Report from the Dock
The white bass runs on the Sandusky and Maumee rivers are finally starting up, but cold water temperatures have most fish hugging the bottom still. However, anglers are managing to catch a few white bass. Walleye fishing on Lake Erie continues to be off the charts, with anglers sometimes reporting limits in less than two hours of fishing. The successful anglers are trolling Bandits or similar type baits and catching walleyes in anywhere from 15 to 30 feet of water. On the hunting side of the ledger, turkey hunting has been tough all over the state. A couple of consecutive poor reproductive years in the Buckeye State has made for tough going in the turkey woods. The to-date kill through May 10 was a full 2,001 fewer birds than the same reporting period in 2019, according to statistics from the Ohio Division of Wildlife.
Buckeye Lake (Fairfield, Licking and Perry counties) – Anglers report catching decent numbers of saugeyes, some over 20 inches in size. The successful fishermen are using Joshys and Flicker Shad in perch patterns. Anglers are also catching post-spawn crappies by focusing their efforts on lily pads. Some largemouth bass, too, are being caught in the pads.
Alum Creek Lake (Delaware County) – Anglers are focusing their efforts on deep water right now to catch saugeyes. Not big numbers, but a few fish are coming in 15 feet or deeper. Anglers are also fishing the coves in more shallow waters to catch spawning crappies. One angler reports catching 11 crappies in just over and hour of fishing, the biggest running 12 inches. Fishermen are employing Ned rigs and pumpkin colored tubes for the best bite.
Deer Creek Lake (Pickaway, Fayette counties) – If you can find a decent spot that holds crappies, an angler can do pretty well here. Fishermen are reporting jigging up decent numbers of crappies on the main lake in recent days. One angler reports catching 20 – all blacks – in one outing. Most fish are in the 9-10-inch range and are being released. Most of the crappies are being caught by jigging brushpiles.
Indian Lake (Logan County) – Anglers are experiencing a hit and miss saugeye bite right now on Indian. Some are being caught on Flicker Shad being trolled slowly. Anglers report catching a lot of dinks, with some keepers in the mix. The largest saugeye anglers are reporting was 18 inches. One angler did report tying into a nice size flathead and giving it a tussle. That fish measured 33 inches and weighed nearly 18 pounds.
Sandusky River (Sandusky County) – Now that the city of Fremont has opened up its accesses, anglers are cashing in on the white bass run. They’re catching white bass in good numbers in most sections of the river on simple baits such as jig and twister combos. Anglers are also sorting through a good number of sheepshead in order to get the desired quarry.
Maumee River (Lucas County) – As of this writing on May 12, the water temperature on the Maumee was 52 degrees, according to Maumee Bait and Tackle. There are areas of the river that are loaded with white bass, with two of them being Buttonwood and Bluegrass Island, according to the bait shop. Cool water temperatures have concentrated the fish on the bottom. A few stray walleyes are still being caught, but the run is finished for this year.
Maumee Bait and Tackle, www.maumeetackle.net
Sandusky Bay (Sandusky County) – Anglers are trying their luck for catfish with some success. The catfish bite on the bay typically starts in late May and continues through the summer. For bait, anglers use cut shad or skipjack. Some big catfish are typically caught in these waters.
Findlay Reservoir No. 2 (Hancock County) – Fishermen are searching out yellow perch, but are catching more crappies and bluegills in shallow water. Water temperatures are still cold, even at this late date in May. But, the panfish seem to be up in the shallows. About any type of bait will work from wax worms to nightcrawlers to small spinnerbaits.
Mahoning River (Mahoning County) – The white bass run is winding down, but a few fish are still being caught. Anglers are catching them on Gulp! minnows, roostertails, and jig and twister combos. Most fish are running right in the 8- to 10-inch range.
Berlin Lake (Portage, Mahoning, and Stark counties) – Walleye fishing is getting better every day, according to local reports. Now that water temperatures are warming up, anglers are catching them on jigs tipped with nightcrawlers or leeches. Largemouth and smallmouth bass are in shallow water right now, staging for the spawn. Target them with spinnerbaits and crankbaits. Some crappies, too, are being caught on brushpiles on jig and minnow combinations.
Pymatuning Reservoir (Ashtabula County) – Anglers are fishing medium depth waters for loads of crappies and a few walleyes mixed in. One angler reports catching 30 crappies in one trip. He was using a jig and twister tail combo. The best bite is coming in 12 to 15 feet of water. For walleyes, anglers are focusing their efforts on current breaks outside of structure.
Mogadore Reservoir (Portage County) – Crappies are willing biters on this Portage Lake right now. Anglers are finding them in shallow water and catching them on simple offerings such as jig and minnow or jig and maggot combos. Crappies are ranging up to a hefty 13 inches.
Mosquito Creek Lake (Trumbull County) – Anglers are doing OK catching crappies here by focusing their efforts on stump fields and other woody places. Most of the successful fishermen are simply dunking minnows in the brush under a float. For walleyes, there’s plenty of them in Mosquito, but the bite has been tough. Trollers are using Joshys and Flicker Shad to pick up a few fish in the 15- to 18-inch range. A lot of shorts are showing up, too. There is no minimum size limit for keeper walleyes here.
Rocky Fork Lake (Highland County) – Fishermen are catching saugeyes in small numbers, but most of the fish have been under the legal keeper limit of 15 inches. They’re catching them by trolling Flicker Shad, Perfect 10s, or similar type baits in 12 to 16 feet of water. Anglers are having better luck catching crappies in shallow – 5 to 7 feet – of water. The best set up for the panfish has been a jig and trailer.
East Fork Lake (Clermont County) – When they’ve been able to find clear water, anglers are catching keeper crappies here in decent numbers. The best set up has been simply a jig and minnow combination fished in 8- to 10-foot depths. Other anglers are hitting the coves in the lake and also doing well on crappies. The best bait being used in the shallows is a beetle spin or some other similar type of spinnerbait.
Caesar Creek Lake (Warren, Clinton, and Greene counties) – The jig bite is finally on for crappies here, according to local reports. Anglers are finding them in shallow water – 5 to 8 feet. Tip the jig with a minnow or piece of nightcrawler for better results. Other fishermen are running a straight minnow under a float to catch crappies up to 12 inches. Saugeye reports have been few, as have muskie sightings.
Cowan Lake (Clinton County) – Anglers continue to catch crappies in 10 to 15 feet of water. One angler reports catching 15 fish in one outing and keeping six of them in the 10-12-inch range. There is no minimum keeper size limit for crappies here.
Salt Fork Lake (Guernsey County) – Anglers are doing OK catching crappies in shallow water. The successful fishermen are using jig and minnie combos to catch fish. One family reports catching 30 crappies in one-outing and releasing them all. Some saugeyes and white bass have also been in the mix.
Tappan Lake (Harrison County) – Fishermen are trolling and also casting Flicker Shad or similar type baits in recent days to pick up good size crappies, and interestingly enough, largemouth bass. Some channel catfish have also been in the mix. Anglers are focusing their efforts on mid-water depths – 12 to 15 feet.
Seneca Lake (Noble, Guernsey counties) – Anglers are fishing for largemouth bass, but are finding crappies more cooperative. Fishermen are finding the crappies in deeper water and using nightcrawlers to catch them.
Clendening Lake (Harrison County) – Fishermen are trying to catch saugeyes here, but are not having much luck. Crappies are more willing biters, however. Anglers are catching crappies in 10 to 12 feet of water on jig and maggot combos or simply a wax worm under a float.
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 per angler. The minimum size limit is 12 inches.
• Black bass (largemouth and smallmouth bass): The daily bag limit is 5 fish per angler with a 14-inch minimum size limit.
Where: Anglers are having a lot of success catching quick limits of walleyes by trolling Bandits or similar type baits 75-100 back unassisted. Anything chrome and blue or shad colored patterns are working the best, according to angler reports. Fish are coming in various depths of water from 15 to 30 feet. Some fishermen continue to jig the reefs with some success for walleyes, too. Walleyes are ranging in size from 19 to 27 inches, according to the reports.
Anglers are advised to be cautious in the early spring. Extremely cold water temperatures put anglers at a high risk for hypothermia. Always wear your life jacket and leave a float plan with someone on shore of your intended plans.
Cleveland Metropark area streams are in good shape and weekend fishing conditions should be good. Steelhead are still around but their numbers will continue to dwindle into the month. On the other hand, numbers of lake-run smallmouth bass are strong in the Rocky and Chagrin rivers. Smallmouth bass hit well on a 3-4-inch dark olive or brown tube jig, lures that imitate minnows (like a white and silver rooster tail spinner, Rapala, or white rubber fluke) and live bait (minnows and crayfish). This time of year, anglers can pursue the “Silver and Bronze Challenge”- catching a steelhead and smallmouth bass from a local stream in the same day.
Recently, 800 pounds of trout (originally scheduled for the now cancelled spring children’s fishing derbies) were stocked in Wallace Lake and the Ohio Division of Wildlife stocked 1,500 trout in the Ohio and Erie Canal. The Wallace Lake bunch included some trophy size rainbow trout, as well as a good mix of bonus brook, brown, and golden rainbow trout. A total of 4,400 pounds of trout have been released since March 17 between the East Branch Rocky River and Wallace, Ledge, and Ranger lakes and the Ohio Division of Wildlife recently stocked Hinckley and Shadow lakes, as well. Stocked trout bite on brightly colored PowerBait shaped into dime size balls, 3-inch rubber trout worms (pink, orange, and white), small jigs tipped with a few maggots or a wax worm, and small to medium size spinners. 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 until May 16 at which time the river limit increases to 5/day).
The breakwall at E.55th, pier at Wendy Park (old Coast Guard station), and rocks/pier at Edgewater Park and E. 72nd offer a chance at steelhead, walleye, bass (largemouth and smallmouth) and a variety of other species in early spring. The boat launch ramps at Emerald Necklace (Rocky River), Edgewater, Gordon Park, and Wildwood park are all usable at this time, with courtesy docks having been installed at all locations. In spring, these harbor areas are good locations to find pre-spawn northern pike and largemouth bass, as well as a variety of panfish species. A white spinnerbait with silver blades worked slowly is a good early season choice for both bass and pike. The post-spawn shoreline bite for walleye in Cleveland typically picks up around now.
Cleveland Metroparks, www.clevelandmetroparks.com