Ohio Outdoor News Fishing Report – March 2, 2018
Alum Creek Lake (Delaware County) – Most of the lake remains covered in a thin layer of ice, but likely not enough to support ice fishing any longer. Also, a severe warm-up in temperatures has likely killed any chance of getting back on the ice here, possibly for the season. Anglers fishing below the spillway have had some luck throwing crankbaits and jig and trailers for saugeyes, channel catfish, and the occasional muskie.
Indian Lake (Logan County) – After a good spell this winter with decent amounts of ice on Indian, that appears to be over, at least for now and possibly ending the ice-fishing season on the big lake. Very few reports of anyone catching let alone fishing Indian in the past two weeks.
Buckeye Lake (Fairfield, Licking, Perry counties) – If the water here opens up completely, one of the first species that will bite in open water are channel catfish near the marsh. Fish cut bait on the bottom for the best results. The weather forecast indicates nothing but warmer weather for the next week or so.
East Harbor (Lake Erie) – Anglers were fishing the harbor through the ice still in late February. Anglers have been catching mainly bluegills and crappies on Vib-Es, Jigging Rapalas, or Swedish Pimples. Also, a lively minnow will work well.
Clear Fork Reservoir (Richland, Morrow counties) – Before the extreme warm-up in mid-February, anglers were reporting good catches of crappies and a few yellow perch through the ice. In early February, Clear Fork still had about six inches of good ice. The cooperative fish were hitting jigs tipped with waxworms.
Fostoria Reservoir No. 5 (Hancock County) – Anglers fishing this reservoir in recent days have been rewarded with channel catfish, white perch, and a stray saugeye here and there. The successful setup has been either a Vib-E, or a small ice spoon tipped with a waxworm or a spike.
Pymatuning Reservoir (Ashtabula County) – Anglers were still drilling through the ice here in mid-February and catching some walleyes, crappies, and bluegills. Successful fishermen were using blade baits like Vib-Es for the walleye bite with some fish measuring up to 25 inches. For bluegills and crappies, the successful setup was a jig and waxworm combo or jig and minnow. Be sure to use a spud bar to mark your way onto the ice and test thickness.
Nimisila Reservoir (Summit County) – While the ice held on at this Summit County lake known for its panfish, anglers continued to catch crappies and yellow perch. A severe warm-up in temperatures, however, has likely closed down the bite through the ice.
Mosquito Creek Lake (Trumbull County) – Anglers are itching for open water on Mosquito, which signals the early wading season for walleyes. There was very little ice left as of mid-February. Check back to the fishing report for open-water prospects once all of the ice is clear of this big lake.
Acton Lake (Preble, Butler counties) – Anglers are hitting the spillway on this lake near College Corner in search of saugeyes with little luck. Fishermen are throwing jerkbaits and crankbaits at the saugeyes, but not much success is being reported.
Paint Creek Lake (Highland County) – Anglers fishing off the docks near the restaurant are catching some crappies on small ice jigs tipped with a minnow. This is a popular fishing spot in the winter, though, so be prepared to deal with a crowd. The best crappie bite is coming in six to 10 feet of water.
Grand Lake St. Marys (Mercer, Auglaize counties) – Anglers who have been able to find ice in the channels of Ohio’s largest inland lake were scoring on good size crappies in mid-February. The successful setup was a small ice jig tipped with a waxworm or two. The best bite was coming in about five feet of water. Be absolutely certain of ice thickness before venturing onto it. A big warm-up in the forecast likely has punked out many of the spots formerly covered in a thin layer of ice.
Salt Fork Lake (Guernsey County) – Where they were able to find open water, anglers were doing fairly well on the crappies on this large Guernsey County lake. Crappies, some up to 10 inches in length, are being caught on jig and minnow or waxworm combinations.
Seneca Lake (Noble, Guernsey counties) – Anglers are fishing the spillway at Seneca and catching a few saugeyes and crappies. At this time of year, Jigging Rapalas are a good bait to try. Also, jig and small minnow combos are tough to beat. Some of the crappies being reported are up to 10 inches.
Tuscarawas River (various counties) – Anglers are targeting the creek mouths to catch some channel catfish on the river. Other fishermen are throwing spinnerbaits at the smallmouth bass here with some success. If you can target a time when the river isn’t high and muddy, that will offer the best time for the bite.
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 a limited number of ice-fishing reports, primarily west of South Bass Island and from harbors on the mainland. Anglers are catching walleyes primarily. Use extreme caution when ice fishing on Lake Erie, according to the DNR Division of Wildlife.
Area streams in and around Cleveland Metroparks were producing good catches of steelhead prior to water levels becoming elevated and muddy. Weekend prospects will depend on how much precipitation we receive into the weekend. In slightly stained water a brightly colored spawn sac about the size of a nickel has been the top producer, although bright or contrasting colored jig and fly patterns also catch muddy steelhead under such conditions. There has been a mix of fresh steelhead and darker fish that have already been in the river, and some of the largest steelhead of the year are making a showing. The best steelhead fishing of the season is traditionally just around the corner, too.
Anglers were cautiously ice fishing Cleveland shoreline marinas and harbors on Lake Erie this week and making good catches of steelhead. Ice conditions have deteriorated rapidly this week with the warming temperatures and rain. Places producing included E. 72nd/Gordon Park, Wildwood Marina, and Edgewater Marina. Live minnows, ice jigs tipped with waxworms, and spawn sacs under a small bobber or on tip-ups were catching fish, as were actively working a small to medium size jigging spoon with silver or gold in the finish. The yellow perch have largely vacated the same areas they were being caught earlier this winter. Several northern pike were caught this week at the aforementioned locations. Overall, we’ve had outstanding ice-fishing opportunities in the shoreline areas of Lake Erie around Cleveland this year.
Cleveland Metroparks stocked 3,000 pounds of trout in late January, as follows. On Jan. 22, Metroparks stocked Shadow (750 pounds), Ledge (600 pounds), and Judge’s (150 pounds) lakes, and on Jan. 24 Metroparks stocked Wallace (1,400 pounds) and Ranger (100 pounds) lakes. Most impressive were the Wallace Lake batch – these fish were hands down the best bunch of trout that Metroparks has ever stocked in terms of size and species diversity. The average rainbow trout was between 1 and 2 pounds, but there were many trophy fish in the 5-10-pound range in the mix. And there were plenty of brook and brown trout up to 2 pounds, and even a peppering of foot-long golden rainbow trout. These fish complement the 3,000 pounds stocked back in mid-December at the same locations. This concludes Metroparks’ scheduled winter trout stocking. Anglers should not ice fish at this time but are fishing through thinning ice from the safety of shore at Wallace, Ledge, and Shadow lakes. Some trout also remain from an October stocking at Ohio and Erie Canal fishing area down the hill from CanalWay Visitor Center off E. 49th Street.
Trout through the ice typically bite well on PowerBait, jigs tipped with a few maggots/waxworms, and smaller jigging spoons (such as Forage Minnow and Swedish Pimple). 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.
With the rapidly deteriorating ice conditions around the region, please re-review and heed the following safety tips. 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. 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, carry a length of rope, fish with a friend (but venture into untraveled areas with some distance between you), let someone know where you’ll be, and focus on areas near where other anglers are already fishing.
Please note that Ledge Lake in Hinckley Reservation will be catch-and-release only fishing until further notice. Signs will be posted at the lake indicating this in the near future.
Cleveland Metroparks, www.clevelandmetroparks.com
Lake St. Clair (Michigan)
Fishing has been very good for perch and walleyes on Lake St. Clair. Early mornings and later in the afternoon have produced the best action. Be very careful when heading out. Always carry a compass or GPS and check the ice ahead of you with a spud. No. 2 Rapalas and No. 2 Swedish pimples tipped with a bead and a spike have been producing very good results.
Lake Orion (Mich.)
Ice fishing has been slowed down on Lake Orion. A few panfish and northern pike have been caught but overall the action has been slow. Squirrel and rabbit hunting has been decent at the Bald Mountain Recreation Area.
Trenton Area (Mich.)
Anglers report catching fair numbers of perch in the Detroit River. The best action has come to those fishing with minnows in Airport Bay and near Belle Isle in the canoe canals. Those fishing the marinas were getting bluegills and perch.
Luna Pier Area (Mich.)
Anglers were catching some perch in the Metro Park Marina on Lake Erie. Up on the Huron River, anglers report catching a few steelhead below the dam at Flat Rock.
Sturgis Area (Mich.)
Ice fishing has been pretty good on Klinger Lake. Anglers report catching good numbers of crappies, northern pike, walleyes, and perch. Minnows have produced the best action. There was just a couple of inches of snow on the ground. Hunting pressure has been light.
Coldwater Area (Mich.)
Fishing has been pretty good on Gilead Lake where there was six inches of ice. Bluegills, and crappies are keeping anglers interested with several limit catches being recorded. Pike fishing has been good on Messenger and Little Rose lakes. Honey Lake and Madison Lake had opened up and were not safe for foot traffic, but are stiffening back up. Hunting pressure has been light.
Grand Rapids Area (Mich.)
Anglers are still taking fair numbers of walleyes and steelhead below the Sixth Street Dam on the Grand River. The Rogue River has frozen so anglers will have to wait until the next thaw.
Plainwell Area (Mich.)
Fishing pressure has been light but the bite has been steady on Gun Lake. Bluegill and crappie fishing have been great, in fact one angler caught a fat 101⁄2-inch bluegill last week. Pike fishing has been pretty good, too. There was about eight inches of snow on the ice with up to 10 more in the forecast. The ice opened up on the west side of the lake so when the snow falls that area will be very dangerous. Always use extreme caution on the ice. Hunting pressure has been light. Those getting out report good coyote hunting.
Lake Erie steelhead tributaries (Erie County, Pennsylvania) – As conditions allowed, snowmelt and rainfall brought steelhead into streams. Anglers were catching steelhead in the access areas, but were contending with slush.
Presque Isle Bay (Pa.) – Yellow perch, bluegills, and crappies were hitting through the ice as conditions allowed. As of Feb. 1, anglers were fishing off the Chestnut Street Launch and off Liberty Park.
Conneaut Lake (Crawford County, Pa.) – Anglers were icing crappies and bluegills on the south end of this large natural lake.
Pymatuning Reservoir (Crawford County, Pa.) – Walleyes, crappies, and largemouth bass were reported off Tuttle and Jamestown campgrounds.