Lakes getting low pressure, but still produce fish

The weather hasn’t cooled down enough to put a damper on the
walleye bite on Lake Erie as anglers are still catching good
numbers from Huron to Vermillion and points farther east.
Intermittent periods of rain in the northeast has made for a tough
steelhead bite so far, but a steady stretch of good weather could
change that in a hurry. Fishing pressure was low in many places
surveyed, given that many were still deer hunting through the
holidays.

Here’s a look at Ohio fishing destinations, region by
region:

CENTRAL REGION

Deer Creek Lake (Madison, Fayette, and Pickaway counties) —
Fishing pressure has been low with the majority of it focused on
the spillway. Anglers have caught some saugeye there, reports Jack
McKirgan of Mary’s Bait Shop in Washington Court House. Most of the
catch has been small, however, in the 8- to 10-inch range. There
are some larger fish in the haul with one particular Deer Creek
angler, Edgar Rawlins Jr., consistently catching 3- to 4-pounders,
McKirgan said. Rawlins uses jigs and Twister Tails primarily but
will sometimes employ 11/2-inch tubes, McKirgan said. Peter and
Brian Lin of Cincinnati fished Deer Creek on Dec. 21, catching
mainly small saugeye up to about 12 inches. One of the fish did
manage 16 inches. Brian Lin, however, caught a paddlefish that he
guessed would tip the scales at about 50 pounds. After removing a
bunch of jigs that were stuck to the fish, Lin released it back
into the water.

Buckeye Lake (Fairfield, Licking and Perry counties) — Anglers
are catching saugeye in the 16- to 17-inch range on floating jigs
tipped with bass minnows. The best areas have been the west end of
the lake near Seller’s Point, and Fairfield Beach. Boating anglers
are catching crappies and bluegills casting small jigs around
docks, said Bob Mathie of Bob’s Outdoor Supply.

Bob’s Outdoor Supply, 740-349-0992.

Piedmont Lake (Belmont, Harrison, Guernsey counties) — The
saugeye bite has been decent but it’s tough to access the drawn
down lake, reports Jim Corey of Cripple Creek Bait and Tackle in
Dennison. Corey said most people are launching boats from the ramp
near the rest area on Route 22. Saugeyes are ranging from 15 to
171/2 inches, reports Corey, and they are biting on vertically
jigged Vib-Es. Fish have been stacked up deep, anywhere from 24 to
30 feet. Anglers chasing saugeye have also hooked up with a few
good size muskie recently in the 37- to 45-inch range, Corey said.
Those fish were also caught in the deep water on Vib-Es. At nearby
Leesville Lake, muskie anglers have been putting a lot of pressure
on the lake but results have been slow, Corey said. On any typical
day recently, there have been anywhere from three to eight boats on
Leesville with anglers chasing the muskie bite, he said.

Cripple Creek Bait & Tackle, 740-922-0841.

NORTHWEST REGION

Grand Lake St. Marys (Mercer and Auglaize counties) — Crappies
are being pulled out of St. Marys in anywhere from 18 inches to
three feet of water, reports Jeff Toben of the Outdoorsman in St.
Marys. Anglers are reporting crappie catches up to a pound a piece,
Toben said. The productive bait has been jigs tipped with minnows
or wax worms. A few catfish are also being taken on chubs.

Outdoorsman, 419-394-5769.

Indian Lake (Logan County) — Good numbers of saugeyes are being
caught on a variety of baits, reports Tim Harshbarger of Lakeside
Pro Bass Shop. Suspending stick baits have been popular fished on
bottom. Blackhawk, Dream Bridge, and Moundwood have been the most
productive areas. Crappies and bluegills are biting on small ice
jigs tipped with minnows. Blackhawk has been a productive area for
panfish. Anglers are employing crappie rigs or spreaders to pick up
some yellow perch near Paradise Island.

Lakeside Pro Bass Shop, 937-843-2488.

NORTHEAST REGION

LaDue Reservoir (Geauga County) — 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. Jim
Tunder of the One Stop Fishing Shop in Burton said anglers have
been successful using minnows suspended under bobbers.

One Stop Fishing Shop, 440-834-2248.

Mosquito Creek Lake (Trumbull County) — A few walleyes are being
caught just before dark and a little after, reports Oscar Kachenko
of Causeway Sporting Goods. A fair number of anglers are chasing
the walleye bite using jig and minnow combinations or rattling
crankbaits, Kachenko said. The best spot is near the dam against
the rocks. Kachenko said the bite is better when winds are out of
the north.

Causeway Sporting Goods, 330-637-7076.

SOUTHWEST REGION>/b

Rocky Fork Lake (Highland County) — Anglers are catching
a fair number of crappies off the docks by the restaurant, reports
Leon Cole of Cole’s Bait and Tackle. Successful fishermen are
targeting sunken Christmas trees off the first three or four docks,
he said, using minnows under floats. Crappies are also being caught
between the restaurant and the island in deeper, 18-20 feet of
water. A jig and minnow combination is the popular set
up.

Paint Creek Lake (Highland and Ross counties — Periods
of steady rain over the past couple of weeks have water levels high
at Paint Creek Lake. Anglers are still catching good numbers of
saugeye below the spillway, reports Leon Cole of Cole’s Bait and
Tackle. He expected water levels to be stabilized by the New Year’s
weekend and for crappie fishing to pick up again in the campground
area. Fish for them shallow here, anywhere from three to five feet,
with a jig and minnow.

Cole’s Bait and Tackle, 937-365-1436.

SOUTHEAST REGION

Seneca Lake (Guernsey and Noble counties) — The saugeye bite on
Seneca Lake has been decent. 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
’eyes will be holding tight to the bottom, so vertical jig blade
baits, spoons or a jig and minnow combination for best
results.

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

Salt Fork Lake (Guernsey County) – Lake temperatures have been
in the 40s. A few saugeyes are being caught vertically jigging
blade baits such as the Vib-E and Lil’ Nitro in Clown color. Try a
1/2-ounce Vib-E in anywhere from 28 to 32 feet of water, suggests
Jim Corey of Cripple Creek Bait and Tackle in Dennison.

Salt Fork Outdoors, 740-439-4570, www.saltforkoutdoors.com

Cripple Creek Bait & Tackle, 740-922-0841.

LAKE ERIE REGION

Conditions deteriorated starting the weekend of Dec. 23 with
near gale force winds and rain. Unseasonably warm weather should
allow boat anglers to get back out on the main lake, however,
anglers are advised to use caution.

Walleye fishing improved with some limit catches, including
trophy fish up to and over 10 pounds. The best fishing recently has
been around the Huron dumping grounds, Lorain, Vermilion, and
Ruggles Reef. A few miles off the Cranberry Creek marina in
Vermillion has been a hot spot. Crankbaits have been the ticket for
both numbers and size, and large fish are being taken on Reef
Runners, Ripsticks (try Blueberry Muffin, Blue Hawaiian,
Wonderbread, and Mooneye), and Rapala Husky Jerks (Glass colors
seem better). Most fish have been caught in the upper portion of
the water column. Night fishing success from both piers and boats
has been sporadic.

Steelhead anglers are finding that all rivers are high and muddy
due to recent showers. Smaller creeks are also up. It may take
several days of dry weather to clear the main tributaries; smaller
streams will fish first. When ideal conditions existed, good
numbers of fish were reported to be caught throughout the rivers,
feeder creeks, in harbors, and on break walls. Pressure on all the
usual steelhead haunts (Rocky, Vermillion, Chagrin rivers) was
steady through the holidays. Anglers were catching fish on spawn
sacs, jig and maggot combos as well as jig, minnow hookups. Ron
Terlop of Garfield caught and released a 33-inch steelhead on Dec.
7 in the Rocky River. Terlop’s fish hit a jig and maggot
combination. For recent updates on the steelhead fishery, visit the
DNR Division of Wildlife steelhead Web page at:
http://www.dnr.state.oh.us/wildlife/fishing/fairport/steelhead.htm

To view the predicted weather forecast for Lake Erie visit:
http://weather.noaa.gov/cgi-bin/fmtbltn.pl?file=forecasts/marine/great_lakes/le/lez160.txt

Lake Erie surface temperatures range from 36 to 42.

OHIO RIVER REGION

The Pike Island dam area north of Martin’s Ferry is producing
some sauger. 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 and bring extras with you. When the
river gets down and stabilized the rocks below the pier should be
good. The mouth of the river and the tributaries have been
producing a decent walleye and sauger bite as well.

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.

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.

In the Belpre area, the sauger and walleye bite has been decent
with some anglers producing good numbers using blade baits tipped
with minnows to hook up with light biting fish. A slow presentation
has produced the best results.

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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