I am FAR from an expert on the Mad, but it is probably the best trout stream in Ohio, and in my opinion, a much better stream than the Clear Fork. If you are going there, concentrate on the section between Urbana and West Liberty. To give you an idea, it is anywhere from 20 feet to 40 feet in width and is very wadeable throughout. The name of the game on the Mad is stealth. And when I say stealth, I mean STEALTH! You have to wade VERY lightly. The less time you spend walking in the water and concentrate on roll casting from the banks, then the better off you'll be. Casting is VERY tight roll casing is your friend There are quite a few very big browns in that river, in the 20" to 24" and bigger range. Now, like any big trout, they are in tough to cast places and they didn't get that big from being stupid and letting every angler catch them. Hatches are pretty good there and the best place to check for whats going on is yhe fishing reports that Mad River Outfitters puts out on their website. There is a very good population of hold over trout in there. They stock it also though. It's a beautiful stream. It's very shaded and the water is very cool(spring fed) and gin clear, hence the need for stealth. A guy in Mad River Outfitters once told me to grab a few PB&Js, a thermos of coffee and just sit on one of the banks and just quietly watch and I wouldn't believe the amount and size of trout in that river. That being said, I've been skunked or been a chub slayer more times than I've caught fish. The biggest fish I've taken from there was a 17" brown, but the guys who guide out of MRO are pulling 20+" fish out of there every week. A couple of access points that are good starts to check out are the Pimtown Rd access, Lippincott Rd access and the area where 296 and 29 intersect near Urbana. That will get you started. And if you're looking for a good place for lunch, try the Liberty Gathering Place in West Liberty and order their famous pork tenderloin sandwich. For dessert try the ice cream parlor across the street. Amazing ice cream! Hope that helps get you started.
I like to explore and fish new water; and there a bit closer to me then the AuSable or the Manistee...
Ya, I understand. The prospects of an undiscovered trout stream are enticing even if I know I could catch more fish elsewhere. For myself and most of us, it is not about the fish anyways. I didn't know your that far from Grayling; I was assuming that you lived right up there in the "trout belt".
The Mad happens to be the trout stream closest to my current residence. Having grown up (and spoiled) in Michigan's streams, it is really hard for me to go to the Mad - but I will if I want to go trout fishing and cannot make a trip home to MI. If I do not have a planned trip to MI, I usually spend more time fishing on the smallmouth streams in the area than going to the Mad. The Mad was channelized decades ago (beginning of the 1900's?) I am probably wrong about the date - regardless, it is a straight (and I mean straight) river w/ banks that slope down into the water.
The fish are hatchery fish. They do not have the vibrant colors or feistiness of wild fish, but they will put up a decent fight (and I do bring them in fast rather than fight them to exhaustion). The large fish are a mix of hatchery breeding stock that were released into the river b/c they outlived their usefulness for the hatchery and holdovers that managed to survive the put-and-take fishery.
Bottom line is that the Mad is an ok place to go if you want to find trout or just want to spend a day on the river (and you don't mind fighting the aluminum hatch if you are going in the summer). If MI or PA are just a bit further in distance; however, the extra distance would be worth the difference in scenery and wild trout - just my $0.02 worth.
Everyone, I've been fishing the mad the last two years becuase i go to school in dayton (about an hour away from the prime spots up in urbana). I havent been lucky enough to pull out lunkers, but there are plenty of trout. All are stocked every year in october, but they do seem to live there and for a long time. The trout cannot reproduce in the mad because it has been so channelized that there is no calm enough water for the fry to mull around safely. Overall you get great action running an elk hair with a small copper john dropper. I'd reccomend fishing at upper valley pike, 36, or rt 55. pimtown is also a good spot.
If anyone ever wants to wet a line with me on the mad this fall, shoot me a pm.
I fish MR frequently. What I like most is that I can go on a 6 hour float trip during the week and not even see another person. The largest trout I have caught was 25" and very fat, but I have seen pictures of 30"+ taken near Eagle City Rd. just north of Springfield. In the winter, my favorite fly is Ed Schenk's white sculpin. It is easy to see underwater, easy to fish and easy to tie. The water is crystal clear so go with the smallest tippet you can get away with. I have fished some great rivers around the country and I still love the Mad, mostly because I know it so well. The ODNR denies natural reproduction, but there are many redds in the small creeks and in some of the riparian improvements made by TU Madmen Chapter.
What Maccadon said plus some! Just as all the brown trout in the USA, including Michigan and PA are hatchery fish originally so is the Mad. Just like all these fisheries there are some that hold over a year or two and and are in reality right up there next to a wild fish. Although ODNR says not I agree that there is likely some recruitment of young browns hatching out in the stream and any of these from the past who have lived there and grown are truly wild fish.
Plus a great addition to the trout equation is that the Mad is a superb Smallie streama nd they will often take the exact same flies that big bruiser browns like, such as the Muddler, the Spuddler and Wooley Buggers! About anywhere north of Springfield is good and especially up in that Urbana seems great for access as stated above. I've fished the Mad since 1949 or so and love a mixed bag fishery such as it provides. My fly rod species count thus far on the Mad and tributaries stand at around 7 or eight including Bass, Cats, Carp, Trout, Bluegill, several in the sunfish family and Crappie! My last was a 12.5 lb cat right near Springfield! He hit a slow moving Muddler looking fly!