Ohio Outdoor News Fishing Report – Dec. 8, 2017

Central Region

Alum Creek Lake (Delaware County) – Fishermen at this central Ohio lake are fishing the marina docks with limited success on crappies. Try a jig and minnow combination or a jig and trailer in perch colors. The crappie bite has been hit and miss, with most of the action coming in the early morning hours. Crappies are measuring up to 10 inches.

Indian Lake (Logan County) – Water clarity isn’t the best right now, but the saugeye bite isn’t bad. Fish have been reported up to 24 inches. Try a light jig, 1⁄8 of an ounce or so, and fish it on the bottom for best results. Drag the jig slowly across the bottom and you’ll likely pick up a saugeye or two. The best times to fish have reportedly been about midday until dark.

Deer Creek Lake (Pickaway, Fayette counties) – Anglers fishing the spillway here are catching saugeyes, crappies, and channel catfish. All are being caught on jigs and tails in a variety of patterns. The saugeyes haven’t been overly large, according to angler reports, but good 15-inch eaters.

Buckeye Lake (Fairfield, Licking, Perry counties) – Saugeyes are hit and miss right now as the bite turns on one place and off in another. Successful anglers have been using swimbaits. The largest saugeye being reported is a 21-incher. Channel catfish, too, can be caught in the later fall months. Try a piece of nightcrawler fished on the bottom.

Northwest Region

Findlay Reservoir No. 2 (Hancock County) – Fishermen continue to fish this Hancock County lake, but success has been spare to none, according to angler reports. Fishing for perch and walleyes is the favorite pastime at this time of year. Try a minnow and jig combination or a straight shiner under a bobber for both species. Also, you might try employing a Vib-E or some other blade bait.

Maumee River (Lucas County) – Some anglers are fishing the Maumee at this time of year for white bass and smallmouth bass. Try a crankbait in a shad pattern for best results. Also, tie on a waxworm or minnow to catch some panfish. In addition, some fairly large smallmouth bass are being caught on Lake Erie proper. Some of these bronzebacks have ranged up to 20 inches. Try a drop-shot rig or tube jig for best smallmouth results.

West Harbor (Lake Erie) – Anglers are fishing for perch and panfish in this Lake Erie harbor with some success. If you can get emerald shiners, fish them about halfway down the water column to pick up crappies and yellow perch. Fish the minnow on a jig or use a crappie spreader for best results. Fish have ranged up to 10 inches, according to reports.

Northeast Region

Berlin Lake (Portage, Mahoning, Stark counties) – Anglers fishing this lake have had some success jigging for walleyes. The fall jig bite appears to be on. The successful setup has been a blue or chrome Vib-E. If you can stay out of the wind for the most part, the bite has been decent.

Mosquito Creek Lake (Trumbull County) – Anglers are faring quite well on walleyes at this Trumbull County lake. Some fishermen are using swimbaits and jigs while others are using baits such as Vib-Es. Some of the walleyes are large, too, up to 25 inches. Fish the bait slowly around weed or rocky edges.

Pymatuning Reservoir (Ashtabula County) – Anglers fishing this large lake that spans the border between Ohio and Pennsylvania have had good luck catching perch. The good bite is coming on jig and minnow combinations fished fairly deep, 15 to 20 feet. Anglers fishing near the dam are having the best luck. Perch are ranging up to 10 inches, and limits are being caught.

West Branch Reservoir (Portage County) – Fishermen are still trolling for muskies here with some success. Troll at a slower speed to slow the bait down. A few muskies caught here recently were 35 inches or larger. The crappie bite, too, continues to be decent on nightcrawlers, minnows, or waxworms.

Southwest Region

Grand Lake St. Marys (Mercer, Auglaize counties) – Anglers are fishing jigs and minnows for crappies and yellow perch. Try a variety of jig colors until you find one that works. Also, be sure to locate fish at the proper depth, and then adjust the set up.

Rocky Fork Lake (Highland County) – Anglers fishing the docks here are catching a mixed bag of fish. Crappies, bluegills, yellow perch, and white bass are all being caught on ice spoons tipped with a minnow. Fish the bait between 15 and 20 feet deep for best results. The better bite is coming in the morning hours up until about noon.

Caesar Creek Lake (Warren, Clinton, Greene counties) – Anglers are fishing for crappies here with limited success. Fish a jig and minnow combination between 10 and 12 feet deep for best results. Anglers also might try using a minnow, piece of nightcrawler, or waxworm. Fish the bait slowly until you find a presentation that works.

Cowan Lake (Clinton County) – Anglers are catching a few crappies here on this lake near Wilmington. The popular setup has been either minnows or waxworms fished under a bobber.

Southeast Region

Salt Fork Lake (Guernsey County) – When the water has not been turbid, anglers are catching largemouth bass, saugeyes, and channel catfish. Also, some crappies are being caught, some up to 14-inch slab sizes. Use a jig and minnow combination or simply a minnow or waxworm under a bobber.

Piedmont Lake (Belmont County) – Anglers are still attempting to troll for saugeyes at this popular Belmont County lake. Cold temperatures have made it difficult, but some anglers trolling small crankbaits and stickbaits have done OK.

Leesville Lake (Carroll County) – Saugeye fishing is going fairly well on this Carroll County lake. Fish up to 26 inches have been reported by anglers jigging Vib-Es. Practice a slow retrieve in these colder than normal waters. For best results, fish the bait between 15 to 18 feet deep.

Tappan Lake (Harrison County) – Anglers have had some success fishing for saugeyes here recently. The fall bite appears to be on, according to angler reports. Fish a crankbait or a stickbait in a variety of colors. Channel catfish, too, are being caught by fishermen fishing chicken livers on the bottom.

Lake Erie Region

• The bag limit for walleye in Ohio waters of Lake Erie is six fish per angler. The minimum size limit for walleye is 15 inches.

• The daily bag limit for yellow perch is 30 fish per angler in all Ohio waters of Lake Erie.

• The trout and salmon daily bag limit is two fish per angler. The minimum size limit is 12 inches.

Walleyes

Where: When the weather has been conducive, walleye fishing has been excellent, primarily from the islands to Lorain. Fishing at night has been good nearshore for anglers trolling and fishing from piers near Catawba, Lakeside, and Marblehead, Huron to Lorain, and Cleveland.

How: Walleyes have been primarily caught by trolling with crankbaits or by casting jerkbaits at night from piers.

Lake Erie steelhead: The Division of Wildlife annually stocks selected Lake Erie tributary streams with six- to eight-inch yearling steelhead. These fish (called “smolts”) migrate out into Lake Erie and spend the summer in the cooler part of the lake before returning to streams during the fall through the spring. Steelhead trout caught by anglers in the streams typically average 25 inches long and weigh 5-6 pounds. These fish have usually spent two or three summers out in the lake. However, there are a good number of fish that are over 30 inches and weigh more than 10 pounds and have spent up to five summers in the lake.

Eggs are procured each spring from egg-taking operations in Michigan by the Michigan DNR (Little Manistee strain) and in Wisconsin by the Wisconsin DNR (Chambers Creek and Ganaraska strains). The steelhead strains the state uses are proven in Lake Erie and provide steelhead runs in our tributaries from fall through spring. Eggs are raised at the Division of Wildlife’s Castalia State Fish Hatchery for 11-12 months to the yearling stage, averaging 6-8 inches at release.

Ohio’s primary steelhead streams are the Vermilion, Rocky, Chagrin, Grand, and Ashtabula rivers and Conneaut Creek. The Rocky, Chagrin, and Grand rivers are scheduled to each receive 90,000 yearling steelhead annually. Conneaut Creek is scheduled to receive 75,000 fish from Ohio and 75,000 fish from the Pennsylvania Fish and Boat Commission each spring. The Vermilion River is scheduled to receive 55,000 steelhead annually. The Ashtabula River has begun to receive annual steelhead plants, now that water quality and habitat has improved, and annual hatchery production has exceeded 400,000 yearlings on a routine basis. Total targeted annual stocking numbers projected from Ohio’s Castalia State Fish Hatchery is at around 450,000 steelhead.

Several other rivers including the Cuyahoga, Huron, and Black rivers, and Arcola, Cowles, Wheeler, French, Euclid, Turkey, Beaver, and Cold creeks get runs of stray steelhead. While Division of Wildlife fisheries biologists have noted a small amount of natural reproduction, it varies greatly from year to year. It is too low and erratic to support the quality fishery that has been developed and that anglers have come to expect. Good quantities of cold spring water and adequate juvenile trout habitat are also rare in northeast Ohio’s Lake Erie tributaries. The fantastic fishing has been maintained by annual stocking and by the practice of most anglers to catch and release.

The Rocky River and other area streams are just dropping back into nice shape after being elevated and muddy since the weekend and can be expected to have plenty of fresh run steelhead available. There is weekend rain in the forecast so area streams can be expected to continue dropping and clearing. Lake Erie has been kicked up and rough, but when conditions are amenable, the steelhead and walleye night bite has been very good along the Cleveland lakefront.

Steelhead are becoming progressively more spread throughout the systems with fish now throughout the entire mainstem of the Rocky River as well as both branches. The big trout, averaging 5-7 pounds as of late, have been biting on brightly colored dime to nickel size spawn sacs when the water is stained, and beads that mimic salmon eggs, small marabou jigs tipped with a few maggots or a waxworm drifted under a float, flies (egg patterns and baitfish streamers), and lures such as Little Cleo spoons and Vibrax spinners as the water clears further. The fall run is kicking into high gear with Thanksgiving onward historically offering some of the best steelhead fishing of the season for hardy anglers who can handle the cold.

The big lake has been rough most of the past couple of weeks, but the steelhead bite has remained very good along the Cleveland lakefront as lake wave conditions allow, especially at Edgewater Park and E. 55th east facing breakwall. Steelhead can also be found off the breakwall at E. 72nd, the pier at Wendy Park at the mouth of the Cuyahoga River, off the breakwall at Wildwood Park, and off the jetties at Huntington Beach. Casting a spoon (i.e., Little Cleo or KO Wobbler) or spinner (i.e., Vibrax or RoosterTail) at these locations is as good a bet as any for connecting with a lakefront steelhead trout, as is suspending a small jig tipped with minnow or maggots under a bobber. Make sure to bring a long-handled landing net when fishing the lakefront for steelhead, according to recommendations from Cleveland Metroparks.

Complementing the great steelhead fishing along the Cleveland shoreline, excellent numbers of walleyes have been found along nearshore Lake Erie. Shore-based walleye anglers are doing the best casting stickbaits (i.e., Husky Jerks and Perfect 10s) and glow in the dark spoons at dusk and after dark. White bass and yellow perch fishing has been slow lately.

Cleveland Metroparks, www.clevelandmetroparks.com

BEYOND OHIO

Lake St. Clair (Michigan)

Panfish, including perch, have been  caught in the canals and marinas around Lake St. Clair. Water clarity was low after the rain and windy conditions. The perch bite was getting better for those using minnows on the bottom. A few limit catches were reported at the south end of the lake.

Lake Orion (Mich.)

Fishing pressure has been light on lakes in Oakland County. A few bass and panfish have been caught on Lake Orion and Lakeville Lake.

Trenton Area (Mich.)

Walleyes have been caught in the Detroit River off the Ford Yacht Club on the southern tip of Grosse Ile, and in the Trenton Channel up near the Edison plant. Anglers are jigging or hand-lining Rapalas or a jig and minnow. A few perch were caught in 8-10 feet of water at the Cross Dike.

Luna Pier Area (Mich.)

When they can get out, boat anglers on Lake Erie have been catching yellow perch in 18 to 20 feet of water off the Fermi nuclear plant, Stoney Point, and the Metropark. Some reported getting limit catches. On the Huron River, steelhead have been caught.

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