Buckeye Lake (Fairfield, Licking and Perry counties) – Anglers are trolling to catch some saugeyes here. Most of the fish being caught, however, are running small. Anglers are dragging worm harnesses. Some channel catfish are also being caught using this method. Anglers are also catching a bunch of small crappies, too, from the last couple of years’ worth of hatches.
Alum Creek Lake (Delaware County) – Fishermen are getting set up to try for smallmouth bass, mainly in the south pool of Alum. When water temperatures warm, smallmouths can be taken on drop-shot rigs right outside the weed line. Right now, anglers are catching a few stray saugeyes on smallish crankbaits.
Deer Creek Lake (Pickaway, Fayette counties) – Anglers are catching saugeyes here, but sizes have been smallish, in the 10- to 12-inch range. Fishermen are also catching white bass on jig and minnow combinations. Crappies, too, are being caught on the same bait.
Hoover Reservoir (Delaware, Franklin counties) – Limits of crappies are being caught by anglers fishing jigs tipped with minnows. Some are also slow trolling for the successful crappie bite with the same baits. Fish the bait between 10 and 15 feet deep for best results. White bass, too, are being caught by slow-trolling anglers.
Indian Lake (Logan County) – Anglers are doing well catching saugeyes here. Anglers report they are using swimbaits to entice the daytime bite. Fish the spillway area or the south bank. Orange and chartreuse have been the popular colors.
Sandusky River (Sandusky County) – Waders are doing better than bank casters for walleyes at this northwest Ohio river. Many small male jacks are being caught, and many more are being snagged. Remember, you must release a snagged fish. The best colors on the jigs is a white head with a black tail. Not many four-fish limits being caught. Most anglers are coming away with a two-fish stringer or so.
Maumee River (Lucas County) – Despite the colder than normal spring, walleyes are stacking up in the Maumee River. According to a report from Maumee Bait and Tackle, anglers are catching a few jacks. Any warm up in the forecast would really turn the good walleye bite on. Wading to Bluegrass Island, as of April 17, was not possible. Fish are being taken at the White Street and Orleans park accesses. The cold weather, according to the bait shop, is prolonging the walleye run.
Maumee Bait and Tackle, www.maumeetackle.net
Findlay Reservoir No. 2 (Hancock County) – Anglers are fishing for walleyes and yellow perch here but are not having much luck. If it’s white bass you’re after, you might have better success. Tie on a hook and minnow or waxworm to tempt these hardy fighters. Jig and minnow combos will also work for all three of the above species, particularly in the early spring.
West Branch Reservoir (Portage County) – Fishermen are targeting smallmouth and largemouth bass and channel catfish here in the early spring. Fish cut bait on the bottom for the best catfish bite. For the bass, try a spinnerbait cast close to cover. Crappies, too, will haunt the same spots as the bass and will bite well in the evening hours. A stray muskie is being caught by the dam. The muskie bite is coming on big crankbaits.
Pymatuning Reservoir (Ashtabula County) – Anglers are catching crappies, bluegills, and yellow perch here with some regularity. All of the fish are coming in shallow water – five to seven feet – and are biting on minnows fished under a bobber. Jig combinations are also working well. Find a stickup, and find the fish.
Mogadore Reservoir (Portage County) – Action has been a little slow, but some anglers are managing to catch fish here. Anglers are catching a few small yellow perch on waxworms or minnows fished under a float. An occasional largemouth bass is also taking these baits. A water temperature warming trend is needed before the bite really turns on here.
Mosquito Creek Lake (Trumbull County) – Anglers are fishing the shallow water areas of Mosquito for walleyes with some success. The jig bite appears to be on, according to angler reports. Fishermen are also catching them on swimbaits and small crankbaits. Most successful anglers are fishing the north end of the lake.
Rocky Fork Lake (Highland County) – Anglers are catching some largemouth bass on the main lake at Rocky Fork. The best bite is coming on plastics in chartreuse and orange. Crappies, too, are being caught on the same baits. Fish the bait rather shallow, five to seven feet, for better results.
Paint Creek Lake (Highland County) – Fishermen here are catching some crappies by fishing waxworms fairly deep, 15-20 feet. Also, artificials tipped with live bait will take their share of crappies, too. Fish the spillway for saugeyes at this time of year. Swimbaits and crankbaits will take some saugeyes.
C.J. Brown Reservoir (Clark County) – Anglers fishing for walleyes here in the early spring aren’t having much luck for that species, but they are catching crappies. The best bite is coming fairly deep, in about 20 feet of water, on any variety of bait that typically catches panfish. Water temperature was in the high 40s in mid-April.
Caesar Creek Lake (Warren, Clinton, Greene counties) – Water clarity hasn’t been the greatest here, but a few anglers are giving it a try. Most are after crappies, and they’re catching a few in the muddy conditions. Bite hasn’t been great, again, but you might try a straight minnow or jig and minnow combo among the stickups in the coves.
Great Miami River (various counties) – Anglers are hitting the GMR in a number of spots and catching smallmouth bass. For the best bite this spring, fish your bait shallow – such as three to six feet of water – and look for seams in the current. The best set up has been a three- to five-inch finesse tube fished slowly. These smallmouth are reportedly light biters, so set the hook at the first sign of resistance.
Seneca Lake (Noble, Guernsey counties) – Water clarity isn’t too bad on this southeast Ohio lake, which is something that can’t be said for many lakes in the region. Anglers are catching a few saugeyes, according to reports. The best bait in the early season is a jig tipped with a minnow jigged slowly. Slow the jig down in the spring until water temperatures warm up a bit. Right now, water temps are in the high 40s.
Leesville Lake (Carroll County) – Anglers who have hit Leesville in recent weeks are catching a few keeper saugeyes, some muskies, and even largemouth bass. Successful saugeye fishermen are catching them on Vib-Es worked slowly or jerkbaits worked in the same fashion. The best advice, according to angler reports, is to try different depths, from five to 15 feet, until you can find a spot where they are biting.
Burr Oak Lake (Morgan, Athens counties) – If you can manage to get around the high water levels at Burr Oak, you might catch a largemouth bass or two. Fish bright-colored plastics in the turbid water for best results. Fish the bait fairly shallow, between five and 10 feet, around cover.
Piedmont Lake (Belmont County) – Anglers were catching a few saugeyes here in recent days. The best bite is coming on live bait such as nightcrawlers or minnows. Crappies, too, can be caught in early spring on these same baits. Fish the bait between 10 and 15 feet deep for the best bite.
Lake Erie Region
• The daily bag limit for walleyes in Ohio waters of Lake Erie is four fish per angler until April 30. Beginning May 1, the bag limit is six. 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): Until April 30, the daily bag limit is five fish per angler with a 14-inch minimum size. Beginning May 1, possession is prohibited through June 29.
Where: Anglers have been having success, despite prolonged periods of cold weather, heavy winds, and poor water clarity. Anglers were catching fish as they begin to move onto or adjacent to reefs in the Western Basin as water temperatures gradually climbed into the 40s. Fish are still being caught in open water as well.
How: Anglers were having success jigging near spawning reefs in the Western Basin. Hair jigs and blade baits were both successful. Fish were also caught trolling deep diving crankbaits 80 to 110 feet back at speeds of 1.0 to 1.5 mph. Purple remains a hot color.
The Rocky River and other area streams are in nice shape at the moment, holding good flow and a nice green stain. But there is a lot of rain in the forecast that will very likely change conditions into the weekend for steelhead anglers.
Recently, Cleveland Metroparks stocked 600 pounds of rainbow trout in the East Branch Rocky River in Millstream Run Reservation. Also, plenty of trout remain at Wallace, Shadow, Ledge, Judge’s, Hinckley, and Ranger lakes. The Lake Erie marina and harbor areas also offer steelhead trout, northern pike, largemouth bass, and panfish in spring.
Wise anglers will keep an eye on the flow data before embarking on a trip to the river. This week the streams have offered a diverse mix of fresh pre-spawn, spawning, post-spawn, and skipper steelhead of all sizes. Fish are very well distributed all throughout the Rocky, Chagrin, and Cuyahoga rivers and smaller tributaries, such as Euclid Creek at Wildwood Park, drop and clear more rapidly, and offer good prospects, while the larger rivers are elevated. In stained water (as we very well may have) a brightly colored spawn sac about the size of a nickel has been the top producer, although bright or contrasting colored jig (tipped with maggots) and fly patterns also catch muddy steelhead under such conditions. Anglers can look forward to very good steelhead fishing at least into early May given the slow warm-up we’ve had this spring.
The white sucker run is underway on local streams, with Morley Ford north of the Lorain Road bridge being a hot spot. A leadhead jig with twister tail, nymph flies, or worm and small sinker fished near the river bottom will all take their share of suckers. Suckers are perfect for kids and less experienced anglers, although experienced anglers can find the fast action they afford to be lots of fun, as well. For some anglers, harvesting suckers for use in making fish patties is a spring tradition. Recipes can be found online if you want to give this a try.
Cleveland shoreline breakwalls, marinas, and harbors on Lake Erie have been rough and muddy from waves, but this time of year anglers have a shot at catching steelhead, along with northern pike, largemouth bass, and panfish at these locations. Productive spots include Edgewater, Wildwood, and East 72nd/Gordon Park boat ramp areas. For steelhead a medium size Little Cleo spoon (or similar) or jig tipped with minnow or maggots suspended under a float are top producers. For northern pike and largemouth bass a white and silver spinnerbait is often a producer.
Recently, Metroparks added another 600 pounds of trout to the 1,800 pounds stocked since mid-March in the East Branch Rocky River between Route 82 (Royalton Road) and the river crossing ford about a mile south of Wallace Lake. Of the six spots Metroparks routinely stocks, Bonnie Park (on both the upstream and downstream side of the dam) receives the lion’s share of these fish. Metroparks will continue stocking trout in the river up until the end of April.
Cleveland Metropark’s inland lakes are offering very good trout fishing opportunities at this time. In late March, 291 coho salmon were stocked in Wallace Lake as a bonus spring fishery. Stockings like this are made possible by proceeds from the Cleveland Metroparks Fishing Fund. On March 29, the Ohio Division of Wildlife stocked 816 rainbow trout at Shadow Lake and 2,759 rainbow trout at Hinckley Lake. Additionally, Metroparks stocked 6,000 pounds of trout this past winter, as follows: Jan. 22, Shadow (1,500 pounds), Ledge (1,200 pounds), and Judge’s (300 pounds) lakes; and on Jan. 24, Wallace (2,800 pounds) and Ranger (200 pounds) lakes.
Trout and coho salmon typically bite well on PowerBait, jigs tipped with a few maggots/waxworms, and smaller spinners (such as Rooster Tail). Note the current seasonal trout/salmon regulations: Lake Erie and all streams two/day, minimum size 12 inches (this includes steelhead); three/day, no size limit, at Wallace, Judge’s, and Ranger lakes; and five/day, no size limit, at Shadow Lake and Ohio & Erie Canal. Note: Ledge Lake is posted as catch and release fishing only until further notice.
Cleveland Metroparks, www.clevelandmetroparks.com
OHIO RIVER REGION
Racine Pool – Anglers are fishing for saugers here with some success. The best bait has been a lively minnow, on a jig. Fish the bait slowly in cold water.
Greenup Dam – Fish for hybrid stripers here like you would fish for catfish. These wipers will hit chicken livers and cut bait fished on the bottom.
Pike Island – Saugers are being caught by anglers fishing quarter-ounce jigs tipped with minnows. Some white bass, too, are being caught. Most fish running small for guys fishing from the pier.
New Cumberland Lock and Dam – Anglers are swimming plastics here for walleyes with some success. Size has ranged up to 18 inches. Some white bass are also being caught.