Saugeyes, crappie biting when anglers find open water
Editor’s note: There were several reports of anglers attempting
to fish through the ice on some northern Ohio lakes, but with ever
changing temperatures extreme caution must be used. Temperatures in
the 40s and 50s across much of Ohio at the time of this report
would make ice fishing unlikely at best. What follows is a report
of conditions at Ohio lakes and fishing prospects.
DISTRICT 1-Central Region
Deer Creek Lake (Madison, Fayette, and Pickaway counties) -Anglers
are bringing in saugeye ranging in size from 20-24 inches. The
crappie and white bass bite is on as well. The bait of choice has
been jigs tipped with minnows. Anglers are targetting the spillway
and catching fish at various depths.
Mary’s Bait Shop, 740-869-3597
Clendening Lake (Harrison County) – If you can access the lake, the
saugeye bite is decent at Clendening with fish being taken in the
24-26-inch range. Successful anglers are vertical jigging off
bridges, bouncing their jigs tipped with minnows or night crawlers
off the bottom.
Pitstop/Star Fire Express, 740-633-3170
Piedmont Lake (Belmont, Harrison, Guernsey counties) -The saugeye
bite is good but you’ll need a four-wheel drive to access the drawn
down lake. Most people are launching boats from the ramp near the
rest area on Route 22. Some are fishing from shore but without much
luck. At nearby Leesville Lake, one lucky angler pulled a 40-inch
muskie out of the lake the week of Jan. 30.
Buckeye Lake (Fairfield, Licking and Perry counties) – Anglers are
still pulling in a few 14-17-inch saugeye near the state park and
Fairfield Beach using small floating jigs with minis and a variety
of jerkbaits. Fishing are biting shallow in about four to five
feet. Slab crappies are also being pulled in at a decent
Bob’s Outdoor Supply, 740-349-0992
DISTRICT 2 – Northwest Region
Grand Lake St. Marys (Mercer and Auglaize counties) – Crappies that
translate into some nice filets are being pulled out of St. Marys
in anywhere from 18 inches to three feet of water. Anglers are
reporting crappie catches up to a pound apiece. The productive bait
has been jigs tipped with minnows or wax worms. A few catfish are
also being taken on chubs.
Indian Lake (Logan County) – A few anglers have reported limits on
saugeye also around Long Island using ¼-ounce Vib-Es in silver and
fire tiger. A few have been testing Vib-Es in new colors such as
lime red and silver clown. Nice size perch are being caught
vertically jigging 1⁄8-ounce Vib-Es off the bottom near Moundwood.
Some slabs are being taken on tipped jigs but the bite has been
Lakeside Pro Bass Shop, 937-843-2488
district 3 – Northeast Region
Conneaut Creek (Ashtabula County) – When the weather has been
right, near perfect conditions for the steelhead bite is occurring.
The color is good as well, which has resulted in anglers landing
steelhead on eggs, minnows, and jig and maggot combinations. Fly
anglers were using streamer, stonefly, nymph, woolly buggers and
egg patterns to produce bites. On the Vermillion, fish from Mill
Hollow Park to Wakeman. On the Rocky, target the marina up to the
Cedar Point pools. On Conneaut, the bite has been good all the way
from the harbor to the Pennsylvania state line.
Snug Harbor Bait and Tackle (Conneaut), 440-593-3755
Piedmont Lake (Belmont, Harrison, Guernsey counties) – Though water
levels are low and the lake is tough to access at this time of
year, anglers are still fishing for saugeyes, primarily vertically
jigging off bridges. Some limits of saugeye have been reported on
Mosquito Creek Lake (Trumbull County) – Anglers launching boats
near the dam have been catching some walleyes and crappies using
ice jig and wax worm combinations. Shore anglers have been pulling
in some crappies south of the causeway in four to six feet of water
and saugeye using blade baits such as Vib-Es. The bite has been
inconsistent, however, with rising and falling temperatures over
the past few weeks. Mosquito had a thin layer of ice over much of
the lake the weekend of Jan. 21 but had returned to open water by
the first weekend in February. Another cold front was expected to
move in for the weekend. Water temperatures were about 35
Causeway Sporting Goods, 330-637-7076
district 4 – Southeast Region
Tycoon Lake (Gallia County) – Bass anglers who normally would be
holed up until spring are testing the Tycoon Lake waters a bit
earlier with the warmer weather. An 18-inch minimum offers good
potential for trophy bass but there has yet been any reports of big
ones being taken.
Division of Wildlife, District 4, 740-439-1427
Salt Fork Lake (Guernsey County) – Water levels are back closer to
normal, allowing boating anglers to launch at Salt Fork. The ones
that have are reporting good catches of saugeyes and crappies.
Anglers are landing saugeyes in good numbers the week of Jan. 30
using blade baits such as ¼-ounce Vib-Es. The crappie bite was
good, as well.
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 ‘eyes will be holding tight to the
bottom, so vertical jig blade baits, spoons, or a jig and minnow
combination for best results.
DISTRICT 5 – Southwest Region
East Fork Lake (Clermont County) – A few crappie anglers reported
taking more than a dozen slabs out of East Fork in late January
with each of the fish measuring more than 12 inches and weighing
more than a pound. Some have said it’s some of the best crappie
fishing they’ve ever experienced at this Clermont County
impoundment east of Cincinnati. The good bite is being produced by
jigs tipped with medium size minnows. A few hybrid striped bass are
also coming out of the lake but that bite has been
Boars Head Bait & Carry Out, 513-724-1211.
Paint Creek Lake (Highland and Ross counties – Anglers are
reporting some success catching crappies on minnows in the lake and
some saugeye are coming out of the creek either on minnows or night
crawlers. No reported pressure on nearby Rocky Fork Lake.
Cole’s Bait and Tackle, 937-365-1436
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.
The water temperature is 33 degrees off of Toledo and 36 degrees
off of Cleveland, according to the nearshore marine forecast.
Anglers are encouraged to always wear a U.S. Coast Guard-approved
personal flotation device while boating.
At Cleveland Metroparks, trout were stocked at Shadow (450 pounds),
Ledge (450 pounds), and Judges (100 pounds) lakes. Anglers have
been catching the trout on jigging spoons and small marabou jigs
tipped with maggots. Trout were also stocked at Wallace Lake (900
pounds) and Ranger Lake (100 pounds).
The Rocky River level is currently dropping and is on the threshold
of offering good fishing conditions. Given the current forecast,
expect the water to continue clearing and fishing conditions to
improve. Also, expect the river to be slushy in the mornings.
Anglers can check the latest river flow and temperature, but do
make note that lots of ice in the river can made flow gage readings
erratic and inaccurate at times. The colder temperatures
considerably thinned the number of anglers on the river, but the
fish certainly didn’t mind a bit. Nor did hardy anglers who braved
the elements. Fishing prior to the latest high water event was
surprisingly good for a number of those anglers. Successful reports
have been coming in from anglers using spawn sacs (trout and salmon
eggs have been working equally well), marabou or hair jigs (1⁄32-
to 1⁄64-ounce are popular) tipped with maggots or wax worms, 3-inch
rubber trout worms and tube jigs (white is often productive),
various fly patterns (GloBugs, sucker spawn, beadhead nymphs, wooly
buggers, and baitfish streamers), live or salted minnows, and
wobbling flatfish style plugs. The main issues following cold
evenings has not so much been the fish having lockjaw as has been
slush in the river and ice in the line guides. Given the nature of
fly-fishing equipment, these anglers often have the biggest
challenge in keeping their guides relatively ice free. Using
commercially available ice-off substances on the guides to repel
water is definitely worth the effort in freezing temperatures
(plain ChapStick works well for this purpose, too). Another winter
trick is clustering your split-shot only about 10 inches or so from
the bait or fly to get through the slush more effectively and down
to the fish. Overall, most fish have been reported in the deeper
pools with slow to medium flow. With all the high water this year,
fish are about as spread throughout the system as they’ve ever
been, with fish in pods from the marina all the way up to Berea
Falls on the East Branch Rocky River, as well as being well up into
the West Branch, too.
In mid-December 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. A similar stocking is scheduled for early to
mid next week. 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 suspended about 1-2 feet off the lake bottom has been
working well. Other offerings worth trying are small jigs tipped
with maggots, corn, and minnows. A few of the more successful
anglers have noted that the bite has been turning on and off, in
many cases getting a limit in short order following an hour or more
of no action, so plan to be patient and eventually the trout will
bite. And, as is typically the case with fishing, some days they’ve
been biting and others they have not with no clear reason
OHIO RIVER REGION
Monroe County – At the Hannibal lock and dam, walleyes and saugers
are being caught in fair numbers casting 1⁄8-1⁄4-ounce jigs with
chartreuse Twister Tails.