Alum Creek Lake (Delaware County) – Anglers are reporting anywhere from four to six inches of ice in many spots on this large Central Ohio lake. Crappies and saugeyes are being caught through the ice. The crappies are suspended in anywhere from 12 to 14 feet of water. Anglers are using blade baits such as Vib-Es and jig and minnow combinations to catch both saugeyes and crappies.
Indian Lake (Logan County) – Many shanties are out on this Logan County lake and ice thickness is reported up to eight inches in spots. Anglers are doing well on saugeyes, some of them ranging upward of 25 inches. Fish an ice spoon tipped with a maggot or waxworm for the crappie and saugeye bite. A warm up in the long-range forecast does not bode well for ice conditions, however. Be sure to take a spud bar with you while venturing onto the frozen surface.
Buckeye Lake (Fairfield, Licking, Perry counties) – Ice conditions are reported between four and six inches in most places. Anglers are catching saugeyes, crappies, and even a few catfish through the holes. Fishing pressure has been fairly heavy in the past week or so. Tie on a jig and tip it with a minnow to catch any of the above named species. The popular spot has been the marsh area off Fairfield Beach. Be sure to spud your way out, however, to test for ice thickness.
Findlay Reservoir No. 2 (Hancock County) – Fishermen are reporting up to eight inches of good, clear ice here, but the bite has been reportedly tough for walleyes and yellow perch. You might try catching perch, crappies, and bluegills near the boat ramp on jig and minnow combinations or simply a minnow under a bobber.
Fostoria Reservoir No. 5 (Hancock County) – Anglers are reporting about six inches of ice on this reservoir, which is also known as Lake Lecomte. Anglers fishing for crappies under the hardwater are catching a few, but are catching even more white perch. The popular set up has been a jig and waxworm combination. White perch are numerous and willing biters, according to reports.
Willard Reservoir (Huron County) – Only four to five inches of good ice is being reported, but those who have ventured out are catching a few fish. The popular spot has been the north end of the lake. Some small yellow perch and even a few channel catfish have been reportedly caught on wax worms, maggots, or minnows.
Mogadore Reservoir (Portage County) – This lake is known for its good population of panfish. About five to six inches of good ice is being reported. Anglers utilizing jigging Rapalas are catching crappies, bluegills, and yellow perch. Also, try using a slip bobber and a minnow to pick up a few fish. Anglers are accessing the lake at Lansinger Road.
Lake Milton (Mahoning County) – There were a few shanties on the lake north of the 76 bridge on the east end of the lake. Very few reports of anyone catching anything, however. Anglers are targeting crappies through the ice. Fish a minnow or waxworm beneath an ice float.
Pymatuning Reservoir (Ashtabula County) – There is a reported five inches of ice on this large Ohio/Pennsylvania lake. Reports indicate fishermen are catching good numbers of crappies in 10 to 15 feet of water. Tie on an ice jig and tip it with a minnow. Put the offering beneath a float and you’ll likely tie into some good panfish action.
Great Miami River (various counties) – Anglers are catching good size smallmouth bass on the GMR in recent days. The successful bait presentation has been to drop and drag a minnow slowly near the bottom. Find schools of shad on your sonar, and drop the bait right into them. Some crappies, too, are being caught using these same methods. Some of the smallmouth bass being caught are good size – up to 19 inches.
Rocky Fork Lake (Highland County) – With nearly every body of water locked up with at least a little bit of ice, Rocky Fork is a good place to try fishing off the docks. Anglers can catch panfish all day long here at the docks by the restaurant. Fish it just like you would fish through the ice. Try jigging Rapalas, jigs tipped with minnows, or straight minnows under a float.
Grand Lake St. Marys (Mercer, Auglaize counties) – Anglers were reporting about four inches of good ice here in late December/early January. Be sure to use a spud bar to test ice thickness before venturing onto it. Anglers who have fished through the ice have been rewarded with some good catches of crappies up to 11 inches. Some bluegills are also in the mix. For bait, you can’t beat a lively minnow under a bobber.
Salt Fork Lake (Guernsey County) – Only four to five inches of good ice is being reported, but those who have ventured onto it are catching channel catfish through the holes on Vib-Es, and jig and minnow combinations. Fish anywhere from five to 15 feet of water. Some crappies and white bass are also being reportedly caught through the ice.
Smaller waters (various southeast counties) – Anglers are reporting good ice on most smaller ponds in the region. You can catch most anything on these smaller bodies of water from crappies and bluegills to largemouth bass and catfish. Take along the Vexilar and start marking fish. Drop an ice spoon tipped with a minnow or waxworm down the hole. Keep the presentation simple and you’ll likely catch a mixed bag of fish.
Leesville Lake (Carroll County) – Anglers are fishing below the dam for saugeyes and catching a few. Try a Vib-E or similar bait. Most fishing pressure is coming in the evening hours after folks get out of work. Try early mornings for less pressure.
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.
Recent cold weather has ended open-water fishing and ice is forming, according to the Division of Wildlife. Although there have already been reports of both main lake and harbor ice fishing, ice conditions are still extremely variable. Use caution when ice fishing on Lake Erie.
With Ohioans experiencing frigid temperatures throughout the state, the Ohio DNR is encouraging residents and out-of-state visitors to be wise while participating in winter recreational activities outdoors, such as hiking or ice fishing. With the recent cold temperatures, it is important to remember that no ice is safe ice, and any ice that is covered by snow should always be presumed to be unsafe. Below are some safety tips to consider when spending time outdoors this winter.
Prepare for your hike by finding out how long it is and the level of difficulty. Visiting a specific state park? Hikers should visit parks.ohiodnr.gov and select the appropriate state park to see a map of the hiking trails. Hikers should contact the local park office for trail conditions.
Check the forecast, and have a plan if severe weather strikes. If inclement weather is approaching, reschedule the outdoor activity for a different time.
Hikers should let others know where they will be hiking and what time they will return.
Stay on the designated trail, and follow the trail signs.
Bring snacks and water. Cold, dry air can dehydrate hikers quickly.
During the winter, a frequently used trail can become packed down and be icy, even if other parts of the trail are clear. Be aware of potential slick spots and use caution at all times.
Dress warmly in layers. Start with insulating fabrics and use a final layer of protective fabrics.
Come prepared, pay attention to how you feel, and know when to go indoors.
Keep your head, neck, and hands covered by wearing a hat, scarf and gloves.
Sturdy waterproof boots and warm socks are recommended for hikers, and hand warmers can help on longer hikes.
Ice anglers should prepare and share a “float plan” to let people know when they will be out on the ice, where they will be fishing, where they will park their vehicles, and when they will return.
Always fish with a partner or in an area where several other anglers are present.
Contact a local ice guide or bait shop to ask about ice conditions.
Put a cellphone in a plastic bag to protect it from getting wet.
Adequately check the ice thickness before traveling onto the ice.
Dress properly for conditions, which should include wearing an approved life vest.
Avoid areas with feeder streams, springs, bridge pilings, docks, and dam structures since ice is usually very thin there.
Additionally, ice anglers should make sure they have a valid Ohio fishing license. Licenses expire on Feb. 28 so anglers should purchase a new license on March 1. Ice anglers should also know the size and daily limits for the fish they hope to catch.
DNR also licenses fishing guides in the Lake Erie region. For people interested in going on an ice-fishing trip with a guide, go to wildlife.ohiodnr.gov/fishing/ice-fishing/ohio-ice-fishing-guides.
A combined 3,000 pounds of rainbow trout were stocked at Cleveland Metroparks’ Wallace, Shadow, Ledge, Judge’s, and Ranger lakes in mid to late December and ice fishers have been out in full force pursuing them. The Lake Erie shoreline is now locked in by ice.
Area streams are ice covered following a sustained cold snap. The Lake Erie shoreline is also now locked in by ice. Don’t expect much of a chance in this regard until we experience a significant thaw. Cleveland area marinas on Lake Erie, such as E. 55th, Gordon Park, and Edgewater all offer decent ice-fishing opportunities for steelhead, panfish, walleye, and a shot at a northern pike.
Ice fishers are out in full force this week pursuing rainbow trout on Cleveland Metropark lakes and ponds. On Dec. 13 Metroparks stocked rainbow trout in Wallace (1,400 pounds) and Ranger (100 pounds) lakes and on Dec. 19 they stocked Shadow (750 pounds), Ledge (600 pounds), and Judge’s (150 pounds) lakes. The size of the trout averages from 1-2 pounds, with a few larger. The second (and final) round of winter trout will go into the same lakes around late January/early February. Trout are also available at Ohio & Erie Canal fishing area down the hill from CanalWay Visitor Center off E. 49th Street.
Trout have been biting on PowerBait, jigs tipped with a few maggots/waxworms, and smallish jigging spoons (such as Forage Minnow and Swedish Pimple). 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. A second (and final) round of winter trout will be released in about a month.
Most state conservation agencies recommend at least four inches of solid ice before anglers should venture out to ice fish, and in Cleveland Metroparks it is the angler’s responsibility to check that. One method is to use a spud bar near shore and check the ice thickness, and if it is greater than four inches then walk out a little further and check again. Ice is often thinnest right at the water’s edge and around inlets and outlets of the waterbody. If the spud bar goes through in one hard strike it is a red flag that you need to get out of that area immediately. Other safety tips are to carry a set of ice spikes on a cord around your neck, fish with a friend, let someone know where you’ll be, and focus on areas near where other anglers are already fishing.
Cleveland Metroparks, www.clevelandmetroparks.com
Lake St. Clair (Michigan)
Ice is finally forming on Lake St. Clair. The lake is not freezing evenly and anglers report anywhere from two to six inches. A good perch bite has been reported by anglers fishing off 11 Mile Road, Metro Beach, and in the canals around Metro Beach. Bluegills and panfish have been caught in front of the Raft Bar in Anchor Bay. Anglers also report a good perch bite on the Detroit River in the canals at Belle Isle. A few nice crappies have been caught, too.
Irish Hills Area (Mich.)
Lakes are freezing in Jackson County, but snow didn’t help the cause. With frigid temperatures in the forecast, anglers were hoping to get out on safe ice by the first week of January. There was about six inches of snow on the ground. The late archery deer season has been slow due to frigid temperatures keeping hunters indoors.