Buckeye Lake (Fairfield, Licking, Perry counties) – Anglers fishing near the north shore ramp have been catching saugeyes, but nothing of size to report. Expect the channel catfish bite to pick up with fish in the 4-pound range or better. Use cut shad for the best bite. Thornport, Lieb’s Island, and Fairfield Beach will all be good places to try for bluegills and crappies. Fish your bait shallow – between eight and 10 inches deep – early in the year.
Knox Lake (Knox County) – The catfish bite is the hottest thing going right now, with some fish up to 2 pounds being caught. Crappies and bluegills are also in the mix. Anglers are fishing a variety of baits from jig and minnow combinations to straight waxworms under a bobber.
Alum Creek Lake (Delaware County) – A few bass, crappies, and the occasional saugeye are being reported in angler creels. Fishing at the spillway has been a popular pursuit, as it always is during this time of year. The occasional muskie has been caught.
Deer Creek Lake (Madison, Fayette, Pickaway counties) – A lot of anglers have fished the spillway over the past two weeks for crappies, gills, and saugeyes. Crappie and bluegill catches have been reported, but most fish are small. An occasional saugeye is being picked up in the 15-16-inch size range. Try jigs in orange, chartreuse, or white for the best bite. Tip the rig with a minnow or waxworm for better results. The largest saugeye being reported was a 21-incher.
Bresler Reservoir (Allen County) – The hot bite has been for crappies, which are being caught deep in anywhere from 10 to 30 feet of water. Try waxworms under a bobber or jig and minnow combinations.
Grand Lake St. Marys (Mercer and Auglaize counties) – The bite for crappies and yellow perch seems to have turned off. The hardy angler still willing to try, though, might use Cicadas, spoons, or jig and minnow combinations. Try fishing the bait on a slow retrieve as fish seem to be sluggish, anglers report.
Maumee River (Lucas County) – As of March 6, the walleye run is officially on, according to Maumee Bait and Tackle. The days have warmed up and that first push of walleyes into the river is starting to get active. The run is off to a somewhat slow start, the bait shop reports, but more fish are arriving daily. Maumee Bait and Tackle reports a 5-pound jack coming into the bait store on March 5. Fish have been caught at Ford Street, Orleans Park, Fort Meigs, Bluegrass Island, and at the Jerome Road rapids. Popular colors have been orange heads with firetiger tails, green heads and green tails, black heads and yellow tails, and yellow heads with a yellow red firetiger tail.
Indian Lake (Logan County) – Indian Lake in Logan County was running muddy. Anglers are finding alternatives, however. Some fishermen fishing south of the dam are catching a few crappies and saugeyes, but nothing of any real size to report.
Conneaut Creek (Ashtabula County) – Conneaut Creek, one of the premier steelhead destinations in Ohio, is primed for the steelhead bite right now. Try spawn sacs for the best steelhead bite.
Mosquito Creek Lake (Trumbull County) – A few walleyes are being caught in this Trumbull County lake known for its decent fishing prospects. Other anglers are catching crappies and bluegills on waxworms or red worms. Also, jig and minnow combos can’t be beat in the spring. Try jigging the bait slowly in cold-water conditions.
Pymatuning Lake (Ashtabula County) – Anglers have done fairly well on crappies, perch, and walleyes this winter. The best spot has been Tuttle Point. Fish are biting on jig and minnow combinations. Try a variety of colors to see what works best.
Berlin Reservoir (Portage, Mahoning, Stark counties) – Anglers have been fishing this lake all winter, but the bite has been a tough one. For the best luck, try the area straight out from the boat launch. Fish anywhere from 10 to 20 feet of water with ice spoons or jig and minnow combinations. Some walleyes and catfish are being reported caught.
Atwood Lake (Carroll and Tuscarawas counties) – The popular spot on this lake is the lodge point, where anglers are catching saugeyes on vibrating blade baits like Vib-Es and Cicadas. Fish the bait shallow, in anywhere from five to 10 feet of water, for best results. Others are fishing near the dam for crappies and bluegills with some success. Employ jig and minnow combinations or waxworms for the panfish bite.
Kiser Lake (Champaign County) – Most of the fishing is confined to the east end of the lake with anglers reporting good numbers of crappies and bluegills being caught. Try the usual panfish offerings of waxworms or maggots under a bobber for best results. Fish have ranged up to 11 inches.
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.
C.J. Brown Reservoir (Clark County) – Anglers are catching good numbers of crappies at this reservoir known for its walleye population in southwest Ohio. Angler reports indicate that fish are suspended at about 15 feet in 30-foot depths. Try chartreuse jig and minnow combinations for the best panfish bite. Some panfish anglers are also picking up the occasional walleye, although most are short fish. The crappies have ranged up to 12 inches.
Dillon Lake (Muskingum County) – Anglers are employing the typical effort fishing below the dam here and are picking up some bluegills and crappies. The saugeye bite, however, has been close to non-existent.
Wills Creek Lake (Muskingum and Coshocton counties) – Anglers fishing below the dam are catching some saugeyes. The bite is largely hit and miss, but the spillway is still fished fairly hard by the locals. In other areas in the southeast, anglers fishing strip pits in Perry County have reported catching loads of largemouth bass. One report recently had an angler catching a 7-pound bass from one of the pits, although the report cannot be verified.
Lake Erie Region
• The daily bag limit for walleyes in Ohio waters of Lake Erie is four fish per angler from March 1 through April 30. The minimum size limit for walleyes 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.
• Black bass (largemouth and smallmouth bass): the daily bag limit is five fish per angler with a 14 inch minimum size limit.
Where: Recently, walleyes have been caught from Huron to Cedar Point, and west of both South Bass and Catawba islands.
How: Most fish were caught by trolling with crankbaits, but some have also been caught by vertically jigging.
As of March 6, the Lake Erie water temperature was 39 off Toledo and 35 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 rivers are dropping after being elevated and muddy for several days. It looks like we have some rain coming, but unless it ends up being a substantial amount river conditions should continue to improve.
The Rocky and Chagrin rivers are dropping in level after being elevated and muddy the past few days following quite a bit of rain. Fishing has been great lately as conditions have allowed, with a mix of fresh chrome and older more colorful steelhead well distributed throughout both watersheds at this time. A number of big 30-inch-plus steelhead have been reported over the past month and a fair number of fish have already been spawning earlier than usual. There is also an abundance of skippers (smaller 15-18-inch steelhead) in the northern river reaches, which bodes well for next year. When the water is on the stained side, a dime- to nickel-sized brightly colored spawn sac (hot pink or chartreuse are both good) drifted under a float/bobber is hard to beat. As the water further clears, other offerings, including live/salted minnows, jigs tipped with maggots or waxworms, salmon-egg mimicking beads, and various flies (eggs, nymphs, and streamers) begin taking a good share of the fish. Medium-sized silvery spoons, spinners, and small to medium crankbaits can be worth a try, as well, and require less specialized tackle for newer steelhead anglers. The Cuyahoga River and Euclid Creek have also been producing steelhead lately. A small number of lake-run white suckers and a few smallmouth bass are being caught by river anglers, as well.
Some steelhead can also 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).
A total of 3,000 pounds of trout have been stocked since late January/early February at Wallace (1,400 lbs), Shadow (750 lbs), Ledge (650 lbs), Judge’s (100 lbs), and Ranger (100 lbs) lakes and plenty of these trout remain. This concludes Cleveland Metroparks’ winter trout stocking, which has totaled 6,000 pounds among these five locations since December. Trout hit well on PowerBait fished near the bottom, jigs tipped with a few maggots/waxworms suspended below a bobber, minnows, and smaller spoons and spinners. The most successful anglers change their presentation until they find what works on a given day. 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 & Erie Canal. Spring stocking of trout in the East Branch Rocky River will likely begin mid-March.
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.
Lake St. Clair (Michigan)
There was no safe ice on Lake St. Clair or in the canals surrounding the lake. With more warm weather in the forecast it’s a good bet that the ice is shot for this year. There was no snow on the ground. Rabbit hunting has been tough but squirrel hunting ended on a good note.
Lakeside Fishing Shops, (586) 777-7003
Lake Orion (Mich.)
There was no safe ice in Oakland County and no open water so fishing has stalled for now. Squirrel and rabbit hunting has been decent at the Bald Mountain State Recreation Area.
Lakes Village Stop/Mobile Gas Station, (248) 693-4565
Trenton Area (Mich.)
There was still some ice coming down the Detroit River, but boat anglers were able to get out. There have been no reports of walleye action yet, but perch are hitting at the Cross Dyke near Sugar Island, in Airport Bay and in the canals around Grosse Ile.
Bottom Line Bait & Tackle, (734) 379-9762
Trenton Lighthouse, (734) 675-7080
Luna Pier Area (Mich.)
The open water in the Western Basin of Lake Erie has been calling anglers all winter long and the action has been very good. Lately, most of the fish have been caught in Ohio waters so be sure to check your license and location before wetting a line.
Luna Pier Harbour Club, (734) 848-8777
Sturgis Area (Mich.)
The ice is shot on Klinger Lake and other inland lakes in the area and ice fishing has ended for now. Hunting pressure has been very light. There was no snow on the ground last week.
Klinger Lake Trading Post, (269) 651-2679
Coldwater Area (Mich.)
Warm temperatures and rain have brought ice fishing to an abrupt halt in Branch County and across southern Michigan. With no snow on the ground, rabbit hunting has been tough and hunting pressure light. Coyote hunting has been decent, but hunting pressure has been light.
Hoskins Bait House, (517) 369-1330
Steelhead fishing has been very good on the Kalamazoo River. Fish have been caught below Calkins Dam and throughout the river. Down on the St. Joseph River, steelhead fishing has been very good.