Ice-free streams, rivers providing steelhead action
Deer Creek Lake (Madison, Fayette, and Pickaway counties) – Some saugeyes are being caught at the spillway, though the bite is reported on one day and off the next. Try 1⁄8- to 1⁄4-ounce jigs dressed with a pink or yellow tail. Saugeyes have ranged from 9 to 15 inches. You might also try spinnerbaits to pick up a few wary saugeyes.
Mary's Bait Shop, 740-869-3597
Buckeye Lake (Fairfield, Licking and Perry counties) – The crappie bite has been on and off again, but some anglers are catching them on jig and minnow combos, reports Bob Mathie at Bob's Outdoor Supply in Newark. The lake is down to winter pool levels. Try the Fairfield Beach area for saugeyes on jerkbaits. For channel catfish, use floating jigs and minnows to catch fish from 1¼ to 4 pounds. Fish the docks at Heron Bay for bluegills and crappies, recommends Mathie.
Bob's Outdoor Supply, 740-349-0992
Alum Creek Lake (Delaware County) – Anglers are catching crappies and white bass in the deeper parts of the lake south of the Cheshire Road bridge. Try fishing a jig and minnow combination in about 20 feet of water. Jigs in the 1⁄8- to 1⁄4-ounce size is working best.
Division of Wildlife, www.wildohio.com
Clearfork Reservoir (Richland County) – Very nice catches of crappie have been reported at Clearfork. Fishing minnows under a bobber or casting tube jigs are working great. The best spot seems to be under Orewiler Bridge.
Charles Mill Lake (Richland County) – Hybrid striped bass are being caught in good numbers. Chicken livers suspended under a bobber are working great. The Old Bell Lake area south of the Marina is the best bet.
Bellevue Reservoir No. 5 (Huron County) – Yellow perch are being caught in good numbers here. Evenings are best. Fishing minnows under a slip bobber is producing the nicest catches; try the northeast side of the reservoir.
Leesville Reservoir (Carroll County) – Anglers looking for some premier fishing should visit this 1,045-acre lake located in southern Carroll County. In 2008, a total of 332 muskellunge were reported through the Ohio Huskie Muskie Club. A total of 34 fish measuring 42-inches or greater were also reported. Trolling or casting muskie-sized lures into weedbeds proves successful results this time of year. Other lakes in northeast Ohio providing good muskie fishing include Berlin (boasting natural reproduction), Lake Milton, Pymatuning, and West Branch. Visit www.wildohio.com for more information and to view maps of these lakes.
Pitstop/Star Fire Express, 740-633-3170
Little Beaver Creek (Columbiana County) – River fishing for smallmouth bass is usually good this time of year for anglers fishing a few miles upstream from the Ohio River, near Grimms Bridge in the state forest. Anglers should also try fishing near Beaver Creek State Park (Echo Dell Road bridge and near Gretchen's Lock) where there is significant fishing pressure but often good results. A variety of other fish including carp, channel catfish, sauger and white bass may be caught, as well. Shore fishing after a short hike is available, but floating a canoe while casting is a good option, too. Go to www.ohiodnr.com for more information about Beaver Creek State Park.
Nimisila Reservoir (Summit County) – Anglers have had fair success catching yellow perch from 7 to 11 inches from shore. Try Christman Road access points on the northeast portion of the lake. Use a crappie rig or a jig tipped with a minnow.
Portage Lakes State Park, 330-644-2220
Great Miami River (Hamilton, Butler, Warren, Montgomery, Miami & Shelby counties) – Anglers are reporting nice catches of smallmouth bass in the 13-17-inch range. Use dark colored Twisters, Texas rigged, also Hot'n'Tots and X-Raps. Cast into bank and bounce back along areas with sunken trees and rocky slopes.
Acton Lake (Preble County) – Good crappie action is being reported. Size range from 14-16 inches and minnows are the bait of choice. Try about 15 feet deep and slow retrieve from bottom.
Mad River (Clark, Montgomery Counties) – Trout are being taken on spinners and Rooster Tails. Wading the river and fishing from a kayak are both popular with anglers.
Lake Isabella (Hamilton County) – Privately owned by Hamilton County Parks, this lake is giving anglers great opportunities on stocked perch currently. Try minnows off the bottom and redworms in about 16-18 feet of water at the south end of the lake. For more information on Fishing at Lake Isabella and prices you can go to www.hamiltoncountyparks.org. The park offers great family fishing opportunities with plenty of room to fish from the bank.
AEP ReCreation Land (Morgan, Muskingum and Noble counties) – Cooler temperatures have spurred bass and bluegill activity in these smaller ponds. Use worms or wax worms suspended under a bobber for the best bluegill results. For largemouth bass, fish close to shore using crankbaits in the late evening. Nice catches of largemouth bass were reported over the weekend, with some bass weighing in over five pounds.
Muskingum River (Washington County) – Fishing for saugeye, white bass and hybrid stripers is improving below the Devola dam. Try casting jigs or crankbaits into the current and floating them back.
Salt Fork Lake (Guernsey County) – The saugeye bite is starting to pick up with anglers catching fish in the 3- to 5-pound range, according to reports from Salt Fork Outdoors. Crappies are also being caught in 14 to 20 feet of water by anglers employing jig and minnow or jig and tail combos.
Salt Fork Outdoors, www.saltforkoutdoors.com
Lake Erie Region
• The daily bag limit for Lake Erie walleye is six fish. The minimum size limit is 15 inches.
• The daily bag limit for yellow perch is 30 fish per angler on all Ohio waters of Lake Erie.
• The steelhead daily bag limit is two fish per angler with a minimum size limit of 12 inches.
• The Lake Erie black bass (largemouth and smallmouth) daily bag limit is 5 fish and a minimum size limit of 14 inches.
Walleyes continue to be caught north of Huron in 40 feet of water and deeper, and also at night around Cleveland harbor. Trolling crankbaits in the top 15 feet of water has produced most of the fish. Open water temperatures are holding steady around 40 degrees.
As of Dec. 27, the water temperature was 39 degrees off of Toledo and 41 degrees off of Cleveland, according to the nearshore marine forecast.
The Rocky River is currently elevated and muddy, but at the current flow and weather forecast it could very well be fishable this weekend and offer anglers another run of steelhead trout fresh from the lake. So far it has been a fantastic fall and early winter for steelhead fishing on the Rocky and Chagrin rivers. Until the rain, recent steelhead fishing has been very good for many anglers. The majority of the fish have been very fresh and around 24 inches in length. There have also been a surprising number of larger 28-31-inch fish in the mix. Fish recently have been well distributed throughout the watershed and Cleveland Metroparks is getting reports of fish being found in areas varying from faster runs to slow, deep pools. A good plan is to fish any potential holding water until you find some willing fish, then if a pattern develops focus on the type of water you are having success in. Jigs tipped with maggots, spawn sacs (pink has been great all season), and flies like egg patterns and streamers were all catching fish before the rain.
The river is currently stained and elevated, but the rain has finally subsided and the river is quickly dropping in level. As the river begins to clear, but still has a muddy stain, anglers can begin prospecting for steelhead with bigger, bright/dark/contrasting color offerings like a nickel size trout or salmon egg sac (hot pink and chartreuse are always good in dirty water) or a big black and fluorescent orange or dark purple and hot pink egg sucking leech fly. Enjoy the ice-free stream conditions while they last which, given the forecast, should last for a while.
Recently, a ton of trout (literally, 2,000 pounds) were stocked between five Cleveland Metroparks lakes. These include Wallace (900 pounds), Shadow (450), Ledge (350), Judges (200), and Ranger (100) lakes. The size range of these trout varied from 12 inches to some trophy fish up to 4-plus pounds, with a good percentage of quality fish in the 16-18-inch size class. A few bonus brown trout were mixed in with the rainbow trout. PowerBait in yellow, pink, and rainbow produced the most fish this week suspended about 2 feet off the lake bottom.