Leesville Lake (1,011 acres; Carroll County) – Boats are allowed with a maximum of 10 horsepower. Muskellunge: Muskies are being caught nearshore in 1-5 feet of water in the evening or early morning. Concentrate off the ends of main lake points instead of in coves. Fish that are in shallows are vulnerable to casting presentations. Try covering water with medium-sized crankbaits (yellow is reported as a popular color), jerkbaits or buck tails to locate active muskies. On average, anglers catch muskies measuring 53 inches, according to fish surveys conducted by the ODNR Division of Wildlife.
West Branch Reservoir (2,350 acres; Portage County) – This reservoir is designated for unlimited horsepower but anglers fishing from boats are encouraged to carefully read a map (wildohio.gov) before venturing out. Navigating this water for the first time can be tricky due to the underwater terrain. A wheelchair accessible fishing pier is located near the marina. Muskellunge: Muskie anglers are catching fish by trolling shad-imitating baits around offshore humps and reefs over 12-18-feet deep at all hours of the day. Crappie: Try fishing small marabou jigs around wood cover or docks for fast action. White, chartreuse, or yellow are good choices when fishing 12 feet deep or less. Try fishing blue jigs in deeper water. Jig size and color depends on the day (weather, water clarity, etc.). Largemouth bass: Look for baitfish in creek channels and in the shallows (1.5-4 foot range at night) to locate bass. Use small gizzard shad-imitating crankbaits, rattle-style baits, spinnerbaits, and jigs.
Cuyahoga River (Cuyahoga, Geauga, Portage, and Summit counties) – Northern pike: Target access areas like Fuller Park in Kent, SR 303 bridge area near Shalersville, and in/around the Village of Mantua. Remember to obtain written permission to wade-fish on private property. As fall gets into full swing and water temperatures begin to drop, pike begin their fall feeding frenzy, putting away energy reserves for both winter survival and their early spring spawn. Try fishing with large baits and lures that mimic prey fish such as shad, suckers, and chubs. Examples include larger crankbaits, jerkbaits, swimbaits, lipless crankbaits, and large spinners. The use of a small leader will minimize the chances of a pike biting off your line. Visit wildohio.gov to view an access map of the Cuyahoga River.
West Branch Reservoir (2,650 acres; Portage County) – Muskellunge: While trolling for walleyes, anglers' rods are being pummeled by large muskies. Troll crankbaits, possibly downsizing to match young-of-year shad, and run bait in the prop wash. Crappie: Focus on shallow water; most schools are still being found suspended around structure or contour breaks. Small jigs tipped with a minnow should do the trick.