Deer Creek Lake (Madison, Fayette, Pickaway counties) – Saugeye is about the only game in town for anglers on Deer Creek at this time of year. Most catches have been in the 14-19-inch range coming on twister tails and jig heads. Some are tipping the set with minnows. Experienced anglers on Deer Creek are targeting the dam area.
Buckeye Lake (Fairfield, Licking, Perry counties) – Fishing is slow at this central Ohio lake. Some saugeyes and crappies were being caught near the state park office and Sellers Point where water remained open. Baits of choice were floating jigs tipped with minis and jerkbaits. At nearby Dillon Reservoir, anglers are reporting success catching channel catfish.
Clendening Lake (Harrison County) – Anglers were vertical jigging, bouncing their jigs tipped with minnows or nightcrawlers off the bottom for saugeyes. There isn’t much angling pressure on the lake right now, however.
Piedmont Lake (Belmont, Harrison, Guernsey counties) – The saugeye bite was good for a while in February but on and off again skim ice and high winds cooled things off. Elsewhere in the region, anglers were catching smallmouth and saugeye in the Tuscarawas River from the Dover/New Philadelphia area all the way down to its junction with the Muskingum River.
Grand Lake St. Marys (Mercer and Auglaize counties) – With spring-like temperatures into mid-February, anglers were pulling in good numbers of crappies but nothing of any size to report. The effective bait has been jigs tipped with minnows fished in three to six feet of water. The lake is mostly open water with some skim ice in some of the channels. That could change quickly with warming temperatures.
Indian Lake (Logan County) – Fishing has been spotty at Indian like it has at most places around the state. Saugeye anglers were producing fish on jerkbaits around the Moundwood area in mid-February, but cold weather moved back in, slowing angler success.
Conneaut Creek (Ashtabula County) – High water levels turned off the steelhead bite in mid-February. Most rivers and streams where steelhead can typically be caught have high flows and are very turbid. Rain, snow, and high winds have stalled fishing. Good numbers of steelhead are well distributed throughout the rivers and small tributaries, but improved weather conditions are necessary before the bite will turn back on. Anglers were having good success with eggs, minnows, or jig and maggot combinations. Fly anglers were using streamer, stonefly, nymph, and egg patterns to get fish.
Mosquito Creek Lake (Trumbull County) – Patchy ice is covering much of Mosquito with mostly open water south of the spillway. Anglers will begin wading in about another month for walleyes when water temperatures warm a bit.
LaDue Reservoir, Punderson Lake (Geauga County) – Anglers were within a day or two of getting on the ice in mid-February before a drastic warm up and high winds foiled their plans. At LaDue, there had been some productive open-water angling for bluegills and crappies near the Ohio 44 bridge and some open-water spots under other bridges. Anglers were successful using minnows suspended under bobbers.
Kiser Lake (Champaign County) – This lake, 12 miles west of Urbana, is a good spot to catch panfish in the winter and maybe even some catfish. Check back on this fishing report for updated ice conditions in the coming weeks.
East Fork Lake (Clermont County) – Jigs tipped with minnows fished deep in the lake have produced decent crappie numbers for some anglers. Slabs are being caught in 18-25-foot depths.
Paint Creek Lake (Highland and Ross counties – Anglers are reporting success catching crappies in both Paint Creek Lake and nearby Rocky Fork Lake. Saugeyes in the 22-24-inch range were being pulled from the Paint Creek spillway. Popular baits have been 1⁄16-ounce jigs tipped with minnows or curly worms in chartreuse glitter or white.
Rocky Fork Lake (Highland County) – The crappie bite at Rocky Fork has been steady with anglers catching fish near the restaurant and boat docks. Most fish have been in the seven- to nine-inch range, with some up to 11 inches. A few saugeyes are also being caught, up to 13 inches.
Salt Fork Lake (Guernsey County) — Saugeyes up to 3 pounds were being caught in mid-February on blade baits such as Vib-Es.
Seneca Lake (Guernsey and Noble counties) – The saugeye bite on Seneca Lake is currently the best thing going in the area. Anglers are catching them around the dam area and on the deep, outside sections of the creek channel. Fishing close to large schools of shad seems to be crucial. Most saugeyes will be holding tight to the bottom, so try vertical jig blade baits, spoons, or a jig and minnow combination for best results.
Tycoon Lake (Gallia County) – Bass anglers who normally would be holed up until spring are testing the Tycoon Lake waters a bit earlier with the warmer weather. There is good potential for trophy bass but there have not yet been any reports of big ones being taken.
Dillon Lake (Muskingum County) – The usual wintertime fishing at the spillway on this Muskingum County lake is about the only thing going right now. Anglers are reporting catching a few crappies and bluegills on jig and minnow combinations. A few saugeyes, too, are being caught, according to angler reports.
Lake Erie Region
• 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.
• Black bass (largemouth and smallmouth bass): the daily bag limit is five fish per angler with a 14-inch minimum size limit.
Where: Recent weather has limited fishing opportunities on Lake Erie, although there have been some reports of walleyes being caught off Huron.
How: Most fish were caught by trolling with crankbaits.
As of Feb. 1, the Lake Erie water temperature was 38 off Toledo and 36 off Cleveland, according to the nearshore marine forecast.
In winter, highlight species targeted by anglers in Cleveland Metroparks include steelhead trout, stocked trout, and panfish. The Rocky River and other area streams are currently dropping in level and clearing, although more rain appears to be on the way in the coming days. Steelhead opportunities in the streams this weekend will depend on how much more rain is received.
If we receive minimal additional precipitation, the streams could be fishable over the weekend, so keep posted to the flow data for the latest trend. Keep in mind that smaller streams clear before the larger waters. In stained flows, it’s hard to beat a nickel- to quarter-size brightly colored spawn sac, and a larger egg sucking leech fly offers good contrast in dirty water for fly fishers. Anglers can expect some fresh steelhead in the streams when stream conditions begin to clear.
Some steelhead can be found along the Lake Erie shoreline throughout winter at E. 55th and Edgewater parks. The breakwalls and shoreline rocks are slippery, though, so it is a wise plan to wear boot cleats/chains if you head out there. Popular methods for targeting Lake Erie shoreline steelies include suspending a jig tipped with minnow or nightcrawler two to five feet below a bobber, as well as casting a spoon (i.e., Little Cleo or KO Wobbler) or spinner (i.e., Vibrax or RoosterTail). Make sure to bring a long-handled net.
A total of 3,000 pounds of trout were stocked in Metroparks lakes in December and a good number of those remain. Metropark lakes are offering open water again and the trout bite was has been on at Wallace, Shadow, and Ledge lakes, in particular. Trout hit well on PowerBait, canned corn, small spinners, and jigs tipped with a few maggots/waxworms, and nightcrawlers or shrimp. Depending on the day, trout might be right near the bottom or cruising around suspended at varying depths, and the most successful anglers change their presentation until they find what works. Note the current seasonal trout regulations: Lake Erie and all streams two/day, minimum size 12 inches (this includes steelhead); three/day, no size limit at Wallace, Ledge, Judge’s, and Ranger lakes, and five/day, no size limit at Shadow Lake and Ohio and Erie Canal. The second (and final) round of winter trout is tentatively scheduled to occur over the next two weeks.
Cleveland Metroparks, www.clevelandmetroparks.com
Ohio River Region
Lawrence and Scioto counties – At Greenup Dam, saugers are being caught on jigs and white grubs or by dropping minnows straight down off the fishing access walls. Hybrid striped bass have been hitting on minnows, shad, and cut baits. Channel catfish are being caught in good numbers near the Portsmouth boat ramp using cut bait and live shad. Crappies eight to 10 inches in size can be caught in the embayment near the Shawnee State marina. Use minnows and fish around brush piles and docks in four to six feet of water. Largemouth and spotted bass were caught in good numbers over the weekend using black/silver and blue/silver crankbaits.
Belmont and Monroe counties – Anglers have been catching stripers and walleyes at the Pike Island Dam. Anglers have been catching skipjack and then using them for bait to entice the striper bite. Drop the skipjack right along the wall of the dam for best results.
Hamilton County – A few hardy anglers have been fishing the Meldahl Dam area and picking up a few saugers. The bite is reportedly a tough one, however.
Presque Isle Bay (Erie County, Pennsylvania) – Anglers were catching bluegills at the head of the bay and in Marina Lake in mid-January, as ice conditions allowed.
Lake Erie tributaries (Pa.) – Creeks were largely open with lots of water in mid-January and anglers were catching steelhead in Elk Creek from Rt. 5 down to the lake. Elk Creek Sports reported numbers of fresh fish in Elk after episodes of rainfall, with catches being made above the Legion Hole.
French Creek (Erie, Crawford, Venango, Mercer counties, Pa.) – This Allegheny River tributary was practically unfishable in mid-January as it veered from iced-over to flooded after a period of thaw. As conditions allowed, some nice walleyes were reported through the Crawford County stretch.
Pymatuning Reservoir (Crawford County, Pa.) – Ice-angling action was mixed as conditions allowed in recent weeks. Limited ice fishing was reported at the Jamestown Marina docks, with crappies and bluegills reported by the few anglers fishing. Some walleyes were caught in the Pymatuning Dam outflow. Some anglers were ice fishing on the north end down to Snodgrass in early January. A pair of anglers caught nine walleyes, and another angler limited out. One angler hooked a muskie and lost another.
Woodcock Creek Lake (Crawford County, Pa.) – Rain and snow melt caused rising water levels on this flood-control lake in mid-January, making it practically unfishable. The dam outflow in Woodcock Creek is sometimes targeted for walleyes.
Sugar Lake (Crawford County, Pa.) – Ice was “iffy” in mid-January but as conditions allowed, anglers were catching panfish on meal worms or waxworms on jigs. Fish were running small.
Shenango River Reservoir (Mercer County, Pa.) – As conditions allowed earlier in January, anglers were catching crappies, perch, and bluegills through the ice. The outflow was yielding trout, walleyes, northern pike, and channel catfish.
Keystone Lake (Armstrong County, Pa.) – When open-water allowed, anglers released largemouth bass.
Allegheny River (Venango County, Pa.) – Walleyes up to 26 inches were reported as conditions allowed in recent weeks, with anglers reporting success on slow-rolling crankbaits or jerkbaits.
Kahle Lake (Clarion County, Pa.) – Bluegills and crappies were reported along with the occasional bass as ice allowed in late December.
Lake Arthur (Butler County, Pa.) – Ice anglers were catching big numbers of crappies and bluegills, mostly on minnows, as conditions allowed. Some larger crappies were caught across from the 528 Boat Launch. A couple of anglers are catching channel catfish through the ice, as well.
Canadohta Lake (Crawford County, Pa.) – Yellow perch, crappies, and other panfish were reported as conditions allowed on this natural lake. Jigs tipped with minnows, meal worms, or waxworms were the ticket.
Bessemer Lake (Lawrence County, Pa.) – Trout and largemouth bass were being iced, as conditions allowed, on minnows and maggots.
Lake St. Clair (Michigan)
Ice fishing on Lake St. Clair has come to an abrupt halt with rain and warm temperatures wreaking havoc on ice conditions. A few anglers were walking out at the Metropark and in Anchor Bay but that was ill-advised.
Lakeside Fishing Shops, (586) 777-7003
Irish Hills Area (Mich.)
Unseasonably warm temperatures and rain have deteriorated ice conditions across southern Michigan. The 2017 Midwest Ice Fishing Championship on Devil’s Lake has been postponed until Feb. 12.
Knutson’s Sporting Goods, (800) 292-0857 or (517) 592-2786
Lake Orion (Mich.)
Ice had melted along shore and was not safe for foot traffic on Lake Orion. Light numbers of steelhead have been caught in the Clinton River when the water was clear. Hunting pressure has been very light.
Lakes Village Stop/Mobile Gas Station, (248) 693-4565
The Detroit River is wide open. A few boats were going out but most were sticking to the canals because of all the ice coming down the river. Perch anglers were fishing off the docks in the marinas and in the canals near Gibraltar, but were sorting through a lot of small ones to get a few keepers.
Bottom Line Bait & Tackle, (734) 379-9762
Trenton Lighthouse, (734) 675-7080
Luna Pier Area
Walleye fishing has been on fire in the open waters in the Western Basin of Lake Erie. Fish over 10 pounds have been caught by boaters jigging and trolling crankbaits in 15 to 20 feet of water.
Luna Pier Harbour Club, (734) 848-8777