Ohio Outdoor News Fishing & Hunting Report – Feb. 1, 2019

Central Region

Alum Creek Lake (Delaware County) — Ice is forming in the coves of Alum Creek, but as of this writing on Jan. 18 no one was ice fishing. The spillway bite is still an option for saugeyes, muskies, and crappies, but a major snowstorm forecast for the region might put the brakes on good ice formation.

Buckeye Lake (Fairfield, Licking, Perry counties) — Prior to the lake locking up with skim ice, anglers were casting swimbaits and using live minnows to catch a few saugeyes at Fairfield Beach. Pressure has been reportedly heavy, but that is likely to change until the lake freezes over enough to allow for ice fishing.

Indian Lake (Logan County) — Thin ice, too thin to hold an angler, was the name of the game as of this writing on Jan. 18. Some had ventured out, but the ice was no thicker than three inches, according to local reports. A cold snap next week should serve to firm things up some more. Anglers will be out fishing for saugeyes through the holes with pin mins and other types of ice spoons.

Northwest Region

Findlay Reservoir No. 2 (Hancock County) — A prolonged stretch of cold temperatures should serve to lock up the ice on No. 2 as long as the weather doesn’t warm up too quickly. When the ice is safe enough for anglers, you can catch yellow perch, bluegills, and crappies here. Use a jig and minnow combination or a jig and wax worm for best results.

Maumee River (Lucas County) — Much of the Maumee River is locked up in a thin layer of ice with the cold snap that hit the area in mid-January. Not much if any fishing pressure due to the conditions and cold temperatures.

Maumee Bait and Tackle, www.maumeetackle.net

Lake Erie (East Harbor) — According to recent angler reports, there is between two and six inches of ice on the harbor and some ice fishermen have been getting out. The bite has been spotty, with just a handful of largemouth bass being reported. Water clarity is poor due to high winds before ice-up.

Northeast Region

West Branch Reservoir (Portage County) — Anglers fishing from some good spots on the shoreline have been catching good numbers of walleyes, according to angler reports. This was before a cold snap in mid-January most likely locked up most of the lake. In any event, the open-water walleyes were caught on crankbaits and stickbaits. Some individual fish were up to 20 inches.

Mosquito Creek Lake (Trumbull County) — As of Jan. 18, locals report that the lake is 85 percent locked up with ice and it should be rounding into ice-fishing shape by the time this publication hits mailboxes. Mosquito Creek is always a good place to catch walleyes, yellow perch, and crappies through the ice. Live minnows under a small ice bobber will catch all three of these species.

Pymatuning Lake (Ashtabula County) — As of this writing, the lake was locking up with ice and should be fishable in the near future, according to angler reports. When the ice does come on, anglers will be fishing for walleyes and yellow perch and crappies through the holes. Pin mins tipped with a minnow or other types of ice spoons should fit the bill. Also, a jig and minnow combination can’t be beat.

Southwest Region

C.J. Brown Reservoir (Clark County) — Anglers continue to fish off the docks near the marina and are catching some crappies, some up to a reported 14 inches. Fishermen are using minnows suspended under an ice bobber, much like one would when ice fishing.

Rocky Fork Lake (Highland, Ross counties) — Anglers fishing the docks at this Highland County lake have been catching crappies and channel catfish. Blade baits such as Vib-Es or Sonars have been the hot ticket. Some white bass are also being caught on these same baits.

East Fork Lake (Clermont County) — Fishermen are continuing to search out the crappie bite on this southwest Ohio lake known for its crappies. If you find a school of crappies, tie on a jig and tip it with a minnow for best results. Fish the bait similar to ice-fishing methods at this time of year.

Southeast Region

Salt Fork Lake (Guernsey County) — As of mid-January, anglers were still fishing open water at Salt Fork. Channel catfish are typically an option in the winter here, as are crappies. Employ a jig and minnow combination and you should be able to catch both species.

Tappan Lake (Harrison County) — Anglers are focusing their efforts on the bridge overpasses in the evening hours to catch crappies. Fishermen are throwing a variety of baits at them, including jigs, spoons, and blade baits. Some of the crappies have been decent size, around the 12-inch range.

Piedmont Lake (Belmont County) — Anglers fishing the spillway at Piedmont are reporting a tough bite for most all species of fish. They are fishing for crappies and saugeyes, without much luck, however. If you do try it, tie on a Vib-E or similar blade bait and rip it through the current. Also, crankbaits and stickbaits should be an option.

Lake Erie Region

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

New for 2019: 

A Lake Erie fishing permit is required for nonresidents from Jan. 1 to April 30 when fishing Lake Erie and areas immediately upstream in creeks, rivers, and tributaries.


Where: The open-water season is coming to a close. Ramps and harbors in the Western Basin are beginning to form significant ice, though the main lake remains open. A few brave anglers will continue to search out open water, but it is not advised.

How: Anglers have been trolling deep diving crankbaits 80 to 100 feet back at speeds of 1.0 to 1.4 mph unassisted, or adding snap weights up to 2 ounces 40 feet back to get down to the fish. Anglers have also reported success jigging lipless crankbaits and spoons tipped with shiners, like ice-fishing presentations.

Yellow Perch

Where: Fishing effort for yellow perch has been low, but some anglers are still targeting and catching fish near harbor mouths in the Cleveland area.

How: Perch spreaders with shiners fished near the bottom produce the most fish.

Steelhead Trout

Where: Good fishing reported from anglers trolling inside the Fairport Harbor breakwall and inside the Conneaut breakwall. Anglers fishing from shore are catching fish off the Edgewater, Gordon Park, Fairport Harbor, and Painesville Township piers, and the Fairport Harbor breakwall.

How: The best baits have been small spoons and crankbaits for anglers trolling fishing from boats, and jigs tipped with maggots fished under a bobber or small spoons for anglers fishing from shore.

 The Rocky River and other area streams are currently offering good fishing conditions, but expect them to be icing up quickly with the cold temperatures. Slush is worst following heavier snowfall as well as in the mornings. Despite the cold, quite a few anglers reported steelhead success recently, and a highlight the past two weeks has been several stray brown trout showing up in the Rocky River. The big trout are spread throughout the system at this time and will be biting marabou jigs under floats, brightly colored dime to nickel size spawn sacs, beads that mimic salmon eggs, flies (egg patterns and baitfish streamers), and lures such as Little Cleo spoons and wobbling crankbaits. Steelhead numbers can be expected to peak into March-April.

Conditions permitting, anglers fishing along the Cleveland lakefront are still catching a few yellow perch, steelhead, and walleyes. For perch, the hotspot has been the E. 55th north facing breakwall on live and salted emerald shiners on the lake bottom using crappie rigs. A few walleyes and steelhead are still prowling the E. 55th/E. 72nd areas, too. Lake Erie shoreline marinas were getting covered with a skim of ice this week.

Cleveland Metroparks recently stocked 3,000 pounds of rainbow trout, as follows:  Wallace (1,400 pounds), Shadow (750 pounds), Ledge (600 pounds), Judge’s (150 pounds), and Ranger (100 pounds) lakes. This final winter stocking mirrors a duplicate stocking back in mid-December, with the only difference being quite a few bonus brown and brook trout going into Wallace Lake this latest stocking. 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/wax worms, 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 thin crust of ice has formed over most of Cleveland Metropark inland lakes and ponds recently, although not thick enough for 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 right around the corner, Cleveland 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. 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 farther 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.

Cleveland Metroparks, www.clevelandmetroparks.com


Irish Hills Area (Michigan)

There was no safe ice on inland lakes in Jackson County.

Luna Pier Area (Mich.)

Boat anglers trolling in Lake Erie’s Brest Bay and off Bolles Harbor caught walleyes on crankbaits in 18 to 22 feet of water. Up on the Detroit River, anglers fishing in the marinas were getting perch and bluegills. The perch bite was slowly picking up.


Allegan Area (Mich.)

St. Joseph River continues to produce steelhead. The bite is better following rain or on warmer days. There was no safe ice on inland lakes.

Kalamazoo Area (Mich.)

Recent rain and warm temperatures wreaked havoc on the ice that had been forming on inland lakes. With colder weather in the immediate forecast anglers were hoping for better conditions soon. The Kalamazoo River was giving up some decent steelhead action during the recent warm-up. Spawn, spinners, and a wax worm fished under a float were all taking fish.

Grand Rapids Area (Mich.)

Anglers fishing for steelhead on the Grand River reported a decent bite at the Sixth Street Dam. Spawn, spinners, and wax worms are all getting hit.

Plainwell Area (Mich.)

There was no safe ice on Gun Lake following a few days of unseasonably warm temperatures and rain, but with colder weather in the forecast anglers are getting excited.


Saginaw Bay Area (Mich.)

There was a little ice fishing on Saginaw Bay on shore ice in two feet of water or less at White’s Beach and in the small bay at Pinconning. Success has been minimal. There were no anglers south of Pinconning. A few boats were fishing out from the Saginaw River, mainly around Spoils Island where they caught a couple of walleyes when trolling or vertical jigging with jigs tipped with minnows. Most were bringing in about three fish per trip. Action was slow for boat anglers on the Saginaw River. There were not a lot of boats out, and catches were dominated by undersized fish.

Lake Erie tributaries (Pennsylvania) — A few anglers were catching steelhead on various flies, lures and baits, with downsized presentations working in low clear flow.

Allegheny Reservoir (Warren County, Pa.) — Sportsman’s Outlet reported that anglers were catching walleyes by jigging minnows.

Allegheny River (Forest County, Pa.) — Walleyes and muskies were reported from boat and shore in early January.

Allegheny River (Warren County, Pa.) — Walleyes were hitting on a variety of baits around Mead Island by the old power plant upstream from Starbrick Access Area in recent weeks. 

Kinzua Reservoir (Warren County, Pa.) — Sugar Bay was yielding walleyes in recent weeks.

Pymatuning Reservoir (Crawford County, Pa.) — Poff’s Place reported that very few anglers were fishing, but those fishing from shore and off the docks at Jamestown were catching some crappies.

Categories: Hunting News, News, Ohio Fishing Reports

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