Thursday, February 9th, 2023
Thursday, February 9th, 2023

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Ohio Fishing Report – Feb. 7, 2020

Report from the Dock

The fishing outlook on Lake Erie right now still shows anglers trolling crankbaits and stickbaits in the Western Basin all the way to Cleveland for walleye limits. Steelhead streams in northeast Ohio such as the Chagrin and Rocky rivers continue to give up fish and are running free and clear, according to the fishing report from Cleveland Metroparks. On inland waters, most fishermen are fishing docks and shorelines for crappies, yellow perch, and saugeyes. A few muskies are also being reported at places such as Leesville Lake and West Branch Lake. For a full report on West Branch, see the back page of this issue of Ohio Outdoor News. Deer archery season wrapped up on Feb. 2, and the total harvest for all seasons was about 12,000 more deer than it was last year.

Central Region

Alum Creek Lake (Delaware County) – A cursory look at Alum Creek Lake in central Ohio on Jan. 31 showed much of the main lake and coves covered by a thin layer of ice. It didn’t appear to be thick enough to support an angler, and there were no fishermen on the lake at the time of this reporting. According to other reports, anglers are catching the occasional saugeye below the dam on Joshy’s and stickbaits during low light periods of dawn and dusk.


Buckeye Lake (Fairfield, Licking, Perry counties) – Open water is the name of the game at Buckeye Lake at the time of this writing in late January. Fishing pressure was extremely light, but that may change with a warm-up in the long-range forecast. Channel catfish are typically the first species to bite in the late winter/early spring here. Fairfield Beach is a good spot to try for catfish, as well as crappies and bluegills.


Hoover Reservoir (Franklin County) – Fishermen are targeting catfish at this time of year on Hoover. A few blue catfish have been in the mix, according to local reports. They’re hitting cut shad for live bait and Jigging Rapalas in artificials. A few nice flatheads have been reported caught and released. Crappies, too, should be available to anglers right now. Try trolling Flicker Shad for crappies and saugeyes as well. Most of the fishing effort is taking place in the south pool.

Northwest Region

Willard Reservoir (Huron County) Anglers have been fishing this 300-acre reservoir in Willard when skim ice hasn’t thwarted open-water efforts. Reports indicate yellow perch and crappies are being caught on jig and minnow combinations or any such bait that one would use in the early spring/late winter.


Maumee River (Lucas County) According to Maumee Bait and Tackle, as of Feb. 1 water levels were dropping into good shape. A few anglers were on the river catching walleyes. Remember that this year’s spring bag limit for walleyes on the Maumee is six fish per day all the way through the spring run. The bag limit for walleyes will remain at four fish per day on the Sandusky River and Sandusky Bay.

Maumee Bait and Tackle,


Lima Lake (Allen County) – Whenever this northwest Ohio lake in the city of Lima hasn’t been locked up with thin ice, fishermen are doing OK on crappies. Fish a minnow or wax worm in shallow water – 5 to 6 feet – much like one would in the springtime. The largest crappie being reported was 10 inches.

Northeast Region 

Berlin Lake (Portage, Mahoning, Stark counties) – Right now is as good a time as any to target northern pike on Berlin Lake. Most of the pike caught in the winter come on jigs and spinnerbaits, but local reports indicate that drop-shotting for them is becoming a popular angling method. You can catch them from the shoreline just as well as you can from a boat. Other reports indicate that crappies are being caught right now. Use a jig and minnow combination or simply a minnow under a float. Walleye reports were scarce at the time of this writing in late January.


Mogadore Reservoir (Portage County) – Anglers hitting the Congress Lake Road area are reportedly catching largemouth bass, some of decent size. The largest fish being reported was a 3.5-pounder, caught on a spinnerbait right along the shoreline. Some channel catfish and crappies were also being caught. Crappies are ranging up to 10 inches, and are being caught on wax worms.


Mosquito Creek Lake (Trumbull County) – At the time of this writing in late January, there was just a thin amount of ice on Mosquito, the thickest being reported was 2.5 inches. Definitely not safe for angling. The reports do mention some folks fishing from docks with ice-fishing gear. They’re mostly catching dink perch and some crappies. A warm-up in the extended forecast will likely see boats out on Mosquito before any ice fishermen.

Southwest Region 

Caesar Creek Lake (Warren, Clinton, Greene counties) – Anglers employing jig and minnow combinations are continuing to catch crappies, although water clarity hasn’t been the best, according to reports. They’re catching these panfish in shallow water – 5 to 10 feet. Some crappies up to 11 inches are being reported. The saugeye bite continues to be slow. Not many caught at all at the time of this writing on Jan. 31.


CJ Brown Lake (Clark County) – Anglers fishing for walleyes at the only southern Ohio lake with walleyes in it are catching yellow perch instead. Nothing of any size to report; most reports indicate the perch are right around 4 inches. They’re trying jig and minnow combinations and jig and plastics. The walleye bite has been slow at best.


Rocky Fork Lake (Highland County) – Anglers are trying their luck at Rocky Fork for crappies and saugeyes, but have little to show for it, according to local reporting. One angler reports fishing for about six hours to produce six crappies, only one of which was a decent keeper size, caught in 5 feet of water on a jig and plastic rig. Saugeye reports have been sparse as well. A warm-up in the long-range forecast should do well to warm up the water temperature a bit and turn on the crappie bite.

Southeast Region

Seneca Lake (Noble, Guernsey counties) The spillway has been a popular spot for fishermen in recent days, although the flow was reported high and muddy. As a result, not much catching going on. Anglers are trying for crappies, saugeyes, and channel catfish without much to show for it, according to local reports. The crappies that have been caught are dinks, in the 6- to 8-inch range.


Salt Fork Lake (Guernsey County) Anglers are fishing the spillway at this large Guernsey County lake and are catching some bluegills. Nothing large to report – the biggest was 6 inches – but anglers report a good time just getting out. Some crappies, too, are in the mix. They are running a little larger, up to 9 inches.


Leesville Lake (Carroll County) – Anglers are chasing muskies on this Carroll County lake known for its muskellunge population. They’re using big spinnerbaits and swimbaits in shallow areas to catch fish. The largest muskie being reported was a 36-incher. The bite should pick up once water temperatures warm up a bit. There is a warm-up ahead, according to the long-range forecast. Crappies and saugeyes should be biting, too, as we get further along into February.

Lake Erie Region

• The daily 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 (singly or in combination) per angler. The minimum size limit is 12 inches.


• Black bass (largemouth and smallmouth bass): The daily bag limit is five fish (singly or in combination) per angler with a 14-inch minimum size limit.


• Effective Jan. 1, 2020, it is legal to use three rods per angler in the Lake Erie Sportfishing District.


• A Lake Erie fishing permit is required for nonresidents from Jan. 1 to April 30, 2020, when fishing Lake Erie and areas immediately upstream in creeks, rivers, and tributaries.

Western Basin



Where: Limits are being reported in the Western Basin all the way east to Cleveland. The most popular launches have been the Lucas County Ramp, Mazurik, Catawba, Huron, and Lorain. Anglers are going out trying to find marks, which may come from 18-30 feet in the Western Basin, and 40-60 feet of water closer to Cleveland. Anglers are advised to use extreme caution with cold water temperatures, and to use lifejackets or float coats at all times.


How: Trolling deep diving crankbaits and stickbaits has been the most popular technique at speeds 1.0 to 1.5 mph. Anglers have been experimenting with lures 50-150 feet back without any additional weight, or 20-40 feet back with a 2-ounce weight, and another 20-40 feet back to the lure. Natural colors have been best.


As of late January, the Lake Erie water temperature off Toledo was 36 degrees, off Cleveland 39 degrees, and off Erie 37 degrees.


Local streams in the Cleveland Metroparks area are in good shape for steelhead fishing with a greenish stain and moderate flow. Given the dry forecast into the weekend, stream conditions can be expected to further drop in level and clear. The streams will likely have some slush and ice on mornings following nights dipping below 30 degrees. A mix of fresh run and more colorful steelhead (that have been in the river awhile) are being caught by anglers willing to move around until they find active fish. Steelhead are well distributed throughout the watersheds at this time. Steelhead in stained water earlier this week were biting dime to nickel size spawn sacs in bright colors, and, as the water has cleared, small marabou jigs (black with orange head and white with flash have been producing well) tipped with maggots, live or salted minnows, 3-inch rubber worms (pink and white have been good), and salmon-egg-mimicking beads drifted near the river bottom under a float have all been taking a share of the fish. Fish can be expected to continue trickling into the streams throughout winter.


Recently, Metroparks stocked 3,000 pounds of trout at Wallace (1,400 pounds), Shadow (750 pounds), Ledge (600 pounds), Judge’s (150 pounds), and Ranger (100 pounds) lakes. This compliments the 3,000 pounds distributed between the same locations in mid-December. This was Metroparks’ second and final winter trout stocking. The size of the trout averages about a pound and a half each, and along with the predominantly standard rainbow trout are a good number of bonus golden rainbow trout and brook trout. These trout bite on jigging spoons, brightly colored PowerBait, and small jigs tipped with a few maggots or a wax worm. NOTE: the limits on these trout at three/day at Wallace, Ledge, Judge’s, and Ranger lakes and five/day at Shadow Lake and Ohio & Erie Canal fishing area (there is no size limit, unlike the river where trout need to be minimum length of 12 inches and you can harvest two/day).


A crust of ice still covers most of Metroparks’ inland lakes and ponds, 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 or other platforms.


Recently, Cleveland Metroparks unveiled the Fly and Jig Trading Post at the Rocky River Nature Center. Inspired by similar “flybrary” projects elsewhere, local angler Ray Lancaster made the foam on wood plaque display, Nature Center staff made the sign, and local anglers (Bill Mantle, Duncan Simpson, Dean Sauer) got the project kick-started with dozens of jigs and flies. The idea is that you pick a fly or jig or two you like, and leave an equal (or greater) amount of your own favorite patterns, in return, for another angler to try. This is on an honor system and there is no cost to participate. The “trading post” is at the front desk and available during regular Rocky River Nature Center hours.


The 2020 season Cleveland Metroparks Boat Launch Pass went on sale recently. The base price (there are certain discounts) is $30. You can purchase in person at Lakefront Administration Office, 8701 Lakeshore Boulevard, Cleveland, Monday-Friday from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. or online sat: 2020 Boat Launch Pass. Note: this applies only to motorized watercraft that are trailered.


Cleveland Metroparks,

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