Ohio Outdoor News Fishing Report – Feb. 2, 2018

Central Region

Alum Creek Lake (Delaware County) – Anglers are reporting anywhere from four to six inches of ice in many spots on this large Central Ohio lake, but be careful and carry a spud bar to test your way out. Crappies and saugeyes are being caught through the ice. The crappies are suspended in anywhere from 12 to 14 feet of water. Anglers are using blade baits such as Vib-Es and jig and minnow combinations to catch both saugeyes and crappies.

Indian Lake (Logan County) – Ice is reported up to 10 inches in spots on this Logan County lake and the saugeyes are reportedly biting. Anglers are employing ice spoons tipped with a minnow for the best bite. To catch crappies, drop down a jig and minnow combo or just a straight minnow under a float. Popular spots have been Long Island, Blackhawk, and Moundwood.

Buckeye Lake (Fairfield, Licking, Perry counties) – Ice conditions are reported between five and six inches in most places, but an expected warm up in temperatures could change things in a hurry. Anglers are catching saugeyes through the ice, some up to 23 inches. Anglers are using blade baits such as Vib-Es to capture the good bite. For crappies, you can’t beat a lively minnow under a float. Minnows, jig or otherwise, will also catch saugeyes. Access the ice at Fairfield Beach.

Northwest Region

Findlay Reservoir No. 2 (Hancock County) – In mid-January, anglers were still reporting good ice here, but the bite has been tough as it typically is at the northwest Ohio reservoir. The anglers who have been successful are using spoons tipped with wax worms to catch yellow perch. For a full report on both Findlay reservoirs, see the back page of this issue of Ohio Outdoor News.

Fostoria Reservoir No. 5 (Hancock County) – Fishermen as of late January were still fishing through about eight inches of ice here, but a warm up in the forecast could change that scenario in a hurry. Be certain to spud your way out to test for proper ice thickness. Those anglers who have been on the ice have been rewarded with catfish and crappies fishing in about 12 feet of water. Anglers are using Jigging Rapalas for the best bite through the holes.

Willard Reservoir (Huron County) – Only four to five inches of good ice is being reported, but those who have ventured out are catching a few fish. The popular spot has been the north end of the lake. Some small yellow perch and even a few channel catfish have been reportedly caught on waxworms, maggots, or minnows.

Northeast Region

Berlin Lake (Portage, Mahoning, Stark counties) – Anglers are drilling through the ice here to catch walleyes and crappies with some success. The popular baits being used are Shad Raps and Vib-Es or similar type baits. Walleyes have ranged from 15 to 22 inches and are being caught in about 15 feet of water. Ice thickness is reported up to eight inches in most places.

Nimisila Reservoir (Summit County) – Anglers are trying to catch yellow perch through the ice here with some success. Try a lightweight jig tipped with a piece of nightcrawler or a minnow for best results. Fish the early morning hours or at dusk for the better bite.

Mosquito Creek Lake (Trumbull County) – Up to nine inches of ice was reported on this lake as of mid-January. Anglers were doing well on yellow perch, but not mentioning many catches of walleyes. Use a minnow or a waxworm under a float to pick up the best bite.

Southwest Region

Cowan Lake (Clinton County) – As of Jan. 19, there was a reported five inches of ice on Cowan, but with an expected warm up in the forecast that ice likely won’t last too long. Those anglers who were lucky enough to get on the ice were rewarded with a good crappie bite. The popular setup was a lightweight jig tipped with a waxworm or a plastic trailer.

C.J. Brown Reservoir (Clark County) – In mid-January, anglers were fishing off the docks by the marina to catch crappies and bluegills. There was a reported four inches of ice on the lake, but not many anglers were trusting that thickness and were reportedly fishing from the docks instead. With an expected warm up in the forecast for late January, most of that ice will likely be gone. Anglers fishing the docks are using light jigs with plastic trailers in 10 to 15 feet of water.

Grand Lake St. Marys (Mercer, Auglaize counties) – Anglers were reporting about four inches of good ice here in late December/early January. Be sure to use a spud bar to test ice thickness before venturing onto it. Anglers who have fished through the ice have been rewarded with some good catches of crappies up to 11 inches. Some bluegills are also in the mix. For bait, you can’t beat a lively minnow under a bobber.

Southeast Region

Salt Fork Lake (Guernsey County) – Anglers are catching good numbers of channel catfish through the ice and an assorted mixed bag of other species. A few saugeyes and crappies are reportedly being caught on Vib-Es and similar baits, according to angler reports.

Piedmont Lake (Belmont County) – There were a few shanties out on this Belmont County lake in mid-January but not many reports of anglers catching fish. The reports that are coming in are indicating small crappies and bluegills through the ice. The popular bait has been a Vib-E or similar blade bait.

Leesville Lake (Carroll County) – Anglers are drilling holes here and fishing through the ice with a few fish to show for it. Anglers are trying blade baits such as Vib-Es on points and humps for crappies, bass, muskies, and channel catfish. Fish for bluegills around any structure you can mark on the Vexilar and you’ll likely get into a good bunch, anglers report.

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.

There have been reports of walleyes and yellow perch being caught through the ice one to three miles west and northwest of Catawba Island State Park, according to the Division of Wildlife. There have also been reports of panfish being caught in the harbors. Recent strong winds and warmer weather have impacted ice conditions. Use extreme caution when ice fishing on Lake Erie.

The Ohio DNR is encouraging residents and out-of-state visitors to be wise while participating in winter recreational activities outdoors, such as hiking or ice fishing. With the recent cold temperatures, it is important to remember that no ice is safe ice, and any ice that is covered by snow should always be presumed to be unsafe. Below are some safety tips to consider when spending time outdoors this winter.

Prepare for your hike by finding out how long it is and the level of difficulty. Visiting a specific state park? Hikers should visit parks.ohiodnr.gov and select the appropriate state park to see a map of the hiking trails. Hikers should contact the local park office for trail conditions.

Check the forecast and have a plan if severe weather strikes. If inclement weather is approaching, reschedule the outdoor activity for a different time.

Hikers should let others know where they will be hiking and what time they will return.

Stay on the designated trail, and follow the trail signs.

Bring snacks and water. Cold, dry air can dehydrate hikers quickly.

During the winter, a frequently used trail can become packed down and be icy, even if other parts of the trail are clear. Be aware of potential slick spots and use caution at all times.

Dress warmly in layers. Start with insulating fabrics and use a final layer of protective fabrics.

Come prepared, pay attention to how you feel, and know when to go indoors.

Keep your head, neck, and hands covered by wearing a hat, scarf, and gloves.

Sturdy waterproof boots and warm socks are recommended for hikers, and hand warmers can help on longer hikes.

Ice anglers should prepare and share a “float plan” to let people know when they will be out on the ice, where they will be fishing, where they will park their vehicles, and when they will return.

Always fish with a partner or in an area where several other anglers are present.

Contact a local ice guide or bait shop to ask about ice conditions.

Put a cellphone in a plastic bag to protect it from getting wet.

Adequately check the ice thickness before traveling onto the ice.

Dress properly for conditions, which should include wearing an approved life vest.

Avoid areas with feeder streams, springs, bridge pilings, docks, and dam structures since ice is usually very thin there.

Additionally, ice anglers should make sure they have a valid Ohio fishing license. Licenses expire on Feb. 28 so anglers should purchase a new license on March 1. Ice anglers should also know the size and daily limits for the fish they hope to catch.

For more information about dressing for the winter weather in Ohio, go to parks.ohiodnr.gov/winter. To learn more about ice fishing in Ohio, go to wildlife.ohiodnr.gov/fishing/ice-fishing.

DNR also licenses fishing guides in the Lake Erie region. If interested in going on an ice fishing trip with a guide, go to wildlife.ohiodnr.gov/fishing/ice-fishing/ohio-ice-fishing-guides.

A combined 3,000 pounds of rainbow trout were stocked at Wallace, Shadow, Ledge, Judge’s, and Ranger lakes in Cleveland Metroparks in mid to late December with another batch of 3,000 pounds scheduled tentatively for late January. The Lake Erie Cleveland area harbors are currently offering excellent ice-fishing opportunities for steelhead and yellow perch.

Cleveland area harbors on Lake Erie, such as E. 55th, Gordon Park, and Edgewater marinas, as well as Wildwood Marina to the east, all offer excellent ice-fishing opportunities primarily for steelhead and yellow perch. Anglers have a shot at bluegill, northern pike, and a diversity of other species, too. A big muskie was even caught through the ice in a Cleveland harbor last week. Steelhead are biting on medium size jigging spoons worked with a fairly aggressive jigging action throughout the water column. Gulp Minnows in two-inch sizes also work on a jig. For perch, use a small jig tipped with several waxworms near the bottom in about 10-15 feet of water with a more subtle jigging action. Be especially careful to test ice thickness with a spud bar if you venture into any new areas because ice thickness can be highly variable where there is any current.

Ice fishers are out pursuing rainbow trout on Cleveland Metropark lakes and ponds. On Wednesday, Dec. 13, Metroparks stocked rainbow trout in Wallace (1,400 pounds) and Ranger (100 pounds) lakes and on Tuesday, Dec. 19 Metroparks stocked Shadow (750 pounds), Ledge (600 pounds), and Judge’s (150 pounds) lakes. The size of the trout averages from 1-2 pounds, with a few larger. The second (and final) round of winter trout will go into the same lakes tentatively next week. Trout are also available at Ohio & Erie Canal fishing area down the hill from CanalWay Visitor Center off E. 49th Street.

Trout have been biting on PowerBait, jigs tipped with a few maggots/waxworms, and smallish jigging spoons (such as Forage Minnow and Swedish Pimple). 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 & Erie Canal. A second (and final) round of winter trout will be released in about a month.

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. If the spud bar goes through in one hard strike it is a red flag that you need to get out of that area immediately. Other safety tips are to carry a set of ice spikes on a cord around your neck, fish with a friend, let someone know where you’ll be, and focus on areas near where other anglers are already fishing.

Cleveland Metroparks, www.clevelandmetroparks.com

BEYOND OHIO

Lake St. Clair (Michigan)

Yellow perch fishing has been good throughout Lake St. Clair including the areas off Selfridge, Fair Haven and in Anchor Bay. Most fish were caught in six to 10 feet of water. On the Detroit River, there was a lot of ice coming down the river. Areas where anglers were ice fishing will most likely not be safe at this time. The Coast Guard has been out and breaking up the ice.

Categories: News, Ohio Fishing Reports

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