Warm to bitterly cold trend produces poor results

An old Ohio saying goes something like this: “If you don’t like
the weather, stick around for about an hour.” It proved true once
again through the month of February with wildly fluctuating
temperatures that rose into the 60s in some parts of the state only
to drop into the 30s – and into the teens in some places – a day
later. Anglers donning their windbreakers one day resorted to heavy
parkas the next while most seem to have stayed home, according to
fishing reports, or lack thereof, from around the state.

CENTRAL REGION

Deer Creek Lake (Madison, Fayette, and Pickaway counties) —
Saugeye is about the only game in town for anglers on Deer Creek,
said Jack McKirgan of Mary’s Bait Shop in nearby Washington Court
House. Most catches have been in the 14-19-inch range coming on
twister tails and jig heads. Some are tipping the set with minnows
but McKirgan said the twister tail set up has been just as
effective as live bait. “You don’t need a whole lot of weight and
you don’t need to take it down very far,” McKirgan said of depth.
Anglers experienced on Deer Creek are targetting the dam area,
McKirgan said.

Mary’s Bait Shop, 740-869-3597

Buckeye Lake (Fairfield, Licking and Perry counties) — Fishing
is slow, reports Bob Mathie of Bob’s Outdoor Supply. Buckeye had a
thin layer of ice covering it in early February before a warm up
turned much of it back to open water. “Usually at this time of year
when the ice comes off the channel cats start biting but this isn’t
a usual year so I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Mathie said.
Some saugeye and crappie 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 before ice up.

Bob’s Outdoor Supply, 740-349-0992

Clendening Lake (Harrison County) — Before a mid-February freeze
up, anglers were vertical jigging off bridges, bouncing their jigs
tipped with minnows or nightcrawlers off the bottom for saugeye,
said Tom Sikora of Pitstop/Star Fire Express in Martin’s Ferry.
There isn’t much angling pressure on the lake right now, however.
“This is kind of that dead time of year,” Sikora said.

Pitstop/Star Fire Express, 740-633-3170

Cripple Creek Bait & Tackle, 740-922-0841

Piedmont Lake (Belmont, Harrison, Guernsey counties) — The
saugeye bite was good for a while in February, reports Jim Corey of
Cripple Creek Bait and Tackle in Dennison, 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. Corey said he’s been moving
shiners and medium size minnows out of his shop for river anglers
in the area.

Pitstop/Star Fire Express, 740-633-3170

Cripple Creek Bait & Tackle, 740-922-0841

NORTHWEST REGION

Grand Lake St. Marys (Mercer and Auglaize counties) — With
spring-like temperatures into mid-February, anglers were pulling in
good numbers of crappie but nothing of any size to report. The
effective bait has been jigs tipped with minnows fished in 3 to 6
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.

Outdoorsman, 419-394-5769

Mike’s Bait & Tackle, 419-394-4478

Indian Lake (Logan County) —

Fishing has been spotty at Indian like it has at most places
around the state, reports Tim Harshbarger of Lakeside Pro Bass
Shop. Saugeye anglers were producing fish on jerkbaits around the
Moundwood area in mid-February but cold weather moved back in
toward the end of the month, slowing angler success. “Everything
comes to a halt when you have weather patterns like this,”
Harshbarger said.

Lakeside Pro Bass Shop, 937-843-2488

NORTHEAST REGION

Conneaut Creek (Ashtabula County) — Snug Harbor Bait and Tackle
is reporting 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.

Snug Harbor Bait and Tackle (Conneaut), 440-593-3755

LaDue Reservoir (Geauga County) — It’s been a case of close but
no cigar on Punderson Lake, reports Jim Punder of the One Stop
Fishing Shop in Burton. Punder said 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 bluegill and crappie near the
Ohio 44 bridge and some open water spots under other bridges.
Punder said anglers were successful using minnows suspended under
bobbers. He doesn’t expect the report to change for the better over
the next month. “The weather’s been up and down like this all
winter so I don’t expect it will change now,” Punder said.

One Stop Fishing Shop, 440-834-2248

Mosquito Creek Lake (Trumbull County) — Patchy ice is covering
much of Mosquito with mostly open water south of the spillway.
Oscar Kachenko of Causeway Sporting Goods says business has been
slow with 40-mph winds buffeting the lake in mid-February. Anglers
will begin wading in about another month when water temperatures
warm a bit, he said, but Kachenko doesn’t expect much fishing
success until then.

Causeway Sporting Goods, 330-637-7076

SOUTHWEST REGION

East Fork Lake (Clermont County) — Jigs tipped with minnows
fished deep in the lake has produced decent crappie numbers for
some anglers. Slabs are being caught in 18-25-foot depths. A
crappie tournament on Feb. 12 sponsored by Boars Head Bait and
Carry Out drew only two entries, who were greeted by blowing snow
the morning of the competition. The winners checked in with 8.6
pounds of fish.

Boars Head Bait & Carry Out, 513-724-1211.

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.

Hirns Corner Bait, 740-634-3286

SOUTHEAST REGION

Salt Fork Lake (Guernsey County) — Saugeyes up to 7 pounds were
being caught in mid-February on blade baits, reports Salt Fork
Outdoors. With repairs to the dam nearly complete, a shutdown was
scheduled for Feb. 22 to allow the lake to return to normal water
levels.

Division of Wildlife, District 4, 740-589-9946.

Salt Fork Outdoors, 740-439-4570

Baker’s Bait & Ammo, 740-439-1427

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 vertical jig blade baits, spoons or a jig and minnow
combination for best results.

T & L General Merchandise, 740-685-2060

Division of Wildlife, District 4, 740-439-1427

LAKE ERIE REGION

Before a significant snowstorm blanketed the region in early
February, walleye were caught in the south passage between Catawba
and South Bass islands. There are no new updates. Most anglers were
using typical ice fishing techniques from a boat. Popular
techniques include jigging spoons or blade baits, and also fishing
with a perch spreader tipped with shiners. High winds and cold
temperatures are currently making main lake access difficult and
dangerous. Western basin water clarity is also greatly reduced from
strong winds. Extreme caution is necessary with low water
temperatures. Surface temperatures are at 34-35 degrees.

Fairport Harbor: The steelhead run on the Grand and Chagrin
rivers has been good off and on through February, depending on the
weather on any certain day, reports Tim Bader at the Division of
Wildlife’s Fairport Harbor research unit. Successful anglers were
employing spawn sacks drifted under small bobbers. Snow melt in
mid-February left most of the rivers in the area muddy and high,
however. There is no ice on the rivers nor on any part of the lake.
There’s also no angling activity for any species on the lake, which
has been buffeted by 40-mph winds for several days in
mid-February.

Sandusky: High winds have turned much of the western basin into
muddy water, which has translated into very few anglers venturing
out. “It’s been one wind storm after another up here for a couple
of weeks,” said Jeff Tyson, supervisor at the Sandusky fish
research unit. Before the big blow, anglers were targetting the
area between South Bass and Catawba islands using vertical jigs and
ice fishing techniques from boats. They were marking a lot of fish,
Tyson said, but harvest numbers were spotty.

Put-In-Bay: A cold snap that brought heavy rain in the early
part of February followed by a fresh blanket of snow pushed anglers
off the choppy waters near the island. Anglers had been fishing
near the south passageway with some reports of perch and walleye
being brought in.

Fairport Harbor Fish Research Unit, 440-352-4199.

Sandusky Fish Research Unit, 419-625-8062.

Herb’s Sportsmans Supply, 419-797-2455

OHIO RIVER REGION

The Pike Island dam area north of Martin’s Ferry is producing
some sauger as usual, reports Tom Sikora of Pitstop/Star Fire
Express. Use 1/8- to 3/8- ounce jigs with chartreuse or white
twisters or a jig and minnow combination for the best bite. Fish
them on or near the bottom for best succes. Water levels have been
high and fluctuating with intermittent days of rain.

At New Cumberland lock and dam in Jefferson County, fishing has
been slow from the Ohio side. The West Virginia side was hot until
the water came up in mid-January.

In Coshocton County, the Wills Creek tailwater (state Route 83
at Marquand Mills) below the dam has produced good reports of
saugeye caught on small, light colored twister tails. Clear or
white are working well as are minnows and shiners. Anglers landed
saugeye averaging three to five pounds through mid-month.

In the Cincinnati area, anglers are pulling channel catfish out
of the muddy water with a few reported in the 20-25-pound range.
Average size has been between 7-10 pounds. With water levels down,
anglers are using skipjack and shad to produce the catfish bite.
There were no updates on river conditions in mid-February, although
angling pressure was light.

Near Ironton on the southern border, some smaller sauger were
being caught below Greenup dam, reports the Tackle Box bait shop.
Anglers were having some luck catching muskie on some of the
tributaries in the area such as the Little Sandy River, Brush
Creek, and Sunfish Creek. Anglers were picking up some largemouth
bass near Greenbow, fishing the deep ledges with plugs and spinner
baits.

In the Belpre area, the sauger, saugeye and even walleye bite
has been very good in the tailwater areas around Willow Island and
Bellville. Successful anglers are employing 3-inch grubs in white
and chartreuse. Elsewhere in the Belpre area, fishermen are hitting
the farm ponds fairly heavily for panfish with decent results on
bluegill and crappie. Veto Lake in Washington County has been
producing crappie and bluegill for anglers using jigs tipped with
minnows, reports Richard Hornbeck of Hornbeck’s Bait and Tackle in
Belpre. Impoundments on AEP Power lands have also produced some
nice crappie and bluegill bites, he said.

Afield (Cincinnati), 513-353-3536

Tackle Box (Ironton), 740-533-1187

Hornbecks Bait & Tackle (Belpre), 740-423-1949.

Pitstop/Star Fire Express (Martins Ferry), 740-633-3170.

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