Ohio Outdoor News Fishing Report – Jan. 5, 2018

Central Region

Alum Creek Lake (Delaware County) – When anglers have been able to find open water, they are catching saugeyes, crappies, bluegills, and some smallmouth bass. Fishing below the spillway also is always productive at this time of year. Tie on a Vib-E and go to work. For saugeyes, try a crankbait in shad patterns. Crappies will also hit this rig, as they will on jig and minnow combinations.

Indian Lake (Logan County) – The bite has reportedly been a tough one but a few anglers are catching saugeyes at Moundwood and Dream Bridge on crankbaits and stick baits. The best bite is coming in the evening hours when open water can be found. With fluctuating temperatures over the past two weeks, that has been a tough proposition.

Delaware Lake (Delaware County) – Fishermen are catching limits of crappies here, even though water clarity isn’t the best. There is a 30-fish daily bag limit here with a nine-inch minimum. The successful setup has been a crappie rig tipped with minnows.

Buckeye Lake (Fairfield, Licking, Perry counties) – Saugeyes are a hit and miss proposition right now as the bite turns on one place and off in another. Successful anglers have been using swimbaits, crankbaits, and jig and minnow combos. Channel catfish, too, can be caught in the later winter months. Try a piece of nightcrawler fished on the bottom.

Northwest Region

Findlay Reservoir No. 2 (Hancock County) – Whenever they’ve been able to find open water, anglers are using jig and minnow combinations to fish for walleyes and yellow perch. However, not much success is being reported.

West Harbor (Lake Erie) – Though there’s skim ice on much of these areas, anglers are taking advantage of the docks to still find fish just as though you were ice fishing. Drop a jig and minnow down right next to the dock to catch yellow perch and crappies. Try a straight minnow under a bobber, which will work as well.

Clear Fork Reservoir (Richland, Morrow counties) – Open water fishermen have taken advantage of some warm days recently to cash in on crappies. Simple baits work best. Just tie on a minnow under a bobber and you’re in business. Add a bit of color with a jig and a tail and tip the rig with a minnow.

Northeast Region

Atwood Lake (Carroll, Tuscarawas counties) – When they’ve been able to find open water, anglers are fishing for saugeyes and crappies. Very little, however, is being reportedly caught. At this time of year, the best bet is a slow jigging presentation with a minnow or shiner.

Northeast Ohio streams (various counties) – With many of the lakes in the region locked up with thin ice, now is a great time to hit up rivers and streams in the northeast Ohio area. Smallmouth bass, catfish, crappies, and white bass can all be caught in these runs. For bait, the real deal can’t be beat. Try a nightcrawler or a minnow beneath a float to catch any and all species.

West Branch Reservoir (Portage County) – Anglers fishing at the dam are catching a good number of smallmouth bass. Some muskies and crappies are also being caught here, according to angler reports.

Southwest Region

Great Miami River (Various counties) – Anglers are catching good size smallmouth bass on the GMR in recent days. The successful bait presentation has been to drop and drag a minnow slowly near the bottom. Find schools of shad on your sonar, and drop the bait right into them. Some crappies, too, are being caught using these same methods. Some of the smallmouth bass being caught are good size – up to 19 inches.

Rocky Fork Lake (Highland County) – Anglers fishing the docks here are catching a mixed bag of fish. Crappies, bluegills, yellow perch, and white bass are all being caught on ice spoons tipped with a minnow. Fish the bait between 15 and 20 feet deep for best results. The better bite is coming in the morning hours up until about noon. A few hardy boat anglers have had limited success catching channel catfish, too. Size hasn’t been great, but the bite has been fair.

Caesar Creek Lake (Warren, Clinton, Greene counties) – Fishermen here are capitalizing on a deep-water bite for crappies, according to reports. Tie on a minnow and fish the bait as deep as you can without touching bottom. Use an indicator as these fish are light biters at this time of year. Surface temperatures were in the upper 40s.

Southeast Region

Salt Fork Lake (Guernsey County) – Anglers are fishing this Guernsey County lake for saugeyes and crappies with some success. Crappies, in particular, have ranged up to 11 inches, according to reports. Try a minnow fished under a bobber or a jig with a trailer dragged slowly across the bottom.

Piedmont Lake (Belmont County) – Fishermen are catching saugeyes here quite regularly on Vib-Es and Rogues. Saugeyes have ranged up to 19 inches. The best bite is coming either in the early morning hours or late in the evening.

Leesville Lake (Carroll County) – Anglers are fishing below the dam for saugeyes and catching a few. Try a Vib-E or similar bait. Most fishing pressure is coming in the evening hours after folks get out of work. Try early mornings for less pressure.

Lake Erie Region

• The bag limit for walleye in Ohio waters of Lake Erie is six fish per angler. 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.


Although weather and harbor ice had previously limited fishing opportunities, recent warmer weather allowed some access to the lake. There have been a few reports of walleyes being caught near Huron.

How: Walleyes have been caught primarily by trolling with crankbaits or by casting jerkbaits at night from piers.

A combined 3,000 pounds of rainbow trout were stocked at Cleveland Metroparks’ Wallace, Shadow, Ledge, Judge’s, and Ranger lakes over the past week. Ice is unsafe to walk onto on Cleveland Metropark lakes and ponds at this time.

Area streams thawed nicely last week and the Rocky River is exhibiting an ideal flow and stain for steelhead anglers. But significant precipitation is being called for in the coming days so wise anglers will check the flow gauge data prior to embarking on a trip. Overall, there have been good numbers of 22-26-inch steelhead in the streams. Bait often rules in winter, with dime size spawn sacs, live/salted minnows, and small jigs tipped with maggot/waxworm all being among the top producers. Fish have been reported in all the stocked streams recently, as well as the Cuyahoga River and Euclid Creek.

Good numbers of steelhead were still being reported along the Lake Erie shoreline recently, especially at E. 55th and Edgewater parks. Popular methods for targeting Lake Erie shoreline steelies include suspending a jig tipped with minnow or nightcrawler 2-5 feet below a bobber, as well as casting a spoon (i.e., Little Cleo or KO Wobbler) or spinner (i.e., Vibrax or RoosterTail). Slow down retrieves on your lures in the colder conditions of winter. Night walleye anglers were making good catches at Edgewater and E. 55th/Gordon parks from the shore casting crankbaits, with larger Husky Jerks and Perfect 10 models being top producers.

A total of 3,000 pounds of trout were stocked in Metroparks lakes over recent weeks. Trout are also available at Ohio & Erie Canal fishing area down the hill from CanalWay Visitor Center off E. 49th Street. Trout bite well on PowerBait, canned corn, small spinners, and jigs tipped with a few maggots/waxworms, and nightcrawlers or shrimp fished right on the bottom. 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 & Erie Canal. A second (and final) round of winter trout will be released in about a month.

A crust of ice has formed over most of Cleveland Metropark’s inland lakes and ponds, although the thaw has not left it thick enough to consider ice fishing. Anglers are currently fishing from the safety of shore in areas where the water drops off quickly, such as from docks, other platforms, etc. Since ice fishing is (hopefully) right around the corner, Metroparks offers some advice. Most state conservation agencies recommend at least four inches of solid ice before anglers should venture out to ice fish, and in Cleveland Metroparks it is the angler’s responsibility to check that. One method is to use a spud bar near shore and check the ice thickness, and if it is greater than four inches then walk out a little further and check again. Ice is often thinnest right at the water’s edge and around inlets and outlets of the waterbody. Other safety tips are to always fish with a friend, let someone know where you’ll be, and focus on areas near where other anglers are already fishing. If we do receive good ice this winter, Cleveland Metroparks hopes to hold an ice-fishing fundraiser derby, likely in mid-February.

Cleveland Metroparks, www.clevelandmetroparks.com


Lake St. Clair (Michigan)

All of the canals on Lake St. Clair had skim ice and many of the bays were just beginning to lock in. Strong winds have kept any unprotected areas from freezing. Snow in the forecast was not expected to lead to favorable conditions for making good ice but the cold nights will help.

Irish Hills Area (Mich.)

Lakes in Jackson County were freezing, but none were safe yet for fishing. Larger lakes like Wamplers still had open water. A recent snowstorm didn’t help. Late-season deer hunting has been fair, but hunting pressure has dropped off.

Lake Orion (Mich.)

There was no safe ice in Oakland County at last check, but a cold forecast had anglers prepping their gear. A couple of steelhead were caught on the Clinton River, but fishing pressure has been very light. Deer hunting is winding down with just late doe and bow seasons open. Hunting pressure has been light.


Allegan Area (Mich.)

Anglers in Allegan County were gearing up for ice fishing, but there was no safe ice yet at last check. A few steelhead have been caught in the Kalamazoo River below the dam. Spinners, spawn, flies, and waxworms have all had their moments. Hunting pressure has been light.

Coldwater Area (Mich.)

Skim ice was forming on lakes in Branch County, but ice fishing had not yet started. Up to five inches of snow has fallen and won’t help the ice-making process much. Hunting pressure has been light. A few rabbit and squirrel hunters report pretty good success.

Plainwell Area (Mich.)

There was about three inches of ice in the channel on Gun Lake and most ice anglers were hoping to get out. Some of the smaller private pounds were frozen over and light numbers of panfish had been caught. There was about three inches of snow on the ground. Hunting pressure has been light.


Saginaw Bay Area (Mich.)

Ice is forming on the more sheltered shorelines of inner Saginaw Bay but was not yet thick enough for ice fishing. Ice has also covered most of the smaller rivers in the area including the Pine, Pinconning, Kawkawlin, Quanicassee, and Sebewaing, but, again, it was not thick enough for ice fishing. On the Saginaw River, there was no ice and walleye anglers were still catching some fish, but frigid temperatures are keeping the boat anglers home. Muzzleloader deer season was pretty good. Hunting pressure has been light for the late bow season.

Baldwin Area (Mich.)

Ice was forming on lakes in Lake County but there was no ice fishing yet at last check. Upwards of 10 inches of snow landed in the area so that will not help solid ice form. There was cold weather in the forecast so anglers are keeping their fingers crossed. Steelhead fishing has been good in the Pere Marquette River, but pressure has been light. Egg-related baits have produced the best results. Late-season deer hunting has been slow and hunting pressure has been light. Coyote numbers are high.

Grand Haven Area (Mich.)

The whitefish activity has slowed as the run is just about over. Anglers were starting to catch a good number of perch in Lake Michigan. Late-season deer hunting has been fair, but hunting pressure has been light.

Ludington Area (Mich.)

Ice is forming on inland lakes in Mason County, but no one was fishing at last check. Fair numbers of steelhead have been caught in the Pere Marquette and Big Manistee rivers. Spawn, spinners, beads, and waxworms are producing good results. Hunting pressure has been light, but rabbit hunters were itching to get started.

Lake Erie tributaries (Erie County, Pennsylvania) – As conditions allowed, with streams still flowing, fish were hitting egg flies, streamer, and nymphs in recent weeks.

Lake Erie/Presque Isle Bay (Erie County, Pa.) – Perch action was reported in the bay and off the north and south piers with live minnows effective.

French Creek (Erie, Mercer, Crawford, Venango counties, Pa.) – As water levels allowed, this Allegheny River tributary was yielding walleyes and smallmouth bass in recent weeks.

Pymatuning Reservoir (Crawford County. Pa.) – The walleye bite turned on in the plummeting water temperatures of recent weeks. Crappies and other panfish also were hitting.

Lake Wilhelm (Mercer County, Pa.) – Anglers were catching crappies and walleyes in falling water temperatures in recent weeks.

Neshannock Creek (Mercer County, Pa.) – As conditions allowed, trout were biting a variety of flies in recent weeks.

Cascade Quarry (Lawrence County, Pa.) – Anglers were catching trout on white and lime-green plastic worms.

Allegheny River (Warren County, Pa.) – Walleyes were hitting near the Allegheny National Fish Hatchery.

Lake Arthur (Butler County, Pa.) – Largemouth bass were biting crankbaits and minnows. Anglers were expected to begin targeting catfish.

Categories: News, Ohio Fishing Reports

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