BTW: I have about as much interest in paylakes as going to a pasture for a boar hunt.
 

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A friend of mine and her husband once relied on pay lake tournies to supplement their income. Seriously. I don't know if they still do such things.

As a kid, my dad fished pay lakes often. He never caught anything to speak of, and it was always a miserable hot night sleeping in the back of the car while he watched his bobbers.
 
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