Coles have the scoop on Paint Creek fishing
By Jim Robey
Dayton Daily News
BAINBRIDGE | Handling those jumpy minnows and the slimy, squirming worms doesn't bother Jean Adae Cole one iota.
"But I'm glad we don't carry hellgrammites. I wouldn't want to handle them," Cole said.
Jean and her husband, Leon Cole, are in their 19th year of operating Cole's Bait and Tackle Store at Paint Creek Lake east of Hillsboro on U.S. 50.
They have no plans to retire, which should be good news to hundreds — if not thousands — of fishermen who call on the Coles for fishing reports.
Leon, a fisherman himself, knows. Besides talking to the many anglers that visit the store daily, he spends lots of time on the water with his own rod and reel.
The Coles know the lake level, clarity of the water, what's biting and what's not. People visiting the lake for the first time can get details on better places to fish and a map of the lake showing the major features.
All of this is no guarantee of catching fish on a particular day, but it's the honest scoop.
"I would rather give no information than bad information," Leon said.
Mr. Cole, 52, says his interest in running a bait and tackle store goes back to his youth when he visited such stores on fishing trips with his father.
In 1984 the Coles saw the opportunity to open their own new bait business at Paint Creek, a fairly new, flood-control lake at that time. It needed a bait and tackle store.
The late John Walker of Xenia, district fish management supervisor, had talked the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers into leaving the trees stand in the bays to attract fish.
Walker didn't get the credit he deserved for his good work because fishermen fumed over Walker's decision to do no stocking of bass or crappies in the new lake. The biologists tried to point out that stocking would come naturally from two major streams flowing into the reservoir: Paint and Rattlesnake creeks.
The anger toward Walker subsided in two years when Paint Creek came on as the hottest crappie lake in the state and a decent place for bass.
Excellent crappie fishing has continued, along with good fishing for bass, catfish and saugeyes, a species that has been stocked annually in recent years.
Leon gave up a job with International Paper Company in Wilmington and Jean resigned from Cedars Five and Dime Store at Wilmington. They bought a piece of land along U.S. 50 at the entrance road leading to Deer Park Marina and boat ramp.
The Coles lived in a mobile home and built nearby a small building for their bait and tackle store. Besides live bait, it is supplied with rods, reels, lines, hooks and bobbers, sinkers and the 1,000 and 1 other things sold at such places.
Leon or Jean, often both of them, are at the store every day from 6:30 or 7 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. weekdays and Sunday. On Friday and Saturday, the Coles remain open until 9 p.m.
"The days are long, but it's not so bad when it's your own business," Jean said. "You do get burned out in a summer and feel the need of a break."
That break comes in December when the Coles close down for a month. Still, minnows are sold from an outdoor tank and payment is on the honor system.
"The vast majority of people are honest," Leon said.
This has been a good crappie year at Paint, and bass fishermen have done fairly well. Yet for the latest update on fishing the scenic, 1,200-acre lake with 30 miles of shoreline, I suggest calling Leon or Jean Cole at (937) 365-1436.
Jim Robey is an outdoor columnist for the Dayton Daily News. Write him at Sports, Dayton Daily News, 45 S. Ludlow St., Dayton, Ohio 45402.
Copyright © 2003, Cox Ohio Publishing. All rights reserved.
Map & Info For Paint Creek Lake
Visit Coles Bait and Tackle Shop Between Hillsboro & Bainbridge on US HWY 50 at Paint Creek Lake
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