Wednesday, February 8th, 2023
Wednesday, February 8th, 2023

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Ohio Fishing Report – March 19, 2020

Report from the Dock

The river runs on the Sandusky and Maumee rivers for walleyes has begun in earnest, according to reports from northwest Ohio. Anglers report catching walleyes on both rivers by using floating jigs tipped with trailers or minnows. The Maumee, in particular, is reportedly full of walleyes just waiting on some warm temperatures to start biting vigorously. Now would be a good time to get to the rivers. With the coronavirus pandemic in full swing right about now, fishing could be just the diversion that the doctor ordered. And, it’s fairly easy to maintain “social distancing” while fishing. In other places, crappies are biting fairly well on most inland lakes and reservoirs. And, anglers are having a tougher time for saugeyes, but still managing to catch a few. Stay safe out there and good luck this spring, whether hunting or fishing.

Central Region

Alum Creek Lake (Delaware County) – Anglers looking to tie into a muskie or two should concentrate early spring efforts below the spillway and into the creek on Alum Creek. There are various types of baits that will catch muskies, from Joshys and other types of swimbaits to spinnerbaits. Focus on shallow water areas. Right now, bass and bluegills should be up in shallow water, getting ready for the spawn. Fishing pressure has been light, so there’s not much to report on the crappie and saugeye side of things.


Buckeye Lake (Fairfield, Licking, Perry counties) – With water temperatures now into the 40s, crappies, bluegills, and catfish are turning on. Anglers are focusing their efforts on coves and having some luck with the shallow water bite. They’re using swimbaits, and spinnerbaits but most live bait in the form of small minnows or wax worms.


Indian Lake (Logan County) – Anglers are doing fairly well catching crappies on Indian Lake right now. One fisherman reports catching a 30-fish limit on consecutive days recently. They’re up shallow right now and can be caught on jig and minnow combinations as well as wax worms. Some anglers are using swimbaits, too, to try to entice the crappies as well as saugeyes. Not many reports of folks catching numbers of saugeyes just yet.

Northwest Region

Sandusky River (Sandusky County) – Anglers are beginning to catch some running walleyes on this northwest Ohio Lake Erie tributary. They’re using Carolina-rigged floating jigs tipped with plastics. Use a brightly colored twister tail for best results. Remember, the bag limit on the Sandusky is four fish from March 1 through April 30 to protect spawning fish. 


Maumee River (Lucas County) – According to Maumee Bait and Tackle, as of March 17 water temperatures on the Maumee were right around 42 degrees. That’s about 4 degrees warmer than our last report, and it seems to have been enough to trigger the run. On overcast days, use brighter colors such as orange heads and black tails, pink head and dark orange tails. Maumee Bait reports there are a lot of walleyes in the river right now. Warmer days and nights, which is expected in the forecast, should trigger them to bite. Starting on March 1, legal fishing times on the Maumee are from sunrise to sunset. Anglers may only use one rod with one hook. Fish cannot be snagged. They must be hooked in the mouth to be a legal catch. The spring bag limit is six walleyes this year with a minimum keeper length of 15 inches. Maumee Bait and Tackle notes that walleyes can spawn from March to the middle of May.

Maumee Bait and Tackle,


Willard Reservoir (Huron County) – Fishermen are doing well catching crappies right now. The best bite is coming on smaller crankbaits like Rippin’ Raps or Husky Jerks. Fish the bait in 6 to 8 feet of water. Employ a stop and go retrieve and work the bait rather slowly. The crappies should react to the slower presentation in cold water. Crappies up to 12 inches in size have been reported.

Northeast  Region 

Berlin Lake (Portage, Mahoning, Stark counties) – Finally, some good walleye fishing to report. Anglers are getting them all over the lake using jerkbaits such as Husky Jerks, and blade baits such as Vib-Es. They’re primarily biting in 10 to 15 feet of water. Some bigger crappies – 12 to 14 inches – are being caught on live bait such as minnows and maggots. Anglers are not catching crappies in large numbers, but the sizes have been fantastic, according to local reports.


Mahoning River (Mahoning County) – Anglers are catching walleyes in the river right now on jerkbaits and blade baits, fishing much the same way they would on the lakes proper. Walleyes are up in shallower water right now, getting ready to spawn.


Atwood Lake (Carroll, Tuscarawas counties) – Anglers fishing this lake in recent days are catching largemouth bass, saugeyes, and crappies. The bass bite is coming in shallow water on spinnerbaits and spoons. For saugeye, one angler reports catching an 18-inch fish on a Vib-E. Crappies are hitting live bait on a jig.


Mosquito Creek Lake (Trumbull County) – Anglers, a few of them at least, are taking advantage of early season wading opportunities to catch walleyes and bass here. The walleyes, according to reports, are reacting to blade baits such as Vib-Es and the bass are hitting the same offerings. Walleyes are ranging up to 17 inches and the bass have been in the respectable 2-pound range.

Southwest Region 

Caesar Creek Lake (Warren, Clinton, Greene counties) – With mild temperatures across the region in recent days, anglers are taking advantage and fishing for crappies, saugeyes, and muskies. The crappie bite is the best thing going right now. The fish are up shallow and can be caught on simple rigs like a jig and minnow combo, a minnow under a float, or a wax worm or maggot. 


Cowan Lake (Clinton County) – Anglers are finding a tough bite on Cowan Lake in recent days, but they’re trying for crappies. The best set up has been a lively minnow under a float fished in shallow water. The spawn is either underway or right around the corner, so keep this in mind when fishing.


Rocky Fork Lake (Highland County) – Anglers have been catching a few crappies and largemouth bass on this good size Highland County lake. Saugeye reports have been nill. The bass are being caught on jig and plastics and the crappies are biting on these same offerings. Bass up to 2 pounds are being caught.

Southeast Region

Seneca Lake (Noble, Guernsey counties) – Fishing pressure has been light, but anglers are managing to catch some crappies. They’re using simple jig and minnow combos at this time of year or a straight minnow rig. Saugeye reports have been few and far between. Focus your crappie fishing efforts in shallow water and you’ll likely catch fish in the 8- to 10-inch range, big enough for a nice fish fry.


Clendening Lake (Harrison County) – Anglers continue to do OK catching crappies here in decent numbers. They’re biting in shallow water among the usual springtime haunts – wood and laydowns. Fishermen continue to sort through a lot of small fish to find many keeper size specimens, but the bigger specs are reportedly in there. Saugeye fishing has been tougher, according to local angler reports.


Leesville Lake (Carroll County) – One angler in recent days reports catching a decent size muskie, 37 inches, on a spinnerbait in shallow water in the wood. The crappie bite has also been decent at Leesville, and anglers are reporting the occasional saugeye. Nothing has been consistent, though. The crappie bite has been on one day and off the next. Saugeyes have been tough all winter here.

Lake Erie Region

• The daily bag limit for walleye in Ohio waters of Lake Erie is 6 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 2 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 5 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: Not much has changed in the Lake Erie fishing report since the last issue of Ohio Outdoor News. Fishing has been more difficult in recent weeks, though limits are still being reported. The most popular launches have been Mazurik, Huron, and Lorain. Anglers consistently have been finding marks southwest and north of Kelleys Island, and toward Cranberry Creek east of Huron. 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 stick baits 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. 


The Rocky and Chagrin rivers are offering very good fishing conditions, but there is rain in the forecast. Weekend steelhead fishing opportunities will be contingent on how much of that we recieve so anglers should keep an eye on the flow trend. Streams are offering a good mix of chrome bright fresh run steelhead and more colored, darker fish that have been in the streams for awhile already. Steelhead are well distributed throughout Cleveland Metroparks area watersheds, although greater concentrations of fresher fish are available closer to the lake. Steelhead in stained water have been biting best on dime to nickel size spawn sacks in bright colors (hot pink and chartreuse are favorites), and as the water clears small marabou jigs tipped with maggots, live or salted minnows, 3-inch rubber worms (pink and white have been good) and salmon egg mimmicking beads drifted near the river bottom under a float will take a greater share of the fish. The quality (size) of better steelhead has been excellent lately.


Lake-run white suckers are beginning to show up in area streams, as well. Morley Ford just north of the Lorain Road bridge is a good sucker spot on the Rocky River. Suckers will gobble worms or grubs/maggots fished on the river bottom, as well as small jigs and flies. Spring suckers are especially good targets for kids, less experienced anglers, or folks just learning to fly fish.


Throughout winter Metroparks stocked a total of 6,000 pounds of trout between Wallace (2,800 pounds), Shadow (1,500 pounds), Ledge (1,200 pounds), Judge’s (300 pounds) and Ranger (200 pounds) lakes. Although winter trout stocking has concluded, plenty of these fish remain. Stocked trout average a little over a pound each and 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 3/day at Wallace, Ledge, Judge’s and Ranger lakes and 5/day at Shadow Lake and Ohio and 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 2/day this time of year).   Local lakes and ponds are currently mostly ice free. The East Branch Rocky River was tentatively scheduled for the first spring stockings of rainbow trout on March 17.  Stay tuned to the fishing report for updates on those stockings.


In these trying times given the COVID-19 pandemic, we are hearing the term “social distancing.” To put it in simple terms, in this context it means to avoid other people to minimize spreading a contagious virus.  Fishing can be one way to leave the house and find some stress relief from the situation that can meet that requirement. 


The World Health Organization recommends maintaining at least 3 feet from anyone coughing or sneezing, and it’s easy enough to maintain that distance many times when fishing.


Cleveland Metroparks,

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