No ice in sight, but open water anglers still fishing
Mild temperatures have continued through much of January, but
that hasn’t translated into good fishing at most places surveyed by
Ohio Outdoor News. Fishing pressure has been light to
non-existent, report many bait shop operators. With that said,
here’s a look at a handful of Ohio fishing destinations, region by
Buckeye Lake (Fairfield, Licking and Perry counties) — The
saugeye bite has been strong with fish all the way up to 14 to 19
inches and larger, according to Bob Mathie at Bob’s Outdoor Supply
in Newark. Mathie said the saugeye bite has been coming on
Smithwick Rogues and Husky Jerks retrieved slowly. Some anglers are
also using bass minnows tipped on floating jigs. The best areas
have been around the old park, Sellar’s Point, and Fairfield beach
at night. The crappie bite has been decent as well, but Mathie said
fishing pressure has been light.
Bob’s Outdoor Supply, 740-349-0992.
Deer Creek Lake (Fayette, Pickaway, Madison counties) — Randy
Sheets of Mt. Sterling recently hauled a 4-pound, 9-ounce saugeye
out of the spillway at Deer Creek Lake in central Ohio. The fish
hit a pink tube bait, according to Jack McKirgan at Mary’s Bait
Shop in Washington Court House. McKirgan said fishing pressure has
been light due to windy and cold weather. Some boating anglers have
been fishing for crappie, but there were no reports of good hauls,
Mary’s Bait Shop, 740-869-3597.
Grand Lake St. Marys (Mercer and Auglaize counties) — Before a
brief cold weather snap in mid-January, anglers were catching good
numbers of crappies and bluegill, primarily around docks, reports
Jeff Toben of the Outdoorsman bait and tackle shop. The popular set
up was jigs tipped with minnows or wax worms. The Outdoorsman runs
a year-long big fish contest and the current crappie leader is a
11/2-pound fish caught in January, said Toben.
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.
Tappan Lake (Harrison County) — The DNR Division of Wildlife on
Jan. 4 sunk Christmas trees in parts of this 2,131-acre reservoir
as artificial habitat. Tappan is known for opportunities for bass,
crappie, saugeye, yellow perch, and channel catfish.
Division of Wildlife, District 3, 330-644-2293.
Mosquito Creek Lake (Trumbull County) — Fishing on Mosquito
Creek Lake has been just fair to poor, reports Oscar Kachenko of
Causeway Sporting Goods. It hasn’t been cold enough to form any ice
on the lake and intermittent periods of rain are keeping anglers
off the lake for the most part.
Causeway Sporting Goods, 330-637-7076
Clendening Lake (Harrison County) — This 1,800-acre Muskingum
Watershed Conservancy lake is known for big saugeyes. The popular
method for catching these hybrid walleye cousins at this time of
year is vertically jigging blade baits from bridges in the area,
said Tom Sikora of Pitstop/Star Fire Express in Martins Ferry.
Sikora said, however, that this method of fishing hasn’t been
employed all that much this winter with water levels being about
five feet below normal. When conditions permit, Sikora said he’s
seen saugeye up to 10 pounds being caught using this method.
Pitstop/Star Fire Express, 740-633-3170
Leesville Lake (Carroll County) — Leesville, another Muskingum
Watershed Conservancy Lake, was the best spot in Ohio to catch big
muskies last year, according to the Ohio Husky Muskie Club. Anglers
are still chasing muskies through the winter at this 1,000-acre
impoundment but without many positive results, reports Tom Sikora
of Pitstop/Star Fire Express.
Pitstop/Star Fire Express, 740-633-3170.
Rocky Fork Lake (Highland County) — Some crappies are being
caught near the restaurant and the docks in shallow water areas,
reports Leon Cole of Cole’s Bait and Tackle. Saugeyes have been
caught in the south beach area with the most popular bait being a
1/4-ounce lead head jig in chartreuse.
Cole’s Bait and Tackle, 937-365-1436
Paint Creek Lake (Highland and Ross counties — Water levels
remain high, but some crappies are being caught in the campground
area on jig and minnow combinations, reports Leon Cole of Cole’s
Bait and Tackle. Saugeyes are being taken below the spillway on
chartreuse or pink jigs.
Cole’s Bait and Tackle, 937-365-1436
Seneca Lake (Guernsey and Noble counties) – Anglers are catching
good numbers of crappie at this 3,550-acre lake near Senecaville,
according to Tom Dodd at T&L General Merchandise. Sizes have
ranged anywhere from 10 to 14 inches. The popular set up has been a
jig and minnow combination, but the successful anglers are keeping
the best locations a secret, Dodd said.
T&L General Merchandise, 740-685-2060
Salt Fork Lake (Guernsey County) – Water temperatures are
hovering around the 40-degree mark. Saugeyes as heavy as 7 to 8
pounds have been caught recently, according to Bob Mathie of Bob’s
Outdoor Supply. The key, according to Mathie, is to find suspended
schools of shad and fish a blade bait beneath them. Crazy Blades
and Vib-Es are producing the bite, he said. Salt Fork Outdoors
reports that saugeye remain the most sought after fish. However,
the larger fish that were being caught in past weeks are coming few
and far between. Reports of limits of 15 to 20 fish are still
coming in, however. Muskie trollers reported they were catching
fish in the morning. Two 36-inchers, a 40-incher, and 44-incher
were reported on Jan. 5. The white bass and crappie bite has been
poor. Structure maps are available by calling the DNR Division of
Wildlife District 4 office at 740-589-9930.
Salt Fork Outdoors, 740-439-4570,
Division of Wildlife District 4, 740-589-9930
LAKE ERIE REGION
The walleye daily bag limit is six fish. A 15-inch minimum size
limit for walleye remains in effect for the entire season. The Lake
Erie daily bag limit for yellow perch is 40 fish. The daily bag
limit for black bass (largemouth, smallmouth) on Lake Erie is five.
The minimum size limit for black bass on Lake Erie is 14 inches.
The steelhead trout bag limit is two. The minimum size limit for
steelhead is 12 inches.
Lake Erie surface temperatures are in the upper 30s. With
decreasing water temperatures, be sure to take extra precaution
when fishing on Lake Erie, advises the DNR Division of
Lake Erie continues to produce rare January open water walleye
fishing opportunities with some limit catches, including trophy
fish up to and over 10 pounds. The best fishing recently has been
around the Huron dumping grounds and near shore from Huron to
Vermilion. Fish have also been caught along the Cleveland
lakefront. Crankbaits have been the ticket for both numbers and
size, and large fish are being taken on Reef Runners, Ripsticks
(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: 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, including on the Chagrin, Rocky, Vermilion, and
For recent updates on the steelhead fishery, visit the Division
of Wildlife steelhead Web page at:
To view the predicted weather forecast for Lake Erie visit:
OHIO RIVER REGION
As usual, anglers have had success fishing for catfish on the
Ohio River in southeast Ohio using cut baits fished just off the
bottom. For current river conditions, including depth and
temperatures, check out the US Army Corps of Engineers Web site at
In the Martins Ferry area, anglers had been catching decent
numbers of saugeye in the Ohio River, reports Tom Sikora of
Pitstop/Star Fire Express in Martins Ferry. High water levels with
rains in recent weeks has shut that bite down for the time being,
In the Belpre area, water levels are high but a few anglers are
catching some walleye and sauger, according to Hornbecks Bait and
Tackle. The popular bait has been Yum walleye salty three-inch
grubs in chartreuse and Bumble Bee.
In Clermont County, the Markland pool has been giving up a few
channel catfish, reports Matt McKinney, an avid southwest Ohio
river angler. McKinney said he’s averaging two to three fish per
trip with at least one going over 15 pounds each time. He even
boated a 31-pound blue cat Jan. 6 fishing in about 23 feet of water
near New Richmond. All fish have been coming off shad fillets, or
shad heads. Fishing has been inconsistent, however, reports
McKinney, with this winter’s fluctuating weather patterns and
warmer than usual temperatures.
In the Ironton area, Greg Holbert with the Tackle Box reports
river conditions are high and muddy. Anglers are picking up a few
sauger and white bass in the creek mouths using spoons or 1/8- to
1/4-ounce jigs with twister tails in yellow, orange, white, or
chartreuse. Holbert said any color twister tail should produce
Tackle Box (Ironton), 740-533-1187
Hornbecks Bait & Tackle (Belpre), 740-423-1949.
Pitstop/Star Fire Express (Martins Ferry), 740-633-3170.