Ohio Outdoor News Fishing Report — March 31, 2017
Buckeye Lake (Fairfield, Licking, Perry counties) – Anglers are catching open water saugeyes at the North Bank ramp. Successful fishermen are using jig and minnow combinations, Swedish Pimples, or blade baits. At Thornport, anglers are catching small crappies and yellow perch. Fish are shallow, with successful anglers fishing just about six inches deep.
Alum Creek Reservoir (Delaware County) – Anglers are catching yellow perch, crappies, saugeyes, and white bass at times on this central Ohio lake. Successful anglers are using the same techniques and patterns as they were through the early winter with some success. For the best panfish bite, try waxworms if you can find them. Jig and minnow combinations also have been taking some saugeyes. Fish anywhere from 10 to 20 feet of water for the best bite.
Deer Creek Lake (Madison, Fayette, Pickaway counties) – Anglers fishing below the spillway are having various bits of luck, depending on the day you are there. Some saugeyes up to 4 pounds have been reportedly caught by anglers using jig and minnow combinations. Pressure is fairly heavy, though, so be prepared for a crowd.
Delaware Lake (Delaware County) – The crappie bite should pick up as the water warms. Delaware Lake is well known in these parts for its crappie population. Remember, there is a daily bag limit of 30 crappies and a nine-inch minimum keeper requirement. Try fishing the wood around the edges of the lake for the best panfish bite.
Blanchard River (Hancock County) – Some early-bird anglers are fishing the Blanchard River in Findlay and are picking up a few smallmouth bass, according to reports. Anglers might try inline spinnerbaits or plastics for the best bite. A jig and minnow combination, too, wouldn’t be a bad bet. Some smallmouth up to 13 inches have been reportedly caught.
Indian Lake (Logan County) – Anglers are congregating on Indian Lake at Northfork and catching a few saugeyes. Jigging Rapalas seem to be the best presentation, according to angler reports. Keep the bait shallow, in five to 10 feet of water for the saugeye bite. Saugeyes have been reported up to 20 inches, but most fish are in the 12- to 14-inch range. Other anglers are catching crappies at Northfork on jigs tipped with minnows. Use light jigs, either 1⁄16- or 1⁄8-ounce.
Maumee River (Lucas County) – As of March 21, the walleye bite on the Maumee River had slowed a bit. There were reports of a few fish being caught in the Fort Meigs area and some also at Bluegrass Island and the Jerome Road rapids, according to Maumee Bait and Tackle. All fishing areas are accessible currently. The popular setup has been jigs with black heads and chartreuse tails, green heads with motor oil tails, and green heads with fire tiger tails. Use anywhere from 5⁄8- to 1⁄2-ounce in weight, the bait shop recommends. Walleye fishing should pick back up with a warming trend that is predicted for the area.
Atwood Lake (Tuscarawas, Carroll counties) – About the only fishing going on at this northeast Ohio lake is below the spillway. Try jigging Rapalas and Smithwick Rogues for saugeyes and crappies below the dam. Also for panfish, don’t neglect using waxworms for bait.
Charles Mill Lake (Richland, Ashland counties) – Anglers fishing in 10 to 15 feet of water on this lake have been picking up the occasional saugeye. According to angler reports, the ‘eyes are suspended about halfway up the water column. Try jigging blade baits for the best bite. Crappies too are being caught on small minnows and waxworms fished in the wood.
Nimisila Lake (Summit County) – Crappies are making up the majority of the catch on this Portage Lake. Anglers are using straight minnows or waxworms under a bobber to entice the bite. Fish anywhere on this body of water. The bite hasn’t been consistently good in any one spot, according to angler reports. Fish anywhere from 10 to 15 feet of water for crappies, yellow perch, and bluegills, anglers report.
Kiser Lake (Champaign County) – Anglers are catching bluegills up to 10 inches in length on this southern Ohio reservoir. Yellow perch and crappies are also in the mix with the slabs running up to 12-13 inches. Try waxworms or nightcrawlers under a bobber for bait.
Rocky Fork Lake (Highland County) – Anglers fishing the docks at the restaurant have been catching crappies and bluegills fairly regularly. Try waxworms, maggots, or nightcrawlers fished under a bobber. You can never go wrong with small jigs and minnows either.
Paint Creek Lake (Highland County) – Muddy water is making for some tough fishing at Paint Creek but those who have persevered have been paid off in crappies. Sizes range anywhere from eight to 11 inches. Most bites are coming in just eight feet of water by anglers throwing tube jigs in chartreuse and white.
Caesar Creek Lake (Warren County) – Water levels are reportedly low here, but if you can get a boat on the lake you can get into some spring crappies, anglers report. Search out any woody areas of the lake, back into the channels, for the best crappie bite. Fish are biting on plastics and jig and worm combinations.
East Fork Lake (Clermont County) – Anglers fishing at East Fork are searching for crappies, but are reporting them tough to catch. Most successful anglers have caught fish suspended in 10 to 20 feet of water on jig and minnow combinations. Most crappies have been smallish in the six-inch range but some specimens have measured up to 10 inches.
Dillon Lake (Muskingum County) – Anglers fishing below the spillway have caught some saugeyes and crappies in recent day. When temperatures warm up a little more, anglers might well concentrate their efforts on the docks at the marina or anywhere on the lake that has woody cover. Crappies have ranged from seven to 12 inches.
Wills Creek Lake (Muskingum, Coshocton counties) – Fishing pressure and success have been low here. Some crappies and saugeyes are being caught, but nothing much in the way of size to report. Area anglers fishing strip pits are doing well on largemouth bass, however. One angler caught an 8-pound largemouth recently out of one of the area pits and another hooked one that would have tipped the scales at 6-7 pounds. This is a good time of year to fish inline spinnerbaits right along the water’s edge to pick up largemouths.
Piedmont Lake (Belmont County) – Find the old roadbeds on the lake for the best saugeye bite, locals report. A very few anglers are managing to catch ’eyes hile many more are catching crappies and catfish. Try Swedish Pimples or other types of ice spoons tipped with live bait for the best results.
Salt Fork Lake (Guernsey County) – Anglers are catching a mixed bag of fish on this southeast Ohio lake. The best advice on bait is to use small jigs tipped with minnows or waxworms. Crappies are being caught up to 12 inches. The occasional channel catfish is also being caught, according to angler reports.
Lake Erie Region
• The daily bag limit for walleye in Ohio waters of Lake Erie is four fish per angler from March 1 through April 30. The minimum size limit for walleye is 15 inches.
• The daily bag limit for yellow perch is 30 fish per angler in all Ohio waters of Lake Erie.
• The trout and salmon daily bag limit is two fish per angler. The minimum size limit is 12 inches.
• Black bass (largemouth and smallmouth bass): the daily bag limit is five fish per angler with a 14 inch minimum size limit.
Where: Over the past week walleyes have been caught from Huron to Cedar Point, and west of Catawba near the southeast corner of the Camp Perry firing range.
How: Most fish were caught by trolling with crankbaits, but some have also been caught by vertically jigging.
As of March 21, the Lake Erie water temperature was 36 off Toledo and 37 off Cleveland, according to the nearshore marine forecast.
In early spring, highlight species targeted by anglers in Cleveland Metroparks include steelhead trout, stocked trout, and panfish. The rivers were slushy mid-week but are opening up again following a milder stretch. Based on the weather forecast, conditions will be dependent upon how much precipitation we receive into the weekend. Overall, steelhead fishing opportunities have been excellent lately.
The Rocky and Chagrin rivers were slushy mid-week, but are opening back up following a milder stretch. Both rivers are fishing very well for steelhead. Weekend prospects will be dependent upon how much precipitation we receive over the next few days. A mix of fresh chrome and older more colorful steelhead are well distributed throughout both watersheds at this time. The colder temperatures have halted spawning and the fish are mostly being caught in deep slower flowing areas. A good number of quality size fish 28 inches and over were reported this week, and there is an abundance of skippers (smaller 15-18-inch steelhead) in the northern river reaches. When the water is on the stained side, a dime to nickel size brightly colored spawn sac (hot pink or chartreuse are both good) drifted under a float/bobber is hard to beat. As the water further clears, other offerings, including live minnows, jigs tipped with maggots or waxworms, salmon-egg-mimicking beads, and various flies (eggs, nymphs, and streamers) will begin taking a good share of the fish. Medium size silvery spoons, spinners, and small to medium crankbaits can be worth a try, as well, and require less specialized tackle for newer steelhead anglers. The unstocked Cuyahoga River and smaller area tributaries have also been producing stray steelhead.
A total of 3,000 pounds of trout have been stocked since late January/early February at Wallace (1,400 lbs), Shadow (750 lbs), Ledge (650 lbs), Judge’s (100 lbs), and Ranger (100 lbs) lakes and plenty of these trout remain. This concludes Cleveland Metroparks’ winter trout stocking, which has totaled 6,000 pounds among these five locations since December. Trout hit well on PowerBait fished near the bottom, jigs tipped with a few maggots/waxworms suspended below a bobber, minnows, and smaller spoons and spinners. The most successful anglers change their presentation until they find what works on a given day. Please note the current seasonal trout regulations: Lake Erie and all streams, two/day, minimum size 12 inches (this includes steelhead); three/day, no size limit at Wallace, Ledge, Judge’s, and Ranger lakes; and five/day, no size limit at Shadow Lake and Ohio and Erie Canal.
Spring stocking of trout in the East Branch Rocky River was delayed due to inclement weather and was tentatively rescheduled. These fish are stocked at about a half-dozen locations in Millstream Run Reservation between Royalton Road (Route 82) and the river ford (low bridge crossing) just south of Wallace Lake. Trout will then continue to be stocked regularly through the end of April.
Ohio River Region
At Greenup Dam, anglers are catching saugers, white bass, and catfish fishing along the Kentucky side. The best bite is coming on minnows.
In the Meldahl pool, anglers are reporting catching hybrid stripers up to 20-plus inches. Some saugers are also being caught on floating jigs tipped with a minnow.
At Pike Island, anglers are catching saugers ranging up to 15 inches on 1⁄4-ounce jigs in white, chartreuse, or glow patterns. Some walleyes up to 17 inches are also being caught. Fish deep with the rig, dragging it across the bottom while jigging it.
Lake Erie tributaries (Pennsylvania) – The steelhead bite picked up during the warm weather and snow melt of late February. Upper Elk Creek was yielding steelhead on minnows under floats. Fly-fishermen were doing well on natural egg patterns and other light presentations. Anglers are advised that state hatchery staff stocked steelhead smolts in several area streams and they should exercise care when handling fish that accidentally are hooked.
Kahle Lake (Clarion County, Pa.) – Mild temperatures in late February spurred the yellow perch and bluegill bites on this drawn-down lake.
Piney Dam (Clarion County, Pa.) – Some anglers were catching yellow perch at the end of February. The water remains drawn down to about 6 feet below normal pool.
Allegheny River (Clarion County, Pa.) – Smallmouth bass and a few walleyes were reported in the Foxburg pool in recent weeks.
Pymatuning Reservoir (Crawford County, Pa.) – Anglers are reminded that new creel limits took effect March 1, requiring a minimum of nine inches on black and white crappies, and a maximum harvest allowance of 20 of either species. A few walleyes were reported near shore and at the spillway. During periods of warm weather, some walleyes were moving to their pre-spawn locations.
Bessemer Lake (Lawrence County, Pa.) – Rainbow trout were reported on various baits, including maggots, pastebaits, waxworms, and trout magnet jigs.
Shenango Reservoir (Mercer County, Pa.) – A few boaters took advantage of mild weather in late February and reported nice catches of crappies and white bass.
Coldwater Area (Michigan) – Warm temperatures and rain have brought ice fishing to an abrupt halt in Branch County and across southern Michigan. With no snow on the ground, rabbit hunting has been tough and hunting pressure light. Coyote hunting has been decent, but hunting pressure has been light.
Hoskins Bait House, (517) 369-1330
Kalamazoo Area (Mich.) – Steelhead fishing has been very good on the Kalamazoo River. Fish have been caught below Calkins Dam and throughout the river. Down on the St. Joseph River, steelhead fishing has been very good. The fish are starting to move upstream and were moving through the fish ladder at the Berrien Springs Dam. Pier anglers fishing in Lake Michigan at St. Joseph report catching Chinook, coho, and brown trout. Coyote hunting has been fair but hunting pressure has been light.
D and R Sports, (269) 372-2277
Grand Rapids Area (Mich.) – Anglers report very good steelhead fishing on the Grand River with some limit catches being taken. Boat and shore anglers are using fresh skein, spawn bags, waxworms, and wigglers with good success. A fair to good number of walleyes also have been caught.
Al & Bob’s Sports, (616) 245-9156