By John Tertuliani
Catching saugeyes in the summer is less predictable than in the late winter and early spring. Consider heading east or southeast for some action during the warmer months. A good strategy may be to try one of those lakes with good numbers of saugeyes and not so much of the heavy pressure these fish become accustomed to elsewhere. If you like fishing for saugeyes and have not been to one of the following lakes, a few trips to one or all of them may up your success. Atwood, the first lake recommended is in District 3. The other lakes are in District 4.
Recent survey results from Atwood Lake, in Tuscarawas and Carroll counties in east central Ohio, show very good numbers in the 15- to 20-inch range, many measuring 16 to 17 inches. Shoreline access is available at the dam, and the abundant riprap is popular with anglers through the seasons. Boat anglers may want to try their hand at the hump south of the bay near Deep Springs Cemetery. State Route 542 (Magnolia Road SW) crosses the bay.
The hump goes from 6 to 12 feet and is close to 15 feet of water, an ideal place to look as summer rolls around. Saugeyes seek structure in deeper water, structure such as a secondary breakline in the main basin. They still move up on the points to feed. When they do, they do not linger, staying only long enough to find something to eat and then they go back down to deeper water.
Recent survey results from Seneca Lake, in Guernsey and Noble counties in southeastern Ohio, show very good numbers in the 14- to 17-inch range with some fish up to 22 inches. Shoreline access is available along the dam.
As with other lakes, abundant riprap is popular with anglers year-round. Boat anglers may want to consider the areas around both islands. Concentrate your efforts on points, humps, and breaklines related to these islands. Another area worth trying is near the State Route 313 bridge in the northeast portion of the lake. Called Cadillac Bay by the locals, there is a submerged hump out in front of and slightly south of the mouth of the bay.
Survey results from Piedmont Lake, in Harrison and Belmont counties, indicate anglers should expect high catch rates for saugeyes under the 15-inch minimum length limit. A six-fish bag can be achieved if anglers are willing to work through a lot of smaller fish.
Good shoreline access is limited to the area at the dam. There is a submerged roadbed starting near the southeast corner of the dam and extending across the lake in a southwest direction. Boat anglers can try the area where the lake narrows and begins to snake back and forth just past the 4-H camp and approaching Indian Run Bay.
If you prefer a smaller lake, consider Lake Logan in Hocking County. Recent surveys show a population more evenly distributed in size than some of the other saugeye lakes in the vicinity. Saugeyes much larger than those sampled in the bigger lakes were in a recent Lake Logan survey. This may be explained by a smaller overall population; it may also be due to saugeyes remaining in the lake longer instead of leaving through the spillway. Adults ranged from 10 to 26 inches in length.
The area around the state park swimming beach has been productive for anglers. Keep in mind that fishing is not allowed directly on the beach. Another place to consider is a large culvert that goes under Lake Logan Road, near the marina. Anglers are successful in front of it as well as at the bank approaching the culvert. And as is the case with many lakes, the riprap protecting the dam seems to hold saugeyes at some point during the seasons.
Another smaller option in Vinton County, recent surveys in Lake Rupert showed a population similar to that of Lake Logan – a somewhat even distribution of sizes with greater numbers of larger fish than surveyed in some of the bigger lakes. Lake Rupert is popular for ice fishing when winters are cold enough to create safe ice. During the early spring, anglers focus their effort along the riprap that extends along State Route 683. As the fishing season progresses, angling pressure moves down toward the dam, concentrating on long points and breaklines. This lake gets pretty weedy; working the outside edges of weedbeds can lead to success.
A jig and soft plastic bait often tipped with a minnow or chunk of nightcrawler is a popular and effective presentation to start with, either by drifting in a boat or casting from shore. Crankbaits are often productive as well. Trolling is also popular. Hard to beat in the summer, you can cover large expanses of water quickly and effectively. Like walleye anglers, saugeye anglers find success with a bottom bouncer.